Digital Knowledge » Social trends Mon, 09 May 2011 09:44:25 +0000 en hourly 1 The power and appeal of community Mon, 14 Feb 2011 06:17:53 +0000 Mandi Bateson

Google Trends tracks the rise of the community manager

Everyone’s talking community. No, not the hilarious comedy set in a community college; the concept of community as a facilitator of opinions, a mobiliser of action, a collaboration of experience, a junction of advocates and interest seekers alike. The community manager has become the job role du jour for organisations that have embraced social media, particularly those with online customer service functions. There’s a Facebook community managers group of 85 Sydney based member (and growing) where client-side and agency staff discuss the challenges, opportunities, technicalities and nuances of developing and maintaining communities of interest for brands and products. So why all the fuss? How did community become the must-have social media accessory of the season?

I want to look at three examples, rather serious examples in fact, of how community thrives in society. To avoid diluting the importance of these events I won’t go into too much detail about the link between these examples and what this means for your business – hopefully you’ll get there yourself.

A community can inspire action

When a revolution comes with its own hashtag, we’re starting to look at the world in a slightly different way than our history books have recorded thus far.

Much has been written about the digital revolution that has unravelled the Egyptian government. We reflect on the tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which were used to spread news of protests, arrests, corruption, every presidentail address and reaction however the strength of the dissenting voice could only be fuelled by a community.  The network of friends, family and strangers in distant lands use these tools on a daily basis yet it was only when they were united in anger, hurt, frustration and even death towards a common goal that these tools began to inspire change. In a note posted on Facebook titled “Achievements of the revolution” the writer posts under the name Khalid Saeed all (we are all Khalid Saeed) invoking the voice of Khaled Mohamed Saeed who died at the hands of the Egyptian police [translated]: “The case of love and the unit we all lived in the field of liberalization among all Egyptians regardless of religion, age, gender or culture or education or jobs or their social .. We are all Egyptians”.

While your community of interest may be a far cry from the gravity of the Egyptian revolution it is a perfect reminder that tools don’t inspire action within a community, they enable it (albeit perhaps to an unprecedented extent). If a community could inspire “an achievement of historic Mahsalc days of the Pharaohs” then imagine what it could do for you.

Read more from the Achievements of the revolution

A community can share the load

HT Vantage Group

As a Queenslander, I have spent much of the beginning of 2011 glued to my television screen watching in horror as the state struggles to withstand the fury of one ticked off Mother Nature. The devastation was only equalled by the outpouring of support – financial, emotional and physical. While the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal was organised by the government, much of the efforts to organise relief and rebuilding are coming from the community itself. Contractors are registering their details and volunteers are being mobilised through community sites designed to aggregate information, emotional support and manpower. Using the community to rebuild is not only a great way of getting things done, in this instance it’s imperative for those who rely on their skills and services to put food on the table – while the efforts of those outside of Queensland are welcomed the best solution is to rebuild from within.

The framework of any community not only relies on the distribution of roles (too many chefs etc etc) but the proactive manner of members to fulfil these roles. Once collaborative enough to grow organically and benefit its members, it becomes the ultimate success. A natural disaster shouldn’t be the only catalyst to achieving this goal.

A community can offer a different opinion

Sometimes shit happens. And when shit hit the fan for Tony Abbott it fired up online communities to have their say, for and against. From the moment the teaser tweets went out that Channel 7 were to show the “shocking footage Tony Abbott doesn’t want you to see” to the murmors that Abbott had uttered the words “shit happens” in reference to the death of an Aussie digger to the video footage of Abbott frozen in fury while staring at reporter Mark Riley – the Australian online community took (and often swapped) sides in a battle of opinions. News articles inspired hundreds of comments while Twitter debated the context, intended purpose and aftermath of the footage. The reaction from the community ensured the edited news item was shared in its entirety to give the audience a new perspective on the incident and even a week later the community is ready to see how Media Watch dissects the incident.

No matter what you intend on presenting to your audience, the collective can turn your message on its head. Communities thrive on a difference of opinion and expecting anything to be accepted wholly with nods and smiles is naive and ultimately dangerous. And with the resources available online it won’t take long til the entire truth comes out – whatever that may be.

At the end of the day, we’re in the business of people. And if you are effective at forming, influencing or motivating communities for any given reason you have a powerful asset at your command. Be careful how you use it.

