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Digital Zeitgeist; Instagram hit 150m monthly active users and will begin serving ads

14 Sep

The one thing you need to read

Instagram reaches 150m monthly active users / Instagram ads planned for next year

What’s happening: Facebook-owned Instagram has now reached 150 million monthly active users, adding 50 million in just seven months. For some context, it took 19 months for the network to reach its first 50 million after launching. With a rapidly growing number of active users it was only a matter of time before Facebook would want to begin sell ads.

Why it’s interesting: With these latest numbers Instagram should be a strong consideration for reaching relevant and new audiences with your brand’s comms. Even more so because it leads itself completely to visual storytelling, allowing you to make your existing assets work harder.

Platform News

Infographic: Vine facts, top tips and the advantages over Instagram video

What’s Happening: Vine, launching in late-January, opened up opportunities for brands to drive engagement with its post-integrated 6-second media format. As the infographic linked shows there is more to Vine that you might think.

Here are the top 5 tips (further info in infographic) to creating a successful Vine video:

  • Use #Hashtags

  • Create how-to videos that inform

  • The distribution strategy is key to success

  • Craft content to match call to action

  • Promote Vine across all social channels

Why it’s interesting: Vine is still pretty new, and naturally understanding how it fits into a brand’s comms strategy is going to be a little challenging. Particularly with Instagram now allowing 15 second videos. However, there are advantages to Vine that should not be overlooked. Particularly how Vine videos sit in a tweet and that tweets featuring a vine are 4x more likely to be seen.

Creative uses of technology by brands

The British Red Cross uses Facebook data to make the viewer a witness to a stabbing

What’s happening: The charity’s ‘Witness’ app integrates with a viewer’s Facebook account and inserts information from their profile into the film, which features a young man being stabbed on a night bus while the viewer is a passenger. Facebook data is used to make the destination of the bus appear as the viewer’s hometown, and the character receives messages from the viewer’s Facebook friends while the story unfolds.

Why it’s interesting: By making the viewer part of the film, it makes the experience more compelling and immediate – a necessary requirement for a campaign like this that aims to highlight the importance of first aid skills. These lean forward ideas are extremely effective at getting cut through and motivating the viewer to take notice and act.

RPA create The Listening Cloud to visualise social-media conversations about its clients

What’s happening: Ad agency RPA created The Listening Cloud, a data-driven light sculpture that visualizes social media buzz in real-time using colorful LED lights. Installed in the company’s lobby, it glows different colors depending on where the mention came from (blue for Twitter, purple for Instagram, red for Facebook) and presents a playful way to visualize data. Here’s a how-to for anyone inspired to make their own for their brand – or brief BBH Build to create something even more awesome!

Why it’s interesting: This is one of many examples that demonstrate the fun to be had with data from the social web.

Socially connected experiences

Cloud Over Cuba: An interactive documentary to showcase how close the world came to Nuclear War

What happened: A cross-platform experience to showcase just how close the world came to Nuclear War, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, produced by the JFK Presidential Library. Fans explore 15 in-depth chapters of the crisis, with over 200 archived images, videos and sound recordings. Each, can be automatically synced to your iCal so that in seemingly real time, you can be invited to the meetings, revealing step by step how the crisis played out through each of the 13 days… it picked up at Cannes too!

Why it’s interesting: This is a wonderful way of telling a story in a completely immersive and refreshing way. What I really find awesome is this gives viewers an opportunity to dive deeper into the narrative if they want to, an idea that could work for any brand wanting to extend their story beyond the TVC.

Digital Zeitgeist

9 Aug

Platform News

Facebook introduces embedded posts

What’s happening: Facebook have begun rolling out Embedded Posts that let people add public posts from Facebook to their blog or web site. When embedded, posts can include pictures, videos, hashtags and other content. People can also like and share the post directly from the embed.

