Nokia's Schonthal on 2.0: "one has to think in terms of psychological adoption"


After Microsoft's, the second blogwell presentation at Blogwell #3 which took place on April 29 in NYC, was that of Molly Schonthal from Nokia, who is in charge of social media for the Finnish cell phone manufacturer in the US, and also one of our representatives of the blog Council.

Molly's presentation was truly outstanding, there were so many questions and answers at the end of the presentation that I've had a hard time trying to keep track of them all, but a good many of them will be transcribed in this post anyway.

The presentation was entitled "from broadcast to social media". And it started with references to Tara Hunt's latest book, "the Whuffie factor", on which we have already had an opportunity to comment on this very blog (click here for an interview of Tara Hunt about the "Whuffie Factor").

Molly insisted on the fact that "what is difficult for a big company is 'listening', participating openly and respectfully." It might in fact sound to be an obvious thing to do, but it's not always for a large organisation, for it is so easy to be concentrated on one's internal organisational issues and forget about one's clients. So what are the changes as a big organisation is facing when trying to engage in different kinds of relationships with its customers and ecosystem?

1. One has to think, Molly says, not in terms of technological adoption, but of "psychological adoption". Web 2.0, she says, is not difficult from a technical point of view, and it can be set up in a matter of seconds. But working with communities can take a lot longer than that.

2. Her second point is just about that, when she says that "building networks take time". And, "it does not follow the principles of normal press relations". She even coined the phrase "social release" which she opposed to press release. What it takes is actually creating messages that are relevant to influencers. And to stop and listen and engage. And she also insisted upon the fact that collaboration is about "cross functional interactions which are at the heart of success".

What Molly and Nokia's teams have been able to achieve in the field of social media is just awesome. Here are just a few examples which I have been able to catch up on the catch on the fly:

  1. Nokia encouraged the widespread adoption of 2.0 tools internally,
  2. Nokia developed what they called an "infopedia" internally. This is some sort of Wikipedia, but it is internal. It was actually instrumental in getting Nokia employees to understand what a wiki is what a blog is etc.,
  3. Nokia also created a blog hub: all internal blog content was focussed in one place that is to say that access is granted to what employees are talking about, sharing thoughts and ideas,
  4. An internal webTV was also created, which is some sort of youtube which enables employees to upload, invent and discuss,
  5. externally, blogs have also been rolled out, therefore enabling conversations about Nokia products. They also created a platform called "blogbites", which enables them to generate three-minute podcasts from existing text."

Engaging with influencers is also a very important item on the Nokia agenda, and they are engaging with them on events, such as SXSW09.

Molly also insisted on what she called the blogger test centre tour which actually consisted in sending bloggers to two different countries. The stories were published in leading blogs such as Gizmodo, Techcrunch, the BBC etc. A 500,000 audience reach was achieved for that event in 2 geographical areas (the UK and Australia).

As a conclusion Molly insisted upon the fact that one had to allow company culture to evolve, beyond "PowerPoint slides with bullets in them". (Reminiscent of an article I published a long time ago with the help of Giancarlo, and which was entitled PowerPointitis)

questions and answers

1. how are you selecting bloggers for your events?

Few people can be admitted in the test centre. Loads of explanations about temperatures were given (Nokia phones had to resist all kinds of temperatures, perform the lowest to the highest). The Nokia lab folks were also very excited about the idea and about the ability to interact with real people. The way that Nokia organised this was very straightforward. All Nokia had to do was to "invite them and be nice with them".

2. measurements?

It is very hard to track results back to sales, Molly says. They do do some monitoring at Nokia, and then look at the number of people and followers (Nokia has more than 500 followers on twitter). Another question was, "how did you convince managers?" Molly responded to that: "our company understands the value of social media", which is great support what she and her teams are doing at Nokia across the world for social media. She also insisted that social media produces soft numbers, which do not have to be linked to sales automatically.

3. what is the hardest thing?

The most difficult thing according to Molly Schonthal is to "listen well all the time". It is hard to get an e-mail from a blogger/influencer, she says, because it always has to be taken as an emergency. "One has to stop," she adds, it's a "personal challenge". Raising expectations is an issue (a phrase which I heard often times pronounced during this blogwell session). Planning is also a major issue: "one has to avoid formatting" she adds (mainly on twitter)

4. what are your worries about accountability?

Molly says that Nokia never "discloses private information, earnings, confidential information etc." But that in the long run, some "of that could happen with maturity" and that "Nokia's people and managers are not hindered by fear". (I take this opportunity to link back to the minutes of a previous blogwell session in San Jose which was facilitated by Ken Kaplan from Intel about fear and social media)

5. how do you handle comments?

"You cannot say you're open and honest and stop people from saying things" Molly rightfully points out. So, you will have to assume that some of the comments won't always be coming your way and you'll have to take it like a man.

6. what is the difference between press and social media release?

Molly says that social media release comes with some video plus a bunch of pictures and multimedia files to download and text which is more appropriate for blogs. It is true that more and more packages such as these are made available on the market by agencies on behalf of big businesses.

8. what about smaller bloggers?

There is more than one approach, Molly says, and we hope to do it again with more folks.

9. responding to external comments?

Molly says that you have to ask yourself two questions:

note: NYC picture by Orange Business
Yann Gourvennec

I specialize in information systems, HighTech marketing and Web marketing. I am author and contributor to numerous books and the CEO of Visionary Marketing. As such, I contribute regularly on this blog for Orange Business account on cloud computing and cloud storage topics.