THE BUSINESS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
WHAT DO THE KARDASHIANS SHARE WITH OUR PRIME MINISTER? SIMPLE, THEY KNOW THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN DRIVING MODERN, PROFESSIONAL BRANDING. HERE’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.
Every CEO should make a big effort to get online – it is a superb platform for seeing what people really think about a company, and gives you a voice to engage with them,” says the 65-year-old CEO, whose digital, ipad-only magazine venture, Project, has… well, kind of fzzled out. Embarrassingly. “Those businesspersons who embrace the rapid changes of the web are those who will be in the best position to beneft from them. But more than that, they will have a blast along the way.” Why care about the advice of a failed, sexagenarian publisher – one who’s apparently immune to humiliation? Because many of Sir Richard Branson’s other 400plus businesses are going a shade or two better. Branson, net worth $7bn, is the most famboyant entrepreneur of our time with a colossal digital presence (that quote, from his Linkedin Infuencer blog series, went out to 8.4m followers). Platforms such as Twitter have been around for less than a decade, with rivals and cohorts such as Instagram and Pinterest younger still (Linkedin, amazingly, was founded in 2002). But if there was any lingering doubt as to social media’s ubiquity, it was dispelled by a mid-year Nielsen report into Facebook. The results were staggering – and, from a business perspective, too dramatic to ignore. Consider the data on its Australian reach alone: 13 million active users, each spending 1.7 hours with Mr Zuckerberg every day, checking in, on average, 14 times daily. Globally, Facebook or Instagram account for one in every three minutes spent online. “Business people have often asked, ‘What is the ROI on investing in social media’, but I personally see this as a stupid question,” says Max Doyle, managing director of Sydney social media marketing agency Hello Social, which he co-founded in 2011. “The simple fact that there are so many eyeballs on the medium represents huge opportunity.” Indeed. “And as humans,” adds Doyle, “we’re interested in stories about people. That is why companies often try to profle their CEOS such as in the cases of Richard Branson or Bill Gates.” Whether CEO or entrepreneur, or aspiring to become one, a strong, professional online presence is now essential to establish you as a thought leader in a specifc business realm – and this in turn reiterates the strength of a brand. “Social media gives brands the opportunity to connect with consumers in a more personal way, and to give consumers a unique insight into the business,” says Lynette Phillips, CEO of leading luxury media agency MAXMEDIALAB, whose clients
“WHAT WORKS FOR THE KARDASHIANS IS WHAT COULD WORK FOR ANYBODY, WHICH IS TOTAL TRANSPARENCY. FOR SOME IT PAYS TO BE CONSERVATIVE AND FOR OTHERS IT PAYS TO POLARISE.”
include Audi, Moët & Chandon and Patron Tequila, among many others. Phillips’ own carefully curated, pointedly-glamorous Instagram feed is a case in point – it’s a catalogue of support for her clients, events, updates on her agency and the odd snapshot of family life. “The other thing is that social media has completely opened up networking – we can now connect with other professionals from around the world. It is a fantastic way to form business relationships.” Self-described ‘growth hacker’ Tomer Garzberg (translation: he cultivates clients’ online presence) has done work for businesses including NAB, Stockland and News (licensed publisher of GQ Australia). He’s currently engaged in boosting the online reputation of a noted, if for the sake of this article unnamed, Australian startup entrepreneur whose offine status (and estimated worth of $250m) is out of kilter with his current digital standing. Even at that level, Garzberg’s client has discovered “social proof is really important. Everyone investigates each other online before meeting them”.
The key, says Garzberg, is to carefully consider the relationships you want to build, and then to provide content – not just in what you say about yourself as a profle, but in offering unique items that continually reinforces a brand, business or personal. A prime example is the Kardashian empire (earnings last year: $90m), or the Twitter-enabled rebranding of, say, new PM Malcolm Turnbull or NSW Premier Mike Baird. Then there’s the king of Linkedin’s ‘Infuencers’, Sir Richard Branson. “What works for the Kardashians is what could work for anybody, which is total transparency,” says Garzberg. “For some it pays to be conservative and for others it pays to polarise – and it’s a big mistake to mix those up. [Regardless] there’s always a core ingredient or ideology that you must subscribe to, and if your personal brand is subscribed to that ideology, all your other brands will beneft from having what are almost like remnants of that ideology. “When it comes down to it, you just have to be different and you only have to be slightly different from normal to be very, very different in the public eye.” n
“Can’t wait to share this red lip tutorial I did.”
“I drank water made from human faeces. Here’s an update on the machine that produced that water.”
Australia’s Prime Minister regularly updates his Instagram feed, offering a varied insight into his life, from catching public transport, to meeting A-list Hollywood stars, to catching more public transport.