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Spotlight on… Film Technology

Spotlight on… Film Technology

The 2018 awards season is well underway. Commentators are announcing their last-minute predictions ahead of today’s Oscar nominations and #TimesUp is making this one of the most memorable and poignant seasons of all time. It’s no surprise that the media has a sharper focus on the film industry than ever before.

The filmmaking business has undergone some real change in the past couple of years, and technology has been monumental in driving progress and empowering independent filmmakers and content creators. But which Film Technology companies should we be keeping an eye on in the next year?

The edit: Frame.io

Frame.io is the tool that helps creatives keep the creative process moving. Editing content is often slowed down drastically by file transfer and lengthy review processes. Frame.io replaces Dropbox, for file sharing, Vimeo for video review, and email for feedback. Integrated with all of filmmakers’ favourite tools including Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut, Slack, and Vimeo, this is a collaboration platform with some serious streamlining powers.

The training: Masterclass

Masterclass has firmly made its mark on the online learning space in the last year with its all-access pass to online classes taught by some of the biggest names in the creative industries. With screenwriting programmes from Aaron Sorkin, film scoring lessons from Hans Zimmer, directing classes from Ron Howard, and writing masterclasses from Shonda Rhimes, the platform offers unparalleled access to flexible learning course from world-class industry professionals.

The grade: DaVinci Resolve

A favourite of editors and colourists around the globe, the latest iteration of DaVinci Resolve is an industry leading set of tools for editing, colour correction and professional audio post production. The software – which is completely free – was originally designed for the industry’s elite colourists, but is now available to all. With Resolve 14, creatives can switch between editing, colour correcting and audio mastering almost seamlessly, making it one of the easiest tools to use.

The soundtrack: Filmstro

Finding or scoring music for pre-shot footage can be an incredibly frustrating process for creatives, but new platforms such as Filmstro aim to make this time-consuming process far easier. Filmstro is a music library for content creators and filmmakers that sits behind ‘intuitive software’ and allows them to create musical scores to accompany their footage. Now integrated with both Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, the platform uses a roster of talented composers from across the globe to allow users to control the momentum, depth and power of their music.

The gadget: DJI Osmo

DJI have been leading the way when it comes to drones in recent years, but one of their newest tools is a game-changer for creatives looking to create professional looking video on the go. The newest version of the Osmo Mobile is a compact handheld gimbal for smartphones. With a lightweight design, cinematic movement, and active tracking, this is the perfect tool for professionals on the move.

The subscription: Flix Premiere

The appetite for independent films is growing year on year, and Flix Premiere is looking to feed this growing demand for originally storytelling with its video-on-demand platform. With new, exclusive, releases each week, it’s an online cinema that helps overlooked independent films find their audiences. The platform offers exclusive access to curated theatrical releases, and award winning independent productions making it perfect for movie goers tired of studio blockbusters.

Five legal tech apps disrupting the legal market

Since the dawn of crime, technology and law have managed to co-exist together almost entirely indifferently. Yet, as they say, all long periods of slumber and denial must come to an end. And for the legal world, technological apps hell-bent on increasing efficiency and destroying the businesses of all honest lever arch files salesman, have arrived to transform the profession and challenge its robust conservatism.

Total investment in UK Lawtech firms has only just reached £16m, in comparison, Fintech generated £1.5bn in 2015-16 alone. But the market is still in the initial stages of development and is largely unexplored. The expectancy, however, given the UK’s legal services generate over £25bn annually, is that this is where the next tech drive is going to take place.

Here are five of the early contenders attempting to disrupt the legal market.

CaseCrunch

In May this year, the world’s best Go player lost to an AI machine for the first time. ‘Go’ is a hugely complex ancient strategy game where hundreds of years of received wisdom and intuition were believed to mean humans would always retain the edge over machine calculations. It’s different in that way to chess, where more than twenty years ago, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated world champion Kasparov in its first-ever game. For two decades since that defeat, however, professional Go players had remained undefeated to technology.

How then did they finally teach an AI machine to outthink the world’s best player? Well, in many ways, they didn’t. Instead of providing it with information about the game as had previously been the technique, they let the machine teach itself. AlphaGo played millions of games in the space of a few days and by correcting its every error, generated its own knowledge. It then baffled the world in its first game (over 100 million people tuned in) by producing moves unseen before, but which in hindsight, made perfect sense.

