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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: 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. 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…


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…


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 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.


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.”

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 🌹 tag ur lover

A post shared by King Kong Da Savage Pom (@kongdasavage) on

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 🙄Naturally, I pulled my grumpiest face, what do you all think? Good to be back furriends! 🤗

A post shared by Rudy (@rudyinthecity) on

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.

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.

Teddy looks adorable in his very first bandana! 😍 I bought this from @fifisbeautbows and am so happy with it, I really recommend checking out their shop ☺️💗🐾 . . . We have booked Teddy in for his final puppy groom at the @groomroomchristchurch – where has all the time gone 😧🐶❤ . . . #BHmodelsearchUK #follow4follow #dog #yorkie #paw #puppy #photography #bandana #cute #boy #meowzartandbark #happypawsmodelsearch #meowzartandbarkdotcomdotau #nautical #anchor #yorkies_forever_ #yorkshireterrier #dailydog #dogsofinsta #like4like #comment4comment #love #pizza_puppies

A post shared by Bella and Teddy 🐶 (@_booandbear) on

10. Have fun!!!
This is one of the most important tips. If your account is fun, engaging and the captions are light-hearted, then people will definitely want to follow you!

…If you have consistent content, make time to engage with your followers and have a bit of fun, then you’ll have no problem turning your pet into a social media star! ?

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.

Instagram vs Snapchat: The Stories Debate

Another day, another social media update! On Tuesday, Instagram rolled out a new feature called Instagram Stories.

This feature allows users to upload photos and videos that will disappear automatically after 24 hours. ‘Stories’ sits at the top of your newsfeed, and you can bring your content to life with text and drawing tools. Sound familiar? Yes! That’s because it’s just like Snapchat.

Essentially, Instagram have copied the whole concept of Snapchat Stories. Once a place where you could only see the ‘highlights’, Instagram are ready to take on their fellow tech giant; swallowing their pride with this huge ephemeral curveball. In an interview with TechCrunch, Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom even said that Snapchat “deserve all the credit”.

But what does this mean for the future of Instagram and Snapchat? Reaction has been mixed online.

In favour of Instagram ?

“Good artists copy; great artists steal”, say Next Web who have revived the words of Picasso. Some say that Instagram has taken a concept built by Snapchat but “out-innovated” them with their own spin on the familiar feature. When you think about it, this feature is actually a perfect fit for Instagram. Ultimately, Instagram has made the feature more accessible and easier to use for a wider group of people and higher numbers of users; people who sometimes struggle with the current Snapchat model. In their official blog, Instagram said that now their users “don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed”. The new feature will be rolled out globally to both Android and iOS users over the next few weeks.

Instagram Stories offers something more – i.e. beautiful imagery and highlights; along with a raw, unedited look into daily lives. This is a move that could really bring Instagram to the forefront, to make sure it stays on top. The best of both worlds! Watch out, Snapchat.

Instagram Stories

In favour of Snapchat ?

We spoke recently about how Snapchat really is the app for innovation, and it still is. Snapchat pioneered the ‘Stories’ feature which has taken over the social media world, not to mention Snapchat ‘Memories’, ‘Geofilters’ and ‘Lenses’. Snapchat have been original with their product, a product which has contributed to the decline in “original sharing” via Facebook. Copying Snapchat is an extreme move by Instagram, one which is telling of the problems the app is facing. People have always liked Snapchat because of the freedom associated with it, it is a place where you don’t have to feel judged for posting like you might do on Instagram or Facebook. The new ephemeral feature on Instagram has basically confirmed that this type of sharing is the way forward. Snapchat have innovated before, and there is no doubt that they will do it again.

With a dedicated and loyal fan base, it is hard to see how Snapchat will suffer as a result of this move. Not to mention the fact that Instagram have annoyed many people with their recent algorithm change – ‘Stories’ has just added salt to the wound. With sentiment erring slightly on the negative side, could Instagram become the Bebo of our time?

