Social activism: how to respond to an attack on your social media presences

Anonymous Image Social activism: how to respond to an attack on your social media presences

This post provides five tips on how to respond to a social activist attack on your brand or company social media presences.

Protesting has changed

Organisations’ social presences, be they on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or elsewhere, are quickly becoming primary targets for activist organisations attempting to change company policy or build awareness of questionable business practices. Of course this is not to say the days of the old ‘hey-hey ho-ho’ chants, signed petitions and pickets are over, but there is a definite rise in activist activity on the internet and organisations need to be prepared to address and respond to these instances when they occur.

How best to respond to an attack by an activist organisation

  • Pre-attack create escalation procedures - Ensure comment traffic system and escalation procedures are in place across all social presences so that negative comments are quickly escalated to the PR and corp affairs team where additional escalation can be made quickly.
  • Investigate the source of the activity and engage – My mother always said treat the problem, not the symptoms. Identify the source or sources that are convincing people to come to your social presence and engage with them directly. Your engagement efforts with the activist influencers will be more effective that engaging with every single individual on the page. In my experience this engagement will be welcome and shows a willingness to address their concerns.
  • Don’t stick your head in the sand – Be transparent with your community on the channels they are attacking you on and make commitments to investigate their concerns and provide more information.
  • Be timely – an hour is a long time in the social media world. Get responses and information to your community as quickly as possible. Delayed silence will suggest you are trying to spin the situation.
  • Listen and respond – There is no magic number of negative comments that denotes when a company should change its policy, but any considerable number of negative comments should be taken seriously. Comments on Facebook and other social presences are like a barometer on your customers’ feelings towards your brand and products. Only a fool doesn’t listen to their customers.

Do you have any other tips you would add? Do you agree with what I have listed?

Image credit – Gaelx

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Trust Barometer and its implications for social media

This post was first published on the Edelman Australia Blog.

The Trust Barometer findings presents interesting implications for businesses in the area of social media. Below are four aspects of the report that we thought are worth highlighting that should help justify an increased spend in the area of social for your business or organisation.

Listening to customer needs and feedback

Expectations for business Trust Barometer and its implications for social media


As the above graphic highlights, listening to customer needs and providing feedback is the best way to build trust among the general public in Australia. Social media is one of the most effective ways to do this. If you are not listening and responding to the conversations occurring in the social space around your brand you may be missing one of the most effective ways to grow your brand’s or organisation’s trust.

CEOs are least trusted company spokespeople

Expectations for business Trust Barometer and its implications for social media


Trust in CEOs as a company spokesperson has fallen, whilst ‘a person like me’ has risen. This is an ongoing trend that the Trust Barometer has been highlighting for some years. Community managers and normal employees speaking on behalf of organisations in social media are an effective way of building trust in your brand, especially in times of crisis.

Limiting your spokespeople to handful of very senior people is not the most effective way to build trust.  The days of control communication are over. Open up your communication channels so a wide range of ordinary employees can speak on behalf of your your brand within social media. Of course that is not to say training and governance for people commenting on your brand/organisation in social media is not necessary.

Trust in social media as a credible source of information has doubled

Growth in social media trust 1024x637 Trust Barometer and its implications for social media

Social media as a trusted source of information about a company has consistently risen over recent years. The 13% above are people that listed the fact they trust information they find about a company on social media ‘a great deal’. It does not mean that 87% of people don’t trust information they read about a company within social media.

If you haven’t already the time to take the jump is here. People are on social media researching your company and are trusting what they read. If you aren’t present you are missing an opportunity to influence and grow trust.

Repetition overcomes skepticism 

Repitition overcomes skepticism 1024x640 Trust Barometer and its implications for social media

Australians need to be exposed to the same message multiple times before they will trust the information. If you are simply relying on traditional channels you are missing opportunities to repeat your message.

Social media is one of the most cost effective means of communicating frequently. Take advantage of it.

What are your thoughts?

Does the above make sense, does it align with your experience of implementing social media and growing trust within your organisation?

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Fatherhood 101: tips for dads to be

Intro Fatherhood 101: tips for dads to be

Are you a dad to be or do you know a dad to be? If so this post may help by providing advice on what to expect when the little one finally arrives. Of course every experience is unique, though some things are universal.

