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

Rob FitzGerald joins as President, US

by Rob Fitzgerald in News

As you may have read in MediaPost, Campaign or AgencySpy, Rob FitzGerald has been announced as We Are Social’s President in the US. Former President at Big Fuel Communications, Rob has a wealth of global experience at agencies including GlobalHue, Initiative and Omnicom Media Group, spanning Japan, China, Hong Kong, Europe and the US. Here, he explains why he chose to join We Are Social.

Rob (centre) with We Are Social co-founders Robin (left) and Nathan (right)Rob (centre) with We Are Social co-founders Robin (left) and Nathan (right)

My first taste of a career in social was all thanks to Kanye. He approached a previous agency of mine, looking to monetize his considerable social following by producing a daily documentary/fly-on-the-wall content for a subscription fee. As COO, I was asked to lead the venture and saw it as an opportunity to move into social content creation. As you can imagine it was a baptism of fire, but it was an experience that has stood me in good stead for everything that followed (and is still to come).

Joining We Are Social now, from a background of media and strategic planning and more recently, digital and social, it feels like a lifetime since my experience with Yeezy. The marketing landscape has changed beyond recognition over the last decade – even in the last few years. I chose to join We Are Social because, with its mission of putting social thinking at the centre of marketing, it will be one of a handful of agencies that helps the world’s biggest brands define what it means to succeed in today’s – and tomorrow’s – social age.

For me ‘social thinking’ perfectly embodies the evolution of social away from the daily execution of always on content and community management into more complex social/digital experiences. It’s also in line with what’s happening within US businesses at the moment; the increased expectation from senior clients for agency partners to drive and challenge how social is approached inside their own organizations. It’s something that not every agency is going to be able to offer – but We Are Social has been built to understand social behaviours, develop social insights, and offer clients ideas with social at their core, not just executions in social media.

The team here in the US is already doing some fantastic work, with an impressive client roster featuring names like Heineken, Banana Republic, Hyatt and National Geographic. It’s clear that thanks to Leila Thabet’s leadership over the last three years, we have a talented and passionate team with a strong culture of ‘togetherness’ and desire to make a huge impact in this market.

So, as social, creativity and innovation comes directly under the spotlight of CMOs and SVP Brand Directors, it’s the perfect time to take We Are Social to the next stage in its US success. With a focus on larger campaign experiences, innovation and strategic frameworks, we’ll blend the speed and agility of social executions with what were always viewed as the more ‘traditional’ agency attributes of rigor, discipline of strategy and client leadership, to allow us to deliver first class, socially-led creative work that always hits the mark.

For now, my immediate focus will be on attracting the best talent to compliment what we already have, ramping up our creative and strategic firepower and growing the agency, both organically and with new business wins. With all this, We Are Social has the right formula in place – the talent, the culture, the support and the ambition – to become the most significant social agency in the US.

SXSW Innovation: the weird & wonderful

by Tom Ollerton in News

SXSW (1)

Twitter, Foursquare and Meerkat exploded into the digital universe at SXSW. That’s because for one week in Austin in March, the good, bad and the ugly of the digital industries take leave of their day jobs. They eat BBQ and drink craft beer, but most importantly, stop and think about what’s happening next.

I’ve been going through the proposed talks on Innovation on the PanelPicker website. If you search for “innovation” in the list of entries you get 1,118 results. And some of them sound a bit weird..

“Superman vs. Batman, and Innovation’s Power” Holy disruption Batman!

“Innovation Foreplay, Prime Your Brand For Action” – It’s getting hot in here…

“Enabling Cannabis Innovation with Law & Policy” – Well, why not?

It’s not all weirdness, though. Here are my favourites so far:

Can Innovation Be Taught?
Can innovative thinking, an intrinsically disruptive and elusive concept, be taught within formal, higher education? What does it look like in the classroom? Or outside of it? Join leaders from creative / innovation labs at universities across the US to explore these questions.

Product Innovation: Five Signs You’re Faking It
Innovation is being touted everywhere: company websites, TV commercials, and even restaurants. And with catch phrases like, “Innovate or Die” being shouted from the rooftops, it’s hard not to jump on the bandwagon. But how can you tell whether your company is making it for faking it?

Innovations to Disrupt Aging
When does age become just a number and as irrelevant as race and sex in determining someone’s societal value? What does it mean to disrupt aging and how is technology facilitating the process?

How large organisations (and start ups) innovate
Who is really driving the disruptive innovation we see today? Lean start ups such as AirBnB, Uber & Spotify are known for challenging industry business models & the status quo. But what is the role of larger, more established companies in innovation? And can they keep up?

