Posts Tagged ‘Danny Devriendt’

Brands : Stop Being, start Behaving…

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

One of the killer questions in the different panels and talks at #SxSW in Austin is: “… and what about brands”. Because, let’s face it: the boring internet of unidirectional websites has evolved into an online social forum, where people meet, talk and share.

The net is social, and the people have taken over the net in a peaceful revolution. That’s fine… but what about brands? Brands have invested heavily to build out their net-presence over the last decades, and are worried their dollars might evaporate overnight, with the masses gone rogue and confined to Facebook and Twitter. While people like Jeremiah Owyang (Altimeter) think it is a bad thing for brands to move away from the trusted fortresses of their corporate websites, this does not mean there is no future for brands in the social space.

I’m agreeing with Owyang that abandoning the build-up brand capital that now is resting in the corporate websites is a bad idea. However, rethinking the website as the vibrating energetic center of a social online ecosystem is smart. Social sites add a ton of interacting and engaging possibilities into the brands online ecosphere, and are capital to bring vital social interaction into the equation.

The first steps in this process are a bit awkward. Beyond the heavily protected walls of the corporate websites, the social online ecosphere looks like a terrifying jungle to the brand owners. There is no perceived sensation of control, which triggers asthma attacks and anxiety in more than one corporate boardroom.

The answer is however simple: go with the flow and partner up (or hire) with online Tarzans who will give you the survival code book of the jungle, effectively turning it into a social ecosystem.  Because this is a fact: Just being a brand online will get you nowhere. Just having a brand presence will not propel you into the winning charts. You will have to allow your brand to behave like a social citizen.

Humanizing corporate brands and making them alive online, allowing a human face to interact with the online community are the first getaways to new opportunities to shine. But for that, brands will have to take the hurdle from controlled “being” to social “behaving”…. And that…. is a difficult one.  :-)


Curating content across borders: use the power of crowds!

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

When you specialize in cross-border, multi lingual integrated communications –like I do- you get old very, very fast ;-) . Dealing with more than 70 languages and five alphabets (and that is Europe alone) is not easy, and dealing with dynamic content is hell. How do you find it in that amount of different tongues? How do you distribute it? How can you make sure contextual information is preserved?

How do you ensure quality of translations, and a fair geographic split of content intake? How do you distribute content back in all of those languages, and how can you track comments to be able to maintain a decent finger on the pulse?

No one better to help with out with that than Steve Rosenbaum the friendly eyed author of “Curation Nation”, a fabulous, crystal clear, hands-on book on curating content. Rosenbaum gets content as no other, and is able to synthesize his thoughts in a soft spoken concise way, that I like. Enjoy his response… and his pointer at using the crowd to its fullest extent…




Tweeting gold, Check-in Silver, Liking Diamonds

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Tweeting gold, Check-in Silver, Liking Diamonds

It’s fast, it’s in, it’s social, it’s easy, it’s entertaining, it’s cool, it’s the thing to do, it’s fun, and it’s educative: social media took our world by storm. Updating Facebook, finding the right places through location based services, keeping your Twitterville happy, and Googling the steam out of your environment added a whole new meaning to how we interact with our physical and social world.

Just following SxSW in Austin, you see people glued to their smartphones as if there was no tomorrow, and the number of tweets, check-ins, updates and posts bangs through the roof with gracious ease.

And all of that for free. Free Facebook, Twitter, Twitter clients, check-in services etc… occasionally you can spend a couple of bucks on some application, but nothing so expensive that it will make American Express call you to ask if you finally lost in.

Leaves the devices. Let’s say it’s reasonable. A couple of hundred dollars will get you a state-of-the-art social weapon to conquer your digital online world, even buying a high end top notch shiny one will cost less than a year of smoking.

But here is the trick: social media for mobile warriors does not come cheap. In fact, it is freaking expensive. Uploading and downloading your life through the cloud to your friends eats up bites, megabytes… gigabytes… and those come at a price. Dataplans of most carriers give out a decent flat-fee deal on mobile data, but as soon you breach through ‘normal use’ the prices skyrock.

And then, there is international roaming, which for Europeans and Asians coming to SxSW can get up as high as 20 dollars… per megabyte. Every day some innocent global traveller gets the yellow hinky-pinkies when the mobile phone bill hits the fan. Uploading a YouTube movie while in the States? Used a little half an hour of Facetime or Skype over 3G while in Austin? You might get an over 1000 dollar bill. That is the price of an iPad 2 with ABS, power steering, and 17 inch rims.

So every time the free Wi-Fi in Austin falters, and your Instagram gets uploaded through 3G, a mobile operator somewhere grins happily, while sipping some expensive bubbly drink. Your social life just made his day.


