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Snapchat: impermanence is here to stay

by Dan Moseley in News Google+

On 25th November We Are Social is holding Gen Z 101 at our London HQ. As part of this we’ll be taking a look at one of the most important platforms for Gen Z right now – Snapchat. Here, one of our presenters, Dan Moseley, explains why Snapchat is a platform worth knowing about.

Can you remember what real life was like? Life without wondering how many ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’ you’ll get on a daily basis? Many of us struggle to remember a world before social media – for the Gen Z-ers amongst us, it might as well not have existed.

Great thinkers can argue all they want, but we all know deep down if you experience something IRL and don’t share it for all to see in a triple filtered blaze of Insta-glory, it’s not real. If it’s not saved on a multinational corporation’s servers for future generations to see… frankly, who cares?

Roaming gangs of engagement feeders. Grey car – avg. 7.5 likes per minuteRoaming gangs of engagement feeders. Grey car – avg. 7.5 likes per minute

As the press reaction to Essena O’Neill gathered pace recently, I began to wonder if she was the modern oracle our times needed. “One of the truest and realest people ever”. In a world of creating a permanent, unrealistic picture of our lives for everyone we’ve ever met (and some we haven’t…) to take in, it looks like some of us have had enough.

Enter today’s saviour of social for the younger generation – Snapchat. Created in 2011 by three friends at Stanford University, Snapchat allows users to share photos and videos, which appear for a limited period on the recipient’s phone and then disappear forever. Welcome to social media 2.0. Impermanence made permanent.

Most importantly, Snapchat’s founders seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet as the Essenas of this world.

Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It’s about communicating with the full range of human emotion – not just what appears to be pretty or perfect. […] We’re building a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection but rather creates a space to be funny, honest or whatever else you might feel like at the moment you take and share a Snap.

shock emoji

It’s a formula that’s working. In just over four years, Snapchat has experienced a meteoric rise in a packed social media market. Earlier this month, it announced that the number of videos viewed each day on Snapchat has tripled since May – it now gets 6bn video views every day. Not to mention the 8,796 disappearing photos sent by its 100 million users every second… not bad for a platform that started life as a controversial sexting app.

Currently valued at $10-20 billion depending on who’s buying (some guy called Mark Zuckerberg tried for $3bn and was rejected), it’s also one of social media’s more successful entities at monetising. One such route is the app’s long term publisher deals as part of the Discover tab, with the likes of Vice, Sky, Buzzfeed, MTV, and Mail Online signed up amid a growing roster. It’s barely an exaggeration to say that Snapchat controls the news consumption of a certain demographic of social media users.

If the heavyweight names on that list don’t impress you, consider this – Buzzfeed recently estimated that an incredible 21% of its site traffic now originates from Snapchat content views. And newcomer Mashable has seen astounding figures since joining Discover, with CEO Pete Cashmore reporting that Mashable’s total unique views grew by 24% in the month following its Snapchat launch. On a site that boasts 45 million uniques per month.

In the spirit of the creativity originally promised, Snapchat has opened a new lens store, offering free lenses and 99 cent lenses, as well as brand-Sponsored Lenses. 20th Century Fox has signed up to create animated branded selfie filters just weeks after the feature launched on app – worth a reported $750,000 daily for peak-usage. There’s also paid Geofilters (hungrily eaten up by pop-up restaurant newbies… well, McDonald’s).


For the more traditionally minded marketers, Snapchat launched a full in-app ad spot last year with Universal Pictures to promote the movie Ouija. If you’re wondering why kids aren’t watching your TV spot or YouTube pre-rolls, you now know where to get their attention.

It’s not just brands paying – the app’s users are increasingly getting involved too, led by US only offers Snapcash and Replay. Snapcash allows users to register with Square and make in app payments to friends by ‘making it rain’.

Replay offers three replays of expired content for $0.99. Yep, expired content. But all within the framework of rapid server deletion as Snapchat’s updated support post rapidly fought to prove. The wider point is this: an app that has users hooked on the excitement of fleeting creative moments can now charge its audience nearly a dollar for replays that could be over in a matter of seconds. That’s not a decision made lightly. It’s proof Snapchat content excites people enough to want to pay for more.

So – I think it’s safe to say that Snapchat’s here to stay. It’s maturing as a business, it’s offering a wide range of paid and unpaid tools for brands to express themselves creatively and it’s proving success with publishers and brands alike. You’re not going to get a 72 page report on performance afterwards, but your message will reach a youth audience more receptive than anywhere else in social if you speak to them on their terms.

