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Sharlene Tee

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3 new social media guidelines that you should be aware of

By | Social Media | No Comments

Growing your business on social media has never been more effective. With some clever planning, creativity and science, you can gain new fans and drive sales by using a mix of organic and collaborator-driven stories.

Most of us are pretty aware that it’s illegal for businesses to make deceptive, false or misleading claims about products and services by consumer protection laws governed by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).

But did you know that these laws apply to social media platforms in the same way they apply to other marketing and sales channels?

As far as the ACCC is concerned, you should be treating all your content on social media accounts like you would for a print, radio, television or web advertisements.

Here are some of the new guidelines and how to navigate them:

1. You’re responsible for third party content related to your business.

Yes, you’ve read that right. The ACCC will hold businesses accountable for any deceptive, false or misleading claims, even if it’s written or uploaded by a third party such as your customers or influencers that you’re working with.

To combat this, it’s better to err on the side of caution and delete anything that has a hint of prohibited claims. I know it’s hard–especially when it’s a favourable review for your products or services. In 2009, Allergy Pathway Pty Ltd was fined for failing to remove misleading medical testimonials posted by their fans on Twitter and Facebook.

It goes without saying that you should stay on top of comments and activity on social media by using social media monitoring platforms such as Hootsuite, Google Alerts or Brandwatch. If you’re managing a Facebook brand page, the Facebook Pages Manager App is also a great (and free) tool that you should be using daily.

2. You’re responsible to monitor your social media accounts at all times.

Haven’t got a social media manager? Time to get on that. Social media is 24/7, which means misleading comment may appear on your social media page outside of business operating hours. The ACCC expects you to be aware false, misleading or deceptive contents on your account and remove them as soon as you are aware of it. So what counts as a timely response, you ask?

The ACCC takes two factors into account: the size of the company and the number of followers. The bigger the company is, the faster ACCC expects the prohibited content to be dealt with within 24 hours. Likewise, the bigger following you have, the more responsive you have to be. This is due to the risk that more people will be exposed to, and potentially spread, misleading content.

No matter the size of your company, aim for a 12 to 24-hour response time.

3. You must declare influencer content.

Paying an influencer to promote a product or service they’ve never used before is a definite no. If you’re collaborating with a social media influencer, ensure to check their content before posting or amend it as soon as you are aware of any content that goes against the guidelines. To be on the safe side, regularly scan the social media circles you frequent to keep an eye for potentially misleading or deceptive claims in influencer’s content, even if it’s a positive unpaid review.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers’ (AANA) new provision code of ethics (effective 1 March 2017) requires brands to ensure all forms of advertising, including influencer posts on social media, to be ‘clearly distinguishable as such to the relevant audience’. Hence why you may have seen social posts containing hashtags including #ad, #sponsor or other variations.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, now has a Paid Partnership feature that influencers must use when posting a sponsored post. It created a sub-header that makes a clear indication of a sponsored post and the business that’s advertising. This is a blessing for businesses as it will help to give back control and visibility to track and monitor influencer content.

Paid partnership on Instagram imageThe ACCC and AANA new guidelines above are a good indication that social media advertising regulation is on the increase. Therefore, you should pay extra care and attention to your social media marketing practices.

What tools to you use to monitor your social media accounts? Share with us below.

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How to build a spam-free email marketing list

By | Email Marketing | No Comments

By Sharlene Tee

Spam: I like the canned product (yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve had it before) but, the email variety? Not so much.

In truth, marketers hate spam. We all know what it’s like to receive unsolicited marketing emails that aren’t relevant to us, arrive too often, and jam up our inbox.

I spend a lot of time crafting creative email campaigns for my clients. I want their recipients to be happy to receive, open and read the emails, because that’s what builds customer loyalty and advocacy, and ultimately drives sales.  However, not all businesses operate with the same guiding principles.

Australia introduced the Spam Act 2003 to regulate commercial emails and other commercial messaging services. Failing to comply is not an option; Tiger Airways and GraysOnline learnt the hard way when they were slapped with hefty fines for spamming its customers.

