Head of Digital Marketing at Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., Roberto Ciacci is a great expert of the Web world. He’s a member of the faculty of the Marketing Communication & New Media Master at Bologna Business School.
You entered the Web world twenty years ago, when the potential of the net hadn’t exploded yet, as it has today. What charmed you about that world, back then, and what possibilities did you see?
My “first time” on the Web dates back to the spring of 1995. At the time, my “Web” was the news-stand, it sounds incredible but it’s true: a place where I could roam among a thousand magazines, even foreign ones, science-fiction collections, musical weeklies and have access to information I couldn’t find anywhere else. Funnily enough, it was precisely there that I discovered the first issue of “Internet News”: I believe it was the first Italian monthly magazine entirely devoted to the Web and Internet. It was love at first sight: on the Web, I found inputs for my interests (at the time besides University, I nurtured my passion for music as a radio host) and, just three years later, I was doing an internship at NETTuno, one of the leading Italian Internet Service Providers.Can you highlight for us the crucial moments, in the history of the web, over the last twenty years?In these past 20 years, I had the privilege of witnessing the birth of the Web in Italy. There were many crucial moments: there was the pre-Web stage, BBS and protocols (archie, FTP, Gopher), dating back to before 1995. Then the Web entered universities and, slowly, homes, with expensive connections via modems. In 1995, the free Web arrived with Iperbole, the first Italian civic network of which I was one of the first subscribers; and then there were the CDs attached to IT magazines, offering free of charge connection accounts. Once a basis of users was developed, also businesses joined in. There was the Google wave, that ousted Altavista as the main search engine and definitely changed our lives. And there was the gold rush at the Stock Exchange, until 2001, with the dotCom era. Between 2001 and 2003, a quantum leap: blogs were born, first in the States, and then in Europe too, and the Social Web arrived. The free blogging platforms became very popular and, at the same time, we saw the broadband becoming established.Since 2004, another turn of the wheel, with the first wave of social media, such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook. Finally, starting from 2009, in parallel with the success of smartphones, the explosion of the mobile Web. And the evolution is still going on …
In 2008 you founded one of the leading Italian local Business Communities (BolognaIN), and it gave you a great deal of visibility. How did you come up with this idea?
I strongly believed in a collaborative and shared project. About a year earlier, I had started a free-lance activity and wanted to be part of the network in the town where I lived and worked. At the time, LinkedIn was a very young and growing platform. The right intuition was to gather the people who were living and working in Bologna, like me, around a LinkedIn group, with a combination of online sharing moments and informal off-line events. The local visibility was just crazy: clearly there was a latent need for an initiative such as that one.
In which way, according to you, the new media have changed marketing activities in businesses?
The new media have changed everything. Communication has changed, from being push to pull. The companies that understood it have invested in quality contents and used new media to be connected to their audience. Having said that, the traditional media are not dead: radio for instance is in very good health.
Lamborghini is an international organization and a complex brand. How is it possible to create a sense of Community, internationally, among a variety of customers having extremely different cultural backgrounds?
Lamborghini is a very aspirational brand. The brand lovers community gathered spontaneously around the official touch points as soon as the company appeared on the social media, over 4 years ago. Today, it’s among the automotive brands with the farthest-reaching digital footprint, though it still remains a manufacturer of highly exclusive super sports car. The Community of the customers is well represented by the network of the clubs and it’s of course very limited in terms of numbers. And privacy is a big deal. Both categories recognize themselves in the brand and its values.
Lamborghini is an Italian icon, a symbol of design, performance and a certain life-style.What type of skills are needed to work in this sector?
Different skills are needed: a technical background is very helpful, because communication and marketing on the new media have reached a high level of complexity. Let’s think for instance of programmatic media buying: it’s not a chance if we talk about Ad Tech! In the new media the technicalities of the “medium” are inextricably mixed with the “message”. Let’s take a website as an example: for the site to have excellent indexing on Google, a skilled copywriter and a good information architecture are not enough, you also need a clean code and a server with first rate response time.
What is the role played by business schools in training social media managers?
The figure of the social media manager is not codified yet. It is often the result of a self-made education, a pinch of improvisation and a lot of personal branding. In order to create a sound basis for oneself, my suggestion is to attend a Master and always check the faculty curriculum and experience in the field. The possibility of being introduced in a real working context, as part of an internship, at the end of the master, is definitely a unique opportunity.
What suggestion would you give to a student who’d like to work in this sector?
Never stop studying. The new media change too rapidly to be able to afford resting on already acquired knowledge. And then I’d suggest to have a personal project: the so-called learning-by-doing is fundamental, especially to cover those area of knowledge and know-how that traditional education can reach only with some delay.
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