Frequently termed ‘The King of Social’, Instagram started as a simple picture sharing app, used mainly between close friends and some carefully-selected family, to display the ‘best’ snapshots of your life. It was a refreshing alternative to the swathes of imagery that confronted you on Facebook, each one only slightly different to the last. It’s single-picture format enforced a kind of self-control not seen elsewhere. Of course, this wouldn’t last forever. Years later we have video, galleries and stories, and Instagram has expanded far beyond your own social circle. It has, however, kept its highly-polished aesthetic and fetish for ‘authenticity’.
Now the app is one of the biggest Social Media sites in the world, with over 700 million users, 400 million of which are active daily! It’s impressive to say the least and the potential audience reach on this platform is ever growing. It took only four months to gain the last 100 million followers, whereas the previous took six months.
So, what makes it such a great platform? It’s seen as considerably cooler than Facebook, more interesting than Twitter, and more useful than Snapchat. Instagram has become incredibly sophisticated in storytelling and doing so in an artistic manner. The ability to fluently and diversely communicate a brand or individual’s story has become indispensable. Authenticity is key to modern marketing, and Instagram is the platform that allows this ‘intimate’ insight into a brand. And what better brand to apply it to than a Start-Up? A company that is rooted in individuality, ingenuity and passion. One that is already trying to tell its own story, and express its personality, unlike many conglomerates that churn out an all-encompassing ‘brand’ worldwide.
Engage your audience
So, we know Instagram has the audience and the tools to effectively tell your story, but what techniques can you employ to make Instagram work for you? As a Start-Up, it’s important not only to put out great content, but to actively engage with your following, and users who you feel would be interested in your brand. This engagement, or ‘community managing’, is what will help you grow your channel, awareness, and ultimately your brand. It may seem like a lot of work, but just taking the time to reply to comments and reach out to users and brands can make all the difference.
Building this community can be done in several ways, but the most immediate is through hashtags. By putting up to 30 relevant hashtags underneath your post you can make yourself visible to the potentially millions of daily users who are engaging with account and brands like yours. Engaging with other users in these hashtags is the next step to generating conversation, and this is worth remembering. Social Media is not a one-way street, you need ask questions, respond authentically, get people interested and keep them talking with you and about you.
If you are a local business, such as a restaurant, boutique or event, then you can utilise these hashtags to target a specific audience. Likewise, you may also use geo-tagging to involve the local community in a location-targeted campaign. These techniques allow you to build a community both offline and online.
Collaborate and listen
Many brands have taken to cross-posting and collaborations to bolster their online presence. This is a mutually beneficial process that sees both brands raise awareness, and is particularly applicable in a Start-Up environment, where both have a chance to establish themselves in an industry. It’s not just other brands that you might consider this tactic with; featuring your customers is an increasingly valuable tool in promoting your brand’s merit. Not only will this provide potential customers with authentic, positive feedback for your brand, but it also rewards fans for being fans. In doing this, you encourage them to continue to share their interactions with your brand on Social Media. It’s a win-win, they get to interact with the brands they love in an authentic way, and you get exposure and great content for your own channels. Just make sure you always credit them!
Do what works for you
There are a plethora of techniques to employ on this ever-expanding channel. To do it perfectly, you would be using a variation of careful curated daily posts and stories to provide the most artistic storytelling experience you can. You could run competitions, and cross-post and promote other brands. You could shout about your brand down every relevant avenue, and target it perfectly with paid posts and influencer marketing. This is a lot to take on, especially as a Start-Up. It can seem overwhelming, but it is also wholly unnecessary to try to do all of them at once, and to sustain them. Our advice would be to cherry pick what works for your brand, and remember that creativity and authenticity are at the heart of successful Social Media marketing.
If you want to champion your brand on Instagram effectively, the main thing to consider in this whirlwind of possibilities is creativity. Instagram is a platform that welcomes creativity more than any other. This is the point of difference needed to stop users endlessly scrolling through their feeds and focus on your post. This is the first point of engagement with a consumer, and one of the hardest things to engineer. You want to disrupt and simultaneously engage; having a creative edge here is key.