So, how well do you know the Spam Act and how can you use it your advantage and build a happy database of subscribers?

The Spam Act 2003

But before we get to the how, let’s focus on the main requirements of the Spam Act 2003:

1. All commercial electronic communications must contain a functional unsubscribe facility.

The unsubscribe link must be easily located and function for at least 30 days after the email was sent. This rule is inclusive of commercial SMS and MMS messages as well.

2. Commercial electronic communications must not be sent without consent.

There are two types of consent here: inferred and express. Inferred consent means the business has existing relationship with the customer or, there’s a reasonable expectation of receiving promotional messages.Express consent means the customer has confirmed interest to receive messages by filling in a form, ticking a box or agreeing over a phone conversation.

3. All commercial electronic communications must include accurate sender details.

When a recipient reads the email, they need to know the legal name of the company, ABN details, contact details and the sender’s name within the message.

Five ways to build a spam-free marketing list

Here are my top tips on how to build an email marketing database that’s both effective and spam-free:

1. Use the double opt in method.

With email marketing, consent is key. Without expressed permission from the recipient, you could be reported for abuse and blacklisted by internet service providers (ISPs). I love the double opt in method because the recipient fills in a signup form (first opt-in) and then confirms their subscription intent on a follow-up email (second opt-in). This means the subscriber truly wants to receive the email from me and, I have proof. Most email platforms, including Mailchimp, have double opt in facility, so make good use of it.

2. Don’t buy or rent data lists.

It’s tempting to purchase a large list that covers your targeted demographic, but please don’t do this. First off, many of these lists are not up-to-date or, worse, illegally obtained. Sending emails to people who haven’t opted in will often result in high bounce rate, low open rate and ISP blacklisting. An email blacklist is a real-time database that determines if an IP address is sending email that could be considered spam. Many blacklists exist, all with a common goal of keeping spammy emails out of people’s inboxes. Buying or renting list’s a waste of money and effort and could seriously hurt your brand with potential legal ramifications. Put down that credit card and go brainstorm how to grow your list organically through compelling content.

3. Let your subscribers know what to expect.

Just like a good relationship, each party needs to know what to expect. Be clear with your mailing list about what they’ll be receiving, and how often they’ll be receiving it. If you’re sending out various types of emails, it’s a good idea to allow customers to choose which ones they want.

Virgin Australia shows a selection of emails that you may opt in to, with samples on what to expect and when to expect them.

4. Don’t assume consent

Although inference is technically allowed under the Spam Act 2003, don’t assume that a customer wants to receive promotional emails from you just because they bought something or used your service. It’s best to have a tick box or signup form in your online shopping cart, blog page or homepage.

5. Monitor email delivery and engagement rates.

Reputation monitoring is the key to maximising your email delivery rates. Closely monitor your unsubscribe, hard bounce and complaint rates so that you may prevent delivery failures before they happen. Some customers may ask to be unsubscribed to your email list by emailing you directly. It’s important that you remove them from the list straight away, and before the next email goes out.

View the campaign results after each campaign send and look for delivery dips and low engagement rates. This may signal problems with your list, a poor subject line or body content, or send time. Nailing email campaigns is trial and error: test out new subject lines, segment your users, and tailor your content.

6. Watch how often you send out emails.

Some marketers interpret the Spam Act as a limitation on their outbound email marketing campaigns. This isn’t quite true. For example, I’m foodie and I love dining out. If I subscribe to restaurant mailing list, it doesn’t annoy me one bit when I get regular emails about a new chef, seasonal menu or new restaurant locations. This is because I chose to receive them.

However, if you email too often you run the risk of your subscriber marking you as junk for being annoying. Conversely, if you don’t email often enough, subscribers will forget they signed up to your list and may unsubscribe or flag the email as spam. Unsure how often you should email your customers? Get in touch with me.

Your turn

Using the tips above, you can build a solid list of subscribers that are genuinely interested in your products and services. For more information, read the Spam Act 2003 FAQs.

Do you have any tips on how to grow your email subscriber list organically? Share them with us below.

