In 2014 the week one Dundee (DJCAD) crew had more social media coverage than the rest of New Designers put together! Don’t believe me? Well check out this Storify from last year’s coverage. And what did that achieve? It contributed to a record increase in conventional media coverage, greatly increased visitor numbers to the stands, increased the opportunities for job offers, internships and exhibitions, and overall raised the attention and profile of all of our students.
Social media is not an optional add-on at an event like New Designers. It is totally essential. And it has to be considered strategically. Our graduates worked as a team to maximise coverage and to co-ordinate their efforts. Right from the start of their courses at DJCAD, we make sure that our students are effective and professional users of social media.
All students from every institution should make use of social media at New Designers to maximise the opportunities of the event. It isn’t rocket science, it’s actually quite straight forward. But from our experience in 2014, nobody else was doing this strategically.
So, this is what you do. Just make sure that you do it.
Step One. Work on your profiles for twitter and linkedin especially.
This is the profile for Rebecca Black, who in 2015 is in the One Year On show. She was our perfect Social Media Ninja! Rebecca realised that the profile you use is vital! Take out any reference to you being a student, and especially reference to your age. You are not a student. At New Designers you are a professional. Ensure that your social media profiles express this. Consider carefully how you will describe yourself and brand yourself. Ensure that you social media profiles have links to any website. Use your best quality images in these profiles.
Beth Spowart was another of our stars from last year, presenting a professional, expertly designed and informative profile for her twitter page. These things really matter. In fact they are vital if we want to be treated seriously and professionally. This has to be all in place before the next step.
Step two. Follow people
Between now and the opening of the show follow everyone you can who is relevant to your aspirations. This is on the assumption that 30% of the people you follow will follow you back. So look at who people just a few years down the line in your field are following. If you’re not following people like @TheDesignTrust or @coadg then you clearly are not serious about your future! Find out who they follow. Ideally you want to follow people who are likely to visit New Designers, because that’s the trick here!
Put yourself in the shoes of a busy retail buyer, gallery owner, or design manager who has 90 minutes scheduled in their diary to DO New Designers. As they walk up Upper Street, they check the twitter feed on their feed. What’s trending on #ND15? Last year it was Dundee. So they made a point of seeing us.
You need to do some detective work on figuring out who to follow. But in an hour you could usefully double your followers IF you focus on key leaders in your field and trust your instinct.
Step three. Have images, use hashtags
What tweets do you really notice and read? The ones with images. If I want to be noticed then I’ll use an image to ensure that my reader lingers on my tweet in their feed. Load your phone with at least 10 (or 20) of your most compelling photos of your work. You can use these to drive your twitter posts in the first day or so. But bear in mind that most twitter readers on phones show an image that is 1 high by 2 wide. It crops whatever you post. Use this to your advantage. Think killer images! And put text into them. If you don’t have space in the tweet to put the stand number or other details then simply put this into the image. If you don’t know how to do this then I’m not sure you should really be at New Designers.
Then ensure that in every tweet you use the correct New Designers hashtag, you refer to your institution twitter handle ( in our case it’s @DJCAD ) because then they will retweet (assuming they get social media) and you use the stand number. Make sure you find out what the hashtag is for the event this year. I think it’s #ND15. If you don’t put the stand number, how will they find you?
Step four. Broadcast all success
DJCAD Dundee students win more prizes at New Designers that those of any institution. We generally win a prize every year. Two last year. That is because our students are really very good indeed! Above is Rebecca McGill from 2014 having just won the John Lewis prize.
Now, when a person in your team wins a prize EVERYONE benefits, if you pitch it right. There is an immediate increase in footfall to see what amazing institution the student is from. But we can help lift this even further.
Every time a person wins something, or gets a job or anything, tweet it! But always remember image, hashtag, institution twitter name, stand number. Last year within 35 minutes of me tweeting Rebecca McGill’s prize, the story was being run by STV back in Scotland. The more traction you get on twitter, the more it will be picked up at the event itself and rebroadcast. Following journalists back home, and asking them to follow you can really help here.
Step five. Run stories on well known visitors
If a prominent visitor polls up, take their photo, name check them and broadcast, as we did here when the UK’s most prominent design blogger visited us. If a TV crew turns up then do likewise. You want to broadcast and share all evidence that your stand is the best show in town and that you know how to tell a good story. But ALWAYS remember hashtag, institution twitter handle, stand number.
Step six. Retweet
Retweet what other people in your team is posting. You almost certainly have different followers, and in most cases modest numbers of followers, so you have to punch above your weight. You do this by working as a team and reposting or retweeting what your colleagues have posted.
Step seven. Storify it
One person should be tasked with collating a Storify of the week. Apart from anything else it gives you a great account of the week that you can look back on. But if you update it every day you can see how the strategy is working, and what things are getting attention.
Step eight. Enjoy it
New Designers is an amazing experience and a great platform for launching your career. But the chances you get from it are not down to luck. They are a consequence of your strategic approach. Have fun. Be strategic. Focus on your objectives.