This post is a reflection on the role of digital collaboration at the Algarve Energy Park. Revenue Architects is working with the Park to build a digital presence beginning with the recent launch of the website. The Algarve Energy Park initiative is designed to meet the needs of tomorrow’s world by addressing today’s global challenges. Its objective is to develop a model sustainable cluster community in collaboration with leading academic institutions and partners in industry, attracting leading initiatives and companies in renewable energy and preventive healthcare sectors.
Digital technology is playing a role today in the outreach and communication efforts for the park. It will also be used when the Park is fully operating and collaboration is taking place around the creation of new science. Globalization, inexpensive network connectivity, growth in social software and a new architecture of participation is driving an explosive growth in social networking and business collaboration. The Algarve Energy Park is embracing these trends and technologies to accelerate marketing outreach and drive collaborative working.
Social software helps connect people across time zones and culture. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are widely adopted in personal and professional networking. The assimilation of global teams within a collaborative working framework is far easier than ever before and no longer requires complex choices of often expensive and proprietary technologies and processes. Today, cloud-based applications are available on demand at little or no cost and it is easier than ever before for users from different organizations and with varied technical skills to quickly adopt these services.
At the same time, marketing leaders are transforming how they engage, educate and influence target audiences. Traditional media is declining as a model for audience outreach. Advertising is less effective as consumers gain more control of what they consume. People can now easily filter out the unwanted pushed messages and “tivo” through advertisements. Newspaper readers abandon print versions and consume content online – and by using RSS readers, they are bypassing advertisements. I am certain that the industry will arrive at a balance that helps to monetize delivering quality content, but within this environment, marketers recognize the need to engage audiences in new ways. Brands can no longer control their message through owned media and they are becoming more focused on earned media. They are moving beyond a focus on their website to a focus on their web presence.
With the advent of newer social media and web 2.0 services, exciting and informative content can be very easily shared across the social web. As my colleague Amy Hunt says, more than ever, content needs to be like “peanut butter”- sticky and spreadable! What does this mean for the Algarve Energy Park? When we consider the role of collaborative and new media technologies that support the Park, we focus on the two critical stages in the Park’s development and the corresponding roles of these new collaborative and digital technologies.
- Digital Collaboration for Research. As the Park develops, we will need to adopt strategies to use digital networks, community tools and collaborative technology that support our global research business and academic teams.
- Digital Collaboration for Marketing and Outreach. On an on-going basis – we need digital collaboration and outreach to foster the support, dialog and engagement required to shape the direction of the vision and engage our audience to collaborate, support and partner in the success of the vision.
Digital Collaboration for Research
At its core, AEP is about collaboration. The Park will combine leading thinking across a combination of interrelated elements – academics, economists, business strategists, energy researchers as well as architects and master planners to create a sustainable community to design and develop new technologies and set standards for clean energy, sustainable living, and personalized medicine. The community will benefit from both in-person and digitally-enabled collaboration. By extending the physical interactions digitally, we foster greater global collaboration among experts across disciplines and accelerate the velocity of knowledge and science globally. AEP can be at the forefront of the work in support of sustainable energy.
Deep web experiences offer a blend with physical experiences to create a unifying human experience. As collaborators in the park, we will be considering how these enabling technologies and web collaborative social experiences will impact successful research collaboration. We believe that many existing public platforms and social network technologies can effectively drive communications and support the research agenda. With a diverse range of collaborators working together on sustainable energy, we will need solutions that are open, readily available and easy to use and adopt. At the same time, we understand that some projects will need deeper structures and security levels to facilitate formal research and economic agendas. As technologies mature we are seeing a shift from a social focus to a blend of social and business focus. We see the greater levels of security, reliability and availability needed for mission critical program work. The challenge for AEP will be to find the right mix of openly available platforms and dedicated solutions. The right solutions will be the ones that fit with the specific needs of the collaborating teams.
Digital Collaboration for Marketing and Outreach
At our early stage of development, we are marshaling support and capturing insights from many key stakeholders that help define the AEP vision and support the program development. We are engaging a collaborative global network of leaders, influencers, stakeholders and investors. We connect across government, community, business and science leaders and we listen to these communities to incorporate insights and perspectives that shape a better outcome.
