Archive for category Social Media

The evolution of online Agvocacy

As I previously wrote, farmers in America have hit social media in a big way and are now helping their colleagues in Australia to use the medium to get their message across. The US agricultural industry started a movement called Agvocacy in an effort to promote farming and counter negative campaigns by environmental and animal rights groups.

The above video is an animated infographic showing how fact the movement has grown, while also providing good ideas to any other industries or companies looking to use social media as part of their marketing arsenal.

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Farmers beef up social media presence

ABC’s Landline program had an interesting story about farmers taking up social media to counter negative campaigns by animal liberation and environmental groups.

Australian beef farmers learned the power of social media first hand when it was used with great effect, alongside the 4 Corners program, to halt live cattle exports to Indonesia because of animal cruelty. The beef farmers are fighting back with the help of American rancher Troy Hadrick, who is part of a movement in the US called “Agvocacy”, where farmers explain their business to city people.

Interestingly Hadrick learned the power of social media when he made a YouTube video expressing his disgust that Australian winemaker Yellow Tail, which committed $100,000 a year for three years to the Humane Society of the United States, which he says is fiercely anti-farmer. On Landline, he tells Australian beef farmers he couldn’t figure out why a company that depends on agriculture for its livelihood was “giving money to an organisation over here that’s trying to put other farmers and ranchers out of business”.

“I encouraged all the people that were following us on Facebook to do the same thing and all the people that were following us on Twitter to do the same thing. And holy smokes, it was like releasing the hounds,” he said. He then made the above YouTube video, in which he pours the contents of a Yellowtail bottle on to the ground. It went viral and which made Yellow Tail reconsider their donation and admit they didn’t know the Humane Society used its funds for lobbying rather than directly helping animals.

After the program Landline held a live Twitter session with Hadrick, which featured more than 500 tweets, including farmers with their own examples of how they’re already using social media to enhance their business.

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Turning a customer service disaster into a win

It’s not often you see companies apologising when things go wrong. So when the CEO of a firm uses a promoted Tweets to link to a blog offering a mea culpa it’s worth taking a look at.

Airbnb is an online company that lets people rent extra space in their homes to overseas visitors, or lets people find unique places to stay anywhere in the world.  The San Francisco home of a “host” was allegedly trashed by someone staying there through the site, leading to the airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky to issue a belated apology and outline new security procedures.

Make what will from the apology, but I find this a very clever way to build trust and alert more people to your company. The first I’d ever heard of airbnb was the Tweet which said: “We screwed up and we’re sorry. Here’s how we’re making it right: Naturally I had a look, and now I’m pretty interested in their method of house swapping. Social media win!

There is the cynic in me who says this could be a clever way for a company to promote security procedures, even so does shows how being straight with the public when after a company has acted poorly can be a lot more useful than putting up shutters and trying to cover things up.

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People power on track

We’ve seen how social media runs with breaking news stories like a wave across the world. The days of journalists informing us of events hours after they happened are gone as even they turn to Twitter as stories unfold.

Now various organisations are seeking to harness this modern take on people power to provide instant and accurate information.

Real-time weather tracking using people to report the weather at their location isn’t new. But it has come into its own now that people have portable internet access. Now there are several mobile apps that allow people to report the weather as they see and feel it, to provide a wider, real-time picture. One of the most popular is Weddar, which ditches old fashioned weather bureau forecasts for personal descriptions that make a lot more sense.

Taking this kind of thinking to a whole new level is an Australian website called FluTracking, an online health surveillance system to detect epidemics of influenza. As the site’s instruction says, it is “looking for people who live in Australia and have easy access to email on a weekly basis. It doesn’t matter if you are vaccinated or unvaccinated.

It takes only 10 – 15 seconds per week to respond to an email about the symptoms you or your household members have had in the previous week. This will help us find ways to detect both seasonal influenza and hopefully pandemic influenza and other diseases so we can better protect the community from epidemics.

This is a brilliant way to turn anecdotal evidence into an accurate reporting tool that could save lives. Not everyone who has the flu calls the doctor, or even knows they have it, but by reporting symptoms an accurate picture of the influenza spread can be charted potentially saving lives of those most vulnerable.

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Cash-in to bring home the bacon

Just one of the many products cashing in on bacon's incredible popularity on social media.

