Integrated Community Engagement


By @CharlottCatt


 * Image source:

Let’s be honest. Most of us still have that little kid inside us that really wants a good grade. I know I do. And I suspect some of our clients might as well. When determining the objectives of a new project, these tend to take the form of a certain quantitative measure as an indicator for success, such as the amount of press coverage, the number of consumer reviews or event attendance numbers.


However in our business, it’s not just about the numbers. What we strive for every day, is a fine balance between quality and quantity (and in an ideal world, achieve both). Getting your messages published in that specific trade publication or having those select few key influencers attend your event can have a significant impact. You’re not just reaching a broad anonymous public, but a targeted audience that’s in line with your strategic goals. And that is exactly what our job is about.


When a brand takes its first steps in the field of digital communications, it can easily fall into the quantity trap. Fans, friends, followers … they’re all such seducing KPIs. One gets greedy and keeps wanting more and more of them. But this greed for community members may in fact be a hindrance, blinding us to what really counts.


Granted, as a warm blooded community manager, my heart skips a tiny beat with every new fan, every new person to connect with. Nonetheless, we should always strive toward a qualitative, rather than a sizable fan/followers base. Sure, a Facebook page with thousands of fans looks nice, but it isn’t automatically proof of an effective digital program.


Through a relevant content strategy and balanced advertising plan we should aim to reach those people that matter most to our clients. You can imagine how much more valuable it is for a baby care brand to reach one young mom, compared to having three teenage boys as new Facebook fans. From the outset we need to focus on quality, and set out to touch those fans and followers that will connect with the brand in a significant way and form an engaged community – A community with a strong conversion rate, because that is where the return on your social media can be found. So in a way, it does all come back to numbers, now doesn’t it?



The new K.I.S.S: keep it social, stupid!

Originally published in DMix Magazine (November 2011)

 By Danny Devriendt

Anything people do online leaves traces, can be tracked, captured, analyzed, stored, compared, morphed, pivoted endlessly in bulky spreadsheets and rendered in attractively colored pie charts. The live data of online visits, behavior and conversation gives brands and companies a coherent feedback that can impact their sales, product development, customer service and business intelligence big time, if used wisely.

When Gartner put out figures that more than 75% of Western customers are heavily influenced by their social networks in their purchase decision cycle, most marketers spontaneously started drooling all over their keyboards. There is data. Tons of it. But where is it? Who owns it? How can you use it and what exactly is it that you need?

Facebook is a continent

The first data you encounter are fairly staggering numbers: 750 million Facebook users, 200 million Twitter users, 7 million Foursquare users…So what are you waiting for? You should be updating all kind of statuses out there. But every marketer knows: it’s not because there are millions of people out there, using a shiny thing, that your customer is using it. It’s not because an online media platform is heavily popular, that it is used by your buyers and that it is even remotely interesting for you. There is no such thing as one size fits all.

So now that the cold sweat of data everywhere and multimillion user platforms evaporated, we can get to work. Start with the obvious:

Where is everyone?

Who are our customers? When are they online? Where are they online? What are they talking about? What tools do they use? Who are they connected to? Who do they interact with? Who influences that community?

Good marcom agencies, analysts (Forrester, Altimeter, etc) or data crunchers can help you determine that. This narrows down your playfield to something concrete and useful.

Data is in the cloud

As marketers and communicators we’re so used to have our data in fat, heavy, protected SQL databases on a turbo powered, bulletproofed and shiny server in an air conditioned IT room. We want to be able to caress our precious, and feel better at night knowing it is live backed up on a secret data center in Timbuktu. Get over it. Most of the new data is in the cloud. There is tons of data online. Keep it there. Get over the fact that while you will own less data, you will be able to use way more relevant data going forward…cloud based live data.

What Facebook cooks, you eat

Let’s take a look at Facebook. Facebook knows, bluntly, everything about your target group. Who they are, where they live, who they are connected to, what info they click on, when are they online, are they single, do they have kids, etc. Your agency is the ideal interlocutor to work together with Facebook. Go real detailed: you want your ad to pop up on every single account, owned by a music loving 17-year old from Ghent, online after 10pm? Facebook can help you do just that.

What Twitter shakes, you drink

Twitters data feed is equally impressive: giving the possibility to target on gender, location, age, profile, type of user, influence level, reach…you name it. You can use free software to help you through the weeds (just type what you’re looking for in Google’s toolbar, and some freeware will pop up). Sharing content through Twitter using smart short links ( etc) gives you direct info on click through rates and reach. Trending topics pop up in a heartbeat.

Who has Klout in the Cloud?

To determine who is influential online, you need to set some parameters: influential on what, calculated on what axis? Reach? Popularity? Credibility? Here again, a good agency can help you identify your key influencers based on rock hard data. If you want a quick glance, can give you a quick indication (and no more than that).

