Social Media Day double-header. What we learnt

By Anna Doyle
29 Jun 2018

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The 28th June saw BIMA Scotland’s double celebration of World Social Media Day across Edinburgh and Glasgow. With breakfast in Edinburgh and after work drinks in Glasgow we had two varied and very different panel of experts to listen to – from teacakes in space to Mary Shelley as a teenager the talks were full of surprises.


What I was not expecting to learn more about on my journey to enhanced Social Media enlightenment in Edinburgh, was:

– How effective Deadpool is at flogging the latest in bathroom porcelain

– People will watch anything, including a teacake in space

– You mustn’t forget to mention the lubricated fences painted purple

– 46 year flight stopovers can lead to beautiful relationships and = great customer service

– A cute baby lamb that looks a bit like a dog can send your following through the roof.

But when explained all make perfect sense…

Deadpool might sell me my next bathroom

Emily Phuddephat of Stripe Communications was first up discussing paid social and opened by putting into context the huge challenge of getting your voice heard. To achieve this she has three rules for success:

– Surprise people but be relevant. The example used was an advert with Deadpool promoting a bathroom company. Both things or interest to Emily but perhaps not normally considered together

– Be fashionably late. You don’t need to rush to be first when you can learn from others’ valuable lessons

– Innovate behind the scenes. Preparation, research and detail are required to get it right

I am going to lubricate my fence but I promise to tell you

Next up Beth Bolt of Whitespace who was addressing issue management on social. Beth was looking at this from two angles:

– How to mitigate risk

– How to deal with issues as they arise

Beth used case studies from various events including multi-location festivals, swanky awards programmes and huge music events. In each case Beth delivered strong messages around planning, the human factor and how to finely tune your physical world event planning with your social media strategy. She has a five-step success plan:

– Plan

– Be transparent (we are using anti climb paint – don’t try and sneak in)

– Know when an issue becomes a crisis

– Invest in training

– Have fun

A year long relationship from a 46 year flight stop over

Jen of Skyscanner had a very clear message promoting the human behind the content, that automated responses and scripted answers do not cut the mustard with your clients and community. A noted error stating a 46 year flight connection when answered with warmth and humour created a stronger customer bond and went viral. Jens success list includes:

– Stop automating everything

– Death to macros

– Own your own screw ups

– Be human and talk to people and have fun

The lamb that launched 000s of followers

Lesley of Visit Scotland shared her journey on making a great success from user generated content (UGC) with a stated aim of turning explorers into advocates. Focussing on hashtags by following a strategy of: seeking permission to repost; monitoring daily; and engaging with posts, they increased followers from 25k to 99K in one year. In the subsequent 6 months following reached 205k. Monumental growth. Lesley’s assertion was Instagram, travel and UGC make perfect bed fellows. She also explained what she has learnt about why people like to share:

– Discovery

– Status

– Fun

– Urban gems

– Wellness

She also noted that along with cute animals, images of doors, for some reason (unknown but definitely true) are very successful in the travel space.

Teacakes in Space

Last up was Jordan Laird of Studio Something. Continuing on Lesley’s observation of some unexplained human behaviours, Jordan observed “people will watch anything”. Jordan shared with us Studio Something’s experiences of working with Facebook Live, which they have found hugely successful, so he generously gave out a few tips.

He used examples of the teacake in space vs Innis and Gunn glasses up for grab in a back of van. The big learn from the Innis and Gunn was the stunt lasted only 23 minutes (vs 3 hour orbit of the teacake). So while it attracted great interest the viewing time was not long enough so factor this into your plans. Resonating with his fellow panel members Jordan reiterated the importance of meticulous preparation and authenticity but expounded the virtues of Facebook Live as: easy; cheap; terrifying; fun and interactive… but be authentic and honest! Get the long read here

And that was a wrap for the morning session. A huge thank you to our hosts Whitespace in their amazing event space, to our panel of entertaining and informative speakers, Iain Valentine, our expert moderator, and for everyone supporting the event – it was a fantastic turnout. Next onto Glasgow for part two….


We set up in the beautiful offices of Front Page in the iconic Templeton Building overlooking Glasgow Green. With sun streaming through the windows and Mediterranean temperatures the Front Page team were prepared with buckets of ice cold beer and ice lollies in abundance. We did wonder if we would lose everyone to the beer gardens so we were very impressed with another excellent turnout, and they were not disappointed by yet another great line up of speakers.

