Ben Leong


Hi there!

As you'll quickly see from this site, I'm interested in a lot of different areas. I've attempted to summarise them here, in order to give a bit of an overview of who I am, and what I do.

I'm currently working on a PhD through the Smart Services CRC, based at RMIT's Melbourne campus. My research project examines how Australian small business owners are using social media to promote their businesses online. Over the past few years I have interviewed small business managers from around the Melbourne area to find out how and why they are using social media in their organisations. You can find a brief overview of the project on this page.

I have been an active blogger and forum user for over a decade, and have experience as a forum moderator, site administrator, and community manager. For the past four years, my research has allowed me to closely monitor the ways that new social media is being adopted and used by local business managers. During this period, Facebook and Twitter have emerged as the dominant platforms, with hundreds of millions of users. Google Plus and Pinterest launched, to mixed responses. Geo-location services have slowly gained popularity within Australia, and business managers have more options available than ever before. It's a fascinating area to work in, as everything evolves so quickly.

I have a background in science, and originally trained as a chemist and geologist at the University of Melbourne. After working as a research scientist at CSIRO's Division of Building, Construction and Engineering, I stepped sideways into the sociology of science, and from there into studying small businesses and their owners. I'm good at observing how people interact, and finding out how and why they do it. I'm also comfortable working in highly technical environments, and translating jargon and concepts into plain english.

I have worked as a freelance editor and desktop publisher, producing reports, newsletter, book and magazines, in print or online. Previously, I ran a small business called Purple Mantis, focussing on commission painting of miniature figurines, a hobby of mine since 1990. Those jobs are mostly behind me now, but I've included some information about them here as they have helped to shape who I am today.