Category Archives: Social Media

Closing comment – Election 2013: Compasses, compassion & lycra-clad pollies


Not certain which political party best aligns with your views and values in this election? Consult the vote compass. The ABC-hosted ‘Vote Compass’ is an educational tool developed by a non-profit group of political scientists enabling you to find out “how you stack up against the parties question-by-question or see how the parties stack up against each other”.

Your answers to questions will plot you on the Australian political landscape, somewhere between social liberalism and conservativism on one axis, and the economic left and right on the other. It will also tell you how much you agree with the three major parties, as well as how you rate the party leaders.

Speaking of compasses, did you know scientists warned against using Twitter and Facebook because it could harm our moral compasses? Apparently social media channels like Twitter and Facebook don’t allow time for compassion or admiration. Agree or disagree?

This theory is not new news, mind you. The story dates back to 2009, when it was found that emotions linked to moral sense are slow to respond to news and events and have failed to keep up with the modern world because in the time it takes to fully reflect on a story of anguish and suffering, the news bulletin has already moved on or the next Twitter update is already being read.

What? Missed that last point because your train of thought had already left the station? Tony Abbott in lycra – there, we’ve got your attention back.

Social media may have only taken on a marginal role in the last two Australian elections but this time you’d have to think the sheer numbers on social media will mean it will be a major player in determining who gets a bed at the Lodge.

Since 2010, social media subscriptions have ballooned across all platforms, with more than 11 million Australians now on Facebook and about 2 million on Twitter (including our very own Helen Steel AKA @MelbourneSteel.

Locally, the major parties can at least agree social media is the new campaign frontier and are spending large portions of their budgets on social media. In addition, both parties’ campaign bosses have recruited full-time staff dedicated to online campaigning.

The Liberal Party’s federal director has created a sophisticated unit that mines data, raises money, directs voters to candidates’ Facebook profiles and paints a bad picture of Labor MPs in YouTube clips.

Labor has formed a full-time social media unit and You Tube veteran and PM son Marcus Rudd has joined it as a volunteer.

So, will a pollie’s prominent performance on social media help sway our moral compasses to the left or right?

Rudd is the current frontrunner in the digital realm, easily eclipsing Abbott on Likes and Followers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean his clicks or views will translate to votes, does it?

Rather scarily, the SMH has the following advice for social-media underdog Abbott if he wants to “win the social media election”: “loosen up, and possibly bring out the lycra”.

Forget the moral compass. Someone call the fashion police and quick!

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

(thanks for this week’s lovely words by our chief content curator, Danielle!)

Abbott’s boy band heads in one direction

If ‘video killed the radio star’ will social video kill TV?


Photo by @KimberleyL

Even the chilly Melbourne weather couldn’t keep us away from Melbourne’s modern day speakeasy, 24 Moons in ACDC Lane, for Social Media Club’s stellar panel:

  • Simon Goodrich – MD of Portable and National President of AIMIA
  • Nick Bolton – GM of Viocorp
  • Suzie O’Carroll – Industry Manager of YouTube

Everyone was dying to know (ok maybe not dying but you get my drift) about the current state of social video in Australia? Are we fast forwarding, rewinding, playing, pausing or stopping?

According to the panelists, we still have a long way to go with social video use in Australia. While there is plenty of interest with campaigns such as Old Spice, there are also plenty of questions still to be answered.

Why do we still have a long way to go you ask? Well unlike blogging, video production takes more time and money. Poor infrastructure, bad viewing quality and a lack of understanding were also reasons for the slow uptake of social video.

Portable’s Goodrich said many people still underestimate the need for quality content in order for a campaign to go viral. And the panelists agreed content is still king!

Speaking of content, YouTube is not only the home of online video, with approximately 24-hours of content being upload each minute, it is also the second largest search engine in the world.

YouTube’s Suzie O’Carrol spoke about the Toyota Sienna’s YouTube campaign as an example of companies who “get” social video. She also highlighted the fact YouTube is being used by a wide variety of Australians, not just young kids.

The panelists also chatted about the 1500 Australians who participated in Ridley Scott’s ‘Life in a Day’ film experiment, which will be shown at Sundance next year.

