Social Media Club Fail and the perils of scheduled tweets #SMClub

Update: Following the publication of my article, there was formal contact from Social Media Club apologising for the post and acknowledging that appropriate action would be taken, and the original post by Audrey Rochas has been removed from their site

12 hours after the original contact, Social Media Club have apologised and removed the original post by Audrey Rochas

12 hours after the original contact, Social Media Club have apologised and removed the original post by Audrey Rochas


Earlier today, the scheduled tweets of the Social Media Club, a loosely organised social media promotion organisation, posted the following tweet:

The offending tweet from @socialmediaclub

The offending tweet from @socialmediaclub

As a communicator, I am interested in community management, effective use of social tools such as Twitter to build awareness and drive engagement.

As a human, I am also interested in social good, including mental health. I have family members who have experienced a range of long and short term mental illnesses, have lost extended family and friends to suicide and my partner works in mental health education. It’s kind of a vested interest, and as such I care about representations of mental illness online, in the arts and in the workplace.

So my ire was already rising when I clicked through to the article, which perpetuates the ‘mutiple personality’ myth of schizophenia throughout. Most offensive however, was the accompanying image of the ‘angel and demon’.

The offending imagery attached to Social Media Club post

The offending imagery attached to Social Media Club post

There is a long history of equating mad with bad, which goes a long way to contributing to the lack of awareness of mental illness, the perpetuation of outdated knowledge and stereotypes.

Am I overreacting? Considering Social Media Club positions itself as an organisation that promotes good online practices, and has over 150,000 followers on Twitter, and 42000 likes on Facebook, it has a substantial potential reach. As people working in communication, marketing and social media, there is a responsibility to perpetuate constructive and factual information.

If there was an editorial process for inclusion of material on the blog, it has clearly failed to pick up the tone and issues relating to the post.

Comparing to 'normal' people is only one of many issues with this post.

Comparing to ‘normal’ people is only one of many issues with this post.


If substantially more established communication organisations like Edelman can make errors of judgement when it comes to discussing mental illness and mental health online, it is understandable that a content engine like Social Media Club is going to struggle from time to time.

Particularly frustrating is the Social Media Club’s inability or choice not to respond effectively to the criticism. As their twitter account clearly consists of scheduled tweets, with no editorial owner, the inappropriate link is being repeatedly tweeted with slightly amended wording at regular intervals. (An earlier tip from #SMClub points out that twitter is cracking down on identically worded scheduled tweets, so they are at least following practice here.) Despite multiple attempts to contact members via twitter, the link keeps coming…

Scheduled tweets mean an inability to rectify a problem

Scheduled tweets mean an inability to rectify a problem


Resources for mental health awareness

For information on effective social media practices relating to mental health and mental illness, here are a range of resources that will help social media professionals and community managers.

Useful Twitter Tags for mental health resources online


Mindframe Media

An Australian initiative to support positive communication of mental health and illness in media, the arts and online.


US National Institute of Mental Health


Mind Charity UK


Sane Australia (including Stigma Watch)


This is only a small selection; there are extensive resources available.

Watching this space…

Is my response disproportionate? Perhaps. But this is an opportunity for Social Media Club to demonstrate their degree of thought leadership and practical steps to rectifying issues online when they occur.

What an ironic place the social web can be. Only a few tweets further up their timeline is a post on managing a social media crisis. If expertise is demonstrated by actions rather than rhetoric, it will be interesting to see how Social Media Club addresses this issue.

If you are a member of Social Media Club, I encourage you to contact them through your chapter to raise awareness of this issue.

The contact details for the Board and Volunteers are here:


Postscript: As of the time of posting, the offending site appears to be down.


We're not in right now...

We’re not in right now…

What can communication professionals learn from the NYT Innovation report?

Media as an industry has an ability to cannibalise itself. Journalists are by nature inquirers and investigators. They look for the story and have a need to present it. It is not surprising then that a mountain has been written about the NYT internal Innovation Report. The leak of report, along with the executive departure drove a lot of speculation, commentary, opinion, and tweetage.

