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Creating dialogue on the web

Lars Krarup, Micheleacquarone_jan_tr_jborg

Lars Krarup, Micheleacquarone_jan_tr_jborg (Image credit: RCS Sport)

In the December edition of Cycling Pro magazine, I read an article by Marco Bonarrigo entitled ‘Twittermania’, which tells of the evolution of the Twitter phenomenon in the world of cycling and especially among professional riders. Over 150 riders from all over the world are using Twitter, and when you add in all of the insiders and experts, we reach over 2,000 tweeters. A trend, but also a new way of communicating.

In my previous blog, I was saying that the web and social networks are allowing us to create a continuous, rapid and global dialogue. Listening to the opinions of everybody and looking for an exchange of ideas in order to find better solutions. Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube and blogs are revolutionary instruments that are allowing us to enter into contact with the rest of the world very rapidly and we would be mad not to take advantage of it.

But the web is unforgiving, and therein lies the most delicate of strategic choices. If you open up to the web, you must be transparent and ready to take that step forward. To be transparent, you have to have enormous faith in the quality of your work because you can’t hide anymore. If you accept dialogue, you must always be ready to follow through on it, and not only when it suits you.

Dialogue on the internet is the new motor of our organisation. Listening and responding, justifying every choice. Accepting good advice. Admitting errors without shame.

As organisers, we have opted for a ‘mixed decentralisation.’ On one hand we have the central official channels, and on the other, we have individual channels.

A web manager was appointed within the marketing area of cycling to manage all of the new technologies and in particular, the social networks. His task is to keep the dialogue with our community alive. Between Facebook and Twitter, the Giro d’Italia’s fanbase easily surpasses 150,000 people (40,000 on Twitter) and those who are familiar with us will know that topics of discussion are never lacking, be it in-season or off-season.

But the community doesn’t need to limit itself to living on the official channels; the true community is the one which every colleague is able to create individually. In this regard, a year ago, I asked all of my colleagues at RCS Sport to enter into the world of the web and social networking. We have held training and today every colleague is equipped with a Twitter account, and everybody – some more expertly than others – uses this instrument regularly. Every member of the organisation (not only in the cycling department, but throughout all of RCS Sport) is authorised to relay information externally via social networks and everybody has individual responsibility for what he or she communicates. When it comes to more delicate matters, I always recommend coordinating with Matteo Pastore, our director of external relations, but the choice is always individual.

That way, information circulates rapidly (even too much so, given that the other day, I fell into the trap of the Spanish version of April Fool’s Day. My friends Barrio and Chevallier from the UCI will get a big laugh at my expense when they read my request for clarification about the Vuelta being reduced to just two weeks.)

In this moment, I would have no doubt in saying that our community is the most precious asset that we have, because you’re not just talking about “communicating” or “selling”, but about being able to count on an enlarged team of over 150,000 attached and competent people. Today, practically all our choices come to be shared with the fanbase. It was the fanbase that chose the 2012 pink jersey, and it’s the fanbase that is guiding us in defining the production standards that from 2013 we will bring to television (and to the web) for all of our races. Through the fanbase, we chose the models for our publicity campaign and through our fanbase, we will choose the personnel for the 2012 Giro.

And we’re only at the beginning.

Happy New Year to everybody and I hope that 2012 will bring all that you desire.

See you online.

Join Michele's dialogue on twitter: @micacquarone @giroditalia

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From Strade Bianche to Lombardia, via the Giro d'Italia, Michele Acquarone and the RCS Sport team will navigate the season with us, bringing Cyclingnews readers behind the scenes, as they discuss the challenges that face race organisers and share their fresh and innovative approaches to cycling.