By adaptive - February 20th, 2013

The latest in our series of executive insight focuses on the experiences of Yann Gourvennec, Director of Web, Digital and Social Media at Orange Group.


Launched in April 1994, Orange was the youngest company to enter the FSTE-100 valued at £2.4 billion. Since then the company has continued to develop its product range expanding internationally in Israel and Hong Kong. And in July of 2010 Orange UK and T-Mobile UK became the UK's largest communications company Everything Everywhere.
Yann has over 25 years of international experience in marketing, sales and information systems. He created in 1996 and since then, he has practiced web strategy, e-business and web communications. After working for Philips, Unisys and Cap Gemini, he is now director, web, digital and social media for Orange. He has been a member of since 2008 and he co-founded Media Aces, the French Association for enterprises and social media. He is a lecturer at the Paris University and the Paris business school of management, a keynote speaker, an author and blogger.
Yann Gourvennec, Director, Web, Digital & Social Media, Orange Group.

[Q] Why does Orange you use social media?

[A] Orange has been using social media for six years at least, that is to say a long time before Web 2.0 was renamed "social media". At first, the social Web was a means for Orange to experiment in certain fields of marketing, namely in business to business. The company joined the organisation in the USA as early as 2008. Nowadays, our use of social media is widespread, all across our international footprint and we use it for many purposes from content marketing to community management, social CRM and even product launches like the new brand in 2011. However, not all countries use the social Web for the same purpose. 
Some of our subsidiaries have become real stars like Orange Poland (over 1 million fans on Facebook and ranked 5th most devoted brand on social media by the Czech software editor Socialbakers).
My presentation at the Useful Social Media conference last summer in London was aimed at describing the wide range of use of social media business by Orange in different locations. It has been recently updated and enhanced for the “telecom experience” seminar, which took place in Zagreb at the end of 2012.
To sum it up in a few words, we can say that Orange has moved from social media to social business.

[Q] How big a role is social media expected to play in your future plans for your business?

[A] Social media is an integral part of our digital marketing mix and it's here to stay. Despite the fact that the majority of European companies are discovering and experimenting only now, social media can no longer be considered new technology. LinkedIn is 10 years old and even Facebook was created 9 years ago. Social media has come of age. 
It is even, whether one likes it or not, becoming a serious advertising platform. Facebook was able to generate $2 billion worth of revenue in just 2 years in that space, and this is not going to disappear. I think that one of the main challenges in the forthcoming years regarding social media is how to integrate it within business more seamlessly. There will be a time in the future when we won't talk about social media anymore; by then, we will have embedded the social component within our digital marketing and traditional marketing as well.
I am currently working on a book, which will describe this evolution. The working title of the book is Digital Marketing, Beyond Social Media. And the target release date is June 2013

[Q] How is social media organised within your company? What organisational models do you use and why?

[A] We, at Group level, are a sort of centre of excellence devoted to helping, supporting and providing tools to our 200 community managers who are operating across our 38 countries (and even 160 if one includes Orange Business Services). We do not want to dictate anything to those business units; it would be counter-productive and against the spirit of social media. Instead, we chose to adopt the hub and spoke model described by Jeremiah Owyang
Each of these business units is empowered and we mostly concentrate on how we can deliver the tools and the methodology and the support for them. For instance, we are providing social media guidelines for the Group, tools for the administration of social media platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter or all other platforms, as well as repositories for blogger relationship management, hubs for Facebook country pages, LinkedIn worldwide groups and supports to LinkedIn country and Group pages, Wikipedia support, Slideshare and Dailymotion hubs…
The list is not comprehensive; we have designed a booklet in which our offer is described, which we share with all business units at Orange. We see ourselves as the enabler of our social media activity throughout the world.

[Q] As a corporate user of social networks, how does your company value the networks it has a presence on?

[A] Certainly, the perception by top management of our online presence and engagement on social media has greatly evolved since the beginning of 2008. It has ceased to be a field of experiment for new marketing ideas, and it is really part of our everyday business toolbox. 
There are two striking examples of that in my presentation entitled "what tool for what message" []: One is the couponing experiment carried out by Orange Spain, and the other is the launch of in France. Both examples show how intertwined social media and business are. It's not just about presence, nor even engagement, it’s about the gathering of fans and supporters which are going to work with us on building new brands and a new customer experience.

[Q] Can you outline a recent initiative that included a social media component?

[A] There are many of those and it’s hard to choose only one of them. Yet, I would like to focus on the Orange Silicon Valley blogger bus tour that took place in September 2012. 
In September 2012, 14 bloggers from 7 countries (China, Finland, Australia, US, UK, Finland and France) landed at San Francisco airport and spent a week there to evaluate how innovation in the Valley. The result was amazing. Both from a collaboration point of view and because of the amount of insight we got from the companies we visited. Besides, the tour had an amazing impact in terms of visibility for the brand throughout the world, as shown on the infographics on our Slideshare hub. To us, the blogger bus tour wasn't just a campaign, but a real blogger relationship exercise.
This tour wasn’t just another geek trip to Northern California; it was about a whole philosophy of practising blogger relationship management with the result appearing in the fieldwork produced with our fellow bloggers and the noise we made about it with social media. Ultimately, the tour was about building a strong international community of like-minded people, a group of top-notch professionals from all over the world who want to share content, write good stories and build something together.

[Q] How much pressure is there to show ROI with a social media use?

Going back to the example I have just described, we are providing online a special chart describing the ROI of such an experiment  (pages 28-29). There are many ways in which you can measure return on investment on social media. On the one hand, you can show how many dollars you generate via your campaigns but this is very hard to do and, barring a few examples, the numbers aren’t always very reliable either. Another way of showing how rewarding social media can be is to show how much money you save from using user generated content and fostering a community effort with your fans and clients. 
That's mostly the way of showing ROI, which I encourage and we actually post our ROI charts online. We have always endeavoured to be transparent and honest about what we do, and to provide the facts and figures regarding our work even before it was requested. As a consequence, we have never really felt the pressure, which you are referring to in your question.
Besides, at Orange we are not just trying to be practitioners of social media, we also want to be leaders and pioneers in that field. We share as much of our work as possible, in order to provide inspiration to other companies, which really want to leverage the social Web for their business. Amongst the companies with which we share such information, a lot of them are our business clients, and I am often asked by Orange Business Services to speak in front of our business customers in order to help them with their own initiatives.


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