And no conversation about video and social media would be complete without talking about #QandA. The integration of Twitter on shows like QandA and MasterChef creates trending topics, which in turn builds viewers. While it may be exciting, moderation becomes difficult with the increase of numbers.

We were also interested to hear about the movement in retail and online video, where stores such as JayJays are linking products in videos straight to the shopping basket . Which as one tweep put is is “killer interaction for retailers!”

Here are some tips from the panelists:

– integrating your online and offline strategies is essential

– content needs to be engaging and offer a unique experience

– a good length for a video depends on the audience but 2-4 minutes is a safe bet

– You can’t force engagement when people want to be passive

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to vote.

Cheerio, the c word

PS – thanks to all who happily tweeted away on the night. My phone battery didn’t make it to the end of the day so no notes or tweeting. Great to have such rich content available on #smcmelb to refer back to 🙂

Let’s Get Digital


PRIA's Let Get Digital Panel: Kristen Boschma, Liz Green, Jason Whittaker and moderator Jack Walden

Last night the c word’s Managing Director, Jack Walden, moderated a panel of digital communicators at an event appropriately named ‘Let’s Get Digital’. The panelists for the evening were:

  • Telstra’s Head of Online Communications and Social Media, Kristen Boschma (@Kristen_Boschma)
  • ABC TV’s Digital Communications Marketing Manager, Liz Green (@ABCTV_australia)
  • Deputy Editor of Crikey, Jason Whittaker (@thetowncrier)

With representatives from Australian organisations providing leadership and innovation in the digital arena, the panelists provided some fascinating insights and points for discussion.

Telstra’s Kristen Boschma explained the use of three Rs to guide their social media policy; representation, responsibility and respect. She also stressed the need for flexibility in social media and empowering your staff to know how to respond and engage. Telstra’s approach is about equality in service, which means they respond to everyone on Twitter; not simply those with a huge following.

Kristen likened good social media to a great dinner party with great food, great guests and great conversation. The same analogy works for bad social media; the bad dinner party where one drunk guest sits at the end of the table and just talks at the other guests.

Liz Green from ABC TV spoke about the flexibility of ABC TV’s social media policy. Their four-line policy guides staff on how to interact on Twitter and Facebook, while allowing personalities to shine through. In total, the ABC has an impressive 438 accounts across Facebook and Twitter.

Liz also highlighted the value of strategy; although social media is cheap, it is also resource intensive, which is why you need to be strategic about how to best use your resources. One example of this is the ABC blog, which has become a primary channel to distribute press releases.

Jason Whittaker, Deputy Editor of Crikey is another champion of flexibility on social media. Although rules and guidelines are important, he said you need to be able to respond quickly. Journalists nowadays need to be on social media to be privy to where stories are being broken; he stresses however you can get caught out if you rely solely on social media for your information.

He attributed Crikey’s success to not trying to be something for everyone, rather they define their reader and seek them out. He believes if traditional media is to continue to exist, they have to relinquish the appeal to a mass audience and find their niche audience.

All three panelists agreed social media was a commitment to quality exchange rather than simply broadcasting a message. Some key points to take from the evening:

  • You can’t run a Twitter account without monitoring and responding to conversations
  • People can sniff spin. And the beauty of social media is they will tell you
  • Social media is resource intensive, which makes it essential to have a plan about how best to use your resources
  • Social media has empowered the customer, and potentially hundreds of thousands of people see complaints through Retweets making it important to respond quickly
  • Successful media companies will produce content across many platforms and give audience the choice on how to consume it.

You can view the panel’s Twitterstream on #priadigital to get a great overview of the discussion.

Chin chin,

the c word

Running on social media


In November 2009, 25 emergency service workers donated a month of their annual leave to run 6,021km from Cooktown to Melbourne. Their aim was to highlight the impacts of climate change to the social, economic and ecological health of Australia, as well as the potential solutions.

the c word was approached to develop a social media campaign for Run for a Safe Climate. Our crew became the “Official Social Media Partner” and implemented a six-week campaign using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and blogs to:

  • increase awareness of Safe Climate Australia and Run for a Safe Climate
  • begin a conversation with people on social networks across Australia
  • increase awareness of local initiatives and solutions

We achieved significant support across multiple social media channels, including more than 1,500 Facebook fans and 800 Twitter followers. We also reached an extended audience of 15,000 Facebook fans and 53,543 Twitter followers thanks to support from Cool Melbourne, Greenpeace and Green Cross and our 30 most-interactive Twitter followers.


