Going social with Media Academie
A short overview of my internship at Media Academie Hilversum.
"We want to do something with social media, can you help us?" A question asked by many companies nowadays. Media Academie Hilversum, my internship company, was no different. The company is an institution providing training for media professionals in the broadest sense. From camera and director's training, to courses on video software, storywriting, interviewing, but also softskill related themes such as time management and project planning. And they wanted to expand and improve on their social media strategy. It sounded like a blank canvas at first - all my knowledge of Twitter, Facebook and so on, and practically unlimited freedom to come up with ideas.
But it's not easy being free. That is to say, it proved quite a challenge to get things going. The work environment was definitely very friendly; colleagues were really nice and laid back, the building had a great atmosphere and the coffee was good. But what made my internship challenging was the fact that hardly anyone in the company had any concrete social media experience. My job then, I concluded, wasn't so much to acquire as many friends and followers as I could via various social media platforms. This would probably work for a few months while I was there, but after my departure it'd undoubtedly all fall apart again. Rather, the question that fueled my efforts at the company was "How can I get these people to work with social media?". In other words, I had to integrate social media within the company, in order for the company to be able to use these tools to enhance and broadcast their story.
Together with the manager and my coach, we came up with a few different plans. Probably the one that had the most impact on the company's culture was the introduction of an internal social media platform. The idea behind this was to allow the company's employees to understand how social media can work, and how they can help a company. The internal environment helped them get their feet wet before taking the plunge, so to say. Secondly, I attempted to shift the already existing social media strategy, where mostly links and articles from other websites were simply reposted, to a direction where the emphasis would be more on the company's own story. This way, the company can take these themes it posted about and add its own knowledge and expertise to it, thereby profiling itself as a company that not only offers training products but also stays in the loop about developments in its market.
To expand on this second idea, I tried to launch a plan that I called 'specials'. I wanted to use the company blog to make recurring issues on some of the topics and themes that come up in the various courses and trainings the company provides. While this idea was often pitched but never really made it into reality during my internship, I noticed yesterday that the company used its blog to share the story of one of their media training students, who used it to promote his story and book. After months of silence after my departure, it was great to see this implemented, as it was exactly how I pictured it. See the blog at http://blog.mediaacademie.nl
For a more academic question to pose with regards to these plans, I went into the domain of brand personality. This subject looks at how certain brand expressions, such as marketing acts, commercials, logo design etc., influence the 'personality' of the brand. At the basis of this theory is the idea that people tend to assign human traits and characteristics to brands. Coca Cola for example is seen as All American, more grown up, and traditional, while its counterpart Pepsi Cola is perceived as young, hip, more commercial and modern. Such characteristics can be categorized in five main categories, derived from the Big Five traits in human psychology. One of these categories, Competence, was very suitable to Media Academie. Undoubtedly, as a training institution, this is one trait you would want to connect with your company. In my research I showed how these traits are generally acquired by companies, and how Media Academie could use actions such as my suggested Specials to boost their Competence trait.
All in all, I learned a great deal of things at the Media Academie, although it was not always what I expected it to be beforehand. I learned that no matter what your ideas for the company are, and no matter how accessible they seem to be, there's still a great deal of work to be done before an idea is actually executed by a company. The Media Academie didn't turn out to be the blank canvas I could freely paint on, rather it was the house of cards I had to carefully build up. I may not have gotten much further than the foundation, but that is always the most important part of a building.