Chamber of Commerce Communication Forum

-Jamil Chaker, itelligence, Knowledge Management-

Prof. Dr. Ralf Schengber, Jörg Deibert, Horst Biere, Torsten Scholz, Dr. Christoph von der Heiden, Klaus Eck, Susanne Schaefer-Dieterle, Herbert Vogel, Brigitte Büscher, Laurenz Esser, Gerd Wöhler and Dr. Jörg Schillinger (from left to right)

On March 28, 2012, the Chamber of Commerce Communication Forum entitled “Facebook, Twitter & Co. – the ultimate revelation? Companies between profit and pillory” was held at the itelligence AG in Bielefeld, Germany.

Klaus Eck, communications consultant and PR blogger

Klaus Eck, communications consultant and PR blogger, began the forum with his presentation called “How long can Facebook & Co go on?” in which he explained the development of communication. 76.1% of Internet users in Germany are also registered on social networks. The most important reasons for registering and participating in social networks are sharing and transparency. Social networks are about receiving information and communication. The fact that everyone has the possibility to post an entry means that journalists are losing their role as information gatekeepers. Thanks to their ability to provide information in real time, social media are becoming an increasingly popular means of procuring information. “Ultimately, social media is an indication of a cultural change,” says Mr. Eck. But a distinction had to be made between private information, such as about the family or hobbies, and personal information, such as work. Private information should not be in the Internet, but forwarding personal information did not present problems.
Prof. Ralf Schengber, Professor of Marketing at the Münster University of Applied Sciences

The second presentation was held by Prof. Ralf Schengber, Professor of Marketing at the Münster University of Applied Sciences, on the issue of “How is social media changing our buying behavior?” He spoke about the interaction between online and offline activities. Nowadays people find out about a product on the Internet before they go into a shop to buy it, or vice-versa, looking at the products “offline” first and then reading more about them online afterwards. Schengber breaks this buying behavior down into three phases: before, during, and after. Before buying a product, a buyer will find out about the products in a particular class, such as digital cameras, using tutorials or forums. During the buying process the buyer will acquire the latest information about the product using chat services and online messages. However, the most important influence during the buying phase is online evaluations. More than 90% of customers are influenced by product evaluations on the Internet. After buying, the customer will post experiences, evaluations and recommendations that are intended to serve as a basis for future buyers of the product. According to Prof. Schengber, social media is involved throughout the entire buying process. His conclusion is that the relevance of the evaluations is much more important than the content.

Torsten Scholz, Head of Corporate Marketing at itelligence AG

Torsten Scholz, Head of Corporate Marketing at itelligence AG, talked about the general benefits of social media for companies in his presentation. The increase in brand awareness, customer loyalty and the recruitment of employees and interested parties are some of the aims that can be realized by using social media. According to Torsten Scholz, the two greatest constraints preventing companies from breaking into social media is a lack of time and insufficient content. He presented several solutions to these issues, such as involving staff into the social media community, as “every employee is a brand ambassador”. However, the use and/or transformation of existing content is an important solution for countering the problem of social media content. Torsten Scholz described the importance of content with a short but convincing statement: “Content is king.” In conclusion, he remarked that defining a strategy and establishing aims are vital to get started in social media.

Professor Thomas Hoeren, Director of the Institute for Media Law at the University of Münster

The final presentation was by Professor Thomas Hoeren, Director of the Institute for Media Law at the University of Münster, and was entitled “Not all that glitters is gold”. He spoke out against social networks, warning of the lack of legal knowledge about them. For example, companies are subject to an imprint obligation. Prof. Hoeren also warned that overly aggressive social media marketing activities may lead to a “shit storm”, i.e. a mass of negative opinions about a company or product. “You can make use of Facebook, but you must know what you are doing there. The price is a high one, namely your data.“ While he does not want to keep people from registering on social networks, he does warn people not to use their real names there.

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