Thank You Leading Social!


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After an exhilarating year in the Managing Director’s seat at Leading Social I’ve decided to take an exciting opportunity and join AIB as Digital and Innovation Marketing Manager. 

I’m incredibly proud of what the team has achieved in the past year – 

  • Two Social Media Awards for Best E-Commerce and Best Facebook page and a nomination for best Social Agency at the Social Media Awards 2018.
  • New Business wins including Vit-Hit, Bewley’s, Arnotts, Spinal Injuries Ireland, Focus Ireland, Student Leap Card and NUIG.
  • A national roll-out for 30 DNG franchises
  • Slick new website

I also joked that I became the ‘Aslan of Digital Marketing Conferences’ having presented at 3XE, Fresh Resolutions, Amplify Digital, IAB Connect, Maven 46, Electric Media’s On Demand Generation session and Retro Digital. Being based in town had it’s advantages too. I enjoyed lecturing for two semesters of Social Media Marketing for IBAT college

A collage of pictures featuring Cian Corbett with Leading Social

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help and support of so many people, most notably the Leading Social team, Jamie White and my contacts who recommended us to businesses which is what keeps independent agencies alive in this climate. It’s very much appreciated and I hope we stay in contact. 

Onwards to the next Digital Marketing adventure! 


The Best of Cannes 2018 – Cian’s View


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One of my ambitions when taking over Leading Social was to instil a culture of learning. This took the form of a weekly session called The Leading Social Academy wherein we took an hour every Thursday afternoon to explore a topic and learn more about our craft and industry.

Last week I lead a session exploring my favourite award-winners from Cannes 2018 where we examined the objectives driving the work and my take on why it was successful. Feel free to review the presentation and watch the ads below!

Irish Times – ‘JFK Unsilenced’

Tide – ‘It’s a Tide Ad’

Savlon – ‘Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks’

Ladbible – ‘Trash Isles’

Apple ‘Welcome Home’

Putting this presentation together was a lot of fun as the work embodies what attracted me to the advertising industry – ads creating value with art. Like I’ve said before; people don’t hate advertising, they hate terrible advertising.

Thanks for reading!


Social Media Circuit Talks – speaking at Retro Digital Live


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One of the best things about managing a team is watching them flourish in the spotlight. That was my experience of sharing the stage at Retro Digital with Jake McCabe, Team Leader in Leading Social. 

Speaking at conferences and lectures and pitches is a skill that can only be perfected with practice. I’d like to think I’ve learned something from every talk I’ve ever given and frequently ask myself after each talk:

  • Have I structured the deck in a way that’s conducive to audience learning?
  • Did I deliver this presentation with passion that commanded attention?
  • Where could I add more interactivity or fun to make this more enjoyable for the audience?

That’s why I feel it’s so important to encourage team members to take the opportunity to seize real experience speaking before an audience. It takes them out of the insular agency environment and casts them into an environment which demands clear communication, energetic explanation and an openness to challenging views. This experience will serve them in pitches and client presentations  in future which will benefit them and the agency.

The team member in question is Jake McCabe – a Senior Account Manager, a Team Leader and Influencer in his own right. Jake did an excellent job of showcasing the skills of Leading Social in campaigns while also giving an insight into the world of Influencer marketing showing his approaching to curating his own Instagram Account as well as his role as influencer for a current Sprite campaign. 

Cian and Jake speaking at Retro Digital Live

Cian and Jake speaking at Retro Digital

With all elements of management there is a constant temptation to try to do everything yourself because it may reach the destination faster or to ensure the output is exactly as you imagined. However, this denies your team members an opportunity to grow in experience. I’d encourage managers to relinquish control and to trust your team to rise to the opportunity – the feeling of watching them succeed is worth it. 

Social Media Circuit Talks: Speaking at Amplify Digital, Cork


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It doesn’t take much to entice me back to Cork so I was delighted to return to speak at Amplify Digital-  Cork’s premier digital marketing conference. It was funny being back on the Cork City Hall stage where I’ve performed a few times with the Frank and Walters but this time I was only armed with a clicker and a few jokes.

