Online Influence (Oi) Conference 2016 (#OiConf)

Oi Conference 2016
Yesterday (21st April 2016) I spent the day at Online Influence (Oi) Conference 2016 (@OiConf / #OiConf) in Cardiff, with Oi and Freshwater UK sorting me out with a blogger pass (thanks guys)! While most people call it a social media conference (and social media marketing is a big part of it), it covers a range of digital marketing elements, including video, content and user behaviour. Even SEO got a mention or two. 🙂

I have a confession to make though: I went last year, but had a bad experience. I think it was rotten luck… While the kick-off keynote was fantastic, I went to a few bad talks (speakers arguing, tech problems, sales pitches, etc.), lunch was a disaster (I couldn’t eat what was on offer due to food allergies), and there was of course the infamous #panelgate, when the awesome Miranda Bishop (@Miranda_Bishop) challenged – and subsequently joined(!) – the all-male panel at the end of the day.

This year though? Much, much better. The calibre of talks was high, and I took a lot away from them – I’d say that each talk gave me at least one or two holy-crap-I-didn’t-think-of-that takeaways that are useful to me.

Here are the talks that I went to, along with the main takeaways I took from them:

Leaping out of the feed (or don’t let your content be an octopus)

Simon Low, BuzzFeedSimon Low, BuzzFeed

The opening keynote was from Simon Low of BuzzFeed. Now I’m not a big fan of BuzzFeed, but 6 billion monthly visits?! You can’t argue with that.

Fair play, it was a cracking talk – a great way to start the day. Some standout make-you-think takeaways for me:

  • Traditionally, most content creators pour their heart and soul into creating great content but make little effort to promote it – Simon argued that it’s a 90/10 split. BuzzFeed however spend 50% of their time creating their content and 50% promoting it. They realise that great content doesn’t just get ‘found’, and that you have to put the effort in.
  • They also take the time to translate stories into multiple languages, which helps to spread their reach further.
  • During the Q&A, someone asked about the times when things don’t go well when BuzzFeed work with brands. Simon replied by saying that the more that the brand is courageous (and that they don’t ‘sanetise’ what BuzzFeed are doing), the higher the chance of success.

SxSW ’17: why you need to go and how to validate the cost

Gabby Shaw, ADLIBGabby Shaw, ADLIB Recruitment

I was interested in the Meltwater talk (“Digital influence: 4 steps towards getting it, guiding it and growing it”), which was taking place at the same time, but a little bird told me that all the Track A (main hall) talks were being filmed and uploaded online at a later date, so I decided to be strategic and visit other talks in other rooms. That said, I’ve always had an interest in going to SxSW, as I know a few people who have gone over the years.

Gabby talked about the benefits of going, but also made it clear that it can be a costly affair – not just the ‘hard’ costs (plane ticket, accommodation, etc.) but also the ‘soft’ costs, which people often forget about (time out of the office, less chance to liaise with colleagues and clients, etc.).

For those of us in Wales, I believe there’s a Welsh Government grant that pays 50% towards international travel cost if the trip involves winning new business from overseas. I can’t find the info now, but if I do, I’ll update this post with a link.

5 Steps to Building an Advocate Community

Paul Sackmann, HootsuitePaul Sackmann, Hootsuite

Paul talked about how you can form an advocate community around your brand. Hootsuite are known for their advocates – what with their Hootups, HootsuiteU and their fantastic branding (I love that little Owly!) – so you can’t get any better than a representative of Hootsuite telling us how they’ve managed it over the years.

The big takeaway for me was the classic 90/9/1 rule:

  • 90% of a brand’s audience consume their content
  • 9% curate their content
  • 1% create content about them (and therefore effectively for them)

So it’s all about channelling that 1% and making it as easy for them as possible.

Building the marketing function of the future

Jeremy Bassett, UnileverJeremy Basset, Unilever

This was an interesting one. We always assume that big, big, BIG brands like Unilever do entirely their own thing, but they actually do a lot of work with startups, who help them on a variety of projects.

It makes a lot of sense, on both sides: the startups get a massive helping hand from a big brand, while the big brand are helped by new, innovative businesses who help them to stay agile and versatile. What’s great is that it sounds as though Unilever aren’t scared to experiment, and while failure can and does happen in some projects, they’re not afraid to try new things. Sounds like other big brands can learn a lot from them.

Time-boxed: why marketing needs to take time more seriously

James Caig, True DigitalJames Caig, True Digital

This was a really interesting and insightful talk about the whole concept of time. I always feel very time-poor (don’t we all…!) so I was especially compelled to check it out when I saw it on the agenda.

While time is a good marketing metric (e.g. the longer you spend on a brand’s website, the better), it means that users are overwhelmed by emails, tweets, notifications, etc., with many different businesses/sites/apps all trying to grab your attention. A good example that James gave was when you get up in the morning, you might go on your phone to catch up on what you missed while you were asleep (I know I do this, especially when it comes to Twitter), when you should really be focusing on the direct non-technological stuff around you, such as getting out of bed and getting ready for the day…

One point that’s particularly hopeful and inspiring though: when you look at a 168-hour week (24 hours x 7 days), even if you factor in sleep, work, commuting, chores, family time, etc., we should still have about 26 hours left each week to do the things we really want to do, to work on passion projects, to learn something new, and so on…

How to work with Influencers

Sharon Flaherty, BrandContentSharon Flaherty, BrandContent

I worked alongside Sharon at Confused.com yeeears ago and was excited when I heard that she’d set up BrandContent, her own content marketing agency. What I liked about Sharon’s talk is that she dealt with the negatives and bugbears on both sides of brands working with bloggers. I’ve always admired Sharon for being very straight-talking, and that came across in her talk: working with brands isn’t all smiles and happiness – they sometimes get stuff horribly wrong when working with bloggers.

She spent the second half of the talk interviewing a blogger about her experiences with working with brands: both the good and the bad. I liked that – I’ve never seen that in a talk before (panels and fireside chats notwithstanding) and it worked really well.

She also touched upon the SEO side of things, which – put simply – made me happy. 🙂

Video is hot, creative costs are not

David Lee, ShakrDavid Lee, Shakr

This talk was a little on the salesy side (ultimately it was a bit “this is what we do, this is how it will help you”), but… you know what? It sounds good, and I’m interested in using it.

Shakr calls itself “Canva for video.” You can make your own videos for as little as $50. As someone who often pushes clients to create videos (but videos often being expensive to produce), this could be an interesting alternative.

The future of your strategy lies in the past

Elliot Reuben, SalesforceElliot Reuben, Salesforce

I’ve got to be honest… I didn’t really take much away from Elliot’s talk, although admittedly it was late in the day and I was starting to flag. (Sorry.)

There was an awesome Sun Tzu quote though: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Very, very true – and therefore a powerful statement – from a marketing point of view.

How to be a better marketer in 2016?

Oi Fireside ChatOi’16 Fireside Chat
Moderated By Elliot Reuben, Salesforce

Finally, there was a ‘fireside chat’ between three of the day’s speakers: one as moderator, the other two as interviewees (for lack of a better term). It raised some interesting points, especially regarding brands working with agencies… Although as it involved three in-house people, it seemed heavily weighted against agencies in particular. An idea for a follow-up fireside chat in the future might be one with a mix of brands and agencies and then seeing some sparks fly…

Sadly though, there was no fire… but someone took care of that:

And that was that. I couldn’t stay for the afterparty, as I had to go to my little one’s parents evening at nursery – but at least I had a little Hootsuite Owly cuddly toy to give him as a present. 🙂


OiConf crowd tweet image
A photo of the #OiConf 2016 crowd early in the day
So there we have it. Despite being crazily busy at the mo, it was most definitely a worthwhile day spent out of the office, with actionable tips and tools that I’m going to use in my SEO work with clients.

The only major bugbear with the event, despite the epicness and beauty of the venue (the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama) was… the WiFi. The venue’s WiFi was password protected so we all had to use The Cloud WiFi, which was mightily choppy. This made tweeting about the event pretty challenging, and some of my tweets went out about 10-20 mins after I tried sending them because they wouldn’t send properly. I can’t hold it against them too much though – WiFi at conferences is usually a pain (especially when you’re dealing with a tech-savvy audience, all of whom are trying desparately to get onto it), and it could’ve be worse… I once went to a social media meetup that had no WiFi or 3G/4G signal at the venue at all…!

But yeah… All in all, a very good event. I’m already looking forward to next year’s.

Disclaimer: Just to reiterate that I was given a free blogger pass in order to attend the event and to blog about it. Thanks again to Oi Conference and Freshwater UK for sorting!

[Individual speaker profile images borrowed from Oi Conference’s website]

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