Category: Social Media

Make It Count

Marketing, Social Media3 Comments

As marketing and communications professionals, we often spend so much time thinking about what the big message is we are trying to communicate to our audience, we forget about the impact the tiniest interaction can have.

Living in South Australia during Summer, we are no strangers to power outages. When one inevitably hits, the logical first step (to me, at last) would be to visit the SA Power Networks website and check the status of the outage. This is what I saw:

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Aside from the initial acknowledgement that they are aware of the problem, very little else is actually of any use. The status and estimated restoration time never changed from what is clearly an automated message and approximate restoration time that left you guessing if anyone was even really there. In other words, it was a signal that their time is more valuable than yours.

While SA Power Networks are undoubtedly one of the State’s largest and most important organisations with enough in their coffers to facilitate and communicate a rebrand from ETSA Utilities, they dropped the ball in this case. The failure to provide timely, helpful updates means that those affected are left not only to speculate, but unable to make any future plans.

This was an opportunity for them to create a connection with their customers. Providing regularly updated information that is both valuable and useful would help to build trust and faith in a brand that has historically been short on both.

In short: don’t underestimate even the smallest messages ability to communicate and reinforce your brand story. Keep it helpful, on-message and above all else, try to realistically address your customers questions at this point.

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Social media in higher education: Where do we go now?

Social Media1 Comment

The following is my guest blog post for the Higher Education Development Association to be published mid-June.

Social media is everywhere. Particularly in higher education, every institutions home page now proudly boasts a complement of follow buttons from the ubiquitous Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to the fast growing Pinterest, Vimeo and Google+. Matter of fact, some publications estimate as high as 98% of institutions are active on at least one social media platform.

So how are we going?

While it’s hard to make a call on how effectively we as a sector are using social media, it’s a safe bet to assume that most institutions are struggling to understand exactly where it fits into the existing communications mix and what they should be posting which is ironic given the sheer volume of content we generate. The problem is that social media is often treated like another channel, lumped in with television, radio, print and (to a lesser extent) email without much consideration to the seismic change it has had on society, culture and the way we interact with each other.

Social media isn’t just another channel to broadcast messages. It is more than a specific platform but a monumental change in human behaviour.

To illustrate what I mean, consider the students who are the lifeblood of our institutions:

  • They are as old as Amazon and eBay
  • They grew up with instant messaging, mobile phones and SMS
  • They have always turned to Google and Wikipedia anytime they have a question
  • They rely on social networks to stay in touch with their friends and make plans for the weekend

Most tellingly, the way they communicate is in stark contrast to how their parents do. They are no longer ‘locked in’ to a medium but are happy to converse non-linearly across multiple platforms. A conversation that begins in the classroom can spill over onto Facebook and IM before finding its way to a blog a few days later igniting a debate in the comments followed by rebuttal post on another blog. This is accompanied by a back channel discussion on Twitter with complementary photos uploaded to Instagram and indexed using the same hashtag. While this may seem confusing to digital immigrants, for digital natives like them, it is very much the norm.

Free social media

The future isn’t coming; it’s already here.

As a sector, higher education has typically required that people engage on our terms when we are ready. The level of paperwork and hoops prospective students must jump through to study with us not to mention deal with while they’re here sends a clear message: you must do it out way.

For our students, technology and the Internet isn’t something new to be fawned over; it’s been part of their lives as long as they can remember just like electricity, gas and water that’s it’s just expected.

We must take off the kid gloves and fully embrace social media. It must be taken out of development, walled off from the big, bad world and put into production.

In a world where we can pick and choose the mediums we participate, organisations can no longer dictate the rules of engagement. For higher education to continue to engage students and remain relevant, Universities must deliver dynamic, transmedia experiences that respond and adapt to the learning style of each individual student, a la the Khan Academy, or risk alienating future cohorts.

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Stop Reading, Start Doing

Marketing, Social Media0 Comments

My buddy and fellow higher ed digital dude, Nick Leigh, recently shared with me his motto for 2012: “Stop Reading, Start Doing.”

Which is funny, because as new media practitioners we spend so much time researching and absorbing as much new information as possible because we know how quickly this space moves. One change to Facebook or Google’s algorithm can force you to rethink your entire strategy.

So we convince ourselves that we need to read every blog post that catches our eye and keep drinking  from the social media firehose, all in the name of ‘research’.

But the reality is that we don’t need to always be consuming content left, right and centre. The voracious near-obsessive consumption of content, while beneficial to a point, is asymptotic as the knowledge you gain becomes incrementally smaller and smaller and never ending as the landscape continues to evolve. This ultimately can have a paralysing effect as you wait for more information to validate your approach, often to the detriment of doing any meaningful work.

