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PODCAST: The art of influence, Nicole Matejic, Info Ops HQ

This week on the Defence Connect Podcast, social media expert Nicole Matejic joins us to discuss the growing influence of social media in the defence sector.

This week on the Defence Connect Podcast, social media expert Nicole Matejic joins us to discuss the growing influence of social media in the defence sector.

Matejic, a former strategic communications and ministerial services specialist for Defence, takes us through the changing world of Defence in the age of social media, the advent of ISIS, and social media in a conflict environment.

An instructor for and speaker to NATO, Matejic gives us her perspective on how Defence can embrace social media as an asset rather than a threat and the value it holds in recruitment. 

Enjoy the podcast,

The Defence Connect team.


Listen to previous episodes of the Defence Connect podcast:

Episode 296: PODCAST: Biggest news stories of 2022
Episode 295: PODCAST: Reviewing the air domain, analysing Defence Connect’s top 5 air stories
Episode 294: PODCAST: Discussing 2021’s most popular stories in the land domain
Episode 293: PODCAST: Unpacking the most popular stories in the maritime domain for 2021
Episode 292: PODCAST: Catching up with Lockheed Martin Australia’s newly appointed chief executive, Air Marshal (Retired) Warren McDonald AO, CSC
Episode 291: PODCAST: Building a stronger sovereign defence industry, with Shoal Group founder Shaun Wilson and Lockheed Martin’s Christopher Hess
Episode 290: PODCAST: Reshaping the defence estate industry, with Serco Defence’s Clint Thomas and GHD’s Norman Whittaker
Episode 289: PODCAST: Unpacking the latest news and insights in defence
Episode 288: PODCAST: Preparing tomorrow's war fighters, with MAJGEN Mick Ryan
Episode 287: PODCAST: Discussing the latest breaking news in Australian defence and defence industry

Announcer: Welcome to the Defence Connect podcast, with your host Phil Tarrant.

Phil Tarrant: Good day everyone, it's Phil Tarrant here, I'm the host of the Defence Connect podcast, thanks for joining us today, we're back in the studio, our first podcast after Pacific, and it was a pretty big event, obviously quite a lot of activity in the ship building, naval building space, and some very good conversations. So if you haven't yet tuned into many of the chats I had during Pacific with people within government, also some of the CEOs, or the Primes, and also some really smart and intelligent SMEs who are doing some really good things within the naval space. I do urge you to tune in and check it out.

Today though, we're going to have a really interesting chat, and this is something which comes across my desk quite a lot as a business, Defence Connect sits within a much larger corporate which works across many other markets and when it comes to social media and the use of social media to help support businesses, whether it's projecting them on an international domestic stage, all the way through to using it as a tool to manage situations and crises, defence don't do it as well as many of the other industries within Australia and around the world. So I want to have a chat about this today, and I've brought someone into the studio who is going to be able to give us some context about this, Nicole Matejic. She's the CEO of a business called Info Ops HQ. Nicole, how are you going?

Nicole Matejic: I'm good, thanks for having me on.

Phil Tarrant: Was that a fair call I just made about defence not doing it as well as non defence businesses?

Nicole Matejic: Unfortunately, that is the truth, yeah.

Phil Tarrant: Okay, so you work in this space because you're trying to hopefully-

Nicole Matejic: Thing to help them along.

Phil Tarrant: Get defence businesses to do this better.

Nicole Matejic: Yeah.

Phil Tarrant: So, before we get down to the nitty gritty of what and how defence businesses and defence organisations can do to underpin and use social media to support themselves, can you just give me a bit of a background? So how did you end up being an expert, number one, in defence, and number two, social media and defence, what's the story?

Nicole Matejic: That's an interesting story. I'll give you the brief rundown. I started out in customs, did a lot of airport work, did some intelligence work. I went through to defence, did some strategic communications and ministerial services there. Then, while I was in defence I actually got pinched off Linked In and my blog, NATO, someone over in the US was reading my blog, and I thought that was rather peculiar because I was just blogging at home in my Star Wars pyjamas thinking no one was reading my stuff, and then lo and behold I get this Linked In message saying, "Hey, we'd like to do some stuff." They were at the point where they were just starting out considering social media in a serious sort of sense and starting their own training course. So they were doing a massive online open course and they wanted me to be an instructor on that, and then I've been sort of working with international and governments ever since, in this space.

Phil Tarrant: So, I'm going to pick your brain to try and get some good free advice for our listeners around how to do this social media stuff, but I know from experience that you can have the best background in social media and want to educate yourself around it, but the thinking about it and wanting to do it is very different than the doing, and they're often repetitional, the perpetual delivery of good social media practises in order to get the results you want.

Nicole Matejic: Absolutely.

Phil Tarrant: So you've ended up an expert in this space, using social media to help influence defence outcomes, and before we came on air we spoke really quickly, there's probably two parts to that, there is the businesses, or government, or government departments using social media for them to do what they do better, whether it's informing and educating their stakeholders or helping to influence change, but there's also the application of social media in an operational context where social media can now be the new drop a bunch of leaflets out of a plane and tell people that there might be some problem on the ground pretty soon, perhaps you should move on. So let's have a quick chat about that because that's really quite intriguing and not a lot of people would contextualise social media as being a tool which serves an operational purpose, so can you give us a bit of a background on that?

Nicole Matejic: Sure. I think you hit the nail on the head with the ... And you know, there are still places that do throw leaflets out the back of an aeroplane when they do leaflet drops, but that's a real shotgun approach to communications. You've got to assume that the person on the ground is actually going to pick it up, they're actually going to read it, if they can read, and in some communities that's not the case. They may use it to stoke their fire at night, or they could use it for other purposes. Or, are they actually going to pick it up, read it, and go, "Okay, I've got some foreign troops about to come into my village, this is what it's about," or it could be a surrender message kind of thing, like, "We know you're there. You're surrounded. Give up now," the old tactic.

It's a very hard way to measure success when you throw a bunch of leaflets out of a plane. How many percent of those leaflets get trodden into the ground and become part of the landscape, and how many actually get picked up, taken home, people read it, you share it, that kind of thing. So social media gives you the metrics to actually pinpoint these people and basically geofence your messaging so you get a good idea of the saturation of the messaging going into that geographical area.

Phil Tarrant: So it's the same strategic objective, but the delivery's different. I saw, it was probably a month or so ago, that new Dunkirk movie, and it started with an English soldier picking up a leaflet on the ground and it said, obviously the Germans had delivered it and said, "This is you. This is Germany," as in, "You're in a lot of trouble. You're surrounded. Perhaps you should surrender." So that's happening today, but using social media.

Nicole Matejic: Yep.

Phil Tarrant: The world has changed quite a lot.

Nicole Matejic: It has, and you know, don't just use it for defence things. Epidemics like the Ebola crisis in Africa, they used WhatsApp in the same sort of approach to get people to wash their hands, don't touch dead bodies, all that kind of health messaging. Blood drives, we need more of A+, or O-, or whatever it is, stop smoking cigarettes, there are a lot of really good messaging that comes out from a range of business and government stakeholders to point people in the right direction.

Phil Tarrant: How open is government to embracing new ways for doing old things that have worked in the past? Has it been something that they've picked up pretty quickly, or has it taken a bit of time for the people within government, those making these decision, to understand and comprehend it?

Nicole Matejic: It's a bit of a loaded question isn't it?

Phil Tarrant: It is.

Nicole Matejic: You know, I started doing this kind of stuff back in 2008, and even then people thought Facebook was just somewhere you post your picture of your lunch. Privacy was unheard of, everyone was wide open to the world, it was crazy. I think only probably in the last four years, people have actually started taking social media seriously, both on a business and a defence and government perspective. I think the advent of ISIS really changed that. I'd been blogging for a while about, "Don't worry about cyber security and cyber warfare so much, think about social warfare," and then everyone was kind of like, "Yeah, what have you been smoking?" And I'm like, "No, no, because people weaponize this and use it as a messaging front," as we've seen happen today, and of course, as soon as ISIS started weaponizing social media, the phone hasn't stopped ringing.

