24 Australian Social Media Super Heroes
Not so long ago, people who spent their time lurking around social media websites were looked upon as time-wasters; everyone thought that bloggers did nothing more than churn out details of their insipid lives, and very few people made any decent money from their online tinkerings. Oh, how times have changed.
Today, bloggers are able to not just make ends meet but earn quite well from monetized sites, be it their own or others. Social media has become such a resounding success that many of the people who give much of their waking hours to online life have steadily gained a cult following; some would say super hero status. From their own private Fortresses of Solitude they impart their knowledge of the intricate workings of the web, and use it for good … mostly.
We are always on our quest to find out more about how we can use social media as a business. Being a credit card comparison service it can be difficult to find the right angle for us to be interesting, and to engage with our audience.
Everybody has a hero, even though they don’t always like to admit it, and some secretly admire those they’re not meant to – well, some super heroes are not always cool. And considering Australians are the most prolific users of social media it’s no surprise that some of these inspirational characters hail from the land down under. Here we present 24 social media movers and shakers destined to change the world in their own sweet way, one Tweet at a time.
Social Media Influencers
After reading an article about blogging in 2002, Rowse started his own blog, which, like many blogs of the time, discussed very personal issues of little consequence to anyone outside his immediate circle of friends and family. Not long after, he caught the blogging bug and founded a few more blogs, one of them being ProBlogger.net – a blog about blogging, and more specifically, how to make money from the Internet.
He also runs a popular photography blog called Digital Photography School, a personal blog about his various passions in life and is the co-founder of b5media (a blogging network). He is an expert in using blogs to create an income and teaches others how to start their own, what content is important and how to build followers, and finally, how to monetize it so that you too make a decent income from the comfort of your own home.
Since turning his hand to blogging and through various online business ventures Rowse now generates a seven figure salary. He also produced an eBook which teaches you how to build a better blog. Although, in a recent interview it’s clear why he has become so successful – he rarely has little time for anything outside the social media sphere. So is the world of social media if you want to make it big.
Based in Sydney, Scott Rhodie is a rare breed; he is one of the few PR people who actually understand the intricate workings of the web. While traditional media PR agencies continue to vie for each others clients in the shrinking work of print media, Rhodie is fast becoming one of the most well-known digital PR specialists among social media circles.
In 2009, he was headhunted for his
current a position in digital PR at social media interactive agency House Party, and has been heavily involved in influencing how other PR personnel view the social media world, for the better. Scott is now the Vice President -Digital Media for Fleishman-Hillard. He understands that, traditional media outlets no longer reach the same audience – they’ve transferred their loyalties to the Internet – and to run a successful PR business it’s important to go where your message will be seen and heard by the most people. Although, Rhodie would need to watch he doesn’t do too good a job at getting other PR agencies to recognise the worth of working online as he may well put himself out of a job.
Connect with Scott: Follow on Twitter
Duncan Riley is one of the big boys in social media. His first foray into the online world was way back in 1995, when he created a website for one of Australia’s political parties. His love for politics didn’t end there; in 1999, he designed and ran the Young Australians Against this Republic website, which was a leading youth website of the time, and then in 2002 Riley launched The Blog Herald – the first blog to relay news of the relatively new phenomenon of blogging. The Blog Herald was sold for a tidy sum a few years later and with the proceeds Riley embarked on a few other ventures. One of them was with blogger buddy, Darren Rowse. Together, with another fellow blogger Jeremy Wright, they co-founded blogging network b5media, which very quickly turned it into another social media success.
In 2006, Riley left to pursue his own personal projects, which included writing for one of the top sites on the Internet, TechChrunch and to start his own news-style website, The Inquistr. Relaying a mix of tech, pop, entertainment and fun stories, The Inquistr has been blessed with Riley’s midas touch, too, as in just two short years it has gone from a small start-up to one of the top 10,000 blogs on the Internet. And, like anyone who’s anyone these days on the web, Duncan has a Twitter account blog and Facebook page to keep in touch with his followers.
Social Media News
Burrowes is the man behind mUmBRELLA, the website that covers ‘everything under Australia’s media and marketing umbrella’. Started in 2008, the site includes news and opinion pieces as well as aggregated content. It offers a fresh outlook on an industry that has few news sites, and conjures a real community spirit among media workers, many of whom are based in home offices and so lack the cohesion found in office environments.
