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Social Media Belfast 2016 – Key Insights and Lessons


From utilising the power of influencers on social media to finding out how we can engage effectively with the Millennial Generation, Social Media Belfast 2016 explored a host of key developments, top tips and more. Here’s my selection of the top insights from the seminar:

Getting Serious about the Millennial Marketing Challenge

Representing over 25% of the population, Millennials not only have huge annual buying power, but also very significant levels of influence over older generations as well as being trendsetters across all industries from fashion to food. There’s no doubt that companies struggle to connect with Millennials and that’s mostly because they’ve fallen into the trap of treating them like every other generation. Put simply, many of the traditional methods of advertising have proven ineffective at capturing their attention. Marketing effectively to Millennials requires companies to think and act differently about the way they market online. Millennials are Digital Natives and they have grown up with social media, review sites and search engines. Simply extending your current marketing tactics online to reach them  will not work.

Life at Sap

However there are great opportunities to reach, influence and engage with millennials and there’s lots of brands and indeed local businesses that are doing it well. To do this effectively companies have to:

(1) Possess a good understanding about Millennials – really understand their situation in life and media habits

(2) Have an excellent grasp of the core social media used by them

(3) Develop content and experiences to better engage with Millennials

(4) Be highly transparent online

(5) Utilise targeted advertising – particularly Facebook – to reach groups of Millennials.

A great example of a communications campaign that really hit a chord with Millennials was the #HelloBrum campaign by University of Birmingham. The mixed marketing activity succeeded in improving the reputation of the University and was brilliant at fostering a strong sense of community with students and stakeholders.

Hello Brum

Being Smart About Utilising Influencers

Sean Earley from Dublin-based agency New/Slang centred on a fundamental point that many people miss about social media – the utilising the power of influencers. Sean charted the growing trend in PR and social media marketing at influencing the influencers due to the following media trends:

·      Brands pay for influencer spots as people more commonly are using Adblocker and are reluctant to view traditional uses of advertising.

·      The problem with shorter attention spans online!

·      40% of social media users have bought from social media influencers

His advice on working with and utilising influencers in marketing included:

·      Be very aware of the balance between Relevance Vs Reach

·      Work to target your audience and then find who influences this audience- work with the influencer you have chosen to produce a truthful/transparent advert to receive honest statistics

Sean used the great example of Walls Ice Cream blending a mix of PR, new product and working with a high-profile Influencer – Ed Sheeran – prior to the star’s Croke Park gigs.

Ed Sheeran

Growing Your Relationships with Influencers

Bronagh Dalzell from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust expanded on the theme of influencer relationships and provided advice backed by strong real-life examples.

Bronagh recommended several key areas that should form part of influencer relationships:

Find Out Who Is Saying What: Start off taking time to listen to what people are saying online about your company, services or products. Using social listening tools (such as Social Mention is key).

Identify key influencers: review and identify the key relevant influencers with klout in your key sectors / core audiences. For Belfast Health and Social Care Trust these were a mix of media personalities and important organisations.

Align your message: Next, you need to make your message highly relevant by targeting influencers by their interests. So for instance, The Trust reached out to groups of people such as carers groups and ethnic minority groups to support key campaigns

Sharing Content: Developing meaningful valuable content to promote on social media. Work with influencers to help promote this online.

Health Trust Belfast

How Small Businesses Are Winning With Content

As a fan of US history, it was hard not to warm to Leanne’s intriguing insights into how former US President Benjamin Franklin used media and PR. Franklin was not merely a towering intellect and thinker, but also a canny persuader who was very able at gaining influence via the media.

Leanne Ross, best known for her PR and social media blog – A Cup Of Lee, used the example of Benjamin Franklin to highlight the importance of businesses using personal branding and content distribution to gain attention. She highlighted 5 key tips for small businesses:

·      Find the channels where your customers are

·      Don’t spread yourself too thin

·      Make the effort to make great content

·      Make it a conversation, a customer-relations tool and not just a one-way broadcast stream

 To highlight her points, Leanne centred on Irish businesses including:

·      Micks Garage – a hugely successful auto-part business who use Blogging successfully

·      Scissor sisters – a Newry-based hairdressers use Snapchat to keep people up to date via How To videos, Q&A’s, quick makeup trials.

Leanne small business blogs

Until the next installment…..

Part Two of the Social Media Belfast 16 – Key Insights Blog Post will be available next week : )

Downloads of the full presentations are available to all delegates of Social Media Belfast via: and entering the password on the delegate packs.