Live from #smcsyd - pic on Twitpic

Last night 200-300 people squeezed into the Oxford Hotel in Darlinghurst to the first Social Media Club meeting here in Sydney.

Organised by Tiphereth Gloria, Doug Chapman, Heather Snodgrass, Cathie McGinn (along with a legion of helpers like Malkuth Damkar and @AngGraham) it featured two speakers on the topic of authenticity:

  • Adam Ferrier – Partner at Naked, spoke about the Witchery Man campaign
  • Leslie Nassar – the man behind the (fake) Twitter identity – StephenConroy – spoke about Telstra (his employer) and satire

Moderated by Tim Burrowes in an interview-style format, Adam shared his view of the Witchery Man campaign – taking questions, sharing statistics, plans and outcomes and, in the process, winning grudging respect from many in the audience. Some of the questions from the audience (live and via the Twitter backchannel) were evaded but many were answered head-on. It was only when the video case study of Witchery Man played that momentum flagged.

The interesting thread that linked what both Leslie and Adam spoke about was not authenticity, but narrative – storytelling and satire. And what was largely missing in the talks was a discussion of trust – except for brief flashes. As I have suggested previously, “authenticity is hard to fake – but we are easily swayed by a compelling story”. Both the Witchery Man campaign and Fake Stephen Conroy provided compelling stories. But for me, at least, trust trumps story.

With Fake Stephen Conroy, we –the viewers – were let into the game that was being masterminded by Leslie Nassar. With Witchery Man, that never happened. And the conditions under which the campaign may have unfolded, over time, were never allowed to develop. Perhaps this was intentional. Perhaps trust was never part of the agenda.

Whichever way, it was a rollicking start to the Social Media Club in Sydney. There was a huge crowd and a vibe that was closer to a party than a conference. I am looking forward to the next instalment.