On the 22nd of February  2012 my little girl will be one year old. It is amazing how fast that time has gone. Thinking back to this time last year, I was trying to understand what my life would be like when I became a father.  I wasn’t so much scared about her arrival, just anxious. I liked my pre-baby life. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to be a dad, I was just anxious because I didn’t know what to expect.

There are countless books and websites dedicated to mothers to be. Mothers surround pregnant women and provide advice, reassurance and tips. Hell with baby showers there is even social occasions designed specifically for the purpose of readying women for motherhood.

Leaving aside ante-natal courses (two full days of lessons) men are largely thrown into fatherhood without much guidance. Not to say this isn’t our own fault. We could read the same books our partners do. We could talk to other fathers or start our own online fathers’ forums. And in some cases men do, but on the whole we don’t. As such I thought I would do my bit and write down a few words on what to expect when you become a father. Read them with a grain of salt. My experience may not be the same as your own, but hopefully some of it will be helpful.

Eight things to expect when you become a father and some advice

Sleep 224x300 Fatherhood 101: tips for dads to beLess sleep:

You will get a hell of a lot less sleep when you become a father – sorry. The first three months will likely involve a crying baby waking for feeds every two to three hours. Their small stomach and the lack of food it can hold is the reason. It gets slightly better after three months, but at 12 months my partner and I typically find ourselves waking at least once a night ahead of a six o’clock start to the day.

At times this lack of sleep will be hard. It may impact your concentration at work and severely impacts your ability to be hungover. If you are working and you partner isn’t, it might make sense to try and use ear plugs or other sleep supports to help you sleep through the constant wake ups. I’m not suggesting that a waking child is not your problem, but there is no point you both always being awake every two hours, especially if you’re expected to function normally at work in the morning.

During daylight hours try to sleep when your baby does to catch up, but on the whole be prepared to get less sleep. The good news is your body does seem to adapt to less shut eye.

No “unplanned” spontaneity…

When planning needs to take into account sleep times, meal times and the packing of nappy bags, planning on the fly, sadly is not an option. At the six month point my mates realised that calling me at 5.30pm on a Saturday afternoon for an impromptu surf was usually a lost cause. If it isn’t booked in a week in advance or part of the planned schedule it is not likely to happen.

That isn’t to say time with your mates or doing the things you love should cease completely. You will just have to be more regimented about planning it in and accept you may be doing less of it.

Spending money

Having a baby can be very expensive. Prams (buggies), nappies, doctors’ bills and day-care quickly eats into your pay packet. Can you believe that some prams can cost $2,000 (needless to say we resisted these ones)! On the flip side, you won’t be spending as much on big nights out or dinner at fancy restaurants.

A lot of this you just have to cop, there is simply no way around it. My only advice is to think carefully about what your child really needs. A six month old won’t notice if it isn’t dressed in the latest designer wear, or has this season’s pram (yes there are this season’s prams).

When considering big purchases, check some of the baby forums with your partner. There are always tips and suggestions on cheaper options and also advice when spending the big bucks is worthwhile. Second hand is also worth considering. There are so many things available that have hardly been used and in many cases are just as good as brand new items that cost many times more.

Toys 300x300 Fatherhood 101: tips for dads to beToys:

Some toys can be beneficial for your child’s development. Having said that, having 50 toys does not mean they develop 50 times faster.

The more garish its colour scheme, gargantuan its size and repetitive its American accented singing does not guarantee it being more useful or even a hit with your baby.

That being said, a house filled with toys will be normal. In my experience toys, especially stuffed toys, seem to multiply of their own accord. Don’t go crazy buying too many toys for your baby. Others will do that for you. Also don’t feel like Fisher Price is the only people that can make toys. A lanyard from a trade conference, a Berocca tube filled with uncooked pasta and an old wooden spoon are some of my little girl’s favourite toys. They are also some of the most popular toys with her little friends at her weekly mother’s group sessions.

Your relationship with your baby:

The reality is that in the first 12 months your baby will need your partner much more than it does you. The time spent in her womb; the fact most mothers take maternity leave; and the feeding process are powerful bonding experiences. It can be hard not to envy the closeness between mother and child.

So as to create special times for me and my girl, my partner and I decided that I would be responsible for giving her a bath. Through the first 12 months there have only been a handful of times when I haven’t been the one to bathe our baby. I have made a special effort to ensure I am always available and relish the time we spend together.

