What if the popularity of the Belgian athletes competing in this year's Olympic Games in London on Facebook and Twitter predicted their chances of winning? The answer would be clear: tennis player Justine Henin would win everything.
Below is an overview of their presence on Facebook or Twitter, so you can follow them virtually. If you want to go and support them in person, have a look at the BMW Superfan contest. BMW Belgium Luxemburg is sending their biggest (Facebook) fan to London as their VIP - all you have to do is prove you are one.
Belgian Olympic Athletes on Facebook and Twitter
Belgian Olympic Team (1,025 likes · 114 talking about this)
Belgian Junior Olympic Team (1,981 likes · 7 talking about this)
Hanna Marien (athletics) @hannamarien (785 followers)
Kim Gevaert (athletics) Kim Gevaert (17,272 likes · 27 talking about this)
Olivia Borlee (athletics) @BorleeOfficial (2,017 followers)
Olivier Cauwenbergh (canoe-kayak) @olicauwenbergh (364 followers)
Philippe Gilbert (cycling) - Philippe Gilbert fan club officiel (52,583 likes · 1,098 talking about this)
Xavier Reckinger (hockey) @xavierreckinger (270 followers)
Belgacom, the largest telecommunications company in Belgium, has taken the new Facebook Timeline feature to tell their own story, right from the start in 1992. They're filling up the page with more content as we speak, but their brand new facebook.com/Belgacom clearly has a more human feel to it:
The Facebook Page notes point out that the people in the videos are real people, not actors. This is Dax, for instance:
By the way - did you notice the Belgacom/Proximus co-branding? What do you think?
In my book The Conversity Model I lay out a number of consumer value tactics that work, even in a business-to-business environment. One of them is the friendly expert.
According to its Wikipedia definition, an expert is
someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill, whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain.
The interesting thing about this definition is the fact that the authority and status of an expert are not abstract or inherent. They are assigned by the expert’s peers or by other people who look up to them.
Your presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (or even better, your business blog) can help you to establish a reputation as a trusted source or even as an adviser. The ‘friendly’ aspect of things is to be found in the sharing. Friendly experts use rss feeds, news readers and book marketing tools to aggregate information relevant to the industry and to anticipate upcoming trends. They also trust their audience by sharing best practice and showcasing their expertise.
A great and fairly recent example is the @ey_lifebelgium Twitter account. Ernst & Young Belgium obviously has a regular Twitter account, @EY_Belgium. But @ey_lifebelgium is different: Ernst & Young hands the keys to this Twitter account to one of their experts every few weeks. Currently it's Renate Degrave's turn, who is Senior Manager Sustainability.
But why would anyone need an expert to look up to? In his book ‘Influence’, Robert B. Cialdini explains:
When feeling overwhelmed by a complicated and consequential choice, we still want a fully considered, point-by-point analysis of it – an analysis that we may not be able to achieve except, ironically enough, through a shortcut: reliance on an expert.
Even if you are in b2b (in fact, especially if you are in b2b), this tactic is more powerful than you might think. In ‘Get Content, Get Customers’, content marketing evangelist Joe Pulizzi comments:
You begin as a source of information and continue as a source of products and services. It is neither necessary nor desirable for you to attempt to sell prospects who don’t want to be sold. Instead, your thought leadership in print and on-line should position your company as the obvious source of solutions.
One such company is Blendtec, a company that sells professional and home blenders. Blendtec is famous for its series of ‘Will It Blend’ videos, posted on YouTube and shared by millions. In these videos, Blendtec uses a variant of the friendly expert: the demo-guy. And not just any guy: the man who tries to blend anything from marbles to an iPhone is no one less than Blendtec’s founder, Tom Dickson! The Blendtec series of 117 videos (so far) had collected a total of 188,213,699 views on YouTube. The most popular one with 13,600,160 views is where Tom blends an iPad: