April 1 – that dastardly day of deceit that often gets the media in on the customary pranks one way or another, and is now an annual maelstrom of sometimes-plausible social media stunts.
Here are our five favourite Australian April Fools’ pranks this year:
- Bigger is better: Kudos to the team at Mumbrella for their report on the Australian Financial Review announcing plans to move to broadsheet format. The AFR overhaul even had itseditor Michael Stutchbury and CEO Brett Clegg voicing support, with the backing of ‘neuroscience research’, no less
- Life in the fast lane – BMW owners only: BMW Australia (that’s German auto-maker Bavarian Motor Works) promoted the Australian Bureau of MotorWays’ (cue side-splitting laughter) decision to restrict the use of right-hand lanes to BMWs only for Easter Monday. The prank, which featured on BMW Australia’s Facebook page and was also noticed on page five of The Australian, included a nice mention for Hertz car rental
- Gina’s triumph: TV blog TV Tonight had a whopper of an exclusive - mining magnate and media mogul in the making Gina Rinehart supposedly took the reins at Channel TEN after the company’s board unseated CEO Hamish McLennan. Special mention for the creative, if a little stinging, remarks about McLennan from an unnamed source
- Raiders’ star has an inkling: Chinese telecoms technology company Huawei might not be rolling out high-speed fibre optic cabling any time soon, but it’s certainly doing its bit for Canberra’s NRL club, the Raiders. Raiders’ star Sandor Earl was so thankful for Huawei’s sponsorship, he decided to express his affection for the brand by having its logo tattooed to his right thigh. Or did he?
- That’s Krafty: Self-styled champion of truly Australian products Dick Smith got in early this year to remind us that one of the nation’s best loved most recognisable flavours is in fact owned by American fat cats. A mock press conference saw one of said fat cats announce a re-branding of the Australian classic to ‘Yankymite’ in honour of manufacturer Kraft’s owners overseas
Unless you’ve been learning from April Fools’ prank master and Family First Senator Steve Fielding. Senator Fielding proposed that the April Fools’ tradition be banned on the grounds that people had the right “to not be molested by pranks”. Given his campaign against the annual day of high-jinks took place on said day, this proved to be the ultimate prank of all. Inception.
TRADITIONALLY, the A-list targeted by every PR company was a combination of media, celebrities and politicians, depending on what best suited the client. A simplistic yet effective formula to get your message heard.
But change is in the wind, as a new breed joins the ranks of coveted guests.
Those who used to qualify as key opinion leaders are moving down the totem pole in terms of influence. Moving up to meet them? Connected consumers: the twitterati.
Bloggers were the first to join the A-list and many have certainly earned their place.
In fact, Technorati Media’s 2013 Digital Influencer Report indicates that bloggers are the fifth-most influential source of information when making a buying decision, and even more influential than traditional media.
Blog events and Tweet-Ups (where tweeters come together to meet in person) have been around for years and companies have been quick to adopt these trends. Now we are seeing the emergence of a new trend: the “social media call”, an event for people with an established presence online among the right demographic.
Twitter lends itself perfectly to this because it is easy to digest, easy to execute and has the ability to reach a lot of people very quickly.
It is also not asking much of the tweeter to write under 140 characters or to use a hashtag, as opposed to spending hours on an article or blog post.
The Victorian Opera recently held a social media call, inviting Melbourne tweeters identified as “influencers” to attend a dress rehearsal for its new production of Sleeping Beauty.
They were asked to use dedicated hashtags and meet and take photos with the cast (using Instagram of course).
Securing publicity in advance with thousands of followers validated the time taken to identify and approach the select twitterati.
This is an easy exercise for an event-based company with an attractive offering or those with a retail focus underpinning brand value.
However, the corporate sphere should not discount the twitterati.
There are always tweeters interested in what is happening with your industry and brand.
However, Twitter is a transactional relationship.
If you want people to take to their smartphones on your behalf, then you need to take the time to identify your online influencers and build a strong connection.
The twitterati carry a lot of influence in their hands, and like bloggers, that influence is likely to increase.
Mandy Griffiths is a social media strategist at Porter Novelli Melbourne.
If the spat between Tesla Motors boss Elon Musk and the New York Times has taught us anything, it’s that social media has the power to answer back to its more established counterpart, traditional news media.
Through his Twitter account, with some 140,000 followers to date, and his electric car company’s blog, the American entrepreneur has been able to effectively hit back at an unfavourable car review in the NYT.
The article reported that the company’s flagship model, the Tesla S, ran out of charge on a lengthy test drive.
For a radically different car hoping to break ground in a significant auto market, a photo of it on the back of a tow truck in a major metro newspaper is not good publicity.
However, unbeknownst to the NYT, Tesla had installed data logging equipment in its test car.
