Distilling Whisky Social Conversations

Working, as we do, with clients in the Scotch whisky space, we wanted to do some digging to find out how successful the leading brands are at interacting and engaging with their fans in a meaningful way. Whisky aficionados are a passionate lot; they love to talk about their favourite expressions, any collectibles they might own or covet, and any new expressions they’re keen to try.

Consumers are keen to get involved in conversations and debates, but for the most part it would seem to be a one-way street.

The question for us was – are these brands talking back? Working with behavioural scientist, Dr Jillian Ney, we commissioned a Brand Watch report into the conversations that were happening around the topic of whisky on Twitter.  We looked at some key areas, including:

  • Demographics
  • Brand’s share of voice on Twitter
  • Consumer’s purchase intent
  • Consumer conversations
  • Brands who engage with their consumers versus those who don’t


The results proved to be very interesting and indicated that brands have a lot of work to do in order to leverage the opportunities for meaningful consumer interaction in the social space. Consumers are keen to get involved in conversations and debates, but for the most part it would seem to be a one-way street.

While most brands are getting it right when it comes to sharing content, very few are actually interacting with the people buying their whisky! Are they missing a pretty obvious trick here? We think so. In our infographic, we go into more detail on the results as well as the insights gleaned.


To download the full infographic, just fill in your details below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject too so feel free to Tweet us @PilotFishMedia @DrJillianNey and give us your take on the research.

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Game of Phones – If GoT did Social Media

It’s official. We have reached the end of Game of Thrones season. From April until June every year it is no longer Spring – this is common knowledge – and as we stare into the abyss of 10 dragonless, swordless and skinless months of television, there is one upside. It seemed for the entirety of the sixth season’s run we couldn’t go without stumbling across a major spoiler on social media. Not least for *SPOILER ALERT* Jon Snow’s miraculous awakening from the dead.

The betrayal, dread and anger expressed by many GoT fans who didn’t manage to catch an episode at the first time of showing before falling into the ambush of spoilers was palpable. Not only that, but the sheer scale of social media spoiler casualties projected an air of inevitability about them. It doesn’t matter how hard you tried not to look – odds are you were caught out. This says a lot about our dependence on social media and how it can dictate our lives.

It also made us ask this: how would social media alter the events and behaviour of characters throughout all the war and bloodshed in Westeros and Essos? In an age in which footballers can’t get away with smoking a shisha pipe at 9pm, would King Joffrey feasibly get away with his sadistic past times? When good public image is key to attaining the support of the masses would Eddard Stark have garnered any with his dour Northern persona?

How would social media alter the events and behaviour of characters throughout all the war and bloodshed in Westeros and Essos?

Clearly it’s nearly impossible to cover every facet of how different GoT would be with social media involved, but let’s start from the beginning. The first season’s primary purpose was to lay the foundations for things to come – but would social media have nipped various events in the bud? Would it have exacerbated things to new levels? Or would social media have prevented many of the events in the first place?

By no means did the series take long to shock us. Who can forget the instance of extreme sibling love between Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime in the first episode? Poor Bran Stark was witness to this and nearly paid the ultimate price. But in an age of social media and mobile phones would Bran’s near fatal fall out the window have been too late for the scheming couple?

You could argue that the damage would already have been done. In the time between Bran witnessing Cersei and Jaime’s romp and the Lannister twins noticing Bran, the young Stark boy would have had ample time to send an explicit Snapchat or two to his circle of friends. The resulting screenshots might have been posted on Twitter, causing massive uproar and subsequent damnation of both the Queen and the Kingslayer – or worse.

How different might things have been if Ned Stark wasn’t betrayed by the Lannisters upon his proclamation as King Regent in the wake of King Robert’s impending death? Surely it’s not too farfetched to assume that along with a royal decree King Robert would have posted an announcement on the official royal Instagram page about his plans for Ned Stark. You can rip up a royal decree, Cersei, but Instagram posts are forever.

It’s probably fair to say that pretty much every single event in GoT history would have taken a different course thanks to social media and if we were to cover all those instances, the likelihood is we would be re-writing the entire series. So, outside of the hypothetical situations social media would create there is also the question of how each character would use it to boost their own profile.

You might be surprised to hear that David Cameron has an Instagram account. You might not be surprised to hear that despite ruling a country of around 65 million people he only has around 7,000 followers. Regardless, it’s probably not unfeasible that, as a younger ruler, King Joffrey would have had his own Instagram page to keep the population up to date with his royal doings.

But how would he use it? How honest could he be? Would his Instagram page be a work of propaganda or would it project his true self? Despite the infighting and treachery of British politics in the wake of Brexit, generally it can be said that the level of tyranny, bloodshed and cruelty witnessed in the kingdom of Westeros is a million miles away from our universe. So while David Cameron keeps his Instagram page relatively vanilla (thus explaining his lack of followers) Joffrey might not be the same for a multitude of reasons.

Firstly, let’s look at it from the perspective that Westeros is a dictatorship and Joffrey is the ruthless dictator. It must be said that this summation of Joffrey is rather kind. Joffrey might well be able to have his own unfiltered Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts and have nobody dare question him – it would be brave to do that. One day he might be posting a smiling, bloody crossbow selfie with the hashtag #RIPROS, the next day it might be a family photo of himself, Sansa and Ned’s head on a stick. Life in Westeros goes on as normal. The only difference is people have a better idea of Joffrey’s hobbies.

Here’s the caveat though. The primary reason Westeros is a dictatorship is because it would be more than a little risky for ordinary people to stage a revolt. You can’t stand up to a crown on your own, people are less connected and gathering like-minded people would be difficult to achieve. Social media, however, changes that. In 21st Century Britain, Twitter users have no problem scalding Cameron with every kind of foul language and insults you can imagine in response to the most bland, innocuous sentence. It wouldn’t be unimaginable for a social media dominated Westeros to breed a boldness amongst its population which would be aghast at Joffrey’s misdemeanours. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Westeros would cease to be a dictatorship, but Joffrey would likely have to either a) change his sadistic habits or b) at least not broadcast them on social media.

Since Joffrey is undoubtedly a sociopath, it is very unlikely he would change his behaviour. In fact, it is probably a certainty he wouldn’t. However, even with a management team behind his social media it’s also likely that a more open, educated society would be wise to his misdoings regardless of whether he boasted about them or not. Quite simply, in spite of what #Joffrey posted on his social media accounts he would be met with a barrage of abuse referring to his treatment of his future father-in-law and Kings Landing’s favourite mistress among countless other things. News travels fast in a connected society, and if some of today’s politicians can’t get away with some shady games they played in an elitist club in their 20s, you can’t expect Joffrey to get away with much either.

Also, let’s face it – people are superficial. The masses love a photogenic figure. Look at Justin Trudeau. His mix of boyish charm and progressive liberalism have made him a popular figure in the Western world. But who actually knows any of his policies? In this sense you can imagine that Khaleesi and to some extent Khal Drogo would be the ultimate Insta power-couple. Who cares if Khaleesi developed a slightly merciless streak as the series progressed? Who cares that, before he died, Khal Drogo and his barbarian horde killed and burned entire villages? THEY LOOK GOOD.

Tyrian Lannister would be the ultimate social media commentator one would imagine. Perhaps akin to David Mitchell or Frankie Boyle – except a hundred times more eloquent and popular.

If the ruler of the throne was based on a popularity contest on social media, you can bet that Khaleesi would be the Queen. You can envisage her taking the ultimate throne selfie. Jon Snow, if he used social media would also be in with a shout. But since he spent most of his time with the Night’s Watch he probably wouldn’t have had the time Khaleesi did early on in the series to perfect his social media game.

