You Can’t Build a Free Global PR Wiki Like This

MyPRGenie, a social-media focused PR firm, wants to create a “free global PR wiki” that will crowdsource contact information for “journalists, bloggers and media gatekeepers”.

Free global PR wiki to crowdsource media contact details

A crowdsourced listing of media contacts is set to launch, providing the PR industry with a database of information on journalists and media professionals.

Launching out of New York in March, the wiki-style platform will be open to PR professionals who contribute to the community by sharing information they’ve collected on journalists, bloggers and media gatekeepers. By sharing their contacts, users earn points which can then be spent to gain access to the global database.

Interesting concept. Probably won’t be successful, though.

Why?

Free

The only free global wiki that’s ever managed to collect a large amount of quality information is Wikipedia – and Wikipedia is run by a non-profit foundation whose philosophy revolves around cataloguing and freely sharing information.

From the sounds of it MyPRGenie’s service will be “free” (i.e. available for you to use) only if you contribute to it yourself; and presumably even then there will be some additional restrictions to what you can access or do once you have that information. Which, of course, means that, unlike the Wikipedia style service they want to be associating themselves with, their service not actually free.

Global

MyPRGenie say they already have a database of over half a million “journalists, bloggers, and content creators” which my guess is they’ll use to seed their wiki. While that number is large I’m not sure this endeavour is a pure numbers game.

When you hire a PR firm to work for you, you pick one based on their knowledge of your industry and the local media market, plus their relationships with various media people. You don’t pick them because they have the largest contacts database.

If I worked for a rival PR agency my argument against using this service would be: “Why would you want to use that? They’ll just send your press releases to a bunch of media and social media people. I’m on a first name basis with the influencers in your specific industry and in your specific market so when I send them something they know it’ll be worth their while.”

PR Wiki

Possibly the biggest problem they’ll face is that I don’t think many PR departments or agencies will want to participate – certainly not major companies with a large contacts databases. Why on earth would companies (or agencies) want to share their PR relationship IP with the rest of the world (which, of course, includes their competitors)?

Wrong Business Plan?

MyPRGenie’s business plan for this service seems to be “build it and they will come (to crowdsource)”. That doesn’t works unless you do things like offer fabulous incentives for sharing IP, have dedicated editors maintaining content quality, and don’t blatantly make money off the data you collect. Now they might actually do all these things and the resulting service might end up being useful to small and medium-sized companies with limited PR budgets and limited relationships with the media. But that’s probably about it.

Basically, I don’t think you can crowdsource this kind of information unless you make it completely free and open like Wikipedia or you run a freemium model like IMDb or LinkedIn in which you get both the demand and supply side to pay for the professional, fee-based version of that otherwise free service.

MyPRGenie seem to be trying a third approach to this information cataloguing problem – one that relies on a few assumptions that I don’t think are particularly valid. It’d be nice to be proven wrong but I don’t think I will be.

Working at Jetstar is Like Working at a Startup

I'm not sure if this applies to all Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs) but working at Jetstar feels like you’re working at a startup. This, of course, is one of the reasons why I love working here.

In a guest post on Venture Beat Elli Sharef wrote about the ‘5 Things You Need to Know Before Working at a Startup’. Three of these apply directly to life at Jetstar:

Ownership

Working at Jetstar you really have to own what you do and, of course, believe strongly in what you're doing. So, for example, if you're the one who comes up with a great idea then you're the one who has to implement it. Sometimes you get to do this literally all on your own from start to finish.

And when you're given ownership on one part of the business – in my case, Jetstar's social media presence – it's all yours to do with whatever you want (given, of course, that what you do makes business sense and fits well with what others are doing; and, if it’s something drastically different, is approved by senior executives).

This level of ownership, control, and direct responsibility is both exciting and terrifying.

Mentoring and Guidance

Because in a startup you're often doing stuff that is new and innovative you don't really have people who can guide and mentor you in your role based on their years of experience in this field. Case in point: before Jetstar no other full-service carrier (in our case, Qantas) had launched a low-cost subsidiary that was as successful as Jetstar is now.

On the social media side of things, for example, I certainly don't know of any other large, customer-focused, seven-year-old Australian company that, while partnering with a large sixty-year-old Japanese company, is providing customer service to people in Japan in Japanese via Facebook and Twitter.

A lot of what we’re doing here is new and innovative. This is stuff that no one or very few people have done before and it’s incredibly exciting to be at this leading edge.

Pressure

This third point is important because it determines whether you'll be at Jetstar for six months or five years. Sharef puts it really well:

The pressure to achieve results, hit metrics, achieve growth, and get more traction can be overwhelming for many. We’ve seen lots of people quit startups because they realized the emotional pressures were simply too much for them. It’s awesome to know your work can help make or break the business, but with great opportunity comes great responsibility!

The good thing is that, while the pressure may be high, the rush I get from making a real difference to what Jetstar does on social media is incredibly rewarding. Certainly at this point in my career I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing and anywhere else I’d rather be working.

My 0.4 Cents on Click Frenzy

Today is the much-hyped-in-the-media Click Frenzy sale. Here are my 0.4 cents [1] on this ‘event’.

Cart Before Horse?

Cyber Monday, which Click Frenzy is based on, was a term coined after US retailers noticed a spike in online shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving. That is, this behaviour (the increase in online sales) existed before the term describing it (Cyber Monday) was coined. That term ended up reinforcing this behaviour, yes, but I think it’s important to remember that the behaviour came first.

The folks behind Click Frenzy, on the other hand, are trying to create a behaviour. They are trying to lightning rod a lot of October and November retail sales into a single day because, as consumer behaviour research tells us, people respond positively to time-limited offers (regardless of whether those offers are genuine or not) as well as sales (regardless of whether those sales are good or not).

Creating behaviours – particularly online behaviours of this kind – is difficult.

The organizers of Click Frenzy do have a few things going for them, though:

For starters, they’re using Cyber Monday as a reference so the whole single-day-online-sale concept isn’t something they have to explain to consumers in too much detail.

They have a lot of brands on board so, at the very least, they’ve got everyone’s attention.

They’ve also built a bit of hype around the event – which is crucial if you want to change behaviour. A lot of that hype is offline, though, and that is both good (they’ll have reached a larger audience) and potentially bad (a lot of that larger audience might not be the online shopping type).

They have a single point of entry for these sales which should, in theory, make it easier to find the deals you’re looking for. (Unless, of course, that single point of entry becomes a bottleneck.)

They also have a bunch of things going against them:

While being secretive about actual sale details works well for building excitement and curiosity, the fact is that we don’t know what deals will be on offer and how good they will be. Online shoppers are smart enough to shop around.

The way I understand it, most online shoppers in Australia buy stuff from overseas retailers because:

  • equivalent items are much more expensive when bought from Australian stores (sometimes costing two or three times as much)
  • there’s more variety in overseas stores
  • the online shopping experience of many local retailers is poor (assuming an online store exists in the first place)
  • the in-store shopping experience (including customer service) of many local stores is also poor

So, for Click Frenzy to be truly successful it will have to give Australian shoppers all of these benefits. That is:

  • the prices will have to be good (and potentially better than Cyber Monday prices that customers can make the most of if, again, they buy from overseas)
  • the variety of goods on sale will have to be considerable (and items will need to be in stock)
  • the online experience will have to be exceptional

Do You Even Lift?

