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AIMIA – Please Get Social (Media)


Another Social Networking evening *pats AIMIA on the head* poor loves. 🙂

AIMIA connects interactive agencies with interactive agencies – a nice niche network. They pull their speakers and their content and their relationships from this small pool to offer to their events and networking evenings with drinkies. One ends up up hearing what one wants to hear from one’s colleagues and peers – other ‘old’ new media people – and like all social networks, you are either in and cool or not.

Zippydoodah from Social Media people who are not Interactive Agencies. Which is why I groan when I open their ‘bandwagon‘ emails. (Their term, not mine).

You, dear reader, aren’t seriously paying to attend these AIMIA sessions are you?

Sydney, September 2, 2008
Social Media & User Generated Content

Facebook. Blogs. MySpace. Online communities. Twitter. Can these social media tools help your business?

Many small and medium sized businesses have already embraced these tools with a passion, now is the time for you to get on the social media bandwagon!

Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and share information with one another in today’s society.

Of course, not every single person in a particular online community is going to pay attention to what you have to say, but even if a small percentage does, it will be worth the effort. After all, creating a Facebook page for your business doesn’t cost anything.

So, what does the future hold? Social networks are a hot area, and are now in the early stages of evolution. Facebook is not going anywhere, but other approaches and models will without doubt emerge and may turn out to be even more successful. The monetization of social networks is in the early stages of development, brand owners need to adopt a practical approach when taking an active role in the social media landscape in order to gain best possible outcomes.

Social Media Bandwagon? Facebook pages don’t cost anything… if you don’t mind them sitting empty. Which is why AIMIA Facebook page has 600 odd members, yet other newer ones for Australia have 1500+ . Anyone want to jump on the Mobile SMS Bandwagon? How about the Virtual World bandwagon? How dare you tell my clients this is a bandwagon deal? While some AIMIA events are no doubt worthwhile, calling social media a bandwagon is downright enraging. Get serious – or get out. *grumpy face*

Facebook isn’t going anywhere – according to who? Or is it whom? I can never remember. We hit three million Australians on Facebook last week. Not bad for a year’s work. Going somewhere and fast. Fifth in the world no? Doomsayers beware. There’s no Facebook killer yet on the horizon. Whatever Interactive Agency Organisation might tell you.

Monetization is in the early stages of development? Says who/whom? o.O No one has made money since 1969 when Compuserve started up I guess? What a load of bollocks.

I swear, if you guys pay money to go to this tripe, I’ll never speak to you again. I’m speaking in Melbourne on that day, and then at PANPA (Kevin Rudd is opening! Yay!) on monetizing social networks immediately after. I’ll post up the slides – for free. Save yourself some cash, stay home or come to Melbourne/Queensland.

Caveat 1: I don’t belong to AIMIA – I’m not interested in Interactive Media that masquerades as Social Media. And I’m not an Interactive Media Agency, which means they aren’t interested in me. Or you. Or anyone who works in Social Media. ‘cos guess what? Agencies don’t do social anywhere near as well as People do, though I try to help a bunch of agencies – local and global. Caveat 2: I have been a member of AIMIA, on and off over the years and I helped set up the early AIMIA in the early ’90s (during my time at DDB Needham) when it was simply to connect an agencies Interactive departments with clients such as MacDonalds and TV stations media buying applications via X.25 networks. They shoulda stuck with that, I reckon.

Oh and any organisation that does not get the cultural relevance of creating online communities becomes culturally irrelevant. Poor AIMIA.

Overseas readers: AIMIA is one of a couple of digital organisations we have in Australia and stands for Australian Interactive Media Association.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

19 thoughts on “AIMIA – Please Get Social (Media)

  1. At the risk of getting myself into serious trouble through posting an off hand, unsubstantiated post-lunch comment …… 🙂 I will say:

    “they haven’t actually ‘got’ anything since the time that ‘Interactive CD-ROM’s went out of date, so why would you expect them to get this?”

  2. Pull your head in Laurel. Of course people are going to capitalise on social networking. A bit late, but welcome to capitalism. It could actually be suggested the very same irrelevancy is applicable to your endeavors. Yes, universities and those who work for them capitalise and trade on technology, networking and ideas too. Even if this capitalisation is under the guise of ‘mentoring’ and ‘teaching’. No use trying to convince yourself somehow your engagement with social networking is ‘pure of heart’. Nothing ever is. We’re all in the belly of the beast. The idea of “an industry” is the problem from the outset. As they say “Those in glass houses …”

  3. @Clif I see you are no fan of AIMIA – certainly raping and pillaging is something that the world of media agencies understands yet that becomes a huge problem when looking at branding and anti-branding online.