That a major media organisation would prepare a strategic thought-paper on the future impacts of their market should not be surprising. The Innovation report is a significant thought piece with real lessons for industries well beyond its implications for the paper itself, media and publishing.

Nieman Lab does an excellent job of examining the implications from the media industry perspective.

Beyond the media

There is also some excellent analysis of the content of the report from other commentators, looking at it as a call to action for an organisation needing to reinvent in a changing market.

David Armano’s perspective is a standout, categorising the insights into the four topics of agility, culture, talent and customer-centricity.

David Armano’s dissection of the strategic elements of the NYT Innovation Report


Ezra Klein at Vox highlights the report’s excellent explanation of distruption. This diagram explains the three modes of disruption in the clear style you would expect from NYT writers.

NYT Innovation report’s explanation of disruption, via Vox.

Australian workplace and digital analyst Paul Wallbank extracts three lessons for businesses: being digital first, breaking down the silos, and ensuring your business is discoverable.

Six lessons for communicators

The full report is worth the investment of time to read by any communicator, change agent or strategist.

There are a number of change studies that demonstrate that effective context-setting is an important part of enabling employees to sense-make during change. By providing clear background to the market your organisation operates in, you are preparing the field for proactive or reactive initiatives in the future. The NYT Innovation report is an interesting and important model of what that contexualised call to action can be.

There are six themes outlined in the NYT Innovation Report that provide a very simple compass for internal communicators considering how to reach employees who are time poor, information-laden and who have different needs.

1. Discovery

“We need to think more about…packaging our work in more useful ways” With the volume of information growing, reduction and control become limited-success strategies. How do you ensure your content is discoverable, at the right time?

2. Promotion

Ensuring information is promoted means not just ‘publishing’ but by sharing, by amplifying, and by use of peers. There is a fine balance between push and spam. Segmentation becomes critical, as does understanding the needs of the employee to target promotion of relevant, useful content.

3. Connection

Seeking ways to ensure audiences – employees – can participate, comment, create and contribute is an essential component of communication, engagement and change. Whether though user generated content, internal ‘crowdsourcing’, communities, and networks, connection is the the key to relevance and ultimately the path to engagement.

4. Experimentation

Promoting active experimentation, the capacity to fail fast, iterate and learn is a core skill and critical to building the agility of any communication function. Experimentation and connection can work in partnership, through the use of pilot groups, advisory communities and user experience (UX) work.

5. Influencers

In complex environments, the role of the subject matter expert, the thought leader or the process lead extends to filtering and amplifying key information, themes and messages relevant to their specialisation. Collaborative platforms and enterprise social networks enable this.

6. Market context

The competitor cheat sheets in the report are succinct and frank. Do you provide employees with concise information about the others in your market? Is this information purely product and service comparison, or does it go deeper into comparative strengths and weaknesses.

Your view

I’m interested in communicators views on all aspects of the report – the content, the format, the debate and analysis surrounding its leak. Join the conversation by leaving a comment.


Is Adobe Voice really a storytelling app?

When the interwebs went a little crazy for the announcement of Adobe Voice, the new iPad-based ‘storytelling’ app, my first reaction was skepticism. After all, ‘story’ and ‘storytelling’ are terms that get bandied around a LOT. Rather than be critical initially, I deleted a snarky tweet, went to the app store and gave it a try.

Wow. Let me repeat that. Wow. I created my first Voice in about 15 minutes. I’m not saying it’s going to win a Golden Lion, but as an example of what this can do a tool for pulling together an idea rapidly, you’ll get the idea.

As an occasional gadget geek, I have like shiny objects. But immediately I can see this has some real potential for helping people structure messages, think through what they want to say and get ideas across in a simple way. There are a variety of basic story structures to select from; promote an idea, explain a concept, share a personal experience, and even the classic hero’s journey. There are a selection of visual themes, the ability to draw from a broad range of icons, or the options to draw in files from the cloud, from Facebook or take a fresh pic on the spot. It is a very intuitive interface.

I’m excited by the potential something like this has for capturing ideas and helping people share their stories within organisations. In fact, I predict a Prezi like rush on people putting this to use. I’ll keep experimenting and save a longer post when I get some feedback from other #comms and #internalcomms folk.