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Australian Election 2.0 Sun, 22 Aug 2010 11:31:14 +0000 Mandi Bateson

Julia Gillard tweets on her iPad Much has been said about social media and the Australian election, with talk of missed opportunities and a failure to engage. As a social media advocate, I welcome any opportunity to discuss how we can shift from paid to earned media where possible. As a social media marketer, I disagree with a lot of the advice projected at our political parties. As we are more than likely to be going through this entire process sooner than we’d like, I thought I’d outline some of the challenges and opportunities I feel are facing our campaigners (and maybe your business).

Where’s your audience?

With only a month between meeting with the Governor-General and polling day, the parties must concentrate their energy and money on a very specific target market. This audience is probably not found amongst the members of the official party Facebook pages who have already pledged their allegiance.  With 13m enrolled voters in Australia and 8m Australian Facebook users over the age of 18, the social network still offers an amazing opportunity to connect with the population. I’d suggest alternative ways to reach users who are not likely to ‘Like’ their branded page including hypertargeted advertising, Open Graph integration with owned websites and the creation of good content that motivates users to pass it on.

Filter the noise

It seems we no longer subscribe to the old adage to never talk religion, politics or money. With 8% of voters on Twitter, there was enough discussion on election day to secure 7 out of 10 worldwide trending topics. However should we expect anyone to filter through hundreds of thousands of hung parliament jokes and snide remarks regarding rangas and budgie smugglers to find the odd genuine question and respond in the name of engagement? There are teams of full-time staff responsible for similar tasks at Telstra, Optus and Vodafone! Consider how you can leverage a large audience instead of trying to take them on one by one. It would have been great to see the leaders poll Twitter users on what topics they should prioritise across their debates, appearances or press conferences or use voting tools to ask Twitter users to give feedback on  their day’s performance.

Quality not quantity

In this election I would have been more than happy for the candidates to spend more time clarifying their policies and demonstrating leadership skills then making YouTube videos sledging their opposition. Unfortunately it was left to the political commentators, advocates and satirists to create quality content during the campaign. GetUp! produces their own ads and requests donations from their supporter base to fund the advertising costs. While SMH reported that unions were bankrolling the ads, 100,000 individuals also contributed to ensuring the message was broadcast across the nation. If all campaign ads were put to this test I think we’d be enjoying a much quieter election season.

Integration FTW

FTW – that’s “for the win” in interwebz speak. The ABC does this so well with Q and A – taking questions from the live audience, those writing/emailing/skyping in from home, publishing tweets across the bottom of the screen. Their actual Twitter account is secondary to the purpose of cultivating and aggregating opinions and responses, before, during and after the show. Be strategic in your approach and integration will be organic as social media and digital communications are used to strengthen your campaign instead of riding a bandwagon.

So until next time (sigh!), here’s a few things that caught my eye over this manic campaign period. Enjoy!

LegoElection – Tony’s Boatphone

Hitler learns of the result of Australia’s 2010 federal election (Confused? Know your meme!)

Make your own Tony Abbott posters

Campaign Pulse – ABC’s online election aggregator

Snagvotes – tracking polling booth sausage sizzles across the nation

Don’t trust the Climate Change Elephant

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Who owns social media? Tue, 03 Aug 2010 01:33:14 +0000 Mandi Bateson

This post was originally published at PRINKS.

They say if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. In the marketing world this means when a client comes to us with a problem, we assume our discipline has the solution. If we’re humble sometimes we may admit only part of the solution. So who does it best?

As an example let’s look at the question of the virtual hour. Who owns social media – PR/comms? Advertising? Digital creative? Citizen journalists? No one?

Forget ownership by discipline. Social media, just like every other marketing channel, is owned by strategy.

If you’re in PR, don’t buy the top keywords for a Google Adwords campaign and consider SEO ticked. If you’re in advertising don’t assume a few links broadcasted each day equals community management.

I’d like to hand this explanation over to some of my favourite smart cookies. I asked them all these three questions:

1. Why is your niche a must-have component of a marketing strategy?

2. How does your discipline compliment an integrated marketing solution?

3. Why do you need a strategic approach to your area?

Here’s what they had to say.


Kristin Rohan, Founder & Director, SassySEO

Search engine optimization store, Shoreditch, London, UK SEO is the foundation of any online presence – whether a site, blog or social media engagements. SEO is about doing research, analysing data to focus content & ensure it is valuable & relevant to the audience. SEO is also about helping people find your site and easily engage with you – to lead them through the sales cycle and then analysing what’s happening– optimising the site, social channels, and content to improve rankings, visibility, awareness & create quality relationships.

