Monday, November 24, 2014

Seminar on social media, marketing and campaigns

I am the Marketing & Networks Manager of Agro-Know since June 2014; mostly due to my involvement in the social media in general but mostly blogging and tweeting. I am self-taught for both, I (hope that I) am good at it because I really like it and I always try to find ways to perform even better in using social media effectively. I often find myself downloading related e-books and watching presentations on optimizing the use and effectiveness of social media.

In this context, a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a face-to-face, 12-hour seminar on the use of social media (mostly at a corporate level) and marketing, focusing on the use of campaigns for promoting corporate events and activities in general. The seminar took place on two days (20 & 22/10/2014, 6 hours each), it was organized by and delivered by Arsenis Paschopoulos, e-Commerce & Internet Marketing Expert and Digital Marketing Manager of Just On Line with a long experience in social media and teaching this subject. The seminar took place in a cozy meeting room of Golden Age Hotel (Athens, Greece), pretty close to a metro station, making it really easily accessible.

A photo posted by Vassilis (@vprot) on
The seminar was addressed to both novice and advanced users of social media (it was attended by about 15 people) and this was a tricky part, as the trainer needed to make sure that everyone would get the basics of the social media presented (novices) without having a part of the audience getting bored (the more advanced users). Considering myself a more advanced social media user than the average, I have to admit that not only I did not feel bored but I indeed learned things that I was not aware of regarding the social media that I am using. The social media covered by the seminar during the first day were the following:
  1. Facebook and Google+ (I also consider them in the same league);
  2. YouTube;
  3. LinkedIn;
  4. Twitter;
  5. Pinterest (a pretty bizarre choice at first, but the use cases presented were convincing)
The time available for these was marginally sufficient but we more or less managed to cover everything, including information from creating an account and linking to other social media to using them for corporate purposes.

The second day was devoted to the use of campaigns using the aforementioned social media; Facebook was obviously the most well-covered medium but still alternative options for campaigns using the rest of the social media were presented. I realized that running a campaign using e.g. Facebook is not as expensive as I initially thought and it might be pretty effective, too.

My overall impression was rather positive; I managed to learn some things that I was not aware of, Mr. Paschopoulos helped me address some issues that I had with specific social media, I got to learn a lot of new stuff about the campaigns and got some basic information about SEO and the interpretation of analytics for each tool. He proved to be good at communication and had a deep knowledge of the social media presented.

Apart from the training, I also got to get a high number of slides presented during the seminar (but not limited to it - I got much more than that) as well as a book authored by Mr. Paschopoulos on Social Media Marketing (hardcopy) which contains a lot of useful information and can be used as a reference, documenting more or less what was already presented during the seminar.

My attendance to the seminar was another example of the training opportunities that Agro-Know offers to its team members; these are not limited to internal trainings but also include external opportunities as well.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Changes in the Agro-Know team

Over the last six months there have been several changes regarding the Agro-Know team; Giota, Angeliki and Thodoris left the team during the summer of 2014 for different reasons; it was a friendly break-up and we still have a great time when we meet (usually with a round of beers!) even though time is limited and opportunities for meeting outside the working hours are scarce due to personal obligations. None of them was a team member since the beginning but still their departure left gaps that we had to work on; on the other hand Mada stopped working for Agro-Know by the beginning of October while Nikos (+Nikos Palavitsinis) has already published his farewell to Agro-Know. Both of them were in the team since it all started, and this was something different. These departures were also planned but still...

At the same time, the Agro-Know team was enhanced with several new members during the same period:
  • The Project Management team was enhanced with two new project managers (Apostolos and Katerina);
  • The Data team welcomed a new intern, Patrycja (data management assistant);
  • The Business Development team grew by two members, with the addition of Thodoris and Thanos;
  • The Technical team was enhanced with the recruitment of Giorgos (data ingestion associate) and Panagis (UX/UI expert);
  • The Admin team welcomed Athina (Administrative Assistant) and Popi (Culture & Talent Development Assistant)
  • Two new interns joined the AK team for helping us with the Food and Water Quality themes (Lito and Maria respectively)
You can find information about the Agro-Know team in the Agro-Know wiki.
The Agro-Know team, October 2014. We are missing Giannis and Laura (both of them traveling at the time of the photo shooting)

This means that a lot of new blood runs in the veins of Agro-Know now; of course we miss some of our experienced ex-colleagues but we hope that the new team members will make up for it with their fresh ideas and enthusiasm. The new situation is challenging, as a lot of new people need to be trained not only in terms of their work tasks but also in terms of the mentality and culture of Agro-Know; a factor that is actually more important than it looks/sounds as there is also the possibility that some people might not fit.

There used to be a special "chemistry" among the Agro-Know team members; especially those of us who started together when we got in the Agro-Know offices for the first time in January 2011 went through some hard times, a fact that brought us closer. We managed to evolve a rather unorganized team into a well-defined organization throughout , with well-defined processes, where a lot of time-consuming processes are now automatically taking place and are taken for granted. As the team grows bigger with new members joining, we tend to lose our chemistry due to growing responsibilities, lack of time and the fact that processes now are more formal and "professional". New members are not aware of all that and all they see is this new, well-defined and organized situation; this does not allow them to see the background behind everything but only the strictly professional side.

However, this is a bet that we need to win, as the proper functionality of the team is heavily based on this special relation between us all. We need to embrace our new colleagues and help them understand things, integrate quickly and help them understand and integrate in the Agro-Know culture in order to ensure that the team will remain strong and work as it used to do for the last years. This is mostly a responsibility of the initial members (to help our new colleagues on and of course of the new members to understand and respect in order to keep things going as they should...