With a strong background in media and marketing editorial, including Campaign Middle East in Dubai, Media Week in London and B&T in Australia, it seemed only natural that Tim continued to focus on the media in his online work. The success of mUmbrella is that it encourages conversation rather than merely being an opinion based site, like the majority of other media and marketing new sites. It has embraced the ideology of the Internet and its users, and with 11,000+ followers on Twitter and over 400,000 domestic page impressions per month, mUmbrella is set to grow exponentially as Australia continues to devour the offerings of the social media world.
As one of the most proliferate technological, business and media writers on the web, it would take some time to list all the sites and publications Mr Kidman has written for. You only need to look at his career overview on his website to deduce he’s done A LOT. In addition to mountains of techie articles he writes for various publications, Kidman produces media industry related pieces for The Australian and is editor of Lifehacker Australia.
Kidman started his own site Gusworld as an experimental project for work, but it soon took on a life of its own, drawing quite a following in a short space of time. And what a site it is, too. Functioning almost as a fan site, there are links to a number of articles about Kidman’s favourite authors and musicians, hailing mainly from the ’80s. One-time followers of the likes of Duran Duran, Wham!, ABBA and Kirsty MacColl will love it. These days Kidman is too busy writing for various websites and promoting them via Twitter and his blog to give Gusworld too much attention. Shame.
Based in Sydney, Stilgherrian is a self-proclaimed opinionated writer and broadcaster, and writes mostly about politics and the media. His focus is on communication and collaboration technologies and how they have changed the way we work and socialise within society. His articles appear in ZDNet Australia, Crikey and newmatilda.com, as well as his own website. He also presents podcasts for ZDNet Australia’s Patch Monday and for his own show, The 9pm Edict. Stilgherrian travels internationally quite frequently using the chance to showcase social media’s full potential – last year he went to Tanzania on behalf of ActionAid Australia and used every form of social media available to share his experiences. He still uploads pictorial and editorial commentary of his day-to-day work to his website and Twitter account.
Costa Anastasiadis founded the gourmet pizza company Crust Pizza in 2001, and by 2008 he had 17 franchises with a big plan to have 40 pizza shops open within another seven years. Well, the boy done good as in just two years he has managed to open a total of 50 gourmet pizza stores, and all with a helping hand from social media.
It wasn’t always easy for Anastasiadis, who had never planned to be a pizza entrepreneur. His passion was soccer, and for a while he followed that dream playing for Scarborough FC in England. But life had other plans for him, as it often does. His family’s business back in Australia was struggling and his mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The tough decision was made to sell off his family home, pay off any debts, and as the eldest son he was elected to start a new business to get the family back on their feet. And so, with just $60,000 and the aid of his extended family in place of staff, Crust Pizza was born.
It was a move that would pay off, and some, as the company are now making more money than they could ever have imagined. But it is their involvement with social media that makes them stand out from other pizza chains. As well as conversing with their customers through their Facebook page and running charity events, every Friday Crust runs a ‘Free Pizza Friday’ competition via Twitter. By getting fans to tweet, ‘I’m entering @ Crust-Pizza # CrustFreePizzaFriday’, they stand a chance to win five free pizzas for that night. Way to get noticed!
Who would have thought craft would have been so popular? Sure, people seem to have gone a little Etsy crazy of late, but for the number one women’s blog in Australia to be about all things crafty, it’s quite a feat in this day and age when many women try so hard to shake their stereotypes.
Pip Lincolne embraces her womanhood and all that it entails, which seems to include a hefty dose of arts and crafts. Her blog, Meet Me at Mikes, was started in 2006 as a way of promoting her Fitzroy based store of the same name, which sells handmade and vintage goodies. As well as a loyal following in the real world, Meet Me at Mikes is big news online. It may not be for everyone but for those who want to go retro there are online crochet lessons, tips on how to make Nanna-style tomato sauce and even how to make soft toys. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for online Pip’s tips and ideas are now available in book form, too. It just goes to show you don’t have to be all suited and booted to be business savvy.
