Audience is a thought provoking reframe of the methods for utilising earned media by my colleague Jeffrey K. Rohrs (He assures me, he was using JKR well before Quidditch was conceived). Jeff believes those who attract audiences rather than renting those of others using paid media are at a significant competitive advantage.

Taking a cross channel lens, partly influenced by his time with the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, Jeff lays out a path to building audiences which first examines the different behaviour of SEEKERS, JOINERS and AMPLIFIERS and how they relate to SUBSCRIBERS, FANS and FOLLOWERS.

Filled with interesting examples and easy to follow thinking, Audience is a must for any marketer seeking to utilise content marketing or social media marketing or those looking to understand how to build earned media.

I particularly like the section on “the Art of Asking”, discussing the ideas of Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls who moved to a fan-based funding model for her work which creates a value exchange between her and those whose couch she crashes at while couch-surfing her way around the world on one of her many tours.

Also recommended for sometimes lamented email-marketers looking to find swagger to go with their highly effective digital activities. A channel is just a channel an audience is the object.

Check it out on kindle now

Or join Jeff and Myself at Dreamforce where we’ll be hearing the tale live (hopefully spoken-word style wearing smoking jackets). There will be shows at 11:30AM and 3PM, try the veal



Thanks to Tracy Harris at Austrade for having the marketing cloud at AIEC to share some ideas on social media marketing. It was a pleasure to join Andrew Bognar who shared some of the programs that NAB are running including the social media command centre. The stories that ring true for me for those in international education are pictured in the slides below.

  1. Lorna Jane – shows the importance of a strong content strategy, evergreen content pillars like Move, Nourish Believe combined with a kitbag of great social media tactics, has Lorna one of the best social marketing brands in Australia today.
  2. Shangri-La Hotels – have realised the importance of a local brand given the breadth of their operations across asia, europe and the middle east, they need to demonstrate local knowledge while maintaining a luxury asian brand. The local property manager owns the local social sentiment and is accountable for engagement.
  3. Tourism Australia – teaches us about creating content platforms which are big ideas that create a platform for many executions. They also use partnerships incredibly well to gain additional reach, funding and relevance.
Australian International Education Conference – Social Marketing from Derek Laney

MAD Week

An enjoyable afternoon at the MCA, overlooking the quay and chatting innovation in digital. A lively and sometimes possessed Faris Yakob set things up with a thought provoker. The afternoon continued with tech, debate and the inevitable questions are we innovating enough and who pays for innovation given the existing agency funding model.

Funding was a source of anxiety as agencies struggle to structure agreements which allow flexibility to fail while delivering the goods in a competitive and changing market.

For my part, I shared observations on salesforce’s journey so far to becoming (according to Forbes) the worlds most innovative company.

How to Build Innovative Culture (BandT MAD Week) from Derek Laney

Our last post dealt with observations on the higher education industry, in this post we look at solutions.

salesforce perspective

Over the last 6 years working in one of the fastest growing technology organisations where the majority of our workforce is ramping, I’ve made these observations:

  1. Just because information is shared on a social network or intranet doesn’t mean individuals will seek it out before needing the skills for their job. There is still a need for guides and teachers.
  2. In addition though self service knowledge is efficient, colocation creates strong ties and networks that can be leveraged into the future. At salesforce we use a bootcamp program to ensure new recruits form strong ties quickly.
  3. those who communicate stories well, are more effective than deep experts. Dr Karl is one of my favourite pop-educators and within our organisation it is these great communicators who consistently achieve in enablement. To aid understanding we should take the techniques we learn in content marketing and translate them into internal education or even better, just make our internal education materials public by default.

Our Learnings

For Universities

Similarly universities have a number of key competencies:

  1. A strong network of knowledge and coaches
  2. A dense cluster of like minded individuals who share similar needs and bring diverse experience
  3. Clear mapped pathways and widely recognised badges for achievement (Dip, MBA, PHD)

Utilising technology institutions can connect in a whole new way.

Connected Institutions

College fraternities know the benefit of intense shared experiences, hazing is still a popular process due to its power to bind individuals together to mutually support each other (make up your own mind if the end justifies the means).

Education institutions need to use technology to connect in a whole new way

  • with their students to bridge the experience gap, to listen to needs and provide personalised  pathways.
  • with faculties to provide consistent experience and joined-up learning
  • with other providers to provide life long learning pathways
  • with courses – MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) provide a tantilising vision of what taking the best knowledge and connecting it with social directly to student devices can do

(An Australian perspective with thanks to Dave Phillips of UTS and Mal Chia formerly of University of Adelaide)

In idyllic hobart, Tasmania the Australian higher education technology community gathered to hear the latest advances in the sector.  I took away a couple of things from the conference:

there is an amazing revolution taking place in open learning due to the convergence of cloud, mobile and social technologies and librarians these days, kinda kick-ass

While we may expect students to arrive at university with nothing but a notebook and open minds, the reality is that students see themselves as highly connected and capable. The rise in consumer expectations means students expect to consume information on-demand and be able to create their own learning pathways using a selection of available course materials.