Google’s Creative Skills for Innovation : Lab
Join Google’s Creative Skills for Innovation : Lab to develop your capacity to innovate and get 10x ideas into the world. In this action-packed Lab you will radically collaborate on audacious challenges, discover how to unleash creativity, experiment efficiently and prototype to develop innovations fast.

Sex, Social and the Future of Love
Disclaimer – this one is mine. A good SXSW presentation resonates across the industry for months and a great one can change the destiny of a business forever. With that in mind I’ve decided to do a presentation on sh*gging. My presentation “Sex, Social and the Future of Love” will be co-presented by Hannah Witton, a vlogger specialising in sexuality.

In this panel, we bust some of the biggest sex and social myths. We’ll explain why a woman with a grapefruit is a more credible sexpert than any brand. And we explore why sex doesn’t always sell on social. You might even get your hands on some of the latest connected sex toys. If you would like me and Hannah to represent the UK at SXSW, please register on the SXSW site, vote and leave a comment.

You might also want to take a look at the other great panels we’re planning here at We Are Social, one on how the use of tech is affecting and defining tomorrow’s leaders, the other exploring the unexpected events that led to social technologies becoming an ingrained part of our lives. We look forward to seeing you there.

1 Billion Insights: What People #Love

by Simon Kemp in News

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Every day, somewhere between 300,000 and half a million photos are uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #love.

Late last week, those photos passed a particularly special milestone as the one-billionth photo tagged with #love was added to the photo sharing network.

Based on a wholly human (i.e. subjective) analysis of many thousands of posts tagged with #love over the past 12 months, the most common themes amongst Instagram posts tagged with #love are (in no particular order):

  • Selfies
  • Friendships & Couples
  • Requests for Followers
  • Illustrated Quotes
  • Pets & Animals
  • Fashion & Accessories
  • Beauty (Make-Up & Nail Art)
  • Food, Cafés & Restaurants
  • Travel Photos
  • Celebrities

The themes alone don’t explain the full picture though; for that, we need to dig a little deeper, and interpret what we see.

#Love, Love Me Do
The most startling finding was the one that was most obvious when we started exploring the hashtag stream.

The majority of photos tagged with #love seem to be people searching for ‘love’ – or at least people hoping to attract other people’s attention, admiration, recognition, or lust.

Our interpretation of this behaviour is that people don’t go to Instagram (or social media more generally, for that matter) to discover new products; they go there in the hope of being discovered themselves.

Because of this, most people are behaving in the same way that brands behave in social media: they’re posting content about themselves – notably selfies – in hope that other people will ‘like’ them (and comment, and share, and follow…).

What we found most interesting is that many of these #love posts appear to be attempts to deal with individual insecurities. They appear to address needs that sit squarely in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy (Esteem Needs and Love & Belonging Needs):


The key observation: people are using the #love hashtag to address their need for personal affirmation.

When you think about that, it’s not really very surprising; everybody wants to be loved.

However, we were surprised by the way that this need has translated into the use of a hashtag that we’d expected to be more about the expression of a present emotion (e.g. “I love…”) than the desire to fulfil an absent emotion (e.g. “I want to be loved”).

There are, of course, numerous examples of things people do ‘love’ – their partners, their friends and families, pets and animals, and celebrities – but the overwhelming majority of posts seem to fall into the category of fulfilling absent emotion than expressing present emotion.

The Naked Truth
What’s more, many people using the #love hashtag seem willing to go to extreme lengths to attract other people’s attention.

Roughly 3-5% of all posts tagged with #love are selfies involving nudity – male and female. If you want to verify this for yourself, do note that some of the pictures are particularly sexually explicit. They’re not for the faint-hearted, and they’re definitely NSFW.

Shock-value aside, it’s worth making an important distinction here between ‘nude selfies’ – which appear to be individuals’ attempts to get other people’s attention – and outright porn, which usually includes links to third-party websites. Our analysis suggests that individuals posting selfies in various states of undress outweigh ‘porn’ by a significant margin.

As a platform, Instgram doesn’t permit images containing nudity, but as you might expect given this volume of uploads, it can take some time before offending pictures are removed.

Tell Me I’m Beautiful…
People often use the #love hashtag together with photographs of make-up and nail-art too. What’s most interesting about these photos is that there are considerably fewer mentions of brands than I’d expect.

There appear to be two key motivations behind beauty-oriented posts. The first is closely related to the theme we saw above, where people are looking for the affirmation of others through their activities – the posts almost seem to ask ‘what do you think of me in this make-up’, without necessarily asking the question directly.

The second motivation is more marketing-related, but it’s generally about selling a make-up or nail artist, rather than the products they sell. This may be determined as much by the sheer volume of posts shared by individuals versus brands, of course, but the findings are nonetheless interesting and valuable to marketers hoping to understand their audiences.

…Tell Me I’ve Got Style
One of the most frequent hashtag correlations we identified was between #love and #ootd (i.e. outfit of the day). Fashion more generally seems to overlap neatly with the #love hashtag, but as with the Beauty theme above it appears that the person posting the photo is more interested in demonstrating their own sense of style than necessarily calling out specific brands.

On a related note, it’s worth highlighting a significant number of posts of people in revealing outfits or underwear. There’s a fine line here that merits some further exploration though, namely the balance between the opportunity for self-expression and the potential for people to make decisions they’ll later regret, or even the risk of exploitation.

(Don’t You) Wish You Were Here?
Even when it comes to product- and brand-related posts, there’s still a tendency to use the #love hashtag to call out things that the ‘poster’ expects other people to love, as much as what they themselves love.

For example, when it comes to travel, there’s a strong tendency towards envy-inducing shots: beaches at sunset, amazing hotel rooms, spectacular landscapes.

The same is true of most photos tagged with #food: there’s a tendency to post impressive meals that the individuals have prepared themselves (the desire for acknowledgment), or that they’re enjoying in special locations or restaurants (a trigger for envy).

Whilst these posts are perhaps less narcissistic than selfies, they still seem to demonstrate that constant need for the recognition and envy of others.

So What?
So what can marketers do with this information?

The answer lies in understanding the motivations that drive this behaviour, not simply in being able to track the behaviour itself.

That many people have a constant need for a self-esteem boost shouldn’t come as a shock to any of us, but it’s interesting how so few brands are fulfilling that need. Indeed, with their own constant attempts to get noticed and attract ‘likes’, most brands in social media are demonstrating the same insecurities themselves.

The big opportunity for brands in all of this is to understand how they can provide what these people need.

Brands could interpret that in two ways, though. One route would be to adopt the Dove approach, addressing the insecurities that drive the behavior in the first place.

The alternative would be to offer the recognition and affirmation the people using the hashtag seem to crave.

Either way, with half a million new #love posts a day, there’s plenty more left for marketers to learn from this incredibly popular hashtag.

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We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #273

by Laura Muldoon in News

Google and Twitter get cosy with desktop search result integration
It is now possible to view tweet feeds and hashtags on the desktop version of Google’s search results. Twitter and Google announced a new partnership in February, and Twitter integration has been available on Google’s mobile website and apps since May, but it’s nice to see the pair getting along so well with another public display of affection on all of our desktops…

Facebook overtakes Google as traffic source for news and media
Traffic analysis from with data from over 400 major news and media outlets, has revealed that Facebook has overtaken Google as a traffic source and bolstering the theory that search has hit a plateau while Facebook’s growth trajectory continues to head skyward.


Facebook finally gifts pages and ads with gifs
After rolling out gifs to individual users in May, Facebook has now allowed select business pages to use the flashy graphics. It has been reported that Mark Zuckerberg has in the past held reservations about flashing banner ads in case they negatively affected user experience. I’m less bothered about flashing images and more about the constant penis enlargement ads I’m served. The user reaction to gifs will be monitored closely before a full roll-out to all businesses.

Coca-Cola’s Brazilian brand Kuat's first gif offeringCoca-Cola’s Brazilian brand Kuat’s first gif offering

Facebook is planning to spruce its events offering right up
It’s time for Facebook events to get an overhaul and new details have been confirmed by the Facebook product manager for Facebook Events, Aditya Koolwal. One main goal is to separate out public and private events more significantly. Koolwal has also revealed that the ultimate goal is for Facebook to offer users a tailored list of what’s going on in any given city at any given time. Now please excuse me, I have a ‘WORLD’S LONGEST Slip ‘N’ Slide!!!!’ to attend.

Twitter ads now being served through mobile apps
Brands can now access more users with Twitter creative, through mobile apps (that aren’t Twitter) via the Twitter Audience Platform (TAP). Macy’s, who has used the technology reported engagement rates much higher than industry benchmarks. See below how the Twitter ads appear to users. I’ll just type Twitter one more time now. Twitter.


Twitter CFO calls for patience as stock falls below IPO price for first time
Bad times for Twitter as its stock dropped below $26 last week, the price set during its initial public offering in November 2013, against a background of ongoing concerns about a lack of growth in its user-base. One reason offered by Twitter for its trouble attracting new users is that it remains “too difficult to use” to truly reach a mass market beyond celebrities and journalists. I’ve taken it upon myself to look into the matter in depth myself. A quote from my mother: “I agree”.

Kik receives $50M cash injection from China’s Tencent
Tencent, the biggest internet company in China, who also own WeChat, is set to help Kik realise its dream of becoming the “WeChat Of The West” through a strategic partnership and a $50m investment. Kik, according to GlobalWebIndex, is currently the 4th placed messenger app amongst 16-24 year-olds in US, behind Facebbook Messenger, Snapchat and Skype. Kik plan to use the money for innovative development in the hope of taking on the the big players of the messaging world, with ambitions of taking on even Facebook Messenger.

