Latest social media statistics confirm Aussies’ appetite for online action


The latest social media statistics are now available, painting an interesting picture of how Aussies currently engage with key online platforms.

Twitter has received the most publicity in recent weeks with the launch of the cyber-bullying #stopthetrolls campaign as a result of the Charlotte Dawson being a high profile victim of online bullies, NRL star Robbie Farah joining the call for tougher laws to fight cyber-bullying only to be caught out tweeting offensive comments about Julia Gillard, and Olympic tweets being seen as a contributing factor to the lack of Gold medals amongst our swimming team. Yet despite this, Facebook remains the number one site for Aussies in terms of both Unique Australian Visitors (UAVs) and average time spent per visit.

It currently has 11.5 million users /accounts accessed from various locations – home, work and at school – and users spend over 20 minutes a day perusing their page and those of their friends and family.
To put this into perspective globally, ‘Down Under’ is mere dot on the Facebook landscape. Facebook now has 955 million active users and just over 11 million of them are Australian; that is, 1.51% of Facebook’s total audience is Australian.

YouTube is hot on its heels with 11m UAVs and an average visit time of 20 minutes. The Top 5 is rounded out with Blogspot (4million, down by 10,000), LinkedIn (steady at 2.2million) and Twitter (just over 2million).

The time spent on content-rich sites like YouTube, Blogspot and Tumblr is understandably high, and newer social media platforms like Pinterest are growing steadily – it currently has 620,000 Aussies spending up to 13 minutes per session ‘pinning’ images.

It appears that Aussies are following the global trend when it comes to Google Plus which is 12th in the UAV league table (it remains steady at 600,000). The jury is still out on whether this social media platform will really take off, and there is no data about how long Australians are spending on Plus functionality linked to their Google accounts.

Social media is a dynamic space that evolves constantly, with each platform offering a different way to engage with key audiences. What’s clear is the Aussie appetite for online action is growing, and we’re happy to spend a significant amount of time searching and soaking up all it has to offer. The challenge for marketers is to identify the right spot for campaigns so it truly resonates.

social media stats

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To engage in social media or not to engage, that is the question! But what’s the answer?


By Claire Leggott

question mark

In part two of Cube’s update from the Inaugural Social Media in Healthcare Conference we explore the hot topic of how and when to enter the world of healthcare social media. 

From Facebook, Twitter and blogs, to the new kids on the block – Google+ and Pinterest – the social media sphere is ever expanding and brands/companies seem to be embracing new communication channels with increasing vigour.

However, hesitancy to engage with digital remains in many industries, including the pharmaceutical industry.  Employing a level of caution is prudent as navigating social media within the confines of the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct can be a daunting and somewhat tricky business.

It need not be scary though, as Andrew Moore, from Sanofi, pointed out .He believes a fear of the unknown or seemingly uncontrollable should not hold pharmaceutical companies back, and spoke about a listening campaign – social media monitoring – which formed part of Sanofi’s first foray into social media.  Getting the campaign up and running involved overcoming challenges regarding the potential for mass adverse event reporting, but in reality adverse event reports occurred with just 0.3% of product mentions.  Andrew advocates a listening campaign as an ideal way for companies to dip their toe into the social media water and as a platform from which an effective social media communications strategy can be developed.

Further voices of experience were heard at the conference, with both Simon Lillis from PwC in Sydney, and Kerrie Noonan from The Groundswell Project, highlighting the vital components to ensuring a successful strategy.  Put simply:

  • Identify a very clear and simple goal/objective
  • Interact with the audience (although beware of going too strong and over-facing the audience)

Elisabeth Tuckey, from Headspace, also emphasised the importance of understanding your audience.  For example, males don’t often ‘like’ pages on Facebook but are drawn by visuals so YouTube is an impactful communication channel for men.

It is clear just how much communication is now taking place online, be it on a computer/laptop or mobile device.  Discussion about a brand will be taking place somewhere within the digital ether regardless of whether said brand is actively targeting audiences in this sphere.

Cultivating a social media presence does come with some risks but ignoring this communication channel could be the biggest risk of all.

