There has been a certain buzz around Belfast over the last two days, you can put that down to this years Digital DNA conference. Taking place at St George’s Market, over 3,000 people descended upon Belfast to celebrate the growing tech sector in Northern Ireland. Digital DNA provided a great atmosphere to establish new contacts and connections, the air of innovation was obvious – an exciting time to be working in Belfast to say the least.
With over 150 exhibitors all under one roof, from start-ups to well established tech corporations it signalled success, and a very busy two days! A total of five stages ran throughout Tuesday and Wednesday from morning until evening. There was something for everyone. From our own interests in digital marketing to cyber security, or tech for good, to name just a few.
Inevitably, it was hard to attend all the panels and speakers over two days and some were very busy with no seats left. Namely Jeff Staple of Origin Digital, as seen below, was a very popular choice – and we got to listen from afar! Therefore, this blog will detail an overview of “Using Technology for Social Empowerment.” It was hosted by Lucy McMullan from OnlyJustMedia with keynote speaker Melanie Murphy. Melanie is a YouTube sensation and author of two books, one of which has launched recently and continues to dominate Irish book charts. She has shared her life lessons and opinions on topics like female rights, sexuality and lifestyle.
Melanie had trained to be a teacher and making YouTube videos became a sideline hobby. About a year into YouTube, she said, “I knew I could really make this something and it snowballed.” Her early days on YouTube began in 2013, when “no one else had really discovered it.” Since then, she’s amassed nearly a million followers online.
A key focus in Melanie’s keynote speech was the untapped market of influencers. She detailed how businesses and brands have not yet realised their full and varied potential. However, she noted that businesses must not just merely look at followers and expect a return. It’s an intricate world and all is often not as it seems. You must do your research over an extended period of time, check followers vs engagement and once this is correct, move forward. Never underestimate the power of influencers, especially smaller influencers with a more loyal dedicated audience. Melanie said, “they have sway over buying decisions of their following.”
Melanie and Lucy explained that influencer marketing is very easily done wrong. When there is an event, a list of bloggers are invited, all of which take “the same photo, the same instagram boomerang and get the same goodie bag” which is thrown all over social media. Melanie said that whilst there is an influencer community and culture, it’s important to be authentic and creative. This is to avoid the same content is not being continuously churned out and a disenchanted audience.
AUTHENTICITY IS KEY
Establish a natural, organic relationship between the brand and the influencer. Make sure the goal you’re trying to establish works for both and is true to your identity. If either the brand or the influencer sells out by working with the wrong companies, engagement will drop and long term it’s detrimental to both parties.
Northern Ireland is incredibly small, you want to ensure you’re working with someone who fits your brand and you fit theirs. Sending out the same PR package and expecting a return is no longer feasible. Melanie advised the Digital DNA crowd to diversify who you’re working with and make smart decisions when investing money and time.
RELEASE THE REIGNS
Give the influencer or blogger you want to work with relative creative control. These are content creators, it is obvious when something is forced or false. Trust them and their ability to know their own following. When it’s restricted, or you’ve literally been handed a script, the audience can tell. Melanie discussed working with a brand in the past which restricted her creative freedom and didn’t listen to her knowledge. “I can literally predict when my audience will drop off, and I can then prove it with my analytics.”
All in all, Digital DNA provided a great platform to make new connections, expand our knowledge and celebrate the innovative environment of Belfast’s tech sector. If we missed connecting with us at Digital DNA or you’d like to know more about digital marketing you can contact us via our website or via Instagram.