BMmeetings | Interview with Riccardo Pirrone

23 February 2023

Defining Riccardo Pirrone is not an easy task. He is well-known for being the social media manager of Taffo, Italy’s most famous funeral agency, but he is much more than that. Pirrone is an author and contributor to Il Sole 24 Ore, and he has founded the advertising agency KiRweb and Wonka Talent, an inclusive talent factory devoted to influencer marketing projects. His way of communicating, both on social media and elsewhere, has redefined the sector and it’s no surprise that he teaches “how not to become a banal social media manager.” Banality is not in Pirrone’s vocabulary in any way.

At his recent participation in BMmeetings, the participants of the Master in Business Management were very eager to hear him speak and Pirrone did not disappoint, providing valuable insights into the dynamics of contemporary communication. We spoke with him shortly after the event to ask him three questions on this subject.

How has the world of social media changed in the past three years and how much has the pandemic influenced it?

There has been a shift in the growth and usage of certain social media platforms, while others have declined. Excluding BeReal, which is still not widely used, there have been no major new social media launches in the past three years. During the pandemic, social media became a communication tool on par with mass media. Not that it wasn’t before, but people finally started to recognize it as such. This recognition was largely driven by institutions using social media to communicate quickly and frequently with as many citizens as possible. For the first time, we saw institutional figures, such as the then Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, become the most visible on these platforms. The need for timely and constant information, combined with the need to pass the time during lockdowns and maintain social connections from a distance, all contributed to people’s increased competence and understanding of social media. Today, businesses have also increased their online presence, on new platforms like TikTok and on established ones like Instagram and LinkedIn, which are experiencing a real resurgence.

We can say that you have established a style, an ironic and entertaining way of doing instant marketing that has set the bar. At the same time, by addressing topical and often debated issues and choosing to stand up for certain causes as Taffo does, a brand also exposes itself to criticism. How do you find a balance?

You don’t find balance by searching for it. There are various ways to execute real-time marketing, but not all the brands I work with communicate in the same way as Taffo, choosing to get involved with socially or ethically relevant issues. Taffo takes a straightforward approach, which has become a well-known case history around the world. But this can be executed differently, with other brands. The key is to express your values, what the brand stands for, and the battles it is willing to fight through real-time marketing. By doing this, you show your viewpoint, which naturally means that those who don’t share your beliefs will stop following you, but those who support the same causes will become followers and even friends of the brand. And that’s how it should be: if you try to please everyone by staying neutral, you won’t support any cause. You have to take a stand and believe in what you say and do, also by taking concrete actions. This is crucial: a brand that supports a cause can’t only talk about it, it must also act to be credible.

During the MGIncontri event at Bologna Business School, a series of conferences dedicated to the Professional Master in Business Management, you had the opportunity to address the school’s younger students. Did you have any specific advice to give them?

During the meeting, I didn’t intend to give any direct advice, but in the end, I shared some suggestions. I told them to study the world they are going to work in. Knowing social media and how to use the tools is not enough, you must understand the marketing and communication industry. You must also understand the dynamics of the company you’ll be working for and most importantly, know yourself. Be aware of your limits, the stereotypes that influence you, and any personal issues you may have. This includes seeking therapy if needed. This way, you can be free from fear and communicate effectively.


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