The problem with the Australian social media industry

by James Duthie on April 23, 2009

I have a problem. Actually, let me rephrase that… the problem is not mine. It’s our industry. It has a problem. A real attitude problem. It’s been bothering me for a while. The problem is this – the Australian social media industry simply doesn’t live up to its name. And it certainly does not live up to its nature. Indeed, to me it often seems like the word ‘anti’ should be placed in front of the word social. Because anti-social is the only way to describe a fair proportion of the behaviour I’ve observed lately…

First, a little bit of background to give some context to my rant. I started playing with social media towards the end of 2007 as a tactic to support an agency blog I was managing. I increased my efforts further in 2008 upon creating my own personal blog. I’ve been a regular ever since. From the beginning, I gravitated towards global networks. My blog didn’t have geographic boundaries, so why should my social networking? In particular I spent a lot of time within a network called Sphinn.

The international experience

Sphinn is a social news network dedicated solely to the Internet marketing industry. Think of a niche version of Digg where search and social media marketers congregate. Sphinn is predominantly a network of North American marketers, with a smattering of Europeans for good measure. I was one of just a handful of Australians participating regularly. Sphinn attracted some of the highest profile participants in the industry, including:

  • Matt Cutts from Google
  • Danny Sullivan & Matt McGee from Search Engine Land
  • Maki from Dosh Dosh
  • Lee Odden from Top Rank
  • Rand Fishkin from SEO Moz

The thing that immediately struck me about the community was the general rapport amongst members. From a practical perspective, everyone within the network was a competitor. Yet they were sharing tips and intellectual property freely. And while lively debate often ensued around topics of discussion, interaction was almost always conducted with a healthy dose of mutual respect and maturity. Of course, conflict did occur from time to time, but it was the exception rather than the rule. The same sadly cannot be said of the Australian social media industry…

The local experience

Over the past 4 months I have spent an increasing amount of time reading and engaging within Australian marketing communities such as Mumbrella. It’s fair to say the experience has been markedly different. If I had to use a couple of terms to describe the general style of behaviour within Australian marketing communities it would be arrogant, snarky, uncollaborative and petty. Unlike our international counterparts, many participants within Australian marketing communities seem to be unable to put competitive considerations aside to discuss industry issues in a constructive and unbiased manner. Conversations consistently turn into slanging matches:

The irony of the situation is that the arrogance we Australians display in critiquing each others social media initiatives is largely misplaced. Because despite the level of noise, the number of corporate social media success stories is severely limited. Sure… we’re heading in the right direction. More and more brands are testing the waters with social tools and technologies. But how many local initiatives are roaring success stories? In 2009, we’ve probably only had Tourism Queensland’s ‘Best job in the world’ campaign, which was more viral than social. So where does the arrogance come from…?

Undoubtedly it’s because we all use social tools in our personal lives. But so what? We all use email as well. Does that make us email marketing experts? Knowing how to use the tools for personal reasons is far different to utilising them to achieve defined business objectives. I use social technologies to support this blog. I also recommend social initiatives to corporate clients as part of my agency role. Many of the tactics I employ for this blog are simply unfeasible for a business environment based on issues such as time frames, ROI, resourcing, legalities and management hesitancy. But alas, many of our casual armchair users have annointed themselves as ‘experts’.

Which means that agencies that attempt to lead clients down the social path are left open to public ridicule by our army of ‘experts’. Amnesia’s recent campaign with Aussie Home Loans is a case in point. By all accounts the results of the campaign seem to be modest. However, ridicule does little to help the industry. Australia needs agencies like Amnesia to lead high profile clients (such as Aussie Home Loans) down the social media highway. Ultimately, their success will make our job of convincing clients of the benefits of social media far easier. Most Australian businesses are inherently conservative and it is only once we see some high profile success stories that mindsets will begin to shift.

Where are the real experts?

Or perhaps the real question should be is there such thing as a social media expert? And if so, what are the relevant criteria to qualify? This post is not meant to undermine the quality of talented individuals within the Australian community, but rather the general nature of interaction. Indeed, I’ve met some fantastically smart and savvy individuals in the industry such as Jonathon Crossfields, Ian Lyons & Nathan Bush. According to my good friend Lucio Ribeiro, Melbourne’s chapter of the Social Media Club is teeming with talented individuals. And others such as Mark Pollard are certainly embracing a colloborative approach by offering free educational session on Twitter. So the professionals are out there. Interestingly though, I can’t remember seeing any of them engaging in industry slanging matches.

