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17/03/2010 by

The Future Of Social Media #SMWF

A while ago we announced that our very own Igor Beuker would be speaking at the Social Media World Forum. Well that day has finally come. In fact it was last Monday – so here’s a recap of the panel Igor contributed to.

A full recap of the two day conference will follow later this week.

On the panel, which was called “The changing role of Social Networking as an influencer of worldwide media”, Igor was joined by Allison Wightman from Virgin Atlantic, Sienne Veit from M&S Direct and Freddie Laker from SapientNitro.

Freddie Laker started off by saying that the intersection of social and mobile will be really interesting, with Sienne adding that they lack an in-store social media presence which is something mobile could play  a large role in. This would enable M&S to bring online discussions back to the store and build communities at local store level, rather than brand level.

Igor stated that currently there is a lack of buying opportunities in social media – Adidas has millions of Facebook fans who all discuss their sneakers on the Facebook Fanpage, but don’t have the opportunity to buy them. This means they have to go to the website, or worse an actual shop, which will see many people drop out of the funnel.

Sienne also spoke about the importance of building relationships, even if there are no direct benefits. Influence spreads amongst groups of friends, both on- and offline, and the benefits will follow eventually. Igor added that brands struggle to build these relationships as they still have a campaign based mindset, which needs to change.

Allison mentioned Virgin Atlantic’s 3Ss approach

  • Sell
  • Serve
  • Socialise

Allison continued by saying it is important for brands to sometimes socialise with customers for the sake of it, not everything has to be driven by immediate returns. Social media is the fastest growing traffic driver for Virgin Atlantic, although it is still relatively small.

A member from the audience asked how the panel thought social media had changed media relations. Both Virgin Atlantic and M&S Direct are in the early stages, starting off with optimising press releases for search and making sure the PR team are aware of any social media activity. Sienne and Allison predicted that the press office will increasingly shift towards digital, like most other business units within their respective companies.

Lastly the panel was asked how brands can keep hold of their fans online. Freddie offered that brands need to provide them with something valuable, something of substance – and this can be anything from great content, to discounts and coupons.

Igor closed with saying 95% of brands simply want a campaign in social media and are unprepared to start listening. The 5% of the brands that do have the DNA to listen and engage will be the ones to really find substantial benefits from actively participating in the social media space and will be able to keep hold off their fans.


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Daan Jansonius

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