The Education Experience Gap

The traditional student lifecycle and the processes universities have created to service students may no longer be relevant. Student contact hours are slowly decreasing in favour of self paced online video and in person workshops where key skills such as team collaboration and decision making can be fostered.

The Student Journey

Unfortunately some campus technology has failed to keep pace with this new demand for self directed learning. Whats needed is a renewed emphasis on user experience and persona based design.

Technology Gap

However for institutions the complexity of stakeholders slows progress, many decisions require wide consensus or voluntary adoption. This means a university technologist spends a lot of time educating and lobbying peers to use the available technologies and process advancements.

The Institutional EnvironmentWhen I think about my own learning, I initially started a creative arts degree (I wanted to be on stage), switched to Marketing and then combined Information Systems after interning at a friends garage software startup. Seeing the potential to self learn with support of a good mentor I completed university full time but attended minimal contact hours (2 days a week), skipping unnecessary tutorials in favour of time spent in the workplace and self learning software development online.

My RealityMy Ven diagram might look a little like the above. I’m an advocate for a university education for my kids but I feel like institutions need to adapt to support life-long learning to support the needs of the workplace and individual enlightenment.

At we talk a lot about the convergence of Social, Mobile, BigData, Communities, Identity, Trust and Cloud as being a customer revolution. Its clear in education this also manifests as an education revolution.

Salesforce @ Theta 2013 from Derek Laney

Burberry for all their digital cleverness, knows the power of In Real Life, its tactile and sensual. Check out their story here.

Which is why IRL is such an important part of any digital campaign. I love what Sydney Opera House is doing recently with real cool real life experiences. I loved El Loco bar in the forecourt over summer and I am loving this live broadcast on youtube from the opera house steps from two local rock legends and my personal faves.

So when your designing your next uber-cool digital campaign, remember to keep it real. Using a compelling event like a live broadcast release is a great way to build interest and extend the life of your content.  For another great example, checkout salesforce live during a big event like dreamforce.

Available from SOH for the next 30 days…coolness

Originally posted on

While its been said your brand is the sum of the conversations, your brand looks a heck of a lot nicer if you pump great content onto youtube and instagram as red bull well knows. According to ADMA and CMI, 96% of marketers use the strategy but sadly only 29% think they have it nailed. And its not just about viral hits like dumb ways to die, a content drumbeat that connects with customers and leads them to advocacy wins in the long term.


Interviewed by razorfish’s Iain Mcdonald as ad:tech social media chair – Sydney March 12

While not news to most marketers in Australia, its clear that in the world of social media, increasingly digital strategy leans on brand produced content to build their online identity and encourage positive community engagement.

In 2013 most are increasing their budget as the model is largely proven through experimentation

Now will commence a full scale content war

Brands will fight to be the trusted source of information or the news breaker adopting traditional media models with inhouse journalists, editors and producers. Agencies are being handed newsjacking briefs to “do an oreo” rather than prebaked plans.

Realtime insights will become increasingly important

the old adage of 50% of my (content) marketing spend is wasted, if only I could know which 50%. We need to look for ways to scale the model across brands, campaigns and regions to make it repeatable. Some great learnings from the Obama campaign on how they used data to drive focus and then executed at scale in this previous post.

If you are a bank, telco or airline, there’s already a tonne of service related chatter as a baseline though you are focussed on creating positive sentiment by telling the stories that matter to your customers. Commbank CMO @kiwilark summed it up when he said

Your stories are more important than your brand

If you sell earthmoving equipment or airline engines you may be more challenged by silence, but brands like CAT and GE have showed this is not a reason to hide in trade mags as your sole source of outreach. A good story told and produced well wins every time.

If “soap” companies can do it, so can you

see the Unilever’s AXE graphic novel or more locally Nestle’s Fists of Fusion.

Finally, the result must be a great customer experience not just clever marketing, retail brands likeBurberry are starting to blur the line between physical and digital as they create luscious online and physical experiences to create customer experience which make you want to own the trenchcoat to match 🙂

AdTech 2013: Innovation and Measurement in Social Media from Derek Laney

originally posted on

Whatever your politcal persuasion, it was great watching Andrew Bleeker on ABC Big Ideas replayed on the weekend as a study in organised execution, you can watch the recording here or view the slides here. Below are my favourite points:


1. Using “Big” Data

Our core problem was not getting more data, it was bringing our silos of data together to be person centric  and unify sources from different channels. We want to move from demographics to modelling our audience, we needed to reach specific voters in key states like Ohio and Florida we modelled your liklihood to vote and your liklihood to vote for us and made it usable across channels.