    I consult to companies on how to monetise social networks – capitalise – if you like. But I don’t trivialise by calling my industry initiatives ‘bandwagon’ – nor do I give incorrect information such as ‘The monetization of social networks is in the early stages of development,’ when it absolutely clearly has revenue streams and a solid history of business models.

    *shrugs* If your industry organisation doesn’t give a fig about how they present these ‘bandwagon’ initiatives, nor be bothered to present the information correctly, why the hell would you pay to join and/or attend? *puzzled*

    @Maxine well put – and as someone who holds industry relevant events of over 600 people you can certainly see how irrelevant AIMIA is in danger of becoming. Between pubcamp and barcamp and our other events that have high attendance, high energy and solid sponsorship, I have no problem letting these kinds of old new media orgs play catch-up. As long as they don’t damage social media and social network initiatives in the process.

    @Ben not MY industry organisation. We need an unIndustry unOrganisation. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the prompt reply Laurel. I have to say the placing of a monetary value on what is far more than that (as you well know) IS the ‘trivialising’ you bring up. This capitalising is the ‘bandwagon’ you abhore, but unfortunately get swept up in regardless. So in some ways AIMIA is ‘right on the money’ (excuse the pun). I agree with your claim that they have missed a long history, but I am ‘puzzled’ by the fact ANYONE would pay to attend or to get information (from AIMIA or yourself) about social networking when it is FREE and its ethos is DIY.

    I understand you are making some coin to get by. But lets be honest, the whole thing is a racket unless you subvert the $ ethos 😉

    take care.

    ps. you cannot have an ‘unindustry’ or ‘unorganisation’ because that validates the very discourse (by way of a binary) you want to escape from. Better to refuse something … 😉 x 2

  5. Oh Clif 🙁
    First, please don’t negate money. Currency is a social mechanism to show what we value, and how we exchange what we value, and how we store what we value. And whether it’s ‘real’ currency or social currency, it has a place in social networks.

    Secondly, try shoving some chemistry manuals at a 5 year old and tell them to learn to read and then use. That’s a lot of wasted time and resources. Evangelising gets social networks on the discussion table – and trust me, there was a real requirement a few years ago to even get social media included on syllabus and conference agendas. Consulting/training ensures that social networks have a chance of surviving. Remember the Quechup incident? A consultant could’ve saved that network. Ditto probably IYoMu. You may not want to pay for expertise, but plenty of companies that invest real world money in ‘social media’ are risk averse. Lots of charlatans out there, but a few make a difference and help to make things successful and show ROI and get good testimonials. They are the ones worth listening to.

    And like I said, AIMIA do marketing for me – people attend one of their events, get excited and hire me. *shrugs* there’s no apology in there, just fact. you don’t have a problem with that, I trust? I just need AIMIA (and others, not just picking on them, heh) to ensure they don’t trivialize an important area that I am passionate about, nor hand out misinformation, nor tell people there are ‘unproven’ ROI or business model.

    We function in a social network (called ‘society’) that has the requirement to show value as part of it’s function. I work within that social network/ society. I work hard to show value, to those who really struggle to see it.

    An unorganisation would never say ‘we only deal with companies in our industry’. It would work on behalf of individuals. And I think even AIMIA would agree: it doesn’t focus on individuals. In an industry world, the social is undervalued. Tis natural….

  6. I think Clif has some solid points. However, perhaps rather than slamming AIMIA, it might have been wiser, and much more constructive to offer your assistance! Did you approach them at all before this criticism?

    We’re all trying to make the industry BETTER and I though communities (like the digital one, whether commercial, academic or non-profit – i.e. aimia) were about helping each other?

    I’d be really interested in seeing you follow up with them on how to make things better.

    It’s fabulous people are hiring you, at least someone is raking in the fore told fortunes of social media 😉 but until we can all retire, let’s help one another.

    Always been a reader, but I feel this was a little too destructive.

  7. @anonymous
    Hmm not sure which points you agree with Clif on – that attending seminars by me, or AIMIA or anyone else is a waste of time? Or that we all work from ‘the belly of the beast’? I prefer to take a more positive view.

    Not sure how I am the one being destructive – I thought my rant was quite mild. I don’t know what industry you are in, but let me know how you feel when an industry body trivialises it and calls it a bandwagon, won’t ya?

    I resigned from AIMIA because I couldn’t get anywhere or anything except spam every day. I saw no movement – in spite of volunteering – to allow anyone a voice who was not PBL, News, or Bigpond, Telstra, ABC, IBM, Hyro, Adobe or any other ‘award’ winning company. A developer? Get lost. We only deal with Brands with a capital B.

