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Social Media Dublin 2019: Key Insights


The biggest ever Social Media Dublin Conference – with 300 attendees – was held at the Radisson Hotel on 1 February ’19, featuring speakers from Twitter, the GAA, An Garda Síochána and You Tube.

Twelve expert speakers set out their top tips, strategic advice and case studies of successful social media campaigns. In the following blog I’ve reviewed some of the key insights:

SM Dublin Speakers Main


Social Media Trends in 2019 –  Paul McGarrity, Octave Digital

Multiple Threats for Social Networks

Multiple elements forged together to create a perfect storm for Social Media networks in 2018. For many years there’s been deep-seated concerns about social media activity and its impact on young people, democracy and society in general, however last year witnessed a raft of negative stories hitting the very top of the headlines.

Social Media networks have become a victims of their own success. As they grew to be so influential, they’re now key battlegrounds for businesses, populist movements and national governments. Social media companies, in particular Facebook, are now the target of Governments who are no longer prepared to sit idly by as multinational networks face accusations over fake news and exploitation by hostile foreign powers.

2019 will be a pivotal year for Social Media networks as they battle against the very significant threat of a much more hostile environment by Governments and regulators in the US, UK and Europe. This year , they’ll also be trying to fend off the risk of being classified as publishers, which would act as a hugely damaging distraction from their core activity.

Emerging Networks – TikTok

2018 witnessed the explosion in the popularity of TikTok, a social media app that’s rapidly gaining popularity with teenagers across the globe. In fact, TikTok was the top downloaded app in the United States last year – with 80 million downloads.

So what is TikTok? Basically, it’s a social media video app that allows users to record and publish short video clips complete with lots of special effects, filters and stickers they can use to enhance their videos. It’s similar to the Vine app and there’s a familiar environment based around humour and fun. It’s also got a strong emphasis on challenges, with one of the most popular activities being light-hearted content based around miming songs and contests. Find out more about how it works:

TikTok is likely to be on the radar of major brands that are focussed on engaging with teens and younger people. It’s not hard to guess where the clever marketing strategy will gravitate to : User-Generated Content based on fun scenarios and challenges!

Impact of Instagram Stories

Stories are now integral to the growth of Instagram with 400 million people using Stories daily. They allow Instagram users to upload content in the form of photo montages or videos, that disappear within 24 hours of being posted. For marketers, Stories are no longer a novelty and open up a new way to creatively engage and raise brand visibility.

2018 witnessed a lot more activity from brands utilising Instagram Stories with Airbnb highly active in in developing content around real authentic stories based on people across their user network.


Importance of Social Media Customer Service

There’s no doubt that Social Media is impacting more on customer service operations with consumer expectations on customer service rising year on year. 63% of people expect companies to offer customer service on social media. However, most organisations are much too focussed on using social media for promotion and marketing and not enough on customer care. Expect 2019 to see much more innovative use of social media – including social media messaging and artificial intelligence – for customer service.


Safe Communities Through Social Media, Andrew McLindon – Director of Communications, An Garda Síochána

An Garda Síochána has gained a very positive reputation and numerous awards for its use of social media. Having gained the biggest social media following in the Irish public sector they stand out as a best-in-class example of how Irish organisations can use Social Media effectively.

Andrew outlinined the importance of Social Media to An Garda Síochána – helping them to build a supportive community, quickly dispel myths and rumours and instant delivery of vital information to a wide audience.


Audience Growth:

Audience growth remains a key objective and they have invested heavily in growing their audience which significantly improves its ability to rapidly communicate emergency news. Across its wide network including central accounts and divisions across the country, they have built a combined audience of 862,000 social media followers and have grown their follower numbers by 6% since July ’18.

Key Elements of Implementing the Strategy:

Andrew stressed the importance of strategic planning and highlighted how the Garda focus on a combination of engagement, humour and serious public safety messages. The national Garda accounts have gained a coveted reputation for their use of humour and there’s no doubt their skills have led to increased popularity and engagement. Of course, humour is only one part of their content strategy. An Garda Síochána invest in a number of hard-hitting PR and Social Media campaigns each year including their Road Safety Christmas Campaign.

Road Safety Christmas Campaign:

Each year, around 150 people die on Irish roads as a result of road collisions, with drink driving remaining a major cause of many fatalities and injuries.  To demonstrate their role in protecting the public and deterring drink driving at Christmas, the Garda invest heavily in their Road Safety Christmas Campaign to:

  • Inform the public about the serious dangers of driving when intoxicated
  • Reassure the public that the Garda are conducting checkpoints and patrols
  • Appeal for people to ‘keep their loved ones safe, by keeping the roads safe’.


Strategic Advice:

Finally Andrew set out a number of highly valuable insights on managing social media strategically, advising that:

  • Communications without strategic intent will not deliver results and creates risks
  • Social media success is not built on luck or one viral video – built on consistent investment and engagement in delivering a service that engages and informs your customers.
  • Critical to have organisational buy-in and commitment – from top down and bottom up


Connecting Brands and Influencers: Sinéad Carroll

Online Influencers continue to hit the marketing headlines again in 2019, as marketing agencies struggle with how to separate fake influencers from genuine social media influencers who can be beneficial for brands.

For thousands of years, businesses have been trying to gain popularity by being associated with high-status people who can positively promote their brands – from football celebrities such as George Best and fashion icons like Kate Moss. Social media networks and self-publishing technology have given people across the globe the opportunity to attract influencer and star appeal. So it’s not surprising why marketers have become very focussed on partnering with prominent social media influencers and bloggers to gain exposure for their brand and products.

Sinéad Carroll, Founder of The Irish Blogger Agency connects popular brands and various top influencers and has built up a clientele of  1,000+ bloggers, influencers, and Youtubers from all over the country. For Sinead, influencer marketing means “hunting out people who are seen as influencers in social media and online and working with them to share content relating to your product or service”.

At Social Media Dublin, Sinead set out her advice on building relationships with influencers, including:

  • Finding the Right Influencers: Businesses can search for influencers through the Irish Blogger Agency database across market, reach, category
  • 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)

Sinead maintains that Influencer Marketing is no different from any other type of marketing – it is only of value if you can demonstrate that is produces an acceptable return on investment (ROI), and offered advice on measure ROI from Influencer Marketing:

What are your goals? i.e. Increase Sales, Grow your email address database, increase your subscribers, Increase your followers.

How to Measurement will depend on your goals and include the following: 1. Audience Reach  2. Impressions 3. Engagement (Comments, Likes, Shares). 4. High-Quality Content  5. Conversions  Tips for measurement of conversion: – Use trackable links – Use conversion pixels  – Provide promo codes  .

Paul McGarrity, Director – Octave Digital