Interview for IN Business Cyprus December edition: “Listen to Social media. And never stop Listening!”

Eleftherios had the pleasure to answer some interesting questions prior to his appearance at the 9th Marketing Forum in Cyprus which will take place on Friday Dec 7th, 2012.

The article you see above has been translated into Greek. You will find the full set of questions and answers here:

IN Business: Which role play Social Media within online marketing today?

Eleftherios: Eric Qualman – author of Socialnomics – said about social media: “The question is not if we do it or not. The question is how well we will do it and if we will be in business 5 years from now.” I think he was spot on with his statement. Looking at the impressive rise of social media we cannot ignore them anymore. It`s not a short-term hype rather a fundamental change of human communication behaviour and media consumption. Social media are here to stay. And the boom of mobile will further fuel this development. Consumers are connected anytime and anywhere. It`s not only something among the younger generations. Statistics prove that the latest growth comes from older generation who also follow this path. We – the marketers – have to make social media an integral part of our communication activities. We need to be where our customers and prospects are and use the means they use. Change is not easy, but we can gain a lot. Remember that relationships create transactions. And the latest technologies help us to build and nourish them. They allow us to connect on a deeper level, build stronger relationships, understand the needs of our customers better. Of course this will improve our bottom line at the end of the day.

IN Business: How does online marketing and digital media in general help business during difficult times of crisis and recession?

Eleftherios: “Necessity is the mother of invention”. The crisis brought tremendous pressure to the marketplace: Budgets had to be cut, staff had to be fired, products had to be discontinued and of course consumers had to make wiser decision about how to spend their money. Businesses have to be open to new ways of reaching their target groups. I believe that there is something good about every challenge: Difficult times force us to leave our comfort zones. And social media engagement is not comfortable at all! In this case the business world has started embracing “digital” for what it can do: offer a much more direct and efficient channel to reach our customers and prospects. Lower costs for production and media as well as better targeting are just a few examples of benefits. We simply cannot afford the sloppiness of traditional marketing anymore. In a highly connected world we can also benefit from the positive network effects caused by word-of-mouth (WOM). It`s marketing for FREE! What we all need to do is to focus on adding real value, creating high quality products and customer experiences, giving the best service we can – especially during these tough times. It`s really about getting the basics right and using the newly available social to serve to satisfy our customers in the best way possible.

IN Business: Which role does the public play in this new way of marketing?

Eleftherios: The public is a powerful force in this marketplace. People have become media. Think of blogs and what they did to publishing or product reviews on shopping sites. People trust more in peer recommendations than in advertising. So the public opinion counts more than wannabe creative headlines on billboards. Good and bad news spread like wildfire within the social networks. The empowered consumer means a democratization of media. And it also means a bigger responsibility for every single one of us. Why? We are in a battle for attention and if we do not use our voice to promote and push our favourite products and brands – it is like voting for the enemy. Yes, doing nothing at all puts pressure on our beloved brands and products. Business and brand struggle to stay on the map and in the relevant set of the consumers. We have to support – whoever deserves it. This is the new and empowered consumer and his responsiblity in this “game”.

In average 85 out of 100 new products are flops. Can we really afford such a flop rate – when we could apply the “prosumer” concept or “open innovation” instead to deliver exactly what the market needs?

IN Business: Please talk a little bit about your consulting business “Peopleizers”. What is the purpose and of your company and which are your future plans?

Eleftherios: In the last couple of years more and more people turned to me for advice and asked for my opinion related to marketing, social media and other issues around their business and personal development. I always loved to help people – so I decided to make my passion my profession. The main focus of Peopleizers lies on the role of people in life and business. We simply love people and believe in the human potential. People can do amazing things. It really blows my mind when I see how much of this human potential is wasted. Too many people live lives they don`t want, work on jobs they don`t like and in the end the customers suffer from the consequences: bad service and average products. It`s a vicious circle we want to interrupt. Peopleizers is in the centre of this challenge. We believe that the emerging social technologies can help us to improve this situation. We help our clients understand how they can do better and help them move forward in the space of social enterprises. We see ourselves as architects of social media engagement and cover the full range of services within our network of partners: From monitoring solutions to strategy development to implementation and ongoing support in their community and content management.  What differentiates our approach is that we go into the organization and stay with them until the change is made. We don`t only deliver concepts and strategies, but we execute side-by-side with the existing teams on the client side.

