Social media use has surged in the past decade. Facebook has 900 million global users (Wall Street Journal, 2012). Recognizing that many of these 900 million users are potential customers (a search on Facebook in May 2012 revealed that there are 11.5 million US Facebook users that “like” wine, beer, or spirits), the wine industry has embraced social media (Vinography, 2012). Wineries are using social media as a tool to reach consumers and as a tool to reveal their brand quality and personality (The Tribune, 2011). In a survey of 118 of Texas’ 181 bonded wineries, nearly 80% of them were actively engaged in social media, with the majority not only using social media for customer connections, but also using social media for establishing industry connections and finding suppliers (Lau et. al, 2011). A survey by ABLE Social Media Marketing revealed that 94% of American wineries are on Facebook and 73% are on twitter (ABLE Social Media Marketing, 2012). They further found that 47% of wineries said that Facebook helps them generate sales and 72% sell wine on their websites.
Bradley and McDonald indicate that knowledge management is what company management tells employees they need to know. In higher education faculty practice knowledge management by telling the students what they need to know. Social media is a method peers use to show connections the content they think is important. Bradley and McDonald believe that organizations can gain value from social media through mass collaboration (Bradley and McDonald, 2011). Since industry, and in particular the wine industry, is using social media to enhance interactions between professionals and with consumers, how is higher education preparing their graduates to use social media in their careers? Have students pursuing wine-related higher education used social media to enhance their learning and prepare them for industry?
A 2011 survey by Pearson Learning among 1,920 professors of higher education, found that almost two-thirds of faculty are using some form of social media for their courses (Moran et. al., 2011). The purpose of this research is to examine how social media is being used to enhance learning among students at California Polytechnic State University. Further, this research aims to identify if there are differences in the attitudes and behaviors of wine and viticulture students compared to other students related to social media and industry information. The wine and viticulture students examined in this research are pursuing degrees in both enology and viticulture.