You’re probably surprised to see a hairdresser on the list – hairdressing is rarely associated with social media. However, hairdressing is a business, too, so why shouldn’t it be promoted in the same way as any other business venture? Just because their main line of work is not solely online, it does not mean that the man on the street doesn’t know how to harness the power of the Internet to their advantage.
The brand name Stevie English is derived from Steve’s English roots – he was born in Somerset – his real name is Steve Corthine. He has been hairdressing for over 15 years in a career that has seen him work as far a field as the US, Asia and London before setting up show here in Australia. His work has appeared in Marie Claire and Oyster magazines, and on various fashion shows and shoots all over Australia. He uses social media as a way of promoting his business through the Stevie English Hair website, blog, Facebook account and Twitter. It’s a wonder he has any time to fix fancy hairstyles with all that typing!
Social Media Educators
Even though Pintado is one of the top 25 most connected business workers in Australia, and co-founded a business about networking through online devices, he doesn’t like to be known as a social media expert. It’s not that he’s ridiculously humble, nor is it because he’s lacking a few skills in how to use social media – he has 12,000+ direct connections on Linkedin, over 16,500+ Twitter followers and more than 2,400+ Facebook friends. It is purely because he regards himself as an expert in connectedness, not social media. Although, many would argue there’s very little difference in the two.
Pintado must know what he’s talking about, though, as he co-founded a business networking consulting business in 2008 called ConnectGen, and he’s written a book about it, entitled Connection Generation. It looks at how certain connections affect society and business and what challenges and opportunities can crop up as a result. Although he still in involved in ConnectGen, he works mostly in a coaching capacity these days teaching small businesses the importance of getting connected.
You know you’ve made it when you’re a guest of The Morning Show – in March this year, Laurel appeared in a short interview about blogging, encouraging the population to turn to the web. And it is not only TV appearances Papworth makes; the girl is all over the place. As one of Australia’s leading social network strategists, Laurel makes her living from having a heavy online presence through her blog, Twitter and virtual communities. She also has a life in the real world as a workshop facilitator and speaker on social media marketing and counts University of Sydney, Middle East Broadcasting in Saudi Arabia and Ministry of Defense in Singapore among some of her clients. Papworth is a Power150 Marketing Media blogger and is one of the top women bloggers in Australia.
Gavin Heaton is one of Australia’s leading brand and communications strategists, and the author of marketing blog, Servant of Chaos. He is also co-publisher of the ground-breaking collaborative marketing book, The Age of Conversation, which involved 100 bloggers from nine different countries in its creation. Heaton also speaks regularly at social media and marketing events and guest lectures on the Macquarie Graduate School of Management’s MBA program.
Gavin can count big brands such as McDonald’s, Kellogg’s and General Motors in his past client list. He was responsible for the planning and execution of some of their promotions online, one of which was McDonald’s Happy Meal – a campaign which obviously worked unbelievably well considering how many kids were often found kicking and screaming in food halls across Australia, demanding their Macers kiddie box.
Good ol’ K Rudd has embraced the new technology of social media as he has embraced his love of ear wax (he was caught enjoying the taste of his own in Parliament). The smooth-talking Australian ex-Prime Minister likes to ‘get down with the kids’, it’s the type of schmoozing that won him the last election, and if it means he has to get involved with social media, do it he will.
The ex-PM knows knew how to reach his audience and prospective voters – he has a Twitter account with just short of a million followers and Tweets regularly, although keep an eye out for what Twitter accounts he endorses – his famous faux pas was allowing an automated program to pick various Twitter accounts to follow; imagine the stir when it came to light that a number of his new connections were adult sites. How down with the kids is that? You can also ‘connect with Kevin‘ on Facebook, MySpace and via his Flickr account, where you can see his life in images. And if you’re begging for more, you can find him via a dedicated website of the Labor Party‘s own YouTube Channel. The biggest question now, is what will happen to all of his social media profiles – are they all the property of the Australian Labor Party?
Another of the leading political ranks to get jiggy with social media and all that it offers is Malcolm Turnbull. Until recently – December 2009 – he was leader of the Liberal Party, and KRudd’s nemesis. Turnbull, too, has his fingers truly wedged in many social media pies, with a Facebook account, MySpace page and a busy Twitter account, allowing him to stay hot on the heels of what’s going on in the Labor camp 24/7.
