Guest: Craig Mack
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Craig Mack – the man behind the popular blog “CraigOnToast” joins host Wayne Bucklar to talk about his very diverse background and many jobs: mental health and LGBTQIA advocate, blogger, speaker, influencer and social media and content strategist. One topic he emphasizes on is his work as the ambassador for R U OK? the suicide prevention charity.
Bio: Craig Mack is a social media and content strategist and creator, blogger, model and ambassador for suicide prevention charity R U OK? Having worked client, agency and talent sides of social media, digital and content his experience is broad and diverse.
This has given him a unique view of and approach to social media – whether developing strategy, building and engaging communities, creating content, running paid social campaigns, working with influencers or analysing data. Thinking creatively and putting the audience first to deliver on goals and objectives, is the lens he always looks through.
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today I’m joined by Craig Mack. Craig is from Sydney and he’s here to talk to us about social media but he is a man with a resume that’s impressive and spectacular in its diversity and a range in the media age. So where the interview goes, I won’t predict. Craig, welcome to the show.
Craig Mack: Well thank you so much Wayne. It’s really good to talk to you. I definitely do have a list of jobs, that’s really funny when people ask me what I do.
Wayne: It’s not an awful question. I think it’s really about, tell me what you do so that I can decide how much respect to accord you in the conversation. Because I’m often tempted to say, “Well I’m a sanitation worker and I run the local sewage plant.” Just to see if I get a different response to when I say, “Well I’m actually a brain surgeon. I’m just taking a break from surgery.” Like I really do wonder why we focus so much on people’s vocations or what they’re doing at the time. Anyway, they do. Now when we talked about the interview Craig, you said as part of that chat, the great social media is about being real, bold and defined and I know you’re a blogger, and advocate and a speaker. So why do you say that great social media is about being real, bold and defined?
Craig: There’s a few different reasons that I say that. So going through some of the things that I do is a social media blogger and content producer and a copyright. So I that for myself on my own blog and a few different clients in a whole lot of different categories. And I’m also a mental health advocate and an ambassador for “R U OK?” which is the suicide prevention charity as well as working with an LGBT youth charity and helping with their social media and content. And the things that I find, what resonates most on social are those things that are genuine, and authentic and real particularly in that mental health space, people want stories and experience and you get your credibility from showing that you understand your audience by talking about the experience that they have and then giving them things that can help, showing you are genuine. So I think that being real and not having like a fluffy corporate voice or something that just sounds robotic is what resonates most and that’s through images you use and videos that you produce and the way that you write on your website and your blogs and the way that you post. It’s about having a personality that really shows and shines through. Having a bit of sense of humor or being really, really professional or being really, really casual, it doesn’t really matter what that is as long as you nail it and are consistent with it and define it as that’s who you are and giving people something a value.
Wayne: And of course so many corporates now are using professional blog writers and particularly often outsource blog writers who are taking other people’s content and spinning it and republishing it and there ought be a name for it, I’m not sure what it’s called. But the consequence of that is this sort of homogenous flavorless content that has no relationship to the personality of the brand or the business owner or what they think or feel. And I’ve had this debate with so many businesses that say, “Oh my social media doesn’t work, it’s a waste of time” and you read a bit of it and go, “Yeah it is because you’re just regurgitating words and no one’s going to engage with that. There’s no you in here.”
Craig: And this is where that being bold and being defined really comes in. You see it all the time when you read expert lists, the predictions for social media in 2018 or these are all the trends that are happening right now and I think I have read 4 or 5 of those recently and they said are the same thing for the last 2 or 3 years and it’s just people who are repeating other people’s stories. And that’s where being bold to come into doing things that are a little bit different and stand out by being a little bit brave and a little bit controversial, or interesting or approaching something from a different point of view, or a different perspective or actually having an opinion about something and putting that out there and not being afraid of what you get back or what people might say because you know that’s your position and you can justify it and you can discuss it if you need to but also not shying away from standing out. And so many people don’t and that’s where you get that “bland, one, don’t really know anything about you or what you’re saying because it sounds the same as everything else” which comes into then being defined. And what I mean by that is knowing what your message is, knowing who you are, knowing who your audience is, where they are, what they talk about and using data, and research and instinct to really be very deliberate about that and that’s the thing that you’re saying, and talking and doing. And therefore, if you’re really refined and you’re very defined of what you’re doing and then being a little bit brave, and bold and interesting in the stuff that you’re saying and being authentic – those three things will really make you stand out and that’s when actually around social media doesn’t work. And if you do it properly, if you know how to target and how to use the tools and how to talk to the people that you actually want to talk to and know their needs, and their wants and their interests and can give that, then that’s when it works. Any obviously you need a bit of budget behind it to be promoting any content that you produce no matter what anyone says, in any form of social media it’s pretty much dead. You can have a 100,000 people but if you don’t put any money behind it, you’ll be lucky if you reach 100.
