All posts by detommaso

Focus Group with Czech SMEs: Good practices in social media etiquette and placement.

Four companies were contacted to participate in a focus group social media use and students placement practice.

After analyzing the answers from all four companies  it was evident that their responses could be divided into broadly two groups. The first group works exclusively with local companies and due to this, are not aware of the benefits of using social media to both attract & retain customers. We also identified a lack of awareness  in terms of how social media can be used to  attract & retain potential customers.

They are not necessarily interested in extending placement possibilities to foreign students because they don’t see the diversity this brings as a benefit that can help with their local clients. Another difficulty for this group is how to attract foreign students for placement or as interns to their company and their lack of ability to communicate in foreign languages.

The second group work with both local and international companies and because they work in the digital sphere these companies  are actively using social media as a tool  that works for their businesses and their employees are more internet savvy.

One of the companies in this group is owned by a foreign national but since half of the employees are foreign as well English is the official language of the office. The second company is very aware of how social media can help them due to their position in the new technology sector (They have designed a special program that enables TV stations to broadcast anything from live sport matches to films on hand-held devices like phones and tablets.)They already deal with all the major TV stations in their local market in Prague and are ready to expand to Europe and the rest of the world. These companies have a consistent presence across all the major social media platforms  actively selling and promoting products. They have offices across four continents , employing many foreign nationals & are willing to give a placement opportunity to the right candidate if approached.

In conclusion, the two groups are a fair representation of their regions. The first group is located  in a city called Usti nad Labem, which is about 100km from Prague. It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, internet penetration & usage is not as high as in other regions and the standard of living is also one of the lowest in the country.

The companies in the second group are located in Prague – a cosmopolitan, capital city. Here they can take advantage of high internet penetration, high average salaries &low unemployment rates.

In summary, a company’s reaction to implementing best practice in social media etiquette as well as  the placement of students has a direct correlation with the products or services that the company is offering, the type of people that work there and often it’s location as well.

Artémat is social! – An Italian case study of using Social Media marketing to promote & expand a business.

Artémat ( ) is a young company, which was incubated in Technest – Incubator University of Calabria, for two years. Artémat launched with the message “think different”, providing training in management and business creation through unconventional methods & tools – the Business Game!

Students, graduates and professionals practice their management skills, hone their decision-making and relationship capacity, develop a strategic vision, familiarize  themselves  with risk management & mitigation  as well as focus on acquiring a systemic knowledge of the world of enterprise and how to build relationships  that can be applied in real life scenarios.

In a short time, Artémat, gained considerable experience and became an industry expert in the “business gaming” event management field (for management enterprise projects), supporting young people at national level, thus ensuring that the company also strives to  build better communication channels with a young and dynamic audience as well as business professionals.

Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube, represent, in that order, the channels most watched by fans of Artémat.

Artemat’s Facebook fan page has 3705 fans and 1,622 views from members of the network. The company also recorded most read article on its LinkedIn page (Artémat Srl), with 4,263 tweets, following 179 other entities and 143 followers on Twitter (@artemat). On Youtube  it has 1568 views and the most popular video of the channel Artémat.

The huge rise in social media usage means that businesses need to understand now more than ever, how to interact with fans, answer their questions, deal with negative comments and resolve disputes, how to adapt the right type of communication according to channel used, how to use the hash tag function on Twitter effectively in order to highlight keywords and ensure that users are able to find the business!

A business needs to stand out from the crowd and attract new fans: it may seem a trivial activity, but in reality it is a complex process and requires time and resources.

During the creation of a business game event, Artémat, like to ensure participants are actively involved: it will post photos in real time, as well as status updates and comments on the competition.

After the event, both within its business pages and across the website, Artemat immediately publishes an album with a description of the event along with any commentary. Artemat recognises how important it is to be constantly present, engaged and give more information to your community of potential clients and existing customers because it is critical to business success.

The company’s customers continue to follow  it on Facebook, beyond the project carried out together: they are always up to date on Artemat’s new products and this consistent presence on social media  often leads to new opportunities and ideas for collaborations or contacts that done does not expect.

For instance, after a Russian company that specialises in training, recently viewed Artemat’s LinkedIn page, it decided to include Artemat’s business game in it’s training catalogue.