Do you even liftWill Click Frenzy deliver on all those fronts? I have my doubts.

Why? Because I don’t quite trust the Australian retail industry to get it right.

They’ve already demonstrated that they don’t understand ecommerce all that well (aside from a few possible exceptions). If they did, they might not have participated in Click Frenzy in the first place. (For more analysis on one aspect of this topic I recommend you read Michael Pascoe’s article in the Age called: ‘Myer, DJs’ online plans: tell ‘em they’re dreaming’).

I am also of the opinion that many Australian retailers simply aren’t all that good at marketing. They seem to be much more sales-oriented than marketing- or brand-oriented. That is, instead of deeply understanding and then tightly targeting their chosen customer groups, they tend to adopt a warehouse approach to selling stuff. That’s great if you’re selling in bulk (e.g. you’re Dan Murphy’s) but not so good otherwise.

My fear is that Click Frenzy is a bunch of retailers jumping on the ecommerce bandwagon without basing their decision on a proper, well-researched, well-thought-out, innovative (for them) approach to online selling. Because of this lack of understanding and lack of underlying strategy these retailers won’t have a suitable online offering during Click Frenzy and, as a result, they won’t see any benefit from participating in future Click Frenzies or, worse, ecommerce in general. I sincerely hope that’s not the case, but I have my doubts.

The other aspect of Click Frenzy that doesn’t bode well is that it seems, once again, these retailers’ strategies revolve around an increase in sales being the solution to their problems. Participating in Click Frenzy certainly won’t help them target their customers or build their brands. So while this might give them a short term boost in sales, it’s probably not a good long-term fix.

There is Hope

On the other hand, there is hope. If Click Frenzy does go well this might encourage retailers to finally hire the right people and lift their ecommerce game. We might finally get a good proportion of quality online stores with a decent ecommerce strategy behind them.

I’m not going to hold my breath, but I’m not all that jaded and pessimistic about the whole thing either. Here’s hoping.

Further Reading

Here are some other thoughts on Click Frenzy that are worth reading:

--

[1] 0.4 cents is 80% off from my usual 2 cents.

What’s My Hoodie?

In ‘Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager’ Michael Lopp talks quite a bit about managing nerds. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about this particular bit of wisdom that he also shared in his ‘Managing Nerds’ blog post:

What is your nerd’s hoodie? I write better when I’m wearing a hoodie. There’s something warm and cave-like about having my head surrounded — it gives me permission to ignore the world. Over time, those around me know that interrupting hoodie-writing is a capital offense. They know when I reach to pull the hoodie over my head that I’ve successfully discarded all distractions on the Planet Earth and am currently communing with the pure essence of whatever I’m working on.

It’s irrational and it’s delicious.

Your nerd has a hoodie. It’s a visual cue to stay away as they chase their Highs and your job is both identification and enforcement. I don’t know your nerds, so I don’t know what you’ll discover, but I am confident that these hoodie-like obsessions will often make no sense to you - even if you ask. Yes, there will always Mountain Dew nearby. Of course, we will never be without square pink Post-its.

Don’t sweat it. Support it.

It turns out my ‘hoodie’ is my pair of rather large (and thus easily seen) Shure SRH840 Reference Studio Headphones:

Ameel wearing his 'hoodie' at work

Those things cost quite a lot but they’re really worth it. Not only do they sound fantastic they provide a strong visual cue to all my open-plan-office colleagues that I’m concentrating and shouldn’t be interrupted unless it’s urgent or important.

And, apparently, when I wear them I look like the Nova FM logo character (not sure if that’s the old one, on the left, or the new one, on the right):

Nova FM logos old and new

Over the last couple of weeks, as I’ve been experimenting with my working style, I’ve also discovered that, if I pop these on first thing in the morning (well, after I’ve booted up my PC and have settled down with my mug of tea), my morning productivity increases greatly. Not only that, with these on in the late afternoons (right after I’ve AeroPressed my afternoon mug of coffee), I get a lot of work done towards the end of the day, too.

These productivity spikes happen for different reasons, though. In the mornings the headphones let me kick-off and focus on my priority projects for the day. (I track, schedule, and prioritise all my work via the fabulous Trello web app, by the way.) In the afternoons they help counter the productivity dip I was otherwise having because it turns out that 2:30-5:30 PM is the time that most colleagues from other parts of the office come to my part of the office to talk to the people sitting around me. With my headphone on, though, it becomes really easy to block out all the conversations going on nearby so I can focus on the work that needs to get done.

So, yaay for useful self-analysis and yaay for my awesome headphones. And, I suppose, boo for open plan offices…which I’ve never actually liked and which is why, aside from my headphones, I have the three computer screens arranged around me on my desk.

Further Reading

What People Want From Social Media

Thomson Dawson published an article on Branding Strategy Insider a couple of weeks ago called 'Social Media Marketing Is An Oxymoron'.

In it he argues:

There is no place for marketing in social media.

Think about being at a party having an enjoyable conversation with someone of like mind, then some annoying person interrupts your conversation to tell you how great they are and why you should engage with them. This is basically what most "social media marketing" really is.  People hate being interrupted.

While I agree that people hate being interrupted by companies who are trying to talk to them or sell them something, I don’t agree with his generalization because I think the situation is a little more complex than that.

You are the Product

I think people understand and accept that, when companies provide them with free online services (such as an account on a social networking site), those companies aren’t doing this out the goodness of their hearts. Even Governments don’t provide services for free (yaay, taxes!) so there’s no reason to believe that any company would.

Instead of paying money for those services what people give these companies in exchange is:

  • information about themselves and their relationships with others online (referred to as their ‘social graph’ – a term coined by Facebook),
  • information about their interests and where they spend time on online, and
  • their attention (so that third parties can market stuff to them via advertising).

The Silicon Valley way of putting this is:

If you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.

And people are more or less okay with that ‘product’ – that online version of themselves – being sold to companies. They know that, in turn, those companies will use this opportunity (i.e. the time they spend on various social media platforms) to sell stuff back to them. If this sounds familiar that’s because this is essentially the advertising-based free-to-air TV model (though with more sophisticated ad targeting).

So people expect to be marketed to on social media.

Not the Whole Story

But, that’s not the whole story because, sometimes, people don’t just expect to be marketed to, they want to be marketed to.

They want companies to sell them the stuff they want, when they want it, where they want it. In addition, they expect to talk to companies about their products and services – both before and after purchasing.

What People Want From Social Media

The way I see it, people seem to want five broad things from companies in the online and social media space:

1. Information

This includes things like product information, contact details, terms and conditions, sizing charts, and so on. People look for this information on websites and Wikipedia pages and they search or ask for it on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and forums. They also discover products on sites like Pinterest.

2. Help

This covers everything from help with product information (when you’ve just entered the market for that product) all the way to customer support (after you’ve bought the product). People look for help on websites or they ask for it on Facebook and Twitter. And, depending on what the company offers, people might also ask for help over the phone, via Skype, or using live web chat.

3. Deals

This includes things like exclusive or early sales/deals, as well as prizes or other kinds of loyalty rewards. People look for deals on websites, in mailing lists, or on company/brand Facebook Pages and Twitter streams. These people aren't the most brand loyal but they do drive a lot of sales.

4. Connection

This covers a whole bunch of engagement, participation, and ownership needs that include a continuing two-way dialog; input into what companies do and how they operate; and a general sharing of thoughts, ideas, and values. People look for this connection on company blogs, on Facebook and Google+ profiles, and, in smaller chunks, on Twitter. The people who engage with companies in this way are generally the most loyal and are often the company’s strongest advocates. Or, in the case of engagement via Kickstarter, they’re also the company’s founding members and/or financial investors.

5. Jobs

For a specific group of people who are in the job market, what they want from companies also includes job offers, engagement with HR teams, and information about the company and its culture. People look for this information and engagement on websites, via Google searches, on blogs and forums, on LinkedIn, and, increasingly, on other social media platforms (i.e. not just on LinkedIn).

It All Comes Down to Targeting

What it comes down to, then, is the idea of audience targeting. Companies need to have different approaches for engaging with different audience groups. And, if an audience group is receptive to being marketed at, then companies should jump right in.

For example, if was on a message board talking to people about a specific kind of computer that I wanted to buy in the next six months, I’d be more than happy to hear from a company representative about a product they sell that’s in this category. On the other hand, I would be upset if I was marketed to when I wasn’t looking for that kind of communication or engagement.

So, if companies get that targeting aspect right, then ‘social media marketing’ is a completely valid concept.

We’re Still Not There Yet

Sadly, a lot of companies are terrible at this kind of communication. They continue to treat ‘social media’ as just another advertising channel though which they talk at people.

Which, by the way, reminds me of this fantastic cartoon from Hugh MacLeod:

ifyoutalkedtopeople

I guess it’s this kind of misinformed approach to marketing via social media that prompted Dawson to write his article in the first place. And, in that, I agree with him completely. A lot of companies still don’t get it right and that really needs to change if they want to make the best use of the social media opportunity that they are currently wasting.

How these companies need to change is, of course, a whole other massive topic. Fortunately, it’s a topic that will keep people like me – people who understand both marketing and social media – employable for at least the next few years :)

New Job: Social Media Manager at Jetstar

Yesterday was my first day as Social Media Manager at Jetstar. Yes, that means I have a new job :)

For those of you who might not know, the Jetstar Group (usually just referred to as Jetstar) consists of four low-cost airlines:

Jetstar was launched in 2004 and, with its 79 aircraft and over 7,000 employees, currently flies to 56 destinations in 17 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

My job is a Group role (i.e. it’s a corporate function that works across all four airlines) and is based at the Jetstar corporate headquarters in Melbourne, Australia.

Why did I change jobs?

For a number of reasons:

  • I love the airlines/aviation industry and working for an airline is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
  • Jetstar is a great brand that is run by good people who provide a valuable service. It’s a brand I respect and is a brand whose values I share (i.e. providing good value for money, making smart use of technology, and making travel to popular destinations accessible to lots of people).
  • I’m making a career path adjustment that sees me changing my focus from building and managing websites to helping companies and customers communicate better with each other using social media. And while this is a slight narrowing of focus (e.g. in my current role I won’t be looking after the Jetstar website) it is also an increase in overall responsibility (i.e. I get to work on more strategic corporate communications objectives).
  • My new role is more challenging because the scale and scope of customer engagement is greater (e.g. it’s across the entire Asia-Pacific region as opposed to just within the state of Victoria) and the aviation industry is more exciting, more innovative, and moves much faster than the water industry.
  • I have a greater opportunity for personal growth because I now get to employ my social media skills to their fullest. I had been wanting to increase my social media focus at Melbourne Water but, with all the other work I was doing there, this wasn’t something I was able to do.

I also get to work with one of my former managers who I really like and work really well with. And finally, as someone whose family is spread across multiple countries, the travel benefits of working for an airline are important to me personally.

What does the new job involve?

Broadly speaking, my overall objective is to improve the communication, engagement, and understanding between Jetstar and its customers. Specifically, I get to do this via social media. Though, practically speaking, this engagement will be integrated across multiple communication channels.

How exactly I go about doing all this is something I will share on this blog (and probably also on Twitter) over the coming weeks, months, and years so stay tuned.

Communicating with Charts and Infographics

I love using pictures, charts, diagrams, and infographics to illustrate and explain complex or hard to visualize ideas, concepts, and relationships.

Using Charts and Infographics at Melbourne Water

Since we deal with pretty complex subjects at Melbourne Water it makes sense for us to use well designed charts and infographics to explain what we do and how we do it. So, over the last year or two, we’ve been working with various vendors to produce graphics and animations that help us communicate better. We’ve also been improving our own chart-making capabilities so we can explain things more effectively to our more interested (which usually means more nerdy) audiences.

Here are some of the things we’ve done.

Explaining Systems

To explain how a system like Melbourne’s Water supply network works, you can use a static and somewhat technical map like this:

Melbourne Water Supply System Map - Old

Or you can use an animated map to really show people what’s going on (click through to see what I mean):

Animated Melbourne water supply network map

That animated map has proven to be very popular: over the last year it’s been viewed over 40,000 times with visitors spending an average of two and a half minutes going through it.

You can explain complex systems without animations, too – like we’ve done with our Eastern Treatment Plant’s sewage processing diagram. This diagram comes in two parts. First, there’s a high-level overview:

ETP sewage processing overview diagram

And, then, there’s a more detailed explanation of the steps we take to process sewage at this plant (including the tertiary treatment bit that’s currently being built):

ETP sewage processing detailed diagram

Explaining Relationships

Another important use for graphics is in explaining relationships between things.

For example, the Melbourne Water website gets about about 10,000 visitors per day. However, this figure jumps to 25,000 when it rains and over 40,000 when there’s a big storm in Melbourne. This happens because people want to know what effect the rainfall is having on our water storage levels.

To explain this relationship, we first used a simple column chart to show the basic trend (though the figures in it are from about a year and a half ago):

Web Traffic Depends on Rainfall bar chart

We then drilled down into a more detailed example and plotted the amount of rainfall recorded in Melbourne in August 2010 and compared that to the number of website visits received over the same period. The relationship between the two is quite obvious when you look at this graph:

Effect of Rainfall on Web Traffic line chart

These diagrams were made to be printed, by the way, which is why the text size on the axes isn’t all that large.

Telling a Story

At times, though, all you want to do with a graph is tell a story.

For example, we used this simple graph to explain the how Melbourne’s dams staged a remarkable turnaround in 2010, jumping from 25.6% full in July 2009 to 53.7% full in December 2010:

Melbourne's dam levels in 2009 and 2010

And we used this graph to explain that Melbourne’s total system storage depends a great deal on how full Thomson Dam is (because Thomson is almost 60% of Melbourne’s total dam capacity):

Melbourne Dams as a Percentage of Total Capacity

More generally, we use this graphic to explain to Melburnians just how big Thomson really is:

Thomson dam is twice the size of Sydney Harbour Bridge and 628 the size of the MCG

Showing Cause and Effect (i.e. Explaining More Complex Relationships)

Recently, though, we’ve gone one step further and have used a couple of charts to explain what, at the face of it, seems to be a strange result: rainfall for spring 2011 was 28.5% above average but water flowing into the dams (i.e. streamflow) over the same period was 22.4% below average. This happened because of what we call the ‘sponge effect’ and we used this graphic to explain what happened:

Effect of spring rainfall on streamflow - Spring 2011

Now this type of graph isn’t for everyone to read and understand but, that’s okay – we know that a lot of our website visitors are water nerds just like us and that they appreciate the extra effort we make in explaining these results to them.

