We DIGGIT – an exclusive interview for the Marketing Magazine prior to the DIGGIT conference 2012

Eleftherios Hatziioannou will be one of the main speakers at the DIGGIT conference 2012 in Ljubiljana. The event will take place June 6-7 and it is one of the major conferences for digital communications and IT in the region – along with Webit Expo where Lefti delivered “The Sweet Spot” last year. The local Marketing Magazine did interview Lefti in anticipation of his keynote and we are pretty sure that you`ll be interested in reading his answers to some really great questions. The interview was already published in Slovenian a few days ago, but we are happy to share the English version with you now:

MM: Have you ever been asked to do the online marketing for a political campaign or organization and what was your answer?

I have had some conversations with local politicians after conferences and I have given some personal advice to them during dinner – however I have not worked officially on a political campaign on a “client basis” yet. Technology can definitely help make (political) change happen. We have seen that with Barack Obama and more recently the Arabic Spring. Businesses, organizations and politicians should embrace the newly available tools and channels to be closer to their audience and have an ongoing conversation with them – something that has never been possible at such a large scale B.S.M. (before social media). We have moved from “one to many” to “many to one” communication channels powered by the latest social technologies.

MM: Can the internet help Greece and – if yes – how?

Of course I do believe that the internet can help Greece. Just think of the digital natives of Greece and their role in building the future of the country. Also the www is truly global. Greece can spread a more positive message to the world and it can create a more authentic picture of Greece which is not only about shocking and bad news. I have my family in Greece and I hear the true stories. If you look at the media coverage on TV or in newspapers during the past months – it was always about the dark side of Greece, but this is only one side of the story.

Peter Economides – a leading brand strategist and friend of mine – has shown how we can ignite positive change by launching a movement called “time to imagine the future of Greece”. He started a positive conversation about the future of Greece instead of complaining about the current situation. I truly believe that this is the right way out of the crisis. One has to feel great first before he/she can do great things – as he says. Greeks need to use the available technologies to bring people together, create a vision and take action. Greece depends on individual leadership. Everybody has to become a leader, feel responsible and take action in his/ her own small or big circle to build a better and brighter tomorrow. I am happy about the latest news on this project. Peter started collecting money for a incubator in Athens which will help ideas become reality. Of course – I wish him the best of luck!

MM: Is medium still the message?

I still believe that content is king. I recommend that we all focus more on creating interesting, entertaining, engaging and value adding content than philosophizing too much about the medium. Good content spreads naturally and the media landscape is dynamic! What is nice about today`s media landspace is that great stuff spreads much faster and further because because of social media or “word of mouth on steroids” – as Gary Vaynerchuk put it. By the way you must read his book “The Thank You Economy”. What we also need to consider while creating great content is that it is as “liquid” as possible. Ideas need to be adaptable to different formats and media so they can flow wherever people want to consume them. Just think of the different devices that have gone mainstream lately: smartphones, tablets, etc… This is a completely new landscape compared to a few years ago.

MM: If you could ask Facebook one question – what would your question be?

Facebook is getting bigger and bigger everyday. This platform is on its way to become something like the “net within the net” which puts Facebook in a very powerful position. I really love the success story of Facebook and I am an ambassador for many years. But I am also a little bit concerned – especially since the announcement of their IPO later this month. We all know what can happen – when money rules the world. I hope that Facebook will make smart choices in the future and that it will live up to its huge responsibility. Remember: Google had to develop a mantra “don`t be evil” to convince the public that they won`t use the user data for “bad” purposes. I haven`t seen something like that from Facebook yet. Therefore my question would be: What happens to my user data? Do you have a hidden agenda, e.g. special agreements with the FBI or other authorities? Do you share my data with third parties? If yes – who are they?

MM: Do you agree that curating is the new form of authorship (you retweet a lot)?

If you look at the media landscape and our highly connected world of today we all have become media ourselves. We share what matters to us with who matters to us. And this happens simultaneously to the continuous marketing efforts of businesses for their brands and products. We are in a war of attention! Therefore everybody should feel responsible to spread good content, like and share great brands/products. Because if you don`t – it`s like giving your vote to the “enemy”. We need to help the “good guys” stand out – we need to re-tweet, share and like them or they will vanish over time. I believe that this is our responsibility as empowered consumers.

MM: What’s the difference between the relationships someone has with a brand like Mercedes and a brand like Rio Mare? Something you purchase once or twice in your life vs. something you purchase weekly?

The basic principles of good relationships apply to both brands: Trust and transparency, respect for each other, adding value, etc… The difference, however, lies in the expectations towards the brands and the perception of the added value. There is a different expectation of added value for a premium brand like Mercedes-Benz. People simply expect more: higher quality and more outstanding stuff. What it is very important in both cases is authenticity. Let me give you a very simple example: Think of a promotion “buy one and get one free”. It can work great for Rio Mare, but wouldn`t be really suitable for MB, right?! (Although I am sure it would create a lot of buzz on the web;)) No matter – if you sell weekly or once or twice in a lifetime you need to get into the relevant set of the consumer. And this won`t happen just in time by putting out a TV commercials and a newspaper ad. People trust their peers more than advertising. Brands need to become like a peer – at least they should try to be perceived like that.

MM: Social media never sleeps. Is there such thing as a day off for a social media/ community manager?

You are right that the 24/7 challenge is something we need to address because the global digital world never sleeps. However, it depends on how you set the rules. Make clear what you can do and what not. Inform people that you are available on certain platforms and at certain times – if you cannot be around all the time. In the past we had a sign with the opening hours at our doorstep today we simply need to communicate our opening hours differently. People in your community understand that even a community manager needs a break sometimes – so just be very open about it. Some sort of culture and mutual understanding will evolve over time and if you do your job right – people will help you get the job done, e.g. customers will help each other. The beauty of the social web is: collaboration, communication, co-creation, co-curation, etc… We (the marketers) are not alone!

Could we see a screenshot of your desktop? 🙂

Yes, you can… As you can see sometimes I need a little reminder to stay focussed and work harder 🙂

MM: How would you invite people to your presentation at Diggit in 140 characters?

The future is digital – are you ready? Come & hear Lefti`s lessons learned as new media marketer and (corporate) social media pioneer!

MM: Last question – do you believe in elevator pitches?

I like the concept behind “elevator pitches” very much– but it is really hard to put things in a very simple way. I do it sometimes with my own ideas and ask people – if they like them or not. If you can`t say it in short you probably don`t understand the core problem yourself! I came across a quote recently which I want to share with you: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler” by Albert Einstein. I really love it.

I am looking forward to some great conversations with the Slovenian audience about new media, marketing and the impact of social media on life and business in general. See you all in June!

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