Fresh Chat

A world of ideas on engaging and influencing Australian online communities - from the desktops at Network PR

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Digital communication creates new challenges for customer service

August 5th, 2009 by Julie Delaforce · No Comments

Generation Y expect communication to be immediate. They have grown up with mobile phones and instant messaging. If they want to find something out, they turn to their online social networks. It therefore comes as no surprise that traditional advertising and marketing are no longer having the effect they used to on consumers.

A recent global study conducted by America’s CMO Council and the Customer Experience Board showed that it is becoming much more difficult to win customer loyalty. Entitled “Service Invention to Increase Retention” the studied results also showed that:

* 47% of survey respondents said that social networks and user-generated content (UGC) are permanently altering the communications marketplace and redefining customer experienceDigital communication and customer service

* 84% percent of respondents reported the cost of customer acquisition and retention is increasing for their companies

* Poor customer service was nomiated as a key contributer to customer dissatisfaction by 34% of respondents

* 50% of respondents believed their companies response to customer dissatisfaction needed improvement

* only 27% of marketers are monitoring online customer communities

* 56% of marketers nominated creating brand preference in a crowded market as their biggest challenge

* 55% of respondents bleieved that social networking and new digital communications increased the importance of customer value, retention and satisfaction.

The full report is available from the Customer Experience Board website.

→ No CommentsTags: Uncategorized

Social Media Disasters

August 3rd, 2009 by Julie Delaforce · 2 Comments

Everyone wants their piece of the social media pie these days. So why not just dive right on in and see how it goes?
Because this is what could happen to your brand… Top Ten Branded Social Media Nightmares

Key lessons from these social media disasters:
1. Monitor the online space, know who is talking about you, where they’re talking and what they’re saying
2. Be transparent & authentic - tell the truth and manage your crises, don’t try to hide your mistakes
3. Engage with people, this means listening, responding and conversing with, NOT spamming your marketing messages
4. Own your online identity - even if your brand is not engaging online, ensure your name isn’t being used by someone else, which could have a detrimental effect on your brand’s reputation.

Overall it’s important not just to dive into the shark-infested waters of social media. Do your research and understand the online space and your audience. If you don’t have the time to invest in social media there are many consultants and agencies from whom you can seek advice.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Julie Delaforce · Online - General · Digital Communication

Celebrity fan websites done right: Zachary Quinto

July 28th, 2009 by Julie Delaforce · 6 Comments

Zachary Quinto CommunityWhilst checking on my Facebook news feed this morning, I saw a link from the Zachary Quinto fan page to his new community. I already knew that Quinto was active on social media, so was intrigued to take a look and see what his community is all about.

Launched only a few hours ago (27 July USA time), the Zach Quinto Community is something akin to Facebook, a stream of his other social network accounts, with fans able to join, create an avatar and profile, comment and add their own posts to the stream. It’s very simple, and yet a very effective way for fans to keep an eye on what Quinto is up to and be able to interact with him. The community is hosted neatly within the Zachary Quinto Website.

Quinto’s other social media endeavours are also working well. He’s on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube (as a co-founder of Before The Door productions). Of course, it’s not enough just to create accounts on every social network out there. Quinto (or perhaps his minions) do an excellent job of keeping in touch with fans not only in the form of status updates, but also by sharing photos and videos.

A job very well done.

Have you seen any other celebrities who are doing a great job in social media?

→ 6 CommentsTags: Communities · Julie Delaforce · Online - General · Social Networks · freshchat

Online Marketing Experts Relaunches

July 28th, 2009 by Julie Delaforce ·

Online Marketing Experts (OME) relaunches as a full service digital marketing agency from SEO to Social Media OME covers all aspects of marketing in the digital world

Previously focusing on only search engine optimisation OME has realized that in order to run an effective online marketing campaign then all channels need to be covered in order to protect clients from the effects of the ever changing Google algorithm updates which can make sites traffic drop over night. Helping clients to build their email database, Pay Per Click campaigns and Social Media helps to mitigate any drops in organic search traffic a business might have as well as making sure the business making effective us of all online channels.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Communities · Julie Delaforce · Online - General · Social Networks · freshchat

Online buzz around Twitter: Australian blogs vs traditional media

April 28th, 2009 by Julie Delaforce · No Comments

Following on from my last post about the explosion of interest in Twitter this year, I was interested to find out a bit more about who is instigating these conversations. I ran a couple of queries with our online monitoring tool Social Radar.