At our current stage of development, it would it be rational to launch an expensive outreach program using the traditional media for communication. Could these strategies even succeed given the global range and diversity of our audience? With such a diverse set of stakeholders, we needed to rethink how to engage our audience? How can we reach out and be open and available to a global and local audience? How can we capture input and insights to shape the strategy? What are the best ways to foster interest and commitment?
We believe the answer is to embrace a new marketing strategy. We are using new media strategies to facilitate the outreach agenda. We use the social web and effective web presence to be where our stakeholders are. While branding and design are important to reinforce our core vision, we also place emphasis on content and functionality that support our stakeholder needs. Our strategy is to build a web presence beginning with an effective website and tools for interactive communications. We are extending our web presence with new media digital outposts. With these capabilities in place, we will have the foundation to grow incrementally with a focus on content and conversation.
Below are the elements of our new marketing presence and outreach strategies:
Website: Our website is at the center of the discussions, content and information resources for the community. The www.algarveenergypark.com web site is using up to date web 2.0 features that encourage content engagement and sharing. The back end administration of the site facilitates continuous updates to valuable content. We will deliver content in the two languages that our audience is most comfortable with – English and Portuguese. A blog will help inform readers of updated insights and content from the Park. The foundation for the site is using an open source content management system and facilities to continually update of the site elements, content and promotional messages.
Digital Video: The team has already created some exciting video assets that introduce, promote and explain the park vision. We know that video is a popular and important media for education and information sharing. We are populating the site with these creative communication assets. In addition, we host these on the open web. By using tools like YouTube and Vimeo, we can expose the AEP vision to an audience that may not have otherwise found us at the park website. Presence on these open video services enhances our search visibility and helps us expand our footprint.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the established social media platform leader for business networking and collaboration. We do not need to build out our own community on our own website. We can engage a platform like LinkedIn that so much of our audience is accustomed and comfortable using. We can use LinkedIn to share the profile of the Park, leaders within the team and engage in discussions. We can share news from the park and bring people back to the website to learn more.
Facebook: Clearly we think of Facebook as a “social” network. We mostly use Facebook as a place to share our personal views and life activities with our trusted network of friends. We may not think of Facebook as a platform for a business outpost, but there are about 350,000 businesses using Facebook today. Facebook provides an extension of our web presence and allows us to share news with the community that is connected to us there. Big brands and sports teams gain a great followings and fans. Our presence may not attract a massive following, but we can be there – available to our constituents on another popular outpost and delivering another opportunity for them to engage with us. Also as AEP includes an innovative residential and living model, the Facebook presence may grow to be a vibrant part of our social activities for and among park residents. In keeping with our strategy, why build or promote a proprietary private community application when we can carve out an appropriate presence on a very popular and engaging platform like Facebook.
Twitter: We are also preparing to roll out a Twitter presence. Twitter will be an important way for us to stay connected with the deeper web conversations. The depth of conversations and mentions on Twitter helps us find those potential collaborators on the park’s mission and research topics. Twitter will allow us to build a following as well – our community of stakeholders will be able to follow developments from the park through Twitter updates. We can use Twitter and related platforms like co-tweet or Tweetdeck to track and engage in the conversations that are relevant to the park’s mission. The tools we will use will allow us to manage our micro blogging and status updates from one place – we can update our status on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts all at once. Why? We want to share links to meaningful content and valued insights to our community – where they are. We want to reTweet – or resend – the interesting tweets we find to our community. As our capacity and ambition evolves, AEP can stand out as a content leader on critical sustainable energy topics, but in the nearer term, Twitter will be a great source of insight and information sharing about the topics that drive the AEP agenda.
Bringing it all together
The Algarve Energy Park is about innovation and collaboration. By being connected and available in the new social web, we are ready to begin the dialog. We are eager to hear from our audience and engage in discussions about the ideas and concepts that AEP is putting forward. We expect that collaborators will find their way to news and information across the different touchpoints and that they will visit the website. When they visit us, they will have the opportunity to learn about the park, comment on content items, subscribe to feeds, and register to receive updated news and information on a more regular basis. We will offer different mailing lists to help them stay informed on the specific topics that drive their particular interests. We will also encourage our guests to take action: Collaborate, Support, Partner!