The development and potential of ideas like this outside of the realm of board games are what is captivating the legal world now and it’s not hard not to see why. What could happen if AI strategy games could be developed into legal strategy?

Cambridge graduates were out to test this theory when they created CaseCrunch, an AI software that can predict legal decisions with high accuracy, and it appears, a higher accuracy than human lawyers.

Lawyers from the leading law firms in the UK, including magic circle firm Allen & Overy, were asked to assess 800 historic insurance misselling claims in a week-long competition and predict the outcomes of the cases. The results?

Lawyers  – 62%

CaseCrunch – 87%.

The first ever competition to pit lawyers against AI, and it was decisive. The expectation going forward, however, is the two will work together, rather than apart, we hope…

Premotion 

This company may be the most disruptive of all. Premonition knows “Which Lawyers, Win Which Cases, In Front of Which Judges.”

The database is gigantic and growing by 40,000 cases every day in the US alone. The slogan is you can “Select Your Lawyer on Data, Not Anecdote”. By entering your requirements into the database, the technology will return the lawyers with the best success. This includes who wins the most, who are the most hired and who are the proven losers that are continually re-hired. Hard to guess why lawyers have been resistant to technology, isn’t it?

But it’s not all bad news, as the data alone is fascinating. In Civil Appeals there is a barrister with 11 straight defendant wins, despite the fact, plaintiffs win 75% in UK courts. It also revealed Law firms select barristers 38% worse than random, and General Counsel’s 18% worse than random!

Aside from collecting this hugely valuable data and significantly strengthening the hand of the consumer, a more juvenile dive into the stats gives the perfect opportunity to settle old scores. According to the data, female partners win 12% more than their male colleagues and female associates win 3% more than their male colleagues. Something to do with multitasking etc…

Cognitiv+

Another UK legal tech start-up, Cognitiv+ applies artificial intelligence to the task of contract reading to background music of grateful cheers from training contract applicants everywhere.

As legislation, contracts and new regulations continue to grow to sizes of the extreme, the argument in favour of this technology is that managing contract changes are going to become an increasingly impossible job for humans. The AI should be able to monitor changes in legislation and then compare its analysis to a company’s own contracts, flagging up potential conflicts or alerting its users to the important changes.

The AI’s engine effectively automates contract analysis and management, offering businesses a way to stay on top of legal risks, contractual obligations and changing regulatory landscapes. Brexit has likely come along at exactly the right time for this startup, with new legislation and regulations likely to arrive in their droves in the next few years.

Check recipient

While so much time is dedicated now to worrying about the next big cybersecurity attack, Check Recipient worries about what happens if a data leak is done from within, by mistake. The technology studies your emails and alerts the user when it believes an email has made its way to the wrong person, blocking the attempt and allowing the grateful and-still-in-a-job associate a second chance.

 

There’s more to this idea than just potentially saving you from accidentally sending your boss your CV. The future of data protection may mean the consequences of email misdirection will result in more than just social faux pas. EU regulations set to enter legislation in 2018 could mean mandatory reporting of data breaches and subsequent fines.

A plethora of horror stories has entered the press recently regarding misdirected emails. From an HIV clinic accidentally releasing the names of its patients to a school in Australia sending its students a link to an “inappropriate adult website” instead of the intended annual breakfast event. Yet, closer to home, something as simple as sending the wrong email to an opponent or client when a legal case hangs in the balance would be mortifying enough. Check recipient has got that bit covered.

FLEXEBOSS

FlexeBoss.com is an online legal marketplace which enables people to search, select and interact with high quality, affordable (20% cheaper than the market rate), vetted by UK solicitors to solve their legal issues. Lord Justice Jackson may not have been able to convince the profession of fixed costs outside of personal injury claims, but this app goes ahead and fixes them for you. You place the service in your shopping basket, send the documents the lawyer requests, and the Lawyer returns the work to you in the agreed timeframe.

It’s a win for both sides, however, as Lawyers can also sell their services through the site. It functions a little like an Amazon for legal services and the potential for growth, as more lawyers become self-employed could be endless. It could be an interesting future for the legal trade should concepts like this become the preference of the consumer. It gives more certainty over cost and an online interface more familiar to the modern customer. Viva la legal revolution.

The millenial issue: how charities can connect and make an impact

Millenials get a fairly bad rep in today’s media. We’re all aware of the widely purported stereotype: a self-centered and entitled generation with a penchant for self promotion on social media and a reluctance to buckle down to a hard days work.