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Old Spice get it right again by cracking tough Imgur crowd
After its ‘loony’ Instagram adventure game, those mentalist nutters at Old Spice are all aboard the banter train once again with a new batch of promoted content on Imgur. The notoriously picky users of the platform have responded well to the ‘Gif off’, with one erudite user exclaiming: “The beautiful bastards in your marketing department understand me better than any man.”.

Man from UNCLE Instagram hack brings out the secret agent in users
The Warner Brothers UK team have used Instagram to hide a secret message for users. The message is revealed by regramming the image and applying a certain filter with the chance of winning a swanky watch fit for a spy. I’d love to tell you which filter it is but if I did I would have to kill you.

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Ronald McDonald’s WLTM Tinder audience to advertise to
McDonald’s have surprised Tinder users in Australia this week after launching a competition on the dating app where users can win a trip to Thailand by swiping right when faced with the brand’s profile. With more late night trysts with sauce-covered hot chicken McNuggets than I care to mention, I’m confident for a match.

UK vlogger guidance issued following Kim Kardashian’s banned selfie
New guidelines have been issued in the UK to vloggers after claims have been made that influencers have been put under pressure to keep commercial partnerships a secret from their fans. The new rules outline exactly what you can and can’t do within the UK advertising code and will act at the go to guide to help vloggers push back on unreasonable requests.

Join our research & insight team

by Robert Wainman in News

We Are Social’s Research & Insight team in London is on the hunt for new talent, looking to recruit an R&I director and an R&I analyst. In this post we delve into the life of one of our senior analysts, Robert Wainman, providing an overview of what a typical week could look like within the R&I department. If you’re interested in joining the team, drop our recruiter Lauren Tibbetts an email.

Pizza, banking, sex and hashtags – sounds like a week in the life of someone working in research – right? Despite what you may think, working in research and insight is not all pie charts and excel spreadsheets, if you do it in the right place. I’ve been working in We Are Social’s R&I team for a couple of years now, and I can safely say that the only thing that’s a dead cert when I arrive in the morning is the quality of excellent jumpers on display around the R&I table.

This week, I’ve been working on a report for one of the biggest brands in UK banking, a new business pitch and a social conversation audit in the food industry. One paragraph into writing this blog and I’ve been pulled into a brainstorm for another food brand. New projects, pitches and client requests hit your inbox or skype chats, on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

Everyone in the R&I team works on a combination of reports, projects and audits across our client base, so we have to get used to analysing content ranging from topics as broad as football to cars, entertainment to booze. We work closely with the client services, strategy and editorial teams, helping to identify what works best for each of their clients, presenting back our findings to determine what they should change and what they should do more of (and less of – e.g. hashtagging on Facebook – give it up, it’s pointless).

Every member of the R&I team also has the opportunity to do their own research for PR purposes too. Right now we’re looking at sex and airlines; not together, though that would be interesting. Previous pieces have covered reactions to the latest iPhone, or taking your favourite jumper (yes, them again – it’s a bit of a team theme) onto Newsnight to talk about the General Election, a la Paul ‘David’ Greenwood, senior R&I Director.

The thing I love most about social, aside from the opportunity to spend the day stalking on Facebook without getting fired, is that there’s always something new going on. In just a few years, I’ve seen new platforms emerge, some die and some succeed (I have my eye on Periscope at the moment). Every week there seems to be a new platform update (Facebook now supports GIFs!) or product launch (sponsored Instagram posts) – and it’s our job in R&I to make sure we’re capturing the impact of all of this, and feeding it back into our client strategies. It’s brilliant when you see the agency creating really amazing work that’s been inspired by social listening too, such as Netflix’s Spoiler Foiler campaign or SummerSOS for F&F.

Outside of the work stuff, we have football clubs, office yoga, chair massages, an annual ski trip (or Winter Conference, as I think we’re supposed to call it) as well as a load of parties both on a monthly and quarterly basis. I don’t think I should really go into any more detail on these in an agency blog post, suffice to say they are always good fun.

The roles we’re currently recruiting for in the R&I team at We Are Social require some experience, with the Analyst role focusing on day-to-day delivery of reports and insights, and the Director managing a team to disseminate strategic insight throughout the agency. But we’re not just looking for people who are great at excel and want to crunch numbers – the value our team provides is much deeper than that. Robust research underpins all our work at We Are Social, we provide our teams with an understanding of communities and their behaviour, both on and off line, with insights that inform everything from our strategic to our creative approach. So, if you want to be a crucial part of an agency that creates truly social ideas, this could be the job for you.

To join the Research & Insight team, get in touch with Lauren Tibbetts.