Do you need help with your social media?

USING SOCIAL MEDIA is a hygiene factor for companies nowadays – an affordable and effective way to communicate with your brand ambassadors, customers and stakeholders. All these different channels are revolutionising how you can interact with, inform, help and and learn from your customers, an amazing tool for rewarding advocates and placating whingers.

In Ireland alone, we are massive users of social media and it is a missed opportunity for any company not to be present and interacting with their consumers.  Did you know that we are the fourth heaviest users of Facebook in the world (the heaviest in the English speaking world) and Snapchat has the most penetration in Ireland?  You only have to listen to the call to action on radio ads – you are no longer being sent to the website (a static non-interactive forum) but to their Facebook page.

No company is too small to have a presence on social media; whether it’s to help boost your search engine rankings, act as a customer service tool, learn what your customers want, engage a new target audience, or simply to have an online presence. But the thought of entering into this ever-changing, massively expanding world is daunting: Which sites should my business be on? How can I find the time to keep them up to date? What should I say? It is much more manageable than you think.  With my help you can soon be totally immersed in this world, and wondering why you didn’t do this sooner.

So if you are in need of help with setting yourselves up in the most strategically effective, cost and time efficient way on social media, let’s talk.

WHAT I CAN do for your brand is:

  • Analyse your company structure and business objectives and work up an affordable, hard-working communications and social media strategy
  • Recommend the right media for your business (effective channel strategy)
  • Advise what to say on them and when (distinctive communications and content strategy, tone of voice, conversation calendar)
  • Select the right people within your company who will be responsible for maintaining and monitoring the sites and provide them with the training they need to work as efficiently as possible. I can help you with monitoring the sites, interacting with your followers and find appropriate and engaging content for the sites for the first couple of months until you find your feet.
  • OR I can provide content and do all the work for you – handing in a KPI report to an agreed schedule.

I ALSO WORK ON A CONSULTANCY BASIS WITH AGENCIES, so if your agency needs a dig out during busy campaign periods, help with strategic pitch work, or want to have a chat about how best to set up a social media function in-house, please give me a shout.

I CAN PROVIDE TRAINING AND WORKSHOPS if your team needs to be more conversant about social media. I create bespoke sessions that get them familiar with the business tools – how the different channels are operated, how they can be used effectively with best-in-class case studies. Some of the training sessions I’ve done include:

  • Brand strategy – creating a tone of voice, channel and conversation strategies for your social media
  • Online PR – how to manage your brand’s reputation, and what to do in a crisis
  • Personal brand – how to build your own online presence and reputation
  • Facebook and Twitter for Businesses
  • Snapchat – talking to Millenials
  • Getting the most out of LinkedIn
  • Content is King – how to create and manage engaging and strategic content
  • Everything you wanted to know about Social Media but were too shy to ask (an overview!)

BUILDING PERSONAL BRANDS is also something I’ve helped Clients with.  Due to the confidentiality of this area, I haven’t included this in my CLIENTS page.  This can include reputation management, increasing your online presence through social media and getting you an impressive personal KLOUT score or just teaching you the basics in a very informal and flexible way (lunch hour or after work…).

Influencer outreach vs Creativity and relevance

I was asked to write about something I was excited by this year in social media for someone’s blog. Rudely they never followed up so I thought I’d pop it up here.

Something I was tickled by this year and something I’d like to get more involved in / see more of was a lovely piece of work by Target McConnells for Safefood with Viper Higgins an “investigative journalist” who has a well-earned, substantial following on social. The end film encouraging people not to undercook burgers is probably the best piece of influencer/brand partnership I’ve seen. Viper’s tone and style of humour seem untouched; it certainly feels like he had total creative control of the film. This is what made it so shareable and engaging and talked about. Even in the most cynical places… other ad agencies.

It was a lovely counterbalance to this current culture of Influencer Marketing. One where we see a lot of brands paying someone with a big following to promote their product, no matter how relevant or talented they are, and with seemingly no restrictions on which products they’ve already promoted that same week. There’s no craft, no real added brand value – just blatant promotion often without any indication that it’s an #ad. It just rankles with me. They are the modern-day equivalent of the girls in the daisy dukes and bikini tops promoting car sales. I hope the future will see more and more creators/creatives become Influencers. Or more Influencers become more creative and engaging when they promote products.

Social media isn’t just about reach, it should also engage the audience and add value to the reader’s day in some way. And if brands are just happily lazily paying an “influencer” or doing some slipshod media partnership it will turn people off social media and we’ll all be losers then. Let’s reward the Vipers of this world and create meaningful, memorable, shareable work!