    AIMIA should stick with whatever they do best. Let Social Media organisations – and there are a few, doing brilliant things – do Social Media.

    I didn’t include the last line that has been coming out on the AIMIA emails lately: Why would you go anywhere else? For a thousand reasons, we would go elsewhere. And we DO, – we organise our own events and functions and recognise the power of the individual. They are called BarCamp and PubCamp and WebDirections and Edge of the Web and … and I’m contributing to all of ’em.

    I’m glad you are a long time reader of this bloggy – then you where I stand. 🙂

  8. Maybe I also should have opened with ‘long time reader, first time comment-er’ 🙂

    Totally agree with @anon about the building the community aspect I think this is key.

    But I must follow up with @anon’s question: did you approach AIMIA to help them? and most importantly will you?

  9. Yes, I did approach them. I used to be a member, and spoke a number of times to officers about the need to offer community services to all the digital community. Admittedly some discussions were late at night, drinking copiously at the bar after events. 🙂

    I was told point blank, AIMIA is for industry companies, not the individuals. Fair enough. Our values are not aligned but that doesn’t mean one of us is right, the other wrong. Let AIMIA keep aligning with advertising agencies. And I’ll keep shouting about the power of the individual. *shrugs* Just don’t let them say what I do is “bandwagon” or give incorrect information: or else I’ll call them out for faking it. And if there is ever a User Generated Content vs Advertising Agency Content dispute, chances are I’ll be on one side, they on the other. Meantime, they can keep playing in their niche and we in ours. No harm, no foul, right?

    But times move on. If you think that AIMIA is interested in changing, I’d be open to starting discussions again. But if you agree its a hiding to nowhere – an unpaid one at that – then I’ll continue to support where I’m appreciated.

    I guess the issue is that when I look at AIMIA panels on social media, their speakers are not core to our (admittedly disparate) groups. When I look at AIMIA awards, how many are for instance on the Web 2.0 Top 100 list? There is SUCH a discrepancy between what they present and what is happening, that frankly I’m not sure that bridge can be made. What do you think?

  10. Yep – agreed, no foul! Keeping to your own sandbox is sometimes better to not tread on someones toes. Agencies need their events too, they need to learn, just like everyone else.

    Bandwagon was an awful choice of word. And let’s hope that it’s all it was. From our company’s point of view (and we’re members) they are evolving, and we’re always happy to help out.

    Events are built on the speakers and content, by the looks of things they’re still in the works. We’ve seen your insights, we’ve read them too, and we always educated! Let’s try and spread that to the associations behind the industries too.

    Just like the internet, not everyone got (and a lot of people still don’t) but it’s about the shifts, and trying to make them as easy as possible is always key.

    Always good to see what positives can come out of this.

  11. Funny then, isn’t it, that the Master of Interactive Multimedia course at UTS promotes AIMIA on it’s website and promotes membership of AIMIA to students (like me). (For reference: Masters of Interactive Multimedia, but a BIG WARNING about flashiness of website – the visuals are teh hurty – wish they’d change it – for many reasons). I was going to be spending membership monies at AIMIA in the future. I might take my money elsewhere, say WIPA or AWIA. Might also start a conversation about this with the MIMM course coordinator.

  12. @joel ‘the positives’ that came out of this: I got bumped from their email list. *laughs* perhaps next time you are at a social media bandwagon event, you can ask: do you recommend that companies and organisations that get negative commentary on blogs and social media sites, remove those bloggers from PR and email lists? Is that the appropriate way to engage with the community? At least they have a real life, relevant case study now. Heh.

    @Jacqui AIMIA’s ok for Masters students, for drinks and networking and so on. The info events are not brilliant -for the most part- but quite a few of my clients go along anyway, to network. The rare times I pop in – let’s face it, they aren’t the only game in town, there’s something on every night to do with social media and stuff these days – it’s nice to see familiar faces.

    Or you could just stay home and Twitter with us. 😀

    I liked Shel Israel’s tweet which basically said that the social media bandwagon is gonna roll right over them, and turn them into road kill. *giggles*

  13. Hi Laurel, and for your readers, I’m John Butterworth, the CEO of the much discussed AIMIA.

    I’m intrigued by this latest concept about attempting to censor you by kicking you off the AIMIA announcement lists. By rights you shouldn’t be receiving anything from us anyway as you haven’t been an AIMIA member for over a year now. However I’ve always thought this was a bit archaic as we post all the same information on Facebook, Linkedin, various events calendars and of course the AIMIA website for all to see. So we usually leave people on member announcements emails unless they ask to unsubscribe.