Hopefully, this use of charts and infographics to explain complex things is something Melbourne Water continues to do in the future. I know I certainly will.

Economist Ranks MBS MBA Regional #1 and Global #32

Economist + Which MBA logoThe Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked the Melbourne Business School full-time MBA at #1 in Asia and Australasia and #32 globally in its 2011 full-time MBA rankings.

MBS is already ranked #1 in Australia by AFR BOSS and #46 globally by Times Higher Education.

Drilling down to the detailed profile for MBS, you get some interesting results.

Missed Networking Opportunities

For example, the school ranks well for networking:

  • Potential to network: #5
  • Breadth of alumni network (i.e. ratio of registered alumni to current students): #2

But ranks poorly in the use and perception of its alumni network:

  • Alumni effectiveness (i.e. student assessment of alumni network): #89

I’m not sure why this might be the case. I can make a few guesses, though. For example, international students might find that, while there are tonnes of MBS alumni that they can network with in Asia and Australasia, there aren’t enough of them around the rest of the world. There might also be some missed opportunities in the students’ use of the alumni network. Or of recent alumni themselves not networking much with each other.

Career Services is Improving

MBS also ranks really well for its careers service:

  • Jobs found through the careers service (i.e. percentage of graduates finding jobs through careers service): #2

But students and alumni don’t seem to give it enough credit:

  • Student assessment of careers service (i.e. did the careers service meet expectations and needs?): #98

This suggests that, while the MBS Career Centre is doing a good job, it suffers from some perception problems. This might be because perception change among alumni who no longer need or use the careers service lags the reality of the careers service having improved in recent years. I do know that the MBS Career Centre in 2008-09 had a challenging time placing graduates from my full-time MBA batch because we were the first group to come out of the new September intake. This meant the Career Centre had to find jobs for twice as many students (many of whom were international) right at the beginning of the GFC. And, since the EUI’s ranking has memory – i.e. it’s a weighted average of results from 2011 (50%), 2010 (30%), and 2009 (20%) – this alumni perception would still have an impact on perception scores.

Overall

Overall, though, this is a good result and I’m glad that MBS continues to improve its quality, reputation, and ranking.

MBS MBA Again Ranked Number 1 by AFR BOSS

afrboss_red_logo_smallThe Australian Financial Review’s (AFR) BOSS magazine has, once again, ranked the Melbourne Business School MBA at number one in Australia.

According to these rankings, the top five MBAs in Australia are from these business schools:

  1. Melbourne Business School
  2. University of Queensland – Business School
  3. Monash University – Department of Management
  4. QUT Graduate School of Business (Queensland University of Technology)
  5. Australian School of Business – AGSM

BOSS conducts this research every other year and its results are based on two components: an alumni survey (weighted 55%) and data supplied by schools (weighted 45%). 21 business schools participated this time and 19 of these made it into the rankings (two didn’t, due to insufficient alumni responses). 1,600 b-school alumni from the graduating classes of 2008-2010 (inclusive) took part in the survey.

Digging Deeper

Looking more closely at the results:

  • The AGSM and MBS MBAs have the highest tuition fee ($64,800 and $64,000, respectively) followed by Monash and Macquarie ($57,260 and $56,000, respectively). The rest of the MBAs have tuition fees under $50k.
  • 96% of MBS alumni reported that their MBA provided them value for money.
  • MBS, AGSM, and Macquarie MBAs have the greatest number of class contact hours over the entire degree (720, 686, and 640 hours, respectively). As it happens, these are also three of the four most expensive degrees. The others all have fewer than 600 class contact hours. 
  • MBS was ranked 3rd for satisfaction, 5th for value for money, and 1st for research.
  • When survey respondents were asked which school they would attend if money and location were not an issue, MBS came out on top again.

International Rankings

The two most notable international rankings of business schools come from the Financial Times and the Economist. In their latest rankings:

  • The Financial Times ranks AGSM at #35 and MBS at #53
  • The Economist ranks MBS at #44, Monash at #58, MGSM at #64, Curtin at #76, UoQ at #81

FT will be kicking off research for its 2012 b-school rankings later this month.

Diversity in MBA Programs

Matt Symonds recently wrote a good article on the importance of diversity in MBA programs:
...business schools seek to encourage not only more women and ethnic minorities to do an MBA, but also those with more diverse backgrounds including media, military, not-for-profits and entrepreneurship

...

But is it important for business schools to also strive for professional diversity? Many academics, administrators and students would say so. In fact, it’s been argued that restricting the MBA course participants to a limited range of experience means that traditionally accepted patterns of thought go unchallenged. They argue that a wide-ranging group of students helps to put business decision-making into a wider perspective, and thereby reduce the risk of a herd mentality that leads to ill-informed decisions. Perhaps Wall Street should take note?

Diversity in the student body - particularly a good mix of international students - is one of the main reasons I applied to Melbourne Business School for my MBA; and I was certainly not disappointed. In my intake (the full-time MBA intake of  September 2006) we had about 65  students, only seven of which were from Australia (the rest were from about 35 countries) and a quarter of which were women (for MBA programs, this is better than most).

MBS also goes out of its way to acquire diversity through its various scholarship programs. In my case, I was awarded (what is now called) the Dean's International Management Scholarship. Every year, that adds about three financially-limited international students to a mix of people who are fortunate enough to have other means to paying for their studies. I, for one, will be forever grateful to MBS for giving me that opportunity.

Profile on Upcoming MBS Dean Zeger Degraeve

I didn’t blog about this at the time but Melbourne Business School is getting a new Dean: Professor Zeger Degraeve, who is currently at London Business School, will be taking over from current Dean, Professor Jennifer George, in September.

From MBS’ news item on the appointment:
Prof. Zeger Degraeve at a glance:

  • Inaugural chair, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Chair for Innovation, London Business School

  • Founder and faculty director Dubai-London programs, London Business School in Dubai, UAE

  • Former deputy dean, London Business School.

  • Visiting professorships at Columbia University, Tuck School of Business

  • PhD, Business Administration, The University of Chicago

  • MSc in Engineering and MBA, Universities of Ghent and Leuven, Belgium



Today, The Independent published a profile on Degraeve which is worth a read because, in it, he talks about his plans for MBS:
“Business schools are big ships to turn,” comments Professor Zeger Degraeve. “Often it is a dean's successor who will enjoy the realisation of his or her long-term strategy.” Professor Degraeve, who will take up his initial four-year term as dean of Australia's Melbourne Business School (MBS) in September, is undaunted by the prospect that many benefits of his tenure will only mature after he has gone.

“My long-term strategies include fundraising, raising the profile of the school and ensuring that it achieves prominence on the global scene. Short-term I plan to re-think the MBA curriculum and develop the executive education programme.”

