Q&A with a Wine Influencer: Tim Atkin MW & Social Media
Tim Atkin is — if these words can ever be put together — NOT ONLY a Master of Wine. He has also become one of the most prominent wine personalities and critic in the world. Like a few in our Top 20 Worldwide Wine Influencers he accepted to answer our questions about his life on social media.
Between much other wine content he produces, he most-noticeably travels the globe visiting wine regions and meeting producers to issue exhaustive insight reports about the main wine-growing areas of each country.
Simply put, Tim is a UK-based ‘wine writer’. But to better reflect the fly-eye facets of his activity he is also often defined as a journalist, a wine commentator, a broadcaster, a wine columnist, and more.
You’ve got the point, the list of Tim’s contributions to the wine community is long, and best read directly on his website timatkin.com. Still let’s attempt a short summary.
Like many famous wine writers, Tim Atkin started writing on paper, scoring his first Glenfiddich Wine Writer Award in 1988. He still contributes to many print publications including The World of Fine Wine, Intelligent Life, Gourmet Traveller Wine, Imbibe, Decanter, or Woman and Home.
What seems to have brought Tim Atkin’s fame to the world however, has been his relentless use of all the main platforms of communication, including:
- TV at the BBC and the Saturday Kitchen show
- judging wines for many awards around the world, including the International Wine Challenge he’s a co-chairman of
- the web, with his website timatkin.com named Louis Roederer Wine Website of the Year in 2011 and 2013
- organizing wine tasting events in the UK with Olly Smith and Oz Clarke in the form of The Three Wine Men
- photography, with a portfolio visible at timatkin.com.
- an impressive engagement on social media placing him as #3 of our Top 20 Worldwide Wine Influencers
To better understand what the latter point — social media — really means to Tim Atkin today and how he manages to handle it successfully, we have asked him to answer our world famous Q&A with a Wine Influencer:
Q: You are ranked #3 worldwide wine influencer on Social Media, does that mean anything to you?
A: It’s nice to be followed by lots of people, but it’s not something that’s been part of a (dreaded) media strategy and I would never buy followers the way some communicators do. The important thing is that I like engaging with people and social media is just another way of doing that. I enjoy the immediacy of Twitter in particular and some of the banter (and even augments) that I take part in.
Q: How do you generally define your role in the wine industry?
A: I don’t think of myself as being part of the wine industry. I have always regarded myself as a journalist who writes about and tastes wine. I’m a commentator, an enthusiast and, I hope, a reliable critic who loves great wine. What does that make me? How about a communicator with attitude?
Q: You have helped the wine community learn and evolve enormously in your career, outside of social media and way before it even existed. Do you now find social media is a good way for you to continue serving the wine community the way you meant to?
A: I don’t really think about it, to be honest. I just give my opinion, which isn’t always popular, but try to to do it without being too rude. If I taste at a winery and someone asks for feedback, I do my best to provide it, but I always say that wine is subjective and that it’s just my view. Social Media is helping the wine trade to evolve – by reaching a new audience, or the same audience, but in a different way – and that’s exciting. I just wish more wineries used it to good effect.
Q: Has social media influenced your editorial? Has it encouraged you to cover certain topic because you knew your audience on these specific channels would like it and share it?
A: Yes, in one way. I now try to write pieces that are more likely to appeal to an international audience rather than just to UK readers. But other than that, I write pretty much as I always have. I do my best to engage my readers and to tell them something they don’t know. It’s the first rule of journalism.
Q: Social media is very time-consuming when you have a large audience like you have. How do you deal with it on a daily basis?
A: It’s not a chore for me. I just regard it as an ongoing conversation with friends, colleagues and followers. Some people have Twitter assistants, but that defeats the point of Social Media to me. People can tell if a voice isn’t authentic. I love Social Media as a source of news, gossip, jokes, information and controversy. How could I not find time for that? It’s as natural to me as breathing now.
Q: Do you learn from the feedback given on social media? If yes, what? How is it different from what you would learn meeting people in person?
A: Yes, I do. I’m lucky that I don’t get too much abuse from trolls. But I definitely learn from other people on Twitter. People point out differences of opinion and I do my best to listen. It’s different from meeting people in person – you don’t really know whose on the other end of the conversation in some cases – but I still like its immediacy.
Q: And lastly, do you think we will continue seeing you influencing the wine community on social media in the same way you have so far within the next 10 years?
A: I certainly hope so. But I’m not the person who decides these things. I’ve got lots more to say and I still love writing about and tasting wine. It really is the best job in the world. Wine writing is changing for the better as at least one dinosaur waddles off into the sunset. I want to be part of a new way of thinking, writing and communicating about wine. Fun times!
Check out who else you should follow on social media to be in the heart of the online wine community, and other Q&As with worldwide wine personalities on our Top 20 wine influencers.
And as a bonus, a fun video as an intro to Tim Atkin’s world of wine: