Brands on Social Media: “Start With Strategy, Not Listening”

exclamation-smallToday’s selection is my friend Dominique Lahaix’s piece on Ecairn’s blog. Ecairn is a leading social media influence measurement and management tool, primarily aimed at gauging influence and building networks of bloggers in a co-creation spirit. In that piece, it seems that Dominique is leaning towards my vision of Digital Media (and Social in particular) , and advises brands to start with Strategy (vs. listening, engagement and all the trappings which are only technical and therefore should only come second). As a reminder I have reposted the video of my presentation at Atlanta in 2009 in which I was explaining just that. Sometimes, being too much of  a visionary means that you have to wait for years for the mass to come to your conclusions; but this is a flaw which I am prepared to take like a man.

Why should Social Marketing restart with strategy | Influencers & Community Marketing (by Dominique Lahaix)

Wherever we look, we find evidence that Brands get limited value from Social Media:Here is an article mentioning that out of 5000 top Youtube Chanels, only 2% are brands.and here is Chris Heuer post:  Social Business is Deadand another excellent one from Augie Ray: What if everything you knew about social was wrong.

My 2009 SMBC presentation at on Vimeo.

The main thing is that most marketers approach Social as just an extra channel to promote products and services defined … when social media did not even exist and with the same techniques and metrics as before.But there is more into it, provided that marketers can challenge what used to know and really digest the paradigm shift that Social Media has brought to business, marketing and sales:

via Why should Social Marketing restart with strategy | Influencers & Community Marketing.

Brogan Declares Social Media Not Dead But Boring

Today’s selection is…

exclamation-smallChris Brogan’s latest piece which shows that those who were in first, had to go out first too. I remember Chris from his presentation at Like Minds 2010 in Exeter where I keynoted too: he was passionate, energetic… and warning the world that something big was happening.

with Chris Brogan after Like Minds 2010

All that is gone now! three gazillion repetitive blog pieces later, you now know everything about how to optimise your corporate Twitter account and/or how to trick (or survive) Facebook’s ever-changing edge rank algorithm. Or rather, you don’t! because possessing focus focusing on tools is useless! Take a bit of hindsight with this piece and find out why…

by Chris Brogan

Isn’t it time we started telling bigger stories than this?

When Julien Smith and I wrote The Impact Equation, we had a very specific goal in mind: help people get attention, understanding, and eventually a relationship of value. We built the book around the premise that well-defined goals were needed to craft ready-to-understand ideas, and that people could build a platform to spread those ideas to a network of people who cared enough to share those ideas with others. That’s the simplest possible summary of the book.

What people maybe thought they were getting was a book about social media and social networks, about marketing and campaigns. Some people believe that’s what Julien and I do. Social media are a set of tools. They’re not all that interesting to talk about in and of themselves. The “gee whiz” has left the station. We want to talk about action– or if you’ll pardon the self-reference, impact.

via Social Media Isn’t Dead: It’s Boring.

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (5/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 5 of 5

Name a few examples as to how social media management has helped Orange get more brand awareness?

In most markets in which it operates in the consumer space, Orange has a very good brand awareness not to say the best. So social media isn’t really used for this at Orange. We tend to use it more for image, co-creation (like with the entry level offer in France), brand and user experience (see or to name but a few recent examples), charity (check the French Orange foundation blog, user relationship (like Orange helpers in the UK: and brand nurturing (like Facebook Romania for instance). These are only a few examples from different countries but there are many more than this.

The only counterexample I can think of is the one I’ve been involved in for 3 years between 2008 and 2011, and it is related to the b2b arm of Orange, that is to say Orange Business Services ( . It is understandable that being in 220 different countries and territories as Orange Business Services is, means that there are vastly different levels of brand awareness in each of those geographies. Social media can come be useful in the areas in which we are not operating in the consumer space in order to boost the knowledge of Orange Business as well as our skills. It has proven very successful in many instances, we have even been able to use the blogs to initiate sales at a later stage (this is ‘pre-commerce’ again).

[1] Check my personal blog for this topic at



[4] Small Office, Home Office, i.e. very small or independent companies

[5] Media Aces is the French association of enterprises involved in social media, of which I am the President. My work on the four different types of brand in social media is available at:

[6] Oscar Wilde quotes at:

[7] Check the ‘worldwide’ tab on the page


[9] Re. Andy Sernocitz ‘Word of Mouth Marketing’ check on Amazon

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (4/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 4 of 5

What do you think the ratio for the implementation of social media campaign should be in the entire media budget of the company? How was this situation at Orange?