Sounds exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing how things at MBS change and get even better over the next few years.

AFR MBA Survey 2011 is Open for Alumni Input

BOSS Magazine LogoEvery two years the Australian Financial Review ranks Australia’s “top MBA programs” based on a survey of recent business school alumni and data from a questionnaire that’s filled out by the schools themselves.

They publish this ranking in BOSS Magazine and, in 2009, Melbourne Business School was ranked #1.

This year’s alumni survey is now open for input from business school graduates who completed their degrees within the last three years (i.e. 2008, 2009, and 2010 grads only). If you fit that category, please fill out the survey so that this year’s results reflect the most accurate opinions of recent Australian b-school grads.

The 2011 survey results will be published in the September issue of BOSS. Of course, I’ll blog about them when they come out, as well.

FYI: If you’re an MBS alumni and have any questions about the survey, get in touch with David Mitchell who is the alumni and community relations manager at MBS.

Notes from WebForward 2011 Conference

Last week I attended the WebForward Conference in Sydney (which itself is part of the larger CeBIT Australia Exhibition). It was a really good event during which I got to hear from and meet a lot of interesting people.

The conference had two streams: social media and mobile. I hopped in and out of both streams and here are my notes from the talks that I attended.

Latest trends and techniques in the on-line marketing space and a look into the future

WebForward 1

  • Speaker: Tony Keusgen, Head of Technology - Australia/New Zealand, Google
  • Why is there still a difference between ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ marketing in a corporation’s budget? Why is digital still considered to be “new” media?
  • There’s a huge correlation between offline marketing and online searches
    • For example, if you were to place your ad on a number of city buses you could tell, by analyzing Google search on the relevant phrase (assuming its unique enough), when those buses first hit the streets
  • Predictions for the future:
    • 80% of screen time will be digital
    • Mobile devices will enable two-thirds of purchases and pay for half of them
    • Consumers will have more power and 80% of future engagement will be opt-in and 2-way
    • Real-time will play a big role; already 30% of Australians consumers access the web via their mobile phones while in a physical store
  • Use evidence-based marketing; don’t assume you know what the market wants
  • Don’t be scared to experiment with new things and try new ways of doing things (it’s okay to fail, stop what you were doing, and move on to other ideas)
  • 12% of all Google search queries in December 2010 came from mobile devices
  • Location marketing is key: A third of all searches conducted on mobile devices are location based
  • In the US, a quarter of all searches conducted on mobile devices were voice based
  • Think about doing how-to videos on YouTube
    • 2.4 million search queries per month on YouTube for how-to content
    • 32% of videos watched on YouTube are of how-to content

Integrating a mobile strategy into your marketing plan to cover multiple channels

WebForward 2

  • Speaker: Antonio Addario, Manager - Direct Channels Strategy, Efficiency & Innovation, ING Direct
  • The online magazine Mobile Marketer is a great resource
  • Some of the steps you need to take to figure out your mobile strategy are:
    • Do lots of research (e.g. find out which apps people are willing to pay for in various app stores)
    • Know your customer really well (both the people and the technology they use)
    • Define your success
    • Identify the key capabilities of all your online and mobile offerings; then select the ones you want to offer on your mobile platform
    • Evaluate your development options (i.e. reuse/buy/build)
    • Do plenty of promotion for your new offering
    • Get your mobile offering to upsell for you (e.g. tell people to your other services from within the app)
    • Measure success (KPIs, adoption, etc.)
    • Listen to your customers and make the improvements they want

Utilising mobile marketing to promote your product or service

WebForward 3

  • Speaker: Julian Peterson, Marketing & Online Director, Time Out Sydney
  • Time Out is 40 years old in London but 3 years old in Sydney and 6 months old in Melbourne
  • A branded app can work well if your brands are similar and have the same core target audience (Time Out’s app is cobranded with Smirnoff)
  • Time Out Australia used the app platform already built by London (which, as it happens, was work done by an Australian firm) so that made life easier for them
  • The app does curated content and is really popular with their targeted audience

Recognising the benefits of mobile marketing to drive innovation and growth

WebForward 5

  • Speaker: Nandor Locher, Manager e-commerce, Virgin Australia
  • A lot of the time, when you’re doing mobile marketing, you’re not really being ‘innovative’ in the true sense of the word
  • It’s critical to focus your efforts on the unique advantages offered by mobile technology
  • Mobile offerings are becoming part of a company’s larger product offering and are not just another marketing channel (e.g. like being able to check-in to your flight from the web, being able to do travel stuff on your mobile is now part of the broader travel services product offered by airlines)
  • Mobile is becoming a ‘hygiene factor’ in the travel industry; i.e. if it’s not there, people will go to your competitor
  • The ROI from the mobile offering is low so, for Virgin, their offering is largely a medium- to long-term brand and product augmentation investment
  • It’s important to have a brand presence in the various app stores
  • Integrating mobile with social media is important; particularly since social media is used so heavily in the travel industry
  • Thanks to mobile devices, downtime has become the new uptime (e.g. Virgin increased sales by 150% by moving their happy hour sales to a downtime period for the target market)
  • Depending on your offering, the usage and usefulness of mobile websites is sometimes greater than that of native phone apps (which many people download and then never use)

Understanding how to drive your brand via mobile

WebForward 4

  • Speaker: Stephanie Carrick, Senior Producer, Triple J Unearthed
  • Triple J Unearthed is one of the largest online communities in Australia (250k registered users)
  • They had to had a mobile presence (18-35 is their target market, after all)
  • Their app focuses on users listening to music (i.e. they focus on their core value proposition)
  • All their music content is available for downloading (for free)
  • The app is a huge success, with over 420k downloads in 18 months
  • Because of the app, they’ve seen a 50% sustained rise in traffic to their website (i.e. they’ve tapped a whole new audience that was inaccessible via radio)
  • It’s crucial to have app maintenance budget because you will need to update it regularly from now on

Using Augmented Reality Technology to promote your business

WebForward 6

  • Speaker: Glenn Cooper, Executive Chairman, Coopers' Brewery
  • Brand and brand history plays a huge role in the decisions companies make (particularly in family owned businesses like Cooper’s)
  • Doing a mobile app – that too, an augmented reality app – was a huge change for the business
  • This worked well for them because they used it to promote their low carb beer which itself was a huge change for the business (as they are known for their dark beers)
  • The app helped their marketing promotion be completely under their control (i.e. not under the control of the physical store retailers)

Joining the social media conversation about your company

WebForward 7

  • Speaker: Kristen Boschma, Head of Online Communications and Social Media, Telstra
  • There are different types of social media programs (i.e. they have different objectives); for example:
    • Listening
    • Customer Care
    • Thought Leadership
    • Marketing & Sales
  • The most important part of a listening program is to actually listen (and not jump in every time you’re mentioned or talked about)
  • A key phrase to remember in social media engagements is “What’s the gift?” (looked at from another angle, that’s the answer to a customer who wants to know “What’s in it for me?”)
  • Social media is an ecosystem: you must treat it with respect (i.e. don’t pollute it)
  • In order to get stuff done, you need to have a burning platform
  • Social media has worked really well for Telstra: 31% of all their online conversations now happen on Twitter
  • All employees at Telstra have to take and pass their online social media course (yes, all 40k existing employees had to do this)
  • Sentiment tracking is good, but make sure you provision for human coding in your budget because algorithms don’t understand sarcasm (of which there’s a lot online)

