This is the script of an interview I gave for a Romania business journal “Business Review Romania” in June 2012. The interview is published in instalments. This is part 4 of 5
What do you think the ratio for the implementation of social media campaign should be in the entire media budget of the company? How was this situation at Orange?
To begin with, I do not like the term “campaign” which I find too military and aggressive. Eventually, social media marketing is a new form of marketing, more respectful, more centred on our customer’s interests and requirements, based on the principles of crowd sourcing and customer centricity. So I ban this kind of language as well as other terms like “targets” which are often times the staples of traditional marketing but are outdated and not applicable to social media marketing. Despite what most people think, social media marketing has to be thought of in the long-term, not in the short term.
|using military analogies for communications? not a good idea … From bastille day|
My second recommendation would be to build engagement and then spend money, not the other way round. First, I always start building the network using content. This is what takes the greatest part of our work and energy. Each time I am in charge of a new digital department, I start working on my content strategy and building the content, both externally and internally, which will fuel my digital strategy. Once I have done that, I can start crystallise communities around the content which we have created, as well as adapt the content to the liking of our audiences. The second step is to grow the network so that it reaches a critical mass. The third stage is to create synergies between the pages and the different platforms that we use: the Facebook hub on all Orange pages is a good example of that, or Orange timeline which groups or Twitter accounts around Orange. But it is also a matter of linking platforms and blogs to one another, both at Orange, and with Orange partners outside of the company.
Once I have sorted out all my budgets, and made considerable savings, then and only then can I invest my money, with great care, on advertising to promote this content and bring back traffic to my main platforms. This is a slightly more lengthy approach, but it pays in the long-term and is incredibly strong in terms of resilience.
My last recommendation would be to say to companies that they shouldn’t spend millions on word-of-mouth because word-of-mouth is supposed to be cost-effective; otherwise this is just advertising and advertising works best in traditional media.
My main frustration with regard to social advertising is to see that mainstream social media platforms have done very little to reinvent advertising so far. Innovation in that space is not on par with what we are supposed to expect. But this will probably change in the medium-term, hopefully.
As to Orange Group, this is how we work. I still haven’t spent a dime to grow the http://facebook.com/Orange page and yet we grew it from 40,000 people in May 2011 to over 215,000 a year later! Similarly, our Group Twitter account (http://twitter.com/orange) was brought from nothing to close to 9,500 followers in just a year, through sheer organic growth and content sharing.
Now that we have grown a critical mass, we might consider advertising to speed things up or bring them to the next level, but I do not expect those spends to grow out of proportion and much in excess of 10% of my overall budget, in the very long run.
 Check the ‘worldwide’ tab on the http://facebook.com/Orange page