Energi Archive

May 2017 Newsletter

The word for May, Reunions!

Reunions bring together people from various walks of life for a celebration of a common cause and when the reunion moment occurs good energy flows naturally.

During the month of May, we came together throughout New Zealand for Mother’s Day celebrations. Regardless of the retail boost, the day itself provided a natural boost to every mother honoured by her family.

Our Pink Ribbon Breakfast wrapped up the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation’s Pink Ribbon Breakfast month in a big bunch of pink balloons tied with a pink ribbon to boot. Now firmly established as an event we set the intention at Energi to host a breakfast every year.

Celebrating the posthumous launch of Graham Brazier’s album Left turn at Mid Nite reunited many bands that had drifted apart with time reuniting for the sake of the legend of Graham Brazier.

The natural energy that came from these three reunions made me call up one of my favourite all time quotes by Maya Angelou, “People may forget what you said, they may forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel”. May will be remembered as a feel-good month.

Best wishes,
Lou



Pink Ribbon Breakfast
Today not only marks the end of May but also the end of breast cancer awareness month in New Zealand, and in support of the Breast Cancer Foundation of New Zealand we hosted a Pink Ribbon Breakfast in the Energi gallery. A fantastically feminine event complete with vintage china and silver was enjoyed by all. We have created a little video of the event, and if you would like to donate you are still able to do so through our donations page.



TVNZ New Zealand Marketing Awards
This month we were also thrilled to announce that we are one of the principal sponsors of this years TVNZ New Zealand Marketing Awards, sponsoring the 2017 Marketer of the Year award. It is the first time in the history of the awards that an advertising agency is sponsoring an award.



Mother’s Day Moolah!
What started as a local memorial service in 1908 has grown into a celebration of mothers the world over. $18-billion is spent globally each year to show appreciation for these special women. If your business is not making the most of this shopping occasion get in touch with Energi to see how we can energise your business. Using our 4-D diagnostic methodology, DemandScope(TM), we will be able to identify new opportunities for your business. Contact Lew Bentley for more information.



Graham Brazier CD Launch
On 7 May the Kings Arms hosted the posthumous launch of Graham Brazier’s final album, Left Turn at Mid Nite. The event, which was sold out weeks in advance, was attended by New Zealand music industry legends and fans of Graham’s alike. The album trended for two weeks and reached the number 3 spot on the charts! We were thrilled to have been part of this tribute to a Kiwi music great by creating the album art and Never Coming Back Tour collateral.



Christmas Shopper Study
Did you know that 25% of Kiwis last year started their Christmas shopping in October? That’s only 4 months away! If you have not yet started planning your Christmas marketing program then there’s no better time than the present. Why not make use of the insights we gained from our Christmas Shopper Study to help identify areas or trends your business could benefit from. You can read an overview of the study online or contact us to schedule a full presentation or the findings.


FMCG Business May 2017
Lew Bentley, our Head of Strategy, wrote and article for this months FMCG Business Magazine on the changing face of retail.

April 2017 Newsletter

April – Ay Carumba!

In the immortal words of Bart Simpson, the Spanish phrase Ay Carumba aptly applied to April 2017. It was a conflicting month of both commiseration and celebration.

Parallel to the kick off FY18, traditionally a time of great excitement and new opportunities for growth, Mother Nature cruelly reminded us of her might. Presenting record rain falls throughout New Zealand compounded further with devastating effects with the arrival of Cyclone Cook called up the human quality of resilience. To the residents of Edgecumbe and the vegetable growers throughout New Zealand affected by these cruel events our commiserations and empathy. Kia Kaha! Or, in the spirit of Anzac fortitude, onward!

There are many opportunities for New Zealand retail businesses and brands to evolve in order to survive and thrive. Should you wish to make or find time to check in with your business development in the next fiscal year, and how best to evolve your business to embrace the new era in your Shopper strategies contact our Head of Strategy and Planning, Lew Bentley.

We head into May with exploration, discovery and the implementation of some exciting new work, and look forward to sharing the month with you collectively and individually.