Developing social marketing strategies to transform your organisation

WebForward 8

  • Speaker: Paul Borrud, Head of Australia & New Zealand, Facebook
  • 3 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook per month (globally)
  • Australians spend an average of 7.5hrs on Facebook per month
  • Facebook in Australia
    • 10 million active users (i.e. use the site once in 30 days)
      • 68% return daily, 86% return weekly
    • 53% of users are female
    • The age spread is about even (approximately 17-25% for each of the five major age brackets)
  • Facebook lets people connect across borders really easily
  • Facebook is about reorganizing the web around people
    • In the 80s, the web was all about browsing
    • In the 90s, it was all about search
    • Now, it’s all about people
  • Even gaming is reorganizing around people
  • 43% of all news sharing now occurs in social media
  • Businesses are reorganizing around people as well; this includes new product development, customer service, and marketing
  • There are three types of marketing:
    • Paid (e.g. newspaper ads)
    • Owned (e.g. websites)
    • Earned (e.g. word of mouth)
  • Earned is the hardest to get, but is also the most powerful
  • Facebook lets you do Earned marketing at scale
  • ‘Fans’ are the new popular metric to quote (like ‘Hits’ was popular in the 80s and 90s)
  • ‘Social’ is not the salt in the fries, it needs to be baked into the product

Panel Discussion: Maximising the opportunities given by social media strategies

  • Speaker: Joe Millward, Innovation Manager - Social Media, Gloria Jeans International; Kristen Boschma, Head of Online Communications and Social Media, Telstra; Paul Borrud, Head of Australia & New Zealand, Facebook
  • Ask yourself: What is it that the social media platform can do for you that other platforms can’t?
  • Telstra has three rules for new social media ventures:
    • You need a six month content plan
    • You need someone to run the conversation (interacting at least twice daily)
    • You have to have a back-end system to deal with questions, complaints, etc.
  • Remember there are two kinds of social media interactions:
    • Individual (e.g. my bill is wrong)
    • Institutional (e.g. your billing system is wrong)
  • These need to be handled differently (e.g. you need to be prepared to have individual interactions after hours as well as during work hours)

Introducing location-based mobile applications into your marketing strategy

WebForward 9

  • Speaker: Gary Daly, National IT Manager, Surf Life Saving Australia
  • Surf Life Saving needed to get the beach safely message across to high risk beachgoers (specifically, males aged 16-35)
  • Their app has two messages:
    • Primary: be safe
    • Secondary: get involved/donate (they are a non-profit that is run by volunteers and relies on donations to function)
  • The app uses the phone’s GPS location to deliver targeted messages
  • They use web services in the back-end to collect all the information that gets presented (e.g. they get weather data from the Bureau of Meteorology and beach data from their internal Surfcom system)
  • Build into your app the ability to collect feedback – this will be vital to future app development
  • A good mobile site is more cost effective than creating an app because the latter needs to be constantly updated

Panel Discussion: Keeping up with latest techniques and trends to gain competitive advantage

  • Speaker: Gary Daly, National IT Manager, Surf Life Saving Australia; Tony Keusgen, Head of Technology, Google AU/NZ; Andy Ridley, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Earth Hour
  • Google’s big bet is mobile (hence Android and Wallet and all their other mobile related services)
  • Three key elements for location based services:
    • Local
    • Social
    • Mobile
  • Evidence based marketing is very important
  • It’s important to go where you users are (e.g. websites, devices, platforms, etc.)
    • This includes following their usage-time patterns; e.g. mobile web usage drops at 9am, spikes during lunch, then drops again till 5pm

Concluding Thoughts

The conference was well organized, well executed, and quite valuable in terms of what I got form it (both information and contacts). I look forward to attending it again next year.

NOTE: All speaker photos were taken from the WebForward website.

Melbourne at #45 in Global University Rankings by Reputation

Times Higher Education (THE) recently published their ‘2010-2011 World University Rankings’ and, in it, they have a new rankings based perceived reputation.

To build this Reputation Rankings they surveyed an invite-only list of over 13,000 academics from around the world. The opinion of those academics suggests that six universities (or ‘super brands’, as they are being called) have, by far, the best reputation. These are:

  1. Harvard University – 100.0%
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – 85.0%
  3. University of Cambridge – 80.7%
  4. University of California Berkeley – 74.7%
  5. Stanford University – 71.5%
  6. University of Oxford – 68.6%

The rest received a score of under 40%.

The University of Melbourne is the highest ranked Australian university (yaay!) and it comes in at a joint number 45 (along with the University of Edinburgh) with 6.5%.

Reputation matters quite a bit in academics but these rankings don’t come as a surprise (certainly not for the top 20 or so). Though, really, once you go below #9 or #12 on this list (both of which are followed by noticeable drops in percentage points) it doesn’t matter as much which university you are associated with. Unless you’re looking for rankings by subject or region, of course, in which case the picture might change a bit.

You can read more about these new reputation rankings here:

Things Looking Up for MBAs in Australia

I’ve been really busy at work these last few months which is why I haven’t blogged here much. Unfortunately, it’ll probably stay that way till early next year.

What’s prompted me to write today, however, is Penny McLeod who wrote in The Australian an article called ‘A Degree You Can Bank On: MBA’ – that says:

Australian companies are knocking down the doors of leading business schools to secure the best master of business administration graduates.

The article goes on to explain how demand for MBAs has increased in Australia this year. Further, this demand isn’t coming just from the financial sector but from other sectors as well (including, for example, utilities and not-for-profit organizations).

That’s great news because, in my opinion, the MBA is undervalued in Australia and I’m glad to see that perception change.

Gap Changes its Logo & the Internet Responds

The American retail company Gap recently changed their logo. They went from sophisticatedly classic to amateurishly craptastic:

gap_logo

[Source: Brand New]

To quote the Brand New blog (‘Don’t Mind the Gap, or the Square’):

I’m not one to critique something by saying it looks as if it were done in Microsoft Word but this one is just too unsophisticated to warrant anything more than that.

I couldn’t agree more.

Fortunately, the Internet responded and Brand New have followed up with another post: ‘Follow-up: Gapgate’.

I never expected the Gap logo to be such a lightning bolt of attention. Yes, it’s bad and yes it’s a popular brand, but to have captured the attention of the whole internet, even reaching meme levels wasn’t something I ever expected the grilled chicken of retail brands to achieve.

:)

Speaking of the Gap logo meme, check out:

Also check out Your Logo Makes Me Barf’s reaction – ‘New Gap Logo is a Box of Fail’ – and call to action – ‘Tell Gap to take their Spec and go to Hell’.

The next few days and, indeed, weeks and months should be interesting.

Web Fun at Melbourne Water: iPhone App, Maps & Social Media

I joined Melbourne Water as their Websites Manager just under a year ago and, since then, I’ve done a lot of fun and exciting web-related work there.

