Post script: 12th December 2012

The latest radio survey results again show Alan Jones has seen an 0.9% increase in ratings, winning the results in NSW! Not only that, but the “Sack Alan Jones” Facebook page has decided to call it quits. They call themselves victorious, claiming that Jones’ apparent power has now been removed. They claim Jones’ is not the voice of a majority, only represents a specific demographic and does not swing votes- I believe these are things people who can think for themselves already knew.
In a similar fashion, Destroy the Joint changed their mission a while ago, from simply targeting Alan Jones, to targeting all forms of sexism, racism, abuse et al.

The mob has dissipated and watch this space. It’s only a matter of time before it’s business as usual for 2GB!

——————————————————————–

Post script: 31st October 2012

Well the latest radio survey results are out and Alan Jones has seen an increase in ratings! Jones’ program  increased its lead by 0.5 points to a 17.3% share. I’m sure the small rise is as a result of the controversy and I doubt that in the next survey the ratings will drop below previous levels.

The people who listen to Jones are not subjected to the Destroy the Joint group and listen to Jones because they choose to. Destroy the Joint’s aims are ultimately pointless –

  • People will continue to listen to Jones. They are a different demographic to Destroy the Joint.
  • Listeners of Jones’ program are around the 150,000 mark, outnumbering the 20,000 members of Destroy the Joint- where the less impassioned members lose interest every day.
  • Targeting advertisers with the intent to halt Jones’ revenue stream is strategically unsound if people still continue to listen to Jones. Advertisers find it hard to reach their targets and if they have a guaranteed hit, they’ll struggle to break away. That’s why the impact of this campaign is fleeting- yes advertisers feel the pinch when in the eye of the storm, but once it passes, reputation is intact and things are back in business.

NRMA is already back advertising on Alan Jones’ program, the other big advertisers which copped flak for previously advertising on Jones’ show may wait till the dust settles, but they will return in time.  Jones does appear to be out of the woods.

Now, Alan Jones 3, Trolling Community 1.

——————————————————————–

Post script: 8th October 2012

Over the weekend, Macquarie Radio Network issued an official statement that all advertising within Alan Jones’ radio show would be suspended.

A smart stance by the radio station to take back control, removing choice from advertisers and consequently helping to reduce backlash and attack on advertisers.

It is most likely that the supporters of Alan Jones’ demise will run out of steam, however Macquarie may need to suspend advertising for at least 6 months to a year. To reinstate advertising too soon may reopen the wound, whipping the mob into another frenzy.

So it seems that the community achieved their goal of removing all advertising from Alan Jones’ show, even if it appears a temporary action. 2GB has been smarter to take that control back and lessen the steam in the trolling community’s engine.

Both have come out winners here, Alan Jones 2, Trolling Community 1.

——————————————————————–

Post script: 3rd October 2012

As Alan Jones continues with his public lynching it is interesting to see how the brands who advertise on his radio station have reacted to their own scrutiny (source). Many have offered statements that they have pulled their advertising and do not support his statements. A couple have added that they do not currently advertise, leading to further backlash from the public that these are wishy washy stances.

Alan Jones did say something entirely inappropriate but there is still a sizable audience that listens to his program and station. The advertisers will return.

And for those people who claim they will boycott the brands that advertise with 2GB, this is futile. In a couple weeks this will be forgotten and there will be something else. I imagine it would also be a hard effort to monitor 2GB to boycott the advertisers.

Alan Jones 1, Trolling Community 0.

——————————————————————–

Social network behaviour is always shifting. As people use the tools and discover the nuances of the platforms they drop old behaviours and adopt new ones.

The sharp rise in community trolling to attack brands has been an obvious and interesting development in these changing behaviours. Company transparency coupled with slacktivism and the cause of the individual has seen backlash in fleeting and an often irrational manner.

The fleeting part is the major flaw. These trolling communities run out of steam fast. For the less passionate the participant, their job is done once they’ve offered a comment or a like. The rest leave as soon as the next brand comes under attack.