Of course, this is perhaps easier said than done. But with a proper strategy and some practice, you should quickly find yourself building your brands presence and identity online. Building and maintaining this presence is of huge value to brands and businesses, after all, 32% of all internet users are on Instagram. That’s a big slice of the pie to be missing out on!
If you would like to talk about how our digital services could help grow your Instagram following, why not get in touch with us today.
Five women in tech to watch at GeekGirl Meetup Conference
This Saturday one of our favourite networks by and for women, GeekGirl Meetup, is hosting its 5th annual conference.
The confluence of technology and ethics is this year’s hot topic, and we’re excited to head along and hear the insights of some of the most inspiring women in the industry. Here’s a little introduction to five of the speakers: our women in tech to watch.
Ellie Hale, Digital Fellowship Lead at CAST
A girl after our own hearts, Ellie Hale started her career in communications. Hale now heads up the Digital Fellowship at CAST, the Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology. CAST is driving the growth of tech for good by working with investors, non-profits, social enterprises and government.
CAST’s Digital Fellowship is a programme which helps non-profit leaders learn the fundamentals of tech and digital innovation, helping charities embrace digital and put it at the heart of their work.
Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder and CEO of Safe & The City
Jillian Kowalchuk runs the upcoming app, Safe & the City – a tool to help women navigate safer walking routes. With an aim to help eliminate sexual harassment in London, we’re interested to see what’s on the horizon for Jillian when the app launches soon.
Camilla Hayselden-Ashby, Product Lead at fieldmargin
Camilla Hayselden-Ashby is the Product Lead at fieldmargin, a platform elevating the future of farming and making farming more efficient. The app is a mapping tool providing a visual record of a farm, upon which farmers can draw maps, make notes and leave messages for their team – even without internet connection.
Devika Wood, Co-founder of Vida
Vida, a company harnessing technology and investing in high quality, in-home carers for the elderly and disabled, was born from Devika Wood’s very personal experience growing up. Having lived from the age of 10 with her grandmother, who lived with dementia and epilepsy, Wood witnessed the impacts of a “lack of continuity in carers”. Vida aims to solve this issue in the sector, leveraging tech to provide personalised, expert care through their carer matching and care plans.
Devika has an impressive background in both technology and healthcare, having left school at 18 to work for Google, subsequently working as a breast cancer research scientist at Imperial College London, followed by stints at Babylon and Healthcare Australia.
Scarlett Montanaro, Co-founder of CRACK + CIDER
A rough sleeper once said to Scarlett Montanaro and co-founder Charley Cramer: “People don’t give me money because they think I’ll spend it on crack and cider.” Fed up with campaigns encouraging the public not to give rough sleepers money, but not offering another solution, the pair created CRACK + CIDER, an online shop where people can buy useful items for the homeless.
The PHA Group wins Media Employer of the Year Award
February 18th 2015 will long be a date that sticks in the mind of The PHA Group employees for all the right reasons.
On a star-studded evening, hosted by Pathfinders at Soho’s Ham Yard Hotel, the company scooped the biggest prize in their ten year history as they claimed the prestigious ‘Media Employer of the Year’ award.
It was vindication of the journey and hard work that the company from the top down have undergone and the ethos that has been established over the best part of a decade.
Credit must also be paid to runners up, Brandfuel, who were extremely magnanimous in defeat as the judges revealed there was little to separate the two companies, who were by far and away this year’s outstanding candidates.
Particular areas of praise included the firm’s staff appraisal process, high retention rate, and consistent ability to convert interns into full time staff, something I have particular experience of.
It is difficult to argue that the award was deserved as I have seen first-hand the work and personable nature of the company on a daily basis. Being just days short of my year anniversary (a date which is naturally in everyone’s diaries) has meant that I have been one of the main beneficiaries of the businesses’ numerous schemes and internship programmes. Yes, this was my first year at the company and we claimed victory but to suggest a correlation would be too much… I was just delighted to be involved in the entry process as my experience has been a wholly positive one.