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‘Digital Darwinism’ – how the fittest will survive in the healthcare social media sphere


Picture1Niki Karlson

Social media is fast becoming ‘business as usual’ for brands and organisations. In the healthcare sector we are embracing the opportunities it presents to reach our customers (patients and healthcare professionals) – but there is an understandable sense of trepidation, with the industry approaching social media as an unknown quantity. There are certainly additional restrictions and considerations for healthcare brands moving into the social space; regulations and duty of care to name just two. But today, a major brand that is unavailable to its customers in the social space will leave people asking “where the bloody hell are you?”

Cube recently attended the Inaugural Social Media in Healthcare Conference. The overarching theme was the reticence of many healthcare brands to engage in social media, balanced against the necessity for it to be embraced.

Ramsay Health Care shared their social media strategy, which they approached from a risk assessment point of view. That is, it was a greater risk not being there; staying ‘safely’ away from the unknown wasn’t an option anymore.

The company is using social media for employee communications and training, talent identification, engagement with its customers/audience and to position its senior staff as thought leaders in the industry. Ramsay has rolled out its social media presence by developing employee advocates, who can then educate their peers on the usage and benefits of different platforms.

Ramsay Health Care is a great example of successful social media communications for both internal and external audiences. In contrast, we can clearly see the repercussions of not engaging in the social space by looking at the social storm that was created around the Queensland Health payroll debacle.

As soon as the news of the mis-payment of Queensland Health employees broke it was all over the social sphere. Disgruntled employees were galvanised into action via Facebook groups and pages. Stories, grievances and opinions were shared and all in an open forum, where the public and the media were watching.

Without a presence on key social networking sites Queensland Health left itself open to public judgement without any input or response from the organisation. The body has since joined Facebook and Twitter, but the payroll issue is a good illustration of why waiting until you need a social presence is such a risk.

The development and implementation of social media policy was also discussed. Firstly, policy needs to be fluid; the social landscape is constantly in flux, and as such, your engagement policy should be also. Policy should be inclusive, not exclusive. And finally, the resurgence of the K.I.S.S approach (keep it simple!). The perfect example of this is the Mayo Clinic’s 12 word social media policy, which was released in May:

• Don’t Lie, Don’t Pry
• Don’t Cheat, Can’t Delete
• Don’t Steal, Don’t Reveal”

Social media is necessary in, and complementary to the health industry. As Professor Enrico Coiera, Director, Centre for Health Informatics, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, UNSW opened with; most diseases are social, so shouldn’t the healthcare industry be social as well?

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Pinterest: how digital pictures can tell a thousand words, and then drive traffic to your website


By Johanna Waide

Pinterest – the latest digital media application everyone seems to be using in their personal lives as well as in the business world. It’s hard to believe that the humble pin board that adorns the kitchen walls has morphed into a virtual visual feast that allows us to reach beyond the written word to tell a story.

Put simply, Pinterest is a fast and cheap way to share content including photographs, videos and links to other websites. It’s also a great way to categorise images and content, by moving ‘Pins’ into separate pin boards like advertising, fitness and kids or pregnancy.

Signing up to Pinterest is currently by invitation only. Once the request to join is approved (which may take up to a week), users can then begin to follow, re-pin and comment on the pin boards of others that they find interesting or inspiring.



Since launching in March 2010 Pinterest has made waves because of its ability to draw big numbers in terms of online traffic.

Web information company reported that the site is currently ranked the 42nd most popular website in the world, coming in at number 26 in Australia. Additionally, according to Australian social media statistics, the number of Pinterest users grew from around 190,000 in February 2012 to 350,000 in March – an increase of 160,000 in just one month.

Industry experts say that this popularity will continue to climb as millions of new pins are added everyday from all over the globe. The site also has impressive ‘length of stay’ engagement numbers, third only to time spent on Facebook and Tumblr.

Because of this hype, Pinterest is already being used by businesses to further their online presence.

However, just as with any communication tool, it’s important to consider whether this new social medium aligns with your organisation’s core purpose and values, as well as how it can best be used in ways that benefit all stakeholders.

