After the year I have had in 2013 this is my mantra for the future…
Goals are about being nimble and flexible.
This time last year I had just returned from a meeting with my business partners in Singapore where we had signed off on a major investment that would allow us to expand our operations in Asia and also invest in our media partners in China.
We set plans and goals for the year based on the work we had done to get to this point and were ready to move on to big things in 2013.
Little was I to know the investor would pull out within the next six weeks and our partners in China would not live up to expectations.
But at the end of 2012 things looked very rosy, our business plans for Asia were looking good at last and I was fitter and healthier than I had been in decades…riding my bike 3 – 4 times a week…climbing Mt Lofty with ease.
With Lance Armstrong and the Tour Down Under the centre of everybody’s attention in Adelaide, I thought I should write about a passion of mine – cycling!!
On some of my regular, long, sometimes enjoyable – sometimes painful rides lately I have been thinking about the similarities between cycling and Social Media. This has helped put the value of Social Media into perspective for many fellow cyclists.
Every Tuesday evening I ride with a group of 50 or so men and women ranging in age from 17 to 70 from Scuzzi Cafe in North Adelaide. They are a disparate group that have one think in common – cycling – so we come to together and build a Community with a common purpose. Isn’t that what Social Media can do too??!!
In fact a few are now “LinkedIn” with me and exploring business opportunities as a result of finding out more about each others professions from LinkedIn.
During the ride, we, like all cycling groups (even the Pros in the Tour Down Under), provide support and advice for each other to help get the maximum value from the ride and ensure a safe and enjoyable ride … even though we are secretly competing against each other!!
The advice comes in the form of simple hand signals or short sharp phrases that warn of upcoming hazards (eg. glass on the road, a parked car ahead that those behind can’t see) or advice that it’s safe to cross an intersection. A wave of the hand signals glass on the road, a shout of “car back” warns the group a car is coming from behind on a narrow road, a hand behind the back signals a parked car or a stop sign … while a shout of “clear” lets those following know it’s safe to cross the intersection … and there are many more to cover every situation.
So it’s a bit like Twitter with it’s short, sharp and highly effective communication that passes rapidly to those that are interested.
During the ride everyone takes their turns at the front to make the pace and block others from the wind … it is up to 30% easier riding closely behind another. In a peloton the outside line rides a few kms faster than the inside line so that someone constantly moves to the front while someone on the inside drops back. It’s another unwritten rule and courtesy that all participants know and respect – a bit like the self regulation that is core to Social Media.
So we build a community for a common purpose … we help and support each other (even competitors) with valuable information and we communicate directly and effectively. Now that is exactly what Social Media allows us to do too … isnt it??
If you watch the Tour Down Under or any Pro or Amateur Race you will see plenty of evidence of all of the above too.
Finally when we get back from our ride the Cafe recognises the value of our loyalty and provides hefty discounts to all cyclists to make sure we keep coming back. Not only do the discounts apply after the ride … but any cyclists going to that cafe at any time will pay only $2 for a coffee.
So there you have it … Community, Communication, Loyalty, Listening and Rewards – all key elements of Social Media and cycling.
Perhaps that connection was evident when Lance Armstrong “tweeted” that he was riding last Saturday morning at 9am along the beautiful Adelaide beaches and invited all and sundry to join him – more than 7,000 turned up on their trusty treddlies – all shapes and sizes – most in their lusty lycra!!
Three items I saw in The Sunday Mail and on 60 Minutes TV Current Affairs show raised my interest in the traditional media’s use and treatment of Twitter.
Constantly the media talks it up but rarely shows any real understanding of Social Media and Twitter’s positioning within it. Hence at best it fuels Twitter’s short term growth by raising curiosity but rarely explains the why and the benefits of fully utilising it and the other tools.
A classic example was a full page story on Adelaide’s three most followed Twitterers by Olivia Watson in The Sunday Mail. The first thing I did this morning (24 hours after I read the article) was check to see if Olivia was on Twitter … not surprisingly she was not. Obviously she was not impressed by her own article!!