I am, by very definition, an infovore. While I’m fortunate that this also happens to be my passion, the very nature of my job means that I need to stay relatively current with my knowledge yet I no longer feel compelled to read, listen or watch everything. In fact, my Google Reader – which would always be cleared out at the end of the week – now routinely sits at 100+ unread blog posts. Instead, I focus on staying up-to-date on a few blogs by thought leaders that deliver me the most value on a consistent basis (think Mitch Joel, Avinash Kaushik, Christopher S. Penn), a single industry e-newsletter that curates the best posts from around the web, and when I have a spare moment, I trawl through a Twitter list of industry leaders for links and commentary. In a relatively short amount of time, I’m able to get a read on what’s happening and hopefully come across something valuable that I can put into action with the rest of time I have left.

Do you think there’s too much information out there? What tips do you have for managing your time and the flow of information?

 

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Brands That Cry Wolf: Marketing’s Authenticity Crisis

Marketing, Social Media3 Comments

One of the best stories you probably missed last year was that of the missing Panasonic Tough Lumix FT10 digital camera. Found by a fisherman at the bottom of Cowan Creek near the Hawkesbury River in NSW, it was retrieved in perfect working order, prompting Panasonic to launch a campaign to reunite the camera with its  owner.

Normally I’m a sucker for feel good stories that confirm we’re not all scum, but when I heard that Panasonic were driving the campaign, I thought it smelled fishy. And I wasn’t the only one.


While we all turned out to be wrong and the camera was legitimately lost and subsequently returned to it’s rightful owner, there was plenty of reasons for our skepticism. The same month the missing camera story broke, Panasonic had already been sprung trying to pass-off an actor as a real person in a campaign.

And who could forget Witchery and Toyota‘s botched attempts at currying favour in social media.

In each case, a brand had deliberately set out to deceive the public and when exposed, done a piss-poor job of explaining it, potentially causing long-term harm to their image and reputation.

I’m honestly surprised that in this age of openness and transparency, brands and their agencies would still engage in deceptive or misleading advertising practices. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the rise of social media is that the truth will come out and that privacy is disappearing. Brands need to remember that this doesn’t apply to the individual but to them as well and start behaving accordingly.

While it’s possible that the long-term impact to the brand is negligible since ‘it’s only advertising’ it makes the job of marketers and communicators that little bit harder when we do actually have something genuine and authentic to say when every message is either taken with a big grain of salt or dismissed altogether.

What do you think? Does advertising and marketing have a responsibility to be authentic?

 

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5 Marketing Podcasts to Get You Smarter in 2012

Digital Strategy, Marketing, Social Media2 Comments

As marketing and technology moves closer and closer, and branding and advertising can change literally overnight, the big challenge facing most marketers is how to stay relevant.

Podcasts are one of my favourite ways to keep track of everything that happens in the industry. The debates and contrasting points of view that often ensue help me learn and understand topics in more depth than simply reading an industry rag such as Mashable.

So without further adieu, here are my pick of podcasts you should be listening to if you’re serious about making smarter marketing decisions this year:

  1. The Beancast
    Hosted by the golden voiced Bob Knorpp, The Beancast is a weekly roundtable with some of the brightest marketing minds in North America discussing the latest trends and issues affecting marketers today. Every episode is around an hour long but the debate and discussion is worth it.
  2. Six Pixels of Separation
    Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a huge fan of Mitch Joel and his blog Six Pixels of Separation, and his podcast of the same name is no exception. Geared toward senior marketers and executives, each week he interviews business and creative thought leaders such as Avinash Kaushik and Jonathan Salem Baskin giving unparalleled insight into a diverse range of topics.
    If you do subscribe, keep your ears out for the occasional Media Hacks episode with regular hackers Mitch, Chris Brogan, Julien Smith, Christopher S. Penn, C.C. Chapman and Hugh Mcguire.
  3. Marketing Over Coffee
    Hosted by John Wall and Christopher S. Penn this incredibly popular podcast is essential listening for anyone looking for actionable marketing advice. I’m yet to listen to an episode that hasn’t given me something useful to make me better at my job.
  4. Across the Sound
    I’m totally cheating here, but this deserves it’s own entry. Another SPOS spin-off in a “two for the price of one” kinda way, this is a monthly discussion/debate between Mitch Joel and Joseph Jaffe – two of the industry’s heaviest hitters – riffing on the business, cultural and social impact of digital and social media.
  5. Communication Junction
    ***Shameless plug alert***
    Now coming into our second year, this regular discussion between Sarah Thomas, Jason Neave and myself covers digital marketing, PR and social media in Australia and is the only Adelaide marketing podcast we know of.

So there you have it, head on over to iTunes or use your favourite podcast client and start upping your marketing IQ.

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