We recently hit a few important milestones so I thought I’d take this opportunity to do a quick roundup of what I’ve been up to.

Web & New Media Strategy


Melbourne's Water Supply NetworkAll the exciting work I’m doing has its foundations in the Web & New Media Strategy that was kicked off in early 2009 and involved a few months of research, analysis, and decision-making. The actual “strategy” ended up being a three-phase plan for building and enhancing the organization’s online presence over the next 2-3 years.

The first phase (basically, quick wins) took less than six months to do and involved plugging the holes in our existing online presence. This included numerous web tweaks, getting a better understanding of what worked or didn’t work on our site (via Google Analytics), and, generally, making better use of the website (e.g. more cross promotion on high traffic areas). We also bought a Google Mini search engine to remove one of site’s biggest pain points which was a crappy search engine.

The second phase (6-12 months) is finishing up now. This addressed a whole bunch of other web tweaks (like content rewrites and information architecture adjustments) and launched projects in five major areas:

  • A complete site overhaul (redoing the site’s content, design, and information architecture and getting a new web content management system)

  • More multimedia (specifically illustrations, photos, and videos)

  • More and better online maps (the more useful and usable the better)

  • More information provision via mobile phones (through SMS, mobile applications, and mobile web sites)

  • Getting into social media (for information provision and stakeholder engagement)


The third phase (1-3 years) involves more complex projects that can’t be started till we have everything else in place (like a new organizational GIS and a web content management system). Phase three work includes the automation of customer-facing business activities, which means things like building online forms and applications, providing custom information via SMS, and so on.

What’s Exciting Now?


Melbourne Water's iPhone applicationRight now, though, we’re nearing the end of the second phase and we’ve made great progress in all five of the areas mentioned above:

  • We’ve kicked off a project to get a new web content management system and have started the website redesign and reorganization process.

  • We’ve started to place photos on Flickr (including ‘Photos from the Field’ which are from Melbourne Water employees) and videos on YouTube (almost all of which were produced in-house).

  • We’ve got some really basic maps on our site but have kicked off a project that will move all our old and clunky maps to a better platform over the next year or so. Meanwhile, we’ve developed an interactive map that explains in simple terms how Melbourne’s complicated water supply network works.

  • We’ve launched an iPhone app (link to iTunes store) and will be launching a new mobile version of our website in the next few weeks.

  • We’re quite active on Twitter and will get further into social media when appropriate.


All in all, we’re tracking quite well and the work we’re doing is lots of fun and really quite exciting.

Culture of Innovation & Effective Communication


What I love most of all, though, is how much on-board everyone at Melbourne Water is with these enhancements. This support and appreciation of innovation and effective communication starts right at the top, too. For example, it was our Board who originally suggested that we develop a simplified water supply network map for the website. They wanted a simple way of explaining a complex system and realized that the web would be a great place to do just that.

In my opinion, the foundation for this is laid in Melbourne Water’s Strategic Framework document which explicitly lists the support of “innovation, achievement, and good ideas” and the need to “understand, manage, and meet or exceed customer expectations” as success indicators for the organization. At Melbourne Water these aren’t just phrases on a company brochure but actual, practical goals that all of us aspire to every day. In fact, to give you an example of how this is implemented practically: Every project that’s proposed at Melbourne Water has to explain and justify which of these strategic goals it’s addressing before it’s allowed to start.

So the work that I’m doing there both matches the direction the world is moving in (i.e. information provision and customer engagement is moving online) and is brilliantly supported by the organization itself. That’s yet another reason why I love working there.

ConnectNow 2010 – Thoughts & Notes (Part 2)

connectnow logo I gave a quick overview of the ConnectNow conference in Part 1. Here are my thoughts and notes – along with links and other information – on each of the talks given during the first two days of the event.

Photo of Gavin Heaton Gavin Heaton

  • Topic: Lead Generation, Community Management, and ROI (blog link)
  • Website: http://www.servantofchaos.com
  • Twitter: @servantofchaos
  • Big ideas:
    • 10 years on and the Cluetrain Manifesto is still relevant and is still not accepted business practice
    • There are different types of social networks and these are used by different types of people, of different ages, at different stages of their lives; see Groundswell’s Social Technographics report that talks about 6 types of social media users
    • There are 5 impacts of new/social media (read Gavin’s blog post for details)
    • There is a convergence of markets: there used to be just the consumer market (mass production) and the enterprise market (custom-built) but now there are enterprise-level products and services available at lower prices (e.g. Software as a Service) and the consumer space is being extended into the enterprise (e.g. smart phones like iPhones in the workplace)
    • You need to have a continuous digital strategy (details in blog post)
    • You need to share the message, but own the destination (case in point: I’m sharing Gavin’s message but sending you to his home base, which is his blog, as the source/message destination)
    • Social media is not about influence, it’s about trust (details in blog post); your trust and reputation can have a ‘fat value’ (details in blog post); 75% of your “fans” are already connected
    • From the Q&A session that followed, a good idea: Consider converting your company’s brochure content into a series of YouTube videos that tell a great story and can also be shared

Photo of Katie Chatfield Katie Chatfield

  • Topic: Do You do your Best Work at Your Desk?
  • Website: http://katiechatfield.wordpress.com
  • Twitter: @katiechatfield
  • Big ideas:
    • Human behaviour is a function of a person in their environment (Lewin’s Equation); you can change behaviour by changing the person (very hard to do) or their environment (easier to do)
    • Before you can get into social media, you need to have a more social business
    • Giving people a tool doesn’t make them craftspeople; i.e. it’s about the people, not the technology
    • Remember that competent people resist change because it makes them less competent
    • Short form stories (3 minutes long) are a great way for employees and teams in an organization to tell each other what they’re working on [“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough” – Albert Einstein]
    • In those short stories, you should tell people: (a) what it is you’re working on; (b) why you think it’s awesome; and (c) why it’s useful for them to know about it

Photo of Tara Hunt Tara Hunt

  • Topic: Yes, I do Mind the Gap
  • Website: http://www.horsepigcow.com
  • Twitter: @missrogue
  • Big ideas:
    • There tends to be a gap (sometimes a big one) between what businesses and communities value
    • If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they'd punch you in the face - hugh macleodFor example, truth, beauty, freedom, and love are not usual business values; though notable companies like Google, Apple, Craigslist, and Zappos (respectively) present exceptions
    • The businesses that share more community values tend to do better
    • Most businesses are online community tourists: they watch, but they don’t participate (they’re not from there; they’re just looking at the ‘natives’)
    • Watch Barry Schwartz’s TED Talk on the loss of practical wisdom
    • Many businesses create strict guidelines to follow, thereby instilling robot values over human values into their staff; why?
    • We need to de-robotize; we need to start the human revolution
    • From the Q&A session: Why not ask your fans what’s important to them? What do they value?

