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The marketer’s dream that is Oi’ Conference came to Cardiff’s City Hall last Thursday (9thMay), promising a very busy day jam-packed with insight from some of the biggest brands in the world.

The keynote speaker line-up was an immediate hook for me, with talks scheduled from brands such as Twitter, YouTube, Hootsuite and Just Eat to name a few. How often do you have the chance to be inspired first-hand from the world’s biggest brands?

As an Oi’ first timer, I didn’t really know what to expect, but the buzz around the event from previous years certainly led me to believe that it would be one to remember.

Once I’d arrived, I was immediately struck by the scale of the event. The crowds of people, exhibitions and a really helpful bunch of Oi’ team members were on hand to show me the way to register.

After a quick cup of coffee (and a Welsh cake), it was time to get down to business. Delegates congregated in the Assembly Room for a welcome and introduction to the day.

Here are my top highlights from the day:

Steve Bartlett – The Social Chain

First up, we were treated to a speech from 22 year old Steve Bartlett, founder of The Social Chain. Not heard of them? Well, Huffington Post recently described them as “the kids who can make anything the No.1 trend on Twitter in half an hour”. Steve revealed the story behind the business he has built up, following on from his decision to drop out of university and pursue an idea for a website.
Through sheer hard work, relentless motivation and taking risks, Steve and his business partner Dom have built one of the most influential social media agencies in the UK. They’ve built up huge audiences and online communities, just by listening to what people want to see, read and watch online. Now they have these communities at their fingertips, brands are recognising their influence and call upon them to help spread their word.

He also revealed his personal tips for social media success, with my favourite being avoiding ‘cool Dad syndrome’, i.e. jumping in on latest trends when it’s not really appropriate, consumers can see straight through it!

His energy and enthusiasm for what he does was infectious; I think anyone would agree that the audience was gripped by his words!

Dr Jonathan Deacon – ‘What do Digital Customers Really Want?’

The psychology of marketing has always fascinated me, hence my signing up for this talk. I’ve heard Dr Jonathan Deacon talk at events before and always find his delivery to be compelling and I’ve always come away with practical ideas that I can actually implement in the workplace. Psychological segmentation and empathy for the client journey was the crux of his talk and sparked some great conversations about how you view your company’s value proposition.

I think as marketers we can often get wrapped up in meeting needs on a physical basis, but this talk really reminded me about how important ensuring an optimal emotional experience is.

YouTube – The Value of a View

Naturally, I had to sign up to this talk about the power of video delivered by Google’s Brand Manager Michael Complojer and YouTube’s Brand Manager Jan Wiechers. This was one of the busiest talks of the day; with a huge mix of sectors attending to find out the tips from the top.

They opened with a recap of why video is so effective as a marketing tool; demonstrating (by showing a video- of course) that the combination of sight, sound and motion is limitless and unrivalled to evoking emotion and actions from viewers. They showed an advertisement commissioned by Volvo Trucks, as one of the biggest safety concerns in the industry is truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel. They wanted to demonstrate the reliability and stability of their auto-driving safety systems, so what better way than to show an epic stunt with martial arts phenomenon Jean Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two trucks! (Yes it was a real stunt, yes it will blow your mind- see below if you’ve not seen it before!)

It’s a dream example of a brand promoting themselves through a memorable advertisement that gets people talking. Emotion is a powerful way to convey product benefits and they wanted experienced truck drivers to be amazed by the precision of the driving while others could by amazed by the spectacular demonstration. They focused on a multi-level storytelling approach to cut across lots of different audiences – the response was top level engagement and people recreating their own versions and becoming brand ambassadors: campaign success!
They also talked about ‘Google Preferred’, which was recently launched making it easy for consumers, and for marketers, to find engaging channels on YouTube. To identify these top channels, they’ve created the Preference Score:  sort of a rating for the digital age.  The algorithm ranks channels by popularity and engagement, using signals like watch time, comments, shares and social embeds.

Just Eat – “Don’t be the Nice Guy” – How a Confident Tone of Voice Improves Social Media Engagement

When it comes to having a really defined, confident and recognisable tone of voice, the Just Eat guys have really hit the nail on the head. Headed up by this session’s speaker Anthony Leung, the social media team at Just Eat have confidently moved away from being “the nice guy” on social media. Why, you ask? Because no one remembers the nice guy. They have adopted a perceived ‘risky’ persona, which they base on mischief and fun.

First things first, Anthony explained that one of the main reasons for having such a successful social media presence is that he has ensured that the marketing and customer care teams work really closely together; so their distinct tone of voice is never lost or diluted. This is really important to them, having built up an audience who have come to expect their fun and playful online character. They maximise every single opportunity, which has created a love from their audiences for their brand and their behaviour.

I could see how this could work in a B2C context, but the burning question for me was could you be THIS brave for B2B? The biggest takeaway (…sorry) for me, was I think there are certainly opportunities to have fun with tone of voice and personas, but perhaps not to the level that Just Eat take it. It’s important to discover a tone of voice that doesn’t sacrifice your character and makes your audience tick. Also remember to be yourselves!

If you attend this year’s conference, I’m sure you’re already planning on going along next year. If you’ve never attended before (and the line up maintains as this standard) then it’s safe to say you won’t be sorry if buy a ticket. Roll on Oi’ 2016!