Cian Corbett speaking at Amplify Digital, Cork City Hall

Cork City Hall – Big Stage – Small Man


I like to look back on my Twitter feed and see which parts of my presentation resonated most with the audience. This time it was my section on “Living in the Attention Economy”.

Gif showing a computer displaying a newsfeed which says "Look at me" to demonstrate we're Living in the Attention Economy

Previously, I’ve spoken about this premise of the importance of adding value to your audience’s timeline. The reason being we now live in the Attention Economy – if I give you my attention what are you going to give me in return? Marketing has evolved beyond interruption marketing wherein you paid for an impression – audiences now demand more. They’ve given you their attention now give them something valuable in return:

  • Teach them something new or give them something new
  • Make them laugh, cry
  • Help them be their better selves

When you view your content through this lens you pull yourself out of the self-involved messaging and your marketing becomes more customer-centric. Quickly you’ll find that your marketing becomes less transaction focused and more relationship focused which will yield greater long-term benefits.

Cork, you were very kind – see you at Christmas!

Photo of Cian Corbett holding a cup of coffee getting psyched up before speaking at Amplify Digital, Cork City Hall.

Cian getting psyched up before speaking at Amplify Digital

Social Media Circuit: Presenting at 3XE Digital 2018


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I think I’ve finally chosen my favourite conference experience – last week I spoke at 3XE in Croke Park and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The venue, the organisation, the other speakers and the crowd were perfect. I spoke about “The Evolution of Social Media – People, Platforms and Performance”.

3XE 2018 Digital Marketing Conference Speaker Line-Up

3XE 2018 Speaker Line-Up

To give a personal view of the evolution of social media I returned to my first ever social campaign back in 2006 for Murphy’s called Murphy’s Live (and for authenticity, I included a picture of myself with a dodgy Eminem haircut). I like revisiting the campaign as the primary aspects of the campaign architecture are the same:

People – we wanted to reach people who had declared an interest in a passion that the brand could share (this passion being music).

Platforms – The fact that Myspace and Bebo are no longer the behemoths they were in 2006 reminds us that no platform is infallible and evolution demands adaptation and change

Performance – as marketers we all have to drive an action with our campaigns – this one being increasing awareness of the sponsorship and driving audiences to sites to apply for tickets and attend events. 

12 years on, these remain the cornerstones of social media campaigns, however, the mechanics have evolved significantly demanding our strategies change with them. 

After conferences, I like to review my Twitter notifications to identify which parts of my presentation resonated the most. 

  1. “Don’t just serve an impression, make an impression.”

This is a challenge to my background as a Media Man who was tasked with driving impressions. In my opinion, this approach will shortchange your social media opportunities to form value-adding relationships if you only view your accounts as another broadcast channel to shout slogans. 

2. “Nobody knows you better than your Facebook account.”

Nobody knows you better than your Facebook Account

The valuable by-product of digital activity is data and that data should be harnessed by marketers to design the ideal audience for their content. That’s why whenever I’m asked “can we just push this message out organically.”

I always answer: “Of course you can but why would you?”

Social Media’s advertising options are one of the best things about it. If you’re going to the trouble to create great content why not find the perfect audience for it? I often use the analogy of putting time into writing something amazing to say and then walking into an empty room to say it. Alternatively, you can put some budget aside for promotion and ensure that room is full of the perfect audience who may be ready to buy whatever you’re selling. 

3. “Content is King but Context is Queen”

A GIF that shows Content is King but Context is QueenEveryone working in Digital knows that Content is King and that’s true, however, if the context in which that content is displayed and consumed is wrong then that’s a waste of great content. When creating content social media marketers need to design for the environment in which it will be consumed and play to the strengths of the that platform. The example I used at 3XE (pictured below) showed the dichotomy of a marketer creating content with a captive family audience watching on a large screen in mind when in fact the content is most likely going to be consumed on a small screen in a public place with the sound off.

Cian at 3XE Context is Queen

I’ve shared the slides on SlideShare below – feel free to review!

My one regret of the conference was not being ale to hang around to see Blindboy Boatclub give his keynote speech as I’m such a huge fan of his podcast and I secretly hoped we’d become best friends. Next time!

Thanks for reading!

‘By Teaching, We Learn’ – Why Teaching is important (for you and them


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I’ve been lecturing in Social Media steadily for 7 years now. I got a taste for it by tutoring during my Masters in DCU and began providing training for which opened more lecturing doors in OLAS, SureSkills, Enterprise Boards and NUI Maynooth. This period also saw a long and enjoyable relationship formed with the Digital Marketing Institute which is ongoing to this day. When I joined Core Media in 2012 I was giving internal and external training to staff and clients which was then packaged into Core Knowledge courses resulting in an 8 month series of lectures in UL. And last year I began lecturing in IBAT college on the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing and Social Media.

Now, don’t get me wrong – it is tiring. After a long day at work, the concept of talking social media for 3 hours seems crazy. So why do it? Well, I think it’s good for teachers as well as students. 

  1. Docendo Discimus – By teaching we learn

In my dear Mum’s house, (a music teacher in St. Aloysius School, Carrigtohill for her entire career), has this lovely plaque on her wall -“By Teaching We Learn”, and I couldn’t agree more. Teaching and achieving true communication requires a dissection of the topic and logically rebuilding it before an audience. This has been important to me in challenging and testing my perception of social media marketing as it was and as it is now and the reasons why it’s evolved the way it has. Explaining and articulating those changes on a regular basis has helped me learn about the psychology driving these changes helping form predictions on future trends.

A framed plaque stating

Docendo Discimus – By Teaching, We Learn

 2. Learning and Anticipating Pain-Points

When explaining emerging formats and principles to students of varying experience you can identify regular junctions that students find tricky. Some students find Twitter marketing a mystery, some overlook the importance of succinct copywriting, a few haven’t heard of remarketing; all of these are commonplace when dealing with new clients also so it helps identifying these issues ahead of pitches, briefings and Post Campaign Analyses. If a student has found something difficult there’s a chance that same challenge may be confusing a client so it’s wise to spend time explaining it further.

3. Presentation skills

I’ve been told I’m a good presenter which I can only put down to plenty of practice. With regular lectures, a teacher can accurately read a room, craft a narrative to hook attention and pace a lecture to ensure communication. And like a second-rate comedian,  you can learn which social media jokes work well and which ones you should leave behind you in the lecture hall. 

Cian presenting Social Media usage

4. Be Challenged

In at least every second course I teach there’s a seasoned Social Media skeptic and I welcome them with open arms! I actively seek them out by asking “Who here loves Social Media and who here hates it?”

And when they proudly out themselves I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of winning them over. Which I always do!

5. Learning from the students

I always welcome and encourage active dialogue in my lectures and I’ve learned quite a bit in these open conversations. As well as dissecting campaigns that I’ve worked on students often discuss current campaigns they admire or campaigns they’ve worked on themselves. I always invite social media usage stories from those I’m teaching to understand how audiences are using social media. One of the most enlightening things I learned was from a work experience student who explained the difference between her Rinsta and her Finsta! 

Rinsta V Finsta - an image showing the difference between a teenagers use of Instagram for public consumption like a debs/ prom and their Finsta - the "real person's activity" under a pseudonym

Rinsta V Finsta

6. Build the Agency’s Competencies

Albert Einstein Quote “Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.”

Albert Einstein said:

“Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.”

Having an agency team that can learn skills and critical thinking and then apply that to client work is a valuable asset which is why I’ve tried to build a culture of learning at Leading Social which includes a weekly hour-long session called “The Leading Social Academy”. This hour every Thursday afternoon is dedicated to teaching and learning, where I’ll lead a class or one of the team will share their experience or skill. We’ve also had guest speakers in to share their industry experience with the team to ensure our learning isn’t overtly insular. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with the team citing continued learning as a vital intrinsic reward of working with us. 

