9 January 2019

Liam talks us through why taking risks is essential to deliver successful social media campaigns.

If you’ve seen my name on the schedule of speakers for the National Housing Federation Communications Event on Wednesday 6 March, you may rightly be wondering what on earth this random man who works at the zoo can teach a bunch of upstanding and knowledgeable housing professionals.

Well, you’re not entirely wrong – it is delightfully random (and very exciting) to think that I’m going to be speaking at this event, which ostensibly has no relation to my industry whatsoever.

That being said, I believe there are certain things about my job and experience that will be really useful to many of you. As a bit of background, I am the Digital Marketing Executive at Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP), with responsibility for social media and web management.

Before this, I also worked in the public sector for four years at Doncaster Council, where I enjoyed working on social media tremendously, and focused on this increasingly during my time there. At the council, I led on a number of viral social media campaigns, and have been fortunate enough to also overhaul the social media both there and at YWP with some great successes along the way.

The main lesson I’ve learned in all this time is the importance of taking risks, and that’s what I’ll be focusing on 6 March.

It’s my belief that no-one will ever have true social media success without doing something different.

Think about it; when did you last see a viral tweet, Facebook post or digital marketing campaign that completely followed a well-known trope or was exactly what you expected? It doesn’t happen.

Private sector companies cottoned on to this quite a while ago, and in the last few years there has been an absolute boom in risk-taking, ‘personal’ social media in the private sector. Consequently, it feels like every fast food chain is now sassy, football teams are overspilling with banter (lads lads lads!) and even mobile networks are getting a reputation for their witty comebacks.

This kind of approach has started to become more prevalent in the public sector. Thankfully, comms professionals in the public sector have mostly been able to strike the right balance between the cheekiness and innovation of the private sector, while maintaining the appropriate level of professionalism that their subject matter demands.

This has resulted in some fantastic campaigns in recent times, and I’ll be referencing some of my favourites during my talk. The good news is that you can have success like this too, and all it takes is some planning, a concerted effort and a bit of a risk.

I can’t go into all the detail that I want to in this blog – frankly, I have animals to tweet about – but it will be great to see you all in Manchester on 6 March to talk in more depth. I hope many of you will be able to join me for the Social Media Lab at 10:55am.

In the meantime, follow @YorkshireWP on Twitter for a taste of my work and some excellent photos of polar bears.

Liam Smith

Liam Smith, Digital Marketing Executive at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Liam is one of so many inspiring speakers joining us in Manchester at the Comms Event 2019. Check out some of the others, or find out how to get a ticket.

Risk it the right way