Lou


Celebrating Easter with Valspar
Drawing inspiration from the Valspar Colour Trends 2017 brochure the Energi Team set out designing and painting bespoke Easter eggs using Valspar paint. Over the course of a week we saw designs ranging from the whimsical to beautifully detailed, all the while capturing footage of the create process.

Have a look at our Easter 2017 creations below:

    


Celebrating Graham Brazier
The late Kiwi rock’n’roll legend, Graham Brazier, will be celebrated in May with the posthumous launch of his last album, Left Turn at Mid Nite. Energi produced all the collateral for this project, led by award-winning adman Kelly Addis. Join us and several of New Zealand music’s living legends on Sunday, May 7th at the Kings Arms for the album launch and kick off of the Never Coming Back Tour!

Tickets available on Event Finder.


Celebrating the Energi Website, Version 3.0
Websites are living entities and act as a digital storefront for your business, and ours is no exception. We are happy to announce that version 3.0 of the Energi Website is now live, with enhanced functionality. Explore www.energi.co.nz and discover how DemandScope™ is being used across our client portfolio.


Celebrating our Heroes – Anzac Day 2017
To celebrate the lives of the brave soldiers who perished some of the Energi team share stories about family members who were in military service at the time.

Read their accounts right here on Energi.co.nz.


Celebrating Charity with OKE
During the inclement weather Energi helped complete the 5th OKE Charity School Vegetable Garden build. After significant fundraising and planning of logistics, the build exercise was evidence that even during the most challenging of times, yet another demonstration of resilience by the adults and for the kids benefit, the lesson that the show must go on. For OKE, it is more than growing vegetables, it is growing mindfulness on the source of food and the care and attention required to grow successful food sources in the next generation. One child at a time and one school at a time. On this occasion we celebrated mindfulness resilience and growth.


Celebrating Strategy and Technology
Energi Head of Strategy and Planning, Lew Bentley, returned from the global Shopper Summit in NYC returning with insight into the new machine learning era and the imminent arrival of the technology and impact on Shopper Marketers throughout New Zealand. The machine learning for artificial intelligence (AI) is well underway in the US, with the Amazon Go grocery store trial in Seattle, Amazon Dash devices auto-shopping, and Echo devices appearing in homes for voice activated purchasing. This is all driving the reduction of the retail footprints of the world’s largest retailers.

Contact Lew Bentley to schedule a presentation on his findings and insights from the summit.


Energi Christmas Shopper Study
Download a copy of the summary of our Christmas Shopper Study
email cover

 

FMCG Business April 2017
Energi and DemandScope™ were featured in the latest edition of FMCG Business magazine. Click to view!
email cover

It’s A Wrap!
It’s the last working day of April and the Energi golf team is out supporting the annual RB Save the Children Golf Day!

Anzac Day 2017 – Our Heroes

To celebrate the lives of the brave soldiers who perished some of the Energi team share stories about family members who were in military service at the time.


Louise Henderson, CEO: Abandoned at age 3 as a result of the great depression in 1923, John William Reid Troup (Dad) was raised by the Salvation Army in the Celia P Watman home located in Masterton. Dad enlisted in WWII at the age of 18. Raised to become a dutiful young man; following his compulsory training at Trentham he left New Zealand a Private in the Communications Corp as a Morse Code specialist. During his service he became one of the very few soldiers to receive a commission to 2nd Lt for his outstanding service. Mentioned in despatches by Fryberg for his active service saw him travel to Europe and the Pacific Islands. At the end of the War he returned to New Zealand on a ship accompanied by refugees. Among them a Jewish refugee enquired as to what he was going to do when he got home. Dad asked if he had any thoughts on the subject and the man advised, “Get into something that runs out all the time and needs to replaced immediately”. Upon his homecoming Dad entered the world of commerce as a salesman becoming the top stationary salesman in Auckland for Whitcomb & Tombs (now Whitcoulls). Eventually he left Whitcomb and Tombs and created his own stationary company. Dad had taken on board the sage advice from his fellow traveller and he built a successful business as a supplier of pens, pencils, rubbers and a fine paper merchant. An oft said expression of his when suffering the trials of raising teenagers as we complained when it was our turn to clean the pool at home or mow the lawns at the bach, in a raised voice through gritted teeth was ‘you kids have no idea how lucky you are’. He was correct. So he had a tough start to his life and that became the measure of the man as we recall him as a tough man throughout his life. Age 73 he returned to Europe on Maggie Barry’s inaugural Garden tour to view the gardens of Italy and Ireland. The day of departure from Dublin to Ireland Dad went to the bank to exchange his punce currency for pounds in anticipation of being in London for the 50th Anniversary and celebrations of the end of WWII. He left the bank feeling unwell and advised Mum he needed a lie down at the hotel prior to departure. Boarding the taxi with my Mother Dad suffered a fatal heart attack. He was now in the great parade in the sky with his fellow service men many of whom had perished during the war. Mum advised, upon returning to the hotel that his suitcase was packed to military precision with the copy of the Irish newspaper outlining all the activities to be enjoyed in London. Flown back to New Zealand in his casket which was travelled to St Marks in Remuera for his funeral then onto Purewa Crematorium, as he was carried from the hurst into the crematorium for his internment there was a gathering outside of some elderly gentleman who had attended an internment of another. One of the older gentleman attending the preceding funeral glanced at the brass plaque on Dads casket, noting to his friends, “It’s John Troup, he was a great soldier.”


