Here are all of the posts in the ‘News’ category.

The global digital behaviours of teens

by Cat Millar in News

As one of the most debated and sometimes maligned generations, today’s teenagers have even greater reason than their predecessors to feel that ‘no one understands’ them. Thankfully, via an exclusive preview of GlobalWebIndex’s Q1 2014 Teens Audience Report (which you can download here), we can now report on the facts, as told by teenagers themselves, and reveal the ramifications for brands.

The report shows a generational realignment of social, with 25-34 year olds now representing the largest share of users across most of the major social networks, coupled with the rise and rise of mobile apps for the teen audience. Snapchat (+60%), Kik (59%) and WeChat (54%) all enjoyed a rapid increase in global user numbers between 2012 and 2013.

Yes, Facebook might not be ‘dead and buried’ quite yet, (it continues to be the most popular platform globally among young people, with 87% of teens having an account, excluding those in China), but active usage amongst this age group is declining, down from 48% to 39%. This is a problem all the mainstream platforms are experiencing, including YouTube (-7%); Twitter (-3%) and Google Plus (-4%).

Underlying this, as the report shows, is the increasingly mobile and real-time nature of social media for this audience. Teens are now spending more time online via their mobile phones – with 65% spending more than one hour a day, 18% higher than in 2012.

Facebook has had the foresight to recognise this fracturing of the social media landscape and has moved toward more niche, ‘mobile first’ platforms – initially with its purchase of Instagram and more recently with WhatsApp. However, most brands still haven’t figured out how to use these apps to deliver effective marketing campaigns. This is something that must change if brands want to reach the teen audience.

As the report shows, these platforms have a growing importance in how teens discover brands, with more than 20% now turning to apps and social media when actively seeking information on brands. And clearly, young people are consuming less traditional media compared to the rest of the population.

This is something that We Are Social tried to address when we worked with evian to tease its new campaign film via Snapchat, helping drive excitement and bring its historically very popular content to a new audience. McDonalds has also begun testing out the platform, following in the footsteps of early adopters such as Taco Bell and MTV.

Brands aren’t just experimenting with Snapchat to target younger audiences. For example, Burberry’s recent ‘digital innovation’ partnership with WeChat brought the brand to a sizeable audience in China, offering them behind the scenes access and personalised content.

So, the use of messaging apps in campaigns can help brands target the teen audience, reaching them in a relevant way by providing entertainment and rewards. A handful of brands have begun to experiment with this, while Facebook has invested heavily in meeting the demands of this younger audience. The GlobalWebIndex Teens Audience Report shows this kind of experimentation could pay off for brands when it comes to teens.

Using social to create a political tsunami

by Lorya Noseda in News

On Friday, I got the exciting news that the campaign I worked on for the Cambodia National Rescue Party was awarded Bronze in The Warc Prize for Social Strategy. The prize recognises social ideas that drive results, which is exactly what the Political Tsunami campaign aimed to do.


Last year, while I was working in Singapore, I had the opportunity to be involved in Cambodia’s national elections campaign. Together with Pete Heskett and Jamie Macfarlane, we took on this project in our free time and for the first time ever, fought an entire election campaign on Facebook.

The challenge seemed impossible. Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has a stranglehold on every mass media channel and uses intimidation at the polling stage, and so the status quo has prevailed for the past 34 years.

Our pro bono client, Sam Rainsy, Cambodia’s long-standing Opposition Leader, president of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was forced into political exile, and had remained there, since 2009. And ever since he had been losing touch with the people of Cambodia – not to mention the fact he would be absent in the run up to the crucial national elections in July 2013.

Our challenge was to find a way to “virtually” bring Sam Rainsy back in the country and make him a part of the daily lives and conversations of the Cambodians, even if he couldn’t be physically present.

Facebook is the fastest growing social networking site in Cambodia and was the favourite outlet for youths to express their opinions, especially those daring to criticize the government.

So we turned Sam Rainsy’s Facebook page into Cambodia’s number one rallying place for a restless youth who were eager to discuss the political issues of their country.

Over the course of four months, we encouraged mass participation by creating rich and diverse content every day. We published topical news, supporter testimonials and vox pop videos to stimulate debates around issues like corruption, land seizure and human rights. We then let our supporters lead these discussions, with debates continuing over hundreds of posts in the form of hundreds of comments and user generated content.

As we didn’t have access to national TV coverage, we created our own channel: “Rainsy TV”, a series of short online videos touching upon the key issues of the election, published weekly on our Facebook page.

