In fitness and communication don’t pay peanuts to get monkeys

EXPENSIVE OR CHEAP CONSULTING? Let’s talk about it…
Lately I’m getting a lot of requests via Instagram to provide some advice and consultation on fitness. How can I lose weight? What should I eat? What supplements should I take? And so on…

This is pretty flattering but no matter how many of such requests I get, I prefer to recommend people to “real” professionals in this field and to people who can dedicate an appropriate amount of time to clients who really want to improve their physical skills. Why do I do that?
1. I am aware I don’t have the expertise, nor the knowledge, nor the time to help a person through this very encompassing path. I acknowledge it and I would be a fraud if I did.
2. I would damage the market at expenses of “actual” PTs, nutritionists and trainers.

The same thing happens often in communication and digital marketing but getting cheap consultation is more expensive than getting proper plans of action.

If you are faced with the choice of spending your budget, for whatever purpose, between a lot of cheap service or a few good services, my advice is to always focus on quality, not quantity!

Advertisements

My 2015 Top 10 US/Canada favourite viners

I love Vine. I loooooooove it. I do some Vines myself sometimes but I must admit I have been on the down low lately. Although I’m definetely not a great viner, I think some of my vines were pretty cool, you know, considering I’m just a guy in the Eurobubble… Check me out and leave your comments

Below is my Top 10 US/Canada Viners for 2015. Even though I tried, it was really hard to decide since North American viners really stepped up their game this year both in terms of content and in terms of quality of the products. Besides, all famous viners seem to have moved to California in order to continue their work and do lots of collabs among each other. This idea totally saved the platform which was on a bit of a stalemate in 2014 but resuscitated over the past 12 months. Hats off to guys at Vine and to all the viners who are evolving and now moving to an overall comedy videos-making biz. I’ll soon do a UK/Ireland Top 10.

What do you think about it? What is your personal Top 10?

Let me know in the comments below

  1. SCOTTY SIRE

Scotty doesn’t give a damn. Punchy, real and makes real life situations totally hilarious. He is my number 1 viner for 2015. Born in California. Both his mom and brother appear in several of his vines.

maxresdefault Continue reading “My 2015 Top 10 US/Canada favourite viners”

My corner of “People of Expo”

I was very happy to be included in the People of Expo project.

CaptureMARCO // community manager commissione europea // Bruxelles
community manager Padiglione UE

Qui in Expo gestisco la presenza digitale del nostro padiglione; questo non significa semplicemente fare del broadcast di informazioni ma significa cercare sia di attrarre i visitatori verso il nostro Padiglione sia creare una community social europea interessata a tutte le tematiche di Expo, sulle quali l’UE legifera per tutti i 510 milioni di suoi abitanti. Questa esperienza mi ha fatto mettere in discussione la stabilità che avevo prima per la bellezza di lavorare in un ambiente del genere, dove puoi incontrare gente da tutto il mondo ogni giorno, dove non stai mai seduto, dove riesci a fare comunicazione con le scarpe da ginnastica, camminando, andando a trovare le persone, un ambiente molto fertile per i progetti. Poi Milano è una bellissima città.

European Commission community manager // Brussels
EU Pavilion community manager
Here at Expo I manage the digital presence of our pavilion; this doesn’t simply mean broadcasting information, but also trying to on the one hand attract visitors to our pavilion, and on the other create a European social community interested in the Expo themes, on which the EU legislates for all its 510 million inhabitants. This experience led me to question the stability I had before, and to appreciate the beauty of working in a place like this, where you can meet people from all over the world every day, where you never sit at a desk, where you communicate by walking around in your trainers and meeting people: it’s a very fertile ground for new projects. Besides, Milan is a beautiful city.

Thank you “or not” for the follow

Lately I get more and more “Thank you for following me” direct messages on Twitter. Thanking for the follow is a quite common practice especially among consultants, communication experts or people working in public relations. Also it might make sense for companies to automatically feed new followers on relevant information or contact details. Still, I find it hard to see the added value in “thanking for the follow”, and besides, it’s quite annoying. Let’s break this down:

PROS

  • You display engagement with your audience.
  • You acknowledge and digitally “reward” your new followers, giving them “social currency.”
  • You look kind and friendly.

CONS

  • You display FAKE engagement with your audience. Which is even worse than not saying anything.
  • You look like you’re trying to sell a second-hand car.
  • You’re annoying

Acknowledging your network is absolutely golden, but is automatically thanking for the follow the right way to do so?