Paul Bayley, Art Director: My Grandfather was a member of the Royal Engineers during World War 2. He was part of Operation Pluto. Operation Pluto (Pipelines Under The Ocean) represents one of wartime’s greatest feats of engineering. Huge pipelines were successfully developed and laid beneath the Channel between Southern England and France. Fuel could safely be transported to the troops in Europe. My grandfather was over in enemy territory scouting for places to complete the required placements, before the invasion and he was hit by a sniper. He survived as was redeployed later on. The pipelines contributed largely to the success of the Allied operations after August 1944. What was so cool is they hid all the components it fake buildings, even one that sold ice-cream so the enemy had no idea. Go to 2-mins of this video if you are easily bored and see how epic it was!


Kit Greer, Mac Op: My grandad was in the Royal Navy, but sailed on merchant convoys as a gunner. We know he was down the South African coast, and also said that he was in Morocco. He would not eat dates, said he had seen them on filthy barrows in the streets & when we went over there he pointed them out to us saying “see what I mean”. He didn’t really talk much about the war at all to my dad or aunt, so we don’t really know much about it. There were references to a Russian merchant ship called John de Witt, but it’s not clear if he was on this at any point or protected it. He was also stationed in Auckland for some of the time and New York too.


Lew Bentley, Head of Strategy: My dad, Alec Bentley, was a Captain in the bomb disposal squad based in the wider Auckland region during World War 2. Although far from the intensity of the blitz in London, there was the occasional Japanese sea mine that washed up on our beaches from time to time. In the photos, you can see him (in the lemon squeezer hat) removing the detonator from one such mine. Times have clearly changed; no robots and bomb-proof suits for our boys back then!

March 2017 Newsletter

March was about Energi establishing itself as a member of the communities we exist in as professionals, as neighbours and as philanthropists. It is how we individually keep our eyes wide open and collectively, as a team, pull together and pool our resource to help those who are less able to.

With the financial year end upon us we have joined CAANZ, our industry community, so we look forward to using our voice at an industry level in FY2018.

Looking forward to the Easter break and wishing you all the best for your new financial year,

Lou


Community of Culture – Play It Strange – The Jam Bus
There are two ways in which we can help out those less fortunate than ourselves. One is with money and the other with sweat. Energi made a donation of $10,000 after attending a fundraiser for the Play It Strange program to bring awareness to the Jam Bus initiative. This will provide Jam Bus trips to 6 schools to record their budding musicians and produce a track of that child, band, or orchestra’s musical milestone in time.

Learn more about the Play It Strange – The Jam Bus.


Community at Grass Roots – OKE Charity
Oke, translated, is Maori for Oak. From the mighty oak tree an acorn falls, from the acorn, a mighty oak tree will grow. Oke, founded by Paul Dickson 5 years ago, raises funds for schools to institute growing their own vegetables. We provide #socialsweat for the cause by donating 4 hours of our Social Media Account Manager, Hugo Venter’s, time weekly. This resonates nicely with our core values, it is something we can all muck in with too as we will be in the first week of April with a Garden Build at Weymouth Primary.

