Tag Archive for: social media

Social Media Automation – Stop Outsourcing Gratitude

16 Apr
April 16, 2015

Despite the bad name it got in its early days, I think social media automation has come a long way and I don’t think there is anything wrong with some of the functions that fall under the umbrella of “automated”.

I use both Buffer and CoSchedule as tools for managing the content I send out on social channels, and to craft the message I am going to use to share the content I create. This kind of automation is OK.

Where it goes wrong, however, is when it’s used as an engagement tool. Automated replies on Twitter are nothing new, and have long been a pain point because they take away from the legitimacy of the connection you’ve just created.

You can’t automate gratitude. I consider giving thanks where you can to be one of the core tenets of Twitter citizenship. Pinging me a direct message within 10 minutes of following you to thank me for with a link to your white paper doesn’t say “thanks for following”.

Suggesting that we connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, <insert other network here> as part of that message? You’re losing me even further.

Take the time to write a tweet to say thanks. I try to make the time for it as much as I can – new connections, favourites, retweets. Every one of these interactions people have with me or my content helps me build my profile as a trustworthy source of information. Even if it’s collectively thanking people, take the time.

SumAll's on boarding puts automation of gratitude front and centreMany analytics platforms now offer the automation of this process with the addition of a link back to the platform – essentially making them a marketing message.

SumAll and Crowdfire are two of the bigger offenders. I use Crowdfire for some functions, specifically their inactive accounts analysis, but the lesson here is that you should use the functionality to understand your audience, not interact with it.

One of the first functions you are presented with on signing up with SumAll is the option to tweet your stats each week (incidentally, no one cares), and thanking your top followers weekly – both of which are selected by default.

CrowdFire’s is also an onboarding function and then keeps automation as a menu option, allowing you to add multiple DM styles, but randomly selecting one that gets sent and appending it with branding.

CrowdFire's automation process


Just as our privacy can be the price we pay to use platforms like Facebook and Twitter for free, so too free tools to manage them have a price, often in the form of promoting on their behalf. You can automate social media to make it easy in many ways, but engaging with people who engage with you shouldn’t be one of them.

PHOTO – Ian Britton via Flickr

Exploring Social Citizenship

12 Feb
February 12, 2015

I’ve been toying around this week with the idea of what it means to be a social “citizen”.

Your pereception as a “good” or “bad” citizen in everyday society is determined by others based on the way you conduct yourself, interact with others and add value to that society. When it comes to social platforms, it is exactly the same – others determine the value in associating with you based on the way you behave.

The difference with platforms though is that our interaction style is dictated to a large degree by the format.

The key to being a good “citizen” on a platform is to know when and how to use the function within the format to exhibit the same behaviour as you would offline.

I put together a quick SlideShare around what I am calling social citizenship (at the risk of sounding like I am trying to coin a new buzzword), with a focus on Twitter as a platform.


There were 6 areas I looked at, first around getting your house in order – your profile, feed and tone, and then the more executional – giving more than you get, giving context and credit, thanks and giving thanks.

To be honest, there are probably more than just these six, and I think there is scope to evolve the thinking.

The other important thing of note here is that I wrote this from a personal perspective, but the principles themselves I believe sit just as well within the framework of a brand.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Agree, disagree? Any you would add, or remove?

PHOTO – Thomas Hawk via Flickr

The Generational Gap of Understanding in Digital Media

28 May
May 28, 2013

I spent last Friday night at a Sydney Writer’s Festival event featuring Joe Rospars, Barack Obama’s Chief Digital Strategist, called Crafting the Message. The discussion, which was moderated by the ABC’s Leigh Sales, was all about how election campaigns are built and run.

Joining him onstage was Neil Lawrence, the ECD of STW, and Grahame Morris, a former chief of staff for John Howard and longtime Liberal political figure.

Obviously Australian and US politics have some big differences, namely when it comes to compulsory voting. But ultimately, you are selling a product. And what struck me the most from the discussion was the great generational divide that seems to exist in understanding the audience.

Joe talked smartly about things like data mining, content creation and rich audience profiles – all hallmarks of marketing in the digital age.

By and large, Grahame and Neil spoke about slogans on TV ads (Neil most famously was responsible for Kevin Rudd’s 2007 campaign), and trying to distill what a candidate was about down to something that fit in that space.

When asked what, if anything, they could learn from Joe and the experiences he had, they were quick to point out that the things they believe were done well were almost irrelevant in Australia because we don’t need to expend energy during a campaign on fundraising or convincing people to go to the polls.

