When I think back to my 20 year old self, what I did, where I went and who I spent time with, I am met with a distinct pattern of memories; vodka, peanut butter & home fries with cheese. You might be wondering where I am going with this and how this relates to a blogging and digital marketing conference. Don’t worry, all will become clear.
In 2006, (yes I am showing my age) I had just turned 20 and embarked on what would be and remain the best year of my life. I was lucky enough to be accepted onto the BEI program, which placed a Queens Belfast student into a US university for one academic year. There were about 100 of us placed, most of which met up regularly, travelling to Las Vegas, Miami, Cancun, Montreal, Orlando, New York and Chicago. It was this initiative that first introduced me to the world of business. I studied modules in economics, management and even fashion marketing.
I’d like to say that I was a model student and that I studied night and day, but that would be a big, fat lie. I took the opportunity given to me and I used it to have one, huge, long ass party. I travelled across 2 continents, taking in the sights and drinking down the booze. I’ve always been a driven, good little student, but that year was a pure blow out. I miraculously passed with a 3.9 GPA and came home with a lot of amazing memories, friendships that I made for life and also…a lip ring. The latter only lasted a year, but I still have the scar. Now when I look at it I can’t help but smile and remember what an absolutely nuts year that was and how I don’t regret a single moment of it.
As I mentioned, I have always had a drive to do well. I achieved good grades and I have a great career, but at 20 years of age, I was still figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I was living for the weekend and I was enjoying being young. The biggest thing I had to organise was my next trip across the country or my next sorority event, certainly not a conference for 300 people, with local and international speakers, a whole host of brand sponsors, catering and branding materials.
When Lucy from Only Just Media first reached out to see if I would be interested in attending this event, I thought it sounded interesting, but I had no idea who the speakers were or whether the content of the event would be any good. Excuse me for being sceptical, but Northern Ireland isn’t exactly known for its large scale digital marketing events, let alone an actual summit.
As the weeks went by, I couldn’t help but eagerly consume the stream of seriously good content on both the Only Just Media and Only Just Lucy instagram accounts. It was during a live video that I found out that Lucy, the brains behind the event, was actually only 20. Queue my feelings of inadequacy that I at age 32, have barely arranged a birthday party, let alone a blogger and business event, the first of its kind in NI.
My boss, Niamh Taylor from Digital24, purchased tickets for the team to attend, so I laid out my best professional, yet fashionable, outfit and teamed it with a clutch bag, personalised with my blog name (thee best birthday gift ever).
The event itself was hosted in the Titanic Hotel Belfast, a really stunning building and location for a cutting edge conference, attended by a plethora of local digital content creators. It was a full day event with speakers including the social media analyst for Gary Vaynerchuk, a few of the leading social influencers in NI, business entrepreneurs and of course, micro content expert Lucy.
Calvin Hamilton, calvins mind, social media analyst for Gary Vaynerchuk
This guy is an extremely passionate young individual with a love for content creation. He focused on influencer marketing and content repurposing. Here are a few top tips that I picked up from Calvin.
1. Always reply to every comment
This is about being a part of the community. How can you expect to grow your following and fanbase if you never interact! This is something that I am majorly guilty of. Being a natural introvert, I don’t really put myself out there. Going forward, I want to make a conscious effort to engage more with others and of course, engage with the people who have actually taken the time and effort to comment on my posts.
2. Repurpose your content
If you want tips on how to get the most out of your content, check out Gary Vaynerchuk’s channels. Calvin spoke about how you should create youtube videos that are 10 minutes or longer, as they will be more likely to show up in the suggested videos, with watch time being the key metric. Take that same 10 minute video, trim it down to a highlights reel thats 2-3 mins long and post it on facebook. Trim it down to 1 min or less and post on instagram. You can even create a blog post, putting the video content into written word, embedding the video within the piece and sharing a full narrative. That’s a lot of content from just one event, one concept, one idea.
You can download Gary Vee’s slidedeck on repurposing content here.
Gavan Wall, retail entrepreneur
A successful barrister turned retail entrepreneur, Gavan owns a number of Spar, Subway and YoggieBerrie store outlets, employing over 250 staff. His talk was fascinating, very much focused on the theory that if you can add value to people’s lives, you will see success.
This one hit home for me. For years, I’ve heard, find your niche or create something different and you will stand out. Yeah well that’s easier said than done. Social Media can be the hardest channel to understand. My most liked instagram image is an outfit post, in my eyes, not a particularly strong look nor a high quality image and yet for some reason it did well. Bizarrely, I can post an image that I think is aesthetically strong with a nice outfit or makeup look and yet it’ll receive meagre engagement. I don’t believe there is or will ever be a single analytics software tool out there that will really determine what makes a good piece of content, breaking down each element revealing the perfect recipe. You just have to keep producing what you believe to be good quality content, take what insights you can from it and always focus on the value that your content can have for others.