Tyrian Lannister would be the ultimate social media commentator one would imagine. Perhaps akin to David Mitchell or Frankie Boyle – except a hundred times more eloquent and popular. In between photos of wine tankards you could expect a swipe at the establishment worthy of being retweeted by most of Westeros. Social media would fundamentally change the pecking order of the entire cast. Can you imagine what Stannis Baratheon would post on social media? The real life parody Twitter account Boring James Milner comes to mind. Why would the masses support a character as banal as Stannis when they have a dreamboat like Khal Drogo or a witty, wine-fuelled, anti-establishment dwarf?

Social media helps amplify one’s personality if used correctly and more importantly to a huge audience. If social media was introduced from season 1 of Game of Thrones, the entire landscape and politics would be altered to an unrecognisable state. If social media preceded events in Game of Thrones we would probably be watching something more similar to The Thick Of It. With Tyrion, Littlefinger and Varys acting as the Malcolm Tuckers and the contenders to the throne as the hapless politicians.

That’s not to say that The Thick Of It isn’t wonderful television – it is. Social media too can be a great thing and allows the world to be more connected and open than ever before. But so much of what makes Game Of Thrones great would be lost with the introduction of social media in its world. After all, we don’t watch Game of Thrones for its subtlety.

Gold for International Marketing – Star Awards 2016

We are delighted to announce that we picked up the gold award for International Marketing for our work with The Famous Grouse in Africa at The Marketing Society Star Awards, held at The Edinburgh Corn Exchange last week.

This is the first time we have entered the Star Awards so we were thrilled even to have been nominated. We were up against some pretty tough competition from some very well established agencies in this category (with more than a few awards adorning their office walls already!) so you can imagine our surprise when Pilot Fish Media was announced as winner of the Gold Award. Unfortunately, there were no cameras around to capture the expressions – but suffice it to say we were absolutely chuffed!

The International Marketing Award recognizes brands that have shown creativity and innovative strategic thinking to develop their businesses in an international market or markets.

We have been working with The Famous Grouse in Africa for just over two years now and we felt that our work raising brand awareness, telling the global brand story, supporting offline activity and winning loyal new fans through an innovative and extremely cost effective Facebook strategy was a worthy contender in this category.

Click here to read our Case Study and find out more about the winning work.

If you’re thinking about launching or expanding into an overseas market, why not arrange a chat with our team and find out more about how we can help you?  You never know – it could be your brand we are celebrating this time next year!

Facebook – an African Business Imperative

Facebook’s global dominance of the social media landscape is no secret. Statista has recently shown that the big blue network has more monthly active users globally than Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest combined. And not by a small margin. By roughly 30% (give or take a million people here and there). That dominance is also reflected across Africa, where growth in Facebook usage is outstripping global trends. Major African markets have seen a 25% increase in the number of active social media users, and a 20% increase in the number of mobile social media users (world-wide worx, 2015-2016). Facebook is the clear and undisputed champion here; with 20 million users in Nigeria and Kenya alone; and the highest penetration of social media users in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana (Neilsen, 2016).

When it comes to mobile, well, Facebook dominates again. In fact, it isn’t just the most popular social media network, it’s the most popular mobile activity in Nigeria and Ghana, and the second most popular mobile activity in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. This based on a survey of over 3,500 people across these markets in 2015.

Think about that for a second  Facebook is the most popular thing to do on your phone. Not make calls. Not take pictures. Just… Facebook (and that excludes Facebook messenger).

Now consider what it means for your brand

Maintaining an active, culturally-relevant Facebook page is fundamental in African markets – when internet users are accessing the social media site more than they are the internet directly, a Facebook page becomes as important, or more important, than a corporate website. And this is amplified by Facebook’s recent moves towards content hosting (video being a primary element). Further, understanding local trends in order to ensure the aforementioned cultural relevance is key. You can’t just have a Facebook page. You have to have a page that is local. And that means you need to be local, whether your head office is in Lagos or London.

And then there’s the Facebook empire…

Beyond all of these numbers indicating Facebook’s clear ownership of the social media landscape across Africa, there’s another story, and it’s about other companies that Facebook owns.