Once we’d built a solid Facebook supporter base, our challenge was to mobilize our online supporters to take offline actions.

We asked our core young online activists to carry our message to their parents. Their parents’ generation would traditionally be government loyalists, a legacy of the government’s role in overthrowing the Khmer Rouge. So we asked their children to remind them to look forward, not back.

We created the “Rescue Pack”:


A week before the election and after four years of political exile, Sam Rainsy was finally given an amnesty by King Norodom Sihamoni and allowed to come back to Cambodia.

As his return wasn’t covered on television, we created our own live coverage, broadcast on our Facebook page to enable everyone in Cambodia to celebrate his return. More than 325,000 people watched our live videos on Facebook and website. And more than 100,000 welcomed their Leader and marched in the streets of Phnom Penh in the name of Democracy.

As we approached Election Day, we wanted to help people memorize the party number – 7. We launched the Facebook meme “7”, asking our fans and their friends to upload photos of them showing their 7 fingers.

We also enabled people to register their names and phone numbers to monitor the election and reduce fraud.

On July 28th, 2013, Sam Rainsy’s party (the CNRP) made unprecedented gains, picking up 55 seats out of 123 – an 89% increase on the last election.

For the first time in the history, the ruling party lost 22 seats, scoring just 68 seats in 2013 compared to 90 seats in 2008.


By the election, Sam Rainsy’s Facebook page gained 182,000 likes. This meant that an incredible one out of three Facebook accounts in Cambodia liked the page.

Today, Sam Rainsy has become the No.1 Facebook page in Cambodia, with nearly 500,000 likes and skyrocketing engagement rates (ranging from 10 to 15%).


Facing the massive elections fraud, with at least 1.25 million people not included on the electoral roll, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has boycotted its 55 seats in the National Assembly. They have led nationwide demonstrations, rallying hundreds of thousands of people for the past eight months and are currently negotiating the organisation of new elections.

Facebook has permitted a real democratic advancement. And this ‘Cambodian Spring’ is only beginning.

The Social Smackdown

by Tom Ollerton in News

Why do conferences always have boring panels, bad coffee and make you feel a bit empty inside?

We couldn’t work it out either. So we designed a session for busy people who want useful, inspiring content and the best coffee in London.

We called it a Smackdown. No idea why, just sounded fun.

We’ve outlawed branded stress relief balls, back slapping and canapé breath and instead insisted on 3 punchy ten minute presentations from the best brands in social.

Our next event in London is on the morning of the 13th of May with Panasonic, Beats By Dre and a very special guest. It’s a brand only event, so you won’t have to deal with any new business soul suckers.

If you work for a brand, and would like to come along, please drop Alex an email.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #210

by Nick Mulligan in News

Most social networks are predominantly mobile
The 2014 US Digital Future in Focus Report has been released, with interesting figures about the growth of mobile and social. Of major social networks, only two (Tumblr and LinkedIn) are predominantly desktop (among US users aged 18 and up).

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Snapchat, Vine and Instagram are, as expected, the most ‘mobile-first’ social networks, each seeing almost all of their traffic from non-desktop devices. The three sites have grown their unique visitors figures significantly between February and December 2013 – Instagram by 43%, Vine by 515% and Snapchat by 234%.

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Most social content is shared from mobile
It’s not just user growth where mobile is steaming ahead, but also the volume of shared content. Of everything shared to social networks in Q1 2014, 52% came from a mobile device, compared with 48% from desktop. This resulted from much stronger volume growth on mobile: 28% against desktop’s 11%.

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Facebook passes 100m users in India
India is now Facebook’s second largest national market (after the US), as the network passed 100 million users there. It expects further rapid growth as it increases its mobile focus in a country where eight in 10 users are mobile.

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Photos are most popular Facebook content for brands
Despite Facebook pushing brands to use links, it’s clear that photo posts remain the most popular content type for brands on the network. Analysis of over 30,000 brand posts found that 75% were photo posts, followed by just 10% including a link.

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This is perhaps no wonder, when we look at the most engaging content types: photo posts make up 87% of the top 10% of branded content.

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Facebook to allow users to transfer money?
It’s reported that Facebook is planning to become an ‘e-money’ institution, having applied to Ireland’s central bank for permission. The system will reportedly allow European users to store and transfer money through the social network.