Sigh.

You’d be forgiven, then, for assuming that millennials are not pre-disposed to charitable giving. Even if you don’t buy into the above stereotype (good for you), there is no escaping the fact that millennials are, if nothing else, fairly strapped for cash and often struggling with large amounts of student debt.

Taking this into account it seems surprising that, contrary to the above, a hefty 84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2016 according the the Millennial Impact Report.

In addition to this Blackbaud’s Annual Giving report states that overall giving grew by 1% in 2016 and, on average, millennials gave an average of $481 annually.

So, if the impulse to give is there, why is it that many charities find themselves struggling to connect with this audience?

Getting online

Millennials are a huge disruptor in the world of charitable giving. The same annual giving report that identified the growth in overall giving also identified a 7.9% increase in online donations in 2016 with #GivingTuesday online donations increasing by 20% over the same year. It also found that nearly 17% of all online donations were made on a mobile device.

It’s an online world and the growth of platforms such as JustGiving and crowdfunding sites along with online charity iniatives from #charitytuesday to social media campaigns such as the infamous ice bucket challenge only proves this further.

With that in mind it feels particularly shocking that during a recent in-house study conducted by Charity Checkout of 500 recently registered charities from May/June 2016, it was found that only 60% had a functioning website.

Of that 60%, 45% were not mobile responsive. And over 85% lacked an attractive and professional design in the view of the assessor.

Finally, 62% of the charities examined did not have a regular giving option within their online donation system.

When you look at it like that it seems clear how charities are potentially missing out on all important donations.

So, it seems that knowing your audience has never been more pertinent. But that isn’t limited to how they like to donate but also what motivates millennials to part with their hard-earned cash.

Tapping into their motivation

The Millennial Impact project has identified that getting involved is one of the top motivators for charitable giving. Rather than simply donate to cause on a monthly basis, Millennials thrive off volunteering and raising money through events. In fact 70% said they’d rather fundraise through an event than just donate. It seems involvement is the key word here and gone are the days when a charity could attract donations through its reputation alone.

It’s not just about the money. Millennials, more than any other generation are motivated by tangible results. They want concrete evidence of impact and regular updates about successful projects and programs. 43% said they’d want to hear from a charity monthly. 79% wanted updates on programs and services, 70% volunteer opportunities, 56% info about fundraising events and 56% events and activities for young professionals.

Sharing is caring

“It might seem like Generation Y hasn’t been as involved in social issues. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Generation Y’s social presence doesn’t begin with marches—it begins with 140 characters.” Complex.com

Whilst it might feel like a giant cliché, social media is something that charities simply must engage in if they hope to harness the millennial market.

If we take into consideration the findings above about millennial’s being motivated by tangible results, social media is merely an extension of this. Along with wanting to see tangible results there is a desire to share these results far and wide. Run a marathon? Raised £1k at your office bake sale? Tipped a bucket of ice cold water over your head? Best share it with your friends, work colleagues and that person you went to school with 10 years ago.

On a serious note, online identity has become more and more prevalent in recent times and millennials in particular want to share the causes they care about with their friends.

Whilst this might seem like a vanity exercise, it is worth remembering that millennials also discover causes online. If done in the right way, social media can help charities drastically increase their followings and reach a whole new audience.

The No Makeup Selfie might have seemed vacuous however it raised over $8 million in just a week. The Ice Bucket Challenge not only brought awareness to a previously little-known neurodegenerative disease but also raised $115 million for the cause. The institution that is Movember has gained 55.7k followers since 2003 and raised $559 million to date.

In summary there’s plenty of potential for charities to harness the power of millennial donations however they must be prepared to offer:

  • sleek, up-to-date online giving,
  • concrete results through stories about successful projects and programs,
  • encouragement to share the results of their contributions with friends and colleagues

Social media done well – and what SMEs can learn from it

When it’s done well, social media can be a very powerful and cost-effective way of growing and communicating directly with a customer base.

From start-ups to enterprises, pretty much everyone has a social media channel nowadays but some seem to ‘get it’ more than others.  Here are five examples of those doing it well and what SMEs can learn from them.

FIFA 2018 (Amazon)

In September a guy called Connor Mac returned from work devastated to find his pre-ordered FIFA 18 copy ruined after his dog Sam chewed it as it came through the letterbox. He promptly uploaded a picture of his damaged disc alongside a guilty-looking pup appealing to Amazon to “help a guy out”.

