7 Things We Learned From Digital City Expo

The inaugural Digital City Festival took place this month, a landmark celebration of the North’s digital economy, bringing an opportunity for organisations to grow and connect. Over the space of a week, several fringe events took place, culminating in a two-day expo at Manchester Central. Wavemaker North went along on Thursday to see what it was all about – we attended talks from the industry’s big hitters including Social Chain, Smoking Gun and Fat Media. Here are seven things we learned.

10 Questions for Better Metrics

The first talk we attended was from James Akers, Tech Champion for Arts Council England, all about fantastic metrics and where to find them. James revealed 10 questions you should be asking your client or yourselves:

Where are you capturing data?

You can use social analytics, website analytics and surveys.

What metrics are important?

When using metrics, you should always measure what you value, don’t value what you measure. Think about your vision (what you want to achieve), your goals (what you’re doing to make it happen) and your tactics and KPI, aka your actions.

What’s the point of your website?

Is it to capture data? Generate revenue? Education? Or to solve a problem?

How are you tracking web behaviour?

You can use extra tracking to delve into your visitor’s habits i.e. if you want to see where exactly they clicked on the page, you can use a heatmap or screen recordings.

Are your systems integrated?

If you’re an e-commerce website, you need to be integrated with Google Analytics to see revenue on channels, or Facebook Pixel allows you to use a code on site to retarget users.

What marketing activity works?

You can use multi-channel marketing and attribution to understand the customer journey.

Do you segment audiences?

Not all customers have equal value – they have different expectations and needs. Google Analytics demographic segmentation allows you to see which group is most valuable.

Do you experiment?

A to B split testing allows you to see which metrics work best.

Finally, who has access to your data?

Your data belongs to you, so you need to be careful about which employees have access to it.

Influencer Marketing Statistics

With $8.5bn spent globally on influencer marketing, it’s a huge business. Next up was a talk by global influencer marketing agency, Takumi, who recently released their own whitepaper on influencer marketing and trust, led by their Chief Revenue Officer, Carla Faria. Here are some key statistics:

  • 88% of influencers felt the current ASA guidelines were clear enough.
  • Shockingly, 62% of influencers said they had been pressured by a brand to disclose an ad incorrectly or not at all.
  • 67% of consumers would unfollow an influencer if they were found to have disclosed incorrectly.
  • 68% of consumers would unfollow if they felt an influencer was portraying an unrealistic/unsustainable lifestyle/body image.
  • 91% of 16-24-year-olds have purchased a recommendation from an influencer.
  • 19% would trust a recommendation from an influencer over their friends.

Takumi also delved into what makes a successful influencer-brand relationship. Most important to influencers was a clear brief and allowing them to have creative control. Brands need to give influencers creative freedom and let them know their brand constraints ahead of time to produce the best content.

“Shockingly, 62% of influencers said they had been pressured by a brand to disclose an ad incorrectly or not at all.”

Takumi study

How to Be Sincere

Rick Guttridge from Smoking Gun PR led the next talk about building a brand in an age of deceit. He started by reaffirming that society as we know it is built on telling lies – from the tooth fairy to Father Christmas. He delved into the latest Edelmen Trust Barometer, which showed that the ‘informed public’ have less trust in the media and the Government. The public are worrying about quality information – with 52% stating the media I use is contaminated with untrustworthy information. Here are Rick’s tips on how a brand can be sincere:

  • Tell the truth when things go wrong
  • Understand how trust is earned
  • Find the truth that resonates with your audiences

Being More Purposeful

SkyParlour’s co-founder Angela Yore talked all about the purpose of PR. In today’s day and age, consumers want the brands they use to have a purpose. This stems from the rise of politics, climate change, equality and ethical consumerism. PR can help you; define your proposition, build a narrative, enter into partnerships, tell your story to generate publicity and profit and communicate it to the world. Your purpose should be something that you are passionate about in order to be authentic, not just an exercise to tick boxes.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Alexei Lee, Fat Media’s Head of Comms gave an insightful talk into how to build a digital strategy in an uncertain world. Big events can change the way that consumers think, and in today’s climate, the unexpected is fast becoming the norm. Fat Media have created the 3Ps – plan, prepare and pivot. Alexei advised using an evidence-led strategy that is a direction of travel, not a strict plan. Here are five top tips:

  • Set your direction – listen and seek evidence, but don’t rely on the numbers.
  • Don’t over plan – it should be a framework, not a bible.
  • Sustainable – Your workflow should be agile, and you should have a bank of ideas to come back to.
  • Pivot when needed – Measure frequently and learn to recognise the warning signs.
  • Make room for experiments – Don’t let BAU get in the way, testing is your friend.

Redefining Creativity

Leading the last two keynote speeches of the expo was Jake Welsh, the founder of Dept. His talk was about redefining creativity and keeping up with consumers. The difference between brands is that some are transactional, with a fast-moving relationship, and some are eternal, and relation driven, with consumers buying into their purpose. With the latter, consumers are more likely to buy into their vision. Dept’s philosophy is all about human first creativity, crafted by data. They achieve this by looking into feelings, behaviours, habits, emotions and desires. Using data allows them to deliver the right message, at the right time and through the right medium.

Hacking the Social Media Algorithm

The final speech was from Katy Leeson, managing director of Social Chain UK. Katy began her talk by stating how consumers now expect a lot from their relationship with brands – they want communication on their terms, and have been connected from birth, with a lot of media choices. In 2020, the average web user is a member of 8.5 social media networks, so brands are fighting for attention. Social Chain’s successful strategy for cutting through the noise involves strong social-first creatives that provide value. They make people care by delving into;

  • Why they share – to improve the lives of others, to define themselves, to grow relationships or to champion causes.
  • The importance of trust – people want to feel like they are part of something.
  • The science of emojis – Emojis evoke emotion and release a hormone that makes you feel connected.
  • Colour builds relationships – the colours that your brand uses affects how it is perceived.
  • Scratching backs – Getting there first to give something of value.

” In 2020, the average web user is a member of 8.5 social media networks, so brands are fighting for attention. “


We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Digital City Expo. Thanks to all the excellent speakers for their insights. We also must give a special shout-out to Silverchip, whose Digital Donkey Derby was by far the most popular stand of the day, and addictive – we played multiple times until we won!

If you’ve enjoyed our roundup of Digital City Expo, you can check out the rest of our posts here.