With around 47 million customers in the UK, Virgin Media O2 is a behemoth of British telecommunications. In 2021, two giants, O2 and Virgin Media merged, bringing two marketing departments together to create a megabrand. Between the merger in June 2021 and June 2022, customers used a whopping 39 billion gigabytes of data across its mobile networks and seven billion hours of TV via Virgin Media O2 and customers spoke for 52 million hours on their humble home phones.
But when it comes to social media, the business hasn’t let such hefty scale slow it down. Being responsive, relevant and swift are key to performing well on social media - and the team, with the help of agency VCCP - has been flying. This year they’ve adopted a new way of working with a social newsroom process and have been working to a more raw and authentic creative model.
Following last week’s Social Media event held at VCCP’s London’s office, Laura Swinton caught up with Virgin Media O2’s senior campaign manager Kate Skeggs and social and content lead Morgan Browne to find out how they’re working together on a fast and flexible approach to social media.
LBB> There’s been a lot of change for the business over the past couple of years - from the merger between Virgin Media and O2 in 2021 to the pandemic - how has that disrupted and changed your approach to marketing?
Kate & Morgan> We’ll continue to run two of the biggest brands in the UK for the foreseeable future. The main change is we’re now one marketing team, which has led to one VMO2 marketing plan. This has made our spend, agency rosters and decisions more efficient.
LBB> And how has the marketing team’s working relationship with VCCP evolved over that period too?
Kate & Morgan> VCCP has been a core partner of O2 for many years, so we’re really pleased that we could continue this relationship following the Virgin Media O2 JV [joint venture]. VCCP have risen to the challenge of the JV. They won the pitch to produce the Volt work ahead of the full pitch in Jan 2022. Specifically, from a social and content perspective this year, we’ve grown the volume of content we’ve created, worked closely together on building our strategy and adopted a new way of working with our social newsroom process, so the trust we’ve built with VCCP has only continued to grow as we’ve worked more closely together.
LBB> How do your team and collaborators at VCCP navigate the complexities of the social media landscape in 2022?
Kate & Morgan> Post, review, repeat or delete! We’re big fans of taking inspiration from brands doing it well, trying new things and tapping into cultural and topical trends on social. We stay close to our media partners too and work closely with the social platforms in briefing stage so we always revisit how we can improve for next time, as well as maximise earned and organic reach.
LBB> From a social media perspective, it feels like there’s a lot of change happening, especially with the uncertainties around Twitter - how are your team and the agency re-evaluating the platforms?
Kate & Morgan> Creatively, this past year has seen a big shift as social platforms for brands have become more unedited, honest and raw, compared to the highly aesthetic and curated content in the past years on social. Users demand more transparency and content that inspires, excites, teaches or helps them, so we’re always re-evaluating the platforms and how we can show up in a way that drives results, is authentic for us and provides tangible value for our customers. As for Twitter, we don’t have any remaining paid activity planned with them this year, and are utilising the organic channel as usual.
LBB> What’s the key to fostering creativity on social?
Kate & Morgan> Take calculated risks, try new things, and give the community a reason to want to engage. But the key is to open up the brainstorm, and reduce the signing off – lots of heads for ideas, but a simple process for getting the content out the door in a timely manner. We’re also lucky to have a wonderful marketing director who encourages us to try new things and understands the creative nuances of the social platforms really well.
LBB> Looking over O2’s social channels in particular I was reminded just how many sporting, cultural and charitable partnerships and sponsorships O2 has. It gives you so many opportunities and places to show up and connect with consumers, but how do you approach juggling them all and leveraging them all to their fullest potential on your social media?
Kate & Morgan> That’s a really great question and something we consider constantly, with so many partners, priorities and key messages. The key for us is to align everything back to the social media strategy created with VCCP, and to create bespoke, ownable content for the O2 brand, in the right place (channel), to the right audience (relevancy), at the right time. We have more than 6k gigs a year, for example, so fewer, bigger and better is key, and strategising the role our channels play, vs how we can work with partners and content creators to utilise their captive and niche audiences is imperative.
LBB> Looking forward to 2023, what are your marketing priorities for the brand?
Kate & Morgan> With people’s wallets becoming more stretched, demonstrating putting flexibility and freedom in our customer’s hands will continue in 2023. We’ve had great proof points of these through Roaming, Switch Up, O2 Rolling Plan, Services, and Priority this year. Our key aim is to demonstrate the value which we can provide to our customers through our props.