However you do it, I highly recommend finding something that you and your baby can share exclusively. It might be bathing like me, a long walk on Saturday morning or the reading of a book before bed. Be regimented about it and you will be surprised how much you both enjoy it.


There exists a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. After the birth of your baby you are likely to spend a lot more time with your parents. This may or may not be a good thing depending on your relationship.

For me it has been amazing. My parents and parents in law have been invaluable when it comes to baby-sitting, advice and being on hand to help when things get too much. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help. They will likely relish the time with their grandchild and are only too happy to help out.

Relationship with your partner:

You will no longer be the most important person in your partner’s life and your needs and desires will come after those of your baby. This combined with sleep deprivation and the stress of new parenthood can drastically alter your relationship.

Take advantage of those grandparents, close friends, or even a paid baby-sitter every now and then and spend some quality time together child free. A healthy relationship with your partner will have a positive impact on your child.

Your relationship 224x300 Fatherhood 101: tips for dads to be

Your take on it generally:

There is not a father I have met that would trade his pre-baby life for his post baby one. Sure your life will change immeasurably, but you won’t regret it. Your new life will challenge you, it will frustrate you and it will exhaust you, but it will also introduce you to a love for your child that is unfathomable to your pre-baby self.

What do you think of my observations? Is there anything you disagree with or add to mine?

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What people think I do meme – PR edition

The old interwebs has been alight the last day or so with examples of the ‘What people think I do’ meme. Knowyourmeme sums the meme as a series of visual charts depicting a range of preconceptions associated with a particular field of occupation or expertise.

At work today we had a stab at it ourselves. What do you think? Accurate?

What we do What people think I do meme – PR edition

Hat tip to @ecourtenay who created this

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Compelling brand created content is not an extended TVC

Branded content Compelling brand created content is not an extended TVC

The following post is an essay I wrote as part of Edelman Consumer Marketing’s 12on12, a compilation of essays from some of Edelman’s consumer marketing leaders around the globe. This is the third in a series of essays from the compilation. To read more essays from the 12on12 series, visit the Edelman Scribd Channel.


Now, more than ever before, there are opportunities for brands and organizations to create meaningful relationships directly with their target audience through compelling content. However, there are historical lessons to consider in determining what comprises compelling content.

Creating branded content is not a new concept. For a long time, brands and organizations have developed content, but it has been firmly in the province of marketing. The content that brands have traditionally created is short form; be that a television commercial (TVC), a print ad, or radio commercial. In order to engage audiences today, and to create the type of content that will be shared by consumers, simply extending the traditional marketing style content into a longer form will not work.

Today we are seeing brands like Red Bull through their creation of sports properties, KFC restaurants in Indonesia that host live music performances, and McDonald’s in the U.S. and Quiksilver France launching their own TV networks, creating the kind of quality content that, traditionally, we have associated with traditional media players. They have done this by focusing on what the audience wants first, and how they can benefit as a brand second.

To understand the opportunity for brands and organizations with regard to content, it is worth spending some time looking at what content consumers have traditionally engaged with, and looks at the evolution of content up to today.

Where We’ve Been

Traditionally, content was created by a few people. The delivery systems and the means of production were expensive. Only a few very wealthy individuals had access to the type of investment required to run huge print machines, or to buy the licenses and the studios required to deliver content via broadcast. This scenario meant that those who did create content had enormous power. The scarcity of content producers meant the content that was produced was highly valuable to the audience. There wasn’t much of it, so what was created was seen by many. This was the era of mass audiences, grouped together due to the scarcity of quality content.

What Changed in the Late ‘90s

Like the arrival of the printing press in the 1400s that dramatically changed access to printed content, the self-publishing phenomenon that arrived in the late ‘90s revolutionized content once more. No longer was content creation limited to the few with great means or great connections; now anyone could publish materials and gain an audience very cheaply and simply. The outcome of this was a mass fragmentation of the audience. No longer were audiences forced to watch a small amount of mass content, but could indulge in their favorite niches that were no longer controlled by geographical borders or high barriers to entry. There was, however, a yawning gap between the quality of content that was made for niche audiences, and those created for the masses. The mass audience content was still superior in quality and still attracted larger audiences.

Fast Forward to Today

Most of the formerly niche platforms have gone mainstream, and there are now very few discernible differences between the likes of the new-media Huffington Post and traditional media outlets in the U.S.; political opinion blogs like Crikey in Australia and traditional political publications and Rue89 in France share readers and media space. Further, the arrival of Facebook pages, branded YouTube channels, Google+ pages, and Twitter has meant that brands are doing more than merely creating content directly for their audience – they are talking with their audience like peers.

