Q&A with Jon Thorsen: Reverse Wine Snob & Social Media
As the name of his website suggests, Jon Thorsen aka the Reverse Wine Snob is a very unique ‘entity’ in the online wine landscape.
His distinctive and algorithmic wine rating system starts at ‘wines below $6’, and stops at $19.99. This is simply because, unlike any other wine critic, Jon wouldn’t review a wine more expensive than $20 on his blog.
Needless to add then that the focus of the Reverse Wine Snob as a wine blogger is not on the high-end wine buyer, the trade or the industry speculating on expensive wines, but rather the everyday wine drinkers that buy wine for relaxed enjoyment.
As Jon puts it in his Ten Tenets of Reverse Wine Snobbery: “The wine industry often seems to forget about the one person that matters, the average consumer”.
Because there is a lot more bottles of wine out there that are bought below the $20 price tag than more expensive ones, the Reverse Wine Snob’s approach has proven particularly popular.
During its few years of existence (since 2011), the site hasn’t stopped climbing the wine website rankings and was ranked #5 in 2014 by Vinepair’s Wine Web Power Index, just behind heavy weights such as Wine Searcher, Wine Enthusiast or Wine Spectator.
Another originality in his approach, is that Jon claims that he and his wife base their reviews not only on tasting the wines once, but on “the whole experience of drinking the bottle, usually over two days”.
One assumes this only applies to decent wine! Cheap horrible wine doesn’t get any better after 24 hours does it? Still, it sounds like the right way to assess the real quality of our beverages, more hands-on (or lips-on should I say!?!) and committed in fact than the top-critics’ process…
Rather expectedly given the wide target audience, Thorsen’s following on social media has also become very impressive, placing him within the Top 10 of our Top 20 Wine Influencers.
But what has been the practical role of this impressive social media presence in the growing success of the Reverse Wine Snob?
How does Jon Thorsen manages his multiple accounts so flourishingly in a busy schedule between work, family, blogging and daily wine sipping?
Allowing us to get to know him better, days only after the release of his new book Reverse Wine Snob: How to Buy and Drink Great Wine without Breaking the Bank, Jon found the time to answer our world-famous Q&A with a Wine Influencer:
Q: When was the Reverse Wine Snob website created? Did you envision it was going to become what it is today?
I started the site in February of 2011, completely on a whim. It was really more for myself at that point to remember which wines I liked and didn’t like. I was probably more shocked than anybody when it became popular!
Q: How do you generally define your website? Has it now become a company, or do you still see it as a blog? What is it?
I don’t really see it so much as a blog anymore, but more of a media company, especially now that my book is out. As it has grown, I’ve been looking to branch out more and am talking to some retailers about doing things like a wine club. Maybe someday there will even be a wine with a Reverse Wine Snob label on it :).
Q: You are ranked within the Top 10 worldwide wine influencers on Social Media, and you’ve reached 200K followers on Twitter, what does that mean to you?
I’m amazed by it. I think a lot of wine websites are really focused on talking to the same small group of wine aficionados. My intent from the beginning was to talk to a much wider audience of everyday consumers and hopefully even draw more people into the wonderful world of wine by making it easy for them to find inexpensive wines they will like, and not talking down to them.
Social media has far and away been the key to growing my audience. Without Twitter ReverseWineSnob.com would never be as popular as it is. Being able to reach so many people without having to spend money on advertising is so important for someone like me who does this as a hobby.
Q: Does social media influence your editorial and how ? Do you to cover certain topics because you know your audience on certain channels will like them and share more?
Not really, I try to always create content that people will like and share. For the most part it seems that the things that share well on Facebook, for example, will also do well on Twitter and vice versa.
Q: How does your online and social media influence translate into the ‘real world’?
I think it absolutely does, and I see it in the retailers that continually advertise on my site. Even with the extreme market fragmentation in the U.S. due to the 3 tier system and restrictions on shipping wine, I have a growing number of people looking to advertise, which is great.
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? Is there several people involved in RWS and its social media presence?
No, it’s just me unfortunately and it is time-consuming especially when you have a day job and 3 kids. (I don’t get much sleep.) I try to leverage good tools and the ability to schedule and auto-schedule things as much as I can.
Q: And lastly, how do you see your influence over the wine community evolve within the next 5 years? Do you think the traditional wine paper publications will continue to lose ground in influence to blogs and websites?
Honestly, I’m shocked at the influence I’ve been able to build so to think it could grow is even more shocking to me. I do think some of my success is certainly from some of the not so smart things that the traditional publications do like put things behind paywalls. My guess is that just like a lot of other industries the traditional publications will continue to lose ground but I also wouldn’t be surprised if some new digital publications with significant investment behind them also come in and shake things up.
Or visit his website Reversewinesnob.com.
Check out more Q&As with wine personalities through Social Vignerons’ Top 20 Wine Influencers.
Reverse Wine Snob newly-released book is now available on Amazon below: