We’ve been to quite a few social media conferences now, and while it was lovely to have one on our doorstep in Bristol, on the whole, we didn’t find the talks as forward-thinking as those in London or New York.

However, that’s not to say there weren’t exceptions to this at Social Media Week (SMW) Bristol. Plus, some of the presentations acted as a nice reminder of why it is that we do what we do, lest we forget that social media, in the main, is meant to be entertaining.

So, if social media marketing is not giving you the right feels, it’s time to get out of the business – well, hand the reins of your social media accounts over to somebody who does enjoy it, at least.

Anyway, for fear of getting all preachy about why social media marketing needs to be done with a flourish, let’s get into what SMW’s speakers had to say:

1. Give YouTube Director a try

We must confess, we hadn’t heard of YouTube Director before SearchStar introduced us to it during their talk. That might have been because some of its features are only available to those firms in the big cities. However, on a basic level, the app lets you create basic videos using a smartphone – “Just point your phone and shoot — the app will show you what to do step-by-step,” YouTube tell us.

South Park video

The USP of the app, if you like, is the seamlessness with which you can upload your video to YouTube to start promoting your business to customers. YouTube promises you access to one of its AdWords experts who will help you set up your video ad.

The feature us Bath & Bristol businesses don’t have access to is the ‘work with a professional’ facility, in which, in return for a £350 spend on running ads, will team you up with a professional filmmaker who will “come to your business and shoot a video ad”. Pretty neat, huh?

Takeaway quote: “‘The ideal online ad is personally relevant and immediately useful.”

2. Beware of rules on non-broadcast ads

Influencer marketing has really taken off this year. However, brands and influencers alike are falling foul of the UK’s rules on non-broadcast posts in their rush to capitalise on the tactic.

The Advertising Standards Authority, which enforces the rules, states that sponsored posts from influencers should be labelled with a hashtag, like #ad or #spon. But industry insiders say posts that flout these rules remain widespread.


During their presentation, Fat Media listed some best practices when working with influencers:

  • Content must be disclosed as sponsored
  • Tweets/Instagram captions should contain #ad
  • Creative freedom should be left to the influencer. Content should be relevant and of value to their audience
  • When brands ask for a product review, they must accept that the influencer will write an honest review. Influencers aren’t likely to publish negative reviews
  • Links to a brand’s website/product in paid influencer content must be a ‘no-follow’ link

3. Social isn’t easy

e3 Media were preaching to the converted somewhat with their slideshow, but it served as a good recap of what social media is all about – that is, it can be an elusive swine, if you don’t adhere to the best practices.

Here are the most important points of the presentation, as we saw it:

  • Consider following/follower ratio – you should always be following less users than you have followers
  • Use tools such as Crowdfire or Followerwonk to clean up dead accounts
  • Tools such as Buffer let you schedule tweets based on when your audience is most active
  • Use Twitter Analytics to find out your audience’s interests
  • Content should make you appear as an authority in your industry – can be a mix of own and curated
  • Always use images
  • Popular tweets always have the best imagery and are inspirational. Quotes always prove very popular
  • Companies should tweet on average 2-3 times a day; marketing companies up to 10 times

Takeaway quote: “If you don’t use Twitter, you shouldn’t be running one professionally.”

Learn to tweet

4. Ephemeral social media all the rage

Snapchat introduced us to ephemeral messages, with its disappearing photos and videos proving very popular with younger audiences (41% of US 18-34 year olds use the app).

Its unique brand of filters and lenses has helped secure 150 million users each and every day, as of the second quarter of this year, taking it beyond Twitter, which has less than 140 million users interacting with the service daily.

J-Lo Snapchat

Snapchat’s geofilters are particularly useful for brands: Avocado Social highlighted that firms can create their own designs with the company logo, which last only a certain amount of time. This encourages users to take ‘in-the-moment’ snaps, and allows brands to offer one-chance, exclusive content. As a roundabout figure, Snapchat charges $5 per 20,000 square feet, which Buffer calls “AMAZING value”.

Instagram has not been blind to Snapchat’s progress, and has taken the bold move of copying its rival’s core concept.

Launched in the summer, Instagram Stories lets people cobble together a montage of photos and videos to share with friends. Stories are available for one day before they disappear into the social media ether. They can be shared publicly or with a private group of friends. We weren’t joking when we said it was blatantly copying Snapchat.

All the same, the new platform can be used to give a unique, exclusive insight into your brand. Behind-the-scenes content works well on the platform, as do announcements, promotions, Q+As and vox pops.

Basically, all B2C businesses now need to consider ephemeral social media, is what we concluded.

See you in 2017, Bristol! Or, at the weekend…