SocialStrategyTalk – a conference review

By Dado Van Peteghem and Wim de Wever.

Last week, on the 5th of February, we headed to the centre of Amsterdam for a social media congress with a strong content focus on communities. The event took place in a creative workspace called the ‘Westerunie’, an old gas plant, where about 300 people gathered for the 3rd Social Strategy Talk. Due to some train connection delays we missed the appetizers, but we managed to arrive right on time for the content part, hooray for the taxidriver!

Only a few minutes after we found a place the first speaker, Peter Kentie (Marketing Manager at PSV) was given the floor after a small introduction of the organizing team. Peter Kentie gave interesting viewpoints on the strategy of PSV and how they’re using cross medial tools to connect with their different target groups. Every new technology/medium that rises can turn out to be a new opportunity for the most famous football club from Eindhoven. These different, self managed, (online, mobile) media however, are strongly rooted in the offline world. Moreover the brand influence in the success of these communities plays an important role.

Peter Kentie: “Football players and coaches are passing by, the real power comes from the brand PSV”

It is obvious that not every community member (read: supporter) is at the same level in terms of involvement, and therefore, PSV wants its members to push upwards in their self-created ‘participation ladder’.

The second speaker, Ruud Smeulders from Rabobank, threw alight onthe online initiatives of Rabobank and crowd sourced the public with the open ended question: ‘How should Rabobank make use of communities?’ Some interesting ideas, like P2P loaning, came up during the following discussion and provided a lot of inspiration for Ruud Smeulders. The most interesting point of his speech for the audience was the insight that the difference between the employee and customer is actually fading away. But the best was yet to come…

The most inspiring speech on the usage of new Media & Technologies in community building was held by Roderick Vanhögen, better known as the Podcast Priest. Every morning Father Roderick brings his daily breakfast-podcast to the online spheres, inspiring people and followers around the globe. In a kind of daring way, he succeeds in turning an outdated looking ‘product’, being the church, into an attractive environment. He’s bringing together kindred spirits in a virtual church with a massive turnout. Keeping at the back of one’s mind the necessary and enduring connection between the community members, being the same religious message.

The last speaker of the day, Kirsten Verdel, shared her experiences on communities from a campaigning point of view. As a vital link in the campaigning team of Barack Obama, she told a story of preparation for years to win the presidential elections in the USA. Mission, Man and Money were key in the Democratic campaign, but patently obvious, the first of the 3 M’s was essential. Obama (and his grassroots support) is a Man who can bring the Mission in such a convincing way that only few would be able to match. Financial support of the electorate was necessary to spread the Mission to the public, but both Man and Money are only restoratives of the central message.Crucial in the strategy of the Democrats was not only to bind possible voters, but to go further and really convince the community of their joining. From that point, voters would not be simply voters anymore, but real messengers, towards other potential electorate. Offering the necessary tools in order to facilitate this process was indispensable.

Afterwards we had a nice chat with Carl Lens, one of the organizers of the event, about online communities and research aims with interesting food for thought.


We’ve seen a growing interest for communities in a large variety of business sectors, both for off- and online purposes and hence the opportunities and difficulties to merge both worlds.

Although it was a rainy day, we gathered some bright inspirations for the future !

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