Visit the OKE Charity website to learn more and find out how you too can get involved.


Community at Home
The Tasman Social Club was born from our taking up residence in the Tasman Building on Anzac Ave. The building is now fully populated with businesses and daily we walk by each other not really have an understanding of each other’s businesses and not knowing each other’s names. Most of the businesses fit into the Small-to-Medium category. We understand that world and the status of it, so it can pay to get to know each other. We created the Tasman Social Club as a platform to achieve just that and hosted the inaugural drinks and Toto Pizza party in early March. The best-laid plans of mice and men, however, had the camera take photo’s with no memory card! For those of you that know the Tasman building, you will know that the cupids hang above the entrance so this became the unifying device for the new networking social club.

Check out the Tasman Social Club on Facebook.


Community of Shopper Marketing
Lew Bentley, Head of Strategy and Planning, is currently attending the Path to Purchase Institute Annual Shopper Marketing Summit in NYC. As part of the summit, the annual Effie Shopper Marketing awards are on the agenda. As the NZ Advertising Effie Awards convenor of judges for the last 5 years, Lew is well placed to take a very strategic and analytical view of the winner’s campaigns and those that got close but no cigar. Upon his return, we have scheduled meetings and presentation for a deep dive into his insight and key learnings from this trip outside the box of everyday life. He has attended keynotes and workshops from which he has gathered the latest intel and IP on technology and innovations to bring back and incorporate into the strategies we know our clients desire from us as their Shopper Marketing specialists.

Call or email Lew to schedule a presentation for you and your team.


Community Management
We’ve ramped up our own social media efforts this month with the creation of the #socialcurrency series, acknowledgements to International Woman Day and week and the sharing of insights from Lew abroad on his travels. We hope you are following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, if not, do! We are constantly finding ways of adding value through insight and information on trends and thought leadership you may find useful.


Shopper Volume 2 is out now! In this edition we look at Energi’s Christmas Shopper Study, what makes great packaging, navigating the murky waters of fake news, as well as show off some of our latest client creatives.

Click here to read or download a copy.

 

Celebrating Women – International Women’s Day 2017

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2017 the team at Energi have nominated women who they hold in high regard.


Shirley Lowe, Account Director on the Coca-Cola account nominated Kiwi athlete Nikki Hamblin.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Nikki Hamblin received considerable international media attention following an incident during the 5000m heat in which both she and American Abbey D’Agostino fell. The two women helped each other finish the race and were allowed to compete in the final, howevern D’Agostino was unable to participate further. Hamblin’s injuries were less serious and she was able to compete in the final. Both athletes were praised for their sportsmanship and Olympicc spirit”, and were subsequently awarded the Rio 2016 Fair Play Award by the International Fair Play Committee.


Hugo Venter, Senior Account Manager, nominated South African singer Miriam Makeba.

Miriam Makeba was among the most visible Africans internationally, Her music earned her the moniker “Mama Africa”. Makeba was also among the most visible individuals campaigning against the apartheid regime in South Africa, and was responsible for popularising a number of songs protesting apartheid, When the South African government prevented her from entering her home country, she became a symbol of the cruelty of apartheid, and she used her position as a celebrity by testifying against apartheid before the UN. Many of her songs were banned within South Africa, being seen as subversive. She thus became a symbol of resistance to the apartheid government both within and outside South Africa.


Jason Anderson, Creative Director, nominated Danish activist Selina Juul.

Selina Juul is a Russian-Danish activist known for her work in promoting the reduction of food waste. She founded the consumer organisation “Stop Wasting Food” (Danish: Stop Spild af Mad) in 2008. Her experiences with food shortages as a child in Russia during the 1980s inspired her work combating food waste. Due to the work of the Stop Wasting Food campaign, Denmark reduced its food waste nationally by 25% in 5 years (2010-2015). She has received several awards for her activism including the Nordic Council Environment Prize and the Danish Social Democrats’ Svend Auken Prize. In 2014, she was named Dane of the Year.