So it's all about really getting to know, A, your audience, and then, B, the right way to communicate with them. Social media, you know, there's so many different networks out there, but your audience isn't going to be on every single one of them. So you've got to pick and choose exactly what's going to give you the biggest bang for buck in terms of time investment, developing content, keeping on top of your moderation, getting to know your community, getting your data on insights information, and then, if you're going to do some paid promotion and advertising, add that into the mix as well.

Phil Tarrant: So just before I move into the business use of social media in defence, the statistic on this sort of operational usage of social, when you talk about ISIS, as a tool, communication in any conflict environment is absolutely critical for the right people to make the right decisions at the right time with the right information to do so. So social media can be a real asset for often the bad guys to corral and communicate very cheaply and efficiently using other people's networks to get their messages across, coerce and influence their people to do what they want them to do, when traditionally, that was something that they didn't have, or it was very antiquated, versus the technology available to, 'the good guys'. So, I guess change-

Nicole Matejic: Absolutely.

Phil Tarrant: Social warfare has changed the nature of conflict, particularly in the hot spots of the world today, I think in Syria and Iraq in particular.

Nicole Matejic: Yep, absolutely. I think that goes to more about the democratisation of information as a whole. If you think back to the Al-Qaeda days, shaky Handycam in a cave kind of box and dice, and then technology has kind of matured to a point where they don't need to send that tape off via snail mail or a messenger to Al Jazeera, or CNN, or anything like that, they can simply upload it. So in essence they've cut the media out, they don't need the media, and we're in a situation now where the media kind of uses them more than they use the media, although we can get into semantics about terrorist attacks, and Propaganda of the Deed, and those kind of objective, but by and large, you can be the media. You don't need to rely on that third party to pitch a story, get it out there, get the journalist interest, and do all that kind of stuff, it's kind of redundant at the moment. Earned media certainly gives you a lot of credibility, but you necessarily don't need them. I mean, look at all the influences on Instagram making a tonne of money Instagramming pictures of themselves in bikinis with some brand of sunscreen, or sunglasses, or whatever else. So there's a lot of sort of self initiative and ability to grow your own brand attached to it.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, and I talk about this a lot that every good business today, or every good organisation, needs to think, act, and operate like a media business, like their own publisher, and some people do it really well, some people not so well. Would you say that ... It's quite a big question, but are the bad guys doing social media better than the good guys in a conflict environment?

Nicole Matejic: Yeah, and I've been crucified for saying that in the past.

Phil Tarrant: Okay.

Nicole Matejic: But yes, they are very effective at using content marketing and social media for their objectives. I think you'd be crazy to disagree with that statement, however unpalatable that may be. It's a fact, you know, we're slower off the blocks on this case. People weren't ready for social media warfare because they just didn't think it was going to happen. They thought, put up your lunch, put up a picture of your office window, that was kind of the level of thinking about where social media was going, it was a social thing rather than an enterprise or a warfare kind of tool, I guess.

Phil Tarrant: It's interesting because social media is about influence, it's about persuasion, it's about massaging people to think, and act, and operate in a particular way. The scale given to 'the bad guys' to incite fear into their enemies, to potentially incite fear into the people within their local geographic area to get them to act and operate in the way they want to do, it is an immensely powerful vehicle. So as a vehicle for bad, it is a significant problem, and it concerns me to think that our government and the people who are looking after our national security aren't as good as the bad guy, the enemy, at doing this. So what needs to happen for us to catch up? And, in a national security context, use this a tool for the war fighter of the future? So are we going to have people texting on phones as part of an operational deployment, is that what we're going to see?

Nicole Matejic: I think we're already seeing that to a certain degree. I think since 2014, when ISIS really surprised everybody, I think is probably the best word, people have really sat back and gone, "Oh crap, we are really not in this game properly," and there's been a lot of moral and ethical dilemmas as well about whether people are ready and willing to fight in the information terrain with seriousness and with intent. So there's been a lot of back and forth. Different countries have tried different things. Some countries are more proactive and more willing to go out into that terrain and actually explore and see.

I think the biggest hurdle for defence, and this is the defence forces around the world that I work with, is that they're afraid to fail, and they think social media is another enemy that needs to be taken out, and because they can't control it, they like it even less. So it's an element of just saying, "You know what? We give a platoon commander enough artillery to flatten a small village, we should probably be able to trust him with a Twitter account," and it's just that disparity in thought of, "Oh, it's a communications channel, it's a media channel." Well, you can train those people. Give them the skills and the ability to do things properly and achieve your aims. So there's a lot of that happening at the moment, certainly in Australia and overseas, so I think there are some steps being taken so that future war fighters will have that arsenal in their communications tool kit. Technology keeps evolving of course, so it's a matter of keeping up and making sure we're up to date with our algorithms, exploiting the platforms as much as we can.

Phil Tarrant: Is Defence Force recruiting people? So if I go ... If I'm a young 18 year old and I'm thinking about a career in defence and I'm looking ADFA and I'll do a degree in communications down there and get an arts degree or whatever, are they actually recruiting for these people? These social media experts who are going to be tomorrow's commanders of a completely new battlefront, is that happening?

Nicole Matejic: I don't think in Australia they're recruiting for social media experts per se. The UK did stand up 77 Brigade, which is a social media war fighting kind of unit, some time ago, and that's still going. They have a bunch of reservists in there as well, so they get the cross section of dedicated military personnel with skills that are doctrine based, policy based, and military based, but with infused influences from civilian communicators, so they may be agency side, they may be working for themselves.

Phil Tarrant: It's funny, you know, defence and defence industry is typically around wielding of steel and banging of metal and creating these assets, they're expensive assets by the way, to support our national security objectives, but it's a really interesting chat because this is completely different way to think about our capabilities as a nation to influence the outcomes that our government's trying to achieve in terms of national security. No one's talking about sovereign capabilities in this space yet.

Nicole Matejic: Well we are, but-

Phil Tarrant: You are.

Nicole Matejic: Yeah. I think I'm a bit of a lone voice at this point in time, and I've been banging on it for a while, but sovereign capability is absolutely essential, you know? We can't buy this off the shelf, it's not a COTS or a MOTS product, you can't just bring consultants in from your big four and go plonk, here's your problem, you really do need that workforce that has that infusion between the commercial sector, the business sector, and the military. We have a lot of military people working with us, we use a lot of ex-defense people, and we find once you've sort of ended your career in that kind of operational sense, or in uniform, and then looking for other opportunities, it's a great way to bounce in and out of the world you know so well, and you understand intrinsically, but also have the benefit of flexibility of lifestyle, and things like that, in the civilian world.

Phil Tarrant: So for those people in uniform looking for life after uniform, what type of skillset or profession within the services best suits themselves for the type of work that you do today? Are they intelligence people?

Nicole Matejic: I don't look for a particular stream. I look for skills, and qualities, and values. I can teach people how to social media as long as they understand the fundamentals of communication. So if they've got good leadership skills because they know how to communicate effectively and motivate people to do what they need them to do at a particular time frame, those sort of things. They've got good morals and ethics, a really good moral compass, because when you get into communicating on social media during a crisis, for example, without that morals and value led compass, you come unstuck pretty damn quickly. So it's a real mix of skills, and yeah, sure, people with intel help us on the intel side of stuff. People with a range of skills will help us on the communications side of stuff, you know, you've got your ex-PIOs, and all that kind of thing. It all forms a great picture of people working together because a lot of the skills, doesn't matter if you drove a tank or whatever it was, you still have those core values and skills that the services instill in you.

Phil Tarrant: Is there a conversation happening within government circles, within defence circles where, if you look at the cost to achieve an objective so you can deploy troops on the battlefield or assets in the air or on the sea, say with the army a battery of artillery with really expensive ammunition, can you achieve what you need to achieve faster and more effectively in terms of cost and overall outcomes towards the longevity of human life by social media? Is it ever going to be able to replace it, but it's going to be a big key driver for influencing outcomes into the future?

Nicole Matejic: Well obviously I can't speak for defence, and I would hope that that work is underway in some fashion. I don't think it will ever replace it. I think it will be a ... We'll get to a symbiotic relationship where the skills and attributes of both ways of achieving an objective is actually warranted, people recognise the importance that social media plays in influencing populations, in going out and doing positive public relations, and engaging people and recruiting people.