SEO compliments an integrated marketing solution because it can be useful in any area of marketing – keyword research is used in content & messaging, competitive analysis is used in defining brand or niche, analysing visitor/site stats is critical to understanding target audience, optimising social media engagements is needed so businesses can find & attract quality prospects.

It’s imperative SEO is a strategy so a business will start thinking about focusing their products, messaging & content from the beginning — a proper SEO strategy will enable this. A new site needs proper focus, organisation & content — and a firm plan to lead prospects and customers through the site to maximise opportunities to engage them in the community, with your business or in a sale. SEO should also be part of Social Media Strategy so the proper measurements/analytics are put in place, relevant & valuable content is shared, and data is analysed to improve participation in their community.


Kim McKay, Director, Klick Communications

Social media in itself is the perfect conduit for text book PR. Universities preach to their students about “two-way symmetrical communication” and that’s exactly how PR works in social media. Relationships, engagement, communication… all these interactive elements that are at the crux of PR are also those which make a social media marketing strategy effective.

PR is the glue that ties it all together. PR is reliant on receivership and response, and in this way it is not only a way to gauge the success of an integrated marketing solution, but also the fuel which motors the next move.

PR (anything in fact) without strategy is a bit like baking a cake for the first time without a recipe; it can be done but it probably won’t be good. PR is a multifaceted practice, and you need the right measure of all the integral elements in order to produce anything decent.


Joel Pearson, Online Account Manager, PHD Media

Media strategy and channel planning play the crucial role of identifying audience and when and where to reach them. The best creative idea on earth is nothing if nobody see’s it.

The way I approach media planning I believe that it is crucial that all people involved in the strategic direction of the campaign ensure they are on the same path before any actually planning occurs. Ensuring everyone is working towards the same business outcomes and that they want to communicate the same thing allows for a much more integrated planning style that ensures the media works with the creative messaging instead of just acting as a housing for it. Too often a media agency pulls together a plan, a creative agency has some concepts and the two are forced to work together even though the advertising may look like shit within a tiny banner.

All elements of marketing require a strategic approach. In particular when assessing and choosing media you need to understand in what way you are planning to influence thinking or behaviour because different mediums are consumed in very different ways and are processed in different areas of the brain. This kind of detail needs to be balanced with both media and production costs as well as business outcomes in order to come up with the optimal mix of media to deliver the clients campaign.

Community Management

Nicola Swankie, Account Director, McCann Sydney

Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual MashupsHow can you be proactive in controlling the sentiment of your brand that is out there?  To do that we know we need to be a part of the conversation, listening, giving our customers something of value and transparently acting on what we hear.    But how do you credibly join in that conversation and where?

I believe through being a part of your customers’ community or create a community they want to be a part of.   Online or offline. The words Social Media can be scary.  But if your brand goes in with the right kind of approach and role within a community where you do something your customers will value either from an engagement or utility point of view it should result in positive sentiment and results for the business.

I really like Gareth Kay’s thinking   on how today we need ideas that do, not ideas that say.  For me any great marketing solution will always involve an idea that does something and involves people in it.  And where you have a whole bunch of people involved in doing something, to bring it to life you essentially will build a community around it by default.

The purpose of community should always come from the strategic direction and purpose of your business overall.  Whether you choose to join a community or create one yourself it is important to ensure you can link what you are doing back to business results and metrics.   A solid strategic approach should ensure that it does.

Think you deserve the lead on an integrated social media campaign? Your strategy should be managed by someone who understands and respects every element, even if only to brief (and not execute) other components. This will sort your truly strategic marketers from those using a buzzword as an invoice line item.d

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Twitter Decides Sun, 25 Jul 2010 09:51:40 +0000 Mandi Bateson

The Gillard-Abbott debate lit up the Twitter stream with keywords topping the worldwide trending topics and the reaction recorded by bots and pulse checkers. While each tracker will no doubt claim a winner I thought I’d throw in my own evaluation of the debate by comparing the buzz of the buzzwords. So, fair dinkum vs moving forward – who is our winner?

Moving forward peaked at 0.04% of tweets

Fair dinkum peaked at 0.08% of tweets

So there you have it. Abbott’s fair dinkum trumped Gillard’s moving forward with twice the reaction on Twitter to the true blue catch cry. Now we just need to figure out if this is a good thing or a bad thing!

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