Amazon reacted quickly and a new copy was with him in two working days. It’s likely that their social and PR teams were closely aligned and decided to release the story to the media which generated lots of positive coverage, proving Amazon as the ‘customer obsessed’ company they really are.

What can SME’s learn?

Using examples of happy customers gives you another way to talk about your product and humanise your brand, and your social channels can be a great source to help identify those customers.

FaceTec (ZoOM Login)

Cyber-security start-up FaceTec, created the below video this month to raise awareness of the dangers of iPhone X users falling asleep, near to someone they don’t trust.

In it, they place paper cut-outs, pizza toppings and bottle tops over a sleeping subject’s eye-lids to successfully fool his iPhone X’s facial recognition into unlocking his phone.

FaceTec’s own ZoOm Login software provides ultra-secure face authentication by verifying 3D liveness via AI, effectively rendering it fool-proof. Shot on a shoestring budget, the video was picked up by news outlets and within a week had 15,000+ views.

What can SME’s learn?  

Reacting to what others in your industry are doing gives you an opportunity to raise your company’s profile. There’s often a small window of opportunity while the news is still topical so the speed of delivery is important. The launch of Apple’s iPhone X allowed FaceTec join the broader conversation around facial recognition, a topic they can credibly own, and add value to.

Like My Addiction? (Addict Aide)

Last year a chic 25 year-old Parisian woman going under the name Louise Delage created a profile on Instagram. Her photos depicted a glamorous lifestyle full of parties, boats and dinners and she quickly amassed over 50,000 likes, 12,000 followers and hundreds of positive comments.

However, it was later revealed to be a clever social stunt by Addict Aide. Looking back over Louise’s seemingly real photos they pointed out that she was holding a drink in every single one of them – their message was simple “it’s easy to miss the addiction of someone close”.

What can SME’s learn?

If your business has a clear message, running a social experiment on your social channels can be an effective way of reinforcing that message. If you can do it in a clever, creative way like this, then it’s more likely to get picked up by the media, or even win an award (as is the case with this example).

Misleading energy prices (Octopus Energy)

Octopus Energy wanted to raise the awareness of misleading pricing tiers within the energy sector. Other energy providers often lure consumers in with cheap prices and then subtly increase these once their contract is up.

The PHA Group team set up a pop-up bar in Soho and distributed fliers advertising £3 drinks but didn’t tell customers that this automatically increased to £4.50 after the first drink. We filmed their reactions, which led to some great content that we used on Octopus’ social channels.

What can SME’s learn?

It can be hard for some SME’s to create shareable content, particularly if their business isn’t relevant to a large audience, however with a bit of creative thinking it’s possible. Octopus’ message was “It’s not acceptable in a bar, what makes energy any different?”

Unsafety Check (Black Lives Matter)

Black Lives Matter is an international activist movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.

They created an app and website that spins off Facebook’s ‘Safety Check’ feature by inviting black people to mark themselves ‘Unsafe’ as a sign of solidarity against racism in America. I think this is a great use of a social, shareable, simple, call to action which made real impact.

What can SME’s learn?  

Reacting to the news agenda on social media allows you to increase your brand’s visibility. Obviously this subject matter is particularly sensitive, so extra care should always be taken when reacting to political topics like this. As a rule, brands should only offer an opinion that is in line with their values and only join conversations that are relevant to them.

Black Lives Matter said the timing was significant because it coincided with Martin Luther King Day and Trump’s inauguration when “many minorities (think) that their safety will become even more compromised under newly elected officials.”

A compelling social media campaign has the power to engage, inspire, and boost brand awareness, especially when closely aligned with a powerful PR campaign.  78% of businesses now have dedicated teams for their social media showing that increasingly, brands are acknowledging the power of social media to attract customers. If you’ve seen any great social; media campaigns then let us know in the comments below.

How To Make Your Pet #Instafamous

By Elisha Wilson, Creative Strategy Intern

Instagram is a huge social media platform (100 million daily active users) – and it’s great in that it enables anyone, with any niche, to have their own space on the Internet.

From Doug the Pug with 2.7 million followers, to Hamilton the cat with 744k followers… We’ve put together some useful tips on how you too, can make your pet #InstaFamous

Todays to do list: be a couch potato.