The cocktail effect

A plethora of tools, ranging from Netvibes keyword dashboards, Radian 6 mentions, Crimson Hexagon sentiment analysis and tutti quanti can give you all kinds of data on what people are saying when they talk about your brands. Mind you: you will need a trained analyst to sift through the data. Here at Porter Novelli, we have several on file. Hope your agency does as well.

Keep it social

Do not go and file that data. Don’t lock it away: use it. On the spot. If your conversation tracker detects someone needs info, act upon it. Become part of the conversation. Become a data driven net influencer, as a brand.

Data just became active. It became a datastream, rather than a database. You’re either in…or out.



A look at the European Digital Mom

By Marta Majewska

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there! Hope you had a great day. Being a mom is said to be the most amazing and rewarding job, but it is also the most difficult and demanding one. I think we all know that. Not only do moms care for their children, their families and their households, they also juggle work and parenting as well as maintain friendships and find time for their own activities. Sounds challenging, doesn’t it? But it seems that European moms have found a remedy to help them “do it all”: the Internet. A recent report by the European Interactive Advertising Association Digital Mums with Young Children reveals that the Internet plays an increasing role in the lives of European moms with young children. It helps them enrich and manage their busy lives, from maintaining friendships through saving time to carrying out research. Not only do 65% of European moms with children ages 0-4 use the Internet, 61% of them claim that they would be lost without the Internet. Digital moms access the Internet in a variety of locations, the main one being home (95%), followed by work (41%). It’s for brands to know that European moms are most active online during the day (78%). However they mainly use the Internet for “me time” once they put their kids to bed, between 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. (72%). Finding better products and services is important for all moms and they seem to be using the Internet to make that happen. And they are successful too: six in 10 European moms claim to have found a better product/service because of the information they obtained online. Moms also use the Internet for entertainment purposes – 32% watch video online via PC, laptop, mobile phone or PDA; 32% download TV, film or video; and 31% downloads music. In general, sites most visited by moms are the ones containing information about family & kids (57%), clothing & fashion (56%), banking & finance (50%). European digital moms are frequent online shoppers: 92% of all digital moms with young children have shopped online, buying an average of 14 items and spending €643 every six months. When researching products, European moms consider both customer review (54%) as well as the reviews from experts (52%). The main reason for shopping online is it gets the job done while saving time – something in short supply for most young moms. It’s clear that young European moms are embracing the Internet and developing deeper engagement with online content. Not only do they turn to the Internet to maintain friendships and manage their busy lives, they also go online to look for advice and information to help them make better purchasing decisions. Marketers targeting young moms in Europe should focus on content that is entertaining and invest heavily in review programs, since those seem to weigh heavily in purchase decisions. Marta Majewska is Vice President, Digital & Social Media Strategist.


Twitter, a threat to a journalist’s personal brand?

By Christian Remon

Following the debate at BJIT last Thursday, I was surprised by some old-fashioned statements that certain panel members put forward. What struck me the most was that not all communication professionals are convinced of the added value of new media for both journalists and media companies as a brand.

The debate got heated when Pol Deltour, national secretary of the Vlaamse Vereniging van Journalisten, stated that Twitter is a threat to the journalist’s personal brand and a danger for the credibility of the media he is working for. In his eyes, social media changes the way journalists are perceived: as marketers rather than journalists. But haven’t journalists always been marketers? Aren’t we, in fact, all marketers of our personal brand? Like Alain Gerlache, journalist at RTBF, says:  “Journalists are a brand”. They are the face of a media channel! People read newspapers because journalists are writing qualitative articles about topics that interest them in a way that pleases them.

Traditional media shouldn’t worry, good content is still king. But the game has become more complex.  Accept the fact that scoops no longer exist as speed is the new normal in a world where people are 24/7 confronted with an information overload. Have faith in your journalists. They are capable of using the same common sense they use in their stories online! So please, embrace new media as a way to leverage the brand.

Frankly, I can’t possibly think of a better way than to let journalists syndicate the good content they and their colleagues produce and engage in a discussion afterwards. This leads to more active engagement from the audience and helps build long-term relationships with them as a consumer. Rather than fearing new media, journalists and media companies should try to use them strategically to leverage their (personal) brand, build credibility and establish authority.

Just so you know, Reuters’ social media policy embraces the fact that journalists have (a desire for) a personal brand.


Why your community manager should sometimes take a walk around the block

By Nicholas Courant (

 “It’s better to have a good neighbour than a distant friend” We’re all familiar with the saying, but in an age where tweeps across the globe are just 140 characters away, it’s so easy to neglect the nearby. And yet, your next-door neighbours or the local communities around your company sites do have a greater influence on your company and your reputation than you would sometimes realize.