Wayne: All the platforms of have switched to monetizing that content pretty heavily I agree. We had a guy who used to come on and we talked about glass, he was a glazier. And he was just too interesting bloke to talk to. It was no great shakes about it, he’s no media star but he was a 60 year old man who’s been a lifetime working with glass and he just knew everything there was to know about glass. And we talked about flashbacks and re-silvering showers, and glass balustrading, and hail damage and you name it. Well to his surprise and to ours, he went through the roof on Google. He is the number one organic result for safety glass Brisbane for 12 months after he did his last interview with us just because all of this sincere, honest expert content about safety glass. It’s not what you think was a hot topic but that’s what happened to him.
Craig: It’s amazing what people are passionate about. And things like that, where we kind of have a broader understanding of digital or getting somebody who knows that involved to make sure that when you’re writing content for your website or wherever you publish, that it has the component of SEO, current trends and up-to-date with that so that you are appearing in search more, more easily. And if you’re going really broad then getting someone to manage kind of an SEO strategy and budget for you. That’s the best way to perform, you need to invest money to grow as with anything. People are passionate for everything and really strange things. You look at one of the accounts that are on there and perform really well and there’s some really strange things on there. Things organized neatly is one of my favorites and it’s like OCD freaks that wants everything laid out beautifully. But it performs so well because it’s just that something that people love, or there are the ones that follow teddy bears, or toy cars or even glass making and you have people who are really doing random things. And giving it to the audience effectively, then it’s going to work quite well because you’re giving you a bit of value to people through like beautiful photography, or beautiful video or information that’s going to help them or just kind of tapping it into their passion.
Wayne: We are I think hardwired to love a storyteller. From childhood, we begged our parents to read us stories over and over again, from gathering around campfires 50,000 years ago, that’s how our histories developed and I think we still have a passion for the authentic storyteller and social media gives that digital megaphone to people to do that.
Craig: Absolutely. Data is so important to be able to measure the performance of everything. To tap in and find out people’s interests and the things that they’re talking about. And you can then build stories from that or use the stories that you’ve got and blend that data in so that you are then tapping into them. But storytelling is what always performs best because people love to hear other people’s experiences or it’s what affects us. Mostly can throw an infographic at somebody and 10% of people do this and 15% of people do that and that’s great. It tells a bit of a story through numbers but unless you have a bit of heart, and passion and that’s sort of the authenticity and the realness as well and it’s harder to tap into that emotion.
Wayne: Craig I’d like to draw you down to a different path for a while if I can. You said at the outset, you’re a speaker, an advocate and a blogger and we’ve talked about the social media. But I had a look at your website and I’d like to take you down some of that advocacy stuff. On your website, you spoke about three things that struck me. One that you’re a gay man; two, that you’ve dealt with depression all your life; three, that you’ve had some suicide attempts. I can understand why you’re passionately involved in these. Share with us some of that advocacy work you do.
Craig: Yes. I’ve been involved with R U OK? which is a suicide prevention charity for the last couple of years and that involves getting out into schools, and businesses, and events and talking about the experience of dealing with depression and my own experiences with suicide because I’ve had three attempts – 16, when I was 24 and a few years ago at 36 and all related with different reasons. And what we do with R U OK? is get the message out for people who don’t experience it or don’t really understand depression, and anxiety and what leads you down the path to wanting to attempt suicide. We give people resources and information on how to help friends and family or how to understand it. So I do a lot of speaking through that or working with the media, writing articles. And one of the reasons I got involved was because of the the gay community and it was a couple of years ago where around the time of R U OK’s campaign, a friend of a friend had committed suicide and it was the 8th person that I knew of in about 18 months. And my own experiences and stories, something that I thought I would ever share publicly because it’s obviously a very personal difficult thing that is quite confronting for me as much of that for anybody else. And that was a trigger for me to go “I have a lot of experience for this and I can actually help.” That’s a pretty small community really where people around Australia are connected in some way. But there’s not a lot of education or people don’t know where to go to get help or what to do when a friend comes to them to just go, “I’m not okay or I’m struggling” and have a lot of questions to ask or it’s people even not knowing what signs to look for to just check in with mates because I think one of the most important and most valuable things we can do with that it to just check in with people. And we all get so busy and we all get so caught up in our own lives, that it’s really easy to not pay attention or to not notice little things in changes of behavior with friends. Let’s say if somebody is normally really loud and out of the time, and happy, and friendly and then all of a sudden, they completely drop off the radar, they’re really quiet -there’s something wrong. Or if they’re normally