Instagram, the clear leader in the visual social media landscape, is Africa’s exploding social network – it grew over 133% in South Africa from 2014 to today (Fuseware).

And Whatsapp is fast becoming the OTT messaging app of choice – it’s so prevalent that local carriers are lobbying for a piece of the companies profits.

Again, integrating these platforms into your digital presence in Africa and other emerging markets is key, but it needs to be locally relevant, and that’s where Africa is a complicated emerging market to penetrate. No country or region is the same. You need local insight, local expertise, and local “people” to make your social media marketing a success. You could launch local operations across the continent to achieve this goal. Or you could give Pilot Fish Media a call today.

How can I get more followers on Social Media?

Can social media marketing (SMM) help you generate leads, make sales and, ultimately, grow your business? Yes it absolutely can – but only when you have an appropriate audience of quality followers to market to. These days it’s less about the number of followers you have and more about how genuinely interested those followers are in who you are and what you have to offer them.

Half an hour of careful, targeted activity a day can really add up when it comes to building your following, so make sure you schedule it in, or delegate to someone in your company who can take responsibility for it.

As community manager at Pilot Fish Media, the one question I get asked on a regular basis is: ‘How can I get more followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook?’ So I’ve put together my top five tips for how you can improve your follow factor and start connecting with the people who really need your products or service.

  1. Find the influencers in your niche. Get to know them and get to know their followers. Every industry or niche will have its key players on social media, the people with a fan count in the tens of thousands, possibly even millions; the people who are liked, loved, retweeted, regrammed and shared more than any other. They are absolutely nailing it in terms of the content they share, the insights they offer, the edutainment they post and the engagement they have with their fans and followers. Identify who these people are in your industry, then follow them and start to build a relationship. The ultimate goal is to have your own content shared by an influencer. The more you can do this, the more you’ll slowly but surely start to see your own numbers increase. It’s all about the exposure. Tools like Buzzsumo are great for helping you find these big fish.”The ultimate goal is to have your own content shared by an influencer.”
  2. Be really clear on what your tone of voice is on social media. More importantly be consistent. People like to know what to expect when they follow an account. Are they following you purely to get great insights, tips and advice? Are they interested in having a bit of online banter? Set the parameters early on for what kind of content you share and the interactions people can expect to have with you and make sure this becomes your trademark moving forward.
  3. Speaking of content – this has become the backbone of social media. People consume it, comment on it, get involved in heated debates about it, and, ultimately, share it. When you’re looking at your weekly/bi-weekly or monthly content plan there should be a good mix of curated and original content. And there are some pretty cool tools available now to help you identify what type of content works really well in your niche or industry.Fanpage Karma, for example, offers some great features, including insights on the best types of posts and topics to help you improve your ‘shareability’ factor. When it comes to original content, before you post always ask yourself the following:
    • Is this the kind of content I’d be interested in myself?
    • Does it serve a business purpose?
    • Is it a good fit for my social media profile/personality? For example, if you’re in the B2B sector and your followers are used to useful, insightful, business content, don’t suddenly start sharing content from The Lad Bible. Keep it for your personal profile!
  4. Does it include the relevant tags? e.g. #SocialMedia2016. Tagging content appropriately on channels like Twitter and Instagram will really help the organic reach. A ‘top tip’ here is to also add relevant tags to your Twitter channel’s description. These will also get picked up organically.
  5. Is it visually appealing? Getting the image right can really add the ‘turbo boost’ factor to a post. It goes without saying that this is key for Instagram but the same now applies for Facebook and Twitter. Get all the factors right – image, copy, tags and your posts should start working really hard for you. “Content has become the backbone of social media.”
  6. Don’t just post and run. Keep a close eye on everything you plant in the social media garden to see what type of interaction you’re getting. Get involved in the chat, reply to everyone who makes a comment. The more interaction your content generates the better. It gets you in front of a whole new audience as friends of friends get involved in the debate. If they like the original post, chances are they’ll be keen to see more of the same and they’ll follow your account as a result. “Get involved in the chat, reply to everyone who makes a comment.”
  7. Incentives and competitions. They might seem a little old school at this stage but they still work, and as long as you run your competitions ethically and with clear Ts&Cs they can be a great way of increasing buzz around your account, and, once again getting you in front of a whole new audience. Whether your business is product or service based, the chance to win a freebie in exchange for a like and share will always get results, and from a business perspective won’t cost you much. Just bear in mind that privacy settings will mean that you won’t always get to see who has shared the post, so ask people to pop their name in the comments box as well.