2. Creating a Drumbeat of Interesting Moments

News drives search and social. There are not enough natural moments to fill a content calnedar.

Memes (inside jokes that everybody knows) are a great way to create interesting moments when there is nothing else to talk about.

Create an influencer outreach program where you can use a private channel to activate influencers when you have a story.

Use paid media to amplify your social impact. Using ad space to place your social content near your audience.

3. Managing to the Content Plan (Message)

Have a single message, break it into campaigns. Hold back information, make it bite size and use it in a rythymn which all aligns to your campaign. Even real time response and newsjacking needs to tie back to your campaign or why do it?

4. Activating Advocates

There is a distrust in authority, but I’ll trust my friend because I assume they do not have an agenda.

To activate your fans, provide clear instructions and consider delivering your message via personalised private comms i.e. Email.

5. Nuturing Relationships

You dont wake up wanting to take a brands call to action.

Start with easy high reach content and then draw through a content funnel. Starts with pictures of pets, moves to highly visual expressions of data. Make sure your facts are credible with a date and source.

6. Closing The Loop to Create Loyalty

We constantly say “share this”, “buy this”, but we also need to focus on rewarding loyalty by telling people why they are in our community, rewarding them and letting them share success of your joint goals.

7. Using a Spectrum for Issue Response

Your PR playbook needs more tools than the corporate hammer, create a spectrum of spokespeople and twitter handles that can respond at the appropriate level so issues don’t escalate further.

8. Prioritising Personalisation

Now we have more segmentation than we can create targeted content for. Hone in on the key variables to get full value from the production bandwidth you have.

Whatever your political persuations, a campaign team is an impressive enterprise, for more info on how the team ran their systems in the cloud, check out our customer story here.

My favourite hobby is learning weird skills, its the reason why I am setting up Lunatriks the centre for kids who want to learn non-monetizable skills to impress their friends.

Surfing Lesson October 2012 from Derek Laney on Vimeo.

I think professionally and personally learning new skills expands your mind and keeps your mind open.

Experiencing new things is key to business and is the key to innovation.

via Danielle Walley

Local Governments do a lot of great work which is rarely fully appreciated.  In the past, a lot of the complaints towards local councils were in private and around the dinner table.  It was feedback the councils never saw, but also didn’t damage the brand.

Most Government departments and councils have been quite late adopters of social media as a communication channel.  In fact a recent survey by the ACELG  found that a lot of Australian Councils were still a long way from getting to grips with Social Media, finding that only 46% of councils still disallowed social media use at work, only 26 per cent have a social media policy and only 21 per cent train staff in social media.

So to understand how to better harness the opportunity that social media provides government, we were lucky enough to be joined on this webinar by the Social Media Officer at Brisbane City Council –Tracy Whitelaw .  The slides are below but also a recording of the webinar is embedded within (just scroll through the slides to the end).

But Tracy was able to break out the top five ways in which Social Media can help government departments in a new communications environment that is more transparent, engageing, targeted and real time.

1. Crisis Communications.  Brisbane’s most recent crisis was the terrible floods that hit Southern Queensland in January 2010.  Tracy explains how as the crisis kicked in, the corporate website was unable to keep up and the Council decamped its entire communications channel to Twitter and Facebook.  Social Media as a channel is so much more immediate and effective in terms of getting messages out and crowd-sourcing information in.  (Tracy’s experience here is invaluable so worth listening to the audio for this alone)

2. Engage at Government Scale.  This reprises the feedback issue raised earlier.  It does require some culture change within government but to carry the community with you on new Government projects is essential.  The way in which Social Media that can be used to target certain communities, areas or locations – or even different demographics.  Different channels serve for different purposes – you need to be where your audience is.

3. Social Service Delivery.  A Government Department should today handle Social enquiries just as they do through the phone or the mail.  From queries about lodging a Development Application to complaints about road degradation should all be services that government can deliver via social channels

4. Research & Consultation. Government Organisations need to engage with their community through social media and get ideas from them. Most Organisation start by listening to people talk about them only, but it is equally important that you follow similar organizations that are like yours. Of course the real insights are around “What matters to your customers”, not to you! It is  important that you use a Social Media tool that reaches across various social channels so you don’t miss out on those important conversations that are effecting, your business and your customers.

5. Social Marketing. Its NOT  just for selling products. Social Media is best used when you consider 3 main concepts for your communication content. Once you have all three concepts covered, you can then use Social Media to amplify that message to your target audience. This type of social media strategy is very powerful and allows the target  to rethink their impression of your organization, by removing the faceless mask they have known in the past, and engaging with content that is easy and enjoyable to consume.

5 Ways the Public Sector is Maximising Value from Social from Derek Laney