As perhaps Australia’s most recognised expert within the social industry, I think it’s appropriate to close the discussion with the words of Gavin Heaton on the topic.

“Social media is not about you. It’s about your clients and their customers. It’s about finding win-win outcomes for products and services and the people who use and consume them.”

Touche. It’s time to forget the egos Australia. Forget the competitive pissing contests. If you have to criticise a campaign, why not make it constructive? Use your ‘expertise’ to open a real discussion about how it could have been improved. Share your knowledge in a manner that is constructive rather than destructive.

Many of us are out there preaching the virtues of participating within social communities in a responsible and respectful manner. Many of us talk about using social tools for effective collaboration. Isn’t it time we actually started practicing what we preach…?

* Special thanks to my good mate Lucio Ribeiro for contributing his detailed thoughts that helped to shape the post prior to publishing

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Parker April 23, 2009 at 3:51 am

I tend to agree. In some respects it’s a bit like Twitter. You need to be careful about the whole space and connect to those who you develop a good feel for.

I attended a couple of SM/marketing events in the US last year and it amazed me at how open and collaborative they were compared to how we’re approaching it down here.

I think some of the Australian “experts” need to start drinking their own kool-aid.


Matt Hazel April 23, 2009 at 4:03 am

I completely agree.

I just finished writing something pretty similar actually. I think the big problem is that people’s desire to grab attention is greater than their desire to do good shit. This has always been a problem, but the internet and social media are making it worse. Ironically, the internet and social media is the best means we’ve ever had to fix this too, we just need to use it properly.

lucio ribeiro April 23, 2009 at 4:09 am

Hey James, thanks for the kudos.
You were spot on.
Here’s some extra thoughts…
It’s funny how we Australians have claimed ourselves as “experts” or “consultants” without any experience. We have little history of success or fail.
Probably, the arrogance is a consequence of our isolation and the misinterpretation of knowing the tools against knowing how to use the tools.
A surplus of whiz kids and ‘general’ marketers are claiming to be social media experts and even social media gurus and this creates big egos.But their claims are based more on what they’ve read than what they’ve done for real clients.
Ego causes confusion and the confusion is in believing that arrogance and attacking equals recognition.
Social media requires skill, time, and money. We are lacking skills and we are not helping to fix the problem.
Many of the players are arrogant and pretend to be in a position where we are not yet.
Opinion and theory are no match for experience. Instead of altering our views to fit the facts it seems to some of us that it’s easier to alter the facts to fit their views

Kate Richardson April 23, 2009 at 5:35 am

Here here.

I also liked Gavin’s comment in relation to all the discussion and sniping about social media experts which I think from memory was something like ‘so what?’.

Tim Burrowes April 23, 2009 at 5:58 am

Hi James,

Let me start by making a hopelessly optimistic point. I think people may be so embarrassed by the bad behaviour of the last couple of weeks, that we may already be at the turning point.

I was away from the Mumbrella comment stream all day yesterday, and contemplated turning on comment moderation. But I stuck with it, and was delighted – and slightly surprised – that there was barely a mean comment to be seen.

You know how you really like a band, and they suddenly get popular and you feel a bit corss with the new kids? There’s been a bit of that going on, I think. But I’m hoping it’s a phase that everyone is passing through.

I’ve noticed that what seems to have been particularly drawing fire is when people try to gather people together in the real world – Social media Club Sydney and the #beachmeet are the most recent examples. Yet when you do meet people at these events they tend to be both positive and inspiring.

It was only five months ago that I became more involved in new media than traditional. In that time, I’ve met far more interesting, clever, creative, thought-provoking people than I have the anti’s. So let’s not forget that disquieting as some of this has been, there are a lot of bloody great people supprting social media in Australia.

Tim – Mumbrella

Nathan Bush April 23, 2009 at 6:54 am

Well done mate, nice post. That took some balls (I’m just talking about calling me ‘smart’ on the public record).

I hadn’t thought of it this way before but do you think that the overly aggressive approach by some is making up for a lack of substance? Especially as new waves of intelligent and passionate people come into an area which was once their niche? I know we’ve seen a heap of critics but not nearly as many problem solvers.