I mean, you mentioned defence force recruiting before, and they absolutely do a marvellous job getting that target market, getting those eyeballs in front of their content. We've got games, we've got all sorts of different apps, we've got fitness training, we've got how to be a pilot and they take you into the cockpit, it's a real immersive experience. I think, at the end of the day, that's what social media is about. The people that do social media best are the ones that take you on that journey and provoke that emotional response in you. So it's all about giving you that sucker punch kind of ... You know? You watch it, you see some animal liberation or something really moving on social media and you have that, "Oh," moment, and you kind of get the shivers, or you feel like you've been punched in the chest, that is a goal.

Phil Tarrant: That's good social media.

Nicole Matejic: That is good social media.

Phil Tarrant: So let's move on then to the business social media bit. I'll finish this bit of the chat around this operational use of it, which I'm really intrigued by the way, so if any of our listeners have any input, any thoughts around it, about the development and how this is going to pan out in the years ahead, I'd really like to hear from you if you contact the team editor at defenceconnect.com.au. I think it's a conversation worth having in terms of, it's been happening for years and years, hundreds of years on the battlefield, about winning the hearts and mind of the local people.

Nicole Matejic: Yep.

Phil Tarrant: Using them as an asset rather than something which is a threat. So helping to shape, persuade, and influence the actions of people on the ground to support military outcomes, it's always been there, it's just changing so quickly, and I find it really intriguing and something I will probably keep a bit of attention on with Defence Connect because there's going to be business associated with it as well into the future.

Nicole Matejic: Absolutely.

Phil Tarrant: Let's chat about that. So you made some really good points about what is the purpose of social media? You talk about using terms like, native content, content marketing, and these might be terms that our colleagues within the defence industry aren't really familiar with, but in marketing parlance this is front and centre. So the days of big adverts in a magazine, there's still some benefits to that, but it's really changed the way in which people can now communicate and connect with, in a business sense, their customer, or stakeholders help shape help a particular outcome they want, persuade someone to think a particular way, and in a commercial sense hopefully get someone to buy something or some other commercial outcome.

So at the start of this conversation I spoke about, I don't think defence does it very well compared to other industries, and I'll stand by that. If I cop any flack, that's cool. I think defence often, even though it is a ... Defence industry is based on innovation, sometimes they're a bit slow on the uptake with bringing on stuff that works really well in other market places. So a handful of companies, when I think about defence, do social quite well, but when you look at the Twitter followers on a large major prime, versus what a bank would have in a similar field, it's chalk and cheese. So where are they going wrong with it, do you think?

Nicole Matejic: I think, firstly, I mean, if we compare ourselves to the States, Australians are probably less patriotic in an outwardly facing kind of sense. We don't have that connectivity between every community and the services, so we have that disconnect. Secondly, for that same reason, people don't see defence industry that much unless they're part of it or they've had somebody in the services. So we have a bit of a disconnect, whereas in the States, service life is essentially part of life over there. Canada the same, UK again, you have a lot of exposure to people in the services. Here it's very much less so, and even going down to in Melbourne you may not ever come across a guy in an army uniform, or a girl. In Queensland, you're far more likely to come across them because there's more bases and things like that. So geography, demographics, all that kind of stuff comes into play.

Then we look at, who are they actually talking to, and how are they talking? Are they on broadcast? Are they just repeating what the mother company overseas are saying? Or are they actually creating content for an Australian audience? And there are very few that actually do that. A lot of it just is broadcasted of mentality, just regurgitate what the guys back in the States or in Europe are doing, and some of that gets lost in translation really easily. So, get to know your audience. Really, really important, look at your demographics, look at your psychographics. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want people to apply for jobs? Are you using the media to lobby government on a decision? What's your objective and how are you going to meet that? Because Twitter is probably not the best place to start in Australia, but if you're in the States or Europe, Twitter is far more used and popular. So Australia, Facebook is pretty much number one, has been for a while. Linked In keeps growing as well, and that's really B to B, so that's a really important channel that people don't invest in enough.

