Wine Country Blog: innsights to the wine Country


Posted by Meilani Naranjo on August 06, 2012

Here at Farmhouse Inn we pride ourselves not taking life in Sonoma County too seriously...we love helping our guests discover some of the whimsy and fun of living in the wine country.  When the birthday for our (fairly) new Barn building rolled around this year we wanted to do something extra fun so everyone could join in and help us celebrate.  We are fairly new to social media and Facebook...still learning the ropes (plus they keep changing everything when we do get it figured out)  but wanted to see what we could do to increase our presence there. 
And Meghan had an idea of piggybacking on the release of the new Snow White movie too...what do you think of the concept behind  our first Facebook promotion?

Farmhouse Inn Facebook Sweepstakes 

Right when we were discussing what kind of hijinks we could get up to - we discovered a company called Grosocial that specializes in helping companies grow their social media presence and designs tabs for Facebook promotions.  Right up our alley...they helped us design a sweepstakes that could be shared on Facebook with the entries and shares tracked through their application. We had the most fun coming up with some ideas for prizes and they helped us flesh it all out.  Now the Sweepstakes is done, the winner is announced, and we thought we would share some of the fun we had along the way.  It was definitely a learning experience but luckily our new friends at Grosocial held our hands through it all.  if you didn't happen to see it here is a picture of the Sweepstakes...
Farmhouse Inn Barn Birthday

I know that is a bit small to read but it was simple- there was a form at the bottom that you filled out and then you were invited to share on Facebook and if your friend entered you got an additional entry. So you could enter, and re-enter, and share as much as you liked.  And hopefully your friends wanted to be our friends too!

The prizes were fun- you could win a luxe vacation at Farmhouse (who wouldn't want that?) Farmhouse Inn Barn vacation


                           or we could ship a piece of Farmhouse off to you. 
        Perhaps a yuppie wine cellar with Geoff's (our master Sommelier) help to fill it, 

    or a custom cool chicken coop complete with chicks and feed (fresh eggs every day), Cool chicken coop


 or even that Famous Farmhouse Bed - the mattress and all the down comfiness that our guests love - we get a couple of requests a week for the details on how they replicate that cozy bed at home!

Farmhouse bed and breakfast

Nice selection of prizes, we thought- and we were so excited to see what the winner might choose.  The experts say to keep it simple and give away something unique.  We hoped we were filling those requirements.

We sent out an email blast to our existing data base with an invitation to enter and share and held our breath waiting to see what would happen. 

First "oops"...some people don't do the Facebook thing and couldn't get into the tab without a Facebook page and we hadn't given them an alternative method to enter.  Too late- the best we could do was to manually enter those people and unfortunately they lost the benefit of the sharing.  So already feeling like we were excluding a few people (there were about 5 or so) from some of the fun. 

Eeek!  then someone popped up with 181 entries and everyone else had 2-3- what?  Did someone figure out how to game the system?  No, but further research traced it to a professional Sweepstakes website that all they did was report new sweepstakes to their members.  And when their members were entering they were acquiring an additional entry for themselves.  We didn't feel it was fair but had not made a rule against it in our "Fine Print". 

Then a local wine guy who is very active in social media did something really brilliant-  He created an event on his Facebook page and invited all his friends...they RSVP'd to the event and entered- he ended up with 106 entries when all was said and done.  He was really working it- going for that wine cellar.  Kept posting invites on his Facebook page throughout the Sweepstakes period.  (And of course learning as we go-  we created our own event and invited everybody to that one too!)

So that made us think-  the message that went out to friends was so generic..."I just entered the "You Choose Your Prize Sweepstakes"  etc.  but it didn't really tell your friends- "hey, you better do this too" and "right now".  Our wine guy was posting messages like "I really want to win this wine cellar and you can help me do it".  So rather than a nice, sweet little message he was hitting them over the head and making them enter. We tried to strengthen that message but it was a little too late.  The biggest number of entries after his was 21- and then a lot down in the teens. 

We kept sharing on Facebook and Twittering reminders and sent out a couple more emails to try to get more entries. 

Wine cellar prize at Farmhouse

We created a Facebook poll "what prize would you pick" that actually got the most views (10,138) and likes (4652)during the sweepstakes period.  But one more problem with the poll-  people were answering the question thinking they were entering but did not actually enter at the Sweepstakes tab.  So they picked a prize but did not actually enter?  Definitely would have to structure that a little differently if we had a do-over...

Facebook Farmhouse Prize Poll
We learned how to promote posts on Facebook- turns out to be really easy and not very expensive and gets it in front of friends of your fans.  We learned how to "pin" and "highlight" posts on our timeline.  Our goal was to try to get to 5,000 Facebook fans which we didn't quite make but I think if we had a do-over with what we know now we might have made it- easy!

End result-  we had 1,315 entries and 900+ new emails to play with and just over 1,200 new fans on Facebook.  (Not too bad for an experiment.)  And throughout the sweepstakes I was able to track who had shared and which of their friends accepted their invitation to enter and the total number of entries for each person. 

Then the day had finally come.  Had to load and number each entry and choose the winner in an entirely random drawing - used an random integer generator for that. Then an email to the winner and then wait (and wait) for them to get back to us.  Then she couldn't decide on which prize she wanted...for days, and days and... Geez- I think we were as excited as she was.  We didn't want to announce the winner until she had chosen her prize and all the entrants were waiting with us...who won? who won?

Finally, the grand prize of the totally luxe vacation at Farmhouse Inn went to K. Applebaum in West San Diego county.  She wanted the chicken coop but was afraid she wouldn't be able to secure it properly against her coyote friends, she already had a wine cellar, and definitely needed a new bed but hadn't had a vacation in a couple of years.  I could see why she had trouble deciding... No date yet but I am sure she is looking forward to her getaway to the wine country.  (And she did it with only 2 entries and no shares to Facebook?!)  Very lucky gal!

And in case you think the fun stops there we decided every one deserved a consolation prize so in the announcement email we included a special offer with a discount for anyone staying on their birthday and a special birthday package when they arrive to help them celebrate!  Now you know one more thing about what goes on behind the scenes at Farmhouse Inn- it is not just about cooking and cleaning, you know!

And now a final picture to make you smile. Jasper was hanging out by the pool today with a new friend from Texas.   Brandon,our star Bell Captain had his camera handy...

Jasper, Farmhouse Inn kitty with guest

 even the kitties have fun around here...and a new friend every day!

Topics: Sonoma, wine country, Facebook, Sonoma County, inn, Farmhouse Inn, Sweepstakes

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What would be better than good wine, good company, amazing s’mores, and a cozy fire?  I can’t think of anything else I would want!  Joey and I really enjoyed the nostalgia of roasting and toasting the marshmallows over the fire!  It definitely took me back to my childhood and I had no shame in having two of them!  I couldn’t help it!.continue