A survey of over 600 Australian blogs reveals that interest in Twitter has increased steadily over the past six months, but there is not the exponential increase one would expect to be generating the increased search volumes reported by the likes of Compete.

chart comparing twitter, facebook & myspace mentions in Australian blogs

In contrast, a survey of over 100 Australian traditional media publications (online) reveals an exponential increase in mentions of Twitter in the past three months, with other key social media sites Facebook and MySpace warranting little mention.

chart comparing mentions of twitter, facebook, myspace in Australian traditional online media

This confirms my suspicions that early adopters, such as those who blog, have been engaging in Twitter for some time and are not creating the current online buzz. The chatter being generated online is by those in the traditional media with the general public as their key audience. So what is it about Twitter that has garnered this attention in recent months? I suspected it was something inane such as Ashton Kutcher or Britney Spears tweeting forays, but no, apparently the key topics of conversation in relation to Twitter included the Fake Stephen Conroy and the Victorian Bushfires.

→ No CommentsTags: Julie Delaforce · Twitter · Social Networks · network pr · New Media Measurement

Twitter: Adding value for business

April 14th, 2009 by Julie Delaforce · 1 Comment

I feel inspired to write this post due to Twitter’s recent rise in popularity and the apparent misinformation about Twitter being discussed both online and offline.

There are a few criticisms of Twitter that have been circulating this year, and I’d like to address them here.

1. Twitter is the cool new app of the moment, it’ll pass.

Twitter was born in 2006 and has been a favourite of many early adopters and high profile online influencers for well over 18 m onths. The reason you may only be hearing about it now is because of the amount of attention Twitter is receiving in mainstream media. According to Quantcast, Twitter has undergone exponential growth in the last two months, more than doubling its user base. Twitter now has over 15 million users in the USA alone.

Twitter is not an alternative to Facebook and other social networks, in fact it is not actually a social network. Twitter is a valid social media tool in its own right and can be used as part of a wider social media program.

2. Twitter doesn’t add value to business

I have clients who would STRONGLY disagree with this statement. As a vehicle for communication in 14o characters or less, Twitter allows business to interact quickly and effectively with their consumers. Twitter can be used to encourage consumer feedback or simply build relationships with anyone important to your business. There are many different models for employing Twitter for your business, as with all social media engagement, have clear objectives before you create an account.

3. I can set up a Twitter account, start following people by the thousands, and market my product at them

Like all social media, Twitter is a two-way communication vehicle. The Twitterati DO NOT appreciate being marketed AT, you need to add value and engage with other users. When people converse with you (via @ reply), respond. If you’re only talking AT people, you’ll lose followers fast.

There are some businesses who got their foot in the Twitter door early, take a look at what they’re doing:

Southwest Airlines


If Twitter is not currently a part of your social media strategy, I would strongly advise you to consider it. As with all social media engagement don’t just dive in, do your research first.

→ 1 CommentTags: Julie Delaforce · Twitter

The ethics of online media relations, it’s not sponsorship

February 27th, 2009 by Lesley White · 3 Comments

There was some controversy last week about a YouTuber who had allegedly accepted something from a company and then posted a video without declaring any kind of vested interest.   It’s all detailed on and is an important part of the ongoing discussion about what is ethical or unethical in the worlds of paid vs earned social media ‘coverage’ or at least commentary. 

So… just a quick list about what we here at Network will and won’t do with online contacts.  

We will treat online commentators with as much respect as traditional media warrant   What does that mean? Well where the budgets and our access to information and materials allows we will:

  •  provide newsworthy insights that have not yet been made public (information)
  • give online media and commentators access to ‘talent’ whether it be in the form of written or verbal interviews, or simply ensuring that their questions are answered in a timely manner
  • make sure they have access to the products, services or information we thought they’d be interested in speaking to their viewers or readers about, similarly to a journalist review program.

If it is a service or consumable, then we will provide a one time use of that service for review or research purposes.

We will also provide opportunities for the ‘publications’ those media represent to offer some value-adds in the forms of prizes to their readers/viewers communities, again within the client’s means.