Photo of Hau Man Chow Hau Man Chow

Photo of Brian Solis Brian Solis

  • Topic: The Human Network in an Interconnected World (presentation notes)
  • Website: http://www.briansolis.com
  • Twitter: @briansolis
  • Big ideas:
    • All we know about social media is based on opinion; it could all be wrong
    • Executives don’t usually get into social media because of an ‘a-ha’ moment; they often get into social media because of an ‘uh-oh’ moment (read ‘Championing Change from Within’)
    • We – the people in this room – need to be the conductors of our organization’s social media
    • Who in an organization owns social media? Everyone.
    • Your organization needs a style/brand guide for social media
    • Talking back and forth with people if fine, you need to show that your organization has empathy
    • Become the people you want to reach and inspire
    • Conversation is bigger than any social network; check out the Conversation Prism
    • Social media is more about sociology and psychology than it is about technology; we’re becoming digital anthropologists
    • Check out the Brand Dashboard

Photo of Laurel Papworth Laurel Papworth

Photo of Jim Stewart Jim Stewart

  • Topic:  Video for SEO and Inbound Marketing
  • Website: http://stewartmedia.biz
  • Twitter: @jimboot
  • Big ideas:
    • Watch the video, ‘How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer
    • Old media missed lots of opportunities with online news; such as reporting on local trends, creating time-sensitive local ads on the web, and real community-building
    • Video creation isn’t very complicated or expensive: light it up from above ($20), mic it up ($100), frame it up, use good software (free to $300 for screen capture software like Camtasia Studio)
    • When making a video: (a) tell a story, don’t ready a script; (b) try to have a point
    • Distribute content far and wide via services like TubeMogul (which is good, but still buggy)
    • Make sure your video includes a call back to your home base
    • Make sure you transcribe your video

Photo of Darren Rowse Darren Rowse

  • Topic: Blogging for Dollars – Do You Have What it Takes? (presentation notes)
  • Website: http://www.problogger.net
  • Twitter: @problogger
  • Big ideas:
    • Blogs often make money indirectly (i.e. not through straight ads or affiliate marketing)
    • There are ‘4 Foundations of a Successful blog’ (details in blog post; also see presentation notes)
    • But, if you want a long shortlist: you have to (1) listen; (2) identify goals; (3) build a home base; (4) build trust; (5) be useful; (6) build community; (7) be personal; (8) tell stories; (9) be unique; (10) build a network before you need it; (11) leverage what you have; (12) craft your content well; (13) be playful; (14) be transparent; (15) be accessible; (16) be passionate; (17) promote yourself, but not too much; (18) be prolific; and (19) persist
    • Remember: sometimes the money comes later; don’t just make money from your blog, but because of it

Photo of Gary Vaynerchuck Gary Vaynerchuck

  • Topic: Crush It! Cash in on Your Passion and How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business (presentation notes part 1, part 2)
  • Website: http://garyvaynerchuk.com
  • Twitter: @garyvee
  • Big ideas:
    • The cost of entry to build a brand has collapsed; e.g. to build WineLibrary.com, it cost $4m in advertising over a number of years while, to build WineLibraryTV.com, it cost almost nothing
    • The value of content has never been higher; “When your content is shit, you’re fucked”; that said, monetizing content is tougher than ever
    • Spend time in communities; you have to love your community before they’ll love you; this is the thank-you economy
    • Customer service via social media is key; the price of your product can get neutralized by caring
    • The cost of entry is: (a) caring, (b) social media customer relationship management
    • The only three things that “move the needle” are: (a) price, (b) convenience, (c) customer service
    • Social media spokespeople for your company need to know your brand story cold
    • Two ways to solve the personal vs. corporate brand issue for company spokespeople and customer service people: either (a) don’t let your people develop a personal brand and become heroes or (b) become a platform to make heroes (under your logo) and attract increasingly better people when/if current heroes leave the organization
    • How do you convince people (e.g. in an organization) to do something (e.g. participate in social media)? Don’t spend any time on selling to people who don’t want to do it. Spend all your time and effort on people who want to do it and then promote them. The rest will come around.
    • Focus on social trends and culture shifts; the big trends these days are virtual goods and currency (e.g. via Facebook); smaller and more mobile is better (because we’re lazy); geo-location
    • The money these days is in restrictions (e.g. Apple and Facebook)

Photo of Deborah Schultz Deborah Schultz

  • Topic:  It’s the People, Stupid (earlier presentation version; presentation notes)
  • Website: http://www.deborahschultz.com
  • Twitter: @debs
  • Big ideas:
    • There is a blurring of our work and personal lives; social media is becoming our ‘third place
    • The social web is not about information provision or telling and selling, it’s about relationships, people, and making connections
    • We’re weaving the social web together; it’s an explosion of the personal in an online environment
    • We live in a culture of sharing, and sharing is easier than ever before
    • We live in a relationship economy in which transactions are by-products of healthy relationships
    • Through the social web, we’re seeing the death of the grand gesture; e.g. companies will ignore you all year till they launch their seasonal/annual advertising campaigns, after which they’ll ignore you again
    • There’s a new framework for the new social web: (a) organic over static; (b) emotion over data; (c) relationships over transactions; (d) continuums over grand gestures; (e) intentions over attention
    • We’re all becoming, looking for, and aspiring to be Tummlers (also see TummelVision podcast)

Photo of Stephen Johnson Stephen Johnson

  • Topic: Social Media Monitoring and Building Brand Advocates
  • Website: http://arcanelogik.com
  • Twitter: @huxley
  • Big ideas:
    • The first and most important thing to do when you get into social media: listen
    • Do you know what motivates your customer?

Panel discussion at ConnectNow 2010 Panel Discussion

Big ideas:

ConnectNow 2010 – Thoughts & Notes (Part 1)

connectnow logoLast week, on 6 & 7 April, I attended the ConnectNow conference in Sydney.

ConnectNow is a spin-off from the MarketingNow conference and it focuses on social media as a business, marketing, and communications tool.

I was fortunate to be sponsored by Melbourne Water to attend the event. Though, even if I hadn’t been, I would have gone there on my own anyway.

Photo from ConnectNow 2010 How Was It?

The conference was excellent and definitely worth the attendance.

The Good Bits

  • Excellent speakers from around the world, all of whom are considered to be thought leaders or, at the very least, major successes in their own particular areas. 
  • Excellent talks and presentations that excited, inspired, and seeded discussion. I particularly liked the talks given by Gavin Heaton, Tara Hunt, Darren Rowse, Gary Vaynerchuck, and Deb Schultz. More on all the talks in Part 2.
  • Great attendees, all with their own social media experience that they could share.
  • Great conference organization.

The Not-So-Good Bits

  • Some talks could have been shorter or structured better. As someone who loves making presentations (and thinks he makes pretty decent ones) it irks me when people don’t make excellent presentations, particularly at events such as this. There were a few times during a 3-4 presentations when I caught myself thinking: “Okay…so you’ve made five great points in succession but you haven’t linked them together (at all) and, even after re-reading the notes I just took, I don’t see how they logically follow each other”. In most of these cases the presentations would have been drastically improved if the speaker had either (a) told a story to string the ideas together or (b) simply grouped and named logical content sections, summarized thoughts at the end of each logical content section, or simply written better slide headings.
  • I wasn’t able to socialize/network as much as I wanted to because I was recovering from a bad cough and would induce a coughing fit if I talked for more than a couple of sentences at a time.

New Berocca bottles advertized at ConnectNow 2010 For More

I’ll be writing my thoughts (based on my notes) on each of the talks in Part 2.

Meanwhile, check out: