SAE Oxford hosts Digital Skills Training workshop

06 Dec 2019

On Thursday 21 November, SAE Oxford welcomed Katie from The Extraordinary Club to deliver a Digital Skills Training workshop, in partnership with Facebook. 

The session covered innovation and social media marketing, and was a great way for attendees to consolidate some of the topics they have addressed in class about business proposals and also learn some additional tips and tricks for idea generation.

Laura Makai, who is interested in studying Digital Film Production, said: “It was certainly worth going. As someone who hopes to work in the creative industries, having an online presence and being able to come up with new ideas and concepts will be a huge part of my life. This session has really given me some security in the sense that I no longer feel lost in how I can truly get my own work out there.”

The innovation portion of the session contained a series of interactive group work exercises which tested teamwork and creative faculties. Students were challenged to come up with a business or product idea that fused two existing brands e.g. ‘Siri’ and ‘Airbnb’ led one group to suggest a tool that lets you find things in your Airbnb host’s home. 

This icebreaker activity got creative juices flowing, and the subsequent task involved design thinking - getting into the shoes of the user and reflecting on what they are thinking/feeling. Katie ran the attendees through the key stages of design thinking: 

Empathise - Get into the shoes of the user. Create a persona - what are they thinking/feeling? Don’t be afraid to think big, and ask lots of questions. 

  • Define - Brainstorm lots of the user’s problems before defining one core problem, and put it into the form of a question. 
  • Ideate - Think big and ideate lots of solutions to solve problem you’ve defined, with quantity over quality at this stage.
  • Prototype - Narrow down all the solutions until you’ve got one proposal for how to combat the key problem. The prototype is the simplest form of your solution and can take different forms e.g. survey, wire frame of an app. It’s an important step because it allows you to explore your ideas/designs/features before investing time and money. 
  • Test - Arguably the most important step, this is where you go out and get user feedback. If you’ve missed the mark, use feedback to around the process again. 

Due to time constraints, attendees were given a made up user, who they had to identify the key problems and narrow it down to one that they could come up with a solution for. The case study involved a female graphic designer who was struggling to showcase her work, and had a desire to travel and see the world. The groups narrowed down her problems, determining that her single biggest problem was getting paid graphic design work. 

The groups then all created a prototype of an application that would solve this problem using the Marvel app. Other software and applications that Katie May recommended for creating a prototype included InVision, Origami Studio, Canva, Sketch and PowerPoint. 

After the groups shared their solutions, Katie moved on to the social media marketing portion of the workshop. After showing an example of how a Colombia Flower seller used Facebook to advertise their flower teddies, Katie ran through the importance of understanding your purpose and audience. 

Before spending any money on advertising you should know what you are selling (whether it’s a product or service). You should also know why you are doing this - this is your purpose, and it isn’t to make money (that’s a result). This is the reason why your organisation exists - what gets you out of bed in the morning? You also need to know how you achieve your goal - what makes you special or sets you apart from the competition? And how does your purpose equate to value for the audience? 

When it comes to generating content for a brand you need to make sure that you follow the acronym ‘EAST’ (easy, attractive, social and timely). Make sure your brand has a clear message, using simple call to actions that tell the user what you want them to do. Use visuals to trigger an emotional reaction - even if your subject matter isn’t attractive per se, it still needs to be memorable. It should feel like there’s a real, tangible person behind the screen as people respond better to authentic content. 

When it comes to the best time to post on social media, it varies according to which social media platform you are using:

  • For Twitter, the best time to post is between 12.00 - 1.00 pm, when people are on their lunch breaks. The worst time for engagement is on weekends (Saturday and Sunday).
  • The best periods to post on Instagram are between 11.00am - 1.00 pm and 7.00 - 9.00 pm. 
  • For Facebook, the best time to post is between 1.00 - 4.00 pm.
  • For LinkedIn it’s 10.00 - 11.00 am - don’t even dream of posting on LinkedIn on the weekend! 

It can be helpful to use scheduling tools such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck or Buffer to plan social posts in advance, but the best advice is to run a few social media platforms effectively rather than try and do them all but run them poorly. Think about what your purpose is, as different social media networks are better for different things: 

  • Facebook - is good for acquiring new customers through advertising
  • Twitter - is good for engaging with press, influencers and customers - some of the best humorous brands are on Twitter e.g. Greggs or Innocent Drinks
  • Instagram - is good for creating brand affinity
  • LinkedIn - is good for engaging with employers and employees, and attracting new talent
  • YouTube - is great for supporting existing customers with education
  • Snapchat - is good if you want to distribute content with the goal of building brand awareness 

Katie ran the attendees through the Facebook ad manager deck, and explained how to filter target audiences and also ran the attendees through some benchmark figures to aim for when serving their first ad.

Katie said: “The students were so engaged in the session and really put their all into the workshop which resulted in some amazing ideas from the brand mash up exercise to the creation of a digital prototype. It was great to come in at a pivotal point in their module to enhance the knowledge and learnings they already had - they all had fully fledged marketing and business strategies so it was great to see how they used that knowledge in the Innovation module and then really apply it to the social media marketing module! Good luck to them all.”  

All in all it was a very information-packed session and there was a lot of food for thought for all the aspiring entrepreneurs in the room!