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Content repurposing – The afterlife of great content

By | Content Marketing, Uncategorized | No Comments

Any content marketer worth their salt can tell you how your content is performing. And, if they’re exceptional, they might tell you why. Performance is usually measured by engagement: for example, the most viewed blog posts, time on page, exit rate and so on. However, once you post your blog and share it on social media, it doesn’t have to be the end of the road.

Repurposing content breathes new life to the well researched, critically thought out and beautifully written content. It helps you to reach new audiences, showcase authority in your industry, and support your SEO efforts by helping to build genuine backlinks to your site. Additionally, repurposing content helps reinforce your key messages.

So how do you go about repurposing content?

1. Reframe your blog posts

Examine your recent blog posts and determine if you have anything new to add. For example,  you may want to expand on a particular point if it received a lot of interest from your readers, offer a new theory or point of view, or ask a guest blogger to weigh in. If the topic is broad enough, you should consider a blog series. Reframing or refreshing your content gives your followers a reason to return to your website and aids message retention.

Avoid rehashing the same points and be sure to change the title, introduction, subheadings and metadata.

2. Transform and reshare

Everybody digests content differently: some prefer to mull over an in-depth case study, others prefer to thumb through their social feeds to find high-level reviews. Your blog post, case study or white paper can be broken down into many formats to suit different media channels. Here’s a few examples:

  • Report > Infographic

Use your report to tell a story or share interesting statistics by creating an infographic. Although they need a lot of planning, infographics are often a crowd pleaser and may be easily shared across social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Use visuals to make points clearer and condense your messages to a few words. If your data is from a third party source, give credit and shorten the source URLs using Google URL Shortener or Bitly.


  • Manual > Instructographic

Yes, you read that right. As the name suggests, an instructographic is a series of instructional graphics – think Ikea’s visual instruction booklets for its flat pack furniture. Instructographics are a great way for you to share a recipe, teach someone how to make arts and crafts, or even explain how to build a website.

  • Presentation > Slideshare

Turn your text-heavy presentations into short and sharp slideshows on LinkedIn’s Slideshare. Include a sentence or two only on each slide, and use graphics and symbols to aid meaning.

Neil Patel slideshare image

Source: Neil Patel

  • Interview > Podcast

You’ve just finished a great interview with a subject matter expert and written an article. What’s next? Turn the audio recording into a Podcast. While reading lengthy blogs mightn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, podcasts may appeal to people on the go, including commuters, exercisers or holiday goers. We like using open source software, such as Audacity, to edit the recording.

  • Webinar > YouTube video

Convert your customer webinar recording into a video and share it on YouTube. If you’re familiar with video editing software, you can break down certain points into 60-second videos, then add background music and graphics to make it interesting. Don’t forget to share the YouTube link on on Facebook and Twitter and upload the video to Instagram.

  • Blog posts > eBook

Are you a prolific blogger? Always wanted to publish a book? Create an eBook. Step one: Gather posts on a similar theme. Step two: Arrange them into a cohesive order by writing an introduction, adjoining paragraphs and a conclusion. Don’t have graphic design skills? Try using a template from Canva. Publish your eBook it as a free download for subscribers and promote it through email to your database.

3. Answer questions

Question and answer sites such as Quora and and industry or interest specific forums are a great place to interact with potential customers. People who post questions are already interested in the topic that you are knowledgeable about. Ensure that your answers are thoughtful and informative and avoid sales pitches.

4. Repost content on social media

Thanks to social media algorithms, instead of seeing posts in chronological order, we now see posts based on relevance. This means that only a small portion of your followers will actually see your content in their feed. So, don’t be afraid to repost old content after a reasonable time lapse. A great rule of thumb is around three months if you post as frequently as a few days a week. You may think that it’s redundant but, odds are, your followers will be seeing it for the first time.

What next?

Not all content is the suitable for repurposing. Focus on timeless topics related to your industry and high quality content pieces. If you’re not sure which content is worth repurposing, start by looking at your website analytics. And, most importantly, be creative.

We’re curious: How have you repurposed your content and what was the result? Share your ideas below.