Edinburgh College of Art

11th December 2017


For the last few years, I have been mentoring students from Edinburgh College of Art and Fife College during their design degree final year.


In September I was contacted by Beverley Hood, a lecturer within the Edinburgh College of Art School of Design, who asked me to do a session with a group of students working on a social brief called Brand Me. Having not worked with ECA previously, I was super keen to get involved!

This morning I had the pleasure of visiting the 4th year graphic design students and presenting to them on how social media is intertwined in every day life - whether we like it or not.

During the presentation I took them through my journey within the design industry; how it all started to where I am now and what I do working as a Digital Media Producer for Whitespace. It was a lovely reminder of the progress I have made within the industry, the confidence I have gained to be able to talk about my experiences at ease and how I have adapted my skills to fit with each role I have been employed within.

As many as two thirds of young people today wish that social media didn't exist as they feel it portrays an unrealistic lifestyle, creates low self-esteem and it is an addiction that many people cannot give up. Despite this people consume content online for around 8 hours a day meaning that brands and individuals have an endless need to generate content for their channels.

The presentation focussed on content creation and how this should be educational, engaging and/or emotional. We looked at campaigns such as Always' #likeagirl which has been performing strongly since 2014 vs. Vera Bradley's recent #itsgoodtobeagirl campaign which fell short of the mark.

We briefly touched on upcoming social media experiments such as Taylor Swifts The Swift Life and how people are likely to engage with that, discussing how fans may feel safer expressing opinions in an environment with more like-minded people than directly in the public eye. Company partnerships are also becoming more of a trend with most recently TopShop collaborating with the release of Stranger Things 2 to reach out to a different audience and gain the approval of new customers.

To conclude my presentation I conducted a short Q&A session where we discussed agency life further. I explained the roles in which the different teams at Whitespace play in the creation of campaigns and content for clients and briefly touched upon insights and the digital marking role specifically in relation to social channels.

Moving into another area of the college, we gathered in small groups where the individuals presented their ideas to Bev and I. The brief was to create a social media brand for themselves that was a critical exploration of the medium. They needed to show research strategies that other designers, artists, activists, etc have used and come up with a plan of action for themselves as individuals.

Working collaboratively, Bev and I advised on how the students could take their ideas to the next level and push the boundaries a little further. However, I was really impressed with how far they had progressed their projects already and the feedback I provided was more of a gentle nudge and agreement that what they were doing was great.

It was incredible to hear the vastly different approaches the students took to the brief - all of which were fantastic and unique in their own ways. The student's presentation skills were excellent and they were able to clearly convey their ideas in a knowledgable and concise manner - a really good starting point for working in the creative industries.

Wherever possible I plan to keep giving back to the creative industries by mentoring, coaching and running sessions, ensuring that students don't feel distanced from agency life.

Many thanks to Bev and the students for having me in and a big thank you also to my former lecturer Mike Inglis for recommending me for the session.

“Sarah came into Edinburgh College of Art, to work with our 4th Year undergraduate and postgraduate Graphic Design students on a social media project. She gave a really interesting lecture, which was very informative for the students about social media strategies, the campaigns she’d been involved in and agency life. She then spent time in the graphic design studio, giving the students feedback on their individual social media self-branding projects. Sarah’s feedback was insightful, pertinent and expanded the scope of the students projects, both technically and in their relevance to the context of social media. Sarah’s time with the students was an invaluable aspect of this project and she was extremely capable. I would highly recommend her for any future student engagement opportunities”
Beverley Hood - Media Artist, Lecturer and Researcher