Here are our top five picks of the ways businesses might use Pinterest:

1. Promote products and services

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, making Pinterest’s visual focus a powerful opportunity for businesses to engage and educate audiences about its products and services. Ways this can be achieved include adding pins of new product images, ‘how-to’ video demonstrations featuring a brand’s products or user-generated photographs showcasing a products’ unique or special features.

2. Showcase core values – all of them

At present the site hasn’t created a distinction between personal and brand profiles. While the temptation may be to post pins related only to your products, user etiquette is very important within the Pinterest community, so boards that are too self-promoting won’t be well received.

US grocery chain Whole Foods Market have set a benchmark in achieving an optimal balance between product-endorsement, enticing user interest and showcasing the different facets of an organisation.

Quoted on Mashable, Whole Foods Market’s Global Online Community Manager, Michael Bepko, explains how they have leveraged the platform as a marketing tool: “It allows us to curate images from across the web that really speak to who we are as a company, images that reflect our core values and essentially communicate the essence of who we are.”

Whole Foods Market’s Pinterest profile currently consists of 40 pin boards. Pin board topics range from recipes using the store’s produce (which have quirky titles such as Cheese is the Bee’s Knees and Eat your Veggies) to boards that promote external causes including Earth Day. Although global in its outreach now, the organisation also pays homage to its humble establishment in Texas in 1980 and has a board that encourages people to pin useful, interesting & influential Texan things & Texans to follow on Pinterest.

To check out why Whole Foods Market has almost 30,000 Pinterest followers, visit their profile by clicking here.

3. Engage in conversation

For businesses Pinterest provides a channel to access and respond to user comments regarding their products or brand/s in general.

Additionally, like Twitter, Pinterest uses hashtags (keywords) to enable its search functionality and generate trending topics. By adding one or multiple hashtags to your pin descriptions (up to 500 characters), you can increase the likelihood users will come across your pins.

4. Add a “Pint It” and/or Pinterest “Follow” button to your website or blog

Adding a Pinterest button to your online platforms not only lets your audience know that you’re present on the site, it allows users to re-pin your posts to their own Pinterest profiles.

Follow this link to learn how to add Pinterest buttons:

5. Drive website traffic

Last but certainly not least, Pintrest may help drive website traffic and boost search engine optimisation (SEO).

When users add a pin, they can include a URL in the description, thus creating links between posts and specific websites or blogs. Additionally, as PR and communications blog Bianchi Biz Blog aptly explain, when a user adds an image to a pin board from an online source, the original link is automatically stored within the image, allowing visitors to click back to the original source.


While these tips highlight just some of Pinterest’s exciting and innovative features, before deciding to use the social media platform, the golden rule of communication still stands: ensure it is (or has the potential to be) relevant and meaningful to your target community.

What primarily separates Pinterest from other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is its adherence to a single media form, the picture. In other words, what you need to consider is whether pictures can tell your audience what you want them to hear. Can Pinterest tell your story?

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What does the Twitter explosion mean for journalists?


Back in 2009 when the US Airways flight crashed in New York’s Hudson river, it took a mere four minutes before a member of the public broke the story to the world via Twitter. Jim Hanrahan, wrote: “I just watched a plane crash into the hudson rive [sic] in manhattan”.


It wasn’t long before the story was spreading like wildfire in Twitterverse. Interestingly, it took news outlets longer and it was approximately 15 minutes later that they began reporting the incident.

Love it, or hate it, with the rise of social media channels like Twitter and Flickr, news stories can reach all corners of the world with an immediacy we’ve never seen before. We only need to look at more recent examples of the microblogging’s speedy ability to spread the word, including the death of Steve Jobs and Muammar Gaddafi. So what does this mean for qualified, modern-day journalists and how are they embracing Twitter?

We’re constantly reminded that we’re in the midst of a social media revolution. Twitter is a social networking phenomenon and Australians aren’t holding back! In fact, Australia accounts for 1.8% of Twitter’s traffic and the social networking site attracts 1.1 million unique Australian visitors per month.