Irish Social Media Statistics

It can be hard to find credible, consistent stats for social media in Ireland.

IPSOS MRBI are a great resource that I use a lot. They’ve been doing this for a few years now so their figures give us good insights into which platforms are going from strength to strength and worth continued investment.

I use a lot of stats from the UK and the US as well to help me. That’s really just as a guide as they’d be somewhat ahead of Ireland, also we can have some pretty quirky, unique stats … because we’re Irish. We have the highest penetration rate for Snapchat in the world and the most usage of Facebook in the English spoken world.

We Are Social Singapore produce a monster piece of research every quarter which really helps with International clients.


B(r)andwagon Jumping

I really like the quick turn-around Penguin had with this reaction to the John Lewis Christmas ad. Quite a brave cross brand marketing move.  #MontyThePenguin

And of course the other obvious participant is McVitie’s Penguin; they had this witty response

penguin, mcvities, montythepenguin


3UK whipped up this tweet (they would have got more exposure if they’d thought of using the hashtag #RookieError3

How universities use social media

social media, consultant, marketing, facebook, twitter, PR, online reputation, advertising, ATL, digital footprint, Social media ROI, brands, university, universities


Universities are really getting a great deal out of social media.  It gives them a cost-effective and efficient way to promote their faculties and courses to potential students, publish content and to keep their under-grads informed of what’s going on.  Twitter and Facebook tend to be the most useful.  To give you an idea of how much this has caught on in the States, here’s a mind-blowing directory of John Hopkins University’s social media channels.  Nottingham Trent University win Facebook as far as I can see with a stand-up page that helps students with a virtual tour, an accommodation search engine and a course search engine.  It’s all practical useful information and hosted in one convenient place.

In terms of talking to potential students it’s pretty crucial since a lot of research prior to selection is done online.  Especially for talking to foreign students.  If they can’t attend the open day, for example, there are a host of ways the institutions can introduce themselves using social media.

Virsocial media, consultant, marketing, facebook, twitter, PR, online reputation, advertising, ATL, digital footprint, Social media ROI, brands, university, universitiestual open days are now quite common place allowing students to look around and ask questions without having to travel.   Yale, as you can imagine, also has a top notch social media presence.  Their Facebook page has a state-of-the-art Virtual Tour hosted by two of their students.

A lot of students do their research into their prospective colleges online, and it can be a concern as to what they hear and if it’s accurate.  Whilst it’s hardly feasible to attempt to obliterate any negative or false online information about your college or course, you can do your best to have some level of input.

Try hosting a forum, either on your website or through a group on LinkedIn,  so you can get an idea of the kind of questions being asked.  A Facebook Q and A session could work well at peak times, if promoted and announced in advance so it gets enough traction.  Hosting Google Hangouts with recent grads or current students to answer questions is a great way for you to allow students to hear straight from the horses’ mouth.  These hangouts can then be posted on your YouTube channel for future reference.

It’s also worthwhile to listen to the conversations online and be available to pitch in answers, and also get insights into what topics are trending.  In Ireland, for example a lot of students ask questions on so it would be worthwhile having a profile on there so you can answer them accurately.  Google Alerts and Twitter search are also good ways to listen out for questions.

All of this can help inform your marketing strategy.  For example one pitch I worked on, the main questions popping up time and time again were concerning misinformation students had about a financial aspect of the course.  In another project I worked on, they weren’t convinced about the location.  These are topics that you can then address in future communications.

Whilst Facebook can offer fantastic functions through its apps and a great visual way for a university to promote itself, Twitter is also a very useful communication channel.  It can serve multiple purposes – from answering student enquiries, to reporting on sports and cultural events, to having conversations with stakeholders and announcing changes to courses etc.   Butler University are a great example of Twitter Best Practice.  They used to talk through their mascot Butler Blue but shut that down last year for some reason.  Shame, I thought it was cool, gave the page an edge and some personality.

social media, consultant, marketing, facebook, twitter, PR, online reputation, advertising, ATL, digital footprint, Social media ROI, brands, university, universities

LinkedIn is another incredibly important channel for universities.  It’s a good way for them to promote their past alumni and to strengthen their credentials.  Yale have a very slick page.  LinkedIn sees the future in the younger audience and have gone as far as reducing the age of access to 13.  Yes, that’s right 13.  The mind boggles.  It’s a natural fit if you think about it, allowing students to start networking and promoting their “personal brand” from an early stage.

YouTube is obviously a channel than any university’s target audience would frequent.  UCL have a bespoke channel on YouTube for prospective students.  UCD also have a Meet our Students channel.  Some universities and colleges actually host lectures on their YouTube page to give a taste of their product, as it were.  You could lose a month of your life browsing through the content on the Harvard YouTube channel.