Traditionally brand content (or ads) was seen jammed between the bits of content we are really interested in. We watched them only through sufferance. They were a nuisance that paid for the stuff we were really interested in.

However, in order to gain traction in a world with more content and a fragmented audience, brands need to evolve their content. The content needs to be less about marketing messages and be truly entertaining, informative, or educational. In short, it needs to resemble much more the content that brands used to buy ad space around, and a lot less like the ads they have traditionally created.

Tips for Brands Wanting to Make Content Today:

At Edelman, we believe there are five simple tips that brands should keep in mind when planning and creating content. We call these the “Five Cs of Content.”

The 5Cs of Content

Creativity: Compelling storytelling is still the core component of all successful content. If we don’t care about the characters, aren’t interested in the story being told, or aren’t compelled to watch until the end, then it is unlikely the content will be successful.

Context: To create great content, you need to understand what your audience wants, needs, and desires. But you also need to take into account the platforms you audience uses to consume the content, be it print, video or audio; also, when they want it, and how often they are prepared to engage.

Connectivity: There is great value in creating content that connects members of your target audience together. By doing this, you create a mutually beneficial scenario that creates a virtuous circle of connectivity around your brand.

Continuity: There is a reason that soap operas like Neighbors, Derrick, Columbo, and The Bold and The Beautiful are successful. They have long-established audiences who know there will be a new episode on a regular basis. The same goes for content that brands create. There is great value provided by sustaining efforts over time, ensuring that an audience built around your content. Though remember, no audience will be built overnight.

Collaboration: Gone are the days of one-way communication with an audience. Today your audience is unlikely to want to sit idly by and consume the content you have created for them. They will want to be involved, have an impact on the direction of content, and be recognized for their contributions. What’s more, if they are involved, they are more likely to share their efforts – we all have egos, after all.

Image credit - Roadsidepictures

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Edelman Australia Trust Barometer 2012 #Edeltrust2012

Trust 2012 Featured Pic Edelman Australia Trust Barometer 2012 #Edeltrust2012

Today at work we launched the Trust Barometer data for Australia. This is a global piece of research Edelman has been undertaking for 12 years.

The report, released each year at Davos, by Edelman CEO Richard Edelman, is an amazing piece of IP that compares trust across business, NGOs government and media for 25 markets.

To announce the report we created a series of assets that were launched to media and clients at an event at The Mint in Sydney. Below is a repost of the content published today on the Edelman Australia Blog.


The 2012 Edelman Australian Trust Barometer was launched today at an event at Sydney’s Mint. The key findings:

  • 60% of Australians do not trust government leaders to tell the truth
  • Business, more trusted than government, has the opportunity to move from a license to operate to a license to lead
  • Technology the most trusted industry sector in Australia, while trust in energy industry is low
  • Trust in media increases; Social media increasingly trusted as a company information source amongst informed public
  • Peer to peer trust is rising: 31% increase in ‘a person like myself’ and 17% increase in regular employees as credible company spokespeople

The report was launched by Michelle Hutton, CEO Edelman Australia and included a panel of stellar support speakers:

  • Greg Baxter, Former Corporate Affairs Director, News Limited
  • Professor Jim Macnamara, Professor of Public Communication, UTS
  • Hailey Cavill, Founder + Director, Cavill + Co
  • Laurence Evans, President International, StrategyOne

Excerpts from the event and the presentation can be seen embedded below on YouTube (available post event) and SlideShare.

The executive summary of the Australian data and the press release that summarises the findings can be viewed on Scribd via the hyper links.


This year’s survey is bigger than ever before, with 30,000 people questioned in 25 countries. For the first time in 2012, the Edelman Trust Barometer contrasts the views of the Australian general population with the survey’s traditional Trust respondent group of “informed publics” (high income, college-educate Australians who read or watch business/news media and follow public policy issues). The Australian sample was n=1,200 (1,000 general population plus 200 informed public). All informed publics met the following criteria: university-educated; household income in the top quartile for their age in their country; read or watch business/news media at least several times a week; follow public policy issues in the news at least several times a week.

An infographic detailing Trust levels across the globe can be seen on SlideShare.

Follow the Twitter discussion at #Edeltrust2012

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