Let’s Talk Digital: Marc reports back from #hdextra17

March Conchar
MSc Digital Marketing Student Marc Conchar

On Monday 20 February 2017, I travelled back to my home city of Inverness to attend a major event held at Eden Court Theatre. As a Digital Marketer, I was immediately interested in attending #hellodigital‘s #hdextra17 when a former colleague told me about it.

#hellodigital is a digital demonstration centre developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. Their one-day #hdextra17 conference aims to spread expert knowledge on all things digital throughout Scotland.

Digital Opportunities at #hdextra17

I arrived at Eden Court around 9am on Monday and scanned the programme as I collected my RGU delegate lanyard. The event was full of industry-leading talent and included keynote speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions. I was excited to get started and see what was going on!

After a quick coffee, I began to explore the exhibition. There was a large array of local businesses showcasing their products and services. These ranged from digital agencies to virtual reality specialists.

#hdextra live newsfeed

Social media played a prominent role, as the event was digital-oriented. The official event hash tag was #hdextra17. Throughout the day, we were encouraged to engage in social media to share our experience in the live newsfeed on display. I was quite happy to see my name appear on the Screen! So delighted that I nearly missed the opportunity to seize the moment on camera.

Let the education begin

Digital Marketing Consultant Mike McGrail led the proceedings. He appeared calm, cool and kilted as he demonstrated the “Poll Everywhere App” to great success. The app enabled the audience to engage with a live poll throughout the day. It felt a bit like being in the audience of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”!

Mike’s introduction led onto “Attention Killers and Attention Triggers” by Dr Jillian Ney, the UK’s first Dr of Social Media. She took a very topical approach to social media and the psychology involved. I found this talk very interesting as it highlighted the importance of social media and how it can enhance your business.

The following guest speaker, Pauline McLaughlin, is one of Scotland’s most senior PR practitioners. She gave a lecture on “PR in a Connected World”. Pauline’s lecture was really informative and relevant to current affairs. It was also especially helpful in the lead-up to our assignment due next week and directly related to PR!

Expert in digital making and education Craig Steele followed with “Coding, not magic”. Craig did a fantastic job of engaging with the audience with a live demonstration. He used coding to its full potential to perform a rendition of Taylor Swift’s hit song “shake it off” in an almost polyphonic format. Impressive and highly entertaining!

To my surprise, the industry-renowned Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin had prepared a video especially for the event. In the format of his famous “Whiteboard Friday” webinars, Rand looked at how small businesses can compete with bigger businesses online. This was well received by the Inverness audience!

#hdextra17 keynote speakers
Keynote speakers at #hdextra17

Rubbing shoulders with industry leaders

Although I was only able to attend the morning session, I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with industry leaders of the digital marketing world. I spoke to one of our alumni, John Chapman, Digital Engagement Officer for #hellodigital at HIE. I also enjoyed one of the delicious pasta boxes on offer. This set me up for my long drive back to Aberdeen. I look forward to signing up for #hellodigital’s next event!


Featured image and photo of keynote speakers courtesy of Trevor Martin and HIE.

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