Why it’s interesting: Up to now, one distinctive difference between Facebook and Twitter has been openness; FB being a walled-garden (talk amongst friends only), while the Twitter is an open party (friends and anyone else who will listen). However, Facebook’s efforts over recent months have indicated a shift to make its content more accessible outside of just your circle of friends – Graph search, hashtags, following users without friending and now embedding.

Facebook announce newsfeed changes

What’s happening: Yesterday, Facebook held a press conference to discuss three small tweaks to Edgerank (Facebook’s algorithm for feeding you relevant content) – we recommend reading up on edgerank if this is unfamiliar before carrying on.

Story Bumping

Previously, the news feed would rate all the stories published since the user last logged on, and show users only the ‘best’ (i.e. top ranked) ones when they did log on. With Story Bumping, Facebook draws from the back catalogue and considers ALL the posts the user hasn’t seen, basically helping show users more new material. From Facebook’s initial testing of 7,000 users, Story Bumping leads to an 8% increase in (brand) page interactions.

Last Actor

The Last Actor feature keeps track of the last 50 people or pages you interacted with and gives these people or brands a small bump in relevance. Brand pages will want to try and stay in that magic 50 to increase the likelihood of their posts being seen by fans.

Chronological by Actor

Facebook users have always been keen to see updates in the order they were posted. Facebook will attempt tackle this with chronological tweaks, so that you see posts from the same friend or brand in chronological order. Useful for following live, real-time updates for a sports match, TV programme or similar.

Why it’s interesting: These updates, particularly Last Actor Signal and Story Bumping, are looking to reward people and pages who have a compelling story to tell, and in an engaging way. Posts that are inherently good (offer value to the reader) should typically enjoy more time in their followers’ feeds. It is therefore more important than ever to ensure, as brand guardians, the quality of our story in print and TV is matched on Facebook, as well as other social channels.

Identify and engage with ‘Top Fans’ on YouTube

What’s happening: YouTube has created a Top Fans feature, making it easier for creators to keep in touch with their most influential and most engaged fans. Announced last week, Top Fans will feature a dashboard for creators, a feed of Top Fans’ activity and the ability to post content exclusively to Top Fans. Plus, if a creator syncs their Google+ and YouTube accounts, creating a circle for their Top Fans, they will be able to access demographic information about them.

Why it’s interesting: This will allow brands to easily design and execute advocacy programmes specifically for its YouTube audience. 

Creative uses of technology by brands

Armani partners with fashion bloggers for Instagram Ads

What’s happening: The luxury brand is working with Chiara Ferragni, whose 1+ million followers make her one of the most influential fashion bloggers on Instagram, and a couple others (@galagonzalez and @fashionfoiegras so far) to create videos promoting its new perfume called Si by Armani. The viewers peek into the bloggers’ lives, and learn to say yes (Si) to dreams and to their world.

Why it’s interesting: This is a great example of using influencers in creative ways beyond the standard blogger / PR media blasts. For Armani, partnering with a few highly influential Instagrammers allowed them license to tell their story to a very relevant and concentrated audience while still delivering reach. 

Socially connected experiences

The Sound of Honda Installation – video viral

What happened: In 1989, Ayrton Senna completed a lap of the Japanese F1 circuit in Suzuka, setting a new world record. On board was Honda’s engine telemetry system which recorded information from the car. Now, almost 20 years after his death in Imola, Honda is using that same data, along with some giant speakers and lights to recreate that incredible lap as a beautiful online video.

Why it’s interesting: This demonstrates the effectiveness of branded content done right – currently nearing 1.5m views. With all video content wanting to go viral, the question isn’t just who is the audience we are targeting but also what is it about the video that will get people talking about it and sharing? For Sound of Honda that was creating a cool data visualisation on the racetrack Senna broke records on.

Tweet to unlock exclusive pages from Rio’s new book

What happened: To launch Rio Ferdinand’s new book, fans are being given a sneak peak of some of the pages from the biography. The only ask is they need to tweet with the hashtag #RioRedDecade to help unlock 5 exclusive pages before it’s released as well as some sweet prizes and shout outs from the big man himself.

Why it’s interesting: The tweet for treat mechanic is nothing new – Tweet Shop, Twitter vending machines – but it is a very effective way of generating groundswell through a very simple value exchange given the natural propagation of conversation on Twitter.

 

Digital Zeitgeist: YouTube’s Digital Thermometer

23 Oct

As part of knowledge transfer the team at BBH London shoot around emails to the rest of the agency about the goings on around the web. My involvement is once a fortnight and from now on it makes sense to repurpose this for here! So here you go:

YouTube Campaigns: Digital thermometer for Nonprofits
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An awesome addition to YouTube’s Nonprofit Programme, this new feature allows nonprofits to create campaigns with goals like increasing views or subscribers, track their progress, and let people contribute to their goal. Once a campaign is created, videos in that campaign will show an overlay on them as well as a tab being displayed on the channel to encourage viewers to contribute to the campaign.
Further advice on starting a campaign can be found here
TalkSPORT Live embeds radio player onto Twitter
 
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Footy fans across the world (apart from Europe) can now listen to the Premier League live on Twitter - inEnglishSpanish and Chinese. This is an exciting opportunity for talkSPORT to own the Social chatter space during the Premier League games. Well worth noting the player is also optimised for Twitter’s mobile interface on iOS and Android.
 
UK lagging behind other markets on FB ads engagement levels
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new study by TBG suggests that there is low engagement on Facebook UK ads compared to the other main markets and that the average CPC on paid ads has dropped to 2010 levels. As the graph above details, the US saw a surge in CTR to 99% for Q3, compared to the previous quarter compared to the UK which dipped 4%.
Around the web
Top 10 Twitter Pics of the week

All good things have ending: RIP Ceefax 1974 – 2012

You thought OK GO’s Rube Goldberg (very good if you haven’t seen it) was pretty cool? Well Red Bull’s Human Powered Freerunning Machine gives it a run for its money

The final days of disruption marketing

20 Oct

There are plenty of reasons why digital is an appealing channel for marketers; new audiences to connect to, opportunities to create immersive experiences for customers, converting consumers into brand advocates, low-cost mass reach to name a few. This should set the groundwork for brands to build campaigns of entertainment and relevance yet we seldom see it.

From the early days of pop-ups to the HPTO’s making web browser go batshit cray and behavioural targeting which comes across more creepy than useful, a need to interfere with your existing way of working seems top of the agenda. It is this laziness in message-saturated ad land that see many brands break glass and press disrupt in emergency through fear of not standing out.

These days however people are better equipped to control their media environments and ultimately decide what to digest. There are browser apps to block those pesky ad-served windows and VoD services allowing viewers to watch what they want when they want. What content populates a user’s news feed (and what doesn’t) can be decided in a few clicks. As AMC’s Josh Sappan puts it, we’re making the transition from appointment to connection TV – when audiences become divorce from the constraint of linear and empowered by the digital age to get their favourite content. And it is that luxury of choice that will influence a shift in the way brands approach digital communications. 

We see flickers of excellence all around and you know what? Even disruption itself can be bloody great. Take Project Luke as a first class example of interruption with a purpose and meaning. Just like your year 10 English teacher preached, it’s about quality not quantity. As long as you hit your 2,000 word count.

Social Maturation: Searching for Meaning, not Information

28 Jul

When you stop for a minute to think about the speed technology has advanced in the past 10 years it is pretty mind-blowing. We now live in a world where access to any news or content from any corner of the world is only a few clicks away. Our personal footprints (offline as well as online) are open for many to see. Where before privacy was preached from the heavens is now seldom practice …thinking about it, it is actually rather terrifying!

By being hyper-connected online 24/7 we run the risk of neglecting the most important connection of them all. Ourselves. The Atlantic published a brilliant article, Is Google Making Us Stupid?, which suggests Google (and the internet) hasn’t just redesigned the way we search for information but is also remapping our neural circuitry and reprogramming the memory for how we digest it too. This was written four years ago – Social connectivity only looks to amplify these concerns.

