Speaking social media in Romania

For the past week, I have been at the ecomTEAM ecommerce conference in Brasov, Romania.

The two day conference took part at the 4* Kromwell Hotel and around 250 delegates attended, ranging from business owners to marketing managers.

I was invited to speak at the conference on the subject of social media, as many companies in Romania are exploring the use if platforms to reach wider audiences and to influence sales. I discussed the opportunity social media can bring businesses – from generating sales, to changing a reputation and educating audiences. I spoke about how some UK companies are using social media to create enriched customer experiences to encourage a loyal fan base.

Brasov is a small town, two hours from the capital of Bucharest, in the region of Transylvania. This is also the town where the Bran Castle is found, where the legend of Dracula is based. The lovely town was a great place to visit in Romania, as you can see in some of the pictures below, and the benefits of having a conference three hours outside of the capital meant that most of the attendees stuck around for the full days of the conference as well as the evening party – which was a good chance to meet and speak to people about social media in the country.

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Facebook is the most popular platform used in the country, with recent figures showing that there are 7 million active users. LinkedIn is also a popular platform, with many using it for business networking. Twitter and Instagram have much smaller audiences in Romania, and when I took my workshop of 30, only around 10% of the room admitted to using the service.

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During the first panel, featuring Romania’s Head of Google Dan Bulucea, the interesting point came up that credit card payments are not as confident as other EU markets at using credit cards to pay for items online. This led me to make the point on my panel that social media could be a good technique at highlighting great customer stories. Happy customers who have successfully shopped with online companies could be encouraged to share their positive experiences online, which will no doubt influence other potential customers in using the same payment methods.

Social media could also be a great way of building brand advocates too, if companies offer great customer service and a memorable tone of voice through their channels. During my workshop, I asked how many people had a social media strategy in place. Only two people of 30 in the room raised their hands, proving that Romanian businesses are not strategically thinking about their activity.

Creating a social media strategy can help businesses to focus on why they are using each channel, and what they should be posting. It can help to achieve objectives and focus on what your audience would respond to best. In my workshop I covered how to create a social media strategy using the following 6 steps:

1. Objectives

2. Audience

3. Platforms

4. Tone of Voice

5. Content & Frequency

6. Measurement 

My workshop aimed to inspire Romanian businesses on what is possible, using lots of example from successful global brands such as ASOS, H&M, Lidyl, Nike, Oxfam, Nandos, and Jamie Oliver.

I really enjoyed my visit to Romania, and getting to know the country and would like to thank the ecomTEAM for inviting me and making me feel very welcome. I’ve been interviewed by Garbo, a lifestyle website in Romania, about my career in social media here. You might need Google Translate!

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On the panel at Facebook HQ for DAWN

I was honoured to be part the latest Digital Advertising Women’s Network (or DAWN) event which took place at Facebook HQ in London.

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The particular theme of the event of The Work Network, and my particular angle was how to use social media tools to stay connected with your network. Many of us have an old pile of potentially useful business cards sitting somewhere gathering dust, or haven’t spoken to our colleagues from our first job for a while. Tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can enable you to keep track of your network, and reconnect with any that may provide new opportunities, partnerships and useful advice.

I believe online networking has two key benefits;

  • It widens your network to friends of friends, influential people in your industry, and peers that you haven’t even met yet.
  • It reinforces relationships with those that you have met, and helps to keep you front of mind for future opportunities.

Seeing as I have worked in three digital advertising agencies in my career, and met countless interesting people through my freelance social media consulting, there is no way I can keep up with them all via emails and correspondence. Twitter for me is the best way of staying on top of how contacts are doing, and what projects they are working on at present. LinkedIn provides an excellent way to keep track of who is working where, and what they are working on. Facebook is a great way to use your friends of friends, to build awareness around what you do or help find the right people for the right projects.

Helen Morris, Marketing Manager at Carat wrote an excellent blog post about the event, and some of the key learnings which you can find here.

 

The Modern Office: Will there be an office?

Today I attended The Modern Office event at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. The event was attended by over 100 CEOs and MDs from London’s SME business scene, and was a chance for them to see the latest Cloud gadgets and understand how they can use them to improve the way they work.

I was there representing my client Program Framework, a Microsoft Gold Partner who organised the event along with Cloudamour. You can see some of my live tweeting from the event here.

Microsoft’s Small and Medium Business Channel Development Manager, Chris Rothwell gave an enthusiastic talk about the four big mega trends of the moment; Cloud, Mobility, Social and Big Data.

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One thing he said really struck a chord with me. He asked how many of the audience work in open plan offices. Most of the room raised their hands.

‘And how many of you see half of your employees sitting there with headphones on, blocking out the rest of the office from their day to day work?’ 

Very true. I’ve worked in advertising agencies where half the staff have sat with headphones on all day – almost defeating the point of coming into a shared environment!

Now that I spend most of my time at home, I really make the most of being in shared environments like at events and conferences, and hot desking in offices as I appreciate the interaction. When I’m at home, I can concentrate on engaging with people through the likes of social media and having my meetings through Skype.

Some of the technology we saw being demonstrated today included Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint and Lync. All of these tools offer solutions for the flexible worker who is constantly on the move. Sharing presentations remotely, having instant group calls where all employees use different devices, easily seeing who has amended a version of a document…

It led me to wonder whether the Modern Office is actually an office at all – are we all just going to be working from wherever we choose, in the Cloud?

 

Highlights from Content Marketing Show November 2013

Last Friday I attended the Content Marketing Show in London, which is a free event curated by Kelvin Newman from Site Visibility.

The setup is great; a load of content marketing experts on stage for half an hour sharing lots of tips, insights and tools.

Although some speakers are there to sell, the majority of them are working daily in content marketing and shared some great insight and tips in how they work. My highlights were Lauren Pope, who works at Brilliant Noise, Simon Banoub, who shared tips from running his football insight account Opta Joe amongst others, and Kieran Flanagan from Hubspot who gave us this brilliant slide below.

Some top tweets and decks can be found on my Storify from the event here.

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BBC introduces new digital music product, BBC Playlister

This morning I went to BBC’s Radio Headquarters at New Broadcasting House for the launch of BBC Playlister.

BBC Playlister launches today and will let audiences add and save their favourite tracks heard on the BBC to a personal online playlist, which they can then export to one of the BBC’s digital music partners where they can hear the music in full.

BBC Playlister has partnered with Spotify, YouTube and Deezer so that audiences can continue to use their preferred music applications and the BBC can act as a “trusted curator” of music.

_70348550_bbc_playlisterWe heard from Radio 1 DJ and broadcaster Zane Lowe, who was excited to offer hand-picked recommendations to his fans through playlists – which will be available from favourite DJs and presenters.

It was also revealed that popular TV programmes which feature music such as Jools Holland, Strictly Come Dancing and The Voice will offer playlists featuring the music used in their shows. Even Eastenders is set to have a playlist, as popular music is often featured in the background of the soap.

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Personally, I think this was a great announcement from the BBC. I currently access the BBC playlists, or wait for the DJs to announce names and track listings of songs I like, before searching for them on Spotify. Now I can create my playlists with the click of a button. I also like the fact that the playlists will sync with any device, so I can create the list on my laptop and it will appear on my iPhone and iPad. Nice touch.

The BBC made some other important announcements yesterday in the Director General’s speech, including some exciting updates to BBC iPlayer which I wrote about on VOD Professional here. It feels like they are really raising the bar here, and I’m excited about what is to come.