Kit Greer, Mac Operator, nominated cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. She completed 48 orbits of the Earth in her three days in space. In order to join the Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force and thus she also became the first civilian to fly in space. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still regarded as a hero in post-Soviet Russia. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, she was a carrier of the Olympic flag.


Louise Henderson, Managing Director, nominated Kiwi suffragette Kate Sheppard.

Katherine Wilson “Kate” Sheppard was the most prominent member of New Zealand’s women’s suffrage movement and was the country’s most famous suffragette. She also appears on the New Zealand ten-dollar note. Since New Zealand was the first country to introduce universal suffrage in 1893, Sheppard’s work has had a considerable impact on women’s suffrage movements in several other countries. The year after women’s suffrage was achieved, Sheppard returned to England for a short time, where she met prominent British suffragettes and gave a number of speeches. Upon her return home, she was elected president of the newly founded National Council of Women of New Zealand which had considerable influence on public opinion.

February 2017 Newsletter

Well, February flashed by, didn’t it! Between a short month with two long weekends we’ve had to tap into our philosophy of energizing business full speed! In case you’ve missed the news, we moved from uptown Auckland to downtown Auckland at the beginning of December to the Tasman Building on Anzac Ave. We are very happy to have the Wilson Car park across the road and just as happy to validate your tickets. We get it! Parking in the city is rubbish.

As we sign off February, the March Madness begins,

Louise


Colour Trends for 2017
Valspar introduced the colours trends for 2017 to the home styling Media. A presentation box containing all information and samples to ‘have a go’ went out to bloggers, social media mavens, and opinion formers in support of the #CHIAD Change in a Day campaign.


Christmas Shopper Study
The Christmas Shopper report is ready to present. The insights from this fascinating look into New Zealand’s biggest ever shopping event are ready to share. Now is the time to consider and plan for your Christmas 2017 marketing. We have a couple of dates and times that may suit. If not, don’t hesitate to request a time that does.

Dates
Wednesday 8 March 4-6pm
Wednesday 15 March 4-6pm

Who should attend? CEO’s, Marketing Directors, General Managers, Sales Directors and/or entire marketing department.
To express interest and schedule a presentation contact Hugo Venter.



New York New York

Energi Director and Head of Strategy & Planning, Lew Bentley will be attending the Path to Purchase Institute annual Shopper Marketing Summit being held in New York March 27-29. The Path to Purchase Institute participates in the annual Shopper Marketing Effie Awards for award-winning campaign effectiveness. Lew is the convenor of Judges in the annual New Zealand Effectiveness Awards. Follow @GoodEnergi on Facebook, @headlightlew on Twitter or Louise Henderson on LinkedIn for Lew’s daily insights and postings.


Energizing Business – Social Engineering
We have two clients working with Energi to energise their Social Media requirements. If you are concerned that your Social Media efforts are not leading to genuine engagements please contact Hugo Venter.


Love is in the air
As a shopper marketing agency we were not going to allow one of the biggest Shopper events of the year to pass by without marking the occasion! Energi celebrated Valentines Day by dressing the Energi Gallery in iconic heart shaped helium filled balloons, a true expression of Valentine’s day.


Take a Bow Miss Shirley Lowe
To wrap February up and put a bow around it, today we celebrated with Shirley Lowe and the Coca-Cola marketing team marking the 21st anniversary of Shirley, Account Director for Energi, on the Coca-Cola account.

January 2017 Newsletter

I hope you enjoyed your Auckland Anniversary long weekend for those in Auckland.

Well it is the last day of January and who would have imagined the first month would disappear as quickly as it has.

We commenced the Energi business year on Monday January 9 and simply have not had a backward glance.

In this newsletter we’ll share a couple of proactive initiatives we undertook with the team to unify us after the holidays and get our heads back in the game creating a fast start to 2017. We’ll also share our Chinese New Year, Year of the Fire Rooster soiree that bought our clients and suppliers together to kick off the Chinese Zodiac Luna festival. We also launch our Volume 1 of the latest Energi initiative, Shopper, a magazine which features highlights of our Christmas Shopper study for 2016. Both designed to deliver on our core values of Energizing business.

