Black Dog Rides on the wave of Social Media

Image: Angry Anderson & Michael Field at the Black Dog Ride farewell breakfast, hosted by Hills Motorcycles.

Recently, I blogged about social media for social change. This post reports on the results of a social cause I became aware of through social media and successfully promoted and fundraised through Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.


Last night I returned from what can only be described as the trip of a lifetime. I rode 3,000km on my motorbike from Sydney to Alice Springs as part of the Black Dog Ride, in support of the Black Dog Institute. The Black Dog Institute is an educational, research and clinical facility offering specialist expertise in mood disorders such as depression and bipolar.

I first became aware of the Black Dog Ride when a Twitter connection, Tony Hollingsworth (@hollingsworth) tweeted about it. A few tweets later and I agreed to join the ride – without really knowing what it would involve.

The ride commenced on 21 August from Sydney and concluded on 27 August in Alice Springs. We stopped at regional centres and country towns along the way. Stopovers included Young, Balranald, Burra, Port Augusta, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs and finally Glen Helen, 130kms outside of Alice Springs.

At the farewell breakfast, I had the opportunity to meet Angry Anderson, the rock legend and lead singer of Rose Tattoo and ambassador of the Black Dog Ride. Angry spoke openly about his battle with depression. I would later discover that many similar stories would unfold from fellow riders as the ride progressed.

Highlights of the trip include:

  • Meeting Angry Anderson at the breakfast farewell
  • While fueling up at Shell in Euston, NSW, the proprietor pulled $100 from the cash register to ‘give to the cause’
  • A few fellow riders had some mishaps with flat tyres and batteries
  • One unfortunate incident involved a motorcyclist and an emu. The rider was thankfully okay, but the same cannot be said for the emu…
  • I learned that ‘Hyosung’ should be Korean for faulty fuel gauge (yes, I ran out of petrol!)
  • Meeting and listening to the stories of my fellow Black Dog Riders

I learned many things on the ride. There is no stereotype for depression. It can affect anyone, and judging by the mix of riders – it can and does impact many people from all walks of life.

The greatest success of the trip is shared in equal measure between the fantastic fundraising result and the tremendous awareness building within the community and the media about depression, bipolar, anxiety and mood disorders.

It is appropriate to thank my amazing major sponsor, PKL Recruitment, for helping me far exceed my original fundraising target. Through the generosity of sponsors such as PKL Recruitment and corporate donors such as Ford Health, my current fundraising total is $7,000, making it the second highest fundraising effort, only eclipsed by the founder of the ride Steve Andrews who has raised <$13,500.

The total fundraising efforts so far have raised a massive ~$130,000 which is ~$50,000 more than last year. This achievement was only made possible by the incredibly generous donations from individual and corporate sponsors and the power of social media as a communication and distribution channel. To every individual that donated to the cause, I thank you for your incredible support and kindness.

If it wasn’t for Twitter, it is unlikely I would have joined the Black Dog Ride. However, that’s not the whole story. The real power of social media was realised when I mobilised LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as the primary driver of fundraising and awareness. Apart from the $100 donated by a generous petrol station owner, all of the funds were raised online.

The lesson for me is social media is a highly effective tool for influencing social change. It is also a powerful way to keep sponsors and donors connected with a cause and the progress of an event such as the Black Dog Ride. On the ride I tweeted and posted Facebook updates from nearly every location – ensuring my sponsors were mentioned at every opportunity.

I am already planning next year’s ride and hope we have the opportunity to work together again in raising awareness and funds for the Black Dog Institute

For more on the Black Dog Institute, or to make a donation, visit


Michael Field, Director at Michael Field Pty Ltd.

Social Media- A Waste of Time?

Social Media is a waste of time.

Why? Well, as the famous saying goes “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

The same is true for social media. There are so many experts convincing business owners to establish a social media presence, yet so few are building the business case for social media in a strategic context, with measurable business objectives in mind.

Some ‘social media experts’ proudly proclaim their number of followers as if they were collecting souvenir spoons from their travelling expeditions.

My view is that social media is a waste of money, unless you are starting at the strategic level and working down to the tactical implementation, including the selection of the tools and platforms.

If someone approaches you and offers to ‘set you up a Facebook page’, without investing the necessary time to understand or develop the strategy – run!

It is a waste of time and money unless you have a clearly defined strategy in place, and the organisational will and capability to follow through on the plan.

Social Media is like grabbing a tiger by the tail. It’s fun at first but you can’t let go without consequences.

The consequences of a poorly defined social media strategy aren’t limited to financial losses, but it’s a fine measure to keep the mind focused when making marketing investment decisions.


Michael Field, Director at Michael Field Pty Ltd.

Social Media – hard to get good help?

It’s hard to ignore the explosion of social media and its impact on business. For example, LinkedIn Australia now has >2million members with a new member joining every second.

Many businesses are grappling with questions such as:

  • How can we capitalise on the growth and connect with key business decision makers?
  • How do we navigate the digital landscape, map a business growth strategy and effectively manage risk?
  • How do we build an effective digital strategy, manage implementation and measure results?

With the myriad of platforms and devices we use to stay connected, it can be difficult to know which ones we should invest our time in, particularly when it comes to business.

How do you decide which will yield the best business results? What strategies will you put in place to build your business and professional brand?

It’s no longer a question of whether to involve yourself and your business in social media or not. The question is ‘how are you going to differentiate yourself and your business?’

Another important question to consider is ‘where do you go to get quality advice?’

To be fair, there are many excellent practitioners currently advising on social media. Equally though, there are many people whose only qualification is they have a Facebook page or Twitter account – making them an expert.

It reminds me of the lead-up to the year 2000 with Y2K experts offering advice and expertise. Similarly today we have the ‘social media expert’- willing to advise businesses on how to get the most out of social media.

If you are considering appointing a social media expert, ask to see proof of where they have built a business, and how the growth in the business is directly attributable to the social media efforts and activities.

It’s a tough call, but it’s a question worth asking.


Michael Field, Director at Michael Field Pty Ltd.