To begin with, I do not like the term “campaign” which I find too military and aggressive. Eventually, social media marketing is a new form of marketing, more respectful, more centred on our customer’s interests and requirements, based on the principles of crowd sourcing and customer centricity. So I ban this kind of language as well as other terms like “targets” which are often times the staples of traditional marketing but are outdated and not applicable to social media marketing. Despite what most people think, social media marketing has to be thought of in the long-term, not in the short term.

using military analogies for communications? not a good idea … From bastille day

My second recommendation would be to build engagement and then spend money, not the other way round. First, I always start building the network using content. This is what takes the greatest part of our work and energy. Each time I am in charge of a new digital department, I start working on my content strategy and building the content, both externally and internally, which will fuel my digital strategy. Once I have done that, I can start crystallise communities around the content which we have created, as well as adapt the content to the liking of our audiences. The second step is to grow the network so that it reaches a critical mass. The third stage is to create synergies between the pages and the different platforms that we use: the Facebook hub on all Orange pages[7] is a good example of that, or Orange timeline[8] which groups or Twitter accounts around Orange. But it is also a matter of linking platforms and blogs to one another, both at Orange, and with Orange partners outside of the company.

Once I have sorted out all my budgets, and made considerable savings, then and only then can I invest my money, with great care, on advertising to promote this content and bring back traffic to my main platforms. This is a slightly more lengthy approach, but it pays in the long-term and is incredibly strong in terms of resilience.

My last recommendation would be to say to companies that they shouldn’t spend millions on word-of-mouth because word-of-mouth is supposed to be cost-effective; otherwise this is just advertising and advertising works best in traditional media[9].

My main frustration with regard to social advertising is to see that mainstream social media platforms have done very little to reinvent advertising so far. Innovation in that space is not on par with what we are supposed to expect. But this will probably change in the medium-term, hopefully.

As to Orange Group, this is how we work. I still haven’t spent a dime to grow the page and yet we grew it from 40,000 people in May 2011 to over 215,000 a year later! Similarly, our Group Twitter account ( was brought from nothing to close to 9,500 followers in just a year, through sheer organic growth and content sharing.

Now that we have grown a critical mass, we might consider advertising to speed things up or bring them to the next level, but I do not expect those spends to grow out of proportion and much in excess of 10% of my overall budget, in the very long run.


[7] Check the ‘worldwide’ tab on the page

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (3/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 3 of 5

Can you give us 5 tips as to how company can manage a crisis through social media?

In fact, despite what most people think, and despite the usual romantic stories told about Internet crises and rumours, managing crises is a long-term rather than short-term exercise. Crises in social media in fact, reflect what is bad with your company, not what is wrong with your community management or the way you handle it. Here are my 5 tips about managing crises:

picture cc 2012 Yann Gourvennec (abstract album)
  1. fix internal problems first: things that you do in your day-to-day business may be kept hidden, but not in social media. Eventually, social media tells more about the way that you are organised internally than about anything else,
  2. work on the process: if you are making things up as you go along when a crisis arises, and then build the process as it happens, it means that you have done something wrong. You should work on that process from day one, before a crisis takes place,
  3. make your PR go social: don’t put all your eggs in the same basket; your PR and social media departments should work hand-in-hand. There is nothing that the community management team should do without referring to PR when a crisis arises, and vice versa, there is nothing that PR is aware of that should not be communicated to the community management team, inclusive of the stances which have to be taken and displayed. Don’t take the Lone Ranger approach by letting community managers express themselves in the name of the company even though they haven’t received clearance for it. This applies to large companies and mostly listed companies, for which external communications are extremely critical, and may not be applicable to smaller enterprises,
  4. prepare for the worst to happen outside normal working hours: my experience of crises online has shown that the worst problem often occur on a Friday night from 8 pm onwards or during the weekend, or at night. Work with vendors in order to set up round-the-clock moderation when necessary, in multiple languages when you are a worldwide company namely,
  5. set up your alerting system: not to generate alerts in real time all the time, but mostly when something bad happens so that you know in real time when you have to do something when it is really necessary.

All these are applicable to companies with a strong brand awareness only. Listed companies rank high on the agenda with regard to crisis management issues and the need to industrialise the process around them. On the other side of the coin, other companies with weak brand awareness would gain from a negative crisis rather than lose. If your brand is entirely “under the radar”, and no one is talking about you at all, then having a crisis means that at least people will talk about you; even though the experience may be unpleasant. As Oscar Wilde once put it: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about[6].”