What do you think? Let me know.

An awesome day the Social Media Trends Summit

It was a fantastic day at the EUROVISION Social Media Trends Summit in London. I really had great fun but, most importantly, I had the chance to meet some incredible communication professionals and at the same time promote what the European Union will do at Expo Milan 2015. I’ll write about my presentation in a separate post. Not because people are just waiting impatiently to read it (I’m not that disillusioned) but because the topic I discussed deserves a separate chapter. Besides, just the selfie you see below deserves another dedicated post 🙂

The summit had the target of exploring strategies and exchange knowledge and best practice in the field of social media for public service media with the wider European Broadcasting Union network. It was an aspect of social media I hadn’t been involved in before. Hence, listening from the experience of TV and radio producers was really interesting and I hope I’ll get a chance sometimes to work in the same realm.

Social media is now an integral part of public service broadcasting. Maximizing the use of social platforms has become key to making the case for public service media as it allows us to understand our audiences better and to be more relevant to them; to increase engagement and interactivity; to empower, curate and share stories and messages; and to become the most relevant source of information for our audiences.

Bringing reporters, producers and presenters together was the ideal set to understand how radio, TV and paper need to reshape their content and their way of working by integrating social media in their overall communication plans. In particular, in the past few years, I have been witnessing the tendency, from social media professionals, to over-discern themselves, from communication managers.

Social_Media_Trends_Summit As I said in my presentation:

Conversations about social media are diverging from conversations about general communication. It’s now time to make these two converge not diverge. You notice this in the way some businesses and organizations are set out. You find the community manager in an office separated from the PR team, who hardly speak to the press officer, who doesn’t have a clue about what the webmaster is doing. Community managers in 2015 need to be at the centre of communication, not at the corner

A significant part of the conference discussed how social media is reshaping journalism. A topic that Alex Volonté took a closer look at in his blog.

The conference saw the participation of many speakers, mainly from the Scandi-Anglo-Saxon world. It seems to me that Scandinavia is a great and comfortable place to promote innovation in communication and public engagement. There’s no corruption, everybody is young, everybody loves technology and people are not afraid to speak up. It’s a pretty different working environment from their south-European counterparts where political communication hides numerous hurdles towards transparency and accessibility. Apart from reminiscing the ideal world that Scandinavia creates in my mind, I particularly enjoyed four presentations:

Cilla Benkö, Director-General, Swedish Radio, was one of the most appreciated speakers at the event, as you can see from the tweets about her. A strong, decisive and pragmatic woman that seems not to compromise to mediocrity. To cut a long story short:

Social media is not only for the young generation. We must adapt to it and use it our best

When you can tell people that you work for the X Factor and MTV, you already start with a step ahead in terms of coolness. That’s what Laura-May Coope can say. Pragmatically, Laura explained how social media isn’t just marketing, posting, replying, favouriting etc… It’s a bilateral process where you both speak and listen. Otherwise, we would just call it broadcasting. It’s two-way communication. When she’s asked how she gets her stories, she basically says that she’s “always listening to social media.” Is there any other better and richer source for content? I don’t think so

The best story of the day was not about engagement or live-tweeting strategies. It was about how the digital presence of the Eurovision Song Contest came about. Believe it or not, it was (obviously) all because of a girl. Sietse Bakker, Eurovision Song Contest Event Supervisor, a loooooooooong time ago, wanted to impress this girl he liked. How, you ask? By making a website about the Eurovision. Long story short, he gets a job offer for that. Sure, there is more to that but this happened.

This is an awesome success story and it really embraces a set of recommendations I always give to neo-graduates: “Jobs ain’t waiting for you. In this market you have to stand out of the crowd and go get those jobs by the horns.” Sietse (kind of) did that. If you have an awesome idea, smart businesses will see it. Sietse is a terrific guy (see the tweets below as a proof) and the people at EVN Social loved his approach. Plus, he manages probably the coolest cross-country TV event in Europe. I mean, how can you not like the chap?

The reason why I need to talk about Alex Trickett, Head of sports at Twitter, is because Twitter Sports created some of the coolest social media analitycs-based charts I have seen during the 2014 Football World Cup in Brazil.

Getting to the point of their strategy during big sports events, Alex share his five commandments

More videos from the event will come soon. I’ll keep you posted for any update.