Being a Brisbanite I am fairly shielded from the inner politics going on in Sydney, and to a lesser extent Melbourne. However, it’s pretty transparent as we operate in a ‘social domain’. It’s like leaving your skid stained undies out to dry on the front porch. Surely if we can see it, potential clients can see it, and that’s not cool.

Tiphereth April 23, 2009 at 7:59 am

As one of the organisers of the Social Media Club in Sydney, I have been shocked at the level of aggression and vitriol directed to us by various individuals who obviously feel threatened that anyone else dare play in their sand pit. Its been quite an eye opener to see how misinformed the most vocal opponents have been and how they spread their mistaken opinion as fact in channels who should know better than to publish them.
The reason we set up Social Media Club in Sydney was to get people who would otherwise not go to Tweetups coming to hear case studies and participate. The levels of response to the initial meetup have been proof enough to see that it is wanted. The longer term goal is to ensure we keep interest with relevant topics and case studies from our fledgling market. The more general support and PR we can get for the mainstream, the more likelihood the budgets for social media initiatives can be approved.

lucio ribeiro April 23, 2009 at 8:26 am

The world doesn’t spin around sydney!

Gavin Heaton April 23, 2009 at 10:44 am

Great post, James.

You are right – there are precious few businesses actually “doing” social media here in Australia. Sure there’s a campaign or two – but there is a real difference between using social media tools and creating a social media campaign/program.

Social media (or social platforms/technologies) is very broad. It is not just marketing, or advertising, or even customer service. It’s not Facebook and it’s not Twitter. The potential of social media to impact and change the way that we live our lives is profound. Look at Moldova. Look at Mumbai. Smell the humanity.

It’s much bigger than we dare to imagine.

Leon April 23, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Hi James,

Great post – I think you’ve expressed it well for many.

My observations are that relatively newer social media services ie Twitter (and to some extent Facebook) have lowered the technological barriers to participating online to a point where practically anyone can establish a web presence. This is a good thing. Consciously or not, anyone with a web presence is effectively an online marketer. (Some are just more effective at achieving their goals than others.)

My belief is that all the hubub of the last few days will mean very little in the coming months and years as the online population becomes more experienced with the medium and at managing their own presence. They’ll become more discerning about promotional methods and will begin to figure out what things they can easily do themselves and what outcomes they’re prepared to pay a ‘specialist’ to figure out for them. Measurement and online analytics will play a very big role in this. At present there’s a lot of conjecture about what works and what doesn’t. When clients start asking for real data (ROI) the tone of the conversation will change.

I remember reading somewhere that once upon a time companies would pay specialists to show them how to make phone calls.


Daniel Oyston April 23, 2009 at 12:46 pm

This whole social media space is a fledgling industry. We are in a position to help it grow and position its importance. Instead half of us carry on like pork chops trying to figure out who is an expert and who isn’t and even exactly what that means.

Meanwhile, businesses are getting on with trying to make money. I suggest you join/help them.

It reminds me of the company I work for, Tanner James. We introduced PRINCE2, a project management methodology, into Australia about 15 years ago. At the time it was new, it was being slowly adopted and people were trying to see how it fitted in with their work and how they could get real benefits from it.

We (I say we but I wasn’t at the company at the time) worked very hard not to try and create a monopoly on the market. Instead we actively nurtured it, trained others up and eventually they opened up their own consulting and training companies.

Now it is used in 60% of Federal Govt Agencies, is mandated in QLD Govt and is the de facto standard in others.

The thing about it was, and is, that there is more than enough of the pie to go around. If we had of carried on like some of us in this space are carrying on then the market may well be dead.

A lot of these SM companies develop applications in good faith and provide them for free. The web is a place of community but you are not participating in the right sense.

You should be careful because if some of these tools get serious traction as business tools then you could find yourself in a situation where someone like Twitter puts in an accreditation system worldwide where you need to be a registered consultant to be able to advise businesses on its use.

Don’t laugh. Most other industries and tools are run this way. Don’t make them even think about it because they get embarrassed by you having a go at people. The fear they could generate at the top of businesses, through the hate you have left in your online activities, would be all too easy.

Matt Moore April 23, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Fair comment James.

I’m just hacked off with all the armchair quarterbacking. Can people stop saying “FAIL” on Twitter when someone do something you don’t like.

