Brands turn out in force for MiNetwork's How To Be Social

There was a packed house at The Barbican Centre in London last week as 120 brands came to hear the latest in digital and social media from MiNetwork and RAR agencies.

Presenting their thoughts and approaches to digital and social media marketing were agencies from across the UK – Homejames from Leeds, Eyeka from London, Technology Consult from Edinburgh, Spring from Southwold and Web Expectations from Slough.

In attendance at the event were marketing managers from companies such as Butlins, Swiftcover, Shelter, Avis Cars, James Villas, Puma, Encyclopaedia Britannic, Paul Smith, Madame Tussauds and RNIB.

Getting the event underway was Robin Mehta of Edinburgh-based Technology Consult who gave a presentation entitled Using Mobile Applications To Build Your Brand. His presentation focused on some of the major issues that face any brand considering developing an App – do they go down the free novelty App or do they charge for consumer to download their App?

On this aspect he advised clients: "The client has to think long and hard about what they actually want to achieve with their App. IS it to raise the profile of the brand or business or do they actually want to make money through the App. Many brands opt to launch an App that is simply a novelty - such as Stanley's spirit level App - that doesn't really do much, but thousands of people download it and so the brand benefits hugely from that."

Second up was Keira Lloyd of Eyeka, an agency that handled co-creation marketing campaigns and projects across the globe. Lloyds presentation was entitled If You Want To Be Social… Co-create. Eyeka has built up a community of 125,000 creative con summers across the planet, 10,000 of whom are in the UK, and they look to this creative community to help them with a wide range of client’s marketing and product development challenges. Ultimately, the client’s brief is put out into the creative community and the onus is on them to offer creative input in a structured way to answer that brief.

Lloyd demonstrated to delegates the importance of embracing social media and encouraging co-creation, saying: “Consumers are social already. Using Facebook is now the second biggest activity behind watching TV. Facebook has a larger reach than any one TV show, newspaper or radio station and it is now reaching the mainstream, with nearly 50% of users being aged over 25.”

Outlining successful co-creation projects by Starbucks, Pringles and Footlocker, Lloyd concluded: “Enabling customers to collaborate with you – in creating, distributing, marketing and supporting projects is what creates a premium in today’s market.”

Third up was Peter Cobley from HomeJames, a leading SEO company based in Leeds and he delivered a presentation entitled SEO and Social Media – Two Sides of the Same Coin. Cobley’s view was that Social Media is now such an important aspect of life and it figures so highly in search engine rankings that clients need to have a handle on it to ensure their brands figure highly in rankings.

“Social media is more than the collection of sites that have entered the mainstream through the phenomenon described as web 2.0, it represents a wholesale change in the way the internet is used by the consumer.

“What differentiates web 2.0 from the web as we used to know it is not any notable advances in technology, but instead the application of technology. It’s about people connecting, not just to each other, but through a shared interest such as a new album, a funny clip, a movie that’s coming out, a video game, a car, a party, a local venue, anything. This defines the content and culture that’s important to them. No better is this illustrated than by social media – the process whereby information is dynamically created and shared to maximise collective intelligence.”

Next up was Spring’s Melanie Welsh, who gave a presentation entitled Telling Your Brand Story Through Social Media. Welsh kicked off her presentation by posing the question “is social media dead?”

To which she answered: “I suppose you could say that social media is dead because social media has very much become to mainstream now. Over 20% of internet page views in the UK and the USA are of Facebook pages. More than 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Four billion images are hosted on Flickr. And 65 million Tweets are broadcast every day. Social media is the ongoing conversation of the planet. It is the ongoing story of the planet.”

Welsh also offered a range of examples of brands that had used social media platforms to tell simple but engaging brand stories, such as Old Spice, Marmite and Pampers, concluding by predicting that 2011’s big stories in social media would be the growth of new social media platforms FormSpring and Quora.

Last up was Russell Sutton of Slough-based agency Web Expectations who offered delegates some thought provoking pointers on website testing, using examples from Obama’s election campaign to show that clients no longer have to guess which image or headline will work on their website. The technology now exists to allow clients to live test their websites so they can make an informed choice as to which images and headlines convert the most website visitors to sales.

Videos of the presentations will also be available to watch on MiNetwork’s website in the coming days.

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