Peace out.

7 reasons to follow the EU at Expo

Expo Milan 2015 will be the first real “social media World Expo.” Even though Shanghai 2010 did display a touch of social networks within their outreach efforts, Expo Milan invests and relies massively on social media. The goal of this intense use of social networks and digital connections is manyfold. Not only is this strategy intended to reach the expected 20 million visitors, but also to concentrate on those who won’t be able to make it to Milan and have an interest in debating how we can feed the planet now, and in the future.

“Seven” is both an Expo paradigm and coefficient: Expo Milan foresees the sale of seven times the tickets sold during the latest football World Cup in Brazil. Every day. Expo will welcome daily an average of seven times the visitors of Disneyland Paris at its maximum capacity. 7000 are the events scheduled to take place during the six-month-long fair. Should I continue?

The European Union will be there to make a strong stance and present openly how its policies, its aids and development projects and its scientific contribution to the global debate on food and nutrition. Here are seven reasons why you should follow this incredible project on social media:

  • One voice for the EU – The European Union as a whole will be represented in Milan. It will not be an institutional but an organizational presence speaking on behalf of all the EU institutions.
  • Alex and SylviaOur journal. Our trip. Our experience in real time through the European Commission’s widest digital network.
  • Thematic weeks Food is a realm that cuts across numerous fields of expertise. To cover as many aspects as possible of the global debate on nutrition, we dedicate social media thematic weeks to deepen the discussion, the information and the content on each specific topic covered by the EU.
  • Facebook – Our eyes, hears and mouth on the pavilion, on Expo, on the visitors. Day by day you will see everything there is to know about Expo2015 and the European Union.
  • Twitter – To keep yourself in the loop. Our events, our conferences, our statements, our guests and all the material shared and commented on by our digital network. Wanna be part of that? Follow @EUExpo2015 & #EUExpo2015.
  • Instagram – Our creativity expressed in a diary made of images. Ours, yours, the community’s. Be part of it!
  • LinkedInOur microscope on science, policy and development in the realm of global food and nutrition security. For experts, scientists and those who want an institutional answer to their questions about the future of food.

Our social media is strongly based on multilateralism. We publish, we listen, we engage. We are the real time voice of the EU in the biggest event of 2015

Anything more check out our website europa.eu/expo2015

Capture

Open your ears: social media monitoring is not all about being techy

Open your ears

It is a common misperception to think of social media as different from traditional media. I believe that the more communication technologies evolve the more we must learn to see social media as part of “all media.” However, it is true that some aspects of media monitoring require a different perspective when talking about social media and gathering intelligence.

Do you know what’s been said about you, and where?

In a previous blog post I advocated how audience segmentation (the process of dividing a broad target audience into more specific subgroups) is key to effective communication output (the way we communicate).

When I was asked to prepare a presentation on social media monitoring to gather intelligence I realized how this also applies to communication input (the way we gather information to then produce communication output).

Knowing where people are talking about you and your activities is crucial. We’re currently in an era of information overload and learning how to listen and extract the information which is useful for our communication strategy is not an easy task.

We tend to think that effective monitoring is about being techy or using the most advanced tools or the most elaborate algorithms. At the social media team in the European Commission we are often asked “How can I find influencers on topic X or Y” or “what tools can tell me exactly who to follow on a particular topic.” I’m afraid the answer is: there is no magical tool. Tools will help ease your workload but you should not forget the so-called “human touch.” No matter what monitoring platform you are using or monitoring project you’re setting up, you will always need some manual background research work.

Choose the appropriate monitoring technique

We can distinguish different types of monitoring activities on social media. These are mainly based on:

  • The amount of information that needs to be processed.
  • The duration of the event/topic at stake.

Roughly I could identify:

  • Continuous monitoring
  • One-off monitoring
  • Short-term project-based monitoring
  • Long-term project-based monitoring

Continuous monitoring

“Taking the temperature” of the social media interactions and shared content in relation to your activities is very important. Whether you do that through a corporate monitoring tool or via different platforms, every-day monitoring allows you to be reactive and keep close to the action. It is by monitoring the trends, the data and volumes of information on a daily basis that you will be able to understand when values are unusual (unusually high or unusually low) and to promptly react when needed.

