by Rachel Kavanagh

Video storytelling, Gen Y malaise, authentic influence, social listening and the joining of social media dots for investigative journalism, were all key themes in an entertaining mix of eclectic content.

#SocialMediaLive Dublin was a festival in one day of business, brands, social influencers, news and technology. Celebrities included millionaire YouTuber Alfie Deyes, author of the PointlessBlog and David Schneider, the comedian-actor-director-turned-entrepreneur-tweeter. The event aimed “to uncover exploding tensions that lie within audience behaviours, how we use social media and shape what’s coming next” and I feel it delivered on most of that.

Here are my seven top takeaways from a stimulating day.

1. “When you don’t care about the followers you make better content.” Alfie Deyes, YouTuber

Jess Kelly from Newstalk interviewed millionaire YouTuber Alfie Deyes, author of the PointlessBlog, which boasts over five million subscribers and growing. Protesting that he is just an ordinary guy, currently on hiatus from daily vlogging, Alfie tells us how it’s important to live your life first and then make videos. The day you’re getting up to make a video is the end of the authentic post. In fact he has gone so far as to flip traditional media publishing on its head by making material around his crew. He’s hired a team of people he likes to work with and whatever projects they embark upon will fit around their styles and personalities. It can range from familiar Pointlessblog media to property investment. Jess Kelly tried hard to glean some of his social secrets and finally asked him outright what he does to gain more followers. The answer wasn’t scientific. “Enjoy the videos you’re making” he said and “don’t make click bait”.


2. The world’s a stage and it’s moving to social media

More remarkable than anything he said, I was struck how the world is changing when a famous actor director, and acclaimed comedian, is not only completely enjoying the process but also making a living by extending his professional platform to include social media. David Schneider was the most entertaining, the most engaging and the most charismatic speaker of the day. Not only is he using social media, tweeting to his 355,000 followers every day about Brexit and other topics, but he has also just set up a creative agency called This Lot to lend his talents to the online otherworld. He wants to inspire better content in the world at large and he showed us some funny, clever and beautiful ads his team had made. We await more charisma and entertainment online; from David and his creative campaigns. Watch this space.


3. Attention is a muscle, the emerging story arc and measure deep engagement

Elaine Doyle from Google leads the YouTube business in Ireland. Elaine reminded us that YouTube get signals from all other Google channels and marketers can listen for preferences on email, text, and across all the apps customers are using. It’s crazy not to take advantage of this targeting ability, most especially in video, the fastest growing social medium which is replacing traditional TV for an increasing audience. Having grown up in B2B and having lived the hero’s journey in sales and marketing over and over again, I was intrigued by her slide on the emerging story arc. Attention is a muscle and it’s no longer enough to have one main plot to keep attention; at least not in video. The highest converting videos keep suspense across multiple storylines and to the very end. Results are measured as deep engagement. What implications does that have for our traditional sales funnel I wondered?

4. The New York Times uncovers the real story using social media visual evidence

You could hear a pin drop during Malachy Browne’s session as he showed us how his New York Times team is using social media for visual investigation. The team has been able to find documented evidence about some recent world atrocities, such as bombings in Syria and the shooting in Los Angeles, by piecing together individual pieces of local social media footage. The individual media can confirm key details like the location of weapons using minute details such as shadows and angles. It’s a news story of technical empowerment for those under attack both literally and figuratively. As our devices become more sophisticated and the media more tech savvy, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stop the real truth from emerging.


5. On the charm offensive, do your research right to delight your customers with social listening

Stephen O’Leary of Olytico brought us through the Seven Steps of Social Listening, each informative but the seventh was a highlight of my day. The seventh step is to anticipate what customers want by listening to their needs across all social channels. Stephen’s team had researched the live audience and brought the step to life by randomly selecting two unassuming candidates. He found them online from their public tweets about the event. Rugby tickets and craft beer vouchers were presented as surprise gifts on stage. They were shocked. And then charmed. He had researched their personal interests based on earlier posts, something Olytico does regularly to surprise its own customers. What a demo. What a simple and powerful message. I was educated.

6. The (maybe a little eerie) future of technology

Grad Conn is the CMO of Sprinklr and the former CMO of Microsoft. Sprinklr is a listening technology that caters for companies worth a billion dollars or more and Grad brought an interesting Enterprise B2B perspective to the event. I was most interested by a few of things he said pointing to a technology driven existence, which I felt were true, if a little unsettling.

“We live in a strangerless society.”

“The CMO should like technology or consider leaving Marketing”

“The biggest social platform? Gaming.”

“It’s a lot like the late 1990s when people were scared to put their credit card details online.” [Chatbots and AI]

On the technical panel later on chaired by Andy O’Donoghue Matt Navarra, Digital Marketing Consultant, added that “AI and voice need to have a personality”. That concept gave me chills as I thought about the future of personal branding.

7. 50% of Gen Z feels anxious on social media and they are more depressed than previous generations

In a panel facilitated by Donagh Humphreys, it was discussed how notoriously difficult it is to advertise to a millenial audience on social media. And so where are they hiding? Verena Paprik told the audience that 82% of sharing is now happening on dark social and this is where millenials or Gen Y feels more comfortable. Dark social is untrackable. It’s things like messaging. The new Gen Y trend is in fact a social detox as they want a break from the pressure. Another stat was that 50% of the Gen Z feel anxious on social media and they are more depressed than other generations. They are younger than Gen Ys, they have always had technology and 71% become distressed without their phones. 74% wish to spend less time online. Donagh concluded that marketers should concentrate on serving the audience and analysing the data without making assumptions. “Drill into the data before making broad assumptions like Gen Y is lazy” he said.

My own big conclusion, as I left the RDS, was that while we are heading at light speed back and forward into the future, I am likely to be spending more and more time on my phone. Millennials may very well be ahead of the curve with the desire for social detox. Thanks all for a great day in Dublin, I look forward to the lineup next year.

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