As always in the world of tech and social media, we can never tell what’s around the corner. Who will reign supreme? Time will tell. In the meantime, the digital team at The PHA Group are looking forward to the next update from Snapchat…



Snapchat: The App for Innovation in Social Media Marketing

Snapchat Logo

Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar


The world of social media is fast-paced and ever-changing. You never know when the latest update, trend or social media fad is going to kick off. Case in point: you might remember last week we posted a blog: ‘Make it Snappy: Brands Who Got Creative on Snapchat’. Within a couple of days of posting, Snapchat had already started to roll out its latest feature; one which could completely change the game altogether – Snapchat Memories. (Just when you started to get to grips with the app, eh?)

Snapchat are leading the industry in terms of innovation right now; not only have they managed to find something that is unique to them, they are also setting an example for other networks – who often scramble to follow suit whenever an update is made.

But I don’t get it, what is Snapchat?

Get downloading, it’s the fastest growing social network! For the uninitiated, let’s take it back to basics…

Snapchat is a mobile messaging app, and social media network, where users engage through short disappearing videos and photos known as ‘snaps’. This is different to all other social media because it is ephemeral. Users are able to create daily stories in 10-second max bursts which can be sent to friends privately, or viewed for up to 24 hours if submitted as a ‘Story’.

In May, Snapchat revealed that over 10 million Brits use the app on a daily basis. The app has exploded in use, recently overtaking Twitter in terms of daily users. Originally, content was completely raw and curated ‘in the now’. The founders of Snapchat say it is an app for “instant expression”. There is a certain ‘fear of missing out syndrome’ attached to Snapchat; limited viewing time on snaps makes users log in daily to view content. Clever move? I think so.

So what about Snapchat Memories? Are they, too, ephemeral?

In the past, Snapchat has encouraged instant communication and the sharing of moments as and when they happen, but now Snapchat also wants you to share your past. Memories does exactly what it says on the tin – it provides a way to save snaps and share old ones within a new section of the app. You guessed it – Snapchat Memories don’t disappear! This is a highly ambitious and significant move by the social media giant, as it takes on the likes of Facebook and Google by moving away from its ephemeral roots. In the meantime, other networks are moving to promote more real-time sharing.

Memories is probably one of the biggest updates to Snapchat in the company’s history (a mere 5 years!) Snapchat has always pitched itself as the app that didn’t store anything for long, but the introduction of the ‘save’, ‘replay’ and ‘stories’ features shows how this has gradually changed.

But what does this update mean overall? And how will this affect companies and brands who use Snapchat?

Initial feedback on Memories has been positive. The main effect could be that Memories will push users to think of Snapchat as their go-to camera app and photo storage space – and, wait for it, there is no cap on storage as of yet. It has yet to be seen, but this may become a problem for other image sharing sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Personally, I think it’s a win-win for Snapchat. While 18-24 year olds are Snapchat’s core base, a recent report in The Wall Street Journal said that 14% of US smartphone users over the age of 35 are now on the app, while 38% of smartphone users aged 25-34 have also signed up to the platform. The rate of growth amongst older audiences is high, and with that, there must be innovation and change to satisfy the audience base. Before dedicated Snapchat fans wince at the thoughts of change they must remember that Memories is essentially a compromise, and Snapchat have simply made another option available.

In terms of marketing, the introduction of Memories is a turning point for marketers looking to use the platform to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. There is now flexibility to upload branded photos and previously curated content as you would on other platforms. As Tim Peterson of Marketing Land said: “brands will be able to take photos and videos that they had created for use elsewhere – be it print magazines, billboards, YouTube or TV – and syndicate them to Snapchat”.

Memories is not the only place where brands can realise the potential of Snapchat. Apart from having owned Snapchat accounts, brands can also tap into influencer marketing and geofilters. Geofilters are “a fun way to share where you are, or what you’re up to, by adding a fun overlay to your snap”. More and more brands and agencies are experimenting with on-demand Geofilters, where people and businesses design filters for specific physical spaces during set periods of time. This is a great way to increase brand awareness for a launch or major event, or even when a consumer visits a retailer or restaurant, for example. It takes just one day for filters to be approved. Win!

