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Australia: Corporate Social Media


That title Corporate Social Media looks funny doesn’t it? I mean, some people still think of ‘social‘ as ‘party‘. Like, Corey from Melbourne on MySpace. They don’t realise that ‘social‘ means ‘society‘ – friends and family, yes, but also sports heroes and politicians and other leaders, and those we deem tabloid worthy – the Angelina Jolie’s and Britney’s of our social sphere. I wonder if we had changed from online communities to customer communities or consumer networks if it would’ve looked less jarring? Corporate Customer Media or similar?

I think companies will move their Corporate Social Responsibility front and centre in response to large communities online discussing their ethics and morals, going as far as to follow Japan in having a C-Level executive in charge of Social Relations. I think that Online Community Managers – a role that has been around almost as long as I’ve been alive – will handle three types of communities – enterprise (internal), distributed (MySpace, Facebook) and microcommunity (like microsites, or branded forums).

I see those three roles as distinct:

  • Internal Community Manager (At The Desk) – has to handle/negotiate politics of staff of one department snarking on the blog of the manager of another department. Yuck. Heh. I’m tempted to say someone senior that can, with one raised eyebrow, stop a flame war between departments from developing. Certainly a strong character, perceived as impartial and with strong negotiation skills. Could be a H.R. nightmare in the making if you don’t lock down behaviours in an appropriate way.
  • Distributed Community Manager (Take Away) – customer facing, probably trained in Public Relations but with a twist. Social Relations? Your brand being crucified on MySpace or Facebook or Whirlpool.net.au? Make sure they pull in a good resource of technical or knowledge workers, to add credibility. But the Exxon thing (below) should never have happened – don’t set up the I.T. geek to fail at P.R.
  • Microbranded Communities (Dine In) admin and moderators for forums and blogs and wikis on your own site. Definitely Customer Service here, with specialist training. Customer Service and Technical Support know the questions and answers and how to press consumer buttons. Heh. I once had the customer service department get themselves banned from the customer service forums by accident cos they created alts (private logons) to attack the customers, but that’s another story for another time….

There might be a fourth role – educating and assisting staff to understand that they are members of social networks too, and one small whisper can reveal the plans for obtaining capital from V.C.s – Human Resources maybe?
What do you do if you are Exxon, and your badged P.R/Community Manager/Twitter person says (see last line) to Tom Raftery (Twitter link) analyst with Redmonk no less:

…although the Valdez spill was tragic, it was only 10 million gallons, compare that to the 73mil in the Nowruz Oil Field in 1983

…wow, that’s a relief. Only TEN MILLION GALLONS. But, one wonders, do the upcoming generation care about ancient history? Today they would create an anti-marketing community with IHateExxon.com or something similar. But yesterdays’ accidents…? Look I don’t want to pan the poor schmuck they have set up to fail by putting him/her in live, real time, social network discussions on an old topic – everyone needs to start somewhere – but some guildelines might’ve helped. In Europe we say “don’t mention the war!” In Exxon, it should be “don’t mention Valdez in a light vein!”. Or whatever. If this Tweet gets out (oh irony), there could be blood on the social media floor 🙁


We discussed these things on the MIS Australia podcast on Enterprise and Social Media and a brief bit on Community Manager roles. You might enjoy it. There’s no direct link so this week only, it’s front page, next week, hunt around.
Podcast here called CIOs embrace Gen V reality. You can follow Mark Jones (host) on Twitter, as well as Stephen Collins of AcidLabs (trib), and Michael Specht (mspecht). Oh and me (SilkCharm). Here’s Trib’s post.

The previous week was an introduction to Generation V with Stephen Prentice (Gartner), Gary P Hayes (PersonalizeMedia or Twitter) , Michael Specht (again) and Paul Rush ( Talent2) .

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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.

6 thoughts on “Australia: Corporate Social Media

  1. Hey Laurel just a quick question. If you had 2 minutes in the ear of the Exxon Twit (pardon the pun), what would your advice be from here? Do you think they should exit or stay on in the game.

    P.s I look forward to listening to the podcast

  2. Oh Stay. Take the beating they so richly deserve for “only” destroying less of the planet than the other guys. And own up to being human “I didn’t mean to speak lightly of a serious situation and while, I AM linking to items in the interests of Exxon, any personal comments I make are my own opinions” or similar.

    We learn our lessons faster if we fail forward into conversation, and not back into silence.

    Why, what do you think?

  3. I had this question from a client today – if you start taking part in a very active group / site, and the comments you get back are less than positive, what then?

    My response – at the very least you’ve made a start in engaging people in conversation, and you’ve shown that you give a sh*t about their opinions. More brands should try it really!

  4. First question would be does the brand genuinely want to understand what the consumer really thinks?

    Sounds like a simple ‘yes’

    But the real question is, is the rest of the business set up to handle this new conversational model? If a great idea for a new product comes out of a Twitter conversation is the protocol in place for the research and development team to take this suggestion and run with it? Are they viewing these conversations as important as the thousand of dollars they spend on Marketing Research. If a great insight comes out of these conversations will they be as valued as an insight that comes out of $100,000 marketing research report?

    If the answer is yes, then this is definitely the right move.

    However make sure that your social media representative encapsulates the living breathing example of your brand. And any content that they produce is inline with the brand values. This may sound like a massive ask but isn’t this what your customer service department is already doing?

  5. CORPORATE SOCIAL NETWORKING: BRANDSTATION
    Brandstation is a collaboration and brand communications platform, created by viewmy.tv ltd. The platform uses social media technology to provide for an engaging and connected online experience.
    Brandstation creates a bespoke platform for companies to use for their internal and external communications to share information across teams in a more social and dynamic way.
    Brandstation offers bespoke solutions around brand communications and marketing. The platform created by Brandstation enables companies to enjoy the functionality of a Web 2.0 corporate social network for team collaboration.
    The platform allows users to video blog, customise event calendars, navigate with tag clouds, change design templates with dynamic flash navigation, manage RSS feeds, share social bookmarks, enjoy an intuitive and customized AJAX interface, and tag and search content across access-controlled team networks.
    Brandstation management features include the ability to access and control user profiles, content management with full control of workflow, the ability to direct events, forums, blogs, category and navigation, multi-format video channel management, real-time analytics reports and API integration.

  6. CORPORATE SOCIAL NETWORKING: BRANDSTATION
    Brandstation is a collaboration and brand communications platform, created by viewmy.tv ltd. The platform uses social media technology to provide for an engaging and connected online experience.
    Brandstation creates a bespoke platform for companies to use for their internal and external communications to share information across teams in a more social and dynamic way.
    Brandstation offers bespoke solutions around brand communications and marketing. The platform created by Brandstation enables companies to enjoy the functionality of a Web 2.0 corporate social network for team collaboration.
    The platform allows users to video blog, customise event calendars, navigate with tag clouds, change design templates with dynamic flash navigation, manage RSS feeds, share social bookmarks, enjoy an intuitive and customized AJAX interface, and tag and search content across access-controlled team networks.
    Brandstation management features include the ability to access and control user profiles, content management with full control of workflow, the ability to direct events, forums, blogs, category and navigation, multi-format video channel management, real-time analytics reports and API integration.

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