One-off monitoring

This usually refers to monitoring activities which are done una tantum. They generally end with prompt reports and are used to assess the performance of specific activities. They are good to evaluate events such as conferences, debates, press briefings, campaigns etc…Was the event successful? If not, why? Can we do something to counterbalance? This type of monitoring should be used to answer these questions.

Short-term project-based monitoring

Short-term project-based monitoring can be set-up when a particular “opportunity window” opens (alteration of trend and detection of unusual values). For instance, if you are continuously monitoring discussions on social media about “finance” you will be able to notice when significant amounts of discussions suddenly start revolving around related topics like legislation, transactions fees or regulation. If any such topics is of particular concern for you, it would be interesting to follow a procedure similar to what you can see below.

Social_media_monitoring

1. After identifying the issue (i.e. huge concern on social media about upcoming financial regulation) you should measure how far the issue has expanded on social media. This can be done by measuring reach, engagement, shares and retweets, likes etc…

2. Further ad hoc monitoring will allow you to identify influencers and to be able to understand the sentiment around the topic (positive, negative, neutral)

3. After that it is recommended to make a decision on how to engage on the topic with the right stakeholders and suggest a publishing/output or rebuttal strategy.

4. Once this is done, it is necessary to reassess the situation and report it back to the people in charge who will verify if the issue is over or continues.

5. If the issue continues, go back to step 1

If you make step 5 it means that your short-term project-based monitoring becomes long-term.

Long-term monitoring project

These are monitoring projects that are on-going and for which you cannot foresee an exact end date. It’s good to keep an eye on these projects regularly on long intervals or when timely events may lead to values alteration.

Of course there are cases that require the implementation of monitoring projects that go beyond what we have presented here. Nevertheless, whatever monitoring activity you think of setting up, it is important to consider:

  • Consistency

Stick to consistent measurement and reporting techniques. This is key to providing effective benchmarking.

  • Sustainability

Organise your monitoring activities according to the resources you have at your disposal. Although it is very important to monitor your presence on social media, it also requires considerable resource investment. Try to find a sustainable balance between your workload and time spent on social media monitoring.

  • Essentiality

With the help of social media monitoring tools, either expensive custom solutions or free online platforms, you will be able to gather enormous amounts of information. Think about who you are reporting this to and stick to what really matters. Information overload is your worst enemy.

Should Instagram maintain its original engagement model?


I have been looking for a third party software in order to manager an Instagram account and plan some posts beforehand. I thought it would be easy to find but actually, apart from some apps like Instarepost or similar, there isn’t much on the market to help community management on Instagram. I contacted the company I work with to do social media monitoring and they send me an interesting reply:

At this time, uploading via the Instagram API is not possible. We got in touch with them to ask whether this would change, but we received the following reply:

“Instagram is about your life on the go – we hope to encourage photos from within the app. However, in the future we may give whitelist access to individual apps on a case by case basis. We want to fight spam & low quality photos. Once we allow uploading from other sources, it’s harder to control what comes into the Instagram ecosystem. All this being said, we’re working on ways to ensure users have a consistent and high-quality experience on our platform.”

I find it very interesting to see how Instagram sticks to their original business model without giving in to the desktop/laptop management temptation. This was for instance a decision Vine went for but it made them lose some of their uniqueness. Vine used to be a spontaneous app where really creative people would experiment and challenge their abilities within the pretty strict limitations of the app. That’s what made Vines very unique. Since they allowed uploads of basically any six seconds videos, they did make it easier for the users to be present in the Vine community but they completely killed their original engagement model. I still believe that making any six second video doesn’t mean making a Vine. But this is what almost the entire Vine community has become.

From what I read on Uplifted, Instagram are taking this very seriously. In Instagram’s continued quest to remain an exclusively mobile app, they are now penalizing users of third-party apps, such as Gramblr.  Gramblr still works great for posting pre-edited photos, but with a catch.  Instagram is now disabling hashtags on accounts that have used Gramblr in the past, sometimes even for just one photo. Businesses and individuals who wish to accumulate followers should stick to posting strictly from the sanctioned instagram app.

Latergram might just be the next big thing in social media management.  The app, which bills itself as the way to “schedule and manage your Instagram posts” promises to do just that and more. Still in beta version.

Have another alternative? I’d love to know!

Time for some social media spring cleaning


It is in the job description of all Community Managers to try as many digital and social platforms as possible. Mainly for two reasons:

  • Know what’s on the market
  • You never know at an early stage, which platform is going to fly

This winter has been unseasonably warm in Italy (where I spent my Christmas) so I thought I could aniticipate my spring cleaning. It is time to rationalize and put aside some of the platforms, blogs, newsletters I’m not really following and I lost interest in.