Phil Tarrant: It's interesting, and to your point, I think, from experience, a podcast like ... Which is something very different to what's been happening in defence, it's the only defence industry podcast, and-

Nicole Matejic: I think you've got The Dead Prussian as well. There's a couple of guys doing different things.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, and you've got ... There's been a handful of prime heads who have really realised the opportunity to communicate with the defence industry in a very different way, and that's really reassuring to see that forward thinking people are actually understanding the way in which they can use broadcast, or use native content, essentially native content to help shape a commercial outcome.

Nicole Matejic: Yep.

Phil Tarrant: It's good to see, it is the new way to communicate. People much prefer authentic genuine engagement with brands now to help them or support them make a decision around whether or not they want to have a relationship with them or to buy. What needs to happen, do you think, before everyone else catches up to the new way that people can influence via social or content marketing?

Nicole Matejic: I think people need to understand it better. I think people jump on the social media bandwagon without actually giving it a lot of thought. They don't think about what's my content plan? What am I trying to achieve? What sort of budget do I have? Probably the biggest misnomer is still that social media is something that's free. Sure, you may not be paying to use the service, but in essence you are the product because you're feeding so much data into that platform that they then anonymize it and sell it back to advertisers so that they can gain your attention and influence you to buy something.

Third party marketing APIs, that kind of stuff, it's insidious. So really looking at how we're going to exploit that terrain from whatever objective that you've got. You've got to sit back and really understand, A, what you want to achieve, two, who your audience is and where they are. Then you've got to think about how do they like to be spoken to? Is it a discussion? Is it broadcast mentality? Do they like really polished products? What sort of brand do you have? Do you need to always have that polished look to your content, that look and feel? Or can you get away with doing really raw native things? Because people really like that as well, and I think the more you take people inside, sort of behind the scenes, people really like feeling like they're part of the journey, or included in that special little circle that you're sharing information with them one-on-one. So it's about personalization, it's about getting beyond that wall of, "Visitors don't get past reception," kind of thing, and actually taking people in and immersing them in this journey.

If you look at it from a customer experience point of view, think about Apple for example, who use social media almost never, I think they just put an Apple help, or something, on Twitter recently and that's the only kind of thing that they're doing, but every time you go into a store, everything's a certain way. It's like a McDonald's you know when you go in exactly the kind of experience you're going to get, and that experience is the same if you're online, or if you're in a store, or you're talking to someone on a phone. So if you think about them then extending that experience onto social media, how would they do that? They would need people on the decks 24/7. They would need to train them in the Apple experience. They would need to be able to manage a whole range of inquiries from sales, to complaints, to technical inquiries, to I want my money back outrage. So it's a really big undertaking, and the more you think about it in terms of, people don't like talking to a brand, people like talking to people, resourcing comes into play. Then, of course, all your content, and things like that. So it's actually a much bigger endeavour than people, at the outset, assume with a free social media misnomer.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, and you need a fair bit of expertise to get it right. A couple of takeaways for our listeners, if you work within a defence business in a marketing capacity or a leadership capacity and you sit around a board meeting and say, "We need to do our social media better," which I'm sure these conversations happen. So say they call you in, what's the first conversation you have with people when you're looking to shape their usage of social media?

Nicole Matejic: The first thing we do is a communications terrain analysis. So we go in, we have the discussion, and we go, "Right, let us walk away and pretend we're a customer of yours, or a member of the public, and see what happens when we interact with your social media." We go away and we do an assessment on that, and that gives us the ability to then go back and say, "Okay, this is what we recommend, “depending on what objective you want to achieve, how much marketing budget you've got, and what sort of commitment to developing content that you have." So it's a real multifaceted approach. We take a whole of organisation approach as well because social media should not be done in isolation to what's happening your marketing or communications, even coming out of your CEO's office, that kind of stuff. Everyone's got to be singing the same tune. So there's a lot of preparation and planning that goes into that to make sure that it's a seamless experience like your Apple, you know what you're going to get, you know how positive or negative your experience is going to be.

