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The Curse Of The Generic

Telstra, and other corporate sources are they really a good source of information?

What does Telstra Know About Social Media?

The digital world has shaken up the mainstream areas of our society. I think this is very obvious, terms such as ‘Disruption’ and ‘Alternative’ have become almost cliche in today’s business world.

I was looking around recently and I noticed that companies such as good old Telstra seem to have taken up the role of digital media educators in recent times. I think any education is good education, but I also think that many people make the mistake of thinking that because a business is involved with ‘IT’ or selling office merchandise, they also know about social media, and using digital media. Sorry guys, I think you should stay in your own lane.

The last thing we need in Australia are more generic sources of web education, we have fallen behind the game enough without these vanilla podcasts, and corporate cookie-cutter online courses advising business owners they should post ‘interesting content’.

There is very much a struggle going down, the old authority of corporate entities has been displaced, the established order which had its time in the sun during the broadcast era is pretty well over.

What concerns me is that people who are trying to build businesses, and especially those people for whom ‘digital’ is a new territory are receiving information and advice which too often leads to failure; generic approaches to social media are ineffective.

I have no argument with basic skills training, being able to navigate and use the dashboard tools on Facebook, Instagram, how to create a Twitter account, how to upload a video to YouTube e.t.c But these numpties are providing entire courses and assuming an authority they simply can’t justify.

There is just no substitute for knowing your market, and understanding the people who seek what you provide, and this should inform you as to how to best connect with your audience.

Social media has become so familiar to us all, that we can tend to trivialize it and misunderstand the true scale of it. We are dealing with a media type that involves billions of people, this is humanity within reach. If you can refine your communication skills and learn how to execute your story on social media, you can gain a significant level of traction.

There are numerous types of people using Facebook, from the politically interested, social activists, to ecologists, musicians, writers, teachers, physicists, sports people, just about all aspects of modern society is represented. In very blunt terms these generic courses do not do you any favors.

This generic body of social media education pushes a 20th Century approach, where the newsfeed is seen as an electronic bill-board. These are the posts and campaigns that waste your budget. Unless you can make a relevant, high quality connection with your audience, you are by-passed.

You might think I am being unfair here, you might even think I am behaving like a ‘Troll’ because I dare to criticize these successful businesses. I am involved with digital media, and I seek to help others understand and use the various media types to their own ends.

It makes my job much harder to debrief people who have formed bad attitudes and the wrong approaches, and we have masses of disgruntled business owners claiming that ‘Facebook is useless’ because they can’t sell their widgets on it.

The curse of the generic is with using social media like an electronic bill-board, turning good people into glorified spammers.

Because the social media sites are ‘Free’ and we get such a broad range of participation there is a belief that ‘anything goes’ among the business community. Communication requires skill, and marketing should never be undervalued.

The figure of 66% is commonly used to describe the success rate of small business over a 2 year period. Over 5 years it is worse.

One of the largest causes of business/project failure is ‘Marketing’, either the wrong type or a complete absence.

One of the biggest causes of marketing failure is the misunderstanding of digital media among people.

 

I blame the generic educators for a lot of this failure. People tend to trust big names, and if a well-known brand is offering social media training, and their podcasts are promoting these generic approaches, then a percentage of people will be misinformed.

Of course, I am speaking to people who are not familiar with the online world, the kind of people who are likely to consume this corporate version of social media and online marketing.

My hope is that people will be open minded enough to avoid the trap of the generic training, to seek a more practical and authentic approach to their needs

There is really nothing like genuinely knowing who your people are, having an authentic grasp. I think the big problem with many business people is that they have ceased to truly learn, they rely on data which supports their existing world view, they don’t listen to any other perspective. This results in a very skewed understanding of what social media actually is.

The problem in Australia is that we have a major gap between the digitally literate, and the ‘ordinary person’ this gap represents a very serious threat to the economy as a whole, because the whole world is online, business is being done on it, if you follow these generic corporate directions, it is your business, literally.

 

The Failure Of Junk Mail

How much do you spend on junk mail each month?

What Really Reaches People?

I went out to my letterbox recently, I happen to live in a complex of apartments, and I removed a wad of commercial advertising, I then walked over to the re-cycling bin and lifted the lid and there were a huge collection of the same commercial ‘junk’ mail outs.

Now, some of these mail items were glossy, and looked as if they would have costed a fair price to produce. Imagine, each day in your city/town a huge quantity of commercial mail is delivered, some of it by the postie these days!

I guess the bean counters in the various companies must be across how much this tidal mass of junk mail is costing their organizations; it must add up over a fiscal year?

This got me thinking, does anyone actually think this stuff through? The marketing budgets for significant businesses must be feeling this load, what percentage of junk mail actually results in a sale, how effective are direct mail campaigns these days?

There’s a chap on LinkedIn who reckons snail mail, direct mail, junk mail is still pretty effective; mind you he runs a direct mail training course, so he would say that? Obviously there is a belief that junk mail still works to some extent, but a lot of people still spend 10’s of thousands on T.V advertising, so how right are these people?