    Sadly, the real cause of all this is much more prosaic. The last attempt to send you anything by email was on August 18th. No surprises at our end as it coincides with the beginning of a well publicised email outage we endured for two weeks. Much inconvenience for the whole AIMIA network with big chunks of inbound and outbound email disappearing into a black hole. Sorry to spoil the story.

    However I can tell you that I have suspended any further AIMIA emails to you (as of last Monday September first) pending your advice on whether you want to be permanently unsubscribed or not. No, not a belated attempt to stifle your comments now that you’ve given me the idea, I just can’t for the life of me understand why you’d want to be getting emails from an organisation that you’re not a member of, that you think sends out spam, and that does all these events you don’t agree with and don’t come to. Maybe I’ve just misunderstood all the commentary on this blog over the last few months so I’ll leave it up to you to let me know. I would recommend you contact me directly (ceo@aimia.com.au) though; a single late night conversation with me at the bar after some networking event doesn’t strike me as really being in “contact” with AIMIA.

    Just a reminder that we are very much a member-driven organisation and everything that you find wrong with AIMIA is actually coming out of the membership base. The tricky thing about being membership based is that you’re actually expected to do stuff that the majority of the members want you to do. Otherwise they stop getting involved in all the industry development activities, stop coming to the events, and ultimately stop being members. A very populist approach I freely confess but it basically boils down to relevance.

    With regard to all the various posts about AIMIA being just about digital agencies talking to other digital agencies or just about students having drinks at networking do’s, I think the easiest way to make a comment is to publish the names of the companies (yes, companies) that sent the 90 people to this week’s maligned Social Media event where AIMIA didn’t “get” social media. Please feel free to judge for yourselves.

    Cheers everyone

    John Butterworth

    Bebo, MOD Films, MySpace, Mark (all the speakers), Warner Music, MercerBell, TOTAL Advertising, NRMA Motoring & Services, BigPond, Kinetic Media, Mar Com Strategies, Sponge Agency, Community Engine, Triad Communications, ACMA, Microsoft, The Project Factory, www.clubsational.com.au, Just Magazines, Salmat DigitalForce, Profero, www.michaelfield.com, Gadget Group, Profero, Screenrights, mobileactive limited, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3eep, Zebra Research, Internet Design Studios, Yahoo!7, Future Exploration Network, Unwired, Frankellawyers, AMP, Nielsen Online

  14. Hi John,
    I occasionally post AIMIA events on my blog, as I keep track of events about social networks. My apologies I didn’t know I was not supposed to be receiving your e-newsletters, and forwarding your intellectual property inappropriately. They did say “non-member” pricing at the bottom and so I made an assumption…

    I did email AIMIA asking for my missing newsletters – which my partner was still receiving – but received no response. eNewsletters are great push mechanisms – email is a brilliant social networks tool for push. Those other marketing distribution tools (bandwagon sites?) you listed rely on pull – still important, but a balance is good.

    And John, you are not the person I was referring to – AIMIA is more than John Butterworth, no? I have had numerous conversations with OTHER AIMIA dignitaries 🙂 Sally and Jennifer and others who are involved in AIMIA. Sydney is a small town we’ve all known each other for years, no?

    Why did you never address the ‘bandwagon’ stance that AIMIA takes on social media? Are you listing AIMIA member companies that believe social media to be a bandwagon fad? Are you saying that the culture of social media being ‘bandwagon’ arises out of the AIMIA membership? Intriguing. I wouldn’t have thought so – a number of your members are my clients and they seem to be taking social media much more seriously.

    Just be grateful John that I am a polite and reasonable individual. I didn’t really hit AIMIA hard for their stance on “jump on the social media bandwagon”. But I stand by my point – those that talk ‘social media’ but don’t walk social media will become culturally irrelevant. And as the head of AIMIA your role is surely to steer the organisation safely past those particular rocks, no?

  15. When I first read this I thought Isn’t AIMIA no longer operational.

    Then I remember them trawling for members of the BRW web 2.0 list and the such.

    Frankly as an Interactive Designer I have always considered AIMIA as a Ad agency organisation that is Sydney centric and total irrelevant to anything online.

  16. Hi Gary, thanks for your thoughts. 🙂
    I go to some AIMIA events – I find it useful to take the temperature, to see how digital media folk feel about social media. Or perhaps we should call them ‘heritage’ digital media. 🙂
    With the massive downturn in the digital media industry in Australia (well Sydney anyway, not sure how your Perth is looking) I expect the social media industry to become the central focus of AIMIA in the next 6-9months. In the meantime we can’t align with an organisation that simply doesn’t ‘get’ what we do. Unfortunately. Though some of my best friends are members. 🙂

  17. You could definitely see your skills within the paintings you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

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