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Social Media Dublin 2017 – Key Lessons and Insights


Helping to save lives through powerful road safety awareness campaigns and capitalising on the power of social media influencers, were just two of the key areas explored during last week’s Social Media Dublin seminar. Delegates were treated to mix of top trends, tips and strategic advice by eight speakers representing Bord Failte, The Road Safety Authority, Pinterest and more.

In the following blog post I’ve reviewed the key insights and stories from the seminar. With so many great stories to share from the day, I’ve split the post in two parts. so here’s part one…..

Social media dublin 2017


Creating Awareness and Emotional Impact on Social Media: Brian Farrell

Strong, powerful messages that resonate with people’s lives serve as a really effective basis for high impact social media campaigns. Brian Farrell from the Road Safety Authority, believes social media channels are ‘the modern day voices for the Irish nation’ and gave delegates an excellent account of how they utilise social media to create public awareness, engage with people and change public opinion.


Ans 1

Social Media and RSA Awareness Campaigns  

While TV is an undeniably important and valuable channel for public awareness campaigns, the RSA has to compete with the huge volume of daily adverts that people are exposed to. Brian outlined the RSA advertising strategy which is based on making it adaptable, with an emphasis on:

  • 70% – on media they know works
  • 20% – innovation with high RoI media
  • 10% – social movements that encourage people to get involved and bring campaigns to life

Creative Social media marketing lay at the heart of their Driver Distraction Awareness Campaign in 2016. The key objective of which was to target the 18 – 34 age group and create social stigma about using a mobile while driving.

The RSA used social media heavily during key TV spot times to share shocking statistics on the dangers of driving while using a mobile. A key creative element in their social media activity was the promotion of a Facebook profile to highlight the memories of a fictional person. The Facebook profile drove home the cold reality of mobile-related road accidents with the warning that “updating your status while driving, could lead to losing a future lifetime of updates.”

The shocking nature of the content mixed with the strong creative element helped gain a very strong impact with people across Ireland. In total, across Facebook Twitter and Instagram, the campaign achieved a hugely impressive:

  • 3,663,000 impressions
  • 704,000 engagements
  • 732,000 video views

Real Stories and Drink Driving Awareness on Social Media

In 2016 RSA used the real-life tragedy of the death of four year old Ciaran Treacy as the basis for a hard-hitting emotional campaign to re-inforce the dangers of drink-driving. The Treacy family had agreed to tell their story focusing on the fateful day in 2014 when their son was killed by a drunk driver and the impact that the loss of Ciaran has on their family. The powerful content was developed and promoted across social media resulting in huge engagement on social media and a sharp increase in the awareness and online discussion levels about alcohol and driving at Christmas.

Treacy Family Main

The Evolution of Social Customer Service – Michael Ryan

It’s no surprise that social media channels are now used extensively by customers to make complaints, give positive feedback and make enquiries about products and services. For brands, organisations and small businesses, real-time social media means they have to react quickly and carefully to customer complaints.

Michael Ryan, Social Media Manager at Ryanair provided a unique insight into how they use social media for customer relations.

Social media now plays a key part in the revised marketing proposition by Ryanair that’s helping the brand to improve the overall customer service experience – covering key stages from website visitor experience through to booking and flight experience.  Ryanair boss Micheal O’Leary once famously eschewed social media as a waste of time, on the basis that the return on investment could not be proven. However, following the review of the company’s marketing strategy in 2014, Ryanair announced a new and important role for social media with the news that “The new Digital Marketing strategy will see Ryanair switch a significant proportion of its marketing budget from old to new media, with a particular focus on mobile and social media platforms.”



A quick review of Ryanair’s Twitter content shows how they have found a place for the ‘old Ryanair’ voice on social media – a mix of the fun and sometimes deliberately provocative comments,  that were once the main basis for their print advertising. Indeed, debate still rages on their recent pop at Aer Lingus following the arrest of two of their staff as part of an immigration sting.

In addition to using social media as a marketing, advertising and PR tool, Ryanair use it strongly for customer service. Michael explained that Ryanair has invested very heavily in social media customer service with ten dedicated staff helping to answer over 500K queries via social per year.

For Ryanair, the core areas of their social customer service approach are:

  • A proactive approach to queries and complaints
  • Providing self-help content where possible
  • Engaging with customers when they least expect it


Understanding and Responding to How People Use Social Media : Paul McGarrity

If you look at the content and interaction from the most successful Irish brands on social media – from Paddy Power to Ryanair, it’s very evident that they really understand get why and how people use social media channels in their day to day lives.

One of my key points at Social Media Dublin, was that many organisations and businesses are ineffective on social media because they don’t understand its fundamental difference from traditional media. Take a look at research from Ruder Finn on why people use social media in their day to day lives – there’s a strong emphasis on learning, socialising and have fun.


Ruder Finn Index


And that’s particularly the case with Facebook – which for most people is essentially an entertainment platform that allows them to interact with friends. Indeed, one of the big challenges with Facebook is the competition for attention from friends and family of ordinary users. And for organisations to be successful on social media, they need to develop content and experiences that stand out and that reflects the social, educational and fun side of why people are on it.

 The Dogs Trust: Emotionally Powerful campaigns and content designed to get people talking about, interacting with and sharing the story on social media.


Canal Dogs


How Brands and Influencers Can Work Together: Sean Early

The Internet and social media revolution has spawned a new breed of media power – the rise of the Social Media influencer. Often these influencers are celebrities from the world of sport and entertainments, however there are also a huge volume of new influencers – from bloggers to You Tube stars including makeup artists such as Michelle Phan and global fashion blogger Zoella, who have capitalised on the power and reach of the internet to become highly popular stars online. There’s also a huge and growing number of local bloggers and online influencers across the worlds of food, sport and business.

One of the key factors behind the allure and popularity of influencers is the trust and high levels of devotion they attract from followers. It’s hardly surprising then that many brands want to engage with influencers to help them reach and interact with their huge followings on social media.

Sean Early from Marketing Agency New/ Slang drew on his experience as Creative Director to offer valuable advice on how brands and influencers can work together. :

 ‘Influence is relative’.

Sean used the example of David Beckham having huge overall influence as a major sporting legend, and celebrity who had attracted over 22 million Instagram followers. However he cautioned people on being automatically attracted to celebrity influencers with huge followings and to think more about the relevance of an influencer, pointing out that relevance of David Beckham to your brand or campaign might be incredibly limited in return for a very considerable payment – of up to £30,000 per post. In contrast, teaming up with a national rugby star with a much smaller but very relevant social media following could result in a far greater relevance and impact, and with a much smaller price tag.

Paul McGarrity