Insights from Social Media Strategies event


Today The Insight Exchange ran its Social Media Strategies event. It was an excellent session, with some great case studies. Below are the rough notes that I took during the event – hopefully a reasonable representation of what we heard.

Aisha Hilary, Communications Specialist, New Media and Brand, SBS

Social media is the use of electronic & internet tools for the purpose of sharing and discussing information and experiences with others.

It’s not niche any more – there are 5.1 million Australians on social networks, 7 million sharing photos, 3.6 million sharing video, 4.5 million reading blogs and 1.5 million with their own blogs.

So why engage? To each out and connect to customers and audience, building awareness, providing unique and relevant content, and building loyalty.

Overarching principles of strategy:

Listen & Understand

Context & Commitment

Create & Deliver

Listen, Engage & Facilitate

Evaluate, Learn & Listen again

SBS’s Insight program uses Twitter feeds in their live shows, and Facebook to identify topics and people who can speak on the program.

For Top Gear Australia, they used social media feedback on Series 1 to make changes to Series 2.

Sustainable engagement is critical – accessible, available, transparent, building a community around your brands or content.

The road to engagement is a cycle of


Kate Leaman, Brand Communication Manager, Premium Beer, Fosters Group

Con Frantzeskos, Digital and Social Media Strategist

Beer is a crowded and fragmented market, and Cascade needed a reinvigorated brand, so they redesigned the bottle for Pale Ale to appeal to a broader audience. Incidentally the bottle was smaller.

Many people were unhappy about this, spurring the creation of 8 anti-Pale Ale Facebook page with a total over 2,000 members against the change. Sales went down, including for draught beer, with Cascade’s home of Tasmania the worst impacted.

The Cascade team engaged in a social media 101 session with Edelman PR, and worked out what to do.

They monitored online conversations as a necessary first step, and used that to mould and inform their response. They could get insights into the degree of feeling on specific issues.

The first part of the response was to say sorry. The next step was to create content including Twitter and Facebook pages. Cascade was the world’s first brewery to be on Twitter. [A claim later disproved on Twitter – LovellLager beat them by almost three months.] This enabled Cascade to communicate directly to their community rather than through the media or advertising.

Frantzeskos engaged in social media on behalf of Cascade, making his role completely transparent.

It was a media campaign done backwards, starting with social media, then communities, and finally hitting the mainstream media, which quoted the positive things the community was saying about the relaunch.

The campaign was successful in terms of generating sales higher than before the disastrous initial change.

This was the first time the Fosters Group had engaged in social media, so there was much nervousness, with the legal team seeing the strategy as high risk. There are additional constraints in complying with alcohol advertising regulations. For example their Twitter site has a disclaimer.


* Continually monitor what’s being said

* Be transparent and respectful

* Make sure all information is correct

* Ask permission to engage in existing communities

* Influence by participating not pitching

* If you don’t have the expertise seek the advise of experts

* Set realistic benchmarks – expect that there will be negative sentiment

* It is an ongoing commitment – maintain the relationship/ conversation

* Be ready – if you need legal signoff to respond do as much as you can beforehand

* Have fun!

Chris Noble, General Manager, World Nomads

Listen, Learn and Respond

WorldNomads is a travel insurance company. It started by providing audio lessons and reference for languages.

They made it into an iPhone app which has had 550,000 downloads.

They use their community on Facebook, Twitter, and their own website to get feedback on any ideas they have for products and engaging their community.

In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami they created a contribution site, asking for $2, and found specific projects to support so that they could provide feedback on results to the contributors. They have created an API to enable other sites to bring in contributions.

When you monitor your brands online, often messages are misunderstood – it gets very complex. It is a can of worms, so if you do it you can’t be half-hearted.

Direct business has gone up from 30% to 40% since engaging in social media.

* Be stubborn with your Social Media Vision, but flexible with your plan

* Social Media provides an opportunity to engage and listen

* Engage through the channels where your customers are

* Respond & deliver relevant products and services that meet their needs – that’s what will drive positive word-of-mouth


One of the most prominent discussion topics after the presentation was about who to get from within the organization to participate in social media. One of the issues is finding the people who are both enthusiastic and responsible. Another key issue is giving people the latitude to contribute to social media as part of their role without it adding to their workload. People don’t want to commit to blogging or Twittering or otherwise engaging on behalf of their company if that’s then an ongoing commitment. They want to feel that they have support, and it doesn’t up in their lap only. In many cases social media initiatives never get underway because no-one puts their hand up.