Social Media Club Sydney plays nice

Authenticity and Transparency in Social Media Part 1 from SocialMediaClub Sydney on Vimeo.

We got over the hurdle of the initial Social Media Club Sydney inaugural event with a packed house of people who came to see Adam Ferrier talk about the Naked Communications, Witchery Man launch “Girl in the Jacket” campaign and Leslie Nassar talk about his alter ego, the fake Stephen Conroy.

Beach Meet was on the week before and there were waves of hostility directed at PR agencies (accused of hijacking Twitter) and Social Media Club Sydney (accused of random stuff) was at an all time high. So much so that Kelly Tall was prompted to name the Twitter/blogosphere sniping and bitchiness a  “feral sandpit”

Leslie already had a cult Twitter following, so he was likely to be OK. Given that the Witchery Man launch had already copped it on from the social media set, as well as digital marketing/regular advertising commentary, we were all steeling ourselves for some serious stoushing.

We never expected what happened. Even though there was an initial cynicism that they were going to be sold a spiel, on the whole, people went with an open mind. They were polite. They listened carefully to what Adam had to say. The audience posed some challenging questions. Adam admitted they made mistakes and things they would never do again. And then, by the end of the question and answer forum, there was a definite shift – the vast majority had come around. The audience had put themselves in Naked’s shoes and walked in them for the 45 minutes or so. They found that journey to be challenging, and a level of empathy was genuinely gained.

So what happened in the few days between Beach Meet and Social Media Club Sydney’s Authenticity and Transparency in Social Media? Happy drugs being prescribed in bulk?

Really the only difference was the physicality of being in the room and face to face with the person who was taking responsiblity for the campaign that had been sniped and bitched about online. So Mark Pollard’s theory of anonymity being the antithesis to community may have some validity in the sense that being able to sit behind a computer/smartphone, and speak via a Twitter handle or blog is removed and anonymous enough that people feel that they can be freer in their levels of disparagement.

The Twitter stream was projected at the event, and Tim Burrowes picked questions/issues to then present to both Adam and Leslie on the night. By having Twitter up and displaying the hashtag #SMCSYD there was no hidden corners, the transparency had translated all the way through to Twitter interactions of the night. As Twitter was in full view,  so even the commentary, though critical at times, was fairly polite.

We’re hoping that subsequent events will be as good as the initial one. The key takeaways for me were:

  • If the speakers take the audience on a journey or engage them in a story, the audience will go along for the ride.
  • If there is a level of honesty demonstrated by the speaker, especially by admitting mistakes (if made), then there will be a higher level of acceptance and engagement, no matter what else went on.
  • If the speaker talks to the audience from a real place rather than down to the audience, there is a willingness to go to that real place too
  • The “no pitch/no sell” rule works really well because you can leave the sales pitch at home, there is no pressure to impress.
  • Getting the Social Media feral sandpit children (although some of the Beach Meet bitchers and moaners didn’t deign to come to SMCSYD) out from behind the computers/smart phones into real life settings and the faux armour protection suddenly doesn’t have the same effect when you’re in the same room as the people you were sniping at. Read: bullies are only bullies when they feel untouchable, and real life is far more vulnerable

I hope the attendees got something out of the initial SMCSYD evening, please feel free to share your experience here.

p.s. If you would like to subscribe to the videos of all the events or view the second part of the evening, there is a SMCSYD channel on Vimeo

  • Does ” theory of anonymity being the antithesis to community” really mean “It is easy to have a whinge when there is no one in your face who might smack you one?”
    I'm wary of the “I'll play nice in public” spin and also the fear of PR agencies with agendas taking over the conversation. In these days of constant product placement, agendas and spin it'd be nice to have a sandbox where you know you are protected from that sort of thing! Down with that sort of thing! (as Father Ted would say).
    All in all a good night, especially from one who has no idea what all the beach meet thing is all about.

  • Yes @franksting, the theory of “anonymity being the antithesis of community” means that if people don't know who you are then you are likely to sledge others and be far more vicious because you can get away with it and not be accountable for the damage you cause.
    Social Media Club Sydney's next event is “Do you need an agency to run effective social media campaigns?” There is a PR agency panel member so maybe you can ask the question regarding agendas and taking over the conversation in social media.
    Glad you enjoyed the evening.

  • Great post! Lots of good lessons about social media in the story, as well as excellent detail and links. Hat Tip to Tip for your work in putting this together.

  • Thanks Des! Hope to have you at an event soon.