Social Media Week Bristol
It was a pretty extraordinary feat to pull off and all credit to the AMBITIOUS team. This is the first time Bristol Media, and indeed Bristol, has done anything like this.
AMBITIOUS not only raised income to fund the project, they then delivered a brilliant event cross location and sector. Social Media Week Bristol has such positive feedback.
Part of our mission is to connect and showcase members and this event went beyond expectations in achieving that.   
We are the only city outside London to have achieved delivering Social Media Week to date and we are proud of that.” 

Chris Thurling, Chair, Bristol Media 


Integrated Marketing Communications

About Bristol Media

Bristol Media (BM) is an industry led organisation whose purpose is to facilitate collaboration, connectivity and build the fame of the region for the creative and media sector it represents.

BM tasked AMBITIOUS with creating an event platform that would meet the following objectives:

  1. Bang the drum and build the ‘fame’ of the region and help put Bristol’s creative media sector on the national and international map to showcase the talent, career opportunities and progressive thinking of the city
  2. Skill-up the city and promote knowledge sharing and best practice. Focus on priority sectors of the region e.g. fintech, 
tourism, food and drink and start up/SME’s
  3. Add value, engage and make new connections to support and grow Bristol Media’s 600 strong membership
  4. Make the event financially viable. Cover all fees and expenses by raising sponsorship and securing other income streams to make it a full cost recovery initiative

Leveraging AMBITIOUS’ international connections, we identified Social Media Week as a vehicle to meet the set objectives.

We prepared and submitted an application and secured the opportunity for BM to be granted a licence to host the global conference in November 2016 – becoming the only other city outside of London in the UK to join the 25-city strong global conference platform.

AMBITIOUS was tasked to run every aspect of Social Media Week Bristol (#SMWiBristol) from concept development through to execution.

In depth research helped us to firm up a commercially sound, creatively led and well-informed strategy that meant stakeholders felt they had a vested interest in #SMWiBristol.

Our strategy and tactics set out to ensure everyone had ‘skin in the game’ so the event became a collaborative undertaking and this encouraged excitement and a spirit of support around the execution of the event.

  • Ambassador panel: To inform and add rigor to the planning, AMBITIOUS’ set up an ‘Ambassador’ group comprising respected bloggers, You tubers and other prominent social media influencers. The group acted as a sounding board, shared insight, helped decide event themes and curate event content (and later amplify activity). The panel met monthly and we called them regularly to road test ideas
  • Mutually Beneficial Partnerships: Identified and engaged with Bristol’s key business networks and regional trade bodies that share some of Bristol Media’s objectives including Invest Bristol and Bath, Business West, PRCA, BIMA, TechSPARK. Support included their input to the programme, endorsement and amplification of message through their networks
  • Member Research: Reached out to BM members, conducting qualitative research (face to face) to understand common business challenges, what they wanted from #SMWiBristol in order guide us in developing relevant content and price points for events
  • Global Dialogue: Created dialogue with many of the 25 global cities that host Social Media Week to take key learnings from them, test concepts and set up channels to showcase #SMWiBristol internationally
  • Media Relations: To secure media support we undertook media briefings early on to engage journalists in our planning and secure event support but also involved them in the programme and speaking opportunities to ensure they had a vested interest
  • Venue strategy: Stayed true to the spirit of Bristol and avoided the ‘usual’ conference centres. Instead, hosting in inspiring spaces across the city that reflect the creative industry. This included Everyman Cinema, Engine Shed and award winning offices of OVO energy.
  • Event Programme: Ensured the events reflected the region’s economic priorities to make it super relevant. And, that it addressed sector challenges by providing opportunities for roundtables/thought leadership to move discussion forward. We secured headline speakers from Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed and Glassdoor as well as regional champions such as Aardman Animation and Yogscast
  • Pricing: Deliberately avoided high-ticket prices and sponsorship fees in order to ensure the event was right for Bristol and accessible to meet original objectives. Kept production costs low 
securing free host venues and mobilised community support. Tickets priced at £5 to £35
  • Social Media: Recruited and branded a digital squad made up of volunteers to report from key events, ensuring ‘live’ coverage and event buzz.
    • We created paid for posts and In-mails to promote the event including boosted posts on Facebook and LinkedIn In-mails to Bristol-based social media managers
    • We also created social media toolkit for sponsors, partners and ambassadors which included suggested tweets, posts, links, event #hashtags, sponsor and venue @Twitter addresses

A summary of key results included:

  • 1,500 delegates and participants: Exceeded expectations by securing attendance of over 400 Bristol Media members plus attendees from over 1,000 businesses from major corporates to prominent SMEs
  • Secured 50  speaker-led events, workshops and seminars which included high profile speakers from Facebook, Buzzfeed, Twitter, Glassdoor and Yahoo
  • Secured 30 partners and sponsors including OVO, Samsung and Business West, Bristol 247, General Assembly and UWE
  • New relationships forged as part of #SMWiBristol campaign including TINT, Yantra Live Streaming, Spectrum Internet and Everyman Cinema
  • Trending live on Twitter on day one (main social channel we selected). 
145 people (98%) said ‘bring it back next year’ via 24hr Twitter poll. Overwhelming positive feedback across social media channels – high levels of engagement, interactions & sharing during the week
  • Connections and collaborations secured 
included the hosting of international delegation from #SMWiAustin, Texas
  • Free ticket allocation given to Babassa youth group and UWE students to support knowledge building amongst the next generation

Social Media Week will return to the city in February 2018.