10 things DS.E learnt from the Leeds Digital Festival

Here are our top 10 insights from Leeds Digital Festival 2018

We learnt a lot from this year’s Leeds Digital Festival. We’ve explored, discussed and digested what we learnt and now it’s time to share our key takeaways…

  1. Future proofing

All of us are currently fixated on Millennials but there is a need to start looking at who will be the next generation. In the next 10/20 years, Generation Z will become the key consumers in the market. To be ahead of the market and to keep businesses and brands engaged with these future consumers, we need to understand now, how they navigate through the world.

Event: The future of social media

  1. “Streaming is the next big thing”

Video is consistently outperforming any other content type in terms of engagement especially on platforms like Instagram and there is no slowing down. The Social Media Geek (www.socialmediageek.co.uk) believes streaming will be the next big thing, here’s why:

  • Provides exclusive access
  • Personal interaction with your customers
  • Think about your ‘customers’ as an ‘audience’

Currently, Google and other reporting platforms don’t place value on streaming but once they do we will begin to see an impact on engagement rate.

Event: The future of social media

  1. It’s all about community

Brands sometimes tend to forget that social platforms are about building a community first and foremost. Once you build a community, you build brand advocacy. In reality, a lot of your followers won’t ever purchase your product but if you build a relationship and community with them online they will become your biggest advocacy regardless of whether they have purchased from you or not.

Event: How to build a community around your brand

  1. The small numbers do count

You don’t necessarily need a huge following on social to increase visits or engagement. If you can increase your key metrics by 5% that can be more significant than 1,000 new followers. It’s just a reminder that those additional clicks and comments matter in the grand scheme.

Event: Know thy visitor

  1. The Impact of SEO 

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, much like the rest of the digital practice, is evolving all the time and new technology is presenting some interesting challenges and opportunities are being thrown up. SEO is something that should be considered at the start of a project, and thought about when building the brand from the ground up. Evaluate an existing projects credentials, how is it performing and how can it be improved?

3 top tips:

  • Consider SEO in the branding
  • Regularly update your site
  • Ensure all your links work

Event: Improving your SEO knowledge

  1. The future of voice search

One key factor that is sure to make an impact on SEO is the recent development of Voice search. Although relatively new technology, software such as Amazon Alexa, Google home, and Siri are already having an impact on local businesses.

What sets it aside from regular search is at the moment, you can’t pay for ads, or PPC. Instead results are organic, and are more influenced by factors such as conversational language. Be aware that people will speak differently to how they type. Complete as much of your google business page as possible, this includes getting reviews, having a diverse portfolio of photography, and making sure all your links are functioning correctly. Furthermore, frequent reviews can also have a positive impact on your search results.

Event: How voice search will impact businesses within the next 3 years

  1. Innovation in UI / UX

Are all the different teams in your agency working together efficiently? This talk about innovations in UI and UX focused on collaboration amongst different teams and establishing processes that help keep your workflow and output consistent.

Often things get lost in translation during projects, this talk spoke of combating that by trying different methods to make sure all departments are singing from the same hymn sheet. Even things as simple as assigning a member of each department to a project right at the start so nobody is out of the loop can make a huge difference. Designers working closely with developers at each stage, whether it be design, wireframing or so on.

The key message to take away from this talk was flexibility. Don’t be scared of evolving and trying new things. Think of a design system as a big box of Lego. All the pieces appear the same, but they can be assembled in many different ways. Just like Lego we can always add new features to evolve design patterns.

Event: Innovation in UI / UX

  1. What GDPR means to digital businesses

The big thing on everyone’s mind at the moment is GDPR. With the legislation coming into effect in just a few days, there hasn’t been anything of its nature so heavily discussed in the public domain before. We’ve all seen the headlines; big names like Facebook and Morrisons being held accountable for misuse of data, so how does it affect digital businesses?

Breaking it down can help you visualise what impact it might have. Think of 3 questions: What data do I have? How did I get it? What am I using it for? This change in the law is designed to provide a much-needed update aligning it with our modern times. Gone are the days of pre-ticked boxes and being peppered with promotional emails you never signed up for. Although initially some businesses may be concerned that the law is too harsh, and the reduction in audience is detrimental to their business, it is actually contrary to that. New processes will help businesses filter out users that were not engaging with their content and will help them focus on users that do.

Event: What GDPR means to digital businesses

  1. Improving your agencies digital services

When it comes to expansion, most agencies will look to what they’re currently offering and where they can add to that portfolio of services. As we keep saying, a lot of the market now looks towards digital to be able to promote themselves and connect with their audience.

Where in the past, businesses were limited to a small amount of newspaper or magazine space, now they have 5 or 6 platforms to promote themselves available at their fingertips. Whether it be a strong website, a dedicated social presence, well established search results etc.

To succeed in utilising new areas of business, proper scoping is crucial, both externally and internally. Look at your audience, what will work for them? Look inside your agency, do you have the skills and staff at hand to deliver a new service, or is it a case of bringing in specialist to help develop the team?

Event: Improving your agencies digital services

  1. Reflecting on the festival

All in, this year’s festival was great. The DS.E team were able to attend a wide variety of events with just a few summarised here. With the pace at which technology is evolving, it will be interesting to see what events will be going on next year!

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