The Power of Communities in the Digital Age
3 min

The Power of Communities in the Digital Age

From Kelly Hungerford to Alisée de Tonnac, 8 incredible women have been invited to talk about their role as a community builder in the digital age at the conference organized by Women in Digital Switzerland last week.

“ Only 6% are female speakers in tech conferences” said Taïssa Charlier, founder of Women in Digital Switzerland (WDS), an organization that aims to build a community of women working in digital across Switzerland. Since its inception in 2013, WDS has organized 7 conferences like this one and 55 meetups in 5 cities (Zurich, Basel, St Gallen, Lausanne and Geneva), and convinced 1500 women to join the association.

“It’s not about gender, it’s about talent and added value” said Taïssa, and the speakers invited for the conference proved it right!

“You need to engage employees in your external community for greater success” advised Nathalie Magniez, Senior Digital Director at STMicroelectronics. She was responsible of building a broader community of customers in less than 3 month with… engineers only! “As engineers we were more focused on the tools than the objectives. We had to move the focus.” she added. She also explained that identifying internal stakeholders and internal ambassadors was a key factor to the success of the project.

For her part, Eileen Schuch, founder & CEO of Coolbrandz, shared her vision on the future of advertisement. Nowadays, companies sponsor blogs and product reviews using the new social networking stars. But a study shows that these stars have actually very little impact on the real commitment of their audience. And social media influencer marketing is not just a question of numbers. The return on investment must rely on quality relationships and long-term collaborations. “The future of influence marketing will be based on micro-influencers. It will become more and more niche.” affirmed Eileen. Indeed, a micro-influencer’s network is often limited to a few thousand or even hundreds of subscribers, but their influence on the community is huge. For brands, their collaboration is valuable as part of a more equitable and sustainable long term relationship.

“Integrity and ethics shouldn’t be separated from doing business” said Alisée de Tonnac, co-founder and CEO of Seedstars World. The organisation, which is known mainly for its competition for start-ups from emerging countries, is now active in more than 60 countries. When she started, many of the applicant start-ups had been founded by expats. A large number of companies also adapted proven models from western countries to their country. Both have changed today. Now they have a lot of applications from founders from the respective countries. Alisée also shared her personal story: “Many countries in Africa and Asia are big; for example, Nigeria, where I lived, has more than 180 million inhabitants. Emerging markets can offer growth opportunities, in particular for western start-ups that struggle to scale in their home markets and could have an offering for these frontier markets.”

The lack of diversity is a disaster for the tech industry limited only by the shortage of talent. Especially since diversity holds the key to true performance excellence in a company. As Alisée de Tonnac said “Diversity is a necessity, not a nice to have”.

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