Michael Watkins

Social Media In Australia - Talk is good, but is anyone actually doing anything?

These past few months i have been actively following the emerging trends in the Australian social media market. What became clear to me is this. Australia has a very healthy scene of social media commentators, bloggers, twitterer's and evangelist's that do a great job of de-mystifying what social media is and how it works. What is harder to find, is actual working examples or case studies by Australian companies leveraging off social media effectively. There are benefits of talking up social media, but even bigger benefits if there is proof it can work for the commercial sector in Australia.

I keep hearing that social media is the second coming for the digital marketing and advertising space in Australia.  However to get proof of social media's effectiveness, I need to get data from the States or the UK.  I recently had a chat to one of Sydney's most well respected Digital marketers about this issue and the conclusions were interesting.

  • There is alot of talk, but not much doing. 
  • Everyones a social media strategist, complete with no personal case studies available to examine or personal track record available to inspect.
  • In order for big corporates to start using social media, they need proof it can work.
  • Once the market see's two or three large companies benefiting from a new media space, confidence in the space will grow quickly and SM will begin to be seen as a very viable advertising and marketing platform to leverage off.  

Talking up a scene is great, for the scene.  Doing is even better. 

Doing = Action

Action = Results

Results = Proof

Proof = Confidence

The market needs to be confident in SM before it invest's in it.  Confidence will only grow from proof.  Proof can only be displayed by results and results can only be generated from action. 

This is not a beatup on the the Social Media Scene in Australia, its a call to arms.  I love talking about SM as much as anyone working in the space, but big clients do not.  They love talking about results, results that proove a marketing platform can work for them.  They love talking about proof because it grows their confidence in the idea.  They love confidence because it gives them the backing needed to actually try something new. 

We all know how effective Social Media can be, so its high time we started talking about the results and proof that our campaigns generate.  The sooner this is done, the faster the scene will grow, the more clients we will all have, more jobs will become available and the healthier the scene will be as a whole.

I think this will be a very polarising post, with readers either agreeing wholeheartedly or disagreeing completely on the case I have presented.  This does not worry me, I urge that if you have a position, or if you have your own proof from previous campaigns, please leave them in the comments. This will be a start to understanding what is actually being done, versus what is being talked about.


Posted by Brad Down, 20 January 2009

Some good points, thanks Michael. 2009 needs to be the year of proof and monetisation for a lot of web technologies not just SM.

Posted by Con Frantzeskos, 20 January 2009

Hi Michael,

I understand what you're saying, but Edelman Australia is years down the track in terms of turning "talk" into "action". We have created a number of very effective integrated campaigns for a number of clients, and put all of our consultants through extensive and ongoing digital training.

Without going through all of our campaigns, some of the highlights have been:

Woolworths Drought Action Day (2007 and 2008). The first Woolworths Drought Action Day had a very strong social media element, and won the PRIA Golden Target Award and more importantly, raised over $4.7m for farming families suffering during the drought and sustainable farming research.

7-Eleven - Slurpee Day, 7 November 2007. We created this event, an almost entire campaign run via social media. It was a phenomenal success for 7-Eleven.

Bayer / Mission Australia - we worked with Bayer and Mission Australia to Transform Homelessness. We raised $60k via a social media campaign.

Toyota Technical Centre Australia - we used social media to raise the awareness of Toyota's high tech design and engineering facility amongst graduates and near-graduates, raising the quality and number of job applicants.

...and MANY others completed and currently in progress. Edelman integrates social media into every campaign, every communications program across Lifestyle, Corporate and Healthcare.

Con Frantzeskos
Edelman Digital Australia

Posted by Craig Hodges, 20 January 2009


You do raise an interesting, if not perhaps tired point, with regard to 'Australian case studies'.

Perhaps Brad Down and the Digital Ministry community could (continue) leading the charge, say with more high profile support from an organisation like AIMIA to showcase the types of case studies your are referring to here.

Just look at the other comment here. Con Frantzeskos has started this process with some solid examples. If what your saying is still a pressing issue, well then I also see a commercial opportunities for agencies, consultants and individual digital analyst to professionally collate the type of case studies you are referring to make available to the 'fence sitting' companies.

The work and evidence is out there that Social Media is working for business as much as it is for individuals - it merely requires "well informed and connected champions" to bring it to our attention in such a way that we can clearly understand its true value.

If I may shamelessly get in early and quote President Obama from his inauguration speech to make my final point.

"For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together."

Its time to get down to work and make good use of those "digital lines" (once they are in place in Australia) and continue our innovation with Social Media so that it "feeds our commerce and binds us together."

Posted by John Johnston, 21 January 2009

Hi Michael. I'm working on social media for Earth Hour. The global team is based in Sydney. It's quite a comprehensive global campaign involving blogger and podcaster engagement, and social networks such as YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Just thought you'd like to know about it.

Posted by chris abbott, 22 January 2009

We are a snow resort in Niseko Japan and have been producing video reports for the last 4 years. Content produced is Syndicated to over 60 User Generated Video on Demand sites, Podcasting networks, Social media, social bookmarking, P2P, Blogs and 3g. We have had great success syndicating content to Facebook over the last 12 months along with updates on Twitter, Myspace blogs, Bebo and Wayne.