I’ll close this blog with the deliberately quirky words of Australian Comedian Tim Minchin from a recent graduation speech.

“Be a Teacher. Even if you’re not a teacher, be a teacher. Share your ideas. Don’t take for granted your education. Rejoice in what you’ve learned and spray it.


Leading Social at the Social Media Awards 2018


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Immediately, this feels like a strange blog to write without mentioning Radical but for the first time in 7 years, I attended the Social Media Awards with the new family, Leading Social. I was so proud of the team for securing ten nominations in their first year of entering, including Social Media Agency of the Year.

And the night itself did not disappoint! The Leading Social team came away with the two most desirable awards of the night, in my opinion.

Best Facebook Page by an Agency – Leading Social & Apache Pizza

Best Facebook Page by an Agency - Leading Social & Apache Pizza - Social Media Awards 2018

Best E-Commerce Strategy – Leading Social and 53 Degrees North

Best E-Commerce Strategy - Leading Social - Social Media Awards 2018 and 53 Degrees North

Best E-Commerce Strategy – Leading Social and 53 Degrees North – Social Media Awards 2018

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to take home the Best Agency title but I’m thrilled at the achievement by the team in their first ever awards!

Awards are an interesting element of agency life as creative campaigns are so subjective. However, I do love the galvanising effect it has on a team. When you’re looking for that added edge when creating a strategy or a thumb-stopping piece of content we have to ask ourselves –

“Is this award-winning work? When I’m writing this as an award entry am I earning a nomination or could I try harder?”

Whatever your thoughts on advertising awards I think we can agree that anything that encourages you to work harder and break barriers then that’s a positive motivator.

It reminds me of this Vince Lombardi quote –

“Greatness is not attainable but in the pursuit of it you can achieve excellence.”

Thanks for reading!


Social Media Circuit Talk: Speaking at IAB Connect 2018


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It’s always an honour to speak at an IAB event because the audience are seasoned marketing professionals. And for that reason, it can also be a little daunting – like a Dentist performing a root canal on a room full of Dentists. Which also makes it more gratifying when the talks goes well. The most tweeted talking point was this GIF

“People don’t hate advertising they hate terrible advertising.”

Gif of a computer showing the Cian Corbett quote - People Don't Hate Advertising - they hate terrible advertising

In recent years I’ve been asked several times about the future of advertising under the threat of Ad Blockers. My reply has been consistent – people don’t hate ads, they hate terrible ads. The rise of ad blockers can be attributed to terrible ads that are interrupting users online experience to the point where they want them blocked. The answer to the threat of ad blockers is “make better ads”. Compare the feeling you get when you’re targeted with a well-thought out piece of content marketing that adds value to your timeline. These might include:

  • SuperValu’s recipes
  • KBC’s localised community guides
  • Electric Ireland’s Smarter Living series

Now compare that to the latest interstitial you were served – that thing that jumped in your face while you were trying to read an article! The customer experiences with your brand’s advertising differ vastly.

It was an absolute pleasure speaking at IAB’s event and I promise I’ll have another viral GIF if they invite me to speak again 🙂

Is this the end of Facebook? No, absolutely not.

I’ve been asked this a few times in the last week so I felt it’s worth discussing here. In my opinion, I don’t believe this is the end for two key reasons – Consumers and Advertisers.

Consumers still enjoy the Facebook Universe. Despite how trendy it is to say #DeleteFacebook, the reality is 2.2 billion people enjoy sharing their lives and consuming personalised content on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp. Yes, there are concerns about the safety of their data but the reality is similar data is shared on Google platforms. (There’s a great Twitter thread by Dylan Curran which examines how much data we have volunteered if you’d like to review)

Are consumers that worried about data exposure that they’ll withdraw from Facebook and Google and take themselves off the internet’s biggest players? Personally, I’m not convinced they will.