Run for a Safe Climate is a fundraising and awareness-building campaign on behalf of Safe Climate Australia. The aim of this campaign was to highlight the impacts of, and potential solutions to, climate change in Australia.

Safe Climate Australia is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation launched by Al Gore in July 2009 and formed by concerned climate scientists, and community and business leaders with a shared understanding of the need for emergency action to restore a safe climate.


the c word had a crew of three communication professionals working tirelessly during the six-week campaign. Our days were rigidly organised to ensure we were monitoring and updating the various social networking channels from early morning to late evening.

phase 1: Preparation

Preparation for a social media campaign is as important as training for a run. We started by brainstorming ideas and preparing a comprehensive social media strategy covering the relevant channels, including an action plan for each tool. While Twitter, Facebook and the blog were the primary focus; we also used Flickr, Twitpic, YouTube and Google Reader.

Next, we educated the runners and support crew about what was required from them to keep the social media content flowing and engaging. Many were basic Facebook users but hadn’t had much exposure to Twitter. Rather than teaching them to Tweet from their own devices, we decided to manage the content by collecting updates via text messages.

We developed a blog calendar to guide our content and also collected facts and trivia about every destination we were visiting. We also prepared runner profiles, strategically followed people on Twitter, posted calls of support to Facebook fans and drafted blog posts about the route, destinations and community forums. The final activity was the development of a social media pack for bloggers.

While social media is a powerful communication tool, it can be enhanced with traditional communication. Before the Run began, phone calls were made to Victoria Police, Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Association and Cool Melbourne to garner support across social media. As a result, we tapped into such well-established resources potentially adding another 100,000 people to the potential campaign audiences.

phase 2: The launch

On the day of the launch, the c word tweeted and twitpic-ed at the media launch and the official launch. We also posted photos across Flickr and Facebook, and posted an overview on the blog.

phase 3: The Run begins

Despite not spending the whole time on the road, we posted daily updates on the blog, Twitter and Facebook to keep fans and followers updated. The first few days were a little quiet due to the remoteness of the location and a lack of phone reception. However, a steady flow of text messages, images and updates continued for the 28-day journey. The personal approach and authentic personality of the updates and images resonated with fans and followers and resulted in support through retweets, blog posts and Facebook interactions.

Daily blog posts about upcoming destinations, weather conditions and runner profiles were uploaded throughout the day. Google Reader was used constantly to identify relevant blogs to pitch to, Twitter people to follow and to monitor online coverage.

As well as posting updates about the Run itself, we were continually monitoring other relevant topics to share with our followers. We also maintained high levels of communication engagement by continually responding to messages of support from fans and followers. The immediacy of the responses allowed people to engage with the run and develop strong ties. This translated into calls of action from many fans, messages of support and even fundraising efforts.

@janstewart @thecwordagency & @frombecca tweeting from Sydney community forum

phase 4: The last kilometres and after the Run

The final day was a big day for the runners and a huge day for the social media crew, with updates and images being uploaded regularly to give supporters in other states a chance to be a part of the festivities. This was one of the busiest days of support and the twitpic of the ‘000 Climate Emergency’ human sign received the most views of all our images.


One of the initial challenges was timing. We only had a couple of weeks to develop the campaign before the Run began. It also followed successful social media campaigns for Youth Decide and EnviroWeek which created a level of ‘Green Fatigue’. And there was competing noise with Copenhagen fast approaching, Liberal Party leadership challenges and the Senate’s rejection of the Emission Trading Scheme.


Overall, the campaign was an extreme success with social media tapping into more people than the 30 community events taking place along the route. With the potential reach of fans and followers exceeding 60,000 in such a short time frame, the results exceeded our expectations.