Show them up by doing something better.

Change the world or **** off.

tony thomas April 24, 2009 at 12:15 am

James. I agree completely. I am continually amazed at the lack of support for each other in this area. Its almost like everyone is waiting for others to fail to publicly ridicule them.

It is not putting social media in a good light. If you look back at the emergence of all new media channels, there is one thing that has always been consistent – the players support each other initially to grow the channel.

Anyone’s work should speak for itself. And if it isn’t successful, lets be constructive and learn from it so we can continually deliver better in the future.

Daniel Oyston April 24, 2009 at 3:38 am

@Tony Thomas …. and help the less successful people become better at it!

James Duthie April 24, 2009 at 3:38 am

Wow… and here I was expecting to get flamed for publishing this post. I appreciate the detailed and constructive thoughts everyone has been able to contribute. And isn’t that what it’s all about – constructive discussion and analysis of our industry?

I think Mark’s comment is poignant. Social media is essentially what you make of it via the connections you establish. This thread is proof that there are plenty of constructive thinkers in the industry (as Tim rightly mentioned). The vocal minority need not ruin it for the us. Perhaps I just need to turn my bullsh*t blinkers off and ignore the rest of the crap.

And in the meantime I’ve had an idea about how to foster constructive industry collaboration. More to come soon…

Laurel Papworth April 24, 2009 at 4:50 am

Just to make sure that Tim doesn’t get away with the “woe is me, I get unwanted negative comments on my blog” I’d like to make it clear that Mumbrella is a trolling blog. Tweets are taken out of context, and used to inflame agency vs consultant discussions. A “quote” is spun to the worst possible light, made into “news” and then let loose onto the Mumbrella readership. In turn, he has gathered a coterie of unstable followers to in turn inflame the situation. I don’t know of another blog that deliberately provokes dissent between members of the community as his does. Certainly I would think twice before doing co-branding with Tim Burrowes or Mumbrella – the Alan Jones/John Laws inciting style backfires big time in social networks.

I am excited to see how often people go from FAIL to “oh, I get it now”. The young’uns will learn that the project/agency they pan today, might be their employer tomorrow :)

Jeff Richardson April 24, 2009 at 6:17 am

Hi James.

Great post mate. For me it is largely an issue of maturity – and the fact that so many ‘players’ in this space are still wet behind the ears. I’m often amused at meeting ‘20 something’ experts – self proclaimed or proclaimed by others that know no better.

They might know social media but they don’t know business. How can they, they’ve never been responsible for meeting business objectives, they’ve not had to work across multiple departments and manage internal politics, and they’ve never really felt the heat when their ideas have failed.

I expect I have a few more grey hairs than most around here and, frankly, wouldn’t know the all the social media nuances some might. But I do know three things:
1. Believing in abundance is better than believing in scarcity. There’s plenty of business for all if we choose to see it that way.
2. It all comes back to business. A good idea is just an idea.
3. Ridiculing someone else has no long term value.

When there are those that try to lift themselves up by putting others down, my solution – ignore them and go talk to real business people.

Keep up the good work Mr. Duthie!

Jonathan Crossfield April 24, 2009 at 7:30 am

I think it’s no surprise to anyone that I completely agree with every single word in this post. James and I first came across each other on Sphinn in an international forum and have both developed similar ideas about the Australian scene based on that experience.

Excuse me while I launch into a rant.


The thing is, the international scene and the Australian scene shouldn’t be two separate entities. The whole concept of the internet was to remove those geographic limitations, but here we are all fighting over who can be the big fish in a really small pond, just because – I think – some people would rather that than be a minnow in a bigger lake.

The AdAge top 150 is a case in point. After the unique ProBlogger, barely any Aussie blogs make the top 150. We barely make a dent on the international scene, which is why I think we have developed an insular, closed echo chamber.

The same blogs talk to each other – usually the same people who meet up offline anyway. This has developed an “in-crowd” of sorts, full of nudges and winks and in-jokes and an unspoken hierarchy and all those things a small closed community develops. Whereas those things always exist in any community, even Sphinn, here it seems to have resulted in the local industry spinning its wheels instead of evolving, growing and truly making an impact on Aussie business practices.