A post shared by Yogi Bear ✨ (@lifeofyogibear) on

1. You must be committed.
Before endeavouring on the journey to pet stardom it is important to consider that it is going to be an investment of your time. The biggest pet stars on Instagram post regularly (sometimes 2/3 times a day) and are constantly engaging with their followers. The more active your account is, the more likely it is that you will attract attention…

2. People LOVE good quality pictures.
Although smartphones have a great camera, there’s nothing quite like the quality of a DSLR. If you really want your pet to be #Instafamous, then you will probably need to invest in a good camera. To add to this, using a good editing app (VSCO/Photoshop) will enable your pictures to be even more special.

Romantic Kong

3. Follow similar accounts.
To build yourself a base, it’s a good idea to follow animal influencers and other accounts like your own. This allows you to gauge the competition, get some ideas of what to post and see what’s popular! To add to this, we’ve found that most animal accounts will follow back

4. Be creative.  

People love accounts which show off the pet’s personality. If you post your pet in the same pose, every day, people will just get bored and unfollow. Shoot them in different locations and position them in different angles. Also, having creative captions is another way to make your account stand-out from the crowd.

"‪Save water, shower with a pug‬" -Doug

A post shared by Doug The Pug (@itsdougthepug) on

5. Make ‘Furiends’ and stay engaged with followers.
Yes, that’s a thing. There are millions of other Instagram users posing as their pet – so why not make friends? Follow, like and comment on accounts similar to yours. It’s a great way to build a fanbase and almost guarantees some likes and comments on your page. A win-win!

6. Use #Hashtags.
An easy way to reach people from all over the world. Simple hashtags like #dog & #instapet will allow your picture to be seen by people who don’t follow you already.

The hooman left me for 4 days… How rude! Now she is expecting me to participate in a photoshoot

7. Try and stick to a theme.
Many #Instafamous accounts which we’ve come across generally have a good-looking feed because they’ve stuck to a ‘theme’. For example, @theobonaparte is a cream French Bulldog, who has over 219k followers. His feed is very aesthetically pleasing as his owner takes pictures with backgrounds that are neutral and flattering to his colouring.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BW5VHvaHeb5/?taken-by=theobonaparte

8. Enter Competitions! (or hold Giveaways)
There are ALWAYS competitions in the #Petstagram world. Whether it’s a competition to win a load of toys or a model search. Enter as many as you can, because if you win, it will be GREAT exposure for your account. Even better, when you start to have a following, you can hold giveaways yourself. This type of engagement is a great way to gain followers.

9. Always tag companies.
Don’t forget to do this!! If you buy your pet something new (collar/lead/bandana/food) always tag the company. This potentially means that you’ll get a repost, which means more exposure for your account.

Does the power of celebrity have a place in politics?

Hollywood loves an underdog story. Rocky, Seabiscuit, Trump? Well, perhaps not quite. The world of celebrity (Clint Eastwood aside, no relation) was eerily quiet at Trump’s ascension to the presidency.

It seemed a script that even the zaniest Hollywood writer could surely not have dreamt up two years ago, and cast all manner of doubt on the impact of celebrity endorsement. With the might of the mainstream media and support from figures from Katy Perry, to Beyoncé, to Lady Gaga, to Chris Evans (no, not that one) behind her, Hillary Clinton still could not hold back the tide and beat a very average candidate.

Fast forward to June 2017, and Jeremy Corbyn achieved success in a way that Clinton simply couldn’t. It is worth quantifying that Corbyn did not ‘win’ the election, he was well short of a majority, but he did harness the potential of social media and celebrity to create a movement, amongst young people in particular, that led to a result that no political commentator had predicted (whatever he says now, The Guardian’s Owen Jones didn’t see it coming).

Nobody expected to see hashtags like #Grime4Corbyn taking off, but that’s exactly what happened. When even Grime MCs are wading into the debate, it is worth taking a step back to explore the role that the celebrity now plays in the political sphere.

First and foremost it is an amazing thing that the power of celebrity can play a role in bringing people otherwise totally disengaged into the discussion. The young, and many other people who felt disenfranchised before the election, were invigorated by the momentum Corbyn’s campaign generated.

Celebrities can also use their position to raise crucial issues, JK Rowling is an example of somebody who uses her platform to regularly do so (see below evisceration of Westboro Baptist Church), and Jamie Oliver is another who has done so to great effect.

But there are also drawbacks. In some ways, politics is now more reductive than at any other time in history. The influence of platforms including Facebook and Twitter has changed the very nature of political discourse.