Come ottimizzare l’uso dei Social Media – risultati di una indagine online

I Social media stanno diventando sempre più popolari e utilizzati sia dai singoli individui per scopi privati e sia dalle imprese per fare business. Quale miglior modo di ottenere dei risultati sull’uso dei Social Media se non attraverso la somministrazione di alcune domande agli utenti di 31 paesi europei?

L’obiettivo dello studio è stato quello di riuscire ad avere almeno 50 risposte per ogni paese – da 35 studenti e 15 da piccole e medie imprese (PMI), per ottenere un totale di 1.550 risposte.  Il risultato dell’indagine è stato superiore alle aspettative, soprattutto data la difficoltà di raggiungere numeri così elevati. Grazie al livello elevato di penetrazione di internet nei paesi europei (più del 63% su una popolazione di 821 milioni di persone) e con più di 250 milioni di utenti di Facebook (fonte Internet World Stats, il target delle 1550 risposte è stato raggiunto. Ottenendo ance le informazioni sull’utilizzo dei Social Media e sull’etichetta nell’uso degli stessi.

Infine, l’aver realizzato una indagine online, con poche domande mirate, ha permesso una reale partecipazione e un coinvolgimento elevato da parte degli intervistati.

Selezione dei network

Il team di progetto ha creato un account Twitter ( e una pagina Facebook ( ) con l’obiettivo di inviare periodicamente gli aggiornamenti relativi al progetto e sviluppare una comunità di persone interessate al progetto e ai suoi risultati.

Linkedin, considerato in un primo momento, è stato poi accantonato perché esistono diverse reti professionali in Europa più usate (per esempio Xing in Germania e Vladeo in Francia). Facebook e Twitter permettono ai membri di vedere i messaggi senza doversi iscrivere al servizio, rendendo il sito di progetto più accessibile ai beneficiari del progetto stesso.

Strategia utilizzata

La strategia iniziale è stata quella di identificare i principali network e “postare” messaggi su quelli individuati per cercare di raggiungere il maggior numero di partecipanti all’indagine. La strategia, seppur semplice, non è stata efficace. Ad esempio, quando su Twitter si è intervenuti sull’argomento #Estonia, la partecipazione e i contributi si sono mantenuti a livello generale e non sono stati ricevuti i feedback attesi. E’ stata, quindi, modificata la strategia: è diventato essenziale cercare le persone di un paese specifico e poi contattarle e chiedere la loro collaborazione. Le persone sono state contattate inviando dei commenti ai tweet che gli stessi avevano fatto sul proprio paese e, successivamente, le conversazioni sono poi proseguite su temi di interesse. Ritornando all’esempio, dopo aver individuato le persone che discutevano sul tema #Estonia, i commenti successivi sono stati fatti agli account personali (usando @nome), creando così dei rapporti diretti. Ciò ha portato a dei risultati positivi: molte persone hanno cominciato a seguire il progetto e a chiedere maggiori informazioni. Una volta stabilito il contatto tramite Twitter, le conversazioni sono poi continuate via e mail, Skype, telefono per definire meglio le collaborazioni.

Risultati della strategia

Le principali conclusioni sulla base dei risultati ottenuti sono:

a) avere ben chiaro il risultato che si vuole ottenere usando i social media (nel caso specifico è stato quello di fare conoscere il proetto Passport to Trade 2.0 e ottenere risposte all’indagine online);
b) selezionare bene i social network in base alle tipologie di utenti (in Europa ci sono diversi social network, oltre i più famosi Facebook e Twitter); 
c) stabilire un contatto partecipando a conversazioni, rispondendo a domande, contribuendo a discussioni su temi specifici di interesse comune; ciò faciliterà i rapporti e ci saranno più probabilità che anche essi diano il proprio contributo a tematiche di tuo interesse; 
d) usare le tecniche e le metodologie di comunicazione specifiche di ciascun social network – per esempio su Twitter – fare il re-tweet  di altri, creare liste di persone, seguirle e inviare direttamente twett usando @nome; 
e) solo dopo aver stabilito un contatto e avere aiutato qualcuno, si potrà chiedere un supporto specifico (nel nostro caso chiedere la partecipazione ad una survey), iniziare una proficua collaborazione o dei rapporti di business, etc; 
f) ringraziare sempre per l’aiuto ricevuto e, se possibile, farlo anche concretamente: nel caso del progetto sono state citate le persone, che lo hanno desiderato, sul sito come advisory board members, volontari che hanno supportano le attività, e sono stati sorteggiati e offerti tre voucher di Amazon (lista dei vincitori su )

Al termine dell’indagine si è giunti alla conclusione che nei paesi dove i partner del progetto non avevano contatti diretti, non c’è stata alcuna risposta. Usare i social network per crearsi dei conatti e stabilire delle collaborazioni è stata una opportunità ed è da considerare come strategia da utilizzare.