So, what is Twitter? Twitter, in essence is a very simple tool. ‘Tweeters’ are limited to posting short, 140 character messages (the same length as a traditional SMS message) to their followers. So a Tweet can’t provide a lot of detailed information, but it can make a concise point, link to an image or webpage and most importantly publish content immediately.

Since it’s creation in 2006 however, Twitter has evolved. ‘Tweeters’ are now able to search the entire network in real-time for specific topics or breaking news, organise their streams with ‘hash tags’ – the # symbol, used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet, and even add photos or videos to their posts.

These developments of the social media channel have translated to journalist engagement. Twitter has become a way for the media to keep up to date and engage with their audiences, locate sources and to report on news in real-time. The sheer speed of Twitter’s ability to spread breaking news has completely changed the way that journalists report and audiences receive news.

Many key Australian health journalists are opting to not only ‘follow’ the news on Twitter but also publish and promote their own stories. Take ABC medical health reporter Sophie Scott. Sophie’s an active Tweeter and uses the channel to broadcast her stories to the world.

Sophie Scott

Twitter itself, is also catching on to the growing trend of journalists engaging the networking site. This is reinforced by Twitter publishing a set of guidelines called Twitter for Newsrooms, which is designed to help journalists use the platform effectively. A Twitter spokesperson explains:

“We want to make our tools easier to use so you can focus on your job: finding sources, verifying facts, publishing stories, promoting your work and yourself and doing all of it faster and faster all the time.”

Twitter for Newsrooms was launched earlier this year and demonstrates to journalists how to “report”, “engage” and “publish” to their followers.

There are a plethora of other helpful tools that are assisting journalists with their mission to conquer the news digitally – be it, Tweetgrid,, Twhirl, Tweetdeck or Twellow, and the list goes on.

During a talk in Melbourne on the ‘Twitterisation of Journalism,’ University of Canberra Journalism lecturer and social media researcher/consultant Julie Posetti stated, “It’s fascinating as a citizen, as an academic and as a journalist to watch Twitter progress. Despite all the risks and pitfalls that have well and truly been identified along the way, I think Twitter is an important breakthrough in terms of making journalism more social and accessible to a broader public.”

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2D codes in health – driving audiences online


Much of the current buzz around mobile technologies is centred on the potential of 2D codes for marketing, PR and communications. These are 2-dimensional codes similar to a linear (1-dimensional) barcode, but with more data representation capability. They can be printed on promotional materials and scanned using a mobile device, taking the user to pages of rich visual and audio content, downloads and social media platforms. Types of 2D code include the QR code (Quality Response), which is one of the most popular, the EZ code and Microsoft Tags.

(image via Pulse + Signal)

(image via Pulse + Signal)

Although 2D codes have been around since the 1990s, 2011 is being hyped as the year we finally see the full height of their splash within the industry – thanks to the current mobile device revolution with their host of 2D scanning applications, as well as increased social awareness.

Based on the recommendations of two expert Mashable authors, here are some key dos and don’ts to remember when exploiting this technology to achieve your goals in healthcare communications:


  1. Put your 2D codes on every single piece of promotional material you have – posters, flyers, stickers, media kits, magazine ads, websites – creativity is the key. Check out this balloon example.
  2. Help your audiences to use your 2D codes by including a line of copy that explains what they are and where they can download the code reader, e.g., and
  3. Add value for your audiences to motivate them to scan your 2D codes. Offer exclusive, tailored and relevant content, incentives such as giveaways and competitions, videos or interactive activities and games, such as the innovative exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum which invites you to scan the 2D code to morph yourself back in time with MEanderthal.
  4. Place a compelling call to action in a prominent position near your QR code so that it is immediately clear to your audience what they will get from scanning the code.
  5. Track the traffic to your 2D landing page, in order to measure the success of your campaign.
(image via 2D Barcode Strategy)

(image via 2D Barcode Strategy)


  1. Bother if you are not going to offer original, inspiring or relevant content for your audiences.
  2. Use code formats that require a particular scanning app to work.
  3. Forget to scan test the 2D codes printed on your printed proofs.
  4. Drive your users to pages containing Flash or any site not specifically optimised for mobile browsing.
  5. Forget to update your content and offerings – your audiences should be inspired to scan not just once but again and again.