The FTC approves Facebook’s WhatsApp purchase
The FTC has approved Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp, with a caveat regarding the handling of users’ private information. Jessica Rich, the FTC’s Head of Bureau of Consumer Protection, told both Facebook and WhatsApp that they must not break the privacy promises that they have made to users.

Facebook to remove messenger from mobile app
In an attempt to keep up with standalone messaging apps, Facebook is planning to remove the ‘Messenger’ function in its main mobile app, forcing users to either download the standalone app or lose the service entirely.

Facebook launches new ads as prices increase
As brand pages’ organic reach has dropped throughout Q1, Facebook ad prices have increased by 10%. This news comes as Facebook has announced a new format for ads in the right hand bar; the network has claimed that these will increase engagement and allow brands to use the same image for News Feed and right-hand bar ads.

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Facebook looks to reduce News Feed spam
Facebook is making some changes to its News Feed algorithm that will decrease the reach of certain types of content, each of which is considered ‘spammy’. The initial targets of these changes are:

1. Pages that repeatedly post images asking for likes, comments and shares
2. Frequently-circulated content that users have already seen
3. Spammy links that bring users to pages full of ads

Facebook has looked to reassure pages that this is unlikely to negatively affect their reach; it states that most publishers are not posting ‘spam’ and should instead expect to see their reach increase slightly.

Facebook is updating privacy settings
Facebook is attempting to make its privacy options clearer to users with a series of tests. As can be seen below, the iOS app will include details of who can see any post above the publishing box (left), while desktop users will notice a change to the drop down menu (right).

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There will also be pop-up messages for users who haven’t updated their preferences in a while, straight from the mouth of the privacy dinosaur.


Twitter renovates profiles
It’s all change in the world of Twitter this week, as the platform announced a complete overhaul of users’ profiles on desktop. Changes include a larger profile picture, customisable header, and the ability to pin a particular tweet to the top of your profile (though it’s worth noting that this will only be available for free to certain high-profile users or paying accounts). A user’s more engaging tweets will now appear larger on their profile, too. The new style, which is in the process of being rolled out, can be seen here:


Some brands have already begun using the new design. The below, for example, displays Skype’s videos – users can now filter tweets to see just photos or videos.

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The move is being seen as part of a larger attempt to make the network more accessible for the less tech-savvy among us; technical ‘jargon’ like RT and @replies may be at threat, while the network looks to concentrate more on video/images and add emoji functionality. Users are beginning to get notifications on, too, which are fully customisable; anyone can choose what actions they get notified about. All of this, along with the design of the above profiles, has led to a number of comparisons with Facebook and rumours of a ‘land grab’. Watch this space.

Twitter adds 15 new ad types
Twitter will also be ramping up their ad offering, with news that they’re planning 15 new types of ad, such an ‘app-install unit’. This news comes at a similar time to figures that suggest Twitter’s ads receive a higher click-through rate than Facebook’s. Advertisers still spend a lot more on Facebook advertising, as we can see here:

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Moreover, Facebook ads reach much further than their Twitter equivalents. Twitter may get higher click-through rates, but Facebook still earns a much higher volume of clicks and impressions.

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LinkedIn removes ‘Products & Services’ tab
LinkedIn has today removed the ‘Products & Services’ tab from company pages. The network has proposed two different ways around this for brands: they can discuss their offerings in either company updates or the ‘showcase’ pages that LinkedIn has designed for this purpose.

Disqus introduces ‘Sponsored Comments’
Disqus, the commenting platform used by many popular blogs (including this one), has this week launched a native ad product, known as ‘Sponsored Comments’. It launched the new unit in a blog post, in which it looked to reassure users that it would maintain the quality of their experience. The adverts will appear as follows:

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Unilever’s multi-brand YouTube channel
Unilever is launching a multi-brand YouTube channel, named ‘All Things Hair’. Brands including Toni & Guy, Dove and VO5 will all host content on the channel, which is taking much of its content from famous video bloggers.

Oreo brings Snack Hacks to online video
Oreo has launched a series of web videos dubbed ‘Snack Hacks’, which showcase unusual ways of eating the snack. After asking Twitter followers to discuss their favourite #OreoSnackHacks, the brand has since taken the campaign to the next level and produced content of its own. One example, featuring celebrity chef Roy Choi, is presented in this video.

Nissan crowdsources FAQ for electric car
Car manufacturer Nissan has created a crowdsourced FAQ resource for owners of its electric LEAF model. Titled ‘Real Owners, Real Answers’, the system, hosted on, looks to replace bland, company FAQs with a set of different answers from real vehicle owners.