It feels as though we live in a world of increasingly polarised opinion. Cropping manifestos and political opinions into 140 characters might well make things digestible, but there is less room for nuance than ever before. With Brexit and the General Election, there has been a very dangerous recurrent narrative on both sides of the spectrum of ‘them against us’.

The last 18 months have been characterised by a surge in vitriol and division as tensions reach boiling point. The world isn’t split into good and evil, but too often the content we read online gives the impression that it is.

In this atmosphere of heightened pressure, do celebrities have a greater responsibility to think before they tweet so as not to fuel the fire?

There is an elevated risk in what is a pretty poisonous political climate of appearing crass, condescending or even incendiary. Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins have both built their brands off the back of being controversial firebrands, and by saying what nobody else would (and there’s generally a good reason nobody else would). Milo Yiannopolous did the same until his Twitter ban. All of these ‘provocateurs’ delight in sowing division and taking ‘the left’ to task for all manner of perceived sins.

But fear not, the left is just as happy to fire back. Owen Jones takes great pride in deriding those with differing views, while Lily Allen is another who divides opinion, always ready with a forthright opinion and an unerring ability to upset people.

Even Rowling, the patron saint of millennials, was quick to point the finger at Nigel Farage and the now infamous ‘Breaking Point’ referendum poster in the immediate aftermath of the Finsbury attack. Some may agree with her, but others might contend that such a tweet was insensitive and misrepresentative. Many people disagree with Farage, but to imply that he advocates killing in the streets does nothing to advance the discussion and in the immediate aftermath of an atrocity looks like distasteful pushing of an agenda.

It feels increasingly that battle lines are being drawn. Celebrities have the clout to influence and effect genuine change, the recent election showed that, but with their visibility comes a greater degree of responsibility.

Social media is constantly changing the world around us. The power of celebrity has a place in politics, but exactly how far that power should reach becomes harder to quantify by the day.

In the increasingly factional current political climate, those with the greatest visibility in our society have a duty to think before they speak, pause before they tweet, and to seek to unify rather than divide.

The Power of Social Media: The case of Alan Barnes

Alan Barnes - GoFundMe page

Alan Barnes – GoFundMe page

The #NoMakeUpSelfie and #IceBucketChallenge are examples of two of the most high profile campaigns of 2014. Arguably both were great PR ideas that allowed people to engage, whilst self-indulgently sharing an important message. However, it was social media that played the fundamental role of starting the online conversations that spread the word globally and created an international buzz.

The most recent example to illustrate this is the national news story of Alan Barnes. When the disabled pensioner was mugged in his garden whilst putting out his bins, sympathiser Katie Cutler set up a GoFundMe page to raise £500 to help him. In just three days, over £250,000 in donations had been generated. People flocked to support the cause with some as far away as New Zealand and Canada; but what prompted the unprecedented success of this fundraising campaign?

The very nature of social media allowed for the sheer volume of supporters, from far and wide, to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds in a matter of days. The immediacy and accessibility of Facebook and Twitter provided the vehicle to ensure the desired message went viral and its limitless nature spurred on this frenzy of interest. Every time the story was/is shared, another opportunity for engagement is created and support continues to grow.

Since the page was set up on January 28th, the Alan Barnes fund has received nearly 30,000 shares on social media – 26k on Facebook and 3k Tweets. The story has been all over the national newspapers and the fund has now been halted at £329,000 by his grateful family. Attention is now turning to young mother Katie who is being described as a hero. A new Facebook page named ‘Katie Cutler For An OBE’ has already gathered over 300 likes and another fund has been set up to thank her for her kindness.

Alan Barnes’ story not only demonstrates the growing influence of social media, it displays the way it can unite people and be a force for good. Despite all the negative stories we read, in the right hands, this snowball effect can yield positive results and perpetuate goodwill and generosity. Alan’s story culminated in unbelievable results and encompassed an online community spirit – millions of people working together in a way that has almost made us forget the tragic reason the page was set up in the first place.

#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.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

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.