It’s not just access to opposing parties that social media arenas allow; it’s a perfect ground for revealing their views and policies in the hope of winning over voters, and with over 20,000 followers Malcolm does well. Although, now he’s passed the leader of the opposition baton to Tony Abbott he needs to encourage his successor to continue the tweets – with less than 9,000 followers and only 39 tweets to date, the new Liberal leader needs to pull his tweeting socks up.
Connect with Malcolm: Follow on Twitter
The pint-sized darling of TV, Rove McManus started out as a comedian before finding success in his own chat and variety show Rove, which first aired on Channel Nine in 1999. Despite the relative success of the first series, Nine chose not to make another and so it was quickly snapped up by the Ten Network, who must have had a lot of faith in the boy as they gave him his own production company, Roving Enterprises.
Known just as Rove, the light entertainment presenter has won a number of Gold Logie awards for his shows, twice picking up all three awards for Most Popular Presenter, Most Popular Light Entertainment/Comedy program and the coveted Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television.
Rove could possibly be credited for being one of the first Australian TV talkback shows to use Twitter live on air. Fans used to tweet about the show while it was live on air using #rove. Although Rove quit the show in late 2009 he continues to stay in contact with his fans through his Twitter account almost daily.
Connect with Rove: Follow on Twitter
Hamish and Andy
This well-known comedy duo has been likened to Vegemite – you either love them or hate them. After meeting in university, Hamish Blake and Andy Lee decided to ditch their commerce backgrounds and forge a career as comedians, which proved to be a very lucrative move and something quite unheard of for fledgling comedians ‘¦ making money, that is.
They have fronted a couple of sketch shows: Radio Karate (2003) and Real Stories (2006), and appeared as regular correspondents on Rove from 2007 to 2009, but are most famous as the loveable rogues of Fox radio. Their show, which is broadcast across Australia and New Zealand has won a number of awards and is the highest-rating radio series in Australian history, drawing around two million listeners daily. Their on-air antics are legendary, as are their live-on-location outings – they are currently touring the UK and Ireland and have already completed a caravan tour of America, sailed across the Bass Straits and dodged bullets in Afghanistan.
What is most notable about the zany team is that they use any social media platform available to promote their work, which must be the secret of their success. Not only do they have the obligatory Facebook page and Twitter account, but they also frequently release podcasts and even have their own Hamish and Andy iPhone app – how social media savvy is that?
There aren’t many 23-year-old students with enough dedication to consistently produce online content; they’re usually too busy holding up the bar in the student’s union. Yet, Natalie Tran, a digital media student from Sydney, has managed to produce 235 videos since 2006, proving something of an online sensation.
Under the guise Community Channel, her take on the mundane things in life and her self-depreciating humour have made her a massive hit with the online community; she even has a dedicated fan site. Tran’s YouTube videos are mostly short snippets, are often irreverent, always quirky and regularly feature her in hilarious multi-role skits. Her most viewed video is ‘How to fake a six pack (Re: How to Fake Abs). *SARCASM*”, and has totted up just under 24 million views. As of May this year Community Channel is the most subscribed channel of all time in Australia with around 685,000 subscribers, and is the 5th most subscribed YouTube channel worldwide.
Banking & Finance
Their Facebook info page reads: ‘We’re making banking a bit more about you and a lot less about us. In a nutshell, we’re here to make life easier.’ Not the words you’d normally hear from a bank, especially considering what has gone on in recent years – most banks’ tag lines should read: ‘It’s all about me, me, me.’ And instead of using their pages purely to promote their banking services, as many other banks do, UBank have real people to reply to customers (existing or potential), making them appear to be much more approachable than other banks.
UBank is a prime example of how banks should be exploring new ways to communicate with customers. Their Twitter account has over 2,500 followers, with just under 1,800 tweets, their Facebook page has over 5,300 fans and they have a dedicated YouTube channel, UBank Money Box.
Following on from the success of SmartyPig in the US, which was launched in 2008, the new-style bank for Web 2.0 hit Australian shores in 2009. With the ethos of turning the ‘buy now, pay later’ style of spending on its head, SmartyPig offers its customers a new way of saving. Customers are encouraged to list their ‘wants’ then make a savings plan, and stick to it. Through an online account customers can watch their virtual piggy banks fill up, and once they’ve reached their goal they can buy what they were aiming for in the knowledge they’ve saved for it in a smart way, and not a credit card in sight.