Peter Griffin is now on Instagram
American cartoon, ‘Family Guy’, has created an Instagram account for its protagonist, Peter Griffin, to drive downloads of a new mobile game based on the series.

Thomson crowdsources #YourBigDay
Holiday tour operator, Thomson, will offer one couple the chance to have their wedding paid for, one one condition. After a panel of judges has selected the winning pair, the remaining details, from music to the dress, will be down to a vote among Thomson’s Facebook fans.

WWF creates Snapchat campaign
The World Wildlife Fund is using a Snapchat campaign to raise awareness about endangered species. Dubbed #LastSelfie, the campaign plays on the trend for a constant stream of self-taken photographs on the platform.

CABCY video gets shorter as it’s shared
Singapore’s ‘Coalition Against Bullying for Children and Youth’ has created a social video with a real sharing incentive. The video, originally 100 seconds long, shows a child in distress. It gets shorter and shorter each time it is shared on Facebook, and is accompanied by the tagline ‘Share it to End it’.

Gatwick asks fans to guess that X-ray
Gatwick, one of the several airports serving London, is hosting a competition on its Facebook and Twitter pages, where it will ask users to guess what product has been X-rayed. Each product will come from one of the shops in the airport (from Ted Baker to Fat Face) with correct weekly answers entered into a draw for a £150 shopping voucher. After the eight week campaign is up, all correct answers will be entered into a final draw for a £500 voucher and Aspinal bag.

Duane Reade being sued over tweet
Duane Reade, a US pharmacy, is being sued by the actress Katherine Heigl for tweeting a picture of her without permission. The law suit, in which Heigl is seeking $6m in damages, is likely to shed light on whether, by law, branded tweets will be considered part of a company’s advertising.


Wonga increases reach of a tweet by complaining
Payday loan company, Wonga, last week requested that Twitter take down an image, in which their character ‘Earl’ is superimposed over a Hogarth painting set in a debtors’ prison. Shockingly, their complaint meant that far more people saw the picture. Here it is, with the offending details removed.


The Five Rules of Engagement

by Alex Hobhouse in News

The annual ISBA conference took place last month, with luminaries from the world of advertising and marketing in attendance, and presentations focusing on the future of the industry.

Among the many discussions taking place, it was the Chairman of the IAB, Richard Eyre’s presentation whose was the most exciting. He truly believes in the power of social and, more importantly, the importance of placing social at the heart of campaigns.

Richard took no prisoners, making it clear that if you as a brand are not developing personal relationships with your customers then you’re going to be left behind. He said that, today, selling products and services mimics to old times, when everything you needed was in a local market, and products were bought from people the consumer knew and trusted.

Richard concluded that in order to engage with your customers in the right way, you need to obey these five rules of engagement; Authenticity, Passion, Consistence, Openness, and Respect.

Today you can’t cover something up, super-brands are no longer immune from crisis. This has been made very clear by various issues over worker rights at Apple and Nike. If you try and cover something up it only serves to cause more problems for a brand.

TOMS is a good example of an authentic brand. No nonsense; they do exactly what they promise to do – which is to donate a pair of shoes to developing countries for every pair sold. They do this, and they show that they do this, proving that it’s not just marketing bullshit.

A customer is more likely to buy something if they believe that the seller really cares about the product. If a brand shows a lot of passion, then people are more likely to think its product is something they want to buy. For example, Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t differ hugely from Haagen Dazs, but Ben and Jerry’s convey their passion in a believable and fun way, meaning on balance most people will choose Phish Food over Strawberry Cheesecake!

Brand communications, social or otherwise, need to be consistent in their messaging – whether that’s online, offline or even when it comes to customer service. Corporate jargon and management speak need to be thrown out. When you are communicating with a brand it should be like ‘getting a postcard from a friend’.

Brands’ websites often have their ‘contact us’ section right at the bottom of the page. There’s no point saying how open you are on social if you never answer the phone. With increasing numbers of consumers online, it’s easy to switch customers on in the same way as it is to turn them off. Brands have to be real time, all the time.

Once again a company’s privacy policy tends to be way down at the bottom of the page. If you want consumers to like and trust you, then you need to be honest with them. If you’re using data in a certain way then tell them, chances are they will see the value in it. If you’re not transparent then you are instilling distrust, even if you are providing a good service.