In my capacity as training, providing consultancy and hands-on management for business social media accounts here in Tuscany, Italy, over-coming the digital and social “gap” is part of my daily existence.
Nearly every single company that approaches us in search of some form of assistance is critically inadeqate in terms of their ability to approach, undestand and exploit the web. That’s good, that’s what we are hear for. We are happy to be able to transform business’ approach to this new world and get them on the right track to understanding, learning and using their web presence. Samy and Amy didn’t come to us (or apparently anyone else), and that in hindsight was probably a bad move …
But here is what is getting to me at the moment (apart from the fact that we have had five months rain and it’s not stopping). We do a lot of work with national trade unions and trade associations. These enormous and largely very confused organisations are now probably the best helping hand that micro, small and medium sized enterprises have right now of accessing information, training and industry updates. Local government (with the exception of specific industries, for example tourism in Tuscany) is broadly-speaking not best described as particularly helpful to business owners.
We run training courses, we supply hands-on services, act as consultants and provide online services to assocation members, where our “employer” (trade association or trade union), often using funding won at a provincial, regional, national or European level generally has absolutely no idea what we are doing, what use it serves and how the new knowledge should be applied, but realises that apparently, it’s got to be done. I can live with that too. “Trust me, I know what I am talking about” – it works.
But the latest development is devastating. In working with local branches of these national associations, I have a lot of contact with the area managers, And after three year’s of working together, they are converted! Once given the opportunity, I can explain how the system a) isn’t going to go away and b) can be used to the hotel/restaurant owners’ advantage if they know how to manage it and providing that the product/service can stand up to scrutiny. But now the larger and more influential figures at a national level are taking a stance on tripadvisor (and the other platforms) that are based on half-information, mis-information and false information (much the same mindset as the association members when we first meet them), directly contradicting their area managers efforts in making the association members aware, informed and competent on the subject.
These figures also have a louder voice at a national level, making life so much harder as a grass roots level. At the risk of sounding like a tripadvisor fundamentalist (which I am not! – the platform exists, mostly works, and “exploited” wisely can bring huge benefits to businsses), couldn’t it be so much better if we all preach the same doctrine. I am willing to come to the table with an open mind, prepared to share other people’s views, but they must be views supported by facts, numbers and real live local case studies. We could get this job done hell of a lot faster and with a great deal less pain. Surely better for all concerned, not least our ailing economy.