Most memorable tweets, posts, shares, pins, tumbles of 2013

As the year brings to a close, the digital team reflect on the most memorable tweets, posts, shares, pins, and tumbles of 2013. Here are some of our favourites;

Firstly, there was the Ad That Stole The Superbowl…


When the power went out at the Superdome whilst the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens battled for the right to lift the Lombardi Trophy. Oreo, as one of the Superbowl Advertisers, were listening to the twitter chatter and seized the opportunity with a spur of the moment tweet. The tweet went viral… retweeted 10,000 times in one hour, helping them to gain nearly 8,000 followers. The reaction from the audience has left us wondering whether the tweet had an even greater pay off than Oreo’s actual Super Bowl ad, which cost $3.8 million to create and marked the launch of their Cookie vs. Crème campaign.

2013 Best social media London Fashion Week

Courtesy of flickr.com/photos/suarts/

Then at this years AW 13 London Fashion Week Topshop partnered with Google, to launch the first interactive live streamed fashion show. A customised YouTube feed allowed live-streaming of content from the red carpet and behind the scenes. Google Hang Outs allowed people to speak directly with the design team at Topshop HQ. Their “Be the Buyer App” enabled users to get tips from buyers on how to put catwalk looks together. HD micro-cameras, worn by the likes of Cara Delevigne, allowed viewers a never seen before models eye of the catwalk.  Changing the way designers think about catwalk shows forever.

Manchester United finally joined Twitter, one of the last global sporting brands to do so.


Having amassed 40 million Facebook fans, the penny finally dropped for United that they should be on Twitter. The departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, a manager not fond of social media, to say the least, opened the door for United to join the social network.

Finally, Marks & Spencer’s launched their ‘Believe in Magic and Sparkle’ Campaign. The Christmas campaign took a fantasy theme, with elements of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Aladdin all incorporated within it. Hot celebs Rosie Huntington-Whitely, David Gandy and Helena Bonham-Carter all featured in the magical ad making it very easy viewing but the star of the show for us was the white westy dog that has now become a Facebook star, along with a whole load of other westies and cute pups.
Soon after the ad launched, M&S melted the heart of their 1 million+ fans by releasing their ‘Top Dog’ competition where they ask fans to send in pictures of their cute doggies. They then choose from a thousand of ‘pawsome’ entries and celebrate the ‘best in show’ in a Facebook album. A great example of a successful photo sharing campaign that has helped raise brand awareness.

Let us know what campaigns you enjoyed this year, and here’s to an innovative 2014.

How you use social matters

Is social media taking over the way in which reputations and branding companies are built? Every company is striving for new ways to sell products whilst maintaining a good reputation of their brand.

Brands are battling the ever-growing social media platforms each day, trying to keep up with a number of platforms in order to reach as many target audiences as possible. Social media is not only a way of reaching consumers and increasing sales but also a way of identifying themselves as a brand. This might be considered tough with the growth in social media, and the vast amount of different platforms to go to. From Coca-Cola to Etsy, every brand is trying to make themselves known when it comes to social media, some of which know what they are trying to, more than others.

Let’s look at a brand that have social media really figured out, how they use this to engage with their customers and the aspects that really make them successful on social media platforms. Etsy are an online marketplace selling handmade and vintage items – some simple and some more unusual. They use their social media platforms mainly to promote these items and bring them to the attention of the target audiences. Having such a wide range of products, they use numerous social media platforms essentially to meet the endless amounts of target audiences the site attracts. Etsy has created a great social media presence using a wide range of platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Blogging. They focus their social media platforms in different ways of engaging with the audience.

Their largest social platform, being Twitter, with a massive 2 million followers, gives them the opportunity to reach a wide variety of followers and ways to advertise their products. The way in which they do this is simple for customers, with direct links to the products for views to click and buy in a few simple steps. They keep the advertising light and quirky with a small caption to header each link.

They also use Twitter and Facebook to promote their blog posts. This gives their followers regular updates on Etsy news and subjects that will interest them such as Etsy site updates and getting ready for Christmas ideas.

YouTube offers them a chance to give sellers – old or new advice on selling their products and the best way to do this.

Etsy uses Instagram, with its huge 58 followers, to provides images of items that are for sale but it also integrates the audience by asking them questions about the products or their views. Below you can see an example of asking a question that relates back to their current competition to win an Etsy voucher.

We think the key aspect to making social media successful is really engaging with the audience. Etsy have made this work by talking to the audience through all social media sites and show them products, articles and news that will interest the audience, whilst all the time advertising their products. As much as there is a huge variety in the target audience for this online marketplace, the consumers have one interest in common – handmade and vintage products. Etsy have almost everything you could imagine and they use social media to advertise this very well.