Social Media Club Amsterdam

Social Media Club Amsterdam started tonight!

It’s a gathering of digital communication practitioners/experts who think, talk, snack and discuss social media. The organisation was started in the US, and Amsterdam seems to be the eighth club in Europe. The global goal is keeping the web human.

Tonight was the first event, we kicked off with a video from Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells the founders of Social Media Club, welcoming us to the fold as it were.

Then we had two presentations; as many of the participants noted during the break the contrast between the two was very interesting and points to just how reliant the success of social media depends on company culture.

Cisco – Beginner’s Luck

The first presentation was from Simon Christie, digital marketing manager at Cisco. They’ve done something rather clever, by using RSS feeds to push content to twitter/facebook from their news feeds and their youtube channel they’re able to claim significant social media space. Their initial goal was to protect their reputation, and control content distribution. They’ve probably achieved that. They’re not trying to figure out what to do next, how to move from here to engagement. The audience was somewhat critical, but for a big company making this first step is always the most difficult – and for a B2B company without a strong marketing legacy this is even more true.

I’ve taken a look at their website and their twitter feed. The twitter feed links to the site and vice versa, it’s relatively easy to find the link to twitter under “quick links”, but it’s not on the contact us page – this makes sense at this point given how they are using twitter.

I also noticed they have a lot of great events – on 11 December there’s a tweet about the Nobel Peace Prize Concert which is sponsored by Cisco, in January there’s a networkers conference in Barcelona. A next step for Cisco might be to have their own people tweeting during the events in a human way. (There is a separate twitter account for the event, which I find slightly confusing – but I tend to think of a person or at lease company persona being behind a twitter account.)

Long term, if they’re looking for real engagement, then I think they’ll probably need to investigate a more customer call centre approach, the “Cisco Assistant” might be contactable by phone, skype or twitter.

So what has held them back? Cisco are big, but so is Dell and Dell is often held up as the poster child for social media. I think it has something to do with organisational culture. Cisco are very centralised and hierarchical, this makes rolling out standardised tools/systems very easy particularly for internal use but this level of control doesn’t apply in the social media world.

Puur Amsterdam Social Media as a bedrock of the business

The second presentation was from Anna Maria from Puur Amsterdam, an event company. This was a different, rather than a structured linear presentation Anna Maria almost told a story about her use of social media – it made a refreshing change from the hyper-logical hyper-structured presentations I usually see. She’s a seasoned user of social media, using youtube, twitter, hyves and a number of other tools to promote herself, Puur Amsterdam and the events they organise.

Her industry perhaps lends itself to social media more than Cisco’s does – I think we’d all rather watch a party than a server, and her company is small with freedom to do what she wants.

It was great to see the two presentations and contrast a beginner (albeit a knowledgeable one) and an expert.

After the presentations we had plenty of time to chat, most people were positive about the event – even if there hadn’t been that much in the presentations that was really new. It was “leuk” (fun) apart from Remco with his flip camera forcing me to speak Dutch on camera, my Dutch isn’t great but he assures me it won’t need subtitles.

PS: You can now sign up for the second event in January – warning for non-Dutch speakers though one or both presentations may be in Dutch, and the networking chat afterwards is generally in Dutch.

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About Louise McGregor

I write about digital strategy, the changing online world, communication challenges and real life leadership. I work at the intersection of communications, technology and business and part of my job is to stimulate the adoption of new technologies in a way that makes business sense.
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