While ‘Bra packer to Junior Account Executive’ is unlikely to be the title of my impending autobiography, it does highlight the importance that the company place on the person behind the CV. Ensuring the job is done to the best of your ability is of course paramount in any profession but I do believe that the culture of a workplace is equally crucial and can further fuel success. From the approachability of the company partners, to the strong sense of team, right through to Friday massages and drinks…The PHA Group have their staff’s best interests at heart.
It is equally important that this award is not seen as the end of the journey but merely the beginning of it. It is always nice to be recognised in this nature but it is worth pondering why we were victorious and how such high levels of staff satisfaction can be maintained and even improved upon. The accolade is not to be underestimated and while PHA are ruled out of winning the award in the future, we will have great pride in handing the award to next year’s worthy winners. Now in true Ab Fab style, let the champagne flow!
Director of PR, Stuart Skinner, was understandably delighted with the accolade: “We are absolutely delighted and honoured to receive this award. We have won prizes before for commercial growth, and for client campaigns, but this award genuinely means the most. This one is all about the people in the company and they are the most important asset we have and what drives the business forward.”
For more information on working at The PHA Group click here.
Ten Japanese tech start-ups that could take the UK by storm
With Silicon Valley in the US and Silicon Roundabout in our own capital, we know the West is good at taking the plunge and being entrepreneurial. But what of the East?
In Japan, business culture is still ‘dominated by the concept of lifetime employment’ where, in exchange for unwavering obedience and loyalty, the employee can expect stability, security and several company perks. However, as the next generation of 20 year olds reject the restrictions and limitations of the corporate world, Japan’s entrepreneurial spirit is slowly reviving.
As a keen Japanophile, and having lived in the country among a number of budding business minds, I like to keep a close eye on the ideas emerging from the Land of the Rising Sun, in the hope that one day they’ll expand into the UK. So below is a list of some of my top 10 favourite contenders.
1: Combinator (EN) – So you have a fantastic idea for a business – but what happens when you don’t have the skills to develop your service or product yourself? Helping to turn ideas into reality, Combinator is a platform where budding entrepreneurs can pledge their time to fledgling start-ups in the making. You can be as committed as you want, whether that’s working the odd weekend, helping out after you finish your day job, or fully committing yourself to the project.
2: Air Closet (JP) – Ever looked at your wardrobe brimming with clothes and thought you still have nothing to wear? Fear not, for Air Closet is effectively a library of clothes that you can borrow, with membership costing approximately £40 a month – you receive a package containing three items of clothing, selected for you by a professional stylist, and are allowed to keep the items for as long as you like. It looks like you can only borrow three items at a time though, so once you’re ready to get your next batch, you simply send the clothes back (free return delivery and no need to wash) and review. The more feedback you share, the more accurate the stylists can be.
3: Conyac (EN) – Machine translators are getting good, but if anyone has seen this Let It Go Google Translate parody, we know that language is sometimes simply best left to the people who know how to use it! Conyac is an online platform that connects individuals and businesses alike with 40,000 affordable translators around the world, catering up to 75 languages. But perhaps what makes this service special as opposed to your ordinary translation agency is that they have three levels of service: light requests, standard requests and business. For a light request – say a quick email reply in the sender’s language – you can get a translation from a human in as quick as ten minutes.
4: Living Room (JP) – Your children have left their toys all over the floor, refuse to brush their teeth and simply don’t want to help with the household chores. Is there any hope? Yes says Living Room, a Japanese platform that helps to gamify the cleaning, washing, tidying, hygiene – you name it – experience for children. Set for release in February, children are assigned tasks through characters in a ‘game’ app (John the Adventurer in “Chores Quest” for the boys and Princess Marie in “The Magic of Chores” for the girls). The children’s apps are connected to a parent app, where Mums and Dads can confirm when a job has been completed – and once they give the green light, the children receive an in-game reward. The platform also includes a ‘Mama & Papa café’, where parents can discuss ideas and suggestions.