The community doesn’t worry about the authenticity or the real facts behind a complaint. Not too long ago a grieving mother attacked Channel 7’s Facebook page for covering her daughter’s death when WIN was the station behind the coverage. Mediawatch revealed the truth but exposure did little to change the riotous Facebook mob’s perception of Channel 7’s transgression. Does it even matter?

Slactivist participants have little emotional investment in these causes and outside of liking or commenting on posts, will add little more to the protest. People are only moved to change if the uproar reveals an unsavoury business practice which ultimately affects the individual, or a competitor offers an equally appealing alternative with a low barrier to change.

A few examples:

Incident Status to sales
When Channel 9 is boring, people will flick to Channel 7 to see what’s on. Not affected
A Taco Bell shuts down and a health inspector resigns when a video demonstrates the restaurant’s rat infestation. It’s a no brainer that people decide not to eat there anymore (source). Affected
People still shop at Target for plenty of other merchandise and even other ranges of girls’ clothing despite outrage on the sexiness of young girls’ clothing (source). Not affected
Progressive Insurance reveals bad business practice by failing to pay a particular claim. It is revealed that this company often avoids paying justified claims which impact current and future customers who have seen this particular incident (source). Affected
Qantas attacked for their #qantasluxury hashtag on Twitter. The general public will always fly whatever airline is cheapest and with the flights most appropriate to their plans, regardless of any gaffe (source). Not affected
Cleo magazine’s airbrushing scandal could force readers to buy the nearest competitor, Cosmo. The publications are fairly identical and there is a low barrier to change with a monthly purchase (source). Affected

The people (the community managers) behind the Facebook page and Twitter accounts need to understand one vital insight. They are the only people reading every single comment about the issue at hand. Individuals involved in the complaints will not read 300 comments, 250 comments, 100 or even 50. Brands feel the abuse much harder because of internal meltdown and a sense of panic with over exposure to bitchy ranting.

This is a game and people are playing, they have little concern for the outcome. Brands should ride through these storms with the realisation that they will blow over in a matter of days. Of course individual issues and real cries for help need to be responded to and resolved so that fans/followers feel heard and a brand’s perception stays at one that is engaged with their customers.

These larger blow ups, that are often inflated with media coverage, are a symptom of current social media behaviours with virtually no impact to brands and should be dealt with without panic, knowing trolls are just trolls.


16 Comments
  • author avatar
    Gavin Heaton
    6 years ago

    I’m not agreeing with you on this one, Deb. Consumers understand the game – and the game is on. Far from being just a situation where participants don’t care about the outcomes, people are organising protests on a significant scale.

    It’s easy to claim “slacktivism” over the online protests, but it takes 2-3 minutes to register and share your petition signature. Any brand would love to have that much of someone’s attention. And when it gets to 100,000 signatures (as in the AJ case), that’s a significant impact.

    Reply

    • author avatar
      Susie
      6 years ago

      The 100,000 figure which keeps getting bandied around regarding the online petition does not represent real people because the signatures can easily be faked (e.g, do you really know if I’m called Susie?) The “Sack Alan Jones” Facebook page has just over 20,000 likes – less than 0.2% of Australians on Facebook. Any business who thinks logically shouldn’t really be scared (unless, of course, their business is essentially being shut down an orchestrated attack by these people on their email and phone systems)

      Reply

  • author avatar
    Deb Wiseman
    6 years ago

    Thanks Gav, but outside of a temporary stoppage on advertising within the program, it’s still slacktivism and it’s still fleeting.

    Those 100,000 signatures aren’t going to stop someone listening to Alan Jones.

    And think about this -if Coles and Woolworths both resumed advertising on Jones’ show, for example, would people stop shopping at either supermarket? Would you? I doubt it, the physical barrier is too high.

    Reply

  • author avatar
    Andy Moore
    6 years ago

    This is not Tacos Debs. Or clothes. Or pizzas.

    This is why this movement is different. It”s about defining a civil society, holding people accountable. It”s about creating a better society that we all want to live in. people have had enough of the trash.

    It”s more than advertising dollars at stake here Debs. This is also a fight between traditional and new media, control vs democratisation of information, the old vs the new. MRN know this. They know they are fighting for control. Without control of information they have nothing. Alan jones fear mongering holds little weight. People see through it. Without control, you have audience leakage. And that affects bottom line.

    But what you are also seeing here Debs is real passion and real traction. You belittle the impact on advertising, but believe me this is hurting MRN. What you are also witnessing is a very well organised and passionate group of people righting a wrong, I can tell you from someone that came into this late, this is not going away. I won”t let it and the many thousands of other people won”t let it.

    Debs, this runs much deeper than a deep pan pizza.

    Reply

  • author avatar
    Deb Wiseman
    6 years ago

    Tacos, or clothes, or pizzas it isn’t, and I am just as disgusted by Alan Jones’ comments as the next person. The same goes for Kyle Sandilands.

    But it doesn’t change the point of my post that this is still only online activism and doesn’t travel very far beyond the web. These flare ups only translate into actual dollars and cents impact under certain conditions. 2GB appears to be suffering in the short term, turn that into a tax benefit with a write off and in the long term this will be a blip.

    The people who still listen to Alan Jones will still listen. Just as they do with Kyle Sandilands.

    If an advertiser decided to call up 2GB today and request spots during Jones’ show tomorrow and beyond, perhaps a percentage of the most passionate advocates may boycott that particular brand and they may hijack the brand’s Facebook page. The larger majority however, would not be affected in the slightest.

    This is why these social media flare ups have no real impact. Only a small amount of people are impassioned to take action. Even they run out of steam.

    Reply

    • author avatar
      Andy Moore
      6 years ago

      Debs

      I think you have missed the point a little.

      Advertisers aren’t worried about boycott of their goods and services by the minority. They are worried about reputation by association in the minds of the majority. That is a much bigger worry for organisations. It runs deeper and the implications are much larger.

      A huge amount of resources are put into measuring, planning and nurturing reputation. This takes years to build, but it is also very fragile. It can be destroyed overnight. In the current economic climate, corporations cannot afford to take this risk.

      That’s why the advertisers pulled out. They are more worried what the broader community will think of supporting such a vile man. That’s because this movement has gone way beyond social media. It’s not about the likes and the signatures, it’s about mindset and beliefs.

      Yes, Alan Jones will still have his audience, but he is being strangled, slowly. You only need to listen to yesterday’s hate speech to get that.

      It won’t happen today or tomorrow, but it will happen.

      Debs, this isn’t a flair up. It’s a slow burn.

      Reply

  • author avatar
    Azza
    6 years ago

    G’day Deb, Maybe something you overlooked. Everyone has a conscience including Alan Jones. When I go to sleep at night I am comfortable in the knowledge that thousands of people don’t dislike me. You or Alan may say it’s water of a duck’s back, however he needs to know that there are thousands of people out there who believe his recent comments about the Prime Minister’s father has gone to far. And yes I have read hundreds of comments on lots of sites and yes there are supporters for Alan. He has rocked the boat and lots of people will not be led or influenced by the media including you. You may quote facts however you may not change opinion.

    Reply

    • author avatar
      Deb Wiseman
      6 years ago

      Hi Azza, I agree with you that Alan Jones doesn’t have a conscience, but I don’t think “thousands of people” is enough to sway Jones’ or his radio network.

      More importantly and more to the point I’m trying to make in the post- people will not be motivated to real world action to boycott Jones or his advertisers. Liking a page on Facebook and making a comment is where their protest ends and that is why these flare ups have zero impact outside of noise.