I mean, even people complaining on social media, and people obviously do because it's really easy to be mean behind the screen, how are you going to manage that? How comfortable are your leaders and that leadership team with dealing with criticism? Overall, people are way more sensitive to things that are said on social media than they should be, so getting them just across that little divide can be a mammoth process.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, and defence in particular who is often quite conservative in nature, for good reason, it's another additional step. So the question you probably get all the time, and I've always thought, how do I show a return on investment? So, if you go and spend a whole bunch of money on social media for a particular objective, and the objective is somehow usually involved around influencing people to think a particular way, whether it's commercial or, it's other objectives, how do you actually pin a success factor against it? So we spend X and we get Y, is that possible?

Nicole Matejic: It is possible across a range of different objectives. Obviously if you're selling something, really, really easy. How many people clicked the link and bought that product? Mega easy. When we get into things like, we want to increase our trust in the brand, we want to increase the amount of eyeballs people see our brand, because we know the more someone sees our brand, the more familiar it becomes, the more likely they are to do business with us. Those kind of things become ... Those intangibles are harder to measure, but of course, when we set up ads, and things like on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, we get a good idea of how many people consume that content, what the reach was, what the engagement was, how many people watched that video, whether they watched it until three seconds, 10 seconds, or longer. YouTube obviously will give you down to the second, so you can see exactly where that point is for people and you could say, "For the money that we spent, you got one million people actively engaged in your content, but you actually got in front of two million eyeballs," that kind of thing.

We don't focus on vanity metrics so much. I'm less interested in how many likes, or likes on Instagram, whether that be Facebook as well, or favourites on Twitter, less interested in that because it represents such a small fraction of someone's time. I mean, you double tap a picture on Instagram, it's like a quarter of a second of someone's time. You've got to sell a lot of coffees to get a return on investment for those kind of things, so it's really interesting to get back to again, what's your objective? And then how are we going to measure that in a quantifiable way? Because take the likes out of the picture, that's really nice, but at the end of the day, if you're trying to achieve an objective, if a million people like it, but nobody actually clicks on the button and buys the product, it's for nothing.

Phil Tarrant: Defence, again, is a real challenge because if you're spending a lot of money through social media to influence or originate a sale and you're selling coffees, or you're selling widgets, which everyone buys, that's okay, but defence you have ... There's only a certain amount of frigates that the Australian government's going to buy over a period of time. So if we think about that, SEA 5000 programme you've got three contenders who are all using social media in some way to tell a story, and they've obviously got different objectives for achieving that, and you're talking about a programme which is decades long. So social media's been a really interesting one in defence because, if it's a trust building exercise, or it's an engine or a tool for maintaining connection and correspondence with people so you can update them, it is quite unique compared to other markets. That's a fair call?

Nicole Matejic: Look, it's a fair assessment. I think as is the media though, it's used largely to lobby, as a lobbying tool, so to change people's minds on products that perhaps aren't as good as the manufacture is proclaiming they are. Also, trying to get the public on board, or more to the point, the sailors, soldiers, or air people who are going to use this stuff. I mean, particular brands have done this exceptionally well, and we could talk about specific examples, but I won't, but these people would think that piece of kit, or that piece of gear, or that vehicle, is in service already when it hasn't even hit the proving ground. So the way to cultivate those perceptions and stuff is to really invest in that news media cycle, and social media is part of that now, whether you want to factor it in or not. If you don't, you're going to miss out on a whole bunch of opportunities that your competitor will capitalise on.

Phil Tarrant: I'm happy you've said that because I'm a big advocate of that as well. I think the media, social media, and the ways in which people can use it, and Defence Connect is part of that ecosystem, it can be a really powerful tool to shape your business objectives and you shouldn't discount it. Social media, traditional media, podcasts, whatever it is, all these things are available to today's Defence businesses for them to ... And let's get it right, there's some really exceptional companies in Australia producing great capabilities for our war fighters, but their stories aren't getting told.

Nicole Matejic: That's it.

Phil Tarrant: But they can tell their stories, and it's a lot more accessible today to tell their stories because of what we have now in terms of media, and marketing, and all this sort of stuff. Do you think people need to broaden their perspective, or if they don't understand or they are scare of it, get educated?

