Tag Archives: Birmingham UK

Tips on Social Media from our Bournville account

In the interests of Social Media and idea sharing, I would like to do a small post on our work with Bournville College.

bournvilleBournville College is a sixth form and adult education establishment just outside Birmingham city centre. They’re an extremely innovative college that were looking to use social media as a tool for connecting with current and prospective students. They contacted us on the matter and off we went.

As with all things, the campaign evolved and adapted throughout its duration. We had a water tight strategy but it is impossible to foresee trends and patterns in student viewing habits. Our campaign was based around the existing Bournville Blog that had been left dormant for sometime and we set up a bouquet of social media applications that were to satellite the blog acting as a referral tool and a real time conversational app.

bournville2As it is impossible to forecast the best social media apps for reaching students, we started with a blanket campaign over all the apps including Twitter, Bebo, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious. Each was given equal weight and attention until it became clear which ones were effective and which ones were not.

We applied the same ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality to the blog which was the ‘meat on the bone’ of the campaign. We initially wrote a new blog post every day with each post covering a different school subject everyday. We tried to make all posts appeal to inquisitive teens so we did posts on things such as the science behind a bacon sandwich and discussing what ‘Only fools and horses’ taught us about finance as well as live social reporting from Bournville’s open days and fayres.bournville3

Conversation was the foundation of our campaign and our main goal from start to finish was to create content that would provoke comments. Dialogue is the most important part of social media. Our initial posts, although well visited, were not gaining the frequency of comments we were hoping for. A more question based blogging style was to be used. We wanted to talk about relevant topics and ask the audience for their feedback. It was a great deal more successful and our blog and Facebook pages soon became forums for people to comment on.

With regards to applications and portals, there is no cast iron one that works for everyone. With our young audience we had anticipated a lot more from our Bebo page but it was Facebook, Stumble and Digg that were our big hitters, so we pulled out of the other applications and put our energies into making them a success. Twitter was a slight disappointment which I think may have been a result of Twitter being a more adult toy, certainly for our other accounts, particularly Bodies Revealed, Twitter has been an excellent conversational tool and information portal.Facebook

The question asking and dialogue through Facebook kept interest up during the summer holidays where we were expecting a down turn. Our social reporting was gaining a lot of hits and a small community was growing. As the campaign drew to its climax and prospectus downloads became the paramount target, our posts across all apps became a lot more sales driven.

In the end, Bournville received a record high enrollment and they will now be using social media as a regular tool for communication within the college.

We don’t profess to be social media geniuses but there were some valuable lessons we learnt on the way.

1. Always adapt – new trends and apps pop up all the time and devices you thought may be successful often may not be

2. Know you end and goal and stick at it – if you want comments, write posts that provoke comments

3. Reply to everything – it’s obvious but people don’t do it. Social media is two way and that is its sole purpose.

Without wanting to sound a bit shameless, Alma Aganovic of Bournville College had this to say about it all:

Social media is a very innovative marketing approach for the FE sector, with Bournville taking the lead, with Big Cat’s help. Using several social networking websites, as well as our own website blog, we have opened dialogues with potential students and the local community. This has in turn led to increased traffic on our website and an increase in downloaded brochures, both of which have been great news.

Working with Big Cat has been productive and enjoyable. We have monitored the campaign very closely, adapting activities to meet our targets. Big Cat have been very responsive and creative in terms of coming up with suggestions for adjusting campaign objectives, making the most of activities taking place at the College (e.g. Live blogging from Open Days etc). Following the success of the summer campaign, we are continuing to work with Big Cat this year to promote our Open Days. I have no hesitation in recommending this agency as a social media partner.

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Filed under Big Cat Social

Images from the Bodies Revealed press day

Yesterday was the press day for Bodies Revealed that was very well received from all and sundry. A lot of press photographers had a field day with a lot of the exhibits. Two friends of the company and superlative artists in their field, Karen Strunks and Alex Hughes applied their skills to the exceptional specimens on display. Please enjoy and visit Karen’s and Alex’s websites, they’re two really talented artists.

If you can’t see the slideshows, click for Karen Strunks and Alex Hughes’ images.4053670702_94c27b2058

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The future of the Custard Factory – Part 2

Some time ago I wrote a blog post about what might be the future of the Custard Factory, claiming that its capacity as a music venue had somewhat reached its terminal velocity. Every big night is full but you can’t expand financially until you expand physically.

Time for the Custard Factory to fulfil its potential
Time for the Custard Factory to fulfil its potential

The answer to the conundrum may be answered by the forthcoming Bodies Revealed exhibition and similar events. Bodies Revealed is open all day, six days a week and is expected to bring 6,500 people through the doors of Custard Factory’s Space 2. That is a consistent number that doing big club nights simply can’t compete with. In addition to that, every visitor will no doubt drop into ‘Yumm’ for their lunch, The Old Crown for a pint and do some shopping in the flea market or COW. The knock on effects for the local economy could be profound.

It also provides invaluable PR for the Custard Factory. A new breed of customer will be taken into the creative beehive and see what everyone gets so excited about. It could inspire bigger exhibitions or events to use the Custard Factory, in turn perpetuating more business to the complex and its neighboring amenities.Bodies Revealed

The Gallery, Old Library, Theatre and Factory Club could all benefit from the extra exposure and visitor footfall. The potential of the Custard Factory has been the talk of creative Birmingham for some time, maybe now it is the chance to fulfil it.