Social media marketing usually works like this. You have a product and you promote it online through various means as part of your overall advertising strategy. If you’re creative and lucky enough, your efforts will go viral and your product will achieve instant fame and then others will seek to imitate or hang off your success.

But there’s one product that continues to go viral without any organised marketing campaign. Look in your twitter stream, especially on weekends and you’ll find a host of fond tweets about bacon. No one is sure why, apart from being easy to cook and pretty damn delicious, bacon is so appreciated online. Perhaps taste, affordability and its association with the morning after a big night make it a hit with the stereotypical social media demographic.

This mass appreciation for popular cured meat has seen an increase in people using the internet to search for bacon recipes. This isn’t a new phenomenon. In 2009 the LA Times reported that it “posted ‘1001 things to do with bacon’ in December, and it was the most e-mailed link on the site for a few days.

Bacon’s cult following has spawned a host of viral sensations that were unashamedly created to cash in on our love for “swine at nine”. One of most successful Bacon Explosion – a gut-busting 5000 calorie pork loaf that increases your LDL cholesterol level by 30 per cent just by looking at it! This culinary time bomb was invented by a couple of enterprising barbecue chefs, Jason Day and Aaron Chronister, to get traffic to their website It worked, receiving 400,000 views in it’s first month.

The success of the Bacon Explosion shows how social media can be manipulated to gain exposure for your product or organisation. All it takes is knowledge of what’s hot online, engaging content and a willingness to embrace the notion that no idea is too crazy.

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Q&A becomes even more interactive

In years to come the ABC’s Q&A program will be seen as a pioneer of social media interaction. The show’s success rests in no small part with the display of live tweets as the assembled guests debate each other and take questions from the audience and a few pre-recorded videos. While the tweets add to the show’s content they don’t have too much influence on the topics being discussed. So, the show’s producers have turned to crowd sourcing to give social-media-using viewers a chance to have a little say what should be discussed.

Using “Our Say”, and independent project to put the questions that matter to the “people in charge”, they invited anyone to write down a question for next week’s panel and main topic of discussion, which is announced on the main site. Users can then vote for their favourite question and the one with the most votes will be asked on the show alongside audience and viewer-video queries.

This is a clever idea to keep the show topical during the week. You can view questions by most recent or most votes. My only criticism is that many questions will get lost and those that attract early votes will most likely be in the running. Perhaps what they should do is allow a couple of days for questions to be posted, close entries and then allow votes.

Apart from that this is a good example of crowd sourcing at work, something that is yet to catch on in Australian social media circles.

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Local sports clubs can use NFL promotional tactics

The Washington Redskins last year took to Foursquare giving fans a chance to check and unlock a Redskins badge by checking in once at their home ground or three times at any featured Redskins bars in the Washington DC area.

Apart from acquiring the badge, users were also in line to win a tantilising prize package including box-seat tickets, pre-game field passes and a chance to party with the GEICO Caveman (a popular TV commercial character).

This is such a simple idea that could be easily taken up by Australian sporting organisations which have their own entertainment venues, which include many suburban clubs as well as AFL and NRL franchises. It gets bums on seats at games and encourages patronage at entertainment venues, which generate plenty of revenue. It can also be used to get fans to visit the club’s sponsors for more chances to check in.

And while not all sporting organisations can offer NFL box seats or the GEICO Caveman, they can still create a lot of interest by providing great prizes that cost them little in dollar terms but can mean so much to fans.

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New York Public Library reaches out through social media

We generally associate Foursquare with commercial applications, but it can also be a great tool for non-profit public services such as libraries and museums.

One of the most pro-active non-profit users is the New York Public Library, which uses the location-based social media platform to encourage people to discover various sections and branches.

Users who obtain the badge will get a one-year Foursquare Friends Membership which will provide them with special perks. Additionally, mayors at various locations will be included in a drawing for tickets to LIVE from NYPL events and behind-the-scenes tours of the Map Division. Non-frequent visitors benefit from a host of Tips on its Foursquare site, to fill them in on special events at each NYPL venue.

The NYPL has embraced social media across the board. It’s the top public library in the world on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr Flickr, had produced a series of hit viral videos and even has an iTunes site. Ironically, the 100 year-old library hopes that by embracing social media it will encourage people to continue reading books well into this century.