Per approfondire si può leggere l’articolo di  Aaltonen , S, Kakderi, C, Hausmann, V and Heinze , A “Social media in Europe : lessons from an online survey” presentato nell’ambito della 18th UKAIS Annual Conference: Social Information Systems, 19-20 March 2013, Worcester College, Oxford, UK.

Studenţi şi IMM-uri colaborând pentru beneficiul Europei

Cum pot studenţii şi IMM-urile să lucreze împreună la creşterea economică a Europei? Un număr de IMM-uri cunosc încetinirea economică din Europa în multe feluri, nu în ultimul rând prin dificultatea de a atrage vânzări şi de a genera oportunităţile de afaceri. Pe de altă parte, există de asemenea un număr din ce în ce mai mare de absolvenţi sau studenţi care au dificultăţi în găsirea de locuri de muncă, din cauza aceloraşi dificultăţi economice. Esenţa proiectului Passport to Trade 2.0 se bazează pe relaţiile dintre studenţi şi IMM-uri şi pe oportunităţile prezentate de creştere a numărului de plasamente pentru studenţi şi internship, ceea ce dă IMM-urilor resursele adăugate necesare pentru a îşi creşte oportunităţile de afaceri şi câştigul studenţilor prin învăţarea eticii muncii şi obţinerea de experienţe vitale pentru carierele lor viitoare.
Un atelier Passport to Trade 2.0 dedicat temei Studenţi şi IMM-uri colaborând pentru beneficiul Europei a avut loc pe 11 aprilie 2013 la Universitatea Valahia din Târgovişte, în România.
 La atelier au participat studenţi de la Universitatea Valahia din Târgovişte, Facultatea de Stiinţe Economice, de la studii de licenţă, masterat şi doctorat, şi oameni de afaceri din Judeţul Dâmboviţa.
Din agenda atelierului au făcut parte următoarele prezentări:

  1. Cum pot folosi studenţii website-ul proiectului pentru a găsi informaţii despre alte tări europene pentru a studia şi a face practică. Acest aspect a fost prezentat de Milanka Dimitrova Slavova, Technology Development and Innovation – TDI Ltd, Bulgaria.
  2. Social media – un instrument util pentru studenţi şi IMM-uri. Prezentare realizată de Aleksej Heinze, Salford Business School, University of Salford, United Kingdom.
  3. P2T2.0 – prezentarea proiectului şi a conţinutului site-ului – prezentare realizată de Verena Hausmann, de la Institutul pentru Cercetarea Sistemelor de Informaţii de la Universitatea din Koblenz-Landau, Germania.

Milanka Slavova a discutat importanţa înţelegerii diferenţei culturale atunci când este vorba de afaceri internaţionale. Acest lucru a fost subliniat în mod deosebit cu exemple de campanii virale de marketing pe baze culturale, după cum a arătat studiul de caz cu privire la ROM-ul american dîn România:

Studiu de caz despre ROMul American

În acest caz, valorile culturale erau activate printr-o campanie de marketing care permitea unui brand să se re-energizeze devenind controversat. Acest lucru a fost realizat cu un număr de alte referinţe culturale, precum brandul Athenos.

Studiul de caz despre Athenos

Deşi ele nu sunt IMM-uri, cele două ilustrează modul în care se poate realiza o campanie virală benefică pentru o afacere prin intermediul mediilor de socializare.

Aleksej Heinze provoacă publicul ca să determine comentarii şi discuţii perspicace cu privire la punctele lor de vedere referitoare la aplicarea mediilor de socializare în afaceri şi pentru creare a unui profil unic pentru fiecare student (student branding). Cei care au participat cel mai activ la discuţie şi au dat cele mai complete răspunsuri la întrebări au fost recompensaţi fiecare cu un tricou Salford Business School. Felicitări câştigătorilor de premii – tricouri: Tudorache Ana-Maria, doctorand la Management; Nuţă Flavia, studentă la master în domeniul Managementul întreprinderii, şi Apostolov Kiril, student la Finanţe.