Dream up your future

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

Excuse me, I’m still a bit shaky.  I just encountered Michael Bruce Sterling. The Bruce Sterling. Sterling is now globally seen as one of the inventors of the concept “augmented reality”, but above all he is the author of some of the best Science Fiction Books I got in my hands. His Mirrorshades anthology placed him with William Gibson, on the upper left shelf of my bookcase, where my cyberpunk collection is standing.

I’ve always seen Sterling as a semi-god, someone who dreams up a future. Jules Verne, Frank Herbert, Ray Kurzweil… they show us a future based on technology that is just around the corner… just out of grasp, but one that they –for some obscure reason- seem to see.

Seeing Sterling interacting with youngsters on augmented reality made me smile. These kids have no idea about the writer Sterling, about the phenomenon Sterling, about the designer Sterling, nor the futurist Sterling. All they see is an old guy, talking about how he sees augmented reality taking up a glowing big part of our near future.  A guy that urged them “you kids have to dream up the next decades of our future”… They thought he was amusing…. and a bit coo coo

If only they knew ;-) .




Engaging in Babel: Lost in translation

Originally posted on Heliade by Danny Devriendt

For governments, brands and companies, the ability to interact with target audiences on- and offline has become crucial. Increasingly sophisticated consumer engagement is leading to greater understanding, respect, loyalty and comprehension. And as more and more conversations and social interactions move online, we see more companies and brands doing a magnificent job of engaging loyal followers with digital and mobile technologies. However, many of the same organizations that enjoy tremendous success in America often struggle in Europe. Here’s why.

On a continent like North America, online engagement is relatively efficient and cost effective. A substantial amount of consumers can be reached, from coast to coast, in a single country (the U.S.), and in a single language (English). Adding just one country (Canada) and two languages (Spanish and French), provides access to most of the entire continent.

For metrics tools, conversation starters and community managers, three languages to engage and measure allows for profitable opportunities to scale online influence programs. In Europe, though, it becomes much more complicated—with 750 million people scattered over 44 different autonomic countries, each with its own set of laws, socio-cultural habits and ethno-historic sensitivities. From the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains, and from the North Pole to Gibraltar, roughly 70 different languages are spoken. To read and write in all of them, you need to be fluent in five distinct alphabets (Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian and Georgian).

This makes online influencing and community engagement fairly complicated. Economies of scale and reusing existing material becomes virtually impossible. Messages and message delivery vehicles need to be adapted to the local language and cultural needs.  Messages not only need to be translated, they need to be rewritten.

Even in smaller countries like Belgium and Switzerland, communication needs to be done in three different languages, which has severe implications on timelines and budgets. Compounding the challenges, big international metrics tools are often unable to filter out all of the semantic sensitivities of these 70 European languages, or simply do not have enough volume to give accurate analysis—enhancing the importance of local tools, and demanding a higher human involvement throughout the process.

Effective community engagement in Europe requires small, dedicated and integrated teams that can take an organization’s concept and strategy and tailor it for the local country. These teams must work hands-on with the tools that are most relevant for each European region, which are often quite different from the big global players. For instance, it’s impossible to reach the Dutch through Facebook, because they’re on Hives. And Poland has at least four different equivalents of Twitter.

To build global communication strategies, it is important to involve people who have in-depth knowledge of their region from the very beginning. All too often, compelling strategies and tactics conceived far from the actual countries where they will be implemented prove to be impossible to execute.

To successfully bridge Europe’s multicultural, multilingual diversity, it is far more effective to build communications strategies up from local insights and understanding. As many organizations continue to discover, in Europe, an overarching, top-down approach to consumer engagement often gets lost in translation.

(this post is part of Porter Novelli’ s “intelligence” series. Find the complete series here)


RADIO INTERVIEW: Danny Devriendt on Politicians and Social Media

Our one and only Danny Devriendt talking about Belgian politicians and their social media behavior on Studio Brussel! To listen, click on the image below (Dutch only, sorry guys!)


Brands and social networks

Brands don’t properly take into account the influence of social networks like Twitter and Facebook to open up a dialogue with consumers. They need to be more present and control what is happening there in order to avoid difficult situations. Some groups or communities appear on the web around a certain brand without the consent of this brand, and not always for the sake of this brand. Besides, the effect of a tweet, especially negative messages, is exponential even if short in time. On social networks, the consumer approaches the brand, not the other way round, while companies are unilateral in their way of communicating. Finally, brands needs to understand that a ‘human’ message will have more impact than a commercial one. Community Managers are key to more and more companies.