[6] Oscar Wilde quotes at:

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (2/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 2 of 6

Give us 5 tips for a Romanian company (a corporation, and medium-size company) to build brand awareness with social media

At first sight, one may think that social media marketing is only devoted to large corporations which can afford to hire big enough teams to manage such new activities.

But I think it’s just the other way round.

One of the biggest beauties of social media is that it makes word-of-mouth marketing accessible even to those who have very little means. Hence, unless you are a small and medium-size enterprise with difficulties to cope with your own business and not enough time on your hands to visit your customers and do your everyday work, I would suggest on the contrary that you use social media to gain brand awareness and do business.

small is beautiful

In fact, with social media you don’t actually do business directly. You do what Bob Pearson would call “pre-commerce” (Jossey Bass, 2011), i.e. you create the conditions for people to buy your products or recommend them to one another.

As a rule, large corporations have already built brand awareness (this is why they are large, in essence); what such companies might seek in social media marketing may differ significantly from what small and medium-sized companies may be looking for.

SMEs and Soho[4] businesses are by definition lesser-known and  have to build their brand awareness in the first place.

Having said that, I can deliver 5 general tips for enterprises which are ready to jump on the bandwagon of social media marketing:

  1. first and foremost, know thyself and use social networks consistently with regard to your image, and your overall marketing strategy (for different types of brands and strategies, check the work the non-profit Media Aces[5] did with brand monitoring company Synthesio,
  2. don’t shift your focus from business to social media: obviously, social media should support your business by enhancing your brand experience, awareness and/or visibility. If it distracts you from doing business, then don’t do it,
  3. focus on content: if you are in b2b, it will have to be very professional (in-depth articles about your visions and technical prowess for instance); if you are in b2c, your content has to be essentially entertaining, mostly on Facebook, on which users rarely want to be bothered with serious stuff but are more interested in games, polls and interaction,
  4. be yourself: there is nothing worse than bombastic boasts (such as “we are the leaders!” mostly when it’s not true and that you are only a leader of a niche therefore not a leader) or salespeople trying to sell their wares on social media. Think of keeping your readers/users and customers happy first, and then think of yourself. Be simple and natural, and when you produce content make it interesting for them, and not for you!
  5. “socialise” your website: not by multiplying Facebook buttons, but by making your (interesting) content easier to share.

[4] Small Office, Home Office, i.e. very small or independent companies

[5] Media Aces is the French association of enterprises involved in social media, of which I am the President. My work on the four different types of brand in social media is available at:

my tips for social media management in Romania and elsewhere (1/5)

This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 1 of 5

What trends have you identified in corporate social media management at the moment? Does Romania align to these trends (or what must Romanian companies do to do that)?

I have highlighted 10 major trends in the management of corporate social media in 2012 in a post which is available at This post served as a basis for my presentation at the Ronewmedia conference which took place in Bucharest on May 16th, 2012. Rather than repeat what is said in this blog piece and was again developed during my presentation, I will attempt to sum it up in a few words:

First, social media is reaching maturity stage and is no longer considered an innovation. Second, barring a few exceptions (if you sell extremely boring products like plastic tarpaulins for instance), social media is now part of everything we do, and has become an integral part of digital marketing; b2b is no exception, on the contrary. Digital marketers who have failed to delve into the nitty-gritty of social media, have missed something big and they had better catch up. Lastly, social media is no longer restricted to a particular team within the digital department; it has to be used by each and every one of us in business.

Very few companies are an exception to this rule; the impact on b2b marketing might even be more important than that on b2c marketing, however counter-intuitive it may seem[1]. As to Romania, it is obvious that we are talking of a country in which there is already a very high level of IT knowledge and expertise, as you know there are even some international high-tech giants which are Romanian such as bitdefender[2] for instance; so it would be irrelevant to treat Romania separately from the rest of the world. Having said that, there are real regional differences in social media adoption both quantitatively and quantitatively, but the results of these discrepancies are sometimes surprising. If I look at the profile of the users of the Orange Worldwide page ( you might be very surprised to learn that Central and Eastern European users amount to more than 35% of our overall users: Poland is by far the biggest fan base in our portfolio, but Romania is not very far behind in proportion, given it is a smaller country. More than 5% of our users are Romanian in fact! And our local Romanian Facebook page ( is also booming with more than 164,000 likers.

So, Romania and Romanian companies are not out of sync and are part of this globalised world like anyone else. Only a handful of emerging countries as well as Iran and Russia standout; the Ronewmedia[3] conference provided enough evidence of the latter in its first panel.

[1] Check my personal blog for this topic at