Independent Liverpool talks Social Media


July 04, 2018 read

Independent Liverpool talks Social Media

This interview with David Williams, co-founder of Independent Liverpool, is taken from Social on a Shoestring. Read on...

Independent Liverpool is run by long-time best buddies David Williams and Oliver Press. Seriously, they’ve been best mates since they were four. They were at uni together, they graduated together and they decided to found a hugely successful platform for local businesses, described as ‘a love letter to Liverpool.’ Couple this with the opening of their Baltic Market food hall, and multiple fabulous events, and we’re talking imminent world domination.

What started literally from David’s mum’s kitchen table has become a powerful grassroots movement which has galvanised independent businesses and local shoppers alike. They provide local businesses with a vibrant, relevant and hugely popular platform, and in turn local businesses give them access to cool venues, amazing food and essentially reams and reams of quality content. And social media has been instrumental to their meteoric rise.

Independent Liverpool has struck a chord with your following. What were you saying that was so attractive to so many people?

DW: A lot of it has to do with timing, we’d be fools not to admit that this wasn’t a huge factor. We started when we had the Amazon tax scandal, the Starbucks tax scandal, and everyone was disillusioned with chains. We would talk about these horrible corporations and the things they were doing, and it just played into Liverpool’s hands because Liverpool is a defiant city with a tribal-like pride.

We were saying to people ‘don’t support the Big Boys, support the local people, your local mates,’ and this is something that has always played into the culture of Liverpool. A positive media outlet talking about the city was always going to be picked up and loved.

How important is social media for telling your story, or the stories of the local businesses?

DW: It’s everything. We wouldn’t be having this conversation now, and Independent Liverpool wouldn’t exist without social media. We’ve never paid a penny to be in a newspaper or magazine.

When we first started, our Twitter following was just going up and up, it was mental, and the interaction was just crazy. Twitter is very on-the-go, and a lot of our information is very on-the-go as well. And although Twitter hasn’t slowed down, it has in comparison to the avalanche of the other social platforms.

Facebook was very slow in the beginning, but now we average around 1,000 new likes per week. I think Facebook is nice because we can talk to people a lot more and be more personal, and we can show a bit more of our personality.

That’s always been really big for me. I never want someone to think we’ve hired some guy who just uses TweetDeck or Hootsuites all the time during the week. I really like that people know it’s still just us two running it, it’s just two guys.

The big this for us is that Independent Liverpool is based on emotion, so everything we do is about that. Whether we’re telling a story about a local baker who just achieved his dream, or a picture of a guy after a night out who fell asleep on a Superlambanana*, it’s all very 'Liverpool' and it’s either funny, or heart-breaking or inspiring. But that’s what Facebook allows us to do, we just connect and engage with some many people.

*The Superlambanana is an iconic bright yellow half-lamb-half-banana sculpture created by Japanese artist Taro Chiezo. As part of the Liverpool City of Culture in 2008, 125 replicas were decorated and dotted throughout the city. Superlambanana is now as Liverpudlian as The Beatles.

How important is the relationships with the local businesses you cover?

DW: This has always been huge for us, because at the end of the day we started because of these independents, so we’ve always been there to help them. A big thing about it was not taking money away from them, so we’ve never charged an independent for anything we’ve ever done.

It’s just a friendship, we’re really close with these people, and a lot of them understand the value of what we can do now. So someone might say ‘Can you come and try this new burger we’ve got?’, and it’s known that when we do try it, it will be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and there will be around 80 to 100 people turning up to try it that week.

So you get really good content and they get exposure that translates into business?

DW: Yes, and it 100% translates into business. I remember the first viral blog we did, which was ’36 plates of food you need to try in Liverpool’ and it went absolutely insane. We just bumped into the people who were on it, and they said they had literally never sold more of that one plate than when we put it on there.

What is your advice for those just getting started?

DW: It would be to find your voice. It’s great to get inspiration from different Facebook pages and different people, but you need to find your own voice in order to take it to the next level. It took us a while to find ours, but we have it now.

And make it feel like it’s a person talking – because so much social media is so robotic, and you know that someone has scheduled Thursday’s Tweets on a Monday. I never understood that, because you don’t even know what’s going to happen on a Thursday. We used to schedule a lot of our stuff, but now we prefer to post about whatever happens on the day, so we’re quite spontaneous.

But finding your voice is the most important thing. To stand out in this day and age is very, very hard. But if you can find your voice and you’re confident enough, you can do it.

Click to see what's happening over at Independent Liverpool, and don't forget that Social on a Shoestring is available on Amazon!

Independent Liverpool
Smashing it on social for years...

"We wouldn’t exist without social media”

— David Williams, Co-Founder of Independent Liverpool