Social Media Club Sydney accused of ‘commercial infiltration’

social-media-club-sydneyPlans for Sydney’s social media community to hold a monthly night get-together have developed into a digital spat with one of its opponents accusing the organisers of participating just to impress clients.

As Mumbrella revealed earlier this month, the first Social Media Club Sydney event will be held on Monday April 27 with the two main speakers Leslie Nassar – the man behind the fake Stephen Conroy Twitter profile – and Adam Ferrier, who works at Naked, the agency behind the fake girl with the jacket video. When bookings for the free Social Media Club Sydney event went online last weekend, all of the places were snapped up in around 24 hours.

But Social Media Club has been drawing hostility from some quarters. As Mumbrella reported, digital marketer Jye Smith had previously expressed some reservations. And today digital specialist Fi Bendall went further, writing a post for Marketing magazine saying the club is run by “self-designated individuals” and accusing them of “commercial infiltration”. She said:

“Initially I actually thought the concept could be good. I submitted ideas for speaking topics, etc. Then I started to see the manifestation of it and like Gavin Heaton who withdrew from nomination on the Social Media Club board, I ditched the idea as a bad one.”

She added: “I actually smell a PR sell to clients, ‘Oh yes Mr. Client I set up the Social Media Club and chair the board’.” And she went on:

“Social Media Club I envisage will soon be publishing industry guidelines, then charging and telling us of all the benefits of paying to join their club and to follow their pre-determined rules to enforce us to behave in the way they want us to. Pre-program the masses to behave, there is loads of money in it, and just wait for the pay-to-attend SMC Conference, the regional Chapters of Social Media, it is like a setting up a religion and I believe there is loads of money in that too!”

Her posting triggered a reaction from social media strategist Stephen Collins, who also writes the Acid Lab blog. In a question to Bendall, he asked:

“Did you call or email any of the (pretty easily contacted) Aussies to ask what we are about? I’m pretty trivial to contact, as is Des or any of the Sydney folks. Nobody is looking to be anything more than social and friendly, and by making some pretty big assumptions, you’re choosing to crap all over those efforts. That’s pretty bad form. I think you’ve fired before thinking here.”

The debate between the pair also spilt over onto Twitter, with Collins posting a message aimed at Bendall saying: I’m not upset, I’m disappointed. You didn’t fact check and there are several omissions and assumptions. You look half-arsed.”

A few minutes later, he added: “Thought for the day – no wonder there’s low respect for social media when we fire half-cocked and fail to fact check. We look like idiots.”

Bendall responded with messages including: “I actually was on twitter about this and to be honest it is not particularly g8t for SMC when you see the post on Mumbrella last week.”

She concluded: “so we can all have something to say, me incl. Wish you the best with it, it is simply not for me and others can agree or disagree.”


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