Thursday, December 23, 2010

The rise of #dickileaks and a girl wanting to be a star

This post appears on my company's blog

The latest social media fiasco is more than just the exposure of AFL players.

Listening, reading and watching the actions of the girl in question, who appears to be @its_k_isabella (now @its_k_isabellas) on Twitter, is a lesson in how an attention seeking teenager aims to turn herself into a household name. As each hour passes, it feels more and more like a viral campaign, with a goal of making this girl rich on notoriety.

I don’t for one second think she planned a media strategy. Like any 17 year old teenager who uses social multimedia to interact with others, @its_k_isabella has simply used those tools that are at everyone’s disposal. However for her, the growth is exponential - as her need for attention grows so does her usage.

Her twitter account only started in March, there were allegations of falling pregnant to a Saints player in May (here and here), she refers to her pregnancy on Twitter in August

Yay! I get to sit on a stool at work, because I'm pregnant.. haha, how cute!
1:06 PM Aug 23rd via web

November rolls around and her Twitter account becomes incredibly more active. She issues a warning to the Saints Twitter account

@stkildafc Get ready for damage control...... !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tue Nov 16 2010 16:32:42 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time) via web in reply to stkildafc

She mentions some photos

Well well well... Lookie what we have here.. I'm seeing photos.. ?
Fri Nov 19 2010 21:52:01 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time) via Mobile Web

She gets a publicist, at 17 she’s writing her autobiography, she’s on the radio and TV. By December she’s even tweeted her phone number.

It’s either a case of being completely irresponsible on social media, or someone wanting and desiring of attention and constant contact. From the need to create drama, the interaction with the media over Twitter and her attitude to the controversy, I would say the latter.

The publicity machine is in full swing in December. The last few days are off the charts having watched her twitter followers grow from 2000 on the morning of the 21st to 9,500 at the time of posting. She loves the attention and loves talking about it.

Its_k_isabella: "twitter is experiencing technical difficulties. In our terms : you're getting too many feeds!" about 18 hours ago via Mobile Web

The fact that she is the controller of the photos and set to release them at timed intervals has those following the action waiting with bated breath. This is the key to her campaign, but without new photos, it’s short lived.

On December 21 there was an announcement by its_k_isabella that she would be releasing photos at 5pm. Come the deadline, there were no photos. Hundreds of people began tweeting to her wanting more pictures to ogle:

MayainMelbourne: @its_k_isabella so where are the new images? Don’t worry about the police or repercussions… you are far too in now (deleted at the time of posting)

Diamondinvest: @its_k_isabella put them up Don't worry about them Your strong
about 21 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone in reply to its_k_isabella

Mattylp: @its_k_isabella any new photos soon? Love your work ;)
about 21 hours ago via web

The drip feed of content is key and demonstrates her incessant need to be the central focus. Even if at the expense of her own credibility in the process.

What she has been successful in creating is a rallying community around #dickileaks. Having fallen off the back of the #wikileaks scandal, with its own Australian connections, it is a perfect hashtag for the topic.

The scandal and the pictures themselves, have little interest to me. We’ve been seeing this type of sports mischief all year and there seems to be some other issue at play. However there are a few parts to this that intrigue me from a social media perspective.

The first is the heritage of the great Australian pisstake. People want to be as funny as they can across Twitter. (I wrote a post on this earlier in the year for #election2010). Here, we haven’t been disappointed. A constant flow of tweets mentioning #dickileaks, #saints, Riewoldt or its_k_isabella is fast approaching a volume 25,000 within the last 60 hours. The other added bonus is people just wanting to have a laugh at some private pictures that should never have seen the light of day. The voyeuristic element comes into play.

The second component is how she uses her Twitter account. Her account is structured like she’s already arrived. She only follows a handful of people, but has thousands of followers. The mark of celebrity.

She is also using the platform to create and establish relationships with celebrities and the media. She gloats about her appearances, requests interviews and interacts with celebs like they’re old friends.

Its_k_isabella: @3AW693 I'd Like to reply on what Ricky said, thanks.
about 17 hours ago via Mobile Web in reply to 3AW693

Its_k_isabella: 29 Radio Interviews, 4 Video interviews. so tired! need something to keep me going, Considering uploading a photo now, rather than at 5pm?
about 20 hours ago via Mobile Web

Its_k_isabella: @pippy85 Sorry!!! Was on the phone to abc!!
Tue Dec 21 2010 07:57:13 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time) via Mobile Web in reply to pippy85

@RubyRose1 Hahahah yeah! Long story! Care to call? :) x
Mon Dec 20 2010 20:50:37 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time) via Mobile Web in reply to RubyRose1

It’s not the way we usually see things being done. There’s no protocol and the idea of traditional media liaison are out the window. Her no-holds-barred accessibility is worrisome. Not because those barriers into traditional media shouldn’t be broken. It’s because it’s scary to attempt to create fame at the expense of other people as well as yourself. There’s no thinking or concern. It just appears a frantic grab for fame, especially seeing that newspapers and TV are being so diligent in concealing her image and she is happy to do quite the opposite. The contrast between the two is extraordinary. Her self created spiral of destruction means she tweets at the drop of a hat, publishes video diaries and she answers questions on a forum - on which every question is taken seriously.
In today’s world does being someone on the internet now mean you’re someone? Is it really that simple?

