Interview with Francesca Crescentini, aka Tegamini.

03/07/2017 | Digital


Our journey to discover innovation on the ground this week plays at home and makes a stop in Milan, in the realm of Francesca Crescentini, aka Tegamini. She has conquered the web with her spontaneity and her robes (she says). In 2016, she won the Best Snapchatter award at the Macchianera Awards thanks to her unmissable tales of everyday life, grappling with her husband Love of the Heart, her son Minicuore, a black cat named Ottone, and her bookish Tegamini column. We met with her to learn more about her story and this is what came out!

1. When was Tegamini born and how has the blog grown over time?

Tegamini (more or less as we see it today) was born in 2010, a year of new beginnings and considerable energy surges. There and then, it was really a big pot and housed a myriad of micro-stories and impromptu annotations that I now have the ability to divert more effectively to other social media. The spirit of "unpredictable container" has remained, but I have tried to structure the topics with a little more precision. I want to continue to be guided by curiosity and a taste for writing, but without indulging in complete chaos. The most incisive changes, I would say, touch on the very idea of blogging (which is now part of a larger network of social channels that can help me tell my daily story or devote myself to a specific topic, feeding off each other) and the significant increase in interactions with companies and, consequently, content related to brands - with all the management and editorial delicacies that come with it.

2. From 2010 to the present, the web has changed a lot. How have you experienced these transformations?

Heck, it would take a dissertation (indeed, one for each potential stakeholder: company, brand, blogger, "basic" user, digital agency, known galaxies and parallel universes...) to answer sensibly, but I'll try to keep it short. I'm born optimistic, then it happens that I scale back. The feeling is that so much has happened and there is still some way to go for this "so much" to really be managed and mastered in a completely rational and positive way. The beautiful - and complicated - thing is the multiplication of languages and expressive and narrative possibilities. Previously the favored medium was the written word, but each new platform has broadened the spectrum, making the image (more or less moving) a central component. Content has become richer and more complex-which is good news for those with a desire to experiment and quite a lot to tell-and also a bit more "democratic," at least on the production level. Are we seeing only wonders? Not at all. Has managing one's web presence become easier? Not even. Does it often border on the inappropriate? Sure. But I like to think that sooner or later we will be able to metabolize the great freedom we have at our disposal by committing ourselves to improving the spaces we populate.

3. Facebook's algorithm change has thrown many industry insiders into deep despondency. Can the battle against Facebook's algorithm be won even without ADV?

No, by definition. If Facebook decides to structure the algorithm in such a way that sponsored posts (or certain formats) emerge, I don't think there is too much leverage to boldly oppose it. As a user, however, I think the opportunity is propitious to actively weigh in on what is being proposed. As a funny inventor of things to read and watch, on the other hand, I am convinced that it is wise to cultivate one's community carefully, seeking to create quality interactions. I like to think that you can grow organically by offering recognizable, curated content with a "voice" that can really tell something relevant to the user. You grow more slowly and less dramatically, but you grow with an audience that really "is there."

4. How did the love for Snapchat blossom? After how long did you start to see the first results?

I started using Snapchat a little over a year ago, when I stayed home on maternity leave. And I think I had (albeit unintentionally) good timing, since at that time the platform (at least in Italy) was experiencing its first real moment of major growth. The debut was under the banner of total waffling-the FILTERS WITH BEASTS! -, then I tried to devise a way to make the channel "useful" and started talking about books, creating a mini-book recommendation column that keeps popping up out of the blue as I tell my own business. The combination worked--though I think it's all thanks to my extraordinary robes.

5. Some instructions for use: how do you get past the initial frustration and start taking your first steps on Snapchat?

The annoyance of the interface is not overcome, in my opinion. But you learn to live with it. Certain cumbersomeness fades with training, and at that point, the problem becomes who to follow and what to look at. I'm afraid I'm not the best person to recommend tricks, shortcuts and methodological streamlining - I've never felt like churning out even my own Bitmoji, let alone -, but the only advice I can give is to observe well what's going on and experiment (without any particular delusions of grandeur or cabaret aspirations).