It is this realisation for disconnect which is beginning to show its mark in the digital world. Most notably of late was Zynga’s purchase of OMGPOP / Draw Something for $180m, a deal that Zynga hoped would see them own 100% of the hottest app on the market – one that could even rival Angry Bird. If the rise to success was fast its fall came faster and harder as DAU’s dropped like flies. Why did this happen? My personal opinion is personal commitment. A curiosity to check out what all the fuss was about, but like many other apps and platforms lacks real value to warrant continued use.

Simply put, people are not moving as fast as the technology that serves them. We need to be creating communications activity that understands the tools one is comfortable using within their current ways of working. Digital and Social ideas should be there to compliment and enhance a person’s life and experiences, not be a burden. Then, and only then, will we be able to create truly meaningful campaigns which knows when to connect and when to disconnect. Welcome to an era where we search for meaning, not information.

Community Growth: Is content always King?

1 Jul

It’s 2nd to only engagement in the book of most used Social Media lingo. Content! Ah-ha, so that’s the remedy to disappointing page growth and engagement percentages? We just need to create some quality content that people will engage with and all our troubles will be resolved? Brilliant. Can’t wait to check our Klout score next week! 

One saying rings particularly true in Social Media strategy. Get useful or get entertaining. Unfortunately a few only listen to the latter.

Through the use of Sysomos and Social Bakers I recently audited the online community landscape for a market-leading service brand and the findings were rather alarming. What was initially a brief to help Brand X better understand how to engage their audience soon shifted to a better way of servicing our customer’s needs through Social channels. Here’s some key points you need to absolutely think about when creating a community engagement strategy.

#1 Your audience is unique

Though all too easy to rush towards building dialogue take the time to truly understand who you’re talking to. These are real people. With real needs, opinions and expectations. If you think of your audience as digits and stats you’re going to struggle to grow any community of substance. 

We all use Social Media in different ways, at different times for different purposes. Use one of the many free (or free to trial) Social monitoring tools out there to hear what people are saying about your brand. Pay close attention in particular to the sentiment, conversation themes & the frequency of all this chatter. Some companies who are worth reviewing include Sysomos, Radian 6, Social Bro & Social Bakers. All have there pros and cons so do your homework yourself!

#2 Listen & act on it!

If you’re reading this, you’re bound to have read a Mashable blog post on top tips for Social engagement. I’m pretty sure listen is on there though this gets over-looked. Typically a sign of crap community management. Some traits? Not acknowledging fan questions, hiding posts from upset customers or off-topic conversations.

Really dig deep into those conversation on and off your page about your brand. Understand key themes trending and make sure these are being addressed via your Social territories. If its about a recent product issue be pro-active and write a post clarifying the current issue and where to go if they want to know more. A constant question about service quality? Set-up customer service touch points be it a dedicated Twitter handle, a Get Satisfaction tab or sign-post peeps to your forum if you have one. Really make the most of your territories!

#3 Handle the rough before the smooth

Following point 2, it is essential to tackle underlying community issues before looking forward. This was particular true in a recent audit that found 44% of all user posts to be negative on their Facebook wall while over on Twitter 24% of mentioned tweets with a particular question were responded to. Rather worrying statistics!

But what this really means is something rather poisonous. If your conversations are being overrun by irate customers using your brand posts as a soap box to vent to the online world, what chance do you have of building a healthy community? What may begin as a pleasant conversation will shift dramatically once the thread floods with messages of disappointment and frustration. Now place this scenario on some pretty awesome content you’ve invested a lot of time and money in. You’ll still get decent engagement, but those comments run the risk of going off-topic pretty quickly! That’d suck huh?

#4 Your fans are fans of the brand, not you

There are so many confusing brand pages which seem to just want to strike up a conversation. If people want to have a conversation, 9 times out of 10 they will chat to their friends. This is not to say you can’t build strong relationships with fans through dialogue on your Social platforms. There just needs to be brand relevance to your conversation.

For example, a recent spoke about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and how they had Pimms chilling in the fridge. Now that may work on a very good day, but for those fans who were also customers experiencing terrible service this is the last thing they want to hear. What does get your fans engaging however is content that is on topic and connected back to the brand.

#5 Acknowledge you fans

If a fan has taken their time to reach out to you, the decent think is to respond or at least say thanks! It probably won’t increase growth by all that much but it solidifies a good customer experience. This is about building valuable relationships and brand advocates. It isn’t a numbers game – though I sympathise your client or marketing manager may not see it that way!

Stay Hygienic

What these points above aim to do is reinforce the importance of understanding your audience and how they use Social Media. Engage with tools they’re comfortable using in an environment familiar to their ways of working. Tick these boxes and hopefully this can go someway to influence the content you will be creating and the way you will be engaging! This is hygiene, but always good to start from a clean slate right?  

Why brands should be on Twitter

17 Jun

Twitter has come a long way since July, 2006. Now boasting a network of 140 million strong (UK 10m) and a revenue model that doesn’t disrupt the user’s experience I hold nothing but excitement for the microblogging service. Here are a few reasons why brands should be on Twitter:

Open Conversations

Twitter is completely open for you to join in any conversation. You don’t need to be following the user and finding conversations threads of interest are only a few clicks away. For example, you want to check out conversations about the European Championships you can search #Euro2012 to see a plethora of posts (tweets) coming through. From there you can strike up a conversation with some like-minded users. It really is that simple. If you’re craving an instant hit of chatter  Twitter’s trends bar is a great source for this.

The beauty is in the simplicity of engagement. A community that in tuned in for a bit of a natter (as opposed to Facebook where we tend to look at photos and catch-up with friends). And if it easy enough for Joe Bloggs to jump into conversations this opens up a whole host of opportunities for brands!

Twitter Ads

There are 175 million tweets a day. Over 475 million accounts. Exposure may be a little hard to come by but Promoted Trends, Promoted Accounts & Sponsored Tweet give brands opportunities to leverage their exposure for targeted audiences to see. Try integrating Twitter’s advertising services with bursts of campaign activity (think Superbowl or Mtv Awards) for optomised results. 

A tweet is not a tweet

Recent updates to the Twitter platform have seen a tweet extend to hosting videos and images. Compliment your story-telling with rich content for Tweets that pack more weight than the standard 140-character filled messages.

People will talk. Twitter will talk.

Simply put, if your product or service offering is awesome people will talk about it and people will talk about it on Twitter. Facilitate, participate and amplify these conversations to help build deeper relationships with your fans.

Twitter Events

The recently publicised Twitter Events provides a hub for conversations around a particular event or celebration. NASCAR, a recent social-media advocate, is one of the first brands to example this service with photos and tweets from all perspectives of the sport. Algorithms and curation help source and showcase the content in a very visual and appealing way. Brands should look at this closely with thoughts on how they can not just show leadership of their own brand on social but how they can can champion particular events and occasions.

So it is all about Twitter?

No it is not you big dummy! Just as it is not just all about Facebook, brands need to start somewhere but should be looking to build an eco-system. Think of social strategy this way… Social ideas not social platforms.

Try a little KISS: Keep it Simple Stupid

13 May

As many readers will know by now, I try and keep digital news and social idea as simple and succinct as possible. For those who are new to my philosophastering, this post should sum me up pretty well.

My Business Director at my last agency was quite the character. With a Masters in Philosophy at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris  coupled with a military upbringing he certainly wasn’t the person you’d want to get into a one-to-one debate with. His ace was his use of words that would leave you literally speechless. From agency wanky words (*cough* transmedia *cough*) to an abundance of analogies for any scenario he had the lot, but amongst his lexicon there was a lot of stuff that rung true including KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid).