Phone Screenshot of Leave Facebook

Leave Facebook? Nope!

Advertisers big and small can’t afford to not advertise on Facebook which currently commands 23% of Global Digital Adspend. The reality is Facebook advertising is so accurate, personalised and cost-effective that companies can’t afford to not include it in their marketing channel offering, certainly not for a moral stance.

For big advertisers, it’s providing unparalleled reach and e-commerce traffic that they’ll struggle to get elsewhere for their budget.

For small businesses, Facebook can be one of the few channels they can actually afford. For many, Facebook represents the democratisation of marketing where the barriers to entry have been lowered to invite lower tier spenders.

Pie Chart showing Facebook Ad Spend Share of Digital Media Advertising

Facebook Ad Spend Share of Digital Media Advertising

I was reassured in a recent client meeting when I asked were they concerned about the amount of data that Facebook hold and she said “Well, that’s the point isn’t it? Facebook advertising is so good because of the data consumers provide.” I do love a well-read client!

So my opinion is that this isn’t the end of Facebook but it should be a timely reminder (ahead of GDPR in May) to all of us to treat our data and the data of others with respect.

If you’re still unsettled by this data breach then perhaps take this an impetus to shore up the other channels in your digital armoury – are you reaching the right audience on Twitter, have you built up the right network on Linkedin, is your audience on Snapchat, could Pinterest help drive traffic to your site, are you building your brand by blogging? If you’re determined to leave the Facebook Universe, there are alternatives – they’re just not as effective or efficient.

But our trust is still hurt, what could Facebook do to make amends? I can think of three key areas:

1) Identify and declare any further data breaches immediately in a transparent fashion

2) Use AI to identify and eliminate Fake News

3) Ban Political advertising on the platform. Facebook currently have policies banning cryptocurrency advertising and body image advertising. By extending these policies to include Politics they’ll remove the threat of weaponising data in elections.

Just to note these comments are my answer to the question “Is this the end of Facebook?” It isn’t a commentary on the handling of the issue or the Brexit/ Trump issues.

Would love to hear your thoughts below 🙂

Social Media Lessons Learned from The Frank and Walters

I’ve had the pleasure of playing piano with the Frank and Walters for 13 years now. As well as crediting them for bringing me on tour around the world playing music, featuring on three studio albums and popping up on TV and radio regularly I can also thank them for inadvertently getting me into Digital Marketing. It was a very different landscape back then featuring Bebo, MySpace and Forums but I learned key fundamental lessons that I still draw on today. I also got to experiment a few campaign mechanics on the band’s accounts to see if they worked before presenting them to a client and I get to write about them without betraying client confidentiality.

Last week both of my worlds collided when the Frank and Walters’ song “After All” was featured in the finale of the wonderful RTE series “Young Offenders” and the Social Media accounts lit up and the band began trending on Twitter. I drew on my previous experience of maximising off-line coverage to build on-line conversation. So if your brand has some offline activity that could benefit from an online push then hopefully these tips will help.
1) Prepare Assets and release at the perfect time.
If you have Radio, TV or Print activity scheduled then seize this opportunity to complement with Digital Activity. The band knew the timing of the broadcast last Thursday night so we had the following assets ready.

You can also retweet previous content back into the newsfeed of your followers when that topic is back in current conversation.

I felt Three Ireland did this expertly well with their “Girl and the Cloud” content by providing an interactive experience to accompany the broadcasted content

2) React to current conversation and user-generated content

Embracing live social conversation means embracing a dialogue and not treating your channels like a one-way broadcast. This also makes the activity a lot more enjoyable like finding out someone had updated the Frank and Walters Wikipedia page to include The Young Offenders’ character Billy Murphy. That was actually such a good idea I wish I thought of it! It was certainly worth sharing on Twitter and on Facebook but as with all user-generated content, it’s best practice to credit the creator.

