DrupalCon 2010 and the future of Drupal

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Last week a few members of the FreshNetworks development team went over to Copenhagen to find out about the latest developments in the Drupal world at DrupalCon 2010.

Drupal is the open source content management system that we use here at FreshNetworks to develop our online community sites.

Drupal has various advantages over other content management systems (as described in our post on why Drupal is a great social media platform (in layman’s terms)) and has grown rapidly in use over the last seven years or so.

Paul Oram and James Andres, both experienced “Drupalistas” and  members of our tech team,  attended the conference this year to speak  find out more about the latest Drupal developments.

In the video below Paul explains these developments and what we can expect from Drupal in the next release and what developments it is taking over the next few years.

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Social media campaigns and long-term engagement

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As social media is still regarded as a new form of marketing and engagement, lots of companies seem to be more comfortable “trying out” social media as a one-off campaign.

Social media campaigns are an attractive proposition as they can generate a lot of buzz and excitement and are usually the basis for a lot of the social media case studies you will find on the web.

Even though we’re a social media agency, here at FreshNetworks we don’t just focus on campaign work; we also look at long-term engagement through a sustainable social media strategy.

In our experience, social media campaigns are perfect for raising awareness on a short-term basis. They’re also a great way of getting exposure for brands, companies or products that might not be that well known, or have fallen from favour in some way.

Campaign work is high impact but due to the cost and resource involved it’s not good for driving value over a long period of time.That’s not to say that campaigns should be disregarded completely. In fact, they are very effective when used alongside a sustainable engagement strategy.

Campaigns generate the high level of buzz that brands so desire. However, if there is a long-term strategy for engaging with the people who have come across your brand or product as a result of the campaign then the impact won’t drop off once the campaign has finished. Using campaigns as part of a wider social media strategy will help you build awareness and drive value over a longer period of time.

In order for a sustainable engagement strategy to succeed it must be set up with the needs of both the company and the user in mind. The reason why single, one-off social media campaigns are often favoured by brands is that engaging with people on a long-term basis takes time and effort. You need to build up relationships and develop trust with your audience. However, it’s worth the time and effort as ultimately the people you engage with will become a valuable asset to your company.

The video below from Richard gives a brief summary about our approach to social media campaigns and sustainable engagement:

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Using social media in the travel and leisure industry

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One sector that is really embracing social media is the travel and leisure industry. And it is an industry well suited to social media and online communities - people share an experience or situation and this provides a reason for them to connect and engage with each other (and with a brand). We have seen some great uses commercially from companies like Marriott and InterContinental and Expedia but social media really works well in the travel and leisure industry when it is used in real time. In the latest FreshNetworks Video, Matt Rhodes describes three areas where this works well:

  1. For customer service - Social media is a great customer service tool - not only does it allow you to connect with and engage customers online, but it also means that when you solve one query you do so publicly for all to see and for all to share. This winter I was skiing in the French Alps this winter when snow back in the UK  caused a halt to most of the flights leaving Geneva for London. I knew that Easyjet were using Twitter, but rather than tweet them myself to ask if my flight was going I saw that somebody else already asked the question and I could see the response. Saving me from having to ask the question and Easyjet the hassle of having to respond to the same question multiple times.
  2. For real time experience capture – Social media is quick and easy making it the perfect media for allowing people to express the way they are feeling in the moment, which does not always come through if you are writing a review after the experience has finished.
  3. For real time information sharing – Holidays and stays don’t always got to plan and things change: the weather, the times, the traffic etc and so social media is great for being able to transmit information in real time.

See our video post on Social media in the travel and leisure industry below.

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Developing a European social media strategy

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An issue for many brands who are developing a social media strategy is how they translate what they do in one country into other markets in which they operate. As a European social media agency, we are very used to helping clients take a US or UK strategy and then roll this out across the rest of Europe. And in doing this we have looked at organisations who have done this well. And those who have done it badly. The usual mistake is to assume that what works in one country can be taken and implemented in another country with no changes. More often than not this is not the case.

In this week’s video post, Matt Rhodes talks about how to approach developing a European social media strategy and why what works in one country might not work in others. Matt discusses how each country in Europe has different ways of using social media, and how these influence the way strategies should be developed. He gives three areas that brands should investigate when launching social media activities across Europe:

  1. The audiences are very different in each country in Europe - they behave in different ways and have different needs
  2. The social media landscape is different in each country - Facebook is not always the right tool, you need to understand what is right in different markets
  3. The position of a brand is different in each market - your brand may be different in different countries and your aims in each might change

As more brands are looking to develop European and even global social media strategies really understanding these issues is becoming critical. It would be great to hear about your experiences in this area so far and how you see the differences across Europe.

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How should businesses adopt social media: early bird or second mouse?

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Last week Charlie and I spent a lot of time discussing the best way for businesses to embrace social media.

We looked at the pros and cons of using  a campaign-based approach to social media, where brands go for a one-off viral success, opposed to a more sustained, long-term social media strategy to enable businesses to build ongoign engagement through social media and begin to embed it in their processes rather than using it as a tool to support one campaign.

So should businesses jump in and use social media right now and be the “early bird” (who gets the worm), or is it better to wait, like the “second mouse” (who gets the cheese), and think about what you want to do with social media before rushing in? Charlie’s thoughts on this are captured in the video below:

As this is a new blog post style for us it would be great to hear your thoughts not only about the content, but also whether we should do more FreshNetworks videos in the future. (I know one thing I need to improve is the lighting - Charlie looks a little orange in this video!).

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