Gustavo Ballvé on September 2nd, 2011
Corporate Strategy, Food for thought, Home, Industries, Investment Themes, Media, Mental models, Portfolio Management, Tech

We’re at Day Two of the InfoTrends conference in São Paulo about Social Media. It’s been pretty interesting so far. Today we’ll try some live-blogging, and Monday we’ll post the notes from Day One. Just a teaser for the weekend: Julian Assange was the keynote speaker for day one (via videoconferencing, for the attentive readers).

We’ll kick off the blogging with Arianna Huffington, CEO of the Huffington Post, who supposedly wants to make Brazil its third-largest post globally.

Arianna Huffington – CEO, Huffington Post

“The link economy is the future”.

– Engagement: “we give the readers not just information, we give them a platform. To read, share, comment, write.”

“Why do people write for free? Because self-expression is the new entertainment form. People used to watch thousands of hours of bad television for free…”

“Nobody is perfect. It isn’t possible to pretend we’re perfect on Facebook. Everything you do will be online – all the dumb things we said or did included, such as getting drunk in high school. It will never die. So we’ll have to learn to accept our flaws. Social Media will be not about our perfect lives, but about our journeys to become better persons. That involves accepting our flaws and other people’s differences and flaws.”

Question from a reporter of a leading Women’s magazine in Brazil: “Do you see structural differences between men and women’s behavior in Huff. Post’s properties?” – Answer: “Yes, that’s the big news of the day: men and women are different”… Ouch!

– Question on NY Times’ paywall system: “I’m not against payment for top content, I just think that what they’re doing goes almost against the link economy. Information, unless it’s specialized financial information, wants to be free. We bet all our eggs in one basket, and that’s advertisement.”

– Curation vs. overcuration: “Too much information, so it needs to be curated, filtered, focused”. We get that it’s a great way of adding value, and what is Buysiders if not a filter with added commentary? Even so, the value of information diversity and even serendipity can’t be ignored. It’s the old “knowledge advances as much by accident as by design”. How does one stumble upon new paths if one doesn’t explore somewhat?

“My mother always told me: multi-tasking is overrated. So now I try to do ‘uni-tasking’.” — and even as she said it, she has 3 Blackberries and checked one of them at least 5 times during the Q&A session of roughly 20 minutes. We feel your pain.

Panel: Creativity Shock

This is a very star-studded panel with leading publicists in Brazil, specifically the creative directors of major ad companies, responsible for some of Brazil’s most famous campaigns of the last 20 years (given that Brazil routinely routs the world advertisement Prizes, that’s saying a lot).

– One of the publicists answered the question “how do you know when the idea is really great?” by saying that it makes him laugh, it stays in his mind for days, it just “clicks”. It’s obvious, it’s a revelation. When most people around him feels the same way, they’re pretty sure they’ll have a hit if they execute it well – which, very importantly, includes the job of selling the idea to the client. A bad “sell” can kill a great idea. Obviously there’s some “art/magic” involved, in the sense that it’s subjective and one has to rely on inputs other than hard facts/ data. That’s why it’s such a “key people” business. Even so, the question we make is: after you hire great people, how do you create a process or culture in which these Eureka moments are maximized or at least facilitated? What kind of incentives, work environment, teams, team interaction events, research opportunities etc. do you foster and stimulate? The analogies with the investment Research/ Analysis process are many.

Panel: What to expect from Advertising in a 3.0 world?

– IBOPE’s CEO promised to share some presentations with stats of Brazilians’ internet usage patterns and trends (IBOPE is Brazil’s largest pollster). We’ll keep you posted.

– Looking at campaign metrics – ROI, ROE (“E” here stands for Engagement) and many others – used to be done on a daily basis, then the data was interpreted and corrections/adjustments made for the following day. Nowadays, says Marco Gomes (CEO of boo-box), it’s done automatically and in real time – data is measured, feeds a system and algorithms that adjust the campaigns (bids, target CPCs etc.) on the fly.

(Lunch break)

Panel: Brand management in the age of Twitter

“Social networking still hasn’t caught on in Brazil – for companies, that is. Less than 1% do it by heart rather than by peer pressure.” – Romeo Bussarello, Director of digital environments at Tecnisa (a Brazilian real-estate company).

“Social media complainants are not always right, but they always have rights.” — Poor translation of what Romeo actually said, just to make it rhyme as he did. What he meant by this is that people will always complain for many reasons, and they won’t be always right, actually he says quite often they won’t be right. But since they have what (to them) seem like perfectly good reasons, they will be very vocal. The temptation is to always try to satisfy the customers, but sometimes it’s not only impossible but wrong.

Survey by Grupo Troiano de Branding, a Brazilian branding consultancy: Evaluating brands for perceived “digital intelligence”, according to 5 drivers: mobility, agility, sociability, utility and visibility. The survey involved almost 1,500 people voting on a brand in 7 sectors: Autos, Banks, Alcoholic Beverages, Telecom, Apparel/fashion, Electronics and Appliances.

Results: Banks: Itau. Drinks: Skol. Autos: Fiat. Electronics: Sony. Appliances: Electrolux. Telecom: TIM. Apparel/fashion: NIKE. In common, these brands want digital branding not for the “high-tech” aspect, but for the “high-touch” aspect, that is, engagement…

“The more serious a brand is, the better its reputation, the more it becomes a target for extortionists. Not-so-serious companies just don’t care enough to let it affect them.” — by the very entertaining yet clearly serious professional Romeo Bussarello.

Panel: Virtual world crises: can companies avoid them?

This one started in Q&A mode, which was interesting to grab a tired audience’s attention (it’s the last panel and your dedicated blogger has to leave before it ends, lest I miss my flight).

– And it started out “hot”: the debate facilitator asked Brastemp’s (Whirpool’s) Head of Marketing about a complicated case with a social media complainant. Ms. Sender explained Brastemp’s procedures which ultimately didn’t prevent a huge backlash against the company even though the company had, by then, already replaced the customer’s item. It’s just too fast. That said, when asked about sales impact she had to agree with the previous panelists: huge, established brands who have a reputation for “seriousness” (better in Portuguese – we’re trying to convey honesty here) have to answer to crisis and complaints, but ultimately they have a certain “goodwill buffer” that doesn’t affect overall numbers.

– Folha de São Paulo, the state’s largest newspaper, had a blog attacking it called “Falha de São Paulo”, and Falha means “failure”. They issued a “cease and desist” letter that was used by that site (via social media) to inflate the issue to huge proportions and frame it in a “censorship” light — the lesson here is not to let the Legal department run these social media/ online crisis episodes, NEVER. Ms. Singer, the Folha ombudsman, said that even Julian Assange eventually came out against Folha thinking that it was strictly a censorship issue.

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