SmartyPig uses social media as a tool to reach existing customers and reel in new ones through their blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts. They stand out from the run-of-the-mill high street banks by offering giveaways through their social media profiles, enticing customers to use social media as a form of banking interaction.
The Bank Channel
The man behind The Bank Channel is Rob Findlay. Based in Melbourne, he has worked for NAB for over three years as their Customer Experience Manager in Direct Channels and has kept the social media space up-to-date with customer orientated interactions and innovations from the financial world.
There are some excellent posts on The Bank Channel regarding marketing and innovation that can be applied to any field, so it’s definitely worth a trawl. It’s evident that The Bank Channel man is good at his job, too, as Rob recently announced that he will be leaving NAB and moving to OCBC Bank, Singapore as head of their Customer Experience Strategy & Innovation team. You can continue to follow his blog or stay informed via his Twitter account.
Social Media Products
Famous for being the first Australian to be prosecuted for email spamming, Wayne Mansfield is now turning his knowledge of the internet to other things. Whether you could call him a pioneer of internet marketing, as he does, or a complete pest, it’s difficult to deny that he knows how to use the internet to make money.
Mansfield started out as a junk mail fixer in the 1990s – a job that rarely makes an appearance on ‘The Most Satisfying Jobs in the World’ list – before turning his talents to the much maligned art of spamming. By his own admission, Mansfield harvested emails from various publicly available sources to compile mailing lists, which he would then target mail with information promoting his seminar-hosting companies, including The Maverick Partnership and Business Seminars Australia. After being dobbed in by an unhappy spam victim to the Spam Prevention Early Warning System (SPEWS) his company was landed with a fine of $4.5million. Mansfield was given a personal fine of $1million. He was also disqualified from managing corporations for four years as a result.
However, it seems Mr Mansfield’s love of all things marketing is just too big to contain as he continues to not only earn from the internet, but also teaches others how to, too, through various seminars, websites and his Twitter account. Considering how many people are investigating how to use the internet to make money these days, the only real reason people can get angry with him now is because they didn’t think of what he’s doing first. He is on this list, not as an example of the "dark side" of social media, showing you what some of the spammers have managed to make of the medium.
Connect with Wayne: Follow on Twitter
Bundaberg-born Cameron Reilly has been kicking around cyberspace since 1995 and has a number of online business interests, including Australia’s first social media company The Podcast Network, which he co-founded in 2004. With over 500,000 monthly listeners The Podcast Network has become one of Australia’s largest independent media companies, and continues to grow. His website G’DayWorld also draws in a huge number of readers per month; it appears to be an outlet for Reilly’s passions and a forum for him to discuss certain topics that make him tick, such as religion and politics.
Reilly seems to have found a second home in Twitters TweetDeck, too, where he has almost 10,000 followers and just recently announced that he’s going to relaunch Twittories, an idea he had 12 months ago before Twitter became as widely used as it is today. Twittories is a portmanteau of Twitter and Stories. It’s a canny idea and a great example of what is achievable through social media forums: 140 people are invited to write a story together; each contributing 140 characters (as you would for each Twitter entry, for those that don’t know’¦ or have been hiding under a rock for the past few years). Each author is given 12 hours to enter their section of the Twittory – guessing that’s the singular – and if nothing is entered after 24 hours, the story ends. The final edition can be read on Reilly’s dedicated Twittories Wiki page.
Founder of Entrepreneurs-Journey.com, Yaro Starak has been creating and managing various Internet businesses since 1998, most of which he has sold on for a hefty profit. His main line of work at present is teaching people how to make a full time income from blogging part-time – something many of us would love to know the secret to. His Blog Mastermind coaching program appears to be very successful, even if the website / landing page looks like one of those really awful ones that promise the world but turns out to be just a scam. While it may look kind of dodgy, we know it’s not because Starak has such a hefty online presence. The program obviously works for him, too, as he claims to make about $20,000 a month from his own website, and all from just a few hours of real work a day! So he certainly practices what he preaches.