Highlights from Digital DNA Belfast 2017

Last week (the 6th and 7th June), I attended Digital DNA. The business and technology event was held in St George’s Market in Belfast. As a frequent visitor of the markets at weekends. I was curious to see how the market would be transformed to accommodate this event.

The venue was split to incorporate workshop studios around the edge of the market. With exhibition space, a coffee station and the start-up pitching arena in the centre. The five studios set up to host a vast range of speakers included Marketing, Innovation, FinTech and Security, Data and the Tech for Good Studio.

My role here at Allsop is marketing, so unsurprisingly I spent most of my time in the marketing studio. Although I did venture to both the innovation and data studio over the course of the two days. The marketing studio seemed to prove most popular, with standing room only at nearly every talk.

Over the two days it was great to hear from so many different speakers. Which has given me lots of fresh ideas. I would be here all day if I was to tell you everything. So I’m just going to talk about a few of the talks I found the most interesting.

Twitter and the Power #Now – Greg Owens, Senior Sales Manager, Twitter

Twitter has had a bit of a rough time recently, with stalled daily users. It was seen to be destined to join the pile of failed social networks, shout out to Bebo and MySpace. Twitter, however, was not about to let this happen and Greg discussed how they have managed to reverse this trend. Although practically unheard of in the world of social media, Twitter has managed to see their number of daily users grow once again.

Greg told us how they enlisted the help of their co-founder Jack Dorsey. He felt that Twitter had overcomplicated their product offering. So the emphasis was stripping this back and focussing on what Twitter does well. From this, Twitter has established itself as the social media channel to visit to find out what is happening in the world now. For example, in 2009 for the first time ever a news story broke on Twitter. This was the successful landing of a US Airways plane on the Hudson River.  Twitter has taken this approach seriously and has even moved their app from the social networking category to the news category within the app stores.

Twitter have also placed a huge focus on live. Teaming up with Sky Sports to live stream transfer deadline day, as well as more recently live streaming One Love Manchester. Twitter offers users a two-screen approach, with the live stream, as well as a curated list of tweets.

Another focus for Twitter is to maintain the open and conversational manner of the platform, it is not a network of friends and family. Instead, it gives you access to the thoughts of some of the most influential people today.

Greg’s talk reinforced the importance of having content on Twitter that is relevant and how picking up on trends where relevant to your business can help to vastly increase your reach. He also discussed the improvements they had made to the Twitter advertising platform. Also, detailing how research shows that the recall on Twitter advertising is higher compared to other channels as people visit the platform in a discovery mindset. As in line with their positioning – they are there to find out what is happening in the world now. This discovery mindset makes it an important channel for any brand.

YouTube: Building Brands in an Attention Economy – Ruth McEntee, Head of Sales Ireland, YouTube

If you haven’t watched the obligatory funny cat videos on YouTube, where have you been? Video is everywhere in marketing, across all social channels and a vast number of websites. Ruth revealed that as much as 1 billion hours of video are now watched every single day and 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Ruth spoke about how our world has changed and impact this has for marketing. Many years ago, our reach was scarce but attention was plentiful. This meant that although it was difficult to get your message to a large audience, once you did, you had their full attention. Whereas now, reaching people isn’t as much of a problem but managing to grab their attention is difficult. With so much going on in our world and so many screens battling for our attention, we are often not focusing on the message that advertisers want us to.

One key area that YouTube wins in the digital advertising landscape is that it appeals to nearly all age groups. Not only this, but 96% of YouTube videos are watched with the sound on. This is because unlike social networks, people come to YouTube for one thing – to watch video. Having the sound on, for an advertisement or branded video improves ad recall by a massive 45%.

Another key message from this talk was the accessibility of YouTube and the opportunities it presents for ordinary people and businesses to share their story. All you need is a smartphone, internet connection and a good idea. With apps like YouTube Director making producing videos for business simple, there is nothing stopping you experimenting with video as part of your marketing strategy.


Simple Steps to Creating Your Digital Strategy – Andi Jarvis, The Tomorrow Lab

In this talk, Andi laid out the steps they follow to develop a digital strategy for your business. The Tomorrow Lab’s A Star approach consists of a digital audit, strategy development, the tactics you are going to use, activity and review. This process continually repeats and Andi reinforced the need to constantly learn and develop from the success or failure of a digital campaign within your business. Highlighting how fast the digital technologies change, it is important that marketers are constantly learning to be able to deliver digital campaigns.

Another concept that Andi discussed was ‘finding your inch.’ There is so much content and so much information on the internet and you need to try and stand out. Finding your inch means understanding what makes your company different and how you can translate that message across your marketing channels and incorporate it into the content that you create. For example, if it is your people that make your business different, then use that. Tell their story and share their knowledge and expertise. Marketing that comes from the real values and the people who make up your company is often the most powerful.

Andi also spoke about influencer marketing, if you are an Instagram user, it will be hard for you to have missed the #ad on many bloggers and celebrities’ posts. Used more in the business to consumer market. Influencer marketing involves paying people or celebrities with a large social following to post about your product. This one came with a warning though – do your research. Pick a person who sits well with your brand and therefore has a reach that is your ideal target market, hasn’t promoted a similar product recently and be sure they don’t have any skeletons hiding that could damage your brand by association.

View Andi’s full presentation.

These are just a few of my highlights from Digital DNA, I thoroughly enjoyed the event and would recommend it. With so many different talks from such a wide range of speakers, there is something for everyone. Looking forward to next year already.

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