IN Business: We heard that you are currently writing your first book. Tell  us more about it, please!

Eleftherios: Yes, I am writing my first book at the moment and it`s a big adventure for me. I wish my days could spread a little bit longer, so I can get it done faster. I believe the world needs it! The title is “From Wall Street to Love Street”. I am writing it to share my experiences as marketing professional and business consultant but also as consumer and human being. The marketplace and workspace has changed a lot. We all have to adapt somehow. I want to share my concepts and ideas about how to shape the next chapter of human kind. The book covers topics such as leadership, personal development, corporate culture and collaboration and customer relationship management. It`s about putting people right on top of our agenda – in other words: “peopleizing” business. Of course, we also take a look at the role of technology in this game.

IN Business: You have pioneered Social Media for Mercedes-Benz being the very first social media manager of the brand. What did you learn in this role? Please share some of your lessons learned with us.

Eleftherios: I had the honour to work for one of the most fascinating brands in the world. And it was a great challenge and learning curve to be the pioneer of social media for such an enterprise level organization – especially in such an exclusive market segment. As I am not working for Daimler anymore I ask for your understanding that I cannot talk on behalf of Mercedes-Benz. However, let me share some of my lessons learned during my work there and with other valuable clients.

At this stage the role of a social media manager is still to be a Change Agent. They have to make sense out of it, inform people and explain what social media can do. Many of the decision makers have not understood yet, how the world has changed. You need to inspire, you need to push the organization forward by starting small and growing bigger as you go. We have developed a step-by- step approach over time which you can follow when initiating your social media engagement:

  1. Listen – Use web monitoring to listen to the conversations that are taking place and gather relevant data.
  2. Strategy – Analyze the data and define exactly what you want to do in a middle to long term strategy. How do you want to use social media for your business?
  3. Enter – only then start populating your social media profiles and engaging with your community. Move from broadcasting to dialogue.
  4. Adapt – you will have to adapt to changes in this dynamic playground. Stay open for whatever comes up in your community
  5. Lead – as your organization gets used to social media there will be plenty of opportunities to lead the way, e.g. being the first mover on a new platform or running creative campaigns.

In enterprise level and global organizations it is very important to develop central guidelines and give orientation to your teams across the world. Make sure to be consistent and that there is a common understanding about what you want to achieve in social media. Of course regular communication will help to keep everybody on board. You have to bring everybody on board and break down walls and barriers between the silos. Social Media Engagement is for team players! And you will never win alone.

IN Business: What exactly will you talk about in your presentation at the 9th Marketing Forum in Nicosia on December 7th. What can attendees look forward to?

Eleftherios: I would be very honoured to meet as many Cypriots as possible at the conference. I hope that the audience will get some real value out of my keynote which they can use for their own efforts. I will draw from my broad range of experience with leading brands and my work in and with social media in the past years. I also know from personal experience that it really helps to get an outside view on things sometimes. It`s very helpful to look beyond your own activities and learn how others deal with the similar challenges. I also hope that you will feel my love for this subject. Last time I have been in Cyprus it felt like coming home. My family lives in Rhodes – which is not far away – and I found that we have many things in common. So, see you in May at a hopefully sunny conference.

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  1. Nathaniel Hansen
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 14:30 | Permalink

    Great stuff here Lefti!! Rock it!

  2. Posted March 20, 2013 at 17:57 | Permalink

    Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
    Online Marketing Liverpool

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