      Reply

  • author avatar
    andylmoore
    6 years ago

    Hi Deb,
    Given that:

    The Australian, Today Tonight, Channel Ten Breakfast, ABC News, Daily Telegraph plus hundreds of other outlets have all reported the campaign and the call for a more civil public discourse, with headlines like:

    + “Alan Jones’ $80,000 a day problem”

    + “The organisation and expression of community disapproval has become incredibly powerful because it is spontaneous, immediate and clearly authentic.”

    + “People’s voice trumps power of the microphone”

    Do you think it still a flare up?

    Andy

    Reply

  • author avatar
    Deb Wiseman
    6 years ago

    Hi Andy, I do still think this is a flare up for the following reasons:

    1. 2GB will find other revenue streams. This is good for innovation.

    2. As we know, most media outlets love to use hyperbole, sensationalise stories and quote tweets as credible sources, consequently I am highly skeptical of the coverage of this issue. Especially since the Facebook page in question has amassed only 100,000 likes. Any action beyond that only sees smaller figures. This group is niche, the number of listeners for Alan Jones is much much larger.

    3. Yes I agree that what Alan Jones said is disgraceful and the greater population is disgusted at the comments that were said. However, the main point of my post is about motivating to action. By action I mean behaviours beyond online activity of liking the page and writing a comment.
    Not only do I think that the greater population won’t stop shopping with those who advertise with Jones, but the protesters themselves won’t take such action.
    It is quite a difficult barrier to take that action and individuals need to be affected on a very personal and direct level for any behaviour to change. Reputation of the brands in question may be affected, but convenience/desire for the individual is the greater driver.

    Kate Mills at BRW shares my sentiments. Have a read of it.

    Reply

    • author avatar
      andylmoore
      6 years ago

      What are you wanting here Deb? Picket lines and molotov cocktails?

      I still think you (and Kate Mills) are missing the point. And I don’t think you’ve got a grasp of what’s going on here.

      Firstly, you need to get your head around risk. Corporations won’t wait for people to stop buying before they act. That’s too late. To claw that back would take too long. Reputation comes before sales.

      Corporations weigh up the potential risk. If the perceived (doesn’t even have to be real) risk is high, they will act. Immediately. They won’t way for numbers. Believe me.

      You are also looking at this narrow minded. Yes, social media is the central hub. But looking at it purely from the perspective of likes on a facebook page is wrong. It’s not about the numbers here, it’s not about social media; it’s about the passion and intention of the people on there. It’s quality of the advocates, not quantity. There is real quality, all willing to go out of their way to do something above and beyond.

      I’ve seen and been involved in campaigns where likes are a token gesture because it’s easy. I’ve seen marketers become obsessed with numbers. This is not the same.

      People aren’t just liking here. People, volunteers, advocates, whatever you want to call them, are emailing, writing, phoning, blogging and communicating in any way possible to get their point across. They are talking to advertisers individually. There is human contact. And it’s effective. The big advertisers are staying away. Why? Because it’s visible, it’s human, it’s current, it’s maintaining it’s momentum and it’s too risky not too.

      100,000 signature and 20,000 likes is meaningless. It’s the outcome you need to look at.

      And yes, 2GB have to innovative. Of course they do. Everyone does. No one can afford to stand still. To coin Specialized tag line ‘Innovate or die’. 2GB should have innovated a long time ago. They are behind the eight ball because they no longer control information flow to their listeners. And yes, I’m sure they’ll continue as an entity. But the objective here is to get them to change their ways, not get rid of them. To make them accountable.

      And I’m sure this movement will innovate too. Because that’s life.

      It’s too easy and too lazy to dismiss every movement online as fleeting Deb. Why not do some research and analysis, present the facts, compare against a benchmark and then let’s chat further. I think it would make a good case study.

      Andy
      PS can you define fleeting for me? Is it a short timeframe? Is it lack of outcomes? What is it?