Champions such as Twitter followers @unenergy, @FollowMeAussie, @frombecca and @AdamBandt helped spread the word to their supporters and were very vocal in increasing our fan/followers base. We even secured messages of support from celebrities such as Mia Freedman and Biggest Loser’s Michelle Bridges.

The key outcomes from the campaign were:

  • Great foundation of 1,500 plus Facebook fans and more than 800 Twitter followers over a six-week period
  • Further reach of 15,000 fans via support from Cool Melbourne, Greenpeace and Green Cross and potential reach of our Top 30 most interactive Twitter followers is 53,543
  • Since October 2009, there have been a total of 8596 Facebook page views and an average of three interactions per post
  • Twitpics were extremely popular. Aerial shot received 394 views with an average of 39 views per image
  • Secured excellent social media exposure for major sponsor NAB and official automotive partner Mercedes Benz Cars Australia
  • More than 770 @replies/mentions during six-week campaign including 322 re-tweets and an average of 25.1 @replies/mentions per day while across Twitter it remains at 5.3
  • Several radio interviews were secured via Twitter connections

Although not a flawless campaign, it did re-affirm the need for an on-the-ground specialist and more importantly to need to draft and collate as much information and content as possible ahead of time. The destination posts and Town Trivia, which were developed early, proved to be a useful tool in delivering interesting yet relevant content, particularly when mobile phone reception was poor or the team was otherwise occupied.

With the foundation set, future campaigns have an amazing pool of resources to tap into. Twitter in particular has proven to be good for marshalling active supporters – which we’ve seen for following campaigns such as Walk Against Warming – and with ample preparation time, they can be invited to events and help drum up support to raise more funds.

If you’re interested in hearing what social media can do for your organisation, please contact Jack or Maryann on 03 9676 9040 or email

Tweet you later,

the c word

Lunching with the ladies


Last Friday, I hopped along to PRIA’s annual Women in PR lunch at Zinc in Federation Square. The hot topic for the day was social media, particularly the business of being social.

The impressive line up of speakers included:

Mandy Solomon shared her research into new trends and emerging web practices. She got everyone thinking about the buzz caused by online games such as Farmville on Facebook, and how they fit in the social media picture. Did you know there are more than 20 million active players daily? Daily!!

Mandy explained that our online digital persona is becoming multi-dimensional, and one of the results is more people wanting to play social games. Furthermore, online social games are starting to become profitable. Games like Farmville hook people and then sell them goods to broaden the experience. And it’s not just business benefiting, charities are jumping on board too.

So it’s no surprise that Facebook is developing its own virtual currency. It has been estimated that last year alone it made $10 million in the beta testing phase of its virtual currency. This pails in comparison to its advertising revenue, however it’s very much in its early days.

Next Gay Flashman used case studies to show how social media can and can’t work for you. Gay demonstrated how well Huggies engages online with a subtle sell and by trying to build a community. She also used the Domino’s Pizza YouTube episode as a reminder of the changing nature of reputation management in the age of social media.

Gay told eager listeners the best way to engage with people on a website is to add value. Her other advice: be prepared to lose control and be open and honest about negative comments.

She finished with her Flashman Fundamentals: Prepare, Monitor, Engage, Measure. A lesson for us all.

The final speaker was Annie Baxter from Google Australia and New Zealand. Annie talked us through Google’s foray into blogging (which makes sense when you purchase one of the world’s first blogging tools), and how they moved onto Twitter in 2009. She explained how they use Twitter to solicit ideas from people. Her final piece of advice was not to bet against social media, because it’s where we are going.

What an impressive line up of speakers willing to share such valuable information. Thank you ladies!

Proceeds from the event went to the Lighthouse Foundation, and their ambassador Stacey Currie delivered a moving speech about her experiences and the new New Mothers’ Club for homeless Mums and Bubs.

Finally, congratulations to Marnie Kane from RMIT for winning the Merle Howard Prize.

Chat later,

the c word

PS. If you haven’t seen Glee’s remake of Madonna’s Vogue, check it out below.