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Filed under Big Business

Festival event management: A few quick tips

Myself and a raft of colleagues have been enjoying the blistering sun at this year’s Download festival in Donington.
Truck General
As mentioned in the recent Sharkey and George post, it was the first of many festivals we will be attending this year on behalf of Jagermeister and their pair of massive trucks that double up into a viewing platform and bar.

We rubbed shoulders with rock stars and played Guitar Hero until our eyes bulged, sadly though, the vast majority of our time was spent building and breaking the aforementioned trucks.

Now I enjoy this kind of work; it is a refreshing alternative to office work and it reminds of my days on the farm. What’s more, I learnt some valuable lessons about events that will come in very handy over the coming months.

Here is a brief run down:-

1. Always pack more food than you can eat. There is nothing worse than working round the clock, doing physical labour in sweltering temperatures only to find there are no refreshments. You will always find a way of eating them all, so pack too much.

2. Get as much done on the first day as possible. When you have two days to complete your build, something will inevitably rear its ugly head on the second day just when you thought you had finished. You are likely to have more energy on the first day so make sure of the two days, the first gets the most attention.

3. Always wear a hard hat. Its obvious and its the rules but when it gets hot it is very tempting to take them off but trust me its worth the heat, as I learnt to my cost when a bit of rigging fell on my head.

4. Wear steel toe caps. Same as above really.

5. Go through every part of the operation in detail. It is very easy, particularly in hot temperatures, to lose concentration and skip a stage but it is an error that is very hard to undo and it is worth talking to colleagues to ensure all bases have been covered.

There are tons of other lessons but they are to specific to our project so I shalln’t bore you with them.

If you have learnt of any other event lessons to be heeded, please let me know.

Here is a sneak video diary:

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Filed under Big Events, Big Internal Stories

Buy Birmingham Midland

Gather round all you inhabitants, business men and women of Birmingham and the surrounding regions.
buybirminghammidland hires
We are pleased to be launching the new ‘Buy Birmingham Midland’ initiative that we are hoping will go some way to increasing prosperity and cultivating local pride for the whole of Birmingham and Midlands.

To help West Midlands’ businesses survive the recession, we are spearheading a B2B campaign – Buy Birmingham Midland – encouraging organisations to choose regional suppliers and workers, to support the regional economy and kick-start a new era of commercial solidarity in the West Midlands.

The brand has been designed in Mono, allowing anyone who is interested to print the logo for free on any promotional literature and we would like to encourage people to show support for the scheme by copy and posting the above logo to their email signatures.

Regional businesses will be asked to sign up to the Buy Birmingham manifesto that will require a commitment to certain criteria.

To express an interest in signing up or to pledge your support, please feel free to get in touch. Please ring 0121 200 0910 or email k.laurie@bcguk.com. The new website will soon be on its way.

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Filed under Big Business, Big Cat Group, Big News

360 Links for 22 May

In the time honoured tradition I have some new links to interesting sites that concern some of the 5 departments of our company.

Creative Design: 20 Useful websites for graphic design and textural patterns

Sure this is a slight cheat as I’m linking to a site that is linking to a load of other sites, but its all about spreading the word, and this link will help you get some great advice and inspiration.

Socia Media: How we can measure Social Media

If you read my last post, I give some advice on how we at Big Cat pitch in KPIs and strategise for social media. In this link Katie Paine gives us a nice scientific way of measuring Social Media.

PR and Marketing: What’s the difference between PR and Advertising

I’m willing to assume that if you are reading this blog, there’s a good chance you know the difference, but I am still stultified by the amount of people that can’t tell the difference. Let this site site do the explaining.

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Filed under Big Cat Group, Big Cat Social, Marketing, PR

360 Tips: Social Media strategies and KPI

New social media consultants are starting up the world over with the advent of web2.0 and its incredible grip on modern interaction. The majority of these consultants have a history in PR and Marketing and as the three mediums lend so well to each other, it’s easy to see where there is cross over.
smbandwagon
Big Cat has been working on social media clients for several months now and we have settled on a strong and scientific strategic model that, fingers crossed, will continue to deliver results.

Most of our model is based around what you would imagine; objectives, tactics, KPIs, content etc, but trust me, these did not come about easily and a lot of tweeking continues to be done to perfect our model. So far it has proved successful with even the greatest cynics.

Firstly, social media is all about content. You could do everythig right, but if content is poor, no one will care for your campaign or your blog and you’ll soon find yourself in front of a furious FD armed with a balance sheet and a grim determination to find a part of your body to accomodate it. Make your strategy content focused, breakdown all the types of posts you will write, topics, date of publication, why it is relevant and ensure they are tailored for your audience.

Keep your objectives front of mind, make sure that everything you do is geared to achieve those objectives and make sure your client is aware of the synergy. As KPI is the hot potato of social media, excelling in getting across strong objectives and proving you can achieve them is superbly important in convincing a company that social media is worth investing in.

And that’s the big one: KPI. How do you quantify a social media campaign; followers, friends, comments, page views, unique users? Look at your clients website, see how they would quantify the success of their website and adopt those indicators. Chances are there will be a call to action portal that can be posted at the bottom of each post. Oh and one last point: Don’t, under any circumstances, try conning the reader or be salesy in your posts, tweets etc. You will be sniffed and unfollowed before you can say ‘Twitter Twattergy’.

At the end of the day, remember what benefits social media has and simply apply them to your client. Dialogue, attraction, engagement and exposure are all advantages of social media, if you can prove how that will make a company money, you are on to a winner.

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Filed under Big Cat Group, Big Cat Social, Marketing, PR