3XE Digital – Plastic Bags, Gobshites & Predictions

As if going to a Digital Marketing conference didn’t make me geek out completely, but it was also held in Croke Park conference rooms. This seriously cool venue combined with 3XE’s really exciting and insightful speakers made this a brilliant experience. There was really so much it’s impossible to mention everything, so I’ve outlined the four things that really resonated with me in particular.

1. The Content

Pillar content was mentioned by so many of the speakers, Ian Cleary, Founder of Razorsocial put great emphasis on the importance of building pillar content around your most valuable keywords. David Ly Khim from HubSpot demonstrated to us how Hob Spot themselves restructured their entire website into pillar content clusters.

So what is this magical Pillar Content

Pillar content for me is better described as a hub and spoke visual. You have one piece of highly detailed content that focuses on one of your most valued keywords. With this main ‘hub’ (pillar) content you then create valuable, but lighter ‘spoke’ content that links into the main hub content, referencing it for further details. Thus creating a hub and spoke effect.

What is the value of pillar content?

There are plenty of advantages but these are the main few…

  1. It organises your content into easily definable groups
  2. It keeps your focus on your keywords and your content plan
  3. Google loves it because it helps the bots crawl your site, and due to the highly focused keywords it really understands what your site is about
  4. It strengthens your position in your keywords within the search rankings.

Pillar content gives you the opportunity to create topic clusters, this creates a natural hierarchy on your site, keeps things organized and strengthens how the search engines view your site and place you on the SERPs.

2. The Influencers

In marketing, you hear the term ‘influencers’ on a regular basis. They are people from a specific nice that have a large social following. Though their own efforts they have become a mini-celebrity and can influence an audience

For me, Rob Kenny had to be my favourite speaker. While I utterly adored his humour, the fact that he cursed so frequently and was easily the most charismatic person in the room, this was not what made me really fall for him. What impressed me the most was seeing the influencer roll the influencer’s perspective.

Influencers are a free or maybe low budget marketing option for many companies. However, there is a risk involved and this is a risk that companies need to really recognise and these risk factors are something that Rob highlighted very eloquently.


There is a risk in picking the wrong influencer as many are self-proclaimed, not that influential and don’t really know what they are doing. However, the Gobshite can be on the other side of the table too.

In order to be successful with your influencer, you need to find the right fit for your brand right from the beginning.

  • Are they the right fit for what you are trying to communicate?
  • Can they credibly speak about your products?
  • Who is their audience?
  • Does the influencer already exist?

There is no point in getting your product in front of the wrong audience so you need to ensure that the market that your influencer is in fits yours. This is all about the right demographics. You also need to ensure that the tone of the influencers communication suits your brand too, if they have the wrong tone or maybe they are a little risky, do you want to be associated with them. Finally, you also need to make sure that they are a real influencer and not a “Gobshite” claiming to be something they’re not.

The Narrative

Authenticity is what makes an influencer great, they are not a celebrity paid to endorse a product, they are joe soap telling it like it is. This is why (the Irish in particular) love a good influencer. They are popular because they know what their audience likes to hear and their superpower is in their ability to come across as natural and real.

This authenticity is why you need to give them control over the narrative. If you feel that you need to control what they say then there is a disconnect and they are probably not the right fit for your brand. Set rules and contractual obligations of course, but give them the freedom to say what they need to say.

Be Kind

Robs final point really hit home for me as it was a reminder that influencers are not a marketing robot that you fire up when your brand needs a boost. They are a human and a one man/woman show. Often times they are not professionals at PR or marketing, they are just a person that happens to be very likeable and respected on social media.

With this human element in mind, you as a brand need to consider that the relationship is not like an advertising contract and there are risks. If they are AWAL for personal reasons of mess up by saying something less than ideal, you need to recognize this and be prepared to deal with any mistakes, issues and hiccups that may occur.

3. The Future

Alan from Wolfgang Digital decided to delve into a different area and looked to the future rather than what we can do here and now. There was a lot said here and what I like about this was the areas of GDPR and Technology that will most likely change the face of marketing in the next 36 months.

GDPR an incentive to be better

I’m in full agreement here with Alan, while we are all in a tizzy panicking about GDPR and all its scariness. There is a silver lining to it. Marketers have a tendency to break almost every technology for everyone, we are fun suckers that insert advertising into every available opportunity and GDPR is the big bad voice that is telling us to “cop on”.

GDPR will be an incentive to make marketing better, we as marketers will have to try a little harder and be less interruptive. Most marketing is crap and this regulatory behemoth will hopefully be the spark that starts something more pure and clever in the industry.


This is the fun bit for me, so we are looking at 5G being introduced in 2020 and it will be 100% faster than 4G – mind you 4G is better than my broadband connection. We may be looking down the barrel of no more fixed line contracts and access to incredible speeds on the go that will radically change the internet as we know it.

Smart living

Couple this fire hose 5G speeds with smart living and you have a recipe for a whole new host of innovations.

Search – how we search is changing thanks to Alexa and other voice assistants. Searches are becoming more conversational, context and tone may need to be considered. People are asking questions like these devices are human they are chatting to.

Home – we are now looking at smart devices where you can control your heating, lighting and security options. Did you know there is a robot, coming to market soon that can make your dinner?

Automobiles – it’s hard to believe how far behind cars actually are, however they will soon be catching up. Combine AI, driverless cars, voice assistant and electric technology and the possibilities are endless. Mobile workstation, no more cars owned you just ask your phone to order a fully charged, driverless car to take you to a destination that it doesn’t need directions, has no need to traffic lights and as a result, no traffic jams exist…. Boom!… mind blown.

The Guy With a Bag on His Head

As if all this mind-blowing tech wasn’t enough, Wolfgang digital ended the whole conference with cocktails and an interview with Blindboy Boatclub from the Rubberbandits.

Blindboy’s podcast, now 30 episodes in, is one of the most popular in Ireland surpassing the listenership of many mainstream Irish DJs. The intention was to interview blind boy on his marketing skill, however, the Rubberbandits success, in my opinion, has little to do with marketing and this could be seen in its full glory during the interview.

While appearing on RTE’s ‘Republic of Telly’ helped Blindboy become a familiar household name, it is the combination of self-awareness, comedy and fascinating view on life, art and politics that makes him so appealing.

Styled as an ‘artist’ rather than a ‘comedian’ (and rightly so) Blindboy’s appeal is not simply in his comedy but rather in the way he speaks about almost any topic. He knows what he wants to communicate and understands his audience. He is filled with a sensitivity for his own ego and the ability to never hit a cynical note. In short, he is someone who has a natural ability for communication and is unaware of his talent in modern digital marketing.

Blindboy’s interview covered politics, his own career, mental health and stories of art history like you’ve never heard them before. Simply put, it had little to do with marketing, is far too difficult to describe, but was one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve ever witnessed!

The 3XE conference provided us with a great mix of speakers that addressed a wide number of topics. What made it so enjoyable too was the speakers themselves because they were engaging and entertaining as well… of course, the cocktails from Wolfgang Digital helped too!

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