A screenshot of the Frank and Walters Facebook post featuring a Wikipedia Page with a special update to include The Young Offenders Character Billy Murphy

Frank and Walters Wikipedia Page with a special update

Lidl Ireland are absolutely nailing the Social Media game with the way they’ve reacted to the vandalisation of the store in Tallaght and are being rewarded by valuable positive sentiment on Social. Their transparency and humour was embraced and celebrated culminating in their tweet of a Patrick’s Day parade parodying the incident.

3) Monitor for untagged mentions

An offline event such as this will generate conversation and followers may tag you in this conversation with your Twitter handle. However, there will be a lot of conversation generated that you won’t be tagged in. This is an opportunity to jump outside of your community (those who know or follow you on Twitter) and to build your community by talking to those who haven’t tagged you.

A screenshot of a saved twitter search for the Frank and Walters

Save a search in Twitter for your brand to monitor untagged mentions

A screenshot of Frank and Walters Untagged Mentions on Twitter

Frank and Walters Untagged Mentions on Twitter

This affords the brand an opportunity to turn a mention into a follow building the owned spaces and to take the pulse of how the content is being received. This should be a common practice for every brand outside of offline activity to monitor brand health and crisis management.

4) Give a “peek behind the curtain” with exclusive content

Supporting offline content with online content shouldn’t be a case of simply duplicating it on all channels. Ideally, the online content should be complementary or additional to the offline experience. Remember, you have full control over your online spaces to afford yourself more editorial freedom and expand on the theme. This is an optimal opportunity to give a “peek behind the curtain” to invite viewers further into the experience. The Young Offenders’ producer Mairtín de Barra kindly captured the band’s reaction to the cast singing ‘After All’ at a live screening of the episode in the English Market.

Frank and Walters in the English Market watching Young Offenders

Frank and Walters watching the Young Offenders live

AIB are fantastic at this with The Toughest exclusive behind the scenes content.

5) Invite further conversation

A brand’s digital spaces allow them to continue the conversation after the event. Ideally, this is presented in a value-adding and engaging format. For this one, we chose to use Facebook’s poll option to ask the community which cover-version of ‘After All’ they preferred – Billy Murphy from The Young Offenders or famed Irish Showband singer Joe Dolan.

A screenshot of a Facebook Poll on the Frank and Walters page featuring the 'After All' Debate - Young Offenders Billy Murphy or Joe Dolan

The After All Debate – Young Offenders Billy Murphy or Joe Dolan

This is a playful format that invites engagement through voting, teaches the audience something new (some may not know Joe Dolan covered ‘After All – he did! On his 90’s covers album) and the GIF format stands out in viewers newsfeed’s and performs without audio.

Sometimes you may have the opportunity to extend the topic into another conversation which further sweats the assets for additional coverage. This was (cheekily) done by noting streams of ‘After All’ exceeded 29,000 which will likely result in very low royalties for the band. This, of course, is a tongue in cheek comment but lends itself to a larger conversation regarding the difficulties bands have in earning revenue from their songs, even when they are commercially successful. This tweet was the highest performing content piece over the four days and attracted engagement from key music players including Tom Dunne, The Stunning and Tony Clayton-Lea.

The lesson here is giving the audience a new angle on a trending topic to further fuel earned media. Following this tweet the band were contacted by who wrote an article highlighting the plight of bands in the new digital musical landscape followed by The Examiner running a similar story based on the Social Media content produced over the 5 days.

A tweet from The Journal that features the Frank and Walters in The Journal

The Franks speak to TheJournal

Frank and Walters, Rory Murphy, Ashley Keating, Paul Linehan, Cian Corbett in The Examiner

Frank and Walters in The Examiner

I hope this insight into 5 days of running a band’s Social Media spaces was helpful. Of course, not every brand will have the luxury of being featured in a prime time TV show but I do feel the 5 principals of conducting a coordinated online and offline marketing approach still apply.

  1. Prepare your assets
  2. React to current conversation and user generated content
  3. Monitor for untagged mentions
  4. Give exclusive content
  5. Invite further conversation

Happy to hear any additions you might add if you’d like to list them below.