getSocialAdvice (GSA) is a new collaborative effort with the aim of demystifying the social media landscape for business. The people behind GSA are social media specialists: Fi Bendall, Neerav Bhatt, Gavin Heaton and Dorothy Polka.
In a recent video conference, Marketingmag.com.au put some questions to the team to uncover more.
Why the need for getSocialAdvice?
Fi: We felt that there is more to the emergence of social media than just marketing. It is the change in thinking that organisations are challenged with. With our collective experience and networks we felt we could provide a collaborative set of individual skills to help organisations.
Dorothy: I think there is a need to bridge the gap between those building the channel and those (corporates, etc.) trying to utilise the channel. GSA brings them together.
Neerav: Connect organisations with people who are social network natives, speak the local language and can act as a tour guide.
How is this different from the other social media bodies out there?
Fi: We wouldn’t describe ourselves as a body. We are a co-operative and can deliver a range of experienced independent seasoned social media practitioners through our networks to work as a collaborative team to help and enable companies to get to grips with the organisational changes that social media has brought with it.
Dorothy: In Australia there appears to be a lot of agencies trying to help companies, but rarely are they talking to the people who are in the social media space and engaging with thousands of customers/readers every day. GSA bridges this gap.
Neerav: An agency has a fixed pool of talent to draw from. In comparison we are hyper-connected and can bring in talented people to assist with projects on a case-by-case basis.
Do you think there are social media experts in Australia?
Fi: Social media expert is an over-used word that is getting some flack! The reason is we are all learning and one of the changes organisations face is learning how to be fluid and adapt to the changes as they are occurring on an on-going strategic and educational basis. That said I am pleased to be collaborating with colleagues who have been early adopters, have been blogging for many years and who have built large audiences. That is valuable experience.
Dorothy: I don’t like the expert term in a field that is so rapidly changing and to an extent, so unknown. I believe there are thought leaders and some very knowledgeable people in the field who have developed their competencies in this field by action.
Neerav: There are no rules, this area changes too fast for anyone to claim expert status. We are all still experimenting.
Why do you think marketers are having trouble deciphering the social media landscape?
Fi: It is about the art of conversation and dialogue. It means the old message board: customer wheel, brand wheel and tools they have used are not applicable to this channel! Open networks are complex as are human networks, so it becomes a behavioural science not an advertising science. Speed in response is also an issue.
Dorothy: I think marketers are used to using channels such as TV, magazines where the medium is traditional. The traditional medium talks at customers. The new medium is interactive and requires companies to talk with customers. It breaks down barriers and requires companies to be honest, accountable and visible warts and all.
Gavin: For social media to be effective, there are some significant changes required within the business. For example, in the heavily-regulated financial services industry, there is legislation that can actually prohibit the kind of two-way dialogue that is fundamental to social media. In addition, social media has to be resourced – you need people who are trained, knowledgeable and authorised to act/initiate change within your business. It is something that has to be thought through very carefully. So it is not necessarily that marketers don’t get social media – it is more a case that they are not yet organised to respond to it in a serious, committed manner.
Have you seen any successful social media campaigns coming out of Australia?
Fi: Well, obviously I would direct you to the Amnesty International case study! The top slot for me, executed with a 360 approach would have to be the dream job from Queensland Tourist Board.
Dorothy: I agree! The World’s Number One Job caused a big groundswell with so many channels being involved – Twitter, TV, websites, blogs. It was extremely visible.
Neerav: I’d say that long-term success will come to companies who try to become respected embedded participants in social networks by helping people and sharing information honestly as opposed to being involved on a campaign basis for a few weeks or months and then leaving.
Gavin: The Movember campaign was fantastic, as was Earth Hour. The challenge with social media is that if you are not part of the target community, then it is unlikely that you will hear about it.
How do you measure the impact of a social media campaign? What do you tell your clients?
Fi: It can be measured in a number of ways and is dependent on the objectives, but in basic terms:
- Measure changes in the online conversation pre-and post-actions and track online conversations to measure changes of the ratio of word of mouth
- Track recommendation rates and how they change
- Include an online element that allows use of web statistics and online feedback to measure reach and participation levels
- Use web statistics to track social media referring domains to your website, and
- Report on the impact on the brand reputation as a result of the new social contact methods.
Neerav: Objectives need to be clear from the start of planning. Tracking referrers can be useful as well as analysing trends in the volume of discussion about specific keywords/phrases.
Should marketers approach social media as part of their digital strategy or separately?
Fi: As part of their digital strategy.
Dorothy: As part of their digital strategy, ideally the campaigns should be complementary to each other and be integrated.
What are the pros and cons of choosing a specialised social media agency over a generalist traditional agency?
Fi: There are neither pros nor cons. You need to simply have seasoned people who have been using the online social space for a long time and who understand how to build online audiences and understand the implications of social media to the organisation. Whether they are employed in a mainstream agency or a specialised agency or an independent
Dorothy: I agree with Fi on this one. I believe whoever is chosen needs to have experience in this space.
Neerav: I concur.
Where do see social media in a year? Five years?
Fi: In a year, I think people will see it become more and more granular with focused social groups of like-minded individuals. In five years, I wouldn’t like to comment!
Dorothy: I don’t think anyone knows where it will be in three months let alone five years! I do think there will be a higher level of participation from the general consumer.
Neerav: Impossible to predict, this area is too fluid.
What initiatives will you be doing with GSA and where can readers find out more?
Fi: We will be building collaborative teams of experienced individuals to help clients work through the unique organisational changes they are facing.
More information is at www.getsocialadvice.com.