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Thailand’s ‘Amazing’ social media presence

Amazing Thailand mobile app menu.

Thailand’s popularity as a tourist destination isn’t only due to its rich culture, divine cuisine and opportune geography. It has well-organised tourism authority that doesn’t trade in clichés and recognises the diversity of the millions of tourists from around the world and their reasons for visiting.

Tourism Thailand has an excellent online presence centred around its Amazing Thailand website that’s chock full information and tools including travel planners, interactive maps and hotel finders and all important special deals.

The Amazing Thialand campaign recently won a Pacific Asia Tourism Award for its “social networking” campaign left by its Facebook site which has more than 150,000 friends.

This fun page is informative and entertaining. It features a Flash game relevant to coming events, currently Songkran Champion, a shoot ‘em up with water pistols – Songkran is a festival where Buddhist monks sprinkle water on worshippers, though in some parts it has evolved into an all out water fight.

Wall posts are engaging and there are plenty of pics and Youtube videos. In the Notes section you’ll even find Thai recipes and job vacancies for anyone seeking an expat lifestyle. There’s also a link to the highly praised Amazing Thailand mobile apps for Android, Blackberry, iPhone and iPad. The apps feature destination and event guides and food and accommodation information. They also have a Google Maps driven location guide to help you find attractions, and allow you to share your experiences via the Facebook and Twitter sites.


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Driving Holden’s social media strategy

Holden has embarked on a widespread social media campaign during the launch of the new Australian-built Cruze.

Cars are excellent products for social media marketing as they attract passion and fierce brand loyalty. Manufacturers can also take different marketing approaches to suit their various models and the kinds of people who buy them.

Holden has recognised the importance of social media for some time and recently embarked one of its biggest online campaigns to market the launch of the new Australian-built Cruze across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Leading the charge is the company’s Social Media and Digital Communications Manager, Andrea Matthews, who says social media is now a key component of Holden’s product launches. “There’s strong consideration for social media across everything we do.” says Matthews. “But you won’t see us “doing social” just for the sake of it. It has to fit with the campaign and the customer.”

While Holden has a large social media presence and following, with almost 175,000 Facebook followers on its main site, Matthews admits the company is still coming to grips with the opportunities social media offers to its marketing efforts and ways to provide customers added value.

One thing the company does seem to recognise is that social media marketing needs to be, well, social, meaning there needs to be a balance between a carefully planned social media campaign and genuine public engagement. “We’ll time our Facebook/YouTube/Twitter updates so that colleagues know where they appear in the overall plan, but we don’t script our interactions too much,” says Matthews. “It can make the updates far too stilted and not at all natural.

”I feel our social media activity has already moved a long way from just “broadcasting” what we want people to hear.

“We’re listening too, and that’s a strong message.”

When marketing a brand with so many devotees like Holden, getting a strong response via social media is the easy part, but are there any drawbacks?

“Holden has always been a social brand and with such a strong fan base. That has definitely played in our favour, but it is not without its challenges,” admits Matthews. “With such a rich motoring heritage, we have fans who for whom Holden equals high performance V8s only. We also have fans at the other end of the spectrum who drive our small cars and are equally passionate about them. That’s quite a demographic range to reach in a single forum like Facebook.

“That’s one of the reasons we established a stand alone Facebook page for our small car lovers, to give them a place to share their enthusiasm outside of the V8/historic car discussions which were taking place on our brand Facebook page.”

While social media is proving successful for Holden, Matthews says it’s difficult to accurately gauge its performance within individual marketing campaigns. “That very much depends on the objectives you set for the campaign,” she says. “If the objective is around building product/brand awareness and purchase consideration then it can’t be isolated from all of the other things we do as marketers and communicators.

“I’m also not sure that I’m keen on the idea of stand alone social media campaigns – we consume media and messages in so many different forms that social can’t sit on its own. To be used most effectively, it needs to be fully integrated with all of the other brand/customer touch points.”

Finally, if she had to choose just one social media platform to promote Holden’s brand which would it be? “It would have to be Facebook, because everyone is there,” says Matthews. “And with the changes to Facebook, I think brands have got a greater opportunity to build out their content.

“In fact, I think we’re really just learning what opportunities it offers to us and our customers.”

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