6. Your tegamini librini column has been a real success. Do you think it can be seen as a sign that, even traditional industries like publishing, need to explore new languages to reach audiences?

I do not pretend to stand as a signal capable of pointing the way for an entire industry, but what I can say is that, on the Internet and on the various platforms, books are a heartfelt and lively topic. The statistics continue to confirm that there are few readers, but those few seem to frequent social media and use the web quite heavily-as any consumer does now, I would think. I believe that publishing, in such a context, has the enormous advantage of a very rich product: the book is a narrative object capable of informing, entertaining, exciting. Those who sell breadsticks or detergents (with all due respect to breadsticks and detergents) are not so fortunate, in terms of the content (and therefore "social") expendability of their offerings-and the briefs that come to digital agencies typically require them to make ICONIC, UNCONVENTIONAL and EMOTIONAL a brick, for example. Publishing will never have this problem, I think, but there are others. Publishers (especially long-established ones) are almost never structured to metabolize news promptly or to handle real-time interaction such as that which a social presence would entail. And, even when the corporate culture helps, there are often problems with staffing, skills, budget, organization and hierarchical legitimacy of such an investment. It would be wonderful to invent a digital project for every book that comes out, in short, but you don't always get it done and you don't always find a way to work on Twitter like Einaudi did. Or to power a portal like The Bookseller, by GeMS. Or to use the web and social as a constant promotional and in-depth lever as happens at NN or Minimum Fax.

7. On Instagram stories you launched the PuPAZZI series. How did you come up with this new "column"?

Instagram Stories has long been a mystery. As a Snapchat user, I have experienced the partial flight to the other channel of several people I used to follow - and I certainly can't blame them. The situation is still fluid, confusing and full of overlap, as the general trend is still a bit of a "I absolutely must be there - anytime, anywhere, anyhow" one. Not wanting to replicate on Stories what I do on Snapchat, I used Instagram very little - and, at first, almost exclusively when asked by a client. One afternoon, however, I accidentally realized what I was supposed to do with it. I was on all fours on the carpet with Minicuore, tired as a donkey and buried in two cubic meters of absurd toys. I, at heart, am a cheerful mom, but some moments of coma (which are typically accompanied by the keen desire for a diligent English nanny) cannot be escaped. Admitting this is unbecoming, however, because the universe wants us to be multitasking, euphoric, exultant, and devoted to our offspring -- but also independent, self-deprecating, Montessori-like, and patient. Not feeling up to the complexity of the role, I entrusted my feelings to the PuPAZZI. It's 3:30 in the afternoon but it feels like you've been awake your whole life? There is a PUPPLE who will be able to shout it to the world with impunity. And so it went. Stories seemed to me to be the most suitable medium for a "photostory," since it has much more elastic text management than Snapchat and there is love and understanding for static images as well.

8. Among your social channels you also have YouTube, but it is not very updated. Why did you choose to "abandon" this channel?

To preside decently over YouTube, I don't think it's enough to sit in a chair and churn out an 18-minute monologue in close-up, sort of like the ones I used to produce. Finding something to say has never been a problem for me, but videos have to be edited, edited, set to music and arranged in a myriad of ways that I have never had the time (or even the compelling need, I must say) to learn with sufficient fluency. The "glory" has migrated to Youtube (and Facebook favors the video format), it's true, but if at the moment I don't feel I can create content up to snuff, I'd rather refrain.

9. Do you use any tools or instruments to manage your social channels?

Tweetdeck. And stop. 🙂

10. To conclude, an obvious but indispensable question: three books that absolutely cannot be missing from your suitcase this summer?

The last good things I read-and which I recommend with transport-are Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (in Italian, Il racconto dell'ancella, published by Ponte alle Grazie), Yaa Gyasi's Non dimenticare chi sei (Garzanti) and Sandro Campani's Il giro del miele (Einaudi). On my summer wishlist, on the other hand, are Elif Batuman's The Idiot (because The Possessed was a prodigy and I want to read everything the world will ever decide to write), Jarrett Kobek's I Hate the Internet, and Russell Hoban's The Lion's Quest.

Want to learn more about Snapchat and Instagram? Don't miss the appointment with our workshops!

Ilenia Dalmasso


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