To what extent do we mean value add?  Well it’s impossible to be prescriptive given that we haven’t seen every type of client, product or service imaginable. However, and in general, it means: 

  • We will provide online media who review movies with a free viewing of that movie, ideally a non-paid preview, but if the time doesn’t suit or they are far from a pre-screening, then definitely a single or double in-season ticket. 
  • If I am helping a company launch a new coffee, a sample of that.  
  • If I would like an online commentator to judge a book then a copy of that book and where available, an interview with the author.  
  • If I identify that the commentator is of particular significance then I might offer them transportation to a particular interview or conference.  This could include an airfare or accommodation. 

In short, the online media commentator will be treated as well as but not better than a traditional journalist or reporter.   That means, a reasonable level of spend for them to be able to form an independent opinion on that product or service in line with whatever that industry does to educate, inform or advise the traditional media and reporters in that sphere.

What we will not do:

Make any inference to our contacts that this is in any way related to a specific attitude, review, or result.  All we are seeking is their attention, with the hope they would like to broadcast their opinion within their own channels.

We will not promise to clients a specific, let alone positive, outcome for this access.  At the same time, in keeping with usual public relations client briefing practices and based on our knowledge of contacts,  we are likely to have an educated view about how that person may react, since we enjoy getting to know bloggers, social media commentators, reviews, web site owners, moderators, online media etc.  

We will equally not allow any online contacts to use editorial coverage as a means of lobbying for advertising spend by our clients, however we will be happy to put them in touch with the relevant agency or department who makes those independent decisions.  We would not then contact the advertising people with any recommendation that in any way links editorial favour to advertising spend. 

And, should one of our online contacts write a negative report on a product or service, we will neither overtly nor subtly discourage that independent voice or opinion.  

To summarise, Network Communications Australia and its consultants/advisors do not do cash for comment.  We never have, and never will.  

In line with our rules of engagement, when we do engage with online media, commentators and networks, we will always seek to understand first what our clients can add to them in terms of value, rather than what they can do for our clients. 

I completely refute any suggestions made that any client of Network’s engaged paid-oriented coverage, unless obvious or clearly declared.  In the recent newspaper article, it would seem that that the  the word ’sponsored’ was a rather economical use of words for word count sake but not accurate as such, or at least very open to intepretation.  

For those who did not hear, and although it was a rather incidental mention in that story, I would like to clarify, nonetheless. Our client provided a particular high profile YouTuber with tickets to a number of movies, ie. the minimum required for them to form an opinion on our client’s product. That is neither more, nor less than they would accord a member of the traditional media and there was no inference that this would result in any particular coverage, let alone positive coverage.

Network takes pride in its ethical stance.  We believe that our reputation is our clients’ reputation.  If you are interested in our rules of engagement, they can be found on our website: 

Our clients are as ethical as we are in this respect, and they engage with online media in line with our recommendations, ie those above, and in our online rules of engagement within the ’social media’ section of our company’s website.

Ethics in online engagement continues to evolve, what are your thoughts on ethics or likely ethical guidelines for both paid or earned social media agencies, clients or engagement?  What other guidelines would you like to see here on the earned side of the equation?

→ 3 CommentsTags: Ethics · Lesley White · network pr · freshchat · Social Media Trends

Social Media Marketing: value-add according to whom?

February 12th, 2009 by Lesley White · 6 Comments

As I was riding the bus into town this morning I was thinking about the notion that somehow many marketers turned the world upside down and no one seemed to notice. It became, all about ‘what message do I want to push’ and ‘how do I want them to feel’ and ‘how do I convince them they will love/need/want Widget A’. Many marketers are lost and confused.  They hold long meetings to try to establish why customers aren’t buying “Widget A” over the competitor’s “Widget a”.  Widget A being clearly superior and worth an additional $25 since it incorporates a lexicon-algorhythm-solutions-generatormatic-thingie ;)

Time to wake up.  The company and brand were never at the centre of all this.  It was always the customer.  Only now with borderless access to information and highly connected communities ’they’ are onto you, or us, faster than before: exchanging information, pointing out weaknesses in logic, unsupported claims and anything else they perceive as spin. In the new world order the customer is your boss, your employer.  Well they always have been, it’s just that the reality is only dawning on many now. So, how about treating them accordingly?

