Social Media – Do the Simple Things Well

When I look around, I find many examples of Australian companies doing really great things in social media. Here’s an example.

Firstly though, one of the key points that both my colleague’s (like Tim Martin and Dan Toombs) and I always stress is the importance of doing the basics well in terms of search, digital marketing, brand representation, and social media.

With that in mind, I came across a really good example recently that I thought was worth sharing.

I was returning to Brisbane from Newcastle (Australia) having completed a workshop with a group of CEO’s who are smart enough to be part of Australia’s largest CEO and Leadership community – The Executive Connection.

As I was waiting at the airport, I was catching up on my To Do List, specifically an article I was writing for CoachLink magazine about the importance of LinkedIn for business and executive coaches. One of the key points I was stressing in the article was (funnily enough) the importance of doing the simple things well. As I was writing this, I was actually enjoying watching a group of RAAF trainee fighter pilots who were going through a long series of take-off/landing drills outside the terminal. Here was a group of (future) leaders going through what must have seemed a monotonous regime of the basics of flying – a.k.a. doing the basics well.

As I enjoyed the show I checked into FourSquare and commented that I was enjoying the show

social media channels foursquare and twitter
After making this post, I was surprised to see later that I’d received back a response from Air Force HQ via their Twitter account. This intrigued me for obvious reasons…So I delved into the Twitter account and beyond.

Do The Social Media Basics Well

This is by no means a bible for what you might constitute to be the basics, but here’s what I liked about what they are doing:

1. Own your digital assets – your footprint

A couple of points here.

Firstly, from the homepage of the RAAF site they provide obvious links to where to connect with them – I see so many companies failing to do this it frustrates me.

RAAF Homepage showing social media links

Secondly, they have established a significant footprint across the social space – Google Buzz (?), Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. My only suggestion to the RAAF to expand on this would be to look to include blog content as well as using LinkedIn to help establish links into the business community.

2. Engage

The fundamental tenement of social – engage with your communities. The RAAF provide ample evidence across their core channels. Not long after I left my Twitter post (via Foursquare) I received back a Tweet from AirForceHQ.

RAAF Twitter account - AirforceHQ


Anyone intrigued about the two links they included? and

My first thought was – The RAAF have their own link shortening tool – how cool is that…

3. Be Aware of New Channels

As I delved into the two links HQ shared with me a final point stood out. The team at RAAF have taken the time to be “in” new channels – specifically the geo-location social network service Foursquare. As you can see here – Newcastle airport is actually a RAAF base, with RAAF Williamstown allowing part of their base to be shared as a commercial airport.

Here’s the impressive bit. RAAF has claimed their base, but Newcastle Airport hasn’t claimed their part of the territory.

Foursquare - social media site for Newcastle airport

Again, it’s a simple thing to go and take ownership of your physical assets in the digital world – and don’t forget Google Places. The lesson here is that the RAAF are paying attention to emerging channels and moving quickly to ensure they own their digital footprint.

As an exercise if you’re interested – go to Foursquare and search for Australia’s Federal seat of Government? And now compare that to the US equivalent – US Capitol Hill.

My Conclusion

It’s the simple things that will always add up to success.

One of our core defense agencies is providing a powerful example for Australian businesses about effective use of social media.

In the coming days, weeks and months, as I deliver social media workshops to TEC members I’ll be including the RAAF as an example of Australian best practice.

And for the RAAF’s next trick, I’d like to see them produce a YouTube video like this one…

Risk Management, Social Media and Director Obligations

Sites like Wikileaks and Firm Spy pose an ongoing, increasing risk to organisations of all types and sizes. Whilst a lot of the discussion has been around brand damage and the need to establish internal policies or guidelines, it’s time for the discussion to broaden – to the Boardroom.

Given we’ve seen a fundamental shift in communication models, behaviours, and how we use the internet I believe it’s time for company Directors to start thinking of social media as an issue that needs to be included in their risk management plans.

How do directors manage risk and social media

Company directors are expected to be financially literate – a point I touched on recently. I think its time they were also literate in their understanding of social media and the broad issues that can and do arise:

  • Brand damage
  • Sensitive data leakage (either intentional or otherwise)
  • Compliance with ASIC or other market standards
  • Enforcement
  • HR and Legal risks

One of the key risks that I can see emerging for Directors is whether shareholders will consider it enough that there is a set of policies or guidelines in place? What risks need to be addressed? How do manage compliance and audit needs?

Social media isn’t going away and nor is it a free-for-all. What do you think? How should a company Director manage this?

Social Media Explained for the CEO or CxO

This is an update to a post I published way back in January 2009 – Explaining Social Media

Social media is something that we’ve been talking about for a few years now. For most companies and business leaders its still a mystery – a dangerous “thing” that is best left alone.

Explaining social media in a way that is simple and easy to digest has been a challenge for many reasons. There has been a number of diagram’s doing the rounds – basically purporting to explain social media in a way that makes sense for the layperson.

The most common diagram is this one:

Brian Solis - The conversation Prism

Whilst I get the intent of this diagram, every time I’ve shown it to Chief Executives or business leaders I can count to 3 and then watch their eye’s roll back into their heads.

As much as I like the diagram, my issue is that it’s almost impossible to use this to help explain social media to an executive, and to then take them the next step – understanding what bits of social media are relevant.

Smart Social Media set out to do the following:

  1. Provide a simple framework so that a business leader could look at the thousands of tools, products, services etc and categorise them into easy to understand buckets
  2. Take these categories/buckets and then determine which are most relevant to their business and their business goals.

Determining what is relevant or not is a core part of a comprehensive social media strategy. So a company in say consumer health services would use a different combination of buckets to a B2B engineering products company.

Simplifying Social Media

I have defined the nine categories as follows:

  1. Social Networks
  2. Listening Tools
  3. Blogs
  4. Wiki’s
  5. Forums
  6. Multi-media
  7. Social Bookmarks
  8. Live chat and micro-blogging
  9. Rating and user reviews

In really simple terms, the categories can be represented as follows

Social Media Explained in 9 Key Categories

If you’re starting out with social media, you’ll firstly be investing time in a strategy. So as you do that, use this diagram by adding in aspects such as:

  1. Distribution/syndication of content – how do we position content once it’s created
  2. Social Search – aligning our social media efforts with our search strategy
  3. Measurement/ROI – aligning our social media efforts with definable, measurable ROI expectations.

The Categories in More Detail

Here’s what these buckets mean

  1. Social Networks – in simple terms they represent the systemisation of your network of contacts (be they business or personal).
    • Examples – Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and now Google+ are the most prominent social networks. Group buying sites like Groupon also fit into this category
    • Watch out for – time wasters, information leaks, and a general lack of knowledge as to how information (like bad news) spreads via social networks
  2. Listening – refers to Social Media Monitoring – Listening is still the most important activity for any company wanting to harness the social sphere. Social media monitoring has evolved from the useful Google Alerts service into professional tools that monitor an incredible array of information sources
    • Example – Google Alerts is the place to start – but only really captures the tip of the iceberg. Professional tools like SocialMention, Jive’s JME, Radian6, and Spiral16 are the next step
    • Should You? Absolutely. Social media monitoring can be used to not only listen to your customers but also your market place, competitors, and industry issues
  3. Blogs – A blog is a website that contains content that visitors can then comment on, or contribute to. Blogs are used to enhance the communication channels of an organisation and to humanise a corporate brand.
    • Examples – popular blogging platforms include WordPress, Blogger, and Drupal
    • Keep this in mind – once you start blogging you need to keep at it. A dormant or inactive blog is worse than no blog at all
  4. Wiki’s – are tools that allow users to collaborate around content that might be business processes, project documents, procedures, or sales/marketing content. Wiki’s have matured tremendously in the past year and are now very end-user friendly.
    • Examples – the 2010 version of SharePoint, Huddle (web based wiki) or Confluence from Atlassian
    • Focus on – tools that are very easy for end-users to learn and use. Without end user take-up the wiki will fail. Also look for mobile capability
  5. Forums – Forums like Wiki’s are maturing rapidly and are a key tool for service, R&D, and sales. No longer text based, next generation forums allow multi-media content and the integration of other social data.
    • Examples – Acquia Drupal Commons and are examples of next generation forums
    • Key Point – Will require dedicated resources to moderate and build momentum. Forums are excellent for building your search engine footprint.
  6. Multi-Media – this is a bit of a catchall and refers to services like YouTube, SlideShare, Flickr, iStockPhoto, Scribd, etc. Your core goal – use these services professionally to put content out there for the public to find and consume.
    • Examples – YouTube, SlideShare, and Flickr are popular examples
    • Watch for – the growth of video as a powerful, affordable highly interactive tool used across the enterprise.
  7. Social Bookmarks – provide a use with the ability to track, share, and organise web based content. Very useful for situations where you want to recall or use external content.
    • Examples – and StumbleUpon are two high profile examples.
    • Business Value – high, as most of the services are free and it’s always useful to collect knowledge
  8. Live Chat and Micro-Blogging – Live chat has been around for a while and is still highly valued. Micro-blogging is the new black with Twitter dominating much of the public discussion on social media
    • Examples – Twitter, Yammer, Yahoo Chat, Windows Live, and Skype
    • My thoughts – Whilst Twitter dominates debate, monumental work needs to be done to fix core issues with the platform. You should also be investigating how Yammer can help internal communications
  9. Ratings and User Reviews – a lot of community sites now allow users to rate content or add reviews. A powerful way to tap into the feedback loop. Facebook and LinkedIn recently embraced this through the “Share” and “Like” functions
    • Examples – Google Places,, and TripAdvisor are a number of common Australian examples. Watch out for the growth of location based services like Foursquare.
    • Be wary of – the masses going feral. Sometimes ratings and reviews can be taken out of context

How Would I Use This Information

The goal in creating these buckets is to provide a leadership team with a simple reference guide so they can understand some of the hype and prioritise how and where the business should be focused.

In talking to Executive’s, my point is to use these categories to help them understand what is going to be relevant for their industry and business. This is particularly useful when attempting to manage internal demands to do this or do that.

What do I mean? If I was the CEO of an industrial products company marketing and selling to middle age technical experts, then Twitter has little relevance. So I would advise them to not spend any time or effort with this tool but focus their efforts on a blog, a wiki, and multi-media content across their business.