At The PHA Group, we recently created a bespoke Snapchat filter for our summer party and it went down a treat, with lots of engagement across the agency. We had a total of 3.1k views on the filter during the evening.

PHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat Filter










So, what’s next?

Snapchat is a really exciting space at the moment, for personal and business users alike. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Snapchat right now. For me, Snapchat has always seemed like the most authentic social network. It’s a quick and easy way to be social, to learn and to be engaged by other people’s experiences and personalities. So far, the app hasn’t focused too deeply on numbers, with no follower counts. You and you only can see how many people viewed your content – so it’s real, and less of a popularity contest. As it grows, it is likely that there will be a more robust system for analytics introduced, but for now, the onus is on the content, rather than the numbers.

The app is a real platform for innovation right now, as if you don’t change you don’t grow. I believe more and more brands will jump on the Snapchat bandwagon this year as it has become more accessible, but let it be said – to be successful on Snapchat you must also be like the app itself – open to change and ready to meet the demands set by your audience.

#AlreadyFiltered: Instagram Announces Newsfeed Algorithm


Instagram is changing its newsfeed.

In perhaps one of the most pat-on-the-head press releases ever put out on a quiet Tuesday afternoon, Instagram announced plans to start ‘personalising’ the content its users see. With an algorithm.

According to the New York Times, who first reported the story, moving the platform away from its reverse chronological feed will mean that photos will be bumped to the top of your page based on your history of interactions with certain friends and accounts.

As the release tech-‘splained, “To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most. The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimising the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

No longer will you have to worry about missing that all-important photo of your cousin’s new puppy or that blogger’s avocado toast breakfast whilst sitting on a long-haul, wifi-free flight. Those photos will be at the top when you touch down.

Similarly, you won’t have to worry about drowning out your favourite accounts when you follow more users. The algorithm will provide a safety net for the photos that really matter to you – at least in theory.

It also means the photo-sharing app will look a lot more like the ever-popular Facebook, which purchased the company for $1bn in 2012.

As you can imagine, the news went down like boots tied to boulders. Especially when it came with the addition that advertisers will be exempt from the changes. And that it’s not just the people you interact with most that will be bumped up, but ‘most popular’ posts as well. This suggests if you follow any brands, celebrities or well-established bloggers, they too will receive space precedence over smaller accounts.

The algorithm thusly has many concerned and you have only to glance through news feeds to find posts like these:

instagram algorithm

Instagram image courtesy of Valerie Tejeda, author of Hollywood Witch Hunter


Image Courtesy of @Dropandgivemenerdy on Instagram

Image Courtesy of @dropandgivemenerdy on Instagram

The post from @dropandgivemenerdy conveys just one of the issues being raised by community users with small and micro-businesses. As a book blogger and cover designer, the account creator, Alexis Lampley, quit her full-time job in order to more fully commit to her startup business.

Lampley further explains her worries in the comments, saying “Instagram is the only place I am building this business, and this new algorithm base could destroy that. I’ll never be able to compete with companies who have a larger follower base if I never show up in my followers’ feeds.”

It’s a valid concern. For thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of Igers (Instagram users), their feed acts as the main marketing channel for their business.

And it’s been highly effective. Because of its image-focused nature, Instagram makes it simple for small businesses to define a brand, create relevant content, drive and build engagement, as well as establish a unique community. For fashion, fitness, and food brands, this has been highly successful too because it allows them to sell lifestyle choices in an authentic, immediate format. To illustrate, household names such as Joe Wicks, the online nutrition and fitness coach, began on the platform. And there are more business success stories emerging every day.