We are not an Australian owned company anymore, but we do have a big following downunder..


Posted by KK Santhanam, 22 January 2009

Hi Michael,

I know how you feel. We were faced with same challenge you narrated here. The brands wanted case studies for every project. Luckily we had case studies from overseas we could sight. The market has caught on now. We are working on few Facebook projects this year. And also getting into iPhone & FB Connect projects.

The reason for no action last year and hightened interest this year, I beleive, are;
1. Brands were not making decision during GFC.
2. No parallel (industry) case studies from overseas
3. Brands know their budget for this year.
4. A lot of brands are looking to spend majority of their marketing budget online and SM in many cases.
5. Not many agencies providing campaign services in SM space

We at Additude have started reaping the benefits of hardwork we put in last year.

KK Santhanam

Posted by Michael Watkins, 23 January 2009

@Brad - Thanks for the feedback, agree that all web technologies not just SM need to step up this year.

@Con - Some great feedback, thanks for sharing your info with us, this is ultimately why i wrote this post, to get people talking about what they have done in the past, thanks!

@ Craig - I agree that there is a lot of room to move for consultancies who will look to specialize in the area of social media education. They just have to back up there teaching with real examples, like Con's above. Hopefully comments left like this can lead to a more open SM scene where companies actually discuss past campaigns in detail and learn from one another, making the entire scene stronger going forward.
Nice quote too.

@John - I noticed what earth-hour were doing last year online, very cool, innovative stuff, keep it up! Love your cause too :)

@Chris - First of all i'm jealous, your ski field looks amazing. Better than this 35 degree weather we're having currently in SYD anyways. Thanks for the notes about what you guys are doing with your videos, do you have any examples of how you have syndicated content over to WAYN? That SN intrigues me.

@KK - Great points you put forward, i agree that brands will catch on this year, however this is still ALOT of big corporates that will be scared for a while yet. Its up to us to convince them that SM isn't something to be scared of, but something to embrace!

Thanks for all the comments, i have achieved what i wanted to achieve with this article so far, to get people talking about past experiences and projects. Now we have to keep the conversation rolling....

Posted by Mike Zeederberg, 26 January 2009

Hi Michael,

I'd suggest you get yourself on the judging panel of something like the AIMIA awards in the social media category or have a chat with someone who judged it - it will very quickly dispel your thinking that Australia isn't "doing" anything other than talking about social media. It's one of the key strengths of the social media space - if you're not part of the target audience, you'd never even know a campaign was running.... no wastage, no mess, no fuss...

At Profero, we've been running highly successful results driven social media campaigns for the last 2 years, including campaigns for The Movie Network and multiple campaigns for Universal Music, one of which (The Presets) is a finalist in the AIMIA's. Have a look at some of the winners of Creative Showcase over the last three quarters or so (www.creativeshowcase.net.au) - Campaigns like Soap's Cornetto campaign, Amnesia's Smirnoff campaign, TEQUILA's Absolute viral, and the Sprite Truth Hunter campaign by Naked and The White Agency all have social media at the very core of the campaign. These are the "two or three big companies" that you may be looking for to show as case studies - it's not that they're not happening, you're just missing them...

Mike Zeederberg, MD of Profero and Chair of Judges for Creative Showcase

Posted by David Lee, 27 January 2009

i think the biggest challenge of social media is it's ability to implement and track. There is no 1 best practice model. My work in the Australian blogosphere with Nuffnang (http://nuffnang.com.au) is looking to open marketers for an easy and safe solution to interact with bloggers. I have signed over 300 Australian bloggers in 2 months... and growing. Nuffnang's entire network has over 80,000 bloggers.. and growing. Through our database, we can now give clients digital metric in all their campaigns, ability for bloggers to sample products, and talk about your products.

My thoughts are bloggers are not getting the recognition from traditional media. Through meeting top fashion, food, and parenting bloggers in Australia, they echo one thought... our European, Asian and US counterparts know more about their blogs that Australia marketers do. http://meetdavelee.blogspot.com

Posted by Matthew Hopkinson, 30 January 2009

As a startup trying to establish online video for healthcare I have had to be novel getting my product out there. Tired of interest but no committment, I discovered Twitter a couple of weeks ago. Through various twitter apps, I have been able to target specific people interested and working in healthcare. Website traffic is up and interest is generated to the right people. So yes, social media does work for me, even if it is only on a small but growing scale. twitter.com/matthopkinson

Posted by Jeremy Cabral, 2 February 2009

Very valid argument - great article! Thanks :)


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Michael Watkins Mudo Media Michael Watkins
Company: Mudo Media
Position: Director
I built my first travel social network when i was nineteen after finishing high school, since then i have created another travel SN which is currently being beta tested and launched my own social media consultancy Mudo Media. Social Media facinates me because I see it as an evolution in human development, rather than a tech fad or gimmick Read Michael's full bio

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