As we move forward this week, we have Waitangi weekend to look forward to. Our national celebration of becoming one nation with the long weekend, a time to feel gratitude for this amazing country we get to enjoy and spend time with friends and the ones we love. Next minute, it’s Valentines Day. Another spike in the retail calendar is looming. Have you purchased your card?

Kind thoughts,

Louise


Energising Business
Valspar has launched during the weekend the latest initiative to drive projects in the DIY sector #CHIAD #Changeinaday. The Energi team set about having some fun around this and walk the talk. Check out the video and the result:


Chinese New Year, Year of the Fire Rooster 2017
To kick off the Year of the Fire Rooster, we transformed the Energi Gallery designed with PR events in mind, into the Energi lantern garden and held a Cocktail function. Catering by Sachies Kitchen with the bar service serving Lychee Martini’s made for a perfect Energizing entrée into the year of the Fire Rooster. Check out the video:

To mark the Year of the Fire Rooster, we partnered with Pedro’s Bluff to produce a mini money pouch. Built off of the concept of the traditional lai see packet that is handed out by married couples to unmarried individuals during Chinese new Year. They are a symbol of good luck and detractor of evil spirits. The colour red has been embossed with gold to make these leather Mini Money Pouches. A bit of a twist on the usual design is on the sides which allow the owner to tip coins out and push them back in.

The year 2017 of the Fire Rooster is especially fortuitous, as Chinese astrologers predict that it will be one full of positive news and events, career progress, and profitable business. Roosters have been very important over the years, as they have been a healthy food source as well as a useful mascot as they wake people up at the crack of dawn and a eat crop-damaging insects on farmer’s properties and many continue doing so today.


Christmas Shopper Study 2016
Lew Bentley, Head of Strategy for Energi, designed a Christmas Shopper Study to enable us to gauge where the shoppers’ heads are at in this ever changing dynamic shopping marketplace we live in. The report is available to share with our clients.

The report looks into Christmas Shopping behaviour, attitudes, and influences. It will provide essential insights if you want your products or stores to be on people’s 2017 Christmas shopping list. If you’d like to make a presentation time for Lew to share with your Management teams through to your product and sales manager’s please contact lew.bentley@energi.co.nz. The presentation would make a great keynote should you have any conferences you might be considering content for.

Welcome to Energi 2.0

Energi is on the move after a change of ownership, impending move, and a new lease on life.

The only constant in life is change, and nowhere is this more apparent than when a business changes hands. Energi’s new leaders bring decades of experience in marketing, advertising, brand strategy, PR, business development and research but we knew going into this new adventure that we would need a solid team standing beside us.

Since taking ownership of Energi in July we have been hard at work getting our ducks in a row, ensuring that the team was focused and happy. Most importantly we wanted to ensure that the team bought into our vision for the business and were happy to forge ahead with us as the new owners. Similarly, we needed to reassure our clients, some of whom have been doing business with Energi for decades, that the new Energi experience and direction was going to help their businesses thrive.

Our primary objective now is to grow the business into a first-rate shopper marketing agency. We want to help our clients be more competitive throughout the demand chain, thereby making them more likely to be chosen by shoppers. By keeping our fingers on the pulse of the shopper marketing world we are better able to integrate our work and collaborate with wider marketing programs and teams.

The renewed Energi team looks forward to you joining us on our onward and upward journey.

Warm regards,
Louise Henderson
Managing Director.


Introducing DemandScope™

Energi has designed a 4-D shopper marketing methodology called DemandScope™ that gives our clients the competitive edge. This approach integrates shopper demand chain analysis from multiple perspectives including business context, shopper behaviour, competitive analysis and marketplace brand presence.

In its early applicaiton, DemandScope™ has helped design a programme of activity that integrates above the line advertising and social media, with in-store merchandising and the post-purchase customer experience.

It is also being used as a diagnostic tool to review brand performance and identify demand chain opportunities for a fast-moving consumer brand that has been struggling.

Contact us if you would like to schedule an introductory presentation to DemandScope™.