Again there were many surprises on the way and some pretty huge social commentary that came out of the observations and discussions.

How social media is going to save the planet

First up, Tala Byrne of the Beauty Kitchen who’s opening statement was “I am going to show you how social media will save the planet”. Tala invoked brilliant examples of Blue Planet and the ensuing “war on plastic” and an old Greenpeace campaign that changed behaviours at Nestle. Much of what Tala said echoed the call of authenticity and honesty we heard throughout the morning. People know fake when they see it. She explained the social media journey that occurs when they big issues shared:

1. Shock and outrage

2. Education, what can I do

3. Public rallying

4. Creating change

Tala went on to explain the five key issues that enables social media to be used as a tool for moving forward with the sustainability issue: globalisation; peer pressure; breadth of opinion; grass roots and education. Finally, she advised when rallying support through social media you need: stats; advice and reason why.

Growing a community organically

Next up Martin Boath of Front Page used examples of new communities members of Front Page have set up to scratch professional itches and through a series of small steps have created growing momentum to meet the community need but also benefited the company.

Martin and some of the Front Page team set up Poster Project to allow them a creative outlet in their spare time but also to counter the problem of white page syndrome. The project: pick a random word out the dictionary and make a poster of it. Where Martin’s story varied from others was because this was a side project for fun it was a trial and error and process – light touch. No need for deep prep, let’s put it out there and see what happens. Where his story totally aligns with everyone else takes us back to authenticity.

Laura has also launched Jot which is a new community for creative writers, digital or otherwise, and like the Poster Project is growing at a fast past and gathering interest. It is a single, simple community idea – easy to identify with, understand and get passionately involved.

And the payback for Front Page? Martin has noticed how support of such creative projects has had a positive impact on recruitment and also supporting the team in the day to day tasks.

Bringing Mary Shelley to the teenagers of Dundee and beyond

Ashley Smith Hammond of Culture Republic and Sandy Thomson of Poorboy Theatre addressed some of the challenges the art sector has reaching their audiences and how social media can play a crucial part. As Sandy stated “you really want to have to tell a story to be on social media”.

Ashley raised a common problem of the “workmanlike” messaging which fails to carry the voice of the art project to its audience and can simply become a message to buy tickets. This fails to engage.

Ashley handed over to Sandy to talk how the authentic voice of the art project needs to pervade the social media around it. To explain Sandy referred to a theatre project in Dundee “Monstrous Bodies” exploring the teenage years of Mary Shelley in Dundee where she developed her writing skills. Sandy described it as a massive show and a shite business model (typically short theatre runs in Scotland creates budgeting challenges for ambitious staging projects).

Sandy needed to make sure the project spread across social media to reach the teenage audience she wanted (rep theatre typically attracts middle age middle class folk). To do this she carried out a huge amount of research and she also engaged young people to be her voice and advocate. She even brought social media into the show, observing no teenager is going to spend 150 minutes in a theatre without being on their phone so they are going to do that then they might as well be talking about the show. The aim: bring the audience right into the story, make them complicit and don’t be afraid to experiment.

A knife wielding Peppa Pig – really?

The session closed with a deeply thought-provoking talk from Dave Howard of BBC Own It. Dave was at pains to emphasise he is not against social media but put out a request for content producers to think of the reach of their work and how appropriate is it. BBC Own It is a relatively new project to help children (main focus 9-12 years old) be able to navigate the online world and the physical realities. It is also a heads up for adults to understand what our children are dealing with on a day to day basis. Dave quotes “the internet was never meant for children” but one third internet users are under 18. Check it out HERE

And don’t think you can assume that because you have firewalls in place your children are kept from this, a murderous Peppa Pig made it onto children’s viewing and the pervasive nature of social media means we need to ensure our children can navigate it safely and with emotional strength.

Pointing to the attention economy Dave argues that highest paid psychologists in Silicon Valley are focussed on how to occupy our attention and monetise it. Where is the equivalent resource to ensure our emotional and mental health. Dave closes with a question to the audience: what can you do to imbed child safety at the outset of the design process of anything you create online?

Thank you to Laura Thomson of Front Page expertly moderately the session and not letting the heat impact her cool. Thank you to our hosts Front Page and our incredibly diverse and thought provoking panel of speakers.


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