We still seem intent on preaching social media to business without actually justifying what we say. Instead of telling businesses they should be on Twitter because we enjoy it, and to justify our existence, we should be finding out their goals and determining whether social media – of whatever description – is the most appropriate method of achieving it. I’m sick of seeing supposed Aussie case studies that are nothing more than mentions of Aussie businesses that use Twitter or social media rather than measurable proofs of ROI.

Yes, we are keen to criticise. Just yesterday, while running the @netregistry Twitter account, one person tweeted “Netregistry fail” because of a misunderstanding, which was retweeted by certain locals within seconds. When the issue was corrected and the person retweeted that things were actually fine and not a fail after all, you can bet there wasn’t any retweeting to be had.

Representing a large brand on Twitter, it was pretty demoralising to see such immediate and instant retweeted glee at a perceived failure instead of encouragement and support for embracing Twitter as strongly as Netregistry has.

Personally, I am looking forward to Monday’s Social Media Sydney event. How such a thing can be criticised before the first one has even taken place is beyond me. I hope such events will help those that attend with open minds to actually form some deeper discussions than those I’ve seen on recent conference panels and hopefully lead to some real conclusions and clear demonstrable understandings.


Okay, time for me to go and unplug my grumpy brain with whiskey. Lots of whiskey.

jenni beattie April 26, 2009 at 12:06 am

I agree with the comments that the industry is petty and unsupportive.

I think the Social Media industry could learn a lot from the Knowledge Management industry. In the early 1990s I was involved in the KM (knowledge management) Australian Standards for the industry – the outstanding thing was that KM not only preached collaboration and co-creation (long before Social Media mentioned the words) but actually ‘walked the talk’ itself – It was a supportive community and continues to be so.

While KM in the early days was attacked for being a buzz word (similarly to Social Media) the industry tackled that by collaborating effectively, producing standards, producing case studies with relevant metrics and over time the methodologies and culture of km was embraced. A win for everyone.

Count me in for the Monday night Social Media event. I hope the industry embraces it as another forum for interaction offline.


Cameron Reilly April 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm


When you told Mark Jones “‘fraid I wouldn’t be able to help you directly. Please connect him with support on 1800 78 80 82″ ( that was appalling and deserved criticism. How can you classify that as a “misunderstanding”? As Mark replied: “if yr a biz on twitter, we expect customer support, not buck passing back long waits at teh call centre.”

And I didn’t see a tweet from him saying “everything is fixed now, it was a misunderstanding”.

If anyone thinks businesses, including agencies, should be immune from criticism and deserve “encouragement and support for embracing Twitter”, I have to disagree.

That’s like saying we should have supported them for getting a Web site in 1995. Give me a break. It doesn’t matter if they provide bad service via a telephone call or Twitter. Bad service is bad service and deserves criticism.

We are their customers. If they treat us badly – whether its through telling us “sorry can’t help you, ring support” via Twitter or lying to us through a bullshit YouTube campaign like Naked did for Witchery – then they deserve criticism and contempt.

And this whole “oh the social media kids are so bitchy” rant is just pathetic. Yes – the people have a voice. And they talk about the brands they like (iphone?) just as much as they talk about the brands they don’t like, just like they always have. The only difference now is that they have a louder voice. Get over it and deal with it and tell your clients to treat them with some respect.

The sooner marketing and PR folks stop their whining and start giving their clients good advice about how to be open, honest, transparent and provide good service, the sooner their clients will start getting positive feedback in social media.

Stephen Collins April 27, 2009 at 3:35 am

There’s way to much snark. I couldn’t agree more.

Far too few helping. Too much marking of territory. And, while Mumbrella and some others don’t like to be told this, way too much tabloid bullshit that focuses on trying to be scandalous rather than on accurate reportage.

No wonder the heritage media don’t take us seriously.

And, while I do my level best to be helpful and a good guy, I’ve been known to get my back up. Which belittles me, my industry and my peers.

Jonathan Crossfield April 27, 2009 at 4:03 am

Cameron, I think you’ve actually illustrated exactly what James’ post was about.

Without dragging up very single tweet, and at the risk of being forced to justify myself – something I don’t think I should have to do – the tweet you refer to was after tweets and DMs where I had asked for further info by DM. Even our CEO had tweeted the previous evening asking for details but didn’t get a response after 12 hours so we couldn’t fix the issue, and Mark’s designer I had also messaged had not got back to us with anything. Hence why limitations had to be placed on how much I chased this particular issue in 140 characters considering Twitter was set up as a marketing strategy – and a minor one in my daily duties at that – and not initially as a support one.

We have successfully chased up many support issues on Twitter and helped people out directly by serving as a back-door into the customer service team downstairs. I am sure Twitter searches of netregistry will show this – chasing up ticket numbers, clarifying current issues and offering advice where possible. This is the preliminary toe in the water for Netregistry to explore how usable Twitter is as a tool and one that, if it becomes popular for support issues, may eventually have a more direct support strategy developed instead of marketing serving as go-between. But it has to prove itself. I started the Twitter strategy purely on my own and have gradually seen it change people’s minds in the company as to what it can achieve.

But in this case, it was becoming an issue that we were not being provided with anything to go on and there has to be a point where we say ‘no’ because we’re not capable of mind reading.

This was what was unspoken and what Mark sought to correct when he tweeted

“just had a call from my mate @kimota – turns out he is @netregistry but not official support. thanks for stepping in to help out” – as he sought to clarify what had occurred. So, from “Fail” to “Thanks” in a couple of tweets.

We went into a series of DMs and phone calls that eventually resulted in Mark discovering that Netregistry was not at fault at all and never had been. I have great respect for Mark, which was why I never gave names in my last comment. I understand he was frustrated with an email problem not of his making at the time when he sent that tweet. We resolved everything by phone and DM once he realised we had been trying to get the details all along on a Twitter stream that was never set up for support, doesn’t claim to be support, yet still is willing to provide it when possible. I’m pretty sure if you asked him he would reiterate what I’ve said.

After all, would you contact @DellNews with your laptop problems or seek out one specifically set up for support issues?

It is a mistake to assume every business account is set up for support and I think limits dramatically how businesses can or should use twitter. Who made up that rule that Twitter has to be used in that way in the first place? Suddenly, the person running a company Twitter feed has to have a line into the CEO, look after support issues, provide marketing, build relationships through conversations, offer special deals, publicise the blog and a heap of other supposed things businesses should do. It really is incorrect to say to anyone that there is a definitive right and wrong way for a business to use Twitter which is why discussion and meet-ups like tonight’s Social Media Sydney are so important.

And yes, I really do think encouragement and help is what is required. If I am a business considering whether social media is a good or bad use of resources, am I more or less likely to embrace Twitter as a tool if the first time I tweet something someone doesn’t like, I get blasted with ‘fail’ retweets across my customer base for daring to participate without ‘knowing the rules’?

This is exactly the criticism and sniping that causes businesses to think twice. You may feel that is their loss, but it’s not. It is the whole industry’s loss if business decides social media is equivalent to standing up and having rotten tomatoes thrown at you and smiling while they do it.

What would be more welcome, would be tweets offering constructive criticism – “BigPondTeam was criticised for forwarding people to their support phone line on twitter. I suggest finding a way to offer support.” –
rather than ridicule, standing and pointing and shouting Fail! After all, aren’t we supposed to be the ones businesses come to for advice? Will they, if they think that’s how we advise them?

You say it yourself.

“The sooner marketing and PR folks stop their whining and start giving their clients good advice about how to be open, honest, transparent and provide good service, the sooner their clients will start getting positive feedback in social media.”

Shouldn’t this also apply to how we – as supposedly the ones who understand social media – engage with businesses on Twitter?

Criticise brands, sure, but attack? Terrible idea.

Good advice – not harsh attacks.

Kate Kendall | online editor April 30, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Hi James,

Some great points and I’m not really going to say much, since the dust has nicely settled now on the debate.

What I would like to say is that at Marketing magazine, we’re constantly educating and conversing with our audience about digital and social marketing and how they can approach this space. After all, these are mainly client-side individuals, who possess the word ‘marketer’ or ‘marketing’ in their title. They are purely looking for factual insights and the knowledge to make decisions about what direction they should be taking in regards to social media and most importantly, what it will mean for their brand and what the ROI will be. They don’t have time to follow the gossip, and most of the time don’t care.

If would be great if the players in this space, such as some of the names above, could spend less time talking to each other (or arguing as we have seen in recent weeks) and more time talking to marketers – being leaders and pioneers. This way, hopefully we’d get some social media campaigns coming out of Australia, that are actually worth us reporting on!