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Info on the move: Top medical podcasts


Recently, the British Medical Journal launched an iPad app – the first general medical journal to do so! This is truly a sign that the health world is embracing medical information ‘on the move’. The app ‘combines the weekly BMJ print journal selection of research, comment, and interactive education, along with live feeds of the latest news, blogs, podcasts, and videos’.

Useful health poscastsThe launch will be welcomed by doctors and nurses armed with tablets and smart phones, who are now more mobile than ever before – particularly those in remote and rural areas.

This mobile medical education, however, is about podcasting as much as it is about apps.

Mainstream sources of medical- and health-related podcasts include key international medical journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet, as well as the World Health Organisation and the Cochrane Library.

Podcasts are also increasingly being used in medical schools, including for downloadable libraries of high resolution heart and respiratory sounds.

Interestingly, a recent survey of student nurses found podcasts allowed greater control over their learning, helping them gauge their individual learning needs and build their understanding of complex topics.

Here are five top audio resources specifically relevant to clinical practice in Australia (although there are surely many more worthwhile resources!):

1.       ABC’s The Health Report – Jargon-free, easy-to-understand information and analysis on health and medical matters, considered within social, scientific and political contexts – presented by Dr Norman Swan.

2.       ABC’s Health Minutes – 60 seconds of straight talk covering the latest in medical research.

3.       Australian Family Physician – Interviews with authors from the official peer-reviewed journal of the RACGP

4.       Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council – Updates on Australia’s major health and medical research issues from the people who shape them.

The rise in popularity of audiovisual media in medical education will likely continue as society moves to using more audio and video and physicians strive to keep current in an era of evidence-based practice. Some futurists believe that we are entering a post-textual period of the Web and that there will be an even greater demand for audio and video content in the future.

Dean Giustini, UBC Biomedical Branch Library, Canada

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A search for health


Those who were in attendance at the recent ASMI Conference will surely agree that the event boasted an impressive line up of speakers, who covered both interesting and informative topics.

While all topics discussed and debated were very worthwhile (the Appendix H panel discussion was particularly relevant and thought-provoking) – we thought we would capture a few key points discussed by Ross McDonald from Google. McDonald offered fantastic insights into Google health trends and how the search engine can be effectively utilised by the industry (and it is not as simple as developing a website and keeping your fingers crossed!).


Some interesting facts:

  • Health queries have doubled in the past year (unsurprising, but good to know)
  • Older demographics are going online too (don’t assume your mum doesn’t Google her health questions)!
  • Health searches usually decrease immediately after Christmas (Christmas festivities and New Year Resolutions predictably keeping our anxieties at bay)
  • Some of the most popular health search topics include:
    • HIV
    • Nutrition
    • Cancer
    • There is a demand/supply gap of health information online in Australia – providers are not keeping up with the search needs of Aussie Googlers
    • Mobile searches are on the rise
    • 60% of us go online while watching TV (communications strategists who link a TV presence with a clever online component would be smiling)
    • A large proportion of searches are navigational Vs informational – this year’s most popular search term was Facebook (this is a reason to employ an SEO strategy, if there ever was one)
    • And last but certainly not least: believe it or not – Google can ‘predict’ (within a mere 3 week leadtime) when a flu pandemic is about to hit. Predictive technology records and measures the searches people run (such as flu symptoms, etc.) and forecasts the likelihood of when the population is likely to get struck by a pandemic (we are truly living in the future!)

McDonald’s words of wisdom for companies who are thinking about their online presence included:

  • Consider your organic search ranking and don’t forget the ‘sponsored links’ option  – ‘Sponsored links’ work best for consumers making an immediate decision (for example, those buying car insurance)
  • Start your digital strategy with your audience/the consumer – NOT your website or brand
  • Think beyond your website – remember your audiences are sharing information

…and share information we do – this short post is evidence of this alone.

