I recently reached out to European social influencers, thought leaders, innovators and early adopters, and conducted a series of interviews around the state of social business in Europe. I’ve previously spoken with Dachis Group London General Manager and Principal Consultant Robin Hamman on the state of social business in the UK and Philips’ Global Head of Digital and Social Marketing, The Netherlands based Blake Cahill. Today I‘ll continue the series with Giuseppe Mayer, General Manager of Ambito5 in Italy.
Giuseppe Mayer is General Manager at Ambito5.com, an independent social business agency in Italy focused on strategy, activation and measurement for clients like Barilla, Costa Crociere, Ikea and Coca-Cola. He is also co-founder at ProduzioniDalBasso.com, a crowdfunding platform online since 2005, and advisor at Login, a coworking/accelerator space in Milan. Follow him on Twitter at @giuseppemayer.
The State of Social Business: Italy with Giuseppe Mayer
Lara Hendrickson: In one sentence, describe the state of social in your country.
Giuseppe Mayer: In Italy, brands are approaching social media as a relevant tool, often integrated in a special project or in an advertising campaign but, with some brilliant exceptions, usually this has been done in a more tactical way without considering the strategic implication of this paradigm change in the communication ecosystem.
What has been the biggest shift you have seen in the social space over the course of the past few years?
With the evolution of mainstream social platforms, brands are starting to get that they have to move away from contrived editorial calendars; they need to create experiences using advocates to leverage and share the message and data to focus on real business outcomes.
What would you estimate the level of participation in social to be in Italy, and how do you see this changing in the future?
Italian adoption of social media is one of the highest in the world: 90% of the internet population has an account in a social network (mainly Facebook actually, but not only), and this means a high potential value for companies willing to participate in conversations.
Brands can now act as a media company, becoming a storyteller to the consumers, getting inspired by brand equity and brand advocacy and also engaging the internal staff in a coherent “activation” process with clear business and communication plans.
What area (marketing, HR, etc.) have you seen social most effectively adopted?
In our country PR and Communication departments were among the first in understanding the value and the disruptive impact of this evolution; those are the areas that are now experimenting with a more advanced approach, also in terms of measurement (i.e. the “influencer mapping” concept that is becoming more and more relevant in our digitalPR projects).
Would you say social is integral to Italian business strategy?
It really varies from case to case: some clients began this process two or three years ago and for them being integrated is the only way to be. Those companies are now considering the integration of social dynamics also in internal company processes (ie product development or HR).
What methods of social business do you see succeeding and where is the value?
In my opinion the key is in the merge of multisourced information and data in a unique set of categories and KPI, clear and easy to understand by the traditional marketing people; this is what is needed to attach the right value, also in terms of ROI, to a social business project.
Have you seen any trends in allocation of social budget?
In the last year and half the need to measure and better understanding the correlation between social activity and business outcome has dramatically increased; clients now understands that in order to have relevant numbers – compared with the platform’s ones – a consistent effort in dedicated platforms and analysis tools is needed although not included in the budget share traditionally.
The budget is also increasing in “native” advertising.
What are the most popular social platforms in your area?
Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are the biggest in number – in particular we had an amazing growth of Twitter on specific targets, which happened in other European countries such as France and UK.
What is the next hot platform in your country? What platforms are growing the fastest in your country?
Not considering Twitter (that is quickly becoming the social media for opinion leaders, journalists and influencers), in Italy there is a growing interest on Pinterest and Tumblr; the challenge now is to manage the straights to dedicate to every single channel and to capitalize the experiences to give the right role to each of them (for exemple we learned that a tweet has a different life circle than a post on tumblr or a pin on Pinterest).
Are there any unique challenges to social marketing in your country? How are you working to overcome them?
Due to the high penetration of TV in the mediatic italian diet most of the budgets are allocated to this traditional media (56% in 2012 ) and the increase of digital had taken the place of print and radio without a real change in the mediamix, this is more true for FMCG than for other industries.
The first experiments of social TV are on the right path to integrate social media and TV, so strong in our market.
Do you think most large enterprises in Italy have a specific person dedicated to social? What are some of their job titles?
Yes, some job titles are Social Media Manager, Digital & Social Operations or Global Social Media Strategist. It might sound like a paradox but in the most evolved clients, often international ones, those roles have already disappeared because their functions have been integrated in the overall marketing and communication areas.
Do you think most CEOS or CMOs in Italy recognize social’s business impact, or are socially savvy themselves?
Not in Italy, but things are changing faster every day. Platforms like Twitter, focusing on relevance and real-time, are attracting C-levels mainly for returns in terms of visibility.