I use an Ad-Blocker on my PC, it does not cost me anything, and it provides me with an almost advertising free browsing experience. I like this, and it seems millions of other people prefer this too, but junk mail T.V advertising, Radio ads, are they really as effective as they used to be prior to the digital age?

If the numbers are to be trusted, I think there is a major shift in the advertising world. Television advertising is nowhere near as effective these days. The commercial free-to-air channels are just not being watched as much. Netflix, YouTube, and other video streaming products has changed viewing behavior across Australia.

Many of us still listen to the radio, but the audiences are shrinking, Podcasts and streamed music are replacing the old radio networks and their advertising revenue is drying up.

Local newspapers still get consumed, I like to have a look ours every once in a while, but I don’t look up the classifieds on these very much either.

Occasionally I might pickup the good old Yellow Pages, but I can tell you that isn’t very often! 

So, I think it makes very good sense to review how you go about promoting yourself, and your bizniz, where do a lot of people direct their attention these days? Social media, Podcasts, Websites are a very good bet.

Additionally, of course, doing what is called ‘Content Marketing’ makes very good sense. Running a Blog on your own company website still has benefits, as long as you produce content which people are going to want to view.

Videos, humor, are also excellent. It seems these days more and more you need to become your own Media Company. The attention of people is moving away from the broadcast media – T.V, Radio, Printed – and digital media has become today’s ‘Mass Media’.

Of course, it makes superb sense to have a mix of promotional efforts, you can’t rely on just one source. Flyers, and radio ads can be fantastic for some types of people. But we have to be practical, and realistic, my mother always said that and it is annoyingly true. I think focusing our main effort on digital media has to make sense.

What do you think, do you reckon all that junk mail is paying its way for the majority of the business which invests in it, or are they flushing their money down the toilet?

Digital & Social Media Marketing What Is Involved?

Digital Media In Australia

Digital media culture plays out a bit differently in Oz

Australia is often depicted in a highly stylized way among Northern hemisphere countries, it seems they can’t help themselves with cliches, and “Crocodile Dundee” references, along with the poisonous wildlife, and larger than life personalities. Every country has its typical images, Britain has its cups of tea, the Queen, and fish ‘n chips, Germany has its big steins of foaming beer, lederhosen, pork knuckles, and overly diligent engineers, America has loud tourists, sky scrapers and the ubiquitous accent …and so on. Sure, we all cop it, it is just human nature to typify other countries. However, because Australia is just so far away from anywhere, it generally takes a bit longer for trends and developments to fully manifest, which occur in the large populations of other western countries. 

This is certainly the case with digital culture, despite the connected and instant quality of online media, it has taken Australia that bit longer to adopt, and fully recognize that the internet has changed the communications paradigm.

We can clearly see that ‘old media’ and their underwriters have been struggling of late. Facebook has copped a lot of angst, and criticism, YouTube is being pressured to censor, and restrict a lot of independent content creators who challenge the reach and influence of mainstream media.

There is obviously an ‘Information War’ taking place, with alternative content producers, such as ‘RT’, Alex Jones, and dozens of media commentators, pundits, and organizations feeling the sting of repression and censorship. It seems many of the Silicon Valley tech giants have decided to cooperate with the investor groups, and established power groups to try and mitigate the spread of digital media, and its much greater reach among significant parts of the consumer public.

The internet of course is not just Silicon Valley, we have the freedom to build, and create platforms quite independent to the more well-known players of the online world. However the ability to market, and distribute completely independent media is often limited and restricted by funding, and the very nature of digital behavior; people’s habits can be difficult to break and of course much of the internet is powerfully locked down by Google and its search technology which has become the default reference source for online users.

We are in danger of the internet becoming yet another branch of the mainstream world, tamed, and stripped of its unique properties and open source culture, let alone the freedom of speech, and discussion of ideas which gave digital communities their edge, and ability to foster social change in the first 20 years of the internet’s public existence.

The vast potential of the internet to provide a medium of open exchange, which we could clearly see back in the early 2000’s, represented too much of a threat for many among the covert circles of old media, and the political class. 2016 seems to have been a ‘step too far’ for much of these people, with the rise of ‘Populism’ among the western countries.

Power, and influence is the name of the game, and communication is the means for power and influence to be executed. We are witnessing a profound revolution in communication with the internet, so it just makes sense that the once powerful and influential would seek to replicate their previous position once they understood that the game had changed.

It was through Broadcast technology, and media that the old power elites had their heyday, it is taking them much longer to try and grab the ‘Tiger’ of the internet by the tail, it is not so easy! 

What is making it hard for them is the communication model of digital technology, it provides a Two-Way dynamic. When we were all passive consumers, captured by the hypnosis of our radios, and then our television screens we were much easier to contain.

Now people also have the capacity to create content, and publish it to a large audience, additionally we have the means to respond to published content, we can critique, and discuss it, we can applaud, or revile it in real time. It is this two-way communication which allows us to discuss, and exchange views, to debate and influence others.

The entire nature of advertising has been challenged, and disrupted. Business that seeks to influence their market to choose them must now approach it in an entirely different way. Placing banners, and overtly ‘in-your-face’ messages simply doesn’t get through anymore. Media, and marketing has had to adapt, or perish.