What will the new algorithm mean for such businesses and the entrepreneurs behind them? In all likelihood, it’ll make things harder. How they launch and drive sales will need a thorough rethink. Click-throughs from Instagram to product sites or retailers is essential for the business growth of these companies. Using concepts such as giveaways and competitions, they have been able to maximise their reach on the reverse chronological feed. The new system has the potential to scupper this if an account lacks high engagement or established popularity.

There’s an argument that says Instagram’s increasing popularity means the platform does need to change in order to stay relevant. With around 400 million users, so much content is now generated every minute that the average Iger misses around 70% of the photos in their feed. Even the really great ones with more likes than said average user might receive in a year.

Relevancy-optimisation, therefore, does make some sense.

However, the general opinion appears to be that this is in the best interest of the platform, not those that use it. It’s about monetising, about making Facebook’s purchase a fully viable business. Sure it goes against the Lean Startup model underpinning the current Instagram. Given that it’s still free, however, there’s a certain absurdity to thinking it could remain the same forever when there’s so much other competition out there.

At the end of the day, #RIPInstagram might be trending now but many had the same furious reaction when ads started showing too.

Almost every other week there seems to be a headline about one social media app or another making changes to its format or tweaking it’s products, adding and taking away like some small, indecisive child playing god with their Legos. In zero cases did these social edits receive overwhelming love and support from users. No one likes change – remember the Twitter favourite furore? – but give it a week and the sadface emojis and hashtag petitions vanish into the Ethernet.

The question is, will this be the case for Instagram?

It has already weathered three rounds of backlash from previous changes, so it seems likely. But when the platform’s most treasured asset appears in jeopardy – it’s simplicity – will users come round to the changes?

Will it help Instagram grow?

Might it do so at the expense of those content creators most passionate about the platform?

Time will tell.

Just not in reverse chronological order.



The PHA Group Nominated: Best Use of Social Media at B2B Marketing Awards

Following our announcement yesterday that The PHA Group have been shortlisted for Public Relations Campaign of the year, we are also delighted to report we’ve also been nominated for the B2B Marketing ‘Best Use of Social Media’ Award for the work we have done with Powwownow, the UK’s leading conferencing and collaboration provider.

B2B awards

We have been working with Powwownow for the past two years, helping to promote their many work-enhancing services and positioning them as the leading enablers of flexible working both in the UK and globally.

We wanted to create a fun and engaging campaign that would reach their target audience of start up’s and small businesses who may not have heard of Powwownow before but are potential new customers for the business.

It was important that the brand’s ethos came across clearly – Powwownow are ‘enablers’, helping office workers all over the world to get things done as efficiently and easily as possible.

Since another of the company’s aims was to grow their presence on social media, we curated and implemented a Twitter-based campaign using the hashtag #powwowHELPMEnow, where Powwownow promised to help solve any workplace woes British office workers were having so they could happily get on with their job and be as productive as possible, tying in with their key messaging.

London workers working from the roof of their building so they can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine

Powwownow helped Londoners work from the roof of their building so they could enjoy the fresh air and sunshine


Twitter users were encouraged to tweet any problems they were having at work or things that would make their working day better, throughout the month of June and July 2014, and Powwownow resolved as many of these issues as possible by choosing tweets at random.

By linking social with offline activity the business showcased its personality and was able to build emotional connections with prospects, while increasing conversations and engagement on their social channels.

The results were fantastic with an 11% direct spike in traffic to the Powwownow website during the two months the campaign was running, as well as a 26% increase in conversions from the month prior to the campaign and a 250,657,330 increase in PR and social reach throughout the duration of the campaign.

Office workers enjoy sandwiches

Office workers enjoy sandwiches that were delivered by Powwowow since their sandwich man was away on holiday


The B2B Awards are run by B2B Marketing, the leading international information provider for business marketers and the B2B Awards are the largest and most prestigious B2B marketing awards in the world and one of the most sought-after accolades in the B2B industry.

Of the 562 entries for this year’s competition, just six others were shortlisted in both of The PHA Group’s categories and the winners will be announced at the gala dinner finale at the HAC on 19 November.

Our fingers are crossed until then…