In the meantime, give it a try and let me know how you would use this in your communication toolkit.

Note: I have no affiliation with Adobe and this is review is an independent perspective. 

IABC World Presentation : Transmedia storytelling for internal communication

In the era of the remix and mashup culture, I am really excited to be presenting a session on two topics that need to meet: transmedia storytelling and organisational communication. The IABC World Conference in June has me presenting the following session:

The end of the story: Corporate narrative in a transmedia universe

 Traditional approaches to corporate narrative are being disrupted by the multiple forces of technology, social change, trust and a shift in the role of the corporation. In this environment the role of the communicator is shaping, telling and retelling the story of the company is shifting. Employees are co-creators, subject matter experts are curators and traditional business models become opportunities for collaboration. This session will explore:

  • The death of the corporate story
  • Sense making through social media
  • Co-creation as a model for true engagement
  • Empowering employees to own the narrative
  • How IC is the original transmedia communication strategy

As the conference approaches, I will add some pre reading here on the blog.


Build it and they will come, but design it and they will collaborate…

As Enterprise Social Networks become the ‘killer app’ for unlocking tacit information and enabling connections within organisations, there can be a tendency to take an organic approach to the relationships and networks that will emerge.  However, this 2007 (!) article from McKinsey & Company, describes the underlying structures of informal networks. Authored by Lowell Bryan, Eric Matson and Leigh Weiss, it is an essential foundation read for communicators and technologists striving to foster networks on their collaboration platforms, whether they be Yammer, Jive, Connections or other.

Harnessing the power of informal employee networks | McKinsey & Company.

Just as formal hierarchical structures define management roles, formal network structures define collaborative professional ones. In this way such networks can enable large companies to overcome the problems of very large numbers by creating small, focused communities of interest integrated within larger, more wide-ranging communities—for instance, subcommunities focused on different aspects of financial services, such as wholesale and retail banking.

This post first appeared on jonathanchamp.com

From the Melcrum Blog: Has employee engagement lost its humanity?

Engagement remains an essential topic for organisations and leaders. I recently contributed to an online debate on whether in the process, employee engagement has lost its humanity. This is an extract. For the full discussion, including Jane Sparrow’s response, see the Melcrum blog.

For the employee, engagement doesn’t happen at a conceptual level. Like trust, engagement for them is an accumulation of perceptions and experiences, relationships and interactions.

The intensity of these individual experiences – positive or negative – will determine their scoring on factors that describe how connected they feel to their work, whether they enjoy what they do, the degree to which they feel they make an impact, whether they are able to provide good customer service.

Workplaces can foster or impede this. Engagement in organizations – when we look beyond the drivers and the factors in the instruments that measure it – consists of the accumulation of these human experiences.

– See more at: https://www.melcrum.com/blog/has-employee-engagement-lost-its-humanity#sthash.zuaDF7oe.dpuf


And we are back…

Following an exciting two years as Research and Content Director for Melcrum Asia Pacific, I am pleased to report I will be continuing my consulting work as Meaning Business.

In the past two years, I have had a fantastic opportunity to work with leading communication practitioners globally. In the Asia Pacific region, we delivered in-house briefings to ASX25 companies, curated three Summits on employee and digital communication and facilitated the Introduction to Internal Communication (which I created) and Effective Change Communication programs.

I will continue to deliver a range of in-house programs for Melcrum such as Leadership Communication for Managers.



We are closed, thanks for your custom

A message for communicators, clients, collaborators and colleagues, October 2011

Thank you for your curiosity about communication through 2010 and 2011 and your support of Meaning Business.

In January 2012 I am joining Melcrum in the role of Research & Content Director Asia Pacific.

Meaning Business will cease operations as a communication consultancy on 22 December 2011.

Melcrum is the world’s leading group for strategic communicators. It is the leading authority on internal communication with 15 years of research, publications, summits, training including the Internal Communication Black Belt, tools and member services.