Danny Devriendt, Intelligent Dialogue Director at PN, has just created a social media lab called @PNBR5. As a former journalist, he now has more reach on Twitter than the audience he had when he worked for a daily newspaper. For him, social media is essential to any communications strategy. “There’s an ambiguous approach around the phenomenon, and not only around Twitter. Web-users expect brands to be present on these networks to discuss and criticize. Brands think it’s only a new advertising channel. On the +/- 200 existing digital networks, there are a few stars, but also some targeted and more confidential networks,  that are more efficient depending on the product or brand. What many brands don’t understand, is how you can and must communicate on these networks. Until now, their message was one-way through advertising and would either convince the consumer or not. With digital interaction, dialogue is key, also when you get criticized or attacked. For example: an overweight person was denied single tariff by a US airline company. The company was then hit by boycott calls on the social networks. Brands still need to be educated about this new way of communicating to their consumers.”

Posted by Kathy Van Looy


The Future of News: “Everyone’s a journalist?”

New media, citizen journalism and the growing interaction with traditional media has been a hot topic the last few days. It started with the sudden news that Queen Fabiola had died. Errr..NOT. A guy who called himself Jos Joskens had posted the message on the new website for citizen journalism, an initiative by Belga. “Queen Fabiola died when she heard that Laurent and Claire were getting a divorce.” A message that was mistakenly sent to all Belgian press. “An annoying beginner’s mistake”, said the Director of Belga. But a mistake that shows us that journalism is changing – resulting in a lot of discussion around the topic.

There’s no way around it: consumers simply want what they want, when they want it. Moreover, they have an insatiable appetite for celebrities and human-interest stories. The controversy around the Iranian elections suddenly lost all attention when Michael Jackson died. A lot of media have decided content needs to be “sexed up” with sensationalized angles. Even the BBC has come under fire for dumbing down its content in pursuit of ratings, taking a more populist approach. Old journalists didn’t have to worry about people paying attention to you. But now that journalists are online, and social media is everywhere, they really need to work hard to get some attention. Because thanks to the internet, everyone’s a journalist…

Or not?

We all certainly have the tools to get our message out – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, you name it. But does such access make us a new type of journalist? What does the future hold for a profession if anyone can take it up whenever they choose?

There’s no talk of “citizen doctors” or “citizen architects”. Yet, plenty of lip service is paid to “citizen journalists” these days. The implication is clear: via the internet, anyone can disseminate a story. Anyone can latch onto a piece of gossip or a shocking photo, slap on a sensational headline and send it far and wide.

But does that make them journalists? What’s the difference between an experienced photo journalist on the streets of Tehran, and a protester with a camera phone and a Twitter account? Can they exist in harmony?

“With 80 million bloggers around, and citizens that Twitter, FriendFeed or Facebook quicker than the badly implemented software on their iPhones can handle, information becomes for the first time truly decentralized. Conscious web users have a plethora of tools to share their views, real-life-product tests, opinions and grieves with the inhabitants of the World Wide Web”, says Luc Missinne, Managing Director at Porter Novelli. “News that is aimed to consumers can now easily circumvent journalists and media and hit millions of online users in an eye blink.”

“Corporations scramble around to find creative ways to harness the power of these social media”, says Danny Devriendt, Social Media Expert at Porter Novelli. “There simply is no faster, better or more balanced way to spread information: by the people, for the people, socially controlled by a busy cluster of very critical web users.”

Click here to open the full pdf.


Crowdsourcing: don't squeeze the lemon!

crowdcoBy Danny Devriendt

It was predictable. With more people on social media channels like Twitter or Facebook than I´d care to feed, sooner or later those networks had to be tapped in to. After the spread of silly adds, desperate people trying to boost traffic to a usually ridiculously bad website, or smartasses phishing around for logins and passwords, crowdsourcing seems to be the next big thing.

The principle is geniously simple: you ask those in your network to help you out with advice, or by answering a specific question. Tap into the collective intelligence of your hang-arounds and you by-pass expensive third party vendors, and Rolex-ed market analyzing consultants. People who are well connected can easily datamine a couple of hundreds, even thousands followers or Facebook friends. Cheap, easy, fast. Then, it´s just a question of a bit of common sense and some good analyzing software to turn this data into charts, insights, trend previews and shiny statistics.

People as Marian Salzman, Martha Stewart, Don Tapscott and many others have found clever ways of using Twitter as a spider web for collecting data. And that is a good thing.

I do have some future looking concerns though. People are genuinely so happy to help out in these online communities that they answer to calls for help and info often. Too often. Over the last week I´ve been asked my opinion on healthcare, millennials, blogging, the situation in Israel, baby food, tracking software for photographing stellar constellations and the ideal coach for the Belgian national soccer team. On 4 of these items I do have insufficient knowledge, insight, or authority to add anything useful to the conversation. Still I was asked, and I did answer.

I´ve seen outcome of crowdsourcing – based analyses that was dead wrong, because the question was shot at a wrong but very enthusiast audience.  You catch my drift: to gather great insights on most topics, laser profiling your focus group is very important. Crowdsourcing is testing the water with your toe. For indepth analyzing, the ability to narrowcast down to selected audiences will differentiate data butchers from data surgeons…