This gave me reasurrance that my decision to introduce new digital marketing content into my blog and social media channels is the right one. I want to share my journey to becoming a digital marketer, what I do in my day job and how any budding digital marketers can break into the industry. Stay tuned.
Louis Armstrong, photographer & content creator
A self taught photographer with an eye for composition. Louis talked enthusiastically about his passion for social media and his love for producing good quality content. I think we all secretly hope that he organises a workshop, so that he can share some of his skillful, photo editing techniques.
1. Lightroom presets
Lightroom is a popular piece of editing software for creating beautiful, consistent instagram themes. I normally use adobe photoshop and facetune for quick brightening, smoothing and blurring. I’ve yet to try Lightroom, but I’ve heard great things about the presets available, which majorly cut down on image editing time and effort.
2. Put your friends to work
Louis shared the importance of putting your friends in your shoes and asking them to pose whilst you take pictures. By positioning them in front of the camera, you can effectively show them how you want the picture to look. I thought this was a brilliant idea and something I will definitely be putting into practice when it comes to my next photoshoot with my better half. He may loathe me more for doing so, but hey ho, it’s all for the good of the gram.
A local agency, extremely talented and knowledgeable when it comes to crafting engaging video content. They shared some of the great work that they’ve produced for NI businesses and events, including Forestside Shopping Centre and Dalriada festival.
They also talked about the importance of creating multiple pieces of content from the one event, mixing a variety of angles, techniques and equipment to create something visually stunning and unique. When it comes to creating youtube content, it’s so important to ensure that the musical accompaniment does not infringe on copyright law. Sites like epidemic sound (one of my faves), soundstripe and artlist are great for downloading copyright free tracks.
I really think this slot could have been twice as long, as the speakers were right up my street and they had such interesting insights to share. Interviewed by Lucy’s super cute little cousin and aspiring girl boss Evie, the panel included beauty influencer Elle Pearls, former The Apprentice contestant and Make up artist Grainne McCoy and beauty enterpreneur Zoe Smedberg.
All agreed that having an authentic voice is key if you want to grow your personal brand. Don’t do it for the paid advertising, only collaborate with brands and businesses that make sense and are relevant to your audience. In a world of influencers and bloggers that are all flogging the same thing, I think this is more important now than ever. Stay true to yourself.
Finn Thormeier, personal branding strategist
It became very clear, as soon as Finn started to speak that he really knows his stuff when it comes to growing your personal brand in a digital space. His talk was focused around gaps in the market for getting your brand and content noticed.
1. Instagram Story Ads
One of the least crowded marketplaces for growing your brand. Although there are millions of daily insta story users, there are actually less than 500k advertisers. Seemingly just $1 can get you 500 profile visits, so it’s well worth trying if you want to boost your online presence and reach out to new fans. Cheap as chips.
2. Linkedin Video
Finn successfully persuaded me to seriously consider the Linkedin platform as another possible avenue for my blog content. Most people view Linkedin as just a place to post your online CV, that its only to be treated as a professional platform. Yes it is absolutely a professional platform, but that just means that you have to approach your content in a different way. As a blogger, you could share tips such as ‘how to grow your fashion blog’ or ‘how to balance a full time job with a beauty blog’.
Apparently, even though there are over 5 million Linkedin users, there are only 5000 video content creators. Finn was brutally honest in saying that the current shared video content and production is quite low quality, so ‘if boring content works now, just think what good content can do’.
Matthew Thompson, Best of Belfast
A really confident speaker and an inspiring young gent, Matthew shared his experience of podcasting with tips and advice on those who want to follow in his footsteps.
1. Start with the why
Many a marketer has heard this phrase over recent years, but whilst the repetition is annoying, the importance and relevance is still as crucial as ever. You need to have a very clear reason for starting a podcast, why you want to do it and what can you offer your audience. For Matthew, he wanted to celebrate Belfast and chat to amazingly talented local individuals, sharing their success story.
For me, I guess the real reason that I started a blog was because I love to write. I am a creative person at heart, but I was never going to have the patience to write a novel, so I chose to funnel that creativity into short bursts of content, celebrating clothing, makeup and anything style oriented.
2. What’s in it for me
Your audience are looking for a certain kind of value. Always keep this in mind with every piece of content that you produce.
The importance of adding value was definitely a running theme throughout the day, with pretty much every speaker stating in one way or another that adding value to the reader, viewer or listener is so important in growing and maintaining longevity in a pretty saturated market. I’m going to try to keep this in the back of my mind at all times when I’m thinking of my next blog topic or piece of social content.
Jossie Pops, PT & content creator
Last but not least, Johnny Hamilton, personal trainer and content creator is very much an advocate for thinking outside the box and doing something that no-one else has done before when it comes to collaborating with brands. He literally shot and edited a video that day, sharing it with the audience.
I’ll just leave this here, no additional words needed, https://www.instagram.com/p/BnOAxWJnHjt/?hl=en&taken-by=jossiepops.
All in all, a great event, which I hope will continue to grow year after year. It’s about time Northern Ireland had an event like this, thank god Lucy made it happen.