Through Meaning Business, I have partnered with Melcrum on a number of occasions, chairing the Leader & Manager Communication Summit, Sydney (2011), Employee Engagement Summit, Melbourne (2011) and SCM Summit, Sydney (2010). I also developed the curriculum for Melcrum’s new Introduction to Internal Communication training course and Change Communication for Leaders workshop.

I’m very excited about the new role and look forward to contributing to the development of strategic internal communication practice in the region.

For all queries about strategic internal communication, please contact me at Melcrum.  My correct contact details will also be on LinkedIn.

I’ve been using the handle ‘meaningbusiness’ on many web based resources, so you will still find me on twitter as @meaningbusiness, as you will in places like Storify, YouTube and Slideshare. The older blog posts on this site will also remain as an archive.

Cheers for now


*including (in no particular order) storytelling, writing – particularly screenwriting, electronic music, Antarctica, space, social responsibility, psychology, film & television, popular science, photography, social trends, Western Sydney and cephalopods.

According to Visua.ly, I'm more social than Gaga.

Visua.ly has been sharing great infographics for some time, and the ‘What character are you?’ Twitter app is the first free Twitter tool from their lab.

There are a number of ‘measurement’ tools for social media such as Empire Avenue, Tweetreach and Klout.  Some are serious, and some are the equivalent of the The Colour Clock: amusing and clever, but once visited quickly abandoned.

Visua.ly have taken a fun approach, blending data about reach, follower ratios and keyword analysis with some cute automated design to give you a ready made infographic of your ‘Twitter character’.

Future tools from their lab promise web-based infographic creation and tools for visualisation.
Here are my results having tried it out. (Note, the ‘versus’ pairing with Gaga was their random decision, not mine.)

Meaning Business Versus Lady Gaga

Meaning Business Versus Lady Gaga

What is your favourite social media ‘influence’ plugin?

Are you ready to collaborate?

Kayleigh O’Keefe of the the Communication Executive Council recently published a thought-proving piece on the territorial debate about ownership of communication as it relates to the agile enterprise. It is a good representation of the two camps that communication leaders often align with – ‘domination’ versus ‘collaboration’.

I’ve worked with organisations where collaboration was as natural to the culture as breathing, and others where collaboration was seen to herald the arrival of the apocalypse.  My response to Kayleigh’s piece is based on seeing the extremes:

“Perhaps some of the communicators in ‘camp comms’ are those pioneers who fought hard for a seat at the table in tough environments. Organisations get better outcomes when they consist of communities rather than camps.

As organisations strive to find the edge in terms of innovation, agility and performance, collaboration will become a core differentiator. It delivers more sustainable outcomes, builds capability and is fundamentally engaging.

Mature, strategic communication functions are in a unique position to model collaborative capability without resorting to resource-depleting internal competition.

Drawing on skills in consulting, engaging, involving, coaching, facilitating, negotiating, listening, amplifying and sharing, mature communicators have the opportunity to foster and build collaborative organisations.

However, be prepared:

1. Collaboration takes longer – the first time. But as it is practiced, the skills, behaviours and culture that form the bones, muscles and fuel of collaboration start to adapt and become match-fit. Join camp collaboration early – before your organisation is in a capability crisis. Start ‘flexing and stretching’.

2. Collaboration must be more than a mindset. There is an inherent paradox involved in effective collaboration. Organisational collaboration must begin with intent, but it only ‘exists’ through activity and outputs. Something is created by shared intent AND skill AND effort – collaboratively.

3. Know your organisational limits. Everything we know about communication and leadership starting at the top is even more important for collaboration. Senior/exec/C-Suite open and authentic collaboration is the price of admission. If they can’t co-create, the chances of successfully building a collaborative capability approach zero.

Collaboration is a skill that organisations can practice and must learn in order survive for the long term.”

We need role models to show the results of collaboration in organisational terms. I am co-chairing some of the sessions of Melcrum’s Employee Engagement Summit in Melbourne next week. I find it promising that there are parties from all the camps among the case studies: communication, change, human resources and C-level leaders are represented, sharing their stories. I’m looking forward to hearing them.


Camp Collaboration