Share your honey: we are all students

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“Share your honey” was no gathering of geeks focused on new trends in social technology, but a meet up of motivated marketers seeking for concrete business opportunities. ‘We are all a bunch of students in social media’

The conference was a great start to share best practices and ideas to move forward, since after all: ‘we’re a bunch of students in social media’, according to Ryan Ducie of These Days.

The belief in the power of social media and conversations is rising. As a result, the philosophy of conversation management is gradually finding its way to the boardrooms of big brands & companies.

Unfortunately the philosophy doesn’t always get fully across…

Too many businesses still think of conversation management as being present in social media: setting up a Facebook fan page, creating an account on Twitter, installing a YouTube channel…They rapidly consider things done and settle to let the magic begin. Obviously they end up disappointed after a while, looking at a failed business opportunities and a waste of money.

The approach towards social media nowadays can in many cases be compared to the mentality during the bubble. Ryan Ducie: ‘In those days, putting an ‘e’ in your company name was enough to skyrocket in the stock market, the same thing is happening today with social media’.

Client happiness & WOM are the fundamental goals. A strategic approach is key.

There’s obviously much more to social media than just being social for the sake of it. We have to rewind to the core in order to get the basics right: ‘the fundamental goal is to strive for clients happiness and the integration of word of mouth into all marketing activities’. Social media is only a means to this end, and hence not the answer to every marketing question. Integrating only parts of the story won’t give you an edge. ‘You have to go all the way’, says Steven Van Belleghem.

In a recent study of InSites Consulting among European marketers, we’ve found out that there’s still a lot of work ahead. Among the participating marketers:

  • 16% just puts their head in the sand: not willing to get involved and just ignoring the changing environment

  • 77% are what we call ‘checklist companies’, ticking boxes: ‘Are we on Facebook?’ Check. ‘Are we on Twitter?’ Check. ‘Do we have a YouTube channel?’ Check.

  • And only 7% (!) of the companies are going all the way by thinking & acting in a different way on a strategic level within the company

‘Social media is a business tool that requires a strategic approach’, says Ryan Ducie. Going all in implies that you need buy-in from all departments and top level management, otherwise it’s just a story of tactical implementations instead of a strategical shift within the company vision.

Lead the conversation

Many companies wait for a critical incident before taking the power of social media seriously (cfr. Dell, Nestlé, Carglass,…). Being proactively involved will avoid these situations. Leading the conversation enables us to anticipate on consumer needs, and we all know that happy clients drive the word of mouth.

Be aware: there is no off the shelf solution. ‘You just have to do it’, says Ryan Ducie. It’s all about experimenting in a trial & error modus, but have a plan. According to Nils Van Dam, Senior Vice President Marketing at Unilever, defining a clear consumer need is the first crucial step in the process, accompanied by relevant business objectives. ‘The voice of the consumer is the most important kpi’

Go beyond the obvious

Starting the conversation is not being just chatty, we have to offer concrete value to the people that are willing to connect with us. In everything we do, we need to try to go beyond the obvious. Marc Michils (Saatchi & Saatchi) , Jacqueline Smit (Microsoft) and Tom Segers (Netlog) gave some good examples of creative social media implementations that offer real value for the consumer (check out the Axe Twist campaign

What about the voice of the consumer in the boardroom?

It’s clear that social media is not a fad, it’s here to stay. Most marketers are convinced of the power of social media and are now willing to move from theory to practice.

If you want to know more, check out the book recommendations of Clo Willaerts ( to expand your expertise:

  • Social Media Metrics by Jim Sterne

  • Branding only works on cattle by Jonathan Salem Baskin

  • The New Handshake by Joan C. Curtis

Share Your Honey was an inspiring conference with lots of food for thought on the meaning of social media for business. And we might want to take it one step further, according to Steven: ‘All relevant stakeholders are represented in the boardroom, but what about the voice of the consumer? Isn’t it about time for a Chief Consumer Officer?’

What are your thoughts?