What about Google+ I hear you cry?  (Not).  Insead in France actually use G+ very well with an excellent content strategy linking back to their blog.  G+ is a really great channel, visually and user-experience-wise.  And obviously pretty important for SEO.  But I just don’t see it catching on.  However, if you’re posting up content on your blog/Facebook, there’s no harm or huge effort in popping it up on a G+ page as well.

These are the main sites, obviously other ones are in use and I’ve included links through to show some examples – Instagram, Tumblr, Soundcloud, Flickr.   Also some bespoke educational sites too like  iTunes U which doesn’t seem to be faring too well as this article points out.


KLM – best in class

KLM have had some ups and downs with their social media efforts.  Certainly no one can blame them for not embracing social media, so you can forgive if their over-zealousness gets them in trouble sometimes…. Offensive World Cup tweet, their frankly creepy Surprise and potentially pervy Meet and Seat.

But they are dedicated and a fantastic example of Best Practise for customer service on social media.  Having really begun in earnest during the Ash Cloud disaster of 2010 – looking at their sites now will show you just how genuinely customer focussed they are.

Their Twitter account has their estimated response time updated every five minutes and clearly visible in their cover photo.

klm twit

Their Facebook page also has this function.  Not only does it have great content – travel tips, news and a timeline that goes back to their foundation (I love it when brands use the timeline properly),

klm fb

it has a host of apps that can be perused on their Social Journey page on Facebook.

You can … drumroll… book a flight on the page, which might seem obvious, but very few airlines have included this no-brainer function on their Facebook pages.  Another example of a genuinely useful function is the socially smart TripPlanner allowing fans to engage with friends and organise a group trip.

So whilst KLM may get a bit of stick about some of their less tactful activities – no can say they don’t pull out all the stops for their Followers and Fans.


Ground-breaking stuff from Honda here with this cool toggle technology (that’s the official technical name for it).  Well kind of ground-breaking… it was done before for this Bob Dylan video.


Nonetheless as  Apple would say, being first doesn’t necessarily mean  you’ve done the best job.  TV advertising is slowly becoming less and less effective and big brands are finding their target where they spend most of their viewing time.  Netflix Ireland boasts over 150,000 subscribers whereas 377,400 UPC users watch TV online (Eircom sentiment survey 2013) and 1 in 3 spend about the same time watching YouTube as TV every week (YouTube).

What does this mean for the future of TV or should I say AV advertising?

Well luckily for the consumer marketers will have to be more creative and make content that people chose to watch, and hopefully share.  Last year Volvo Trucks won with the Epic Split stunt.  But that’s a really enormous production,  the result of a genius ad agency and a very brave client.  It’s not going to provide anyone with a formula for success on YouTube…

I reckon the answer is that advertising is going to become more bespoke – so for YouTube you create specific advertising that targets your audience precisely and engages them in a memorable and entertaining way.  And not in an aggressive hostage manner….

If you’re obliging people to watch your ads as prerolls, let’s face it you have your work cut out for you to maintain engagement 94% of people choose to skip the ad. (Niall Communications).


Burger King who have a great track record on Social created bespoke preroll ads poking fun at the annoyance that they cause and incorporating it into the creative idea.

Mashable do a great list every month of the most shared ads on YouTube – here’s September’s.

Heinz meanz biznezz

Heinz (and We are Social) are my social media heroes.  They come up with really sound, hard-working insights that seem so simple but work so well.  My favourite campaign of theirs is the Get Well Soup idea – send a personalised can of soup to  with a sick friend good tidings! DOne via Facebook it was financially savvy too.  They’ve also done a sweet grow your own tomatoes campaign and reward their loyal fans with exclusive offers such as when they allowed Facebook Fans to get their hands on a limited edition balsamic ketchup first.

No such thing as a free lunch

Mashable published this article today outlining what has been the topic of conversation for the past few months – the free Facebook lunch is over.

This will be much better for the site as a whole.  In general the quality of content on Facebook could definitely be improved.  It could be more strategic and harder working for brands.  More relevant and “on brand” – less of the generic “Hit Like if you are happy it’s Friday” posts. More valuable and rewarding to the fans and just more considered overall.  In my experience the amount of time a marketing manager will spend making sure that the artwork for a press ad is perfect, or the edit of a TV ad is bang on, is in direct proportion to the amount of money it is costing.

So maybe if Facebook requires an investment, more time will be invested in creating a better page and Facebook will keep going from strength to strength.