It felt like an incredibly short sighted point of view, shared by two reasonably influential image makers in Australian politics, that the use of digital technology could not do anything for the purposes of conveying different messages to different audience. They believed that direct mail and mass market TV commercials covered their needs.

By comparison, the US campaign created around 4,000 pieces of video content alone to reach different audiences around the country.

The reality is that we generate a lot of data. In fact, we produce more of it than ever before. New platforms have given us a voice to express approval and disapproval, outrage and happiness and pretty much every other emotion.

While politics is one of those things that, alongside religion you try and steer clear of, social media has given us a place to have the discussions on a wider basis not only with our friends, but strangers.

We talk about issues in depth, we share content about things that matter to us, and we debate it amongst each other. For politics, and a party looking to understand what the public wants, you have a focus group like no other.

While the parties use these social platforms to push their messages out, and many politicians are “on Twitter”, if the discussion at the Writer’s Festival is anything to go by, there has been very little thought of leveraging the goldmine of opinions and feedback to truly understand what is really important, or understand the effectiveness of the message they think we want to hear.

It is a generational divide – the advances in the last ten years of communications tech has probably been the most rapid in the last half a century.

Brian Solis talks about Digital Darwinism – when technology and society are evolving faster than the ability of an organisation to adapt, and in a lot of ways we think of this through the lens of traditional business models.

But is Australian politics suffering from the same affliction? When I hear discussions like this that continue to talk about the effectiveness of techniques that are 30 years old, I think so.

PHOTO – tvnewsbadge

Why Content Rules, Well, Rules

01 Feb
February 1, 2011

I’ve just finished Content Rules by CC Chapman and Ann Handley. If I could sum up this review right now in 5 words, it would be this – go and buy this book. Whatever business you are in, you need this book. And here is why.

It’s no secret that we are in a new world of communications and how we reach consumers has changed. It’s easy to use phrases here like “joining the conversation” and “fundamental shift” in talking about it, but where this book is different is that it goes beyond the talk.

The important thing to note is that this is not a book about social media (entirely). It’s about content – the thing that drives social media. And for authors, it would be hard to find a couple of people more qualified to talk about it. Ann is the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, which I have always found a goldmine of information for not only social media, but marketing as a whole, and CC Chapman founded DigitalDads.com, which as a dad, I think is just an awesome site (they recently published an article called “Liking Stupid Music” that I thought was brilliant).


We read a lot about the importance of content. In fact, “Content is King” has become somewhat cliche nowadays, but what escapes a great number of businesses is exactly WHY content is king, and more importantly, HOW it transforms business and WHAT needs to be done.

I’ve collected an awful lot of white papers and presentations on content over the last few years that talk about it from a theoretical standpoint, but never I think has there been a guide as succinct as Content Rules. As the cover promises, it really is a How To on creating Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, eBooks, Webinars and more.

For starters, Ann and CC have made it easy to take the info in. The book is divided up into three parts – the Content Rules, The How To Section and the Success Stories. As a reader and a strategist, for me it’s a pattern that makes sense – the theory, the practical and then the proof points. For a business owner, this should be the path to conversion on the value of content.

Don’t skip any of it. One thing that I hear a lot of is that businesses don’t feel they need to produce it, or can’t see how it can possibly work. The book is a gold mine of ideas that can be applied to virtually any business, and it’s not just left to the success stories to demonstrate how it can work.


It seems for many, the notion of producing content scares them for a few reasons – the time it takes to do it, the thought of writing, and the thought of just giving away knowledge. What I loved about Content Rules is that it blows the thought that content is just writing out of the water from the get go, and subsequently the time issue by talking about its ability to be re-imagined in a number of ways and formats to appeal to different audiences.

And it sums up the reason for content in probably the simplest way possible – moving a prospect over a hurdle and closer to becoming a customer. Which when you think about it, is exactly what the content of this book does. It moves you past the hurdle of the why and how it can work for you by showing what to do, and what I loved, how to do it.

You can pick it up in bookshops (I got my copy at Dymocks main city store in Sydney), or buy it online from the usual suspects (a great list here). Ann and CC have also set up a great companion site for the book at www.contentrulesbook.com.

I say it again – if you’re serious about putting your business ahead of your competition and making it stand out – go and buy this book. In reading it, I have a list of action points and ideas longer than I’ve ever had, and am excited about implementing them. As I think you will be.


PHOTO – CC Chapman