The company decided to do so for all media drives after a segment on popular BBC motoring program Top Gear showed an older Tesla model running out of power. Tesla subsequently sued the program, although the case was thrown out on the grounds that Top Gear’s test drive of the Tesla Roadster was not equivalent to a real-life, road-going situation.
Tesla’s CEO first revealed on Twitter that the data logs existed and published a blog post that refuted the NYT‘s claims about the car’s limitations.
NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.
Media coverage ensued, which escalated the dispute with the NYT.
The NYT journalist fired back on the newspaper’s motoring blog proclaiming his honorable intentions and a point-by-point rebuttal of the data log.
Other reviewers have since claimed the route attempted in the article is perfectly doable, if one abides by the car’s recommended driving patterns.
Whether the NYT review was accurate or not, the bigger question that emerged is; which medium is up in the credibility stakes?
What this slugging match has shown is that, with enough influence in the online sphere, someone can strike back at traditional media and make editorial teams sweat. Does that mean the NYT has lost its core impression of reliability among its readers? No, and it wouldn’t do so based on an issue like this alone. But, it did make the venerable publication sit up and take notice.
Written by Porter Novelli Melbourne consultant, and former journalist, Tristan Price.
A new media leader and a rock star come together to talk about The End of Business As Usual –Brian Solis and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.
We are in a new age of music consumption. Napster was a watershed moment for the music business, and Corgan says record labels attacked instead of recognising need, and suffered for it. The net worth of the music industry has plummeted by tens of billions in the last ten years.
So how can artists make money now?
“You can no longer think of the thing you make as your main source of income!” Billy says. “The greatest artists are adaptable. Picasso did movies and plays. What’s wrong with that?”
We are used to seeing movies stars and pop stars selling perfume and coffee and cars. Maybe we need to start accepting that rock bands and other musicians need something “commercial” to keep producing the music we love as well.
Corgan is calling for fans to be more sophisticated, and go on a journey with the artist. Let them try new things, and sometimes mess up. The current culture of condemnation kills this; musicians would rather be picked on for lip syncing than suffer the embarrassment of being a YouTube laughingstock.
And while it might be easier to rise quickly to celebrity status via the “Bieber route,” if you don’t have the talent to back it up, you’re not going to go to the next level. Or even worse, “If your inspiration is fame, then you’re not invested in culture at all.”
Corgan is passionate and clear in his thinking, but one point he made I really disagree with. He says you can’t get people interested who aren’t interested already, and they are going to follow the herd so just let them. He’s not interested in pandering, thanking people for listening to or buying his music, which is fair enough. But I think to completely ignore a section of society because they haven’t heard of you or don’t listen to stations that would play your music is really underestimating people.
We love to be acknowledged, our time is precious, and if you go to the effort of reaching out to us on a personal level, we will give you a lot more attention than someone who doesn’t. There are so many channels and duties and marketing messages flying at us on a daily basis, we need to shut some of it out, don’t judge us. And hey, maybe we’ll like it.
We are Generation Connected, so why not take advantage? Just no spamming. We hate that.
What is the solution?
Corgan is clear – the solution is to create content that goes behind the recording, but this is not the Behind the Scenes video. Five thousand people care about that, but a million don’t. That’s not going to cut it against cat videos.
Spotify is a step in the right direction but it is a “transitional technology,” says Corgan. “Artists need to create their own worlds,” and it needs to be visual and self-sustaining.
After hours of planning, my schedule took a six block detour when I found out my social media crush Gary Vaynerchuk scheduled a last minute #eatup (eat and tweet). And I was not the only one, after tweeting the location, a crowd gathered instantaneously, lining up in an orderly fashion to speak to and take photos with the man himself.
Granted, this is his space, this is a crowd that knows his work and his charm. He has never had a TV Show (he turned it down as he feels cable is dying), never been in movies, but he has written books, made countless online videos, and if there is a world record for the amount of people an individual has replied to on Twitter, he would have it.
At the #eatup Gary had time for each and every person, and will not leave that space until everyone has had their turn. He knows the value of connecting with your audience directly, and his reputation shows that. It is interesting to compare this to the traditional “celebrity”.
For most celebrities, when they allow themselves to be available to the public, it is because they are promoting their movie/TV Show/album/tell-all book/perfume range. At that point, the time of showcasing your completed work, is it too late to expect them to care? What story have they told? How do they know how much work has gone into what they’ve produced? Did any work go into it or did they phone it in for a paycheck?
Looking back at the People’s Choice Awards, pretty much everyone who walked away with an award not only has a large presence on twitter, but tweets regularly. Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev was the first person to win an award when she wasn’t even listed on the original nomination ballot. How has this never happened before? Perhaps because previously stars didn’t have the almost 2,000,000 followers that they can mobilise in an instant like Nina can. Many stars still don’t, but the saying goes – “Build your network before you need it”, and she has dedicated hours and hours of time engaging and speaking to her followers. If public figures are not building their network now, and dedicating real time to it, they could find themselves being eclipsed by stars who previously weren’t even on the radar.