really neat and tidy, and it’s just suddenly they become a little bit scruffy and not quite right, it’s probably so that there’s something up. And it is about a case so simple because you can just kind of sit down and get help, you’re noticing that you’re quite not yourself lately – there’s anything going on. And it doesn’t have to be a difficult, drawn-out, long, deep and meaningful conversation that I think a lot of people do think it has to be. It can be as simple as a coffee and a check-in so that doesn’t get to that point where people do feel alone, and isolated and caught in this massive problem that they don’t think they can solve. And there’s so many organizations and resources out there that people just aren’t aware of or don’t have access or even what they do that are there to help. So all the advocacy work that I do is giving people the skills to have a conversation and it’s really simple. It starts with the question of, “Are you okay?” They go, “I’ve noticed this or I’ve seen that, he’s not really quite himself.” And not knowing what to do and the answer is no – which is really about sitting back and listening because a lot of people want to jump in, solve the problem or they feel that they have to have the answers or take their responsibility for solving that for that person leading them through. And I think as a friend, we’re not mental health professionals, we’re not psychologists, and we don’t want to take on anybody else’s usually because we already have enough of our own. I call it and there’s an old Polish thing called, “Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys.” Your circus and your monkey is yours, I’ve got enough of mine. So as a friend, the best thing you can do is just kind of listen to their concerns or the things that are worrying and a lot of the time that can just be enough to know that, “Oh there’s somebody now that I can talk to or that somebody else knows now or it’s all out of my head,” and makes it easier to deal with. And part of the step beyond that is a week later, we’re just checking in with mates and going, “Hey, are you going with this?” Or coming up with some ideas that they might be able to do if they’re not getting out of the house for a week. It’s like, “Okay cool, well you know, why don’t we go for a walk or go into this, soda, have coffee or go to the movies? or Did you know that Beyond Blue for example has a whole lot of resources and information on helping people who are in your position? And it might be jumping on their website and downloading some tips of how to break the cycle that you’re in or using the services that they’ve got which are all staffed by psychologists, and counselors and trained professionals who then give you some strategies, and tips, and some information or even refer you onto other places?” So that you’re not there trying to deal with something that you don’t know how to do and I think as adults and I think particularly as men, we feel like just have to solve everything ourselves. We can have all the answers that we just should be able to do it. And I think that’s one of the most dangerous core processes that I think everybody goes through is, “I should be in position in my life now and I should have this, I should know that and I just should be able to do it.” And when it comes to things like mental health, if you haven’t been through it before or even if you have, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Wayne: Yes. And there is an enormous expectation that we should be grown up and adults but unfortunately, there’s no course in how you do that. I’m in my 60s and I’m still waiting for growing up. Growing old is compulsory, growing up seems to be completely voluntary. Craig, it’s been a pleasure having a chat with you today. You ought to be complimented on your advocacy and work. For people who are interested in getting more of you either through your blog or through engaging you as a speaker, how can they reach out to you?
Craig: So my blog is craigontoast.com and my email and my details which is [email protected] is all on my website. And then I’m on social media obviously as well and LinkedIn and Facebook where you can find me through there, all of those channels. And any work to do with social media, with speaking, with even LGBT advocacy, I’m doing a bit of education around that for people who don’t know – I’m open and happy to help.
Wayne: Craig, thanks for making yourself available today. I know you’re a busy person, I do appreciate your time.
Craig: My pleasure, thank you so much.
Wayne: And if you just joined us on Business Radio Talkers.FM, then sad news you just missed my chat with Craig Mack. Now Craig is a speaker, an advocate and a blogger and has a very interesting resume and we’ve been talking in two parts about social media and Craig’s advice on how to make that authentic and then we’ve been just touching on some of his advocacy work around mental health. The good news is however, I’ve got an answer if you just missed that chat, we have a transcript on our website. So if you’re a reader, pop off to the Talkers.FM website and you can read the whole transcript of our interview. But given it is radio, you’re probably a listener more than a reader, so we’ve got you covered. We’ve got an audio archive of the interview, it’s on iTunes, it’s on SoundCloud, it’s on YouTube and you can treat it like a little mini podcast and download it and listen to it at your leisure. If you are listening on social media, please remember click all those buttons at the bottom, we did like it when you like us. We even like it when you don’t like us, we just like to know you’re out there. So share us, pass us around, let us know that you’re real and we’re not just talking to this microphone for our own entertainment. And if you’ve got questions either for Craig or for us at the station, pop them into any of the comments on any of the social media channels, we monitor them all and we’ll our the past them onto Craig or we’ll be able to handle them if it’s about the station. You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM, my name is Wayne Bucklar.