This week’s Coffee Talk spotlights the upcoming Australian Social Media Best Practice, a promoted event in Sydney. This event is part of a 3-days series geared toward content creation and marketing, and will feature highly regarded social strategist, author, and speaker Dionne Lew.

While talking with Dionne, we got the scoop on internet privacy, great social strategy and how she keeps her social skills sharp with the ever-changing landscape. Learn more at her panel in September!

How did you get to where you are today?

I’ve always been a voracious reader and an unstoppably curious person. I became interested in digital and social before they were mainstream. In 2006, the marketing and communication budgets I was seeing didn’t align with what research said about where audiences were. They still don’t. I was fortunate that the CEO of my company let me experiment with overhauling communication. I learned by doing, I made mistakes, and I had successes. But my passion for the possibilities of online grew and continue to grow. I believe digital and social are inseparable from leadership, and even from the way we think.

The information available to us at a single click is astounding. Right now I can go online and learn Greek, Math, or even how to program a computer from prestigious universities located anywhere in the world — for little cost. When in history have we been able to do this?

You’re a social media strategist, author, and speaker. Which companies/brands/organizations do you think do social media particularly well and why?

I’m particularly interested in social leadership — how leaders use social media and how they empower staff to do the same. This is a bit different than great social media campaigns, of which there are many. There’s a lot to be done in the social leadership space, which is the work I love. The challenge is proving the value of time spent being social online to influencers. It’s coming.

It’s good to see that David Thodey and Andy Penn from Telstra are on Twitter. Mike Smith from ANZ is there now too, and ANZ is showing how amplification is achieved when staff is empowered to get on board. Ahmed Fahour at Australia Post is tweeting.

You see a lot of leaders using LinkedIn now, which makes sense as it’s a key business platform. 7 million professionals in Australia have a presence on LinkedIn, including BHP’s Andrew Mackenzie, Westpac’s Brian Jartzer, and Woolworths’ Grant O’Brien.

But signing up and not doing anything is a bit like going to a cocktail party and standing in the corner. I’d really like to see Australian leaders using more of the social sharing functionality on LinkedIn, which can be massive.

What does a good social media strategist do? What does a GREAT social media strategist do?

Teaching someone what social media is, who to reach, and how to measure influence is one thing. Opening an already highly intelligent, strategic thinker to the possibilities of online interaction is another. Getting those people to read Edge.org or watch TED, sparking new ideas by pushing them down digital rabbit holes — this is the real gold.

Part of enabling this transformation is psychological. It’s the hand hold across the bridge from analog to digital. That means 100% knowing that these individuals already have the intelligence/capabilities, and that you’re simply showing them how to navigate the technology side. It’s giving learners the confidence to explore by saying, “this is easy (which it is), you just need to be yourself (which is true) and here – let me get you started.” From there, in my experience, these people just take off.

You’re speaking at the upcoming Australian Social Media Best Practice. What’s special about this event?

Content Days, Sydney

Practitioners coming together to share what they’ve learned. In social, we’re all each others’ best teachers. What worked, what didn’t, and why — it’s a constant exchange of ideas. There’s so much happening all the time that it’s impossible to keep up. You can’t as do it merely as an individual, but you can as a collective. People are so generous with what they’ve learned. You can get a massive dose of that in a short period of time at Australian Social Media Best Practice. Binge learning from those at the frontline. Can’t wait!

Many people are concerned with the oft-blurred lines between social media and privacy. What advice do you have for an individual or business with fears and/or privacy concerns?

My advice is that privacy is not the same as sharing — and that there’s no technological fix for good judgment. You can share online just as in real life without being an open book. Privacy is a huge issue. I get irritated when people say there’s no need to worry about privacy if you’ve got nothing to hide. People have a right to be private and they have a right so speak out, it’s a balance each person should control.

One of the reasons I love Twitter is because it’s a truly global, social, open platform. You know that everything you say is shared with everyone. It’s trickier if you’re on a platform (like Facebook) where what you post may reach people you’re unaware of. Take the time to educate yourself or speak to someone who can help you choose your individual/business settings on various social platforms to operate with the right balance.

How do you keep up with the ever-changing social media scene/landscape?

No one keeps up. But it’s good thing to identify the influencers whose job it is to try and keep up and read their stuff. People like Robert Scoble, Ian Cleary, Brian Fanzo, Ted Coine, Trevor Young, Mark Schaeffer, Mairi Smith, Pam Moore, Anne Handley — the list goes on. There are also real experts with deep insights who may not be as known, but you can often find them on platforms like Medium where quality content is more discoverable.

Personally, I look to the great curators — sites like Edge.org or Brain Pickings. You need filters or you will get overwhelmed. A glib, 600-word blog post doesn’t do it for me as I like more dense, data-driven insight. But even as I read, watch, listen, write — I know that an explosion of valuable learnings is being shared somewhere that may be unknown to me. It’s how it is.

What, if any, social media trends would you like to see vanish forever?

Automated DM in Twitter.

Where can we find you in Melbourne, Australia?

I work in a collaborative office in Lennox Street, Richmond, but wherever I am with my Mac and Wi-Fi is home.

Last, how do you like your coffee?

Hot skinny flat white with a quarter of a sugar. Code Black. Boney Coffee. Patricia.