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Attention-seeker

Social media helps businesses get attention and engage with their customers, says Wicker Communication Boutique co-founder Daniel Parascandalo.

Q: When was Wicker Communication Boutique set up and what services does it offer?

Social media is all about virtual societies sharing real life experiences

A: Wicker Communication Boutique was set up last May and we’ll soon be celebrating six months of operation. We call ourselves a communications boutique because all our ser­vices revolve around our primary goal of providing effective and innovative online communication solutions, particularly through social media. We achieve this goal by using clever online marketing techniques, the latest technology and a passion for great aesthetic and user experience design.

We are also boutique because we do not mass produce. Instead, we take a customised approach and pay great attention to detail to truly reveal and address our clients’ needs and requirements.

Q: What is your role at Wicker Communication Boutique?

A: My role is varied and involves a bit of everything, from managing and directing the business along with my business partner Gordon Borg, to meeting potential clients and supporting current clients.

My main responsibility is service delivery – we start by developing a basic requirement and a workable concept and moving on to the aesthetic design stage and finally implement it as a working application.

Throughout this process, I also act as a quality controller to make sure our clients’ message is delivered clearly and that every step of the user experience is optimised for the best experience.

Q: How important is online me­dia for businesses as part of an over­all communications strategy?

A: Consumers are adopting and embracing online media at a very rapid pace, both because of a paradigm shift in the way we use digital tools to help ease our daily affairs and also because of the large increase in internet enabled mobile devices available on the market.

What was once a medium that could only be accessed on our computer at home is now available whenever we want by just reaching into our pocket. There is also the huge spike in the popularity of social media.

This great increase in the use of online media gives a clear indication of how important this medium is for the success of a business’s communication strategy.

But in reality such factors are just the tip of the iceberg – social media not only has a strong audience but also uses a technology that allows for a new way of communication that is bi-directional, personal, interactive and engaging.

Q: Anyone can be active on social media – yet how important is it to have a strategy with clear deliverables when using social me­dia for business purposes?

A: Social media is a very busy medium. Users of social media platforms are bombarded with a lot of information constantly – just look at your Facebook wall and you’ll know what I mean. In this fast-paced environment it’s very easy for important information to get lost – and that’s only if you’re lucky. Most content is not seen at all, as it’s pushed out of the way to make way for newer content that is constantly being generated.

Moreover, modern social networks such as Facebook use special algorithms to decide which content to show to users on their network in order to optimise their users’ experience on their platform.

The decision on which content to show is based on data gathered from every individual user’s interaction with content in the past. Using this data, the platform then decides which content to show or hide.

This means that as a business present on social media, you won’t just be competing for your clients’ attention with your usual competitors, but you will also be doing so with your clients’ friends and family who are also using the same medium to get their message across, albeit for a different cause.

As a result, this creates a multitude of strong social and personal stimuli that can easily push your message out of the way if you don’t approach social media with the correct strategy.

Q: How does Wicker Communication Boutique help businesses come up with such a strategy?

A: Social media is all about virtual societies sharing real life experiences – just as societies are made of living people who interact and have relationships, so your business must be alive, active and have relationships with community members.

This is where Wicker Communication Boutique comes in. We help businesses develop effective strategies to build a virtual personality on social media and set up a community of engaged followers and fans around this personality.

Q: Facebook apps are a valuable way for businesses to engage actual and potential customers – what apps have you developed and what has the audience feedback been like?

A: There are many ways to engage customers on Facebook either using tools provided by the Facebook platform itself or via custom apps. The most popular Facebook apps we have developed so far were in the interactive mini-games we developed for big brands such as Gillette, Old Spice and Toyota.

The Gillette game, called Shave and Win, is based on the scratch cards concept. Instead of scratching a card, you’re presented with a game character with shaving cream on his face – you have to use the Gillette Fusion ProGlide blade to shave the foam and see if you reveal the Gillette logo on the character’s cheek in order to win a prize.

Our game for Old Spice, called Make Our Geek Smell Like a Man, was developed in line with the global Old Spice Smell Like a Man campaign. In the game, you have to use Old Spice spray deodorant to spray on comical geeks coming at you to turn them into hunks, without letting any geeks slip by.

Our latest game, Shift Challenge, is for the new Toyota GT86. The game is a spiced-up quiz in which you’re in the driver’s seat of a Toyota GT86 and asked a number of multiple choice questions. The gas pedal is being constantly pressed and you are automatically accelerating.

Get the question right and you shift one gear up, get it wrong and you hit the brakes and lose points. If you take too long to answer, the gas remains pressed, so your engine eventually enters the dangerous red line rev zone and will eventually blow up, ending the game.

All three games received a great response and created a significant amount of social buzz thanks to a number of social elements included within the games, including friend leader boards to compare your score with that of friends, personalised invites, share incentives and other social promotional tools.

Q: How can social media help businesses enrich their presence and trust?

A: Social media is heavily based on relationships and experiences. We ‘friend’ a person because we know him or her – we have a relationship or shared an experience with each other in the past and would like to strengthen our relationship.

The same applies to a business. If a business offers a great experience to its customers, they in turn will ‘friend’ the business, opening the door for the business to build a strong relationship with its customers.

The added benefit of social media is that it can give businesses a headstart in building this relationship and thereby earn their customers’ trust, simply by giving their customers a great online experience.

This also applies to strengthening relationships with existing customers. A virtual interaction helps customers remember the good real world experience they had with the business in the past.

This in turn encourages them to recommend the business to friends, thus automatically increasing the business’s presence. It also serves as a way of engaging with customers even though their next real world interaction with the business might be due in months.

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