The only Polish ‘Obamalogist’ explains social media “dos and dont’s”

On: October 30, 2011
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About Natalia Miszczak
I am a Polish girl with journalism background and little experience in PR, but today I am a student in Amsterdam, thinking a lot about the media, technology and communication. After graduating from University of Wroclaw, I decided it was time to learn more and focus on specific subject. I decided to move over to Amsterdam and spend a busy and productive year here (at least one).


I have decided to make an intervirew with Magdalena Górnicka (FB, Twitter): social media manager at Publicon – a well know PR Agency in Wroclaw, the only Polish ‘Obamalogist’, co-organizer of Polish editions of Social Media Day conference. She openly admits to being a Facebook addict – spending most of her time – both at work and after-hours, on Facebook.

Since 2007, Magdalena has done a constant research on Barack Obama – mainly on crafting of his public image and social media usage by his campaign and his administration during his presidency.

What is the right environment for running social media campaigns, what particular approach or people are needed for creative projects?

M.G.: There are few key factors that are important when planning social media campaign. First of all  – social media has to be treated as equally important mean of communication in comparison to outdoor or media campaigns. Using social media just because it’s hip and it’s free is a huge mistake: because it really is neither. Nowadays social media isn’t just a trend, something fashionable and marketing’s „must have” – it is here to stay and every media planner should be aware of it. What’s more – social media isn’t really free. Well designed Facebook or mobile apps aren’t cheap. Plus – we must remember of the cost of promotion of our app.

The second factor is patience. The time of „social media wonders” has passed. It is much harder to gather a big community and then to engage them. Spectatular successes are rare. When one decides on campaign of his or her product in social media, should be rather far-seeing and focused on big picutre. Social media doesn’t work in the same way as display ad does. Its main asset is quality and deep relationship.

Last but not the least – social media campaign should be really about the audience. People like to talk about themselves – and we shouldn’t force them to talk about our brand – even we think it’s the most interesting brand in the world. The communication should be designed in such manner that – while talking about themselves – they would talk as well abouth the brand we want them to.

Can you tell me about some of the challenges you have faced when introducing social media in the campaigns, and how you overcame them?

M.G.: The biggest challenge is the most obvious: human nature. People on Facebook are awesome. But they’re also jelous, bad-tempered, trobublemakers. And I should deal with all those behaviours. And alwyas, always have a plan how to act. No reaction is the worst possible thing. I have to be vigilant and act.

There are many cases of social media going wrong for brands. Can you tell me about a time when something you’ve done online has not gone exactly as planned, and how did you handle it?

M.G.: So-called social media crisis is the most probable to happen when we run contest on Facebook. The rules of the most popular contests are simple: the winner is the one who gathers the most votes for his or her photo, recipe or so on. Sometimes among the participants are cheaters – who use multiple personal accounts to vote for his or her entry. And when we present the list of winners, there are sometimes voices that question the honesty of the winners and oblige us -the organizers – to verify that people. It is really hard  and time-consuming to verify all the votes. And there’s always a chance of misjudging somebody as a fake account. But that’s the risk and we should always remember about it. But verification is one thing, the other is constant communication with all the participants that are running a discussion on Facebook wall: what’s really important for brand image is to keep them informed about the process of verification.

What ways do we need to be careful when using these tools?

M.G.: I think the most important thing is protection of our privacy – my kind of motto is  „Think before you post” and it’s working. After recent changes we can create on Facebook very specific groups of people we address our updates to. It’s really important to make a good use of this feature. Having in mind our professional image it’s strange to post our photos with beer from yesterday’s party. That’s why we should spend some time to adjust our privacy settings.

What are the risks of using them badly?

M.G.: The most obvious risks are those regarding our image. We can really ruin our reputation when we’re not cautious enough.  The most likely – it can damage our professional future: checking potential employee on Facebook is a no-brainer for almost all HR managers.  Of course, there are risks concerning our personal life too. Facebook is nowadays a strong proof in more and more divorce cases.

How do you measure success in social media?

M.G.: There isn’t one canonical way to measure a success in social media. Sure, big figures are important: the number of fans, views, likes, comments. But the most important metric is to me engagement of the members of a community.  And their devotion.  We were recently organizing a summer contest on one of our Fan Pages. The rules of the contest were simple: print a graphic, put a pen, duck-tape or some other little office gadget on it, and take a photo. But it turns out that participants made the whole compositions (even in 3D) corresponding to the graphic we provided.  It was really amazing – the participants could do something really simple to win, but they went for more and showed how dedicated they were as the members of this particual community.


(the interview was conducted via e-mail).

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