Cooking, dancing and live tweeting


Last night, like a million other Australians, I tucked into Masterchef (1.611 million viewers) and washed it down with the finale of So You Think You Can Dance (1.041 million).

These TV shows would have traditionally flown under my radar had it not been for the crazy amount of live tweeting surrounding them.

Live tweeting provides an instant community for you to engage with during your favourite TV show. And it certainly provides a reprieve from the repetitive advertisements for Coles during Masterchef. While advertisers may not be over the moon about this latest distraction, it’s important they pay attention. And it’s not all bad news, while I may not be watching the advertisements, I’m certainly hearing about them … the compliments and the complaints!

I am a huge fan of live tweeting about TV shows and events. Take the Oscars for example. How does one make it through a long awards show without nodding off?? The answer is simple – watch what the Twitterverse has to say about who should win, what they’re wearing, the quality of the speeches and who was ‘robbed’! Now I wonder if we’ll see the same live tweeting from Australians during this year’s TV Week Logie Awards? But without Susan Boyle what will we tweet about?

Back to live tweeting, I love seeing the comments of my fellow tweeting TV watchers. The proclamations of love, the rants, the jokes, the predictions, the sarcasm, and the highs and lows when a favourite contestant gets booted off. All of this compliments the TV viewing experience so well, especially as the single person household becomes more common.

Live tweeting is also becoming a larger part of social networking strategies. It’s the perfect way to build awareness of major events and also raise the profile of major sponsors. If you’re a tweeter, who hasn’t followed the tweets from a major event such as a launch or conference?

But sticking with television, how do television shows, advertisers and networks capitalise on this activity?

Firstly, I’d love to see live tweets incorporated into my TV screen, than I wouldn’t have to constantly look away. Perhaps one day soon we’ll be able to opt-in to see tweets for live sports, reality shows and even panel shows like ABC’s Q & A.

Not only do they extend engagement with the show, the Twitter updates provide instant access to a pool of research. Networks get an instant reaction to what works, what doesn’t, and who viewers love or hate.

It’s like having a hundred thousand people in a test screening. Gone are the one-way mirrors and facilitators, replaced with 140 characters and a smart phone.

What do you think? What else can television networks do to capitalise on this popular trend of live tweeting?

Have a lovely long weekend,

the c word

A Tweet you can bank on


Even banks get the blues

If you were suffering from a case of Thursday afternoon-itis like we were, you would have got a huge pick-me-up about an hour ago when the official Westpac Twitter account tweeted: “Oh so very over it today.”

The response from the Australian Twitter community has been overwhelming with more than 120 classic retweets within postings in the first hour. And how witty are Australian Tweeps? We think very witty after giggling and chuckling as the Twitterstream poked fun at one of the big four banks with an-oh-so-honest Tweeter.

Our favourites:

From @rynobi

From @NickdMiller

As one Tweep put it, “If anyone EVER tells me that no one notices what’s said on social media again, I’ll tell them to go talk to @westpac.” – @IDEALAW.

As we prepared to press the publish button on this post, there was no official response from Westpac on Twitter except for the obligatory delete. It begs the question, how long should an organistion wait before they respond? Particularly in a digital age, when people expect a response before they’ve even asked the question.

The other question it raises is when to delete and not to delete? Would @westpac have been better leaving the offending tweet and adding a series of follow up responses? Or have they done the right thing in deleting it? Only time will tell – but one thing’s for sure, the tweet in question will never disappear.

I’m sure anyone who has managed multiple accounts has fallen victim to this. Usually after posting a personal message to your professional account, you realise the mistake and delete it immediately.

Not so for the poor social media team at Westpac. It stayed up for almost an hour. With followers retweeting, making jokes, and general causing a nightmare for the PR team.

As communicators, we’re curious about what Westpac will do next? Will it be another Macquarie Bank fiasco? Let’s hope they can see the fun in all of this – after all this will surely generate some positive PR to offset the recent interest rate rise and $1.6 billion profit result last quarter.

Happy tweeting Westpac! We love that you’re on Twitter and it’s nice to see a brand with some personality behind it… even if they’re feeling a little grumpy at the end of the day 😛

That’s how we c it.

the c word