Half an hour of careful, targeted activity a day can really add up when it comes to building your following, so make sure you schedule it in, or delegate to someone in your company who can take responsibility for it. Consistency is key – don’t let it slip too far down the to-do list, show up at least four times a week, if not every day, and pretty soon you’ll start to see those numbers increase exponentially.

What makes us share on social media?

One of the main KPIs for us with all our clients this year is to ‘create more shareable content.’ In other words, to create the kind of content that people will feel compelled to Retweet, Regram or Share with an insightful comment or emoji amongst their social media tribes. Crack the secret to creating this kind of content and you’ve pretty much found the golden goose when it comes to improving your organic reach and growth. But what is shareable content? What makes people engage with a post or video to such a degree that they think – ‘I want my friends to know about this.’ And what’s in it for them when they do?

Research carried out by The New York Times Customer Insight Group has identified five main reasons why people share content and how powerful that instinct to relay content by word of mouth, or in this case, by word of social can be.

Let’s look at them.

No. 1 – 84% of people said they share information/posts because it’s a good way of supporting issues or causes that they really care about. This has proven to be an extremely important trigger for charities and not for profit organisations, many of whom now have a ‘Share on Facebook’ button that allows you let other people know when you have made a donation. By sharing content that supports human rights, animal welfare or a social cause you are making a statement about who you are as a person and we all, fundamentally have a strong need to do this.

No. 2 – 78% said that they share information because it allows them to develop, nurture and grow relationships. Think of that friend that you don’t see in person very often, but you still think of regularly. You know they are a huge fan of a particular actor or musician or artist. Something pops up on your Facebook feed relating to that artist, and you think to tag that friend as you know they would be interested. This allows us to maintain connections in an increasingly fast paced world where time for relationships is becoming more and more limited.

No. 369% said they shared information as it allowed them to feel more involved in the world. This ties back to point No. 2. The rapid growth of online communication – forums, social platforms etc. – has, some would argue had a negative impact on our ability to relate to each other one to one, however, on the flip side of that, it has been a blessing for those who find it difficult in the extreme to communicate in person. Chronically shy people, those with social anxiety and introverted personality types now have a way of feeling ‘involved’ and integral to conversations and debates they might never be able to get involved with offline. To put it very simply, social sharing can make people feel less lonely and isolated.

69% said they shared information as it allowed them to feel more involved in the world.

No. 468% said that sharing information online helps to give people a better sense of who they are. You really can tell a lot about a person by their Facebook page! Taken as a whole rather than on the basis of individual posts, those who share ‘authentically’ create a picture of the type of person they are, what they’re interested in, what they feel strongly about, what their political leanings are, how important friends and family are etc.

No. 549% said they share to bring valuable and useful information to others and to encourage action. When we come across a new product, new service or anything that we feel might be of benefit to others we often feel compelled to share. Again, this relates to our fundamental need to feel accepted and useful. This is why competitions, for example, usually have such a high shareability factor on Facebook. We share so we can give others the chance to win and get involved as well. This serves to increase our ‘social standing’ and show us to be generous and inclusive when it comes to our social tribe.

There is a huge amount for marketers to learn from insights like this, and as social media platforms become ever more sophisticated the brands who successfully engage with their consumers will be the ones who really put this knowledge to work for them. The old marketing adage of What’s In It For Me has certainly stepped up a gear with social, and as marketers we must keep apace with the momentum.