Office Relocation and Holiday Down-Time

In addition to moving onwards, we are also moving upwards in 2016. Come December, Energi will move from the Ground Floor of 11 Mayoral Drive to the First Floor of the Tasman Building at 16-22 Anzac Ave, Auckland.

Over the Christmas break, our office will be closed from 24 December until 9 January 2017.

Best practice when engaging on social media

From the desk of Hugo Venter.

Everyone wants their voice to be heard, and some have even perfected the art of using social media to regularly trend and gain influence in the Twittersphere and elsewhere. Yet some who have been drawn into the maelstrom in recent days are likely regretting attention garnered as they have become a bullseye for other social media users and general public ire. How could a mere 140 characters have turned into lost jobs or former employer litigation?

In some cases the action taken by employers was harsh, and in other seemingly justified, but in all cases it appears that individuals walked into the eye of the storm with little insight into how sensitive their chosen topics had become or just how contentious their comments would be perceived in a public forum.

The capacity of social media to spread public rage like wildfire is becoming better recognised. Public shaming has lately become such bloodsport that all social media users need to be aware of the risks involved, and to protect themselves so that engagement doesn’t turn ugly.

These are my five tips on how to avoid becoming a trending topic on Twitter.

1. Protect your channels
If you are going to participate in conversation on a hot topic chances are that you will be stalked on social media. While Twitter may expose very little in the form of personal information, your Facebook account is the exact opposite. The last thing you want is for your friends or family to become targets due to your actions on social media. You also run the risk of past posts being dragged into the now increasing the threat of backlash from other social media users. CNet offers some great tips on how to secure your Facebook profile in just 6 easy steps.

2. Audit your past content
A trip down memory lane is never a bad thing, especially when that trip is to ensure that you are beyond reproach. Audit every single tweet or post you have made on social media to save yourself the embarrassment of being called out on something you said several years ago. This may seem like an intimidating task but in the end, the effort will be worth it. You don’t need to delete all past content that may cause offense. Instead, you can prepare to defend yourself in the event that that content is dragged up from annals of social media history. You should also pay attention to the topics and themes of your past posts. If you have been vocal and outspoken about a specific topic, and now decide to engage in a conversation where your current stance could be seen as contradictory you will not only face the ire of social media users but also risk losing credibility.

3. Enquire about your employer’s social media policy or guidelines
Many employers encourage their employees to have an active presence on social media especially if they are considered to be experts in their fields. You run personal and professional risks when you step outside your areas of expertise in public, and all social media is public. In response to this ever-growing trend, these same employers tend to have social media guidelines that aim to help employees manage their engagement on social media. If your social media accounts clearly identify you as an employee of your company then speak to your employer first before you start engaging on Twitter. You do not want to be in a position where you take a standpoint that is completely contrary to your employer. This is even more important where the topics carry any degree of reputational risk to your employer. I always emphasize the importance of a disclaimer on personal social media profiles. While a disclaimer like “views expressed are my own” will do little to mitigate the damage of radical posts, it will offer a buffer in the case of less contentious ones.

4. Think about what you are trying to say
If you are going to engage in conversation about a heated or contentious topic pay close attention to the words you use. While you may understand the context of what it is you are trying to say others may see it in a completely different light. Sometimes the most innocuous message, when taken out of context, can cause a major storm. Avoid using big words and keep the message clear and concise, thereby reducing the risk of misinterpretation.

5. Be prepared for negative commentary and feedback
Active participation on social media is a two-way street. It is inevitable that you will be faced with negative comments or even questions about the topics you are engaging on. It is easy to become impassioned in these situations, but before firing off a knee-jerk response takes a few moments to read and then re-read those messages or comments. The last thing you want to do is start a personal war of words with fellow social media users all because you didn’t take the time to think of an appropriate response. Everyone is, after all, entitled to their opinions. You can still get your point across even if you don’t agree with the opinions of those users who are challenging you. Stop, think, and then reply…it’s as simple as that.

Engaging in conversation on social media can be a very rewarding experience, but you need to be aware of the pitfalls too. If you are going to go out guns blazing with comments or views you know are going to get folks upset then you need to be prepared to face the consequences. Express your opinions and air your views, but always try do so in a manner that keeps you out of harm’s way.