Nicole Matejic: Yep, get educated, get in some help, but be willing to be the storyteller as well because I can come in, put my head on a camera, and tell someone all about trailers or trucks, and it's never going to look as good, or I'm never going to have that same passion as the person or the family that owns that company because they've been doing it for 40 years, they know all about it, they've been through defence or subprime for years, and years, and years. They're so passionate about it, and that, on video, you can't fake that kind of conviction or that authenticity. So, getting someone as a talking head is great, but if you ... You often say, "Get the engineer," or, "Get someone in who's totally into it," because it just ... You know? You watch that on video and you feel it, and you're just so automatically enthralled with that content.

Phil Tarrant: It's immersive, it's entertaining, and it's educational.

Nicole Matejic: Yep.

Phil Tarrant: We do a lot of work in other markets, and I think of one in particular, I think about real estate. There's a guy that we do a lot of work with in that realm called Tom Panos who's a really good public speaker etc. He's a really good advocate for the real estate sector, but he says something, he says, "Stories sell, facts tell."

Nicole Matejic: Yep.

Phil Tarrant: You can stand up in front of people, or however you choose to communicate with them, and tell them all the facts about something, but they're just facts. If you could link it to a story, stories are memorable. Storytelling is the way in which people can maximise their marketing capabilities, and social media is one of the essential tools for them to do it today, so I appreciate your insights on this.

Nicole Matejic: Absolutely. It comes back to core behavioural economics. If I say to you, "Stop smoking," you kind of go, "Why are you telling me to stop smoking? Go away." It's an automatic kind of cognitive showdown because you're like, "I don't like what you're saying. I don't like her telling me what to do, and I don't like this whole situation, so I'm just going to exit stage left." Whereas, if we have a conversation and I say, "You know what? I quit smoking four years ago and I've never felt better, and now I'm doing this, and I'm so much healthier." I take you on that journey with me and suddenly you're more open to the idea.

So we're just stepping people through choice architecture narratives to get to the end point, because people like to feel like they've got self determination when they make a choice, right? You don't want to be told not to do something because then people automatically get their back up. Instead of telling that story approach, then people feel like they're actually on the journey and they have that critical thinking moment when they go, "You know what? I really should stop smoking, she's right," without that confrontational, "Stop it. Do this. Do that." So it's just working back to behavioural economics and psychology and using those tools and those things that we know to get to that end product so people feel like the story is part of the journey and they're invested in that. People don't invest in a fact, they invest in people, they invest in people's stories.

Phil Tarrant: That's a good summary. I've got to give you a plug on this because I see you've got a book around social media.

Nicole Matejic: Yes, I do.

Phil Tarrant: I think, if you're listening to this and you're going, "What's going on here? What are these guys talking about?" It's time to get yourself educated and your book, Social Media: Rules of Engagement, so it's obviously got a bit of a military connectivity with it.

Nicole Matejic: It does. I share some stories from my customs in defence days, the ones that I'm able to share.

Phil Tarrant: Yep. How do you get yourself one of these books?

Nicole Matejic: You can go online, Amazon have them, some bookstores have them, or drop me a line and I can sell you one and put it to you in the post.

Phil Tarrant: Hook you up with one. Yeah. So if you want to connect, you can contact me as well and I'll flick it on, [email protected] Nicole, I think we've just touched on this topic, and I think we'll probably keep chatting about it because I think outside the operational usage of it, but into the context of using social media to build a better story around your business and become an attraction business. An attraction business means that hopefully you have a more attractive proposition to secure defence contracts. You might have a more attractive proposition to secure the best talent to come and work for your business. You want to also think about building the best business or attraction business to get the best coming out of uniform to support this huge investment that's happening in defence over this sort of coming 10 years.

Nicole Matejic: Absolutely.

Phil Tarrant: Let's keep chatting about it. I appreciate your time.

Nicole Matejic: Thanks for having me on.

Phil Tarrant: It was really good. Remember to check out defenceconnect.com.au. If you're not yet subscribing to our daily news and marketing intelligence around everything defence industry, defenceconnect.com.au/subscribe. We're on all the social channels, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, where we share with you all the latest and greatest within the defence industry. So like us, follow us, that's a good call to action I guess, on that basis.

Nicole Matejic: Tweet us.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, tweet us, hashtag us, you know the drill. We'll be back again next time. Until then, bye bye.


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