Did you know that the Defence Forces is using Snapchat for a powerful recruitment drive aimed at 18-24-year-olds, or that Lidl uses Twitter to interact with customers?
Or that, in terms of usage, Ireland has been a trailblazer on social media, adopting Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and now Snapchat with the greatest of speed? Or that in in this context — and perhaps even more importantly — it’s usually women who are behind successful social media initiatives?
There are a lot more women than men working in the area of social media in Ireland — but you wouldn’t think it if you happened to walk in on a conference on the topic, complains digital media consultant Damien Mulley.
“Basically in the digital media market, a large percentage of the time you are dealing with women,” he says — observing, however, that the line-up of speakers at digital conferences is usually around 80% male.
“These are perfectly competent and capable but what happens is you tend to get the same speakers giving the same talks.” So Mulley decided to do things a bit differently when he set out to organise a special Social Media week for later this month.
The event features week-long talks and mentoring sessions in Cork, Limerick, Dublin and Galway, highlights with a social media conference in Liberty Hall on May 24, and awards ceremony in the RDS on May 25.
“I deliberately set out to have a very different line-up and get new people, new views and something that is as practical as possible for the audience,” says Mulley, who opted for a line-up that was interesting, original and all-female: Rena Kennedy of the Irish Defence Forces, Aoife Clarke of Lidl PR, Shawna Scott of Sex Siopa, fashion designer Emma Manley, Donna Spellacy of DoneDeal, and Ann Lowney of Eventbrite, to name but a few.
“Finding our speakers was very easy; it took about a week to have most signed up. Our criteria for speakers was people that worked daily in digital, who are doing interesting things and who are not salespeople from the Twitters or Googles or Facebooks of the world,” declares Mulley, who says the event will feature panels and talks covering how in-house teams manage social media, how organisations are creating their own content and how SMEs are able to juggle being small operations and using digital marketing to get wide attention “I picked the Defence Forces because of the fact that it’s seen the potential of communications and has been on Twitter, Facebook and other social media for years.
“The Defence Forces is also now on Snapchat, — and it’s one of the first Defence Forces in the world to use it.
“They’re using it to target 18-24 year olds for a recruitment drive because that’s where the 18-24 year-olds are to be found.
“A lot of companies and brands have not realised that but the Defence Forces has, and Rena will be talking about how the defence forces manages its social media profile given the environment it’s working in and the restrictions that imposes.” Aoife Clarke, a member of Lidl’s in-house PR team will be talking about how very large multi-nationals like this company use social media platforms like Twitter to interact with customers and support initiatives such as their current well-received support for women in sport.
“Lidl has a relaxed tone on social media and customers find them approachable,” he says adding that the Defence Forces and Lidl are excellent examples of how to work with the public through social media.
Entrepreneur Shawna Scott of the online company sex siopa.com will provide interesting insights into exploiting the opportunities offered by social media, Mulley believes.
“Shawna has developed a strong following as someone who can give honest and frank advice about sex.
“She uses social media very effectively and recently featured on TV — through her skill at using social media, she has carved out a reputation as the person to interview in the area of sex and sex toys. She’s on Snapchat, Instagram and is very strong on Twitter.” Conference delegates will also hear from fashion designer Emma Manley, who has been hugely successful at promoting her designs through blogs, twitter updates and displaying her work on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and has a particularly strong following on Instagram.
“What these women have in common is that they are very good at what they do and they’re getting a lot of attention because they understand the general public.
“They know how to access their target audiences and they go to where these people are, which is on the social media networks.
“That’s why I’ve put together this line-up. They’re not voices we’ve heard before at conferences despite the award-winning work many of them carry out. “They’re fresh, original, creative and effective at what they do and all businesses and organisations involved in social media can learn from them.”