Studenţii au descoperit cum se flosesc mijloacele de socializare şi importanţa crescândă a branding-ului personal (a creării unui profil personal individualizat) şi au aflat cum pot avea mijloacele de socializare atât roluri pozitive, cât şi negative în viitoarele lor cariere. În special, discuţia s-a referit la unele dintre prototipurile produse pentru site-ul proiectului Passport to Trade 2.0.

Verena Hausman a evidenţiat rolul crescând al mijloacelor de socializare pentru marketing în comerţul internaţional, ca oportunităţi de a face reclamă pentru locuri de muncă şi de a identifica oportunităţi de plasament pentru studenţi, de a împărtăşi informaţii utile şi aşa mai departe. Prin discuţii s-a subliniat modul în care studenţii şi reprezentaţii IMM-urilor pot afla informaţii despre ţara în care plănuiesc să se ducă, ca aspect de schimb cultural, dar şi ca instrument de depăşire a barierelor comportamentale.

Click for the English Version

Students & Sme’s Working Together to benefit Europe

A number of SMEs are feeling the economic slow down in Europe in many ways, not least through their difficulties in attracting sales and generating the necessary business opportunities. On the other hand there are also an increased number of graduates and students who are experiencing difficulties in finding employment due to the same economic issues. The core of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project addresses the vital relationships that students and SMEs have and the opportunities that are presented by increasing the number of student work placements and internships, which give SMEs the needed added resource to boost their trade opportunities; students also gain by learning work ethics and getting vital experience for their future careers.

A Passport to Trade 2.0 workshop dedicated to Students & SMEs working together to benefit Europe was held on April 11th, 2013 at Valahia University Târgovişte, in Romania.

The workshop was attended by students of Valahia University Târgovişte, Faculty of Economics, from bachelor, master and Ph.D. Studies, and business representatives from DâmboviţaCounty.

During the workshop 3 key points were addressed.

Opportunities for studying and finding a work placement in other European countries

First of all, students discovered how to use the site to access information about opportunities for studying and finding a work placement in other European countries.  This aspect was presented by Milanka Dimitrova Slavova, Technology Development and Innovation – TDI Ltd, Bulgaria.

Importance of understanding cultural differences

The importance of understanding cultural differences when dealing in international trade was discussed. This was particularly highlighted with examples of culturally based viral marketing campaigns as was illustrated by the American ROM case study in Romania:

American ROM case study

In this case study cultural values were activated by a marketing campaign which allowed a brand to be re-energised by becoming controversial. This was done with a number of other cultural references such as the Athenos brand:

Athenos Case Study

Whilst not SMEs these two illustrate how a good use of a viral marketing campaign via social media can benefit a business.

Social media as a useful tool for both students and SMEs

Attendees also gained insight into social media as a useful tool for both students and SMEs. This presentation was given by Aleksej Heinze, SalfordBusinessSchool, University of Salford, UK.  The audience was challenged to provide insightful comments and discussed their views on the application of social media in business and for student branding. Those who took an active part in the discussions and gave the most complete answers to the questions were rewarded with a Salford Business School T-shirt. Congratulations to all the prize-winners who are: Tudorache Ana-Maria, Ph.D. student in Management; Nuţă Flavia, Corporate Management master program student and Apostolov Kiril, bachelor program student in Finances.

Students discovered how to use social media to their advantage;  the increasing importance of personal branding and how social media can play both positive and negative roles in their future employment. In particular the discussion was based around some of the ideas which were developed  for Passport to Trade 2.0 project website. ideas examples on

Finally, Verena HausmannInstitute for Information Systems Research at University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany in her presentation highlighted the increasing role that social media plays in international trade marketing, as well as opportunities to advertise vacancies, or to identify student placement opportunities, share useful information and so on. The discussions highlighted the need for students and SMEs’ representatives to know basic information about the country they are planning to visit as a matter of cultural exchange but also as a tool in overcoming behavioural barriers.

Click here to read this article in  Romanian.