Australians have traditionally been anti-authority. The so-called ‘Larrikin’ nature of our national character has produced mavericks and individuals who have refused to comply with fashions and trends, simply because they might have been popular with the wealthy and self-styled ‘elite’ among society.

I think we are seeing some of this spirit among our digital populations, we don’t just follow the trends like so many of our northern cousins tend to follow, merely because they are considered ‘Viral’.

Digital marketing in Australia has a unique quality. If you can demonstrate that what you offer is ‘Dinkum’, and you are not deliberately ripping people off, or taking them for fools, you stand a good chance of being successful in Australia!

I might be at risk here of appearing ‘naive’, but I have studied how Australia has responded to the digital age, and I have had the opportunity of working overseas, so I am able to compare, and contrast. Aussies don’t like sharks, either in the ocean, or especially the ones who walk the land!

The confidence tricksters, and scammers are less likely to find victims among Australians, although the ‘digital divide’ has many casualties in every country. Digital marketing, and building an online presence in Australia requires a brave, and honest approach, we have much less patience for B.S and giving oneself airs and graces than northern populations.

As someone who works to help, and support people in Australia, I think it is refreshing how Aussies possess a natural instinct for quality, and honesty, it makes a refreshing change from the digital content from the U.K/U.S.A and other western countries, I am looking forward to seeing a lot more Australian online content, and helping Aussies to make the most of their digital resources.


Digital Media The State Of Play

Digital Media And You

Digital Culture Has Advanced

Way back in the misty past of the internet, at the beginning of the 21st Century, owning a website was a difficult, expensive proposition. It was not unusual for business customers to invest over $30,000 on a full, managed clunky old website. Google search was in its heyday, and there was a general scramble for position.

As we have learned, a year in internet time is a long time indeed! Looking at the state-of-play here in 2019 we can discern that the digital world has now become the default home for well over 4 billion people, that is a conservative number. In the western hemispheres, online culture is now the “mass media” of choice.

It therefore makes critical, good sense to look at just how well your own presence stacks up, how well your business, or professional visibility is developing. All too often the ‘Digital Divide’ works to thwart many people, and their business and livelihood can suffer.

We often hear about this term, digital divide, and perhaps we think it refers to other people, to those people who are ‘technophobes’ and do not know how to turn on a device; the digital divide is actually far more insidious and widespread.

As someone who has worked extensively with all kinds of people in connection with information technology, and the web I have witnessed the digital divide first hand. This has nothing to do with ‘coding’ or esoteric technical matters, it is more about grasping how your general literacy can be transferred onto the digital environment, and what digital technology truly represents.

The internet is bursting at the seams with attempts to capture our attention, all types of banners, flashing lights, clever graphics and of course ‘copy’ which transcend the boundaries of hyperbole.

There is a colossal struggle taking place, between the powerful groups who gained their position during the ‘Broadcast era’, businesses which became enormous and powerful as a result of their clever use of marketing and advertising. However, the changes which have been fermenting over the past 25 years have worked to completely change the media, and marketing game forever.

We hear about how much society has changed all over the place. But very often the nature of these changes are not discussed, we certainly hear a lot about the ‘evil’ of social media, and how the internet is working to erode the golden values of previous generations. How true is this?

You must make your own mind up about the internet, and social media, but I also know that unless you choose to participate with the digital world, your business ventures will be severely restricted.

Attention is the currency of marketing, where people focus their attention is where we must meet them. Even strictly ‘local’ ventures, with one location as their market, need to be visible, and to make people aware of what you can offer them.

Everywhere we can see that self-proclaimed ‘experts’ and extroverted people are offering seemingly foolproof services where you can gain the attention of people who might be interested in what you sell; caveat emptor, or ‘let the buyer beware’ should always guide your choices. Confidence tricksters, and very clever digital ‘wiseguys’ prey upon the ‘Digital Divide’ each day.

If you are reading this, and you are wondering just what my ‘game’ is, I can tell you that I am an IT and web professional who is offering genuine services, but you don’t know who I am, and you do not have any assurances that I can actually help you, this is the leap of faith we all have to make.

You could look me up on good old Google, Mike Gorman from Australia, well there are quite a few of us! We could talk, and discuss your specific case, your objectives, how you want to be presented, what problems you have encountered, what results you have gained in the past, how you would like to change these. I prefer to talk with people, but these days people are reluctant to talk, to engage; I prefer to talk and discover exactly how my services and skill set can help you.

I know it is a bit ‘old fashioned’, but this is how I operate, I am a unique blend of the old and the very new.

I especially like to help people who are that little bit older, who are very good at what they do, but maybe they find the online and digital world something of an enigma, not quite within their purview?

By all means determine if I am a good match with your ambitions, with your world view. If you are reading this it means I have optimized, and built this site with a degree of technical skill, which is as good an advertisement as any ‘banner ad’. Advertising, and promotions have undergone a major change, but we can talk about this in way more detail when I speak with you directly, we can talk about many things, much like the ‘Walrus & the Carpenter’.