5: Listnr (EN) – We’re getting to a stage in technological development where interacting with your environment by sound is very much becoming a reality – and Listnr fits beautifully into the puzzle as an interactive baby monitor. Working in conjunction with an app, the user receives notifications when the device registers certain sounds – be that laughter or crying. As it develops, Listnr is also set to register the tone of voices in a room and change colour accordingly. The product is still very much in its infancy, but with backing from Panasonic and a successful CES 2015 under its belt, it’s sure to be a strong contender in the smart home arena.
6: Popinfo (JP) – Timing and visibility are of the essence in any marketing and promotional campaign, but can often be difficult to get right – after all, emails and display ads can be easy to ignore. Popinfo aims to increase click-through rates by combining geographical and behavioural insights for perfectly timed push notifications directly to consumers. It appears to be an opt-in service, with users subscribing to shops and cafés of their choice, so it’s a great way to keep your customers updated on activities and events, and drawing in the crowds.
7: AnyPerk (EN) – It’s not unusual nowadays for people to move job every few years, but if you’ve got some great talent in your midst, you won’t want to just let them go. Companies who subscribe to the AnyPerk platform give their employees access to over 700 pre-negotiated products and services, ranging from gym memberships to childcare services. The perks never expire, have no limits on redemption frequency and are redeemable immediately – companies can also customise what’s available to include their own perks, as well as remove those that don’t fit their company culture. Those that sign-up further receive regular updates on redemption statistics, enabling them to identify the most popular perks and benchmark themselves against competitors.
8: Giftee (JP) – How many times has a friend come through for you last minute – whether paying for your taxi home after losing your wallet on a night out, or coming over at a moment’s notice and offering a shoulder to cry on? Giftee specialises in small token gifts, allowing users to show their appreciation through digital vouchers for little treats, such as a cup of coffee, a slice of cake, a beer, a bowl of ice cream or even a copy of their favourite magazine. It’s the perfect way to spread the love.
9: AmazingLife (EN) – Like all things in life, everything and everyone eventually passes – but it can be difficult, and indeed complicated, to prepare for a death. AmazingLife has therefore developed a number of smartphone apps to help simplify the process and payment of services – from cremation and funeral preparations, to wills and inheritances – so that people can take the time to decide what is right for them at their own pace.
10: Type (JP) – As a fellow glasses wearer, it’s not often that a company comes around trying to make specs more ‘cool’. Oh My Glasses, however, attempts to do just that with their new line of eyewear products – Type – inspired by the similarities between the function and design of fonts and frames. The currently have four styles, named after the typefaces they were born from – Din, Futura, Garamond and Helvetica – and I can honestly say I was drawn immediately to my default font…
There are, of course, many, many more fantastic business ideas emerging in Japan – and I’ll be keeping a beady eye out for them. But in the meantime, I hope you’ll agree that there are some worthy contenders in the East that could really take the West by storm – and we should be encouraging them to try.
How to Rebuild Trust in Your Tech Brand
Scandal, scandal, scandal. Security breaches, data hoarding and ethical ambiguity – if the likes of Apple, Snapchat and Sony are anything to go by in terms of trust in technology, they certainly didn’t do SMEs and entrepreneurs any favours in 2014.
Last week, a report highlighted that Brits’ trust in technology had substantially dipped in the last year. Consumer electronics and telecoms, in particular, both took a tumble, and now, as other countries enthusiastically steam ahead with innovation, Brits’ trust (or lack thereof) in tech is significantly impeding our progression towards a connected future.
So what can tech companies do to reassure British consumers? Here are our top three tips to inspire, maintain, or, in some cases, rebuild trust in your tech brand.
