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Social Media Belfast 2015 – What We Learned


From the rise and growth of new social platforms including Pinterest and SnapChat through to the challenge of communicating visually, 2015 witnessed major developments in social media marketing.

The Social Media Belfast seminar, held on 8 Sept, explored these developments and more –  Here’s my selection of the top insights from the seminar:

Why are So Many Brands Posting Poor Content? Danny Whatmough, Weber Shandwick

From pointless sports links to patronising exercise tips, there’s so much content that fails badly across social media networks. Danny highlighted the parody account – Awful Instagram Ads – featuring brands including Quaker, Pringles and Mangers, that showcased examples of social media content gone wrong.

Thanks to Honda for their lazy and tenuous brand / Cats link – I really joined Instagram to see images like this!


Honda Cats Instagram Ad



The Visibility Challenge of Relying on Organic Content

I showed the impact of how Facebook has restricted the reach of organic content – and the headache it presents to marketers. Put simply, Facebook are actively restricting posts from pages to their fans – with the result at little as 1% of facebook fans will get to see an organic post from a Page. The strong advice from me and from Danny Whatmough at the event is that you need to concentrate on two areas:

  • Creating original and quality content that’s going to engage well with your audience
  • Raising the visibility of your quality content via paid social media.

Whilst investing in paid social media can be a controversial point, it’s advice that I stand by having run and reviewed scores of social media campaigns. If you have good quality content, you are wasting your investment by not promoting properly. And compared to traditional marketing tactics – social media advertising, especially on Facebook and Linkedin represent good value in marketing.


Hubspot SM Ads



Public Organisations Using Social Media to Crowd-Source Support

The PSNI’s use of social media reflects the strong reliance on the medium across all UK police forces. One of the main communications benefits for the PSNI is the ability to reach and engage with local people around local issues. Liz told the story of how Facebook was used by PSNI to enlist the support of local people in North Belfast to identify a young boy.

Exploring the latest figures in Northern Ireland social media use.

Social media habits are always changing with the growth of new networks. I explored the very latest research on social media use within Northern Ireland. The strong social media trend in the past 18 month has been the rise in visual networks. In fact Pinterest and Instagram now have user bases of 70 million and 330 million respectively across the globe. The OFCOM report highlights very strong use of Pinterest here with 26% having used the site and one in eight using Instagram (12%).


Social Media Network Use in NI


Missed Opportunities for Brand Marketing via LinkedIn.

Poor knowledge of how to use Linkedin to support for marketing and business development remains one of the major missed opportunities in business to business marketing.  Now used by over 380 million people worldwide, Linkedin is much more than an online CV. As Greg Keane from Linkedin showed, it’s now an invaluable tool for:

  • Researching companies, people and leads online
  • Promoting content
  • Raising the visibility of your brand to companies and target buyers
  • Using as part of the recruitment process


Linked In for Marketing



What’s The Point?

Danny Whatmough from Weber Shandwick posed a very important question for brands and organisations – “If you stopped using social media, would anyone notice?” An excellent thought to keep in mind for all marketing and comms directors as many organisations devote a lot staff resources to social media but struggle to realise any meaningful value from it.

Excellent Social Media Content Reminds Us of Great PR

Bunsen Burger are one of a small number of Irish business who are very good on social media content. They create and share really effective social stories based on a mix of:

  • Great visuals
  • Humorous stand out content that provokes engagement and interactions

Bunsen Burger’s content, particularly on Facebook, reminds us of great PR campaign content – stories that get people talking positively about the company.


Bunsen Valentines Post



Gaining Public Understanding and Support Via Social Media

Liz Young from PSNI also shared the case study of the 24 Hour PSNI Tweet campaign in April 2015. The campaign was aimed at demonstrating the demand on the PSNI and the types of activity and support they give on a typical day.


PSNI Value


And Finally…….

A huge thanks to the organisers of Social Media Belfast – Agenda NI. Looking forward to next year’s event in Sept 2016!

Feel free to check out some of the resources I identified in my presentation including:

Infographic on Social Media Use in Northern Ireland:

Social Media Trends Guide 2015: