Categorized | Interviews, Top Interviews

Interview with Social Media Influencer: Gianfranco Cuzziol

49871_672243879_2046_nGianfranco heads up eCRM at EHS 4D where his remit is to create first class eCRM programmes leveraging data, direct and digital expertise. He has a wealth of experience from both agency and client side with over 15 years in Direct Marketing focusing more recently on key email, social & mobile trends in a multi-channel eCRM Planning. Clients have included Barclays, Disney, BBC, HP, ASDA, The FA, PC World. He regularly speaks at conferences and can often be found on Twitter and on his own blog ’ It’s all about the Conversation’.

G: How would you define a social media “influencer”?

GC: I define influence as being able to change other people’s behaviour or thoughts. Influencers in Social Media need not have thousands upon thousands of followers or fans, but should be able to use their connections to change behaviour and create conversations with them. Real influence also means that these actions are spread onwards to stimulate conversations in the wider community.

And of course brands can be influenced themselves, not by single powerful influencers but by many influencers speaking as one in the ‘crowd’. Look at how companies like Starbucks use consumers to influence products and services via mystarbucksidea

G: How do you measure the influence?

GC: Funnily enough I look at the whole spread of a person’s footprint. So not just the number of Twitter followers, ’Likes’ or Klout Score, but also what the first page of a Google search on them looks like, to see how else they are influencing people by speaking or sharing their thoughts

And although it may seem a little old fashioned, the icing on the cake is to meet people socially in real life. As I get to speak at conferences and events across Europe, it’s great to meet the person behind the tweets and blog posts. I remember a quote from Lyndon B. Johnson the American President who used to say that a handshake is worth 250 votes.

G: Who/What is influencing you on Social Media Properties?

GC: That can vary depending on what I am focussing on at the time. At the moment the integration of Social, Mobile and Email is important for many of my clients so anything coming from the Email Service Providers, Mobile Operators is useful as well organisations such as eConsultancy, Mashable, Mobile Commerce Daily

G: What are the key mistakes when targeting influencers and how to avoid them?

GC: The biggest mistake is not fully understanding the impact of the influencers – positive or negative. Brands can’t assume that they can exert undue influence themselves on the influencers. As a result, they must be satisfied that they can deal with the possible not so positive comments that might appear when the Brand is out there without being controlled from the desk of a marketing exec.

But also don’t forget the role of the unexpected influencer. Influencers could also be just normal people who get to use your product for real and then become influencers to an already captive audience that is being influenced directly by the brand itself.

G: Do you think targeting influencers is overrated (examples of failed campaigns) or is it an important part of Social Media Strategy? Why?

GC: I think it has a part to play. If played out correctly influencers can make up for the lack of inherent trust many people have for marketing messages direct from a brand itself

G: What are the trends that you are following at the moment and feel most passionate about? Why?

GC: Social Media going local. I’ve been playing around with Foursquare a lot in the last few weeks to try and figure out how the overall move towards moving being local can work. Everything we do is about making it personal for consumers. Personal to me is about Relevance and Context, so adding a local dimension to social activities has to be the ultimate real time personalisation

G: How the growth of social commerce and location based services will affect marketers? Why is it important?

GC: Well I guess this leads nicely from my previous answer. We have to remember that Social Commerce is still in its early days and that actually the majority of commerce still takes place in a bricks and mortar environment. So Location Based Services should be on everyone’s agenda. This is particularly pertinent for off line retailers who want to capture the sale from someone in store before they go online and find the same product at a cheaper price.

I was recently very disappointed in the Social Commerce deployed by Heinz Ketchup on Facebook recently. The actual platform itself worked very well when I bought my limited edition Balsamic Vinegar Ketchup but the follow up through any other channel was non-existent despite the fact that they had an email address and my home address

G: How the growth of new media platforms (mobile, tablets) will affect marketers?

GC: Again context becomes important for marketers. As we take our ‘desktop’ with us almost 24/7, marketers need to be aware of how and why consumers are interacting with messages. Consumers are using these devices to combine a multitude of tasks, communicating, seeking advice, hunting for offers, replacing cash and credit cards for payments.

Consumers will be happy for us to still ‘push’ messages out to them as long as we respect the boundaries of Permission that they have given us. It will become even more important for us not to sell to consumers but to help them buy

G: Is social media integration becoming a quality standard of successful company?

Only if it is seen as part of the solution based on consumer needs rather than being the answer to whatever the question was in the first place. I’m not convinced that the real purpose of Social Media is always thought about before setting out and doing it.


G: How and why did you get into social media?

GC: Not exactly by design, in particular when you consider that my first degree was in Astrophysics and first paying job was as a second hand cars salesman.

Recently, I spent a year working primarily in email and obviously the integration with Social became more and more pressing, and of course starting to hook up with Social Media Citizens like your good self,@conversionation , @chrisgomedia has further stimulated the immersion.

I ended up here via Direct Marketing Data and CRM which is why I’m fascinated about Social Media can work alongside, support or be supported by the other channels that todays connected consumer uses.

G: What are your favourite social media hang-out sites? (Other than FB, Twitter and LinkedIn)

GC: Well if it is possible to hang out in foursquare then recently that’s certainly taken up some of my time recently. From a business perspective then I certainly still use my inbox to get my daily fix of updates, news whitepapers and research.

G: Do you read everything that you share or RT? Is sharing becoming a form of showing gratitude to your peers?

GC: Definitely read everything I RT but I certainly don’t share just for the sake of gratification. I’m not a guaranteed follower of followers either. And I don’t expect it in return. Again, perhaps a little old fashioned, but I show gratitude by just saying thank you.

This post was written by:

- who has written 111 posts on Social Media Citizens – Interviews with social media influencers from around the world.

Giedrius Ivanauskas is the founder/editor of Social Media Citizens and co-founder of Social Marketing Forum. He also blogs on Social Media Today and Giedrius is a managing partner at Nearby Digital - location focused social media marketing agency and is passionate explorer of Augmented Reality, Startups and anatomy of Inspiration. He curates inspiration database - Inspirisimo.You can follow Giedrius on Facebook or Twitter

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