Data and Security
After numerous high profile data hacks and security breaches in 2014, consumers are understandably concerned about how their details are mined, managed and manipulated. For tech brands, ensuring you are plain and transparent with your use, storage and trading of data is vital to allay the fears stoked by these incidents and strengthen that all-important consumer trust.
Only a couple of months ago, MPs on the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee were compelled to call for new guidelines for apps and websites, requiring them to explain clearly their use of personal data. Increasingly, regulation is making it difficult for technology to evolve, so instead of waiting for more guidelines and possibly laws to be introduced, why not prove to society that tech brands can be responsible, transparent and effectively self-regulate? As Andrew Miller, chair of the committee, noted: “Socially responsible companies wouldn’t want to bamboozle their users”.
Quality and Safety
Technology as a topic can often seem inaccessible – after all, there’s a lot of jargon and few people understand how software and hardware is actually built. So when there are rapid developments, it almost appears too good to be true, leaving some sceptical and mistrusting consumers questioning the validity of research and the quality of the design of a product.
In fact, nearly half of UK consumers believe that innovation is happening too quickly – but then, it’s not in the best interests of tech developers to slam on the brakes. Instead, it’s vital that tech companies address these concerns directly, by allowing people to trial and test their capabilities. Demonstrating quality by offering your product for high profile reviews is a good way of gaining advocacy from trusted, independent parties.
Positioning your company as experts in a relevant field – through thought leadership pieces and interviews – will also reassure consumers that the same intelligence and conscientiousness has been baked into your product or service.
Perhaps one of the most surprising snippets to come out of the mammoth Consumer Electronics Show 2015 earlier this month was an admission from Gary Shapiro, CEO of the event. He acknowledged that over-reliance on digital products is a “Natural trend that people are talking about”, and that he believes in the good of “everything, in reason.”
A digital detox, it seems, may well be on the horizon – and tech companies must be prepared. Consumers mistrust products and brands that serve no true purpose, or that bombard them with so many that they can’t discern what the product is really for. So decide what problem you want to solve and where your niche lies, instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. Less is more – or, in the immortal words of Coco Chanel, “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”
In your communications, tech brands should ensure that the value your product adds to the market is conveyed clearly and consistently. If consumers can see how your product will save them time, bring them new information or simply entertain them, trust in your brand will strengthen. That one must-have feature of your offering should shine through: purpose over puff.
As we move forward into 2015, it seems that innovation is no longer enough. Trust in your tech brand must be built upon a foundation of transparency, independent advocacy and clear communications – only then will Brits embrace the advances you have nurtured. How will trust in your brand fare this year?
#JeSuisCharlie and the Twitter bandwagon
Last week’s attacks in Paris were sickening, of that there is no doubt. The fallout, many innocent people are dead, world leaders are doing their best to be seen to support their French allies and millions of tweets are being sent bearing #JeSuisCharlie.
This isn’t a blog looking at the wider repercussions of the attacks, that’s something far too large to do here, or in any single blog – to look at the rising anti-Muslim agenda, scaremongering and media misreporting, but what can be assessed is the role social media plays in these instances.
Since last week’s attacks, I’d be keen to bet that #JeSuisCharlie has trended consistently. A hashtag which aims to show solidarity towards the victims, defiance against terror and a pro-free speech outlook – big objectives for a mere 13 characters.
The main reason social media, particularly Twitter, is able to spread this feeling of support and defiance is that, simply put, it’s quick and easy to do so – a great advantage. Yet this ‘click and forget’, ‘like and leave’ mentality is its own worst enemy. Take the previous example of #BringBackOurGirls, a hashtag supported by the likes of Michelle Obama to raise awareness around the Boko Haram kidnapping of 300 girls in Nigeria. Remember that? Outraged at the time? Perhaps you even shared the hashtag. But what then?
Social media, of which I like most people am a big fan, makes news quicker, more interactive, and affords people the opportunity to share their opinion. But when it’s just as easy to back worldwide disgust at a terrorist incident as it is to show your enjoyment of a picture of a cat dressed as a lion, in many ways it cheapens the message.
The nature of social media, particularly Twitter, is transient and perhaps the wider question is can a campaign be sustained through this channel and if so, how?
Yes, being able to say X million people worldwide have backed #JeSuisCharlie is powerful in itself, it is a message that society won’t be defeated, but surely a much more powerful measure of impact, of our resistance, is to ask people a month down the line who still really cares? This may sound blunt, but the news agenda moves quicker than ever before and most stories are forgotten.
The Paris attacks perhaps are (and should be) too large to fall into this category, but only time will tell.
Is That My Instagram in My Klout Score?Instagram images will finally play a role in your Klout score. Although you have been able to connect your Instagram account to Klout for some time. Your Instagram influence did not play a role in your overall Klout score, until now.Your Instagram images will now join the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to measure your social influence. Your most influential updates will feature in the ‘Your Moments’ section of your Klout profile.Klout is a San Francisco based company that provides social media analytics to measure a users influence their social network. Measuring the size of your network, the content created, and how others react to that content. Klout scores range from 1 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a higher social influence.In addition, Bing has been made a Klout partner that will result in high-profile influencers having their scores displayed on search results. So if you are searching for a particular individual you can see at a glance not only their score, but also where their influence lies.Here in the digital PR team, our personal accounts increased by an average of 3, thanks Instagram. Has your score been affected?Image courtesy of: Kevin Sablan, flickr.com
Facebook Facelift: What Impact Will A Revamped News Feed Have?
Last week Mark Zuckerberg announced that The News Feed was getting a restructure, which will give more prominence to third-party content Apps whilst simplifying the user experience.
The changes bring a choice of feeds so users can streamline the content they want to see, which will be available on desktop and mobile devices:
All Friends feed – see every post from every friend in chronological order to make sure nothing is missed.
Music feed – what your favourite musicians are posting, what your friends are listening too, gigs, album news, etc.
Photos feed – shows every single photo that friends and Pages are posting.
Following feed – to see posts from the Pages and public figures that you like.
Close Friends feed – see everything from your close friends.
Games feed – updates on the latest games on Facebook.
Posts and life events will now be positioned to the right side of the timeline and content Apps will be given more prominence with a separate section in the left column of the timeline on the About tab.
The update also means people can add directly to the timeline from other sites including Pinterest and Instagram and connect Apps like Spotify and Netflix.
For brands and businesses, content is still king but images will rule the page. They’ll need to make sure that wall posts are supported by high-quality relevant imagery or video, to ensure users remain loyal.
Let us know what you make of the changes!
PHA Digital Review The iPhone 5
Finally, Apple have gotten round to creating the iPhone 5. Hooray, we hear you say!
For those of you who still haven’t managed to get your hands on the latest Apple must-have – We bet you’re dying to know what it offers that older versions do not, so here you go…
The new iPhone 5 is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S, with a larger screen. Instead of a glass back, the iPhone 5 back and sides are made from a single piece of aluminium. Apple says it’s ‘unlike anything we, or anyone in the industry, has made before.’
The handset is powered by an A6 processor, an upgrade from the iPhone 4S and the latest iPad. It is meant to run twice as fast, with graphics that are twice as fast!
It’s the first Apple phone with 4G. The network will launch within the next few weeks but prices and speeds are yet to be confirmed.
Though the camera is still 8-megapixels, Apple says that performance will be improved by the new A6 processor. It was reported to have better low-light performance and a new panorama mode.
To save space Apple has replaced the micro-SIM card in the iPhone 4S with a smaller nano-SIM. Your network should swap the SIM for you, over the counter, at no charge.
Another thing Apple has replaced in order to save space: the dock connector. The iPhone 5 uses a smaller ‘Lightning’ connector, a downside being that it won’t connect to any existing docks or accessories you may have.
We believe the size, design and shape will win the most admiring glances, while the materials used keep that premium Apple feel. Our advice would be to get your order in quick and treat the device with extra care.