Social Media Week Bristol 2019 – Our Top 10 Take-Aways

This week our digital team attended a ton of events for Social Media Week Bristol, enriching their knowledge of an ever-changing and challenging digital world. We’ve put together our top 10 take-aways from this year’s event and how you can use them to develop and grow your social media strategy for the year ahead…

Stories – they’re a big deal

If you use Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook then you already know what a story is (for those of you who don’t it’s a short video clip or image which appears on your profile for 24 hours before it disappears unless you choose to highlight it). Although Snapchat was the first to experiment with this format of posting, Instagram and Facebook have taken it to a whole new level with features such as polls, music, location tagging, countdowns, gifs and more. Instagram stories now have over 500 million daily active users* compared to Snapchats 190 million, and they’re only set to get bigger.

Is Tik Tok the next big platform?

Tik Tok, previously Musical.ly, uses stories to create a platform which revolves around people miming to a song and creating a 3 to 15 second clip. A key prediction from this year’s SMW Bristol was that Tik Tok is the next shiny new platform that we’re all going to be using very soon. After checking it out for ourselves, we’re not convinced this is the case. It appears to be an app used mostly by 13-year-olds singing in their bedrooms but, if your target audience is the under 16, then it could be useful. However, I do think that the app says a lot about how the media we consume on social media will change in the coming years. Quick videos (videos being favoured by nearly every social network algorithm) under 20 seconds will be key in capturing your audience’s attention, paired with an easy way to interact with the post and linking it through to juicier content. Tik Tok may not be the next big social media app but it's a sign of things to come.

Authenticity and being human

Nobody likes to feel like they’re talking to a soulless corporation or robot, so keep your social media channels human because, after all, they are run by humans, but your audience may not see that when visiting your profile. A glance “behind the scenes” or posts that show the reality are far more likely to develop trust in your audience rather than a super-polished but unattainable image. When dealing with B2B remember you’re selling your brand, your people, your ethos and your expertise, not just a product or service.

Answer your customers FAQs

What are my customers even searching for? How do you find out? A great way to understand what your audience wants is to look at what your current customers are asking you. Is there a question that your business gets asked frequently? Use it for your social media channels and tell your audience how you can solve this problem for them. If you need help finding your FAQs look in your outbox and scan through to find what questions you get asked. Make it clear on your social media channels how you can provide a solution to their problem and why they should use you.

The 50+ audience is not to be ignored

The largest growth in Facebook users in 2018 was people aged 55 and over**. It’s time to stop ignoring them and grouping everyone over 50 together. Someone who is 50 will not have the same lifestyle, nostalgia or taste as someone in their 80s and marketers need to take more care in differentiating between generations. When using nostalgia, people are most likely to be think about something from their early 20s rather than their childhoods and when reflecting the audience back to them, you should consider how old they perceive themselves to be rather than what you think a 50, 60, 70-year-old looks and acts like in your mind. Being empathic and realistic is key to winning over an older audience and with more 50 plus people joining social media platforms every day, you need to adjust your perspective of what an older audience reacts to make sure they are not ignored in your marketing plans.

People buy from people

People and connections have always been important in business but how are you optimising your social media for that? Your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t just be an online CV but a way of saying how you and your company can solve a problem and that you know your stuff. Personal profiles almost become brand ambassador pages for your company, keeping it human and building trust with your audience. It’s easy to overlook your own profile if you’re spending most of your time on your company’s page but take time to make sure it’s up to date and remember to share your company’s content!

Crisis management and having a plan

Social media can be fantastic for your business, helping you to build relationships, make sales and increase brand awareness, but what happens when it all goes wrong? A business blunder or a bit of negative press can quickly turn into a disaster and seriously impact your company’s brand image. Having a crisis plan in place and rehearsing it can make all the difference when things hit the fan and can help you reduce the damage.

It is important to anticipate what might happen, prepare statements and practice your crisis plan. Put procedures and policies in place to prevent a crisis from happening and if something does go wrong, find the cure. Communicate with staff on all levels so everyone is on the same page, don’t be afraid to pause all social media posts for the moment, be human and don’t over respond. 

Social media policy

Social media has been around in some form for nearly two decades now, but many companies are still just winging it or not putting a lot of thought into what gets posted. A website might be your shop, but your social media channels are your shop window and if the window display is dreadful, they won’t want to step inside at all. Make sure you build a social media policy that covers subjects such as tone of voice, if and when to use emojis, what your policies are for posting online etc.

Grabbing Attention and Giving it Meaning

With everybody and their dog posting frequently every day, how do you rise above the rest and capture your audience's attention? Posting content that is sexy, beautiful, funny, disgusting, relatable or interactive/moving are quick wins to grab attention, two or more of these will make a post a winner. It’s also important to remember what your audience is getting from your content, is it trying to make them feel something? Learn? Cause conflict? Make sure you give your content meaning and a clear call to action.

Get Emotional with your Storytelling

Whether we realise it or not, we are always telling stories. To tell a story you might change or emphasise certain details to different audiences, but what stays the same is what you want from them in the form of emotional reaction. The same can be said for online video which is growing in popularity every year by audiences and the social platforms’ algorithms. Connecting with your audience on an emotional level will be far more effective (and have longer watch times) than something in your face and obviously sales focused. People will be invested in your brand and become loyal followers of your channel if you’ve got a good story to tell that resonates with them long after the video has finished.


Massive thank you to Social Media Week Bristol and all their sponsors, partners, hosts, and venues for putting on a fantastic week of learning and insights. We’ll see you all again for another amazing week in 2020!


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