For me, I like the way Matt Granfield has run with it, and not just because he is an @MarketingMag guru blogger. By blogging posts such as ‘Everything you need to know about social media monitoring’ on our site – – which are so helpful and informative – how can marketers say no?

Finally, if any of you are ever in Melbourne, please feel free to pop into #socialmelb on Fridays – a little like the the Sydney ‘coffee mornings’. Here, you will find some of the nicest and welcoming assortment of social media peeps you can imagine from a range of industries. On my ride back to the office every week, I feel so inspired by the conversations I’ve just had, many not even about social media.

Enjoy your weekends.


inspiredworlds May 2, 2009 at 11:38 pm

agree with you James.

i went to a couple of the social media events this year, digital tipping point and most recently, the social media club in sydney. the turnout has been outstanding, which shows there is very high level of interest.

i’m a bit wary of the term social media expert / guru. i’m more interested in the social media campaigns that people have actually executed. there’s doesn’t seem to be that many in australia. and like u, i’m keen to connect with people working in this field overseas.

@Jonathan Crossfield – you should look at what @comcastcares does with their twitter account. u have to acknowledge (and i think u have), there are limitations on the amount of customer service that u can provide over twitter. as someone that has previously tweeted a #netregistryfail, i was surprised how fast u got back to me (within minutes) to help me with my issue.

Craig Wilson May 6, 2009 at 4:18 am

I tend to agree with you on this. There is a holier than thou snarky attitude that has crept into the Aussie social media scene. My view is that this is still a new and growing field, there are no perfect solutions and we are all still learning. Industry practitioners should be supporting others as they bravely launch new campaigns because successful campaigns will lead to wider acceptance from the corporate world and more work for us all.

Sure there will be a few dodgy efforts along the way, but an attack mentality will not help any of us.

Great post

Yusuke Tsutsui May 20, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Great post, James. Being a non-Aussie who have lived here for only a few years and still maintains an outsider’s eyes, I can see your points and I think I agree. I saw a small bits of the marketing industry while I was in Singapore and I must say many of the ideas are still just ‘wow factor’ stuff. Surely, some great practical campaigns come out of such crazy ideas once they find real application, but I must agree with someone’s comment up there that many people in the advertising/marketing industry is paid not based on P&L or client satisfaction but the creative awards they win. I have seen a good friend of mine, coming from Ogilvy US to Singapore operation, and now left the big agency because he wants to do a real job for real market needs. And then this recession came… I am hoping that this will actually make the whole industry so tight that they will be forced to spend more time doing real work than they used to.

Mr VBIC June 6, 2009 at 10:06 am

Fair dinkum James…

It does become self-destructive when we can’t get past the petty grievances and move towards the advancing of social media in Australia.

But, the winds of change are blowing and attitudes are changing. I myself have met some very sharp “social media experts”.

And they’re helping me shape a bolder social media strategy. Cheers.

Teresa October 21, 2009 at 11:11 am

Hi James,
I realise this is an old post but I would have to agree with your comments. I was living overseas for 2 years and was watching the Australian market very closely. In a lot of ways I agree the Australian market can be a little bit insular with many not spending enough time learning from the best overseas. In addition I agree that the behaviour is counter-productive in a time when local leaders should be encouraging people to experiment and share learnings. If social media is going to be on the agenda the “experts” need to spend more time working with the market rather than working against each other.


Carol August 14, 2011 at 7:19 am

Hi James,

I know this is an old post but I agree with your comments and have observed that things haven't changed much from when you wrote the post a few years ago. The slanging matches still continue from time to time. This one up man ship is unappealing.
Sadly, there is still a lack of support and sharing of case studies in the industry. While I have noticed that more companies have adopted social media for many businesses, it is still quite a hard sell as many can not see the ROI of social media. This is why it is essential to band together rather than against each other.

Tamara Duffy December 15, 2011 at 4:53 am

Well said James, and very courageous I must say! And Matt I like your comment regarding 'people are just looking to be noticed'. I too have often wondered how many of these people actually walk their talk. You know the ones; small business owners for example, who are contanstantly blogging and commenting all day, every day without actually engaging anyone… Also, I've seen people comment on  group discussions in linkedin; only to be repramanded for either being too honest, or for having a difference in opinion. So yes, it does seem that there are people out there just looking to gloat, rather than engage.

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