The next time you have an opportunity to speak to a customer or connect with them online, how about using this as the starting premise? Is this (ie what I have to say, or show, or tell) going to:

  1. be useful (help them make a more informed decision, or make their life easier)
  2. be interesting (add insight/something worth pondering) or
  3. entertain them (add joy/fun).

If the answer is ‘yes, I think so’ then check and recheck.  Is this ‘value add’ according to the company, or to the customer? Before putting it out there go back to listening, monitoring conversations, trends and ideas.

Rule number 1 of Public Relations is know your target audience.  In other words the more you know about your ‘customers’ the easier to put yourself in their shoes and then ask, “Would this be interesting to me, useful to me, fun for me?” Customers have always been our bosses, our employers.  Online research helps us work out better how to please them and hopefully, with great creative spark and ideas to interpret that information and put that knowledge  into action, delight them.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Lesley White · network pr · Digital Communication · New Media Measurement

The Victorian Bushfires and how social media can help

February 9th, 2009 by Julie Delaforce · 2 Comments

The devastation across Victoria caused by this weekend’s bushfires is at the top of most Australians’ minds today. Where do we turn in times of need? To friends and community, whom most of us have regular contact with online through social media.

Already there are over 30 Facebook groups dedicated to leaving messages of support for those who lost loved ones. The largest Facebook Group already has over 11,000 members.

A quick Flickr search reveals a stream of images from the bushfires.

There are over 300 YouTube videos when conducting a search for ‘Victorian Bushfires‘.

Twitter is flooded with messages carrying the #bushfires tag.

It is times like this that social media can be of great importance and influence. Wouldn’t it be great if the CFA had the resources to be able to tweet updates so those affected by cut powerlines were able to check updates on their mobile phones?

Many people affected by the bushfires have turned to social networks to keep in touch with friends and let them know they’re safe. Social media can serve a real purpose to connect people in times of need.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the bushfires, contact:

The Victorian Bushfire Hotline: 1800 240 667

The Red Cross: 1800 727 077

or log on to the Victorian Country Fire Association’s website.

If you’d like to donate to those in need:

Donate to the Red Cross’s appeal.
Contact the Salvation Army to donate clothing.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Julie Delaforce · Social Networks

Facebook privacy and the social networks fear factor

February 2nd, 2009 by Julie Delaforce · No Comments

I’m the first to admit I’m totally addicted to social networks and online communities, when I talk to friends and family about my online involvement, they often worry that I have such a heavy online presence that anyone can discover all my dirty little secrets (not that I have any, of course). My mum told me a story of a friend’s daughter who didn’t get a job she applied for because the prospective employer did a search for her online and found her Facebook profile, which contained details they weren’t happy with (i.e. photos of her partying, when she was applying for a teaching position).

Padlock, security. Facebook frea factor, Fresh ChatThe fact is, these are unneccessary fears, most social networks have very comprehensive security and privacy settings. I’d like to use Facebook as an example of the security you can apply to your online presence.

Firstly, in regards to the story above the easiest way to keep your profile private is to ensure that your privacy settings restrict who can view your profile. The options include: My Networks & Friends, Friends of Friends and Only Friends. If you’re a member of the ‘Australia’ Network and you choose the My Networks & Friends options, there are 2.5 millions Australians who can see your whole profile. You can also choose whether or not you’d like your profile to appear in public searches (eg. Google).

It’s also important to check the settings for photos and videos when managing your profile, for example, do you want everyone to be able to see any photos or videos tagged of you? If not, change the settings. When creating photo albums on Facebook, the automatic privacy setting is ‘Everyone’ this doesn’t just mean all of your friends, it means EVERYONE on Facebook. I always change the setting to Only Friends so that only people I know have access to my photos.

Facebook has the option of creating Friends groups, so you can choose to have a ‘personal’ and ‘work’ group and limit what information is available to your colleagues. For example, you can restrict colleagues from being able to read your wall posts and seeing your photos.

There are endless privacy and security settings on Facebook, and all other social networks and online communities. As you add information to your profile think about who that information is available to and ensure your privacy is protected.

→ No CommentsTags: Facebook · Julie Delaforce · Social Networks

Social media news and interesting reads - January 2009

January 30th, 2009 by Julie Delaforce · 2 Comments

Here are just a few snippets from all that’s happened in the world of digital and social media in the past month.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Julie Delaforce · News · Online - General · Social Media Trends