The third is its_k_isabella’s desire to create a supportive community network. She wants people to use #riewoldting as a hashtag to gain support. It didn’t seem to take off. There were about 70 tweets at the time of posting.

Its_K_Isabella RT @VinoGuySays: @its_k_isabella Hi Kim, let's start the hashtag #riewoldting so we can keep up with the tweets. Please RT.1 day ago via Twitter for iPad

It appears that if you're a little bit naive, want to be famous and aren't, you support Kim. If you're more on the mature side of life (mentally), you can see the insanity in what's going on.

Yet as time passes and no more photos appear, the community realisation is setting in that there probably is nothing else, her star is quickly dwindling. Her video posted on the evening of December 21st has taken her rising star to a new dimension.

Its_k_isabella: I just broadcasted live on Ustream! Missed my show? Check it out:
6:28 PM GMT+10:00
about 15 hours ago via Ustream.TV

There is no doubt that you want to watch every second of her. Seeing where she can take this train wreck is newsworthy. It’s puzzling that her phone rings every second yet she doesn’t think to turn it off. One clear theme of the video is that she implores people to support her, but support her in what?

We are in the middle of a new media beast. A novice who thinks they can use these tools to create something out of nothing. A descendant of Lara Bingle, Paris and Perez Hilton. Does this mean we should come to expect more of these? Teenagers and fame hungry individuals who want to be players in the media space by tampering with the credibility of other more well known individuals?

New and social media isn’t to be underestimated. This girl has played with fire, and has been warned not to post more content by police with no real jurisdiction over the channel. Will this incident change the way we use social media, prompting us to use it with caution? Will laws change?

There have already been a few incidences this year of similar issues including Andrew Bolt’s accusation of identity theft over fake twitter accounts in his name (see here) and Julie Posetti defending Twitter defamation of the editor of the Australian (here).

Watch this space, because its_k_isabella may have just broken the camel’s back. I am slightly concerned that by next week we will all feel like we've been had. Something just doesn't feel right. But one thing I do know, she can be certain that if you get your own Taiwanese animated news item, you’ve definitely arrived.

dedicated to Kim

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Understanding Influencers Pt II – Activating and Measuring

This is the second post of "Understanding Influencers". Read the previous post here.
The original post appeared on my company's blog here.

Hoopla in social media creates anxiety, pressure and lots of it.

The constant influx of social and new media conferences give me the impression that people are scrambling. They just want to gather as much knowledge about everything going on without taking a step back and assessing the lay of the land.

Think of it like this- when you go to the cinema and find out that all the tickets to the movie that you want to see are sold out, don’t panic. Instead of trying to scramble to think of one other movie you could see instead, just relax, keep your exorbitantly priced $18 worth of ticket in your wallet and come back when there are tickets to the movie you really wanted to see in the first place.

It’s the same in the new media space. Instead of scrambling to get a piece of the pie without really wanting to be involved, or thinking it through properly, relax. First think what’s right for your company, your audience and your voice. Then take action. Approach your influencers, understand their needs and how they match your clearly defined needs. Find a happy medium if necessary, but never jump in with your eyes closed.

Essentially that happy medium should be something where both parties get something out of the relationship including a mandatory of a return on investment for the company. That return doesn’t have to be financial. It can be number of interactions, positive feedback, or even just impressions. You need to know what your measure of success will be.

Which leads us to the measurement. Part and parcel of the activation. There are a lot of companies out there trying to find the ‘right way’ and just like everything else in social media, it’s different for everybody.

As we navigate through the space, I can share some tips that I’ve picked up:

  1. Relevancy

    Ensure you track and follow those mentions that are only relevant to you. Identify and create a list of the terms that apply to you, your brand and your message.

    My favourite line of this year for relevancy “Apple isn’t just a fruit. It’s a fruit, it’s a brand and it’s a celebrity’s baby”.

  2. Don’t be blinded by all mentions

    Just like in the real world, when some people share something it just doesn’t have the weight that other people may bring to their comments. When establishing influencers and watching comments within the space, make sure you really qualify the chatter as well:

    • Do the voices have an impact in your relevant market, no matter where they happen to be?

