This is a guest post by Antonia Harler, an Austrian and soon-to-be graduate who wrote her diploma thesis about Twitter as a tool for Relationship Marketing. She’s awesomely quirky as well as open-minded and she’s also kind of a big deal . For more information check out her blog Social Glitz or follow her on Twitter @antwizzel.
When Danny asked me to write this guest post about how social Austria is, my reaction was “hell yes”.
One of the reasons for that was that it’s a question that I’ve been thinking about a lot myself. I was lucky enough to experience the social media hype that’s been going on in the US and to some extent in Canada.
Many wouldn’t believe it but I am actually a late bloomer when it comes to social media. Not only because I’m Austrian but also because I had serious doubts in the beginning.
Social Media is What?
I created my Facebook account in 2007 whilst I was on vacation in Toronto, didn’t have a cell phone and was basically cut off from the outside world in the sense of not being reachable.
I’m a free and open-minded spirit and met a ton of people in no time and after being asked for my cell number, which obviously I didn’t have, I was asked if I was on Facebook. My reaction to that was “WTF is Facebook”?!
I signed up, though, and for a long while I didn’t see why on earth our society would need such a platform. However, I was sold once I was back on Austrian soil because really it makes many things so much easier.
Soon after I started to realize the immense potential social media had for businesses, no matter the industry or size.
In 2009 I went on to study in New York for a semester and, oh boy, the US is social media crazy. I was blown away and soon enough the word Twitter entered my vocabulary. Again, I obviously had no clue.
By then however, I was sick of not knowing what was going on in that industry so I started to read and learn. Businesses all over the world popped up on Facebook and Twitter. But where on earth were all the Austrian businesses? They remained invisible for a long time. I guess we are all late bloomers.
Recently however, we have started to catch up. We are finally on the way to “austrianize” social media (though it’s still mainly the big names such as Red Bull that are taking the plunge).
In my opinion, the company that is doing extremely well with their social media strategy is Swarovski .
They managed to build an extremely successful Facebook fan page with 454,000 fans worldwide. Recently they also started to embrace Twitter. And whilst they are off to a “slower” start on Twitter they are doing it right, in my opinion. It’s one of those companies you want to engage with, simply because they will engage with you. Not something that you see very often, no matter the nationality of a business.
When it comes to small and medium sized businesses however, I don’t see social media being embraced the way it should be.
To many, “social” is still extremely intangible and, unfortunately, it’s often approached with the wrong mentality. For them it’s important to realize that a social media strategy is not a quick fix and that it needs planning, strategizing and continuous execution just like any other business strategy. Austrian businesses need to learn how to embrace social media and not dismiss it as a fad or even fear the unknown.
In other words, we need to stop being late bloomers.
How about you? Is your country embracing social media, or are you the exception to the rule? The comments are yours.