One thing that still shocks me today is digital illiteracy of many in creative & media companies. A lack of understanding of the user and an over-excitement of any technology that is new and shiny. Every idea has to be big which typically translates to complicated. I personally think a simple trick is to put yourself in others’ shoes. What would they do? Reality is the majority of us online have enough going on from emailing to catching up with news and friends, so with the little leisure time left it is important brands do something that is either entertaining or useful and very blood efficient. So when I say Keep it Simple Stupid here are a few things I mean:

  • Ensure the piece of activity compliments / adds-value to the over-arching brand strategy
  • Set a clear objective
  • Fish where the fish are – different communities use different platforms
  • What is the benefit for the user?
  • Be clear what you want the user to do (assume nothing!)
  • Streamline the UX (the less steps from attention to action the better)
  • If you’re going using a QR code explain why the user should scan it <- that bugs me more than anything

All of these points are rather basic considerations, but you will be surprised how many campaigns go live ignoring the above. I’d like to stress is KISS doesn’t mean not to go ambitious, just make sure you tick off the fundamentals!

Chirpify: Pay with a Tweet

1 May

Yes I know social payments is a bit of a yawn, but boy does this one have some backbone to it! There have been many social transaction models over the past couple of years from a simple Retweet to win to Facebook coins to influencer perks but the clever chaps at Chirpify have taken social payments to another level with a pretty solid purchasing model ready to further erode digital wallets all over the world (if NFC wasn’t damaging enough to our intangible savings!) 

The beauty is in simplicity. Chirpify syncs with your Pay Pal account turning your Twitter profile into an e-commerce channel. This could be used for various opportunities including selling goods, raising money for charity (click to sponsor my Snowdon climb here: http://bit.ly/IEmPmu) or to send a direct payment. The great news too is Chirpify is hear for the long-haul with $1.3m raised to help expand the Twitter platform. Back of the net!

Despite a few logistical barriers such as stock limits and determining variables such as size & colour (all I’m sure will be remedied), this is a great concept that will undoubtedly mean a lot of new opportunities for companies and artists to start making money through social media. I look forward to following Chirpify’s progress though a particular interest will lie in how the likes etsy, Facebook Commerce and GroupOn will react accordingly!

Black Sheep

25 Apr

There are those rare moments in life where time truly stands still. A rush of blood to the head as if you’d just won that one-in-a-million jackpot. Last month was one of those occasions.

I have spent my past 14 months or so working for MEC, an incredibly advanced media agency who recognises the shifts in how we consume media and are re-positioning themselves accordingly to not just handle changes but prosper from them. I am very appreciative for the opportunity to work on some incredible projects and tasks during my time and truly believe MEC is one of the best agencies in the world for both quality of work and personal development.

As we all know, a company is only as good as the people behind it and I can categorically say I’ve been very lucky to work with an incredible and diverse range of individuals. Personally, it is simply mind-boggling the work created  by the team to help develop and evolve MEC’s Social Media and Digital Interaction offering and I have lost count of the amount of high-fives and back slaps that have happened off the back of all the incredible work produced from very demanding clients! I am eternally grateful for having the pleasure of meeting all of you and have only the highest respect, admiration and praise for you. I look forward to seeing all your names in bold letters in campaign soon!

Leaving such a great company (The Times 21st Best Company to work for in Top 100) and a great team was never going to be an easy task and it would have had to take something pretty special for me to think differently. BBH Labs is that something special. 

Everything about BBH excites me;  the thinking, the opportunity to integrate Social Media strategy deeper & earlier into campaigns, the incredible work created so far, the incredible work we will produce in the future, the energy I felt taking that first step into the office and, let’s not forget, the brilliant minds I look forward to learning from. I know this is the right decision for me and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

And with that I say to everyone at MEC: goodbye and thank you for everything! And to everyone at BBH: hello and I look forward to a very exciting future!

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