    • Are the listeners qualified? Is there a sizeable number who are actually real people?

    • Rate the comments on a scale of influence across the socialsphere.

  3. Benchmarking

    It’s very hard to benchmark in new media with previous comparable campaigns being few and far between. So use your competitors as a healthy benchmark. Measure them on the same scale that you measure your own brand on.

    • What are they doing?

    • How many people are mentioning them?

    • What’s their level of engagement and influence?

  4. Don’t’ let your measurement stay idle, use it to your advantage

    Use what you’re gathering, during your activation, to continually optimize and revise engagement. We don’t know how people will respond or what they will respond to. So run with the things that get positive response and make them bigger. Drop the ideas that don’t work. The beauty of social media is still the ability to change tack in a heartbeat. Use that to your advantage.

This world isn’t set in stone. It’s constantly moving and changing. Go with the change, keep experimenting and work with what works best for you and your campaigns. Think intelligently about objectives, success metrics and measurement. Use the tools already at your disposal to help you learn more about what works best for you.

Oh Kid Cudi, you're great. Please help bring back summer

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Understanding Influencers

A month ago a documentary on influencers was released. It’s a great piece which begins to uncover the realities of this breed.

“INFLUENCERS is a short documentary that explores what it means to be an influencer and how trends and creativity become contagious today in music, fashion and entertainment. The film attempts to understand the essence of influence, what makes a person influential without taking a statistical or metric approach.”

INFLUENCERS FULL VERSION from R+I creative on Vimeo.

There is no denying that influencers is a new key buzz word that’s here to stay. It isn’t a fad, it’s one of the cemented foundations of the new communications paradigm as we know it. Influencers are the key to spreading news and ideas across their social networks of interest.

We probably first saw use of the idea in Malcolm Gladwell’s book- The Tipping Point – where he investigated the idea of Mavens, Salesmen and Connectors. They all did their job to spread different types of information and an influencer is a simplified idea of those concepts. They are a trusted individual and the go to person on a certain topic.

When we come to the world of media, marketing and PR who are the influencers?

Official media people, i.e. anyone with a press pass, is an influencer. They have a platform which supports them and allows them to have a voice. On the other side is the existing audience base whether in press, online or broadcast. No doubt there is influential power, but it’s much more one way and harder to establish 2 way communication. Censorship and control may have something do with that.

Bloggers, tweeps and social media addicts have to build their audiences and become recognized as influencers. Once they arrive they often have the potential to influence people with more authority than traditional influencers. The removed barriers of access allows them to be more honest, upfront and simply more accessible that those in a corporation/media provider cannot adhere to. They are therefore more trusted.

The added benefit of being completely open and (generally) uncensored means everyone in the network has a say. The influencer is driving the conversation, but any comment, positive or negative, has a place.

Is there a difference in harnessing the influential power of either of these influencers?

There is, but it’s debatable. Once a social media influencer becomes as well known as any other media personality, do they not automatically become part of that celebrity bucket?

My initial reaction is yes- but these types are few and far between. Perez Hilton and Dooce are one in a million. Any marketing approach here would be viewed as the classic celebrity endorsement.

The influencers we all need to be harnessing are those who have real connections with their respective communities. They participate and connect with as many of these people in their communities as they can. They are part of something as opposed to the sole driver. They may also connect with people in the real world, or the prospect of meeting is a possibility. It is a more real relationship and all levels of pretense are removed.

And the simple way to get involved in these circles, with these influencers, is find ways to give back. Find the leverage point where your company/brand can connect and allow advocacy to grow. Relinquish a bit of control and respect these influencers – giving them complete freedom creates more appreciation. Influencers will feel that they are respected as equals and trusted by a big corporate.

What Next?

The bottom line is that these relationships are constantly evolving and the influencer importance within a communications strategy is growing. We are understanding new components of the influencer dynamic every day. But by tapping these new voices you can generate positive returns for your business and that’s never a bad thing.

This post also appeared on my comapny's blog

The good and the bad of iStrategy2010, Sydney

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend iStrategy2010 in Sydney.

As someone who has attended a lot of conferences and been disappointed many a time with the one or two nuggets I leave with, this one was pretty good. There were some really inspirational speakers who brought some great insights and ideas to the table and then there were the speakers who rehash the same old chestnuts that we’ve all heard before.

So let’s break it down:

The Good

Haresh Khoobchandani
Chief Marketing Officer, Consumer and Online - Microsoft Asia Pacific

Haresh was without doubt the best speaker at the conference. He spoke about Microsoft social media marketing operating on a dynamic basis and the notion that as technology gets easier and more sophisticated, things get harder for business.