First thing first, I needed to clean up my Twitter followership. I like making connections and building communities. That is actually a significant part of my job. Nevertheless, for my personal network I realized I needed to massively rationalize the information (over)load I receive everyday. Mainly, this information comes from Twitter. To do that I used the free version of ManageFlitter which helped me greatly. There’s still some clean-up to do but my Twitter feed is now way more pleasant and manageable that it used to be and my engagement rate got higher straightaway. Simply, I now manage to follow those accounts that really matter (to me).

Then, it was time to get rid of some social media platforms I wasn’t using anymore or didn’t serve my professional needs. I’m not writing to discredit these companies but just to present my personal experience on a topic common among many communication professionals.

  • Xing – Xing experienced a bit of a hype between 2007-2009 but the growth of LinkedIn from 2010 onwards almost killed this German based social network, that managed to survive by creating their own niche. Xing is a platform for enabling a small-world network for professionals. By displaying how each member is connected to any other member, it visualizes the small-world phenomenon. Like LinkedIn, basic membership is free but many core functions can only be accessed by the premium members. I believe it is still useful in those niche environments and countries (mainly German speaking) where the platform developed. About 76% of all pageviews come from Germany, 90% from the D-A-CH area, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.[7]
  • PearlTrees – Perhaps it’s my fault. I was a Pearltrees early joiner but I never manage to get their USP. Pearltrees refers to itself as “a place for your interests.” Functionally the product is a visual and collaborative curation tool that allows users to organize, explore and share any URL they find online as well as to upload personal photos, files and notes. If this platform has potentials, I didn’t get it. Sorry.
  • Hi 5 – It doesn’t make much sense to have a Hi 5 account if you don’t live in Nepal, Mongolia, Thailand, Romania, Jamaica, Central Africa, Portugal or Latin America. I used it for some time when I travelled often to Portugal.
  • Most Social Media Marketing Newsletters – Social media  marketing (especially US-based) is becoming so obsolete. I can’t even stand witnessing the proliferation of self-appointed social media gurus writing useless guidebooks and charging 1.000s of $ a day for trainings on how to open a Facebook page. I think Europe is maintaining more an “all-comms” approach rather than focussing exclusively on SMM. I was happy to unsubscribe from useless newsletters and I will now stick to people with interesting and practical insights. On the issue of EU affairs newsletters, you can share your opinion on Kosmopolito‘s blogpost What is your favourite EU affairs newsletter

Which social networks have you tried and dumped?

Share it in the comments below.

Why Yelping matters


Yelping matters. That’s right. Reviewing businesses at the local level helps both customers understand how to make sensitive choices when purchasing goods, services or meals and it mutually helps businesses improve themselves. Only those businesses that apply positive constructive critiques to their work and their investments are able to survive and develop a demanding market.

Yelp_Brussels

Yelp does all that. Many ask “Why not using Tripadvisor instead?” Tripadvisor is a terrific community that helps travellers planning their holidays and not get ripped off when booking a hotel or ordering a meal. The opinions you find on Tripadvisors are mostly from tourists to tourists. Yelp connects locals to locals and locals to tourists. It provides the image of the local people of local businesses. Whether you value more the opinion of one-off consumers or regular community connaisseurs is up to you but the grassroot community building that Yelp brings up is pretty extraordinary, especially in big cities.

The case of Brussels is very interesting. A trilingual community (French, Dutch and English) in a very international environment with tourists, expats, businessmen and locals communicating at the same level.

I started being engaged on Yelp some months ago and I’m happy to see that my continuous reviewing has paid off. I was made yesterday an Elite Squd Member of the Brussels community. I mainly stick to my field of expertise: food.

I love food, I love eating, I love watching my nutrition. As a lad from Parma (yes, one the world capitals of some of the most recognized foods in the world) I’m happy about the improvement that Brussels has displayed over the past few years in terms of food services, making in Forbes Top 10 Cities for Street Food.

Belgium is not a well-know and recognized place for its cuisine. Undeniably, Brussels is standing out lately. Possibly the huge inward immigration fluxes from all over the world have helped raising standards, variety and food culture. I am loving this trend.

Check out my Yelp profile and follow Yelp Brussels on Twitter.