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Social Media Belfast 2018: Key Lessons and Insights


Social Media Belfast 2018: Key Insights

With over 200 attendees, Social Media Belfast 2018 was the largest to date and held for the first time in Titanic Belfast. This year’s seminar featured nine key speakers drawn from international brands and local organisations including Coca Cola, South Eastern Health Social Care Trust and The Beannchor Group.


Social Media Belfast 2018


2018 – A Tipping Point for Social Media?  Paul McGarrity, Octave Digital

Warnings of ‘Peak Social Media’ appeared in media headlines in summer 2018. And while that remains to be seen whether that’s indeed the case, there’s no doubt that the past year has been a momentous one for all the major social networks.

Peak Social Media?

The Investor reporting season 2018 in August offered up plenty of headlines reporting a disastrous series of results for key social media companies. The results must have made for uncomfortable reading in the boardrooms of Silicon Valley, especially for the main casualties being Twitter and Snapchat. Twitter has been suffering from considerable declines in user activity and user growth over the past two years, with the network reporting the loss of 1M users in the past year. SnapChat’s controversial site re-design which led to a backlash from users witnessed a 1.5% decline. Facebook also suffered a decline in growth and usage rates, albeit not as sharp as the other social networks.


Facebook is Still King of the Social Media Networks!

2018 was a very unwelcome year for Facebook during which they had to deal with Congressional hearings, and the reputational damage caused by Russian propaganda groups use of the network in US and Europe.

But even though Facebook has suffered a dip in its steady growth, warnings of Facebook’s decline are significantly wide of the mark. Facebook is a massive and very successful media company with good growth potential and excellent revenue streams. 2.2 Billion people across the globe regularly use it and its engagement rates significantly outshine those of other networks.


Social Media Network Growth


Turning the Tide: Generation Z and Social Media

Generation Z (young people aged from early teens to early 20s) has grown up with Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram – but a surprising number are turning their backs on Social Media. It’s perhaps the start of a trend is that’s likely to be small in numbers but significant in its impact over time.

Earlier this year, The Guardian reported on a section of Generation Z who were turning away from Social Media and featured interviews exploring their changing media habits.

Gen Z Social Media Mary Pic

(Photo: Via The Guardian)

It’s clear that many young people have encountered negative experiences on social media with the interviewees describing social networks as ‘conformist’ and ‘pressurised’.  In short, the negative experiences are now driving a small but significant number of Gen Z to turn away from social media use.

Indeed the pattern mirrors a wider trend highlighted in a recent study by Ampere, who reported a decline in the volume of young people who think that “social media is important to me”. We are now starting to see the start in a generational split in embracing social media: As some young people start to reject social media, older generations increasingly embrace it. Among the 45-plus age bracket, the proportion who value social media has increased from 23% to 28% in the past year, according to Ampere’s data.

Transforming Social Customer Care and Interaction: Petra Wolsey, The Beannchor Group

As one of the Northern Ireland’s stellar business success stories, The Beannchor Group has gone from strength to strength reporting a year on year  profit increase of 24%.

Petra Wolsey, Group Marketing Director, gave delegates a unique insight into the role of social media in the marketing mix across the Group which includes The Merchant Hotel, Bullitt Hotel and The National brands.


Prosecco Merchant

The overall objective for utilising social media is to turn customers into a volunteer marketing army by being engaging and influential. Petra Wolsey shared several insights into how they use social media including:

  • Audience targeting via Facebook Advertising
  • Stronger focus on quality video content – especially for launching events and brand promotion
  • Injecting a two-way dialogue on social media marketing – mirroring the experience customers get face-to-face
  • Tone of Voice: Using a good tone of voice to humanise the brand voice and facilitate natural conversations.
  • Humour: Injecting humour into content – illustrated by their #ChickenAmnesty
  • Meaningful Competitions: Developing and promoting competitions that reflect the key strengths of the brand – such as the ‘Kip for a Quid’ and ‘Decade of Decadence’.
  • Social Customer Care: Implementing a ‘Listen, Appreciate and Resolve’.

Social Media for South Eastern Health Social Care Trust – Jeanie Johnston

Social media allows health and care organisations to reach, connect and engage with citizens and stakeholders. In recent years social has become a highly important tool in providing more transparent communications and for also challenging misinformation.

Jeanie Johnstone and Katie English outlined how the Trust uses social media to connect with the public and with patients in a way that reflects their overall communications objectives:

  • Promoting Key Messages: A strong reliance on creating human-centred stories about the impact and benefits of new investments, equipment and initiatives
  • Managing Crisis Communications: Updates on serious incidents – with a strong focus on providing advice on busy A+E units
  • Change Negative Perceptions: Posting content highlighting highly positive thank-you notes from grateful relatives.
  • Send Positive Messages to Staff: The Trust also utilises social media to help improve staff relations featuring ‘thank you’ posts and celebrating staff achievements

Use of Video for Story-Telling: Wide mix of content covering –

  • Advice from consultants and staff
  • Staff awards and recognition
  • A Year in Review
  • Smoke free patient videos – ‘Proud to be a Quitter’ stories
  • Care Karaoke: featuring a Hospital Consultant and former smokers


Social Media for South Eastern Health Social Care Trust


Effective blogging – Connecting Brands and Influencers: Sinéad Carroll

Social media networks and self-publishing technology have given people across the globe the opportunity to build up valuable communities.

The Internet and social media revolution has spawned a new breed of media power – the rise of the Social Media influencer – bloggers  who have tapped into the power and reach across You Tube and social media by building meaningful communities and posting great content. And there’s also a growing trends also growing number of local Irish bloggers and online influencers who are impacting on the reputation of local businesses.


Fashion Chair Ireland


To capitalise on the trends, marketers have sought to work with relevant bloggers who have a potentially positive impact on their brand. Sinéad Carroll, Founder of The Irish Blogger Agency connects popular brands and various top influencers and has built up a clientele,

1,000+ bloggers, influencers, and Youtubers from all over Ireland.

Sinead set out six key pieces of advice on building relationships with influencers:

  • Finding the Right Influencers: Businesses can search for influencers through the Irish Blogger Agency database across market, reach, category
  • Getting on the Influencers Radar: Getting them to notice you before you ask for something! By following relevant influencers on social media and engaging and interacting with them on social media.
  • Connecting with an Influencer: Define what you offer an influencer – exclusive trials, new products and be clear about the expectations on what you will receive in return (e.g content shares)
  • Reaching Out: Create campaigns and connect with influencers
  • Inviting Influencers to Collaborate.
  • Inviting bloggers to collaborate on campaigns
  • Revisit and Repeat: Continue to share and interact with the bloggers content. Also show gratitude in the form of private messages and public posts.