Or as Gary Vaynerchuk says – “whoever cares the most, wins.”
Porter Novelli is proud to be the official agency partner of SXSW Interactive, one of the most important global interactive gatherings, where many come to get their finger on the cultural pulse.
The SXSW Interactive festival, held in Austin, Texas this March 9-13 brings together five days of presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology and exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders. SXSW Interactive has become the place to experience a preview of what is unfolding in the world of technology. For more information on the festival click here.
Porter Novelli has an extensive team on the ground including Porter Novelli Melbourne’s Social Media Strategist and Account Manager, Mandy Griffiths, who will be blogging daily. And for the first time, we will produce a daily WrapRap, see below for the first one.
For the first time in our history, businesses have an opportunity to connect individually and directly with everyone who has a social media account. Not only does this provide a cost-effective way to engage first-hand with large and small groups of people, and individuals; it also provides the opportunity to really personalise communication to meet the specific needs of an individual or group of customers, and involve them throughout the product/service life cycle, from development to retirement.
In the past, the only way this could be achieved was through the use of one or all of the following: sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) systems, business intelligence, formal market research and focus groups. The aim of using these strategic marketing tools was to ‘get to know the customer’ so that advertising and marketing messages could be structured and targeted towards a specific audience segment.
However, while this approach has proven effective, it is only able to provide a ‘point-in-time’ view of the purchasing intent and information needs of some customers, from a potentially bigger sample group. Further, traditional market research methods require the availability of potential customers, in order to build a picture of the interests, knowledge and needs of each target audience group.
With social media, it doesn’t matter which social media platform a person uses (blog, micro-blog, ‘friending’ sites and photo/video sharing sites); they are more accessible, and are sharing valuable information about their likes, dislikes; their interests and leisure activities, and they are frequently updating this information.
Properly assessed against an organisation’s product or service offer, this information provides valuable insights into how to tailor the positioning and promotion of a product or service to more closely meet the needs of target groups of potential customers.
Not only does social media engagement provide the opportunity to engage individuals and groups directly, and tailor your offer to meet their specific needs and interests; it also provides an unparalleled opportunity to start building a relationship with these potential customers from the very early stages of the development of your offer, through enhancements to the ultimate retirement or replacement of your offer.
Author Alvin Toffler referred to this as the age of the ‘prosumer’ as early as the 1990s, in his book, “Power Shift” in which he talks about the new fusion of producer and consumer, where consumers are involved in producing new products and services, at the point of development. Toffler attributes this ability to involve the consumer in the product they are going to purchase to the de-massification of the media and flexible manufacturing, amongst other trends. Social media provides the ideal tipping point to make personalised engagement and personalised product and service delivery a reality.
Some manufacturers took up this challenge in the 1990s with the rise of electronic commerce by offering consumers the ability to personalise their new car purchase (Ford), or be presented with possible book purchases based on what they had previously purchased, and based on personal recommendations from other consumers (Amazon).
Much of this personalised marketing was done before the advance in cookies, click stream filtering and web mining that we have now; and certainly before the rise of social media use. Previous personalisation efforts have lacked the ability to engage in real-time, and have lacked the ability to engage on a more meaningful level, which has been made possible with social media because of the amount and frequency of information that consumers share about themselves.
However, I wonder if, despite all the advances with social media and its use in business and personal life whether we are taking full advantage of the amount of information and instantaneous feedback it provides. Are we stuck in a mass marketing rut where we are simply using social media to broadcast a largely ‘one-size-fits-all’ message to both a broader and narrower group of people?
Is the only difference the fact that we are communicating more frequently and doing it online, or are we truly engaging with our customers and tailoring our products and services to more closely meet their needs? To what degree to we truly understand their needs?
Using social media in concert with other meaningful communication channels provides an efficient way to bring brands and institutions closer to their customers. This can be as simple as adding and promoting an active feedback channel to your website and responding regularly to the requests you receive; researching and providing comments to existing discussion forums online; or creating a blog, Facebook fan page or Twitter feed (and promoting this through other communication channels) as the basis for further discussions about a particular topic or innovation.
An understanding of human behaviour is also useful to understanding how to present and share information about your online discussion so that it captures the interest of the individuals with whom your want to engage. This combined with social media insights and your traditional marketing intelligence data provides a potent combination in forming a picture of what your customers really want to hear and what suggestions they can offer for improvements to your product or service to make it more desirable and more competitive.
I can’t deny it – I’m absolutely guilty of checking my Facebook or emails in social and work situations and staring at my phone in lifts to avoid awkward conversations about the weather. Having said this, I’m increasingly aware that good smart-phone manners (or lack of) are rapidly declining.