Key points:

  • Facebook is not a communications channel, it is a social service. Unable to acquire data becomes a huge chink in a social media strategy.

  • Microsoft continually monitor their social media campaigns and re optimize tactics on the fly.

  • Search is a form of engagement- a nice thought and a different way of understanding the channel.

  • Microsoft heavily tracks competitors in the social space to benchmark their results. Year on year data is pretty much useless and comparison paints a much better picture.

Mark Wynne
President South Asia Kimberly-Clark

The Australian-New Zealand market is leading the way for Kimberley Clark. They’re changing from a ‘telling and selling’ marketing function to one which focuses on building relationships.

They’ve established communities around their 2 biggest brands- Huggies and Kleenex. They understand that nappies, tissues and toilet paper aren’t passion points for people in social media but parenting is. And they actually attempt to migrate their community from the Huggies to the Kleenex community as babies grow into kids.

The only fault (and not even such a bad one) is the lack of connectivity to fathers- but then there are Dads in the community, they just aren’t as vocal as the mothers.

Glenis Carroll
Group General Manager of Marketing Fairfax Digital

Glenis spoke in detail about email marketing and how important it is for most businesses. Numerous commentators continue to bring up the conversation that email is dead. It seems the only reason they do that is because they have nothing else to say and it stirs up a good debate - an easy way to create conversation.

The quote of the conference came out of this workshop- if Facebook says email is dead, how come you need an email account to login?

Email is effective if used correctly:

  • Prior to sending an EDM, always ask how you are going to make a conversation valuable to a customer. Sending effective emails minimizes the chances of getting on Spam lists which is an increasing problem for companies which rely on heavy EDM sends.

  • Benchmark open rates against your respective industry.

  • Subscribers are a long term investment and not a short term opportunity- results won’t happen in one click.

  • Clean your email databases every 90 days. Forrester reports that 27% of people change their email addresses every year (2009 statistic).
Other goodies

Nick Love
Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand at MySpace & IGN Entertainment

Nick made me want to venture back into the land of mySpace. They’ve realized their shortcomings, reassessed and created a hub that keeps your blood pressure down

Mark Jones
Digital Director, Fox Sports

Mark’s honest and frank approach to social media is refreshing. They’re trying, trying to make Fox Sports useful and more accessible to their fanbase.

The Bad


Panels weren’t the greatest largely due to the fact that everyone was on the same side. Effective panels need to have polarizing sides full of drama, hyperbole and misused facts. That’s when people get fired up and more interested in the discussion.

A workshop on Mobile

We’re at a stage of the e-Revolution where smart phones are becoming the norm. Yes it may have been the potential year of mobile in 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09 and 2010, but in 2011 every Dick and Harry has a mini computer in their pocket (according to Nielsen, Tom might not have one yet) and they are appreciating the useful functionality that comes with it.

Missing this thought is the reason this workshop failed. Now that people and companies actually have a more solid understanding of this channel, how do we utilize it and shift marketing from pure message and play? How do you, as a brand, become a necessary functionality in someone’s mobile life?

And then from there, how can you further monetize and see returns?

Len Starnes - Head of Digital & Marketing & Sales General Medicine Bayer Schering Pharma
Phil Owens - Former Global Brand Head, Yaz Family Bayer Health Care

This panel discussion was disappointing and could have been so much more effective.

I think the main issue here is that Pharma is trying to use social media in a B2C sense. The restrictions surrounding pharmaceutical marketing is just too much of a barrier that the Pharma marketing function should reassess their approach to social media and create strategies within a B2B framework.

Social media doesn’t actually employ only one B2C strategy and copying that for a B2B context just won’t work. There is no way to compare the tactics employed by the 2 streams. B2B doesn’t have the natural passion points like a clothing brand or electronic device. It’s a completely different headspace and to mimic it within B2B is an immediate fail.

The suggestion I have for Pharma is take the insights from your target and the things you know about social media and apply those to your B2B social marketing strategies. Remembering that social media doesn’t just mean digital. Social media is a complete evolution in how companies talk to their customers. Use those insights to reshape relationships with clients in ways that work for pharma.

Key takeaways

The bad still weans some really good insight and understanding in the space. So not so bad after all.

I think the key to this being a good conference was the high level of understanding of social media and its impact on business. The other key factor was the way that case studies were more than just case studies. Strategy, methodologies and the derivation of idea processes enabled attendees to leave with new ways of tackling business issues, rather than just cool stories to tell.

If you missed this one, I strongly recommend going to the next iStrategy conference near your area.

This blog also appeared on my company's blog

Loving Kanye right now....