Packaging People – social networking

Packaging Professional magazine
13 Nov 2009
screen grab of the website

Tom Serpell of Obsidian Consulting and David Jackson, Creative Consultant at Easibind, are behind a dedicated online social network for packaging professionals.

Marketing aims to raise awareness, interest and demand for goods or services offered by a particular organisation. During the 20th century, marketing developed into a major management discipline, with well-proven and much taught models. The 21st century, with the increasing dominance of digital media and the Internet in communications, has challenged many of the established media and assumptions about how to build brands and sales. One particular element of the new marketing world lies behind a new initiative in our industry – sector-specific online social networking.

The new model, sometimes called ‘freeconomics’, states that you first get people engaged for free, then decide how you can provide added value to the community and possibly generate revenue. This is the principal on which successes such as social networking sites LinkedIn and Twitter, and search engines such as Google and Mozilla, are based.

The value in social networks lies in people connecting with one another because they have a common background or interests. Facilitating this should dominate the agenda, with other considerations secondary, until or unless they add value to the needs of the members.

Packaging perspective

The UK has a number of packaging trade bodies, mostly with company memberships rather than individual members. We have The Packaging Society, which has members who have benefited from its specialist training. But the industry consists of tens of thousands – 85,000 or so according to The Packaging Federation – of individuals, all working in the same business of making sure goods reach their intended users safely and attractively.

In July, instigated by The Packaging Society, East of England, Packaging People was launched. This online social network is for everybody involved in the supply chain. It allows users to see who else in the industry lives or works close by, can offer required skills, has ideas, or is looking for something – and then to get in touch with them, directly.

There is no need for an intermediary or to have permission, and no subscription. Anyone can post opinions via the blog, advertise events, start discussions, announce news or locate training opportunities.

The site was designed and launched at the beginning of July and now has over 100 members. It is hoped that awareness of other local packaging people will lead to local get-togethers and ultimately to more substantial local activity.

The next stage will be to inform more people using stakeholder databases and hand-outs at trade events.

Further Information: Packaging People