Next I checked the number of followers that 2 of the 3 listed in the story had gained in 24 hours. One had gone up by 500 to 10,023 and the other by 68 to 8858. So it appears the story did not impress many readers of the only Sunday paper in Adelaide (pop. 1 million).
One thing that impressed me in the article was that the second most popular AFL team in Adelaide has 429 Followers … over 200 less than me!! Maybe because they are hard to find! After several search attempts on Twitter I gave up.
The article seems to have failed to hit the mark as have so many in mainstream media as it did not talk clearly about why you would Twitter and the real benefits. Better make sure that Olivia gets a copy of the Grumpy Old Mangers Guide to Social Media so she can do a relevant follow up story.
The next item in The Mail to take my eye was a gossip piece on one of the judges, Todd McKenney, on Dancing With the Stars headlined “So I like Twitter get over it.” The article says the Channel 7 bosses are not happy with his mid-show “twitterings”.
But Todd says, “I like the concept of making the show interactive. I like to know what viewers are thinking.” Exactly!! Todd McKenney gets it but the Grumpy Old Managers at Channel 7 clearly don’t.
Perhaps Channel 7 wants us watching the boring ads (that don’t work) instead of interacting and becoming more closely linked to the show … building a Tribe of supporters perhaps??
Then finally watching 60 Minutes at last I saw traditional media people (producers) that do get Twitter. They are encouraging followers heavily and as a result extending the life of the show over the week by seeking to interact with their audience. Building a Tribe … a source of feedback and stories. They are prepared to listen not just look at the ratings numbers!
Even for a reasonably Net savvy guy like me the traditional media is my prime source of whats importatnt. Recent proof of this came this morning when I read fellow Adelaidian and Net Guru Lee Hopkins’ Blog as below.
Shai is one of the 50 most influential female bloggers
Our very own (as in ‘lives in Adelaide, Australia’) blogging femme fatale, the fabulous Shai Coggins, has been nominated 11th most influential female blogger by the team at North x East.
The list includes luminaries from many fields and despite its white, US-centric focus the point of the list is to prove that blogging is no longer just a club for tech-friendly white males. http://leehopkins.net/
I find there have been stories about Shai in the local daily but in a small geeky column that I never read…. but without following Lee I would never know that Shai was one of us!!
I just have to stop reading The Advertiser and spend more time using the net for Real News thats important to me.
The Hit Rate on the On-line version AdelaideNow of the only Daily in little old conservative Adelaide – The Advertiser (Rupert’s first paper and still a strong performer in the stable) is now growing at a rate that surprised them… to the point that the On-line Editor now has equal status with Chief of Staff and Night Editor as direct reports to The Editor…. as such they now consider themselves a Multi-Media company not a Newspaper.
But one that is challenged to find a suitable revenue model … given the lucrative business they have been in as the only NewsPaper in a city of a million people.
At The Times in London each reporter has now a Video Camera …and Mini recording studio on their desk to file a Radio, TV and then Print version of each story. Clearly recognising that there is a very strong shift away from traditional print in all areas an supply peoples need for immediate access to information.
It appears that circulation of the print version of The Advertiser is also dropping… but more so Readership as people opt for more credible News Sources (interstate, national, and independent publishers) especially on Weekends when they have more time … (eg Australian, The Age, The Independent) or getting it delivered direct from a variety of sources via the Net. The Net also provides them with a try before you buy in sampling papers as well.
Annecdotal surveying shows most readers of the very locally focussed Tiser do so out of habit, many have a large level of dis-satisfaction with its quality and credibility and would opt for an alternate if comparable in price and local focus.
Being an older and more conservative market Adelaide has been slow to look to the Net as an alternate source —— it now looks like that trend is changing rapidly!!
Opening up opportunities for online versions of Very Local News… as a cost effective opportunity for those advertisers wanting to reach very local targetted markets.