Is there anything more disheartening and frustrating than conducting a presentation or leading a meeting and looking up to see your audience or colleagues scrolling through their phones?
Being aware of this, I was unsure how to feel when I attended the Social Media Club Sydney’s Food, Wine and Social Media event last month, and I certainly wasn’t alone. We’d been told ahead of time that we should tweet our questions as opposed to putting our hands up, and I wasn’t exactly sure how it would work.
While the presenter was in full swing, the entire room was glowing from smart phones. Heads were down and people were tapping away, sending their questions via Twitter. This made some of my colleagues and me a little uneasy – it felt like no one was really paying attention.
If this is the way we are heading, then where is the etiquette line drawn? I’m not the only one who’s trying to figure out the rules. I guess I’d better get used to this type of behaviour – it’s just the beginning.
Whilst contemplating how obsessive we have become with the need to be constantly in the loop, I came across these interesting statistics.
Research conducted by Telstra in June revealed Australians’ most common Phone-Pas personalities. So, where do you fit?
• The Peacock (34 per cent). You’re constantly posting status updates, checking-in your friends and talking loudly on your mobile phone. Your behaviour is designed to make sure everyone around you knows you have a ‘fabulous’ life.
• Mover and Shaker (29 per cent). You’re always on the go and your mobile phone is your lifeline, connecting you to work and your social life. You regularly get caught out answering your mobile phone in meetings or responding to SMS at the dinner table.
• Stimulation Seeker (19 per cent). You can’t sit still and need to be in the know, so you pass the time – whether you’re on the bus or while crossing the road – browsing Facebook, downloading the latest apps or checking out your phone’s features.
• I see, I Do (18 per cent). You tend to follow the crowd and exhibit poor mobile manners because everyone else does – for instance, you’ll start checking emails during a work meeting because those around you are doing it too.
Regardless of how comfortable you are with your own mobile behaviour, smart phones are undeniably changing the environment for presenters and speakers. In addition to the usual preparation for a Q&A, it has become another element that people engaged in public forums need to factor in and know how to deal with.
Social media is both an art and science (creative and/or practical). We can liken the life cycles of what are now “traditional” social media platforms to those of the fashion industry. What was all the rage as little as five years (or even 12 months) ago, we have now turned against. MySpacesuffered a protracted demise, as the younger, hipper social media user matured into the always on, always accessible, and increasingly professional user that we see today. But new ownership and purpose may yet re-invent MySpace in another, more effective way.
Will Facebook be the “jeans” of the internet and be just as timeless? When a baby is named after “Facebook” in Egypt, it signifies revolutionary power. Continual updates to the platform remind us of the importance of keeping our content and thinking fresh and relevant. However, as rapid as evolution is, and as rapidly as the online ‘hotspot’ can shift, the user still remains fundamentally the same.
MySpace and MSN have been the infancy of social media, that period of early life where little is remembered, but much is learned.
Now, with social media a powerful influence our consumer and belief preferences, the line between our online and offline personas fades.
Everybody must know by now why participation is important, but I like this infographic that puts some dollar flesh on the bones of that notion.
A wise Doctor of Philosophy once said: “You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”
That was Dr Seuss writing in 1986.
I mention it because it links with what’s happening in consumer health and self diagnosis.
A 2010 study showed about a quarter of Australians regularly sought health information online.
Health information sites are all over the web like a rash, from credible Government sites like http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/ to those claiming online diagnosis by doctors, albeit with a disclaimer that will read something like:
“We take no responsibilities for anybody using the site, nor for any information obtained from it, or as a result of using it.”
But, credible or not, a whopping 80 per cent of Australians surveyed by international health insurance giant, Bupa – a Porter Novelli client – admitted to going online for health information, with 47 per cent of these people making a self diagnosis based on what they found online.
Let’s say you have pins and needles. It could be – according to readily available online resources – a vitamin deficiency, sciatica……or multiple sclerosis. Got an earache? Check common cold, an ear infection. Or possibly a brain abscess.
As a former healthcare professional, I have to ask what this might mean for primary healthcare, without even considering what the implications are for the many health sector organisations we work with.
The question for us, as communications specialists, is how to beat the clutter?
Simple, really. What if we turn the tables? Instead of consumers having to find “us”, we go looking for “them”?
Our Australian Dental Association (Victoria) client is stepping into social media through the Caring for your kids’ teeth page; Mercy Health is a relative early adopter and keen experimenter; and we like the work of Cabrini here in Melbourne (that we don’t work on).
The one we aspire our health sector clients to be like remains Mayo Clinic. Check it out.
And if you have a nasty, persistent cough, might be worth a visit to the doctor. It’s probably not tuberculosis.