      Reply

      • author avatar
        Deb Wiseman
        6 years ago

        Hi Andy,

        You make some good comments, some not so good, and I don’t think I’m missing the point (neither is Kate). I just have a different perspective on the impact of this protest.

        This public campaign is fleeting because it starts with rapture and quickly disappears. Brand equity of the advertisers may be affected in that short term period of noise, but the long term will see no effects. This risk may be perceived as real risk from the inside, but in actuality and with the way these social media flare ups go, that perceived risk needs to put aside as paranoia.

        In the specific case of this Alan Jones saga, there are two campaigns at play. The first is to stop advertisers advertising with Jones, and the second is the boycott of advertisers who choose to place their ad spend with Jones.
        Several advertisers have already returned to Jones’ fold and the point of my post involves the second component of the campaign. It is a big step for an individual to go a step beyond the social rabble and actively participate in boycott. We’ve seen it time and time again with these insta-social media movements. There is noise for a short period of time and beyond that, beyond the confines of the Destroy the Joint movement, life returns to normal until the next brand comes under attack.

        I haven’t just plucked this idea out of thin air. I use previous examples, some from my post and many others we have seen unfold, to guide this thinking. I never suggested every campaign is fleeting. Some work, but only if an individual is directly affected – like with Taco Bell or with Perpetual Insurance. Consumers now know not to do business with those companies because the outcome has a high chance of them not getting a fair deal. No one wants rat infested tacos just as much as they don’t want to see difficulties in an insurer paying out a justified claim. Brand equity and sales have slim chances of recovering after instances such as these.

        From that perspective it doesn’t have much to do with quality of the protesters, but rather whether the core of the problem really affects people on a personal level. Alan Jones may have a nasty mouth, but that is his shtick. People listen to that nasty mouth because they want to, just as much as others choose not to listen to him. And in the long term, whether you advertise on Alan Jones or not, the people who don’t listen won’t have any idea…

        Reply

        • author avatar
          andylmoore
          6 years ago

          Deb, let’s agree to disagree. We are coming at it from different angles – I’m not talking brand or product, I’m talking reputation.

          Oscar Wilde once said (something very loosely like), the young always try the impossible. The wise will tell the young 9 times out of ten they’ll fail. The young try ten times harder and succeed.

          Debs, you’re the wiseman.

          Reply

  • author avatar
    andylmoore
    6 years ago

    Hi Deb
    I think you were a little premature with the ratings figures. Using it as evidence to show lack of effectiveness is wrong. These are aggregate figures that don’t show the true picture.

    Read the papers today and estimates show that 2GB has lost between $1m and $1.5 million (that’s estimates by 2GB, so read higher). That’s a lot of money for a radio station. Share price since October has declined to the lowest level this year. The AGM didn’t have a lot of good news to tell shareholders. Questions will now be asked of the Board and Tate will be feeling very uncomfortable.

    Tate said there would be minimal impact and bemoaned the fact they haven’t met face to face with Sack Alan Jones. He also griped that social media is not regulated, where radio is. Well, ACMA is toothless, and Alan Jones employers do not hold him accountable.

    Finally, I also take offence that you are calling the movement trolls. Please read the FB pages of big brands. It is a respectful approach. Alan Jones is a troll with a lot of influence.

    Reply

  • author avatar
    Deb Wiseman
    6 years ago

    Hi Andy, when I wrote this post it was before the Alan Jones saga hit. For consistency I maintained that terminology in my postscripts. I’m sorry if you take offence.

    I still think these communities are trying to stop the brands and not get rid of Alan Jones as a primary objective. Consequently their message becomes diluted and they lose steam.
    Those ratings are showing that people are still listening. The cut in profit shows that the brands have pulled back, but again, people are still listening and the advertisers are creeping back because of this. Ultimately I think 2GB will come out on top.

    Reply

  • author avatar

    […] we remain a little dubious about the long term impact of group protests on social media (so called, ‘slacktivists’), there is no doubt that social media has become a popular […]

    Reply

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