Just last week, I read the story of two owners of a trendy club in Belgium shutting down their flourishing business because they couldn’t cope with the complaints of their neighbour any longer. They, and their landlord, had been ignoring his protests against the late-night noise caused by the club and its trendy, boozed up visitors. After all, the club had been around for years and the angry tenant should have known before he decided to rent the place. A reflection that many of us probably would have made, but one that boomeranged back into their faces. All of a sudden, Saturday night’s regular visitors included not only trendy youngsters, but also coppers with decibel meters. Needless to say, the shiny blue uniforms didn’t exactly boost business for the club.

These days, companies are increasingly recognizing the value of a community manager for their online reputation. Well, why not have your community manager take a broader perspective on “community” and adopt a holistic approach towards distant and local communities alike? After all, what’s the sense of building a powerful group of online evangelizers if locally, your reputation is being slanted by angry neighbours badmouthing your company in the press? And what if they start influencing the same politicians that you rely on to grant you your next exploitation permit?

The principles of accessibility and transparence should therefore be applied to all influential stakeholders. Yes, also the angry neighbour that deep inside you would rather ignore. So reach out to the local community before they turn against your company, monitor their sentiments by offering quick and easy opportunities for feedback, identify the local top influencers and before all, try to look for solutions together. Not just because it’s your duty as a good and responsible neighbour, but because in the end it’s better for business. Hence my plea to get community manager from behind his or her computer screens (yes, they’re usually surrounded by a number of screens) and have them take a walk around the block from time to time. A bit of fresh air won’t hurt your community manager, but it will help you to find a good neighbour.


How To Be An Awesome Community Manager

by Marta Majewska

Are you a fresh community manager? Or do you aspire to become one? Take a look on the presentation below for some tips on how to become an awesome community manager 😉 And if you’re a community manager yourself, feel free to let us know about your experiences, tips & tricks!


PR on the red carpet

By Wendy Luyckx (

Did you watch the ceremony of the 83rd Academy awards (commonly referred to as the Oscars)? Probably not, as it was only 5 am in Belgium. 🙂

You may think I am crazy but for this opportunity I set my alarm … since neither Richard nor George invited me this year. And I really wanted to be a part of it.

Nevertheless it was a fabulous show. What struck me most is that year after year, the Oscars ceremony has become THE commercial PR event for the Versace’s, the Prada’s, Gucci’s and Chanel’s, for the Chopard’s and the Louboutins of this world. Whether it’s the Academy Awards, EMI’s or theGolden Globes, the focus has moved out of the ceremony room, onto the red carpet.

Put your marketing budget in the red carpet PR

Patty Fox, the famous Oscars stylist, summarizes very well the essence of what the Oscars have become: “The red carpet is all about style, the room is about movies.” Celebrities are the live promoters of the brands they are wearing. People love it and identify themselves with the stars. Fashion designers have understood and increasingly move their marketing budgets away from advertising and into the red carpet PR.

Just for a moment, imagine Penélope Cruz or Nicole Kidman wearing a magnificent Chopard necklace at the Cannes Film Festival. Their picture will travel around the world in no time, quicker and cheaper than any advertisement can achieve. And I assure you, people will love Chopard, even if today they can’t afford it.

It’s a sign of our times, a reflection of how fashion and luxury brands are organized to make us love – and buy – their products.  In his book “We are consuming like hell”, the Belgian sociologist Dirk Geldof explains why people are eager to buy exclusive fashion or luxury accessories. It’s because people are convinced that they are worth it and deserve it…

“Yes, I think I am worth it”

Especially people between 25 and 50 work very hard, build a career, get promoted, raise children and end up with hardly any free time for themselves. But their stress and effort need to be compensated one way or the other. Therefore most of what they buy, are compensation purchases. Work hard, play hard, enjoy hard…  I think Geldof is right and I recognize myself in this. I admit I am one of these people who love shopping, enjoying exclusive quality, indulging in style and spoiling myself with a stylish dress or a trendy handbag or shoes after a week of hard work.  And yes, I think I am worth it 😉

Luxury brands and fashion designers are responding to that sociological reality. More than that, they anticipate it. They create the appetite, the almost irresistible desire to own that Gucci outfit, those Louboutins shoes, that Hermés handbag. That’s why they invest millions of dollars in sponsoring celebrities to walk across the red carpet while showing their products to the world.  It’s a new way of thinking about fashion shows, making the Oscars ceremony a phenomenal PR event. It’s all about style and fashion. Oh, I almost forgot, it’s also a little bit about movie awards.

Halle Berry wearing one of the most stunning Oscar evening dresses (designer not communicated)

The star of the night Anne Hathaway in a Valentino dress wearing Tiffany-jewelry (Photonews)

Nathalie Portman won the Oscar for best actress in ‘The Black Swan’

Sharon Stone wearing one of the most stunning Oscar evening dresses (designer not communicated)