We live in an era that isn’t business as usual anymore. Living in a networked economy with an increasing overlap between consumer and technology is opening up opportunities for businesses and the resulting advertising to evolve. As Mark Earls has said marketing is increasingly moving from a world where you are marketing to people to one where people are marketing to each other on your behalf.
Daniele Fiandaca is one of the foremost trendsetters in the field and is currently running his own consultancy, Digital Fauna (DF came from the initials of his own name). Prior to starting his own consultancy, London-based Daniele Fiandaca was CEO (Europe) of Profero, an independent, privately owned digital marketing agency founded in London in 1998, growing it from a small team to the global business it is now with 300 employees in fifteen cities across the globe and boasting a highly diverse roster of clients, among them AstraZeneca, COI, Guinness, HBOS International, Johnson & Johnson, Lufthansa, and Western Union. Under Daniele’s creative leadership, the agency had won many awards, including a Gold Cannes Cyber Lion for its MINI “White Rabbit” campaign.
He also continues to run Creative Social which he founded, alongside Mark Chalmers, in 2004 and has sat on a number of juries including D&AD, Festival of Media and Revolution. His passions include film, collecting vinyl toys and traveling to exotic places.
Umair Mohsin caught up with him at the PAS Digital and Social Media workshop held at the Sheraton on September 21, 2011 and had an engaging ‘conversation’ about social media, marketing people to people, whether agencies will survive in a new media world and the future of advertising as we don’t know it.
Q. How do you usually define Social Media?
Social media is really a conversation facilitated by lots of technologies. It really is a ‘conversation’.
Q.When we say conversation do we mean between the consumer and the brand?
No! It’s a dialogue between people to people.
Q.So where do the brands come in to this?
It’s a conversation so it’s the same conversation that we might have if we were having dinner or if we were going to someone’s house. When people are having such conversations do they expect a brand to leap in and become part of the conversation? They don’t. So why do the brands feel they can do it online. What they [the brands] need to do is provide social currency to these people to actually fill those conversations. People tend not to want to speak to brands, so the brand itself has to be fundamentally interesting if it wants to become part of people’s conversations. A lot of brands don’t get that.
Q. So why than should brands take a look at social media in the first place?
Word of mouth has always been the most influential marketing media ever. Now however word of mouth now equals world of mouth. Brands can now get into those conversations and actually have people promoting them with one person conversing about it to a hundred people or even a thousand people and that’s extremely powerful.
If brands provide interesting content, interesting offers, interesting conversational pieces, some entertainment than they have more chance of people spreading it without having to spending media dollars. It can be mass reach without the cost. Fundamentally however it means you do have to have a good product as to the same extent it is much easier to get found out. You also have to be interesting.
Q. You use the word interesting a lot. When we say Interesting what do we mean? Is making someone laugh interesting?
Brands need to have social currency to be interesting. If you can make something simpler, faster, more inspiring, more available or effortless than you’ll have currency. For other examples look at the social currency wheel.
Credit: Steve Sponder
Q. Brands like McDonalds, Starbucks, Pepsi or Coke do not need social media to have social currency because of their existing heritage. Does social work in the same aspect for new companies or brands?
There is a telephone company called GifGaf in UK which is a phone network built using social media. They ensured that the community engagement happened consistently and sustainably adding value both to the brand and the community. Secondly, this form of media works best when the whole business is geared to not just accepting but embracing the value and the power of its community.
Q. What was the thing that they did different?
They listened. That’s it. You have to understand the fundamentals. People in pubs do not talk about biscuits or bulbs. You have to create something that they might talk about. Wheat Thins is a fantastic example of creating something quite humorous utilizing people’s use of social. Brands have to engage their fans and if they don’t have any than they do have to ask this question of why not and that’s the issue which they have to address first.
It must be mentioned that advertisers focus on numbers when social is not about numbers but about the quality of engagement. If you can have a group of 100 fans you can learn so much including about the products and they can be your biggest evangelists. So it’s not about the numbers. That’s why it’s a CEOs job to ensure that their company embraces social across the board.
Q. How has business changed because of social media?
Because of WOM phenomenon now products actually have to be good whereas in the past products have been successful without being so. Bad customer service is also a thing of the past, most brands do not get away with that anymore. What we’re also seeing is that people have to be far more open and honest. You have a lot of examples of businesses using social media who tried to hoodwink people and got found out very quickly. So social media has made the businesses need to be more honest.
Q. Isn’t it too many choices and too many lines of communication? How do you keep up?
If the CEO of ZAPPOS, a multi billion dollar company can spare time for twitter then no business has the right to complain. Like I said it’s the CEO that leads the whole culture. The problem you get in UK and possibly in Pakistan too that it’s the more junior people who recognize the need for social and in all honestly many senior management don’t get it. What you find is that those CEO do get it and actually embrace it will gain a competitive advantage as a result of engagement with its community.
Q. What factors should companies consider when choosing to engage on social media?
The first thing you have to understand is that what are you trying to achieve first. Going on Facebook is not a strategy. You really have to understand what it is you are trying to do. Are you trying to build a community, do you want to use it as a CRM tool, do you want to experiment and see what happens, can you recruit your biggest fans to manage your Facebook group for you… there are different ways you can do stuff. Some of the basics are that do not open a twitter account and follow a 1000 people just to have them follow you back. You have to know what the Twitter account is for. If you’re a telco e.g. and you have customers tweeting their problems to you, you can’t ignore that. You have to have a system which can respond to those tweets straight away. The acceptable time on Twitter is really no more than an hour.
Q. Best tactics, where do I start, how do I find my focus and efforts.
Listen first, be human, and first listen to what people are saying about your brands. Nielsen Buzz metrics is an excellent tool for listening.
Q. How do you pay the agency which does social media?
I don’t think advertisers should be using agencies for handling their social media. It should be in-house. The only people who know their brands are the people who work in them. How can an agency know how to answer on FB or Twitter. Agencies should be in consultancy or giving lots of training. Agency people should sit in the business if they are handling it to understand the business and talk to people around you but it should be internal to the company.
Q. Is there a future of agencies than if brands continue to grow their own communities and market themselves?
(Laughs) The future of agencies is as making brands interesting e.g. WCRS was the agency behind Orange Telecom. They made the mobile operator interesting. Great ideas are great ideas and agencies are good at great ideas. Agencies will be successful if they can provide ideas which people can belong to.
Q. What elements should be addresses in the plan and how would you measure success.
One of the ways is that people are starting to measure the avg. value of a Facebook customer vs. a non FB customer. 40% of people want to join because they want to receive discounts and promotions and then you use the engagement to help them become customers.