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Competition or the cause?


A story about a well-known Australian with media connections voicing a Community Service Announcement (CSA) caught the eye of the Cube team last week.

The Daily Telegraph reported on leading Sydney radio station 2GB’s decision not to run a CSA for little-known charity Retina Australia because it used the voice of the charity’s NSW patron, Don Burke. The reason? As it turns out, Burke has a weekend gardening show on rival station 2UE.

2UE's Don Burke

2GB went one step further and declared it would not air any rivals’ voices on its airwaves.

Unsurprisingly, this decision provoked an emotional response from Burke, who claimed the decision was ‘deeply hurtful’, especially as his name is not announced and it’s just his voice. The article also jolted the newspaper’s online readers into action, attracting in excess of 40 comments, most of which supported Burke and dismissed 2GB’s position.

This decision by 2GB raises an important, often unasked question – should competitive issues be set aside in the Australian media when the aim of the communication initiative is to raise vital funds for a charitable organisation? Or is it fair to put the needs of business before greater benefit?

Celebrities are engaged by companies and charities to help highlight a specific health cause more often than not – and their involvement is particularly crucial for organisations like Retina Australia who are inevitably deemed less ‘sexy’ (and therefore un-newsworthy) by the media.

The decision on who to use is often based on a combination of the celebrity’s personal connection to the cause and ability to attract the desired media attention – referred to in journalist circles as their ‘media currency’. If the chosen celebrity also has a regular column in a magazine, or fronts a television program, this is usually viewed as a positive by-product of the agreement.

Ironically, Retina Australia has received far more publicity from the decision taken not to air their CSA than would have been achieved through simply airing the CSA itself. But the situation does highlight celebrity affiliations to media won’t always lead to widespread coverage and that, in some instances, it can hinder – rather than help – the ability of communications professionals to spread a valid, important message far and wide.

This highlights how important it is to consider media outlet competition as well as cause connections and media currency when drawing up the shortlist of celebrities for a campaign.

Tell us what you think below!

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If the Coalition gets into office, what could Australia’s health system look like?


What could the health system look like if the Coalition was in power?

What could the health system look like if the Coalition was in power?

With an election pending, there has been a lot of noise from the Opposition about potential policies and reforms. In a parallel universe, what would the Australian health system look like if the Coalition was in power?

Recent proposals  from the Federal Opposition include cutting funding from current Labor health reforms including…

  • Medicare Locals
  • GP infrastructure to upgrade primary care facilities 
  • A national e-health system
  • 24 hour GP phone helpline grants

…and using this cash to roll out a $1.5 billion plan to improve mental health services, including:

  • 20 new early psychosis intervention and prevention centres 
  • 60 additional Headspace sites for young people with mental illness  
  • 800 early intervention beds
The Coalition also announced a $35 million grant towards the establishment of a Clinical Trials Network for diabetes. This supplements the $5 million that former PM Kevin Rudd announced back in March.

Whilst Tony Abbott claims Labor has been inactive in mental health reform, Nicola Roxon was quick to hit back against the proposals, saying national hospital and health reforms will be at risk if Labor is voted out of office

“It’s very important we do not neglect mental health and one of the disappointing aspects of the Government’s health reform proposals is that there’s been so little on mental health.”

Tony Abbott

 “The Coalition’s policy is undermined by the fact it is funded by cutting Labor’s health reforms, such as GP super clinics and e-health.”

Nicola Roxon

What are the stakeholders saying?

The AMA is currently sitting on the sidelines and waiting for further updates on what funding would be left for GPs, whilst the Mental Health Foundation of Australia expects the Federal Government to announce its own mental health reforms in the near future.

Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, has called on the Federal Government bring physical and mental health together under a new mental health plan, whilst speaking at the National Press Club last week.  

The Coalition said last week they would unveil their primary care policy before the election, in response to concerns about how much (if any) funding would remain for primary care.

With a few months to go until an election, there is plenty of time for further announcements, proposed reforms and complete u-turns, so watch this space!

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