In a world of airbrushing, perfection and Essena O’Neills complaining about how ‘fake’ life in social media can be, Snapchat is a refreshing opportunity to be different. You might not reach Burberry’s heights of Mario Testino dropping his Leica for an iPhone, but before you jump in it’s worth thinking back to that heady world of Snapchat’s first blog post and working out what you can add.

We’re building a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection but rather creates a space to be funny, honest or whatever else you might feel like at the moment you take and share a Snap.

If you have a message that manages to live up to that, Gen Z might just listen.

For tickets to Gen Z 101, visit our event page here.

Teen angst and influencer authenticity

by Nathan McDonald in News Google+

Marketing recently published this article by me about Essena O’Neill’s social media backlash and what this teaches us about working with influencers. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it below.


After accumulating hundreds of thousands of social media followers across various platforms, Essena O’Neill has caught the attention of the press by dramatically denouncing social media… using social media to get her message across.

Essena is not the first 19-year-old to have an identity crisis, but her position as a successful influencer and the nature of her rant speaks volumes about the conflicting forces at work on today’s teens.

In some ways it also reflects the evolution of social media – after years of modelling, building up followers and chasing (quite literally in this case) “vanity metrics” such as likes and views, Essena is now seeking authenticity, true engagement and a more profound meaning from social media. Sound familiar?

On the one hand, we know how much more important and influential the new breed of self-created social media celebrity is to the teen audience than more “traditional” celebrities. They are more real, speak with more honesty and are much admired for taking control of their own destiny. On the other hand, influencers crave meaning and authenticity in their own lives, and with their own values. In Essena’s case, these could no longer co-exist.

When there’s an unseen commercial arrangement behind an image, honesty is undermined. By editing her Instagram posts to reveal the cash that was paid to model clothes, Essena points to one of the big challenges for brands in working with influencers: disclosure.

Many countries, including Australia where Essena is based, have laws requiring disclosure. If there’s no “review” element of the product in the post itself then it may fall into a legal grey area.

But brands working with influencers should consider how an honest approach to a partnership carries less risk and is potentially more beneficial in the long run – as Kim Kardashian and Diclegis discovered. These days, most consumers are savvy enough to know that an endorsement very rarely comes for free.


People have been carefully constructing their identities in social situations throughout history, but I’m sure Essena’s teen-angst rant describing the stress and starvation involved in achieving the perfect selfie will speak to other teens and pre-teens more powerfully than anyone in a newspaper or classroom. Her story of striving for likes, followers and views from 12 years of age, and evaluating her own worth from these metrics reveals just how powerful these forces are.

This could simply be a stunt to attract enough attention to re-launch Essena as an ethically-minded influencer. Cynics point out that she launched her own website off the back of this publicity. Either way, the questions it has raised for those of us working with influencers on behalf of brands, and for those who are responsible for industry guidelines and regulations, are no less important.

Both authenticity and honesty, not just when it comes to social media, but also within a brand’s overall marketing strategy, have never been more crucial.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #284

by Laura Muldoon in News

Mobile messaging apps used by 1.4 billion worldwide
eMarketer has released its first ever worldwide forecast for mobile messaging apps and the headline is: big growth. More than 1.4 billion consumers will use mobile messaging apps this year according to the report – that’s a massive 31.6% increase on last year. eMarketer’s money is on the trend continuing; it predicts that by 2018, the number of chat app users worldwide will reach 2 billion – that’s 80% of smartphone users.

emarketer mobile messaging

Within the crowded messaging app marketplace, the report identifies WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger (both owned by Facebook) as the “global powerhouse” apps with significant reach in more than 20 countries worldwide.

Facebook introduces Notify
Facebook is not known for its value in providing real time news – here, Twitter arguably has the edge. Of course, we know that nothing less than complete global online domination is good enough for Zuckerberg et al, so Facebook has now introduced Notify, a stand-alone app for iPhones and iPads which will alert users with information from media companies like CNN, The Weather Channel and Fox Sports, served up onto their lock screen. Users can select from categories like news, sports, business, entertainment, politics, culture and “fun”, depending on what kind of news floats their boat.

Facebook’s first virtual reality ads revealed
Last week saw Facebook spread its VR wings with its first virtual reality-style video ads. This follows on from the roll out of its video creation tool in September, where brands could post 360-degree clips organically to their pages. In order to attract more brands to use the 360 vids (and therefore, make more $$$), Facebook has created a dedicated site to help get the low-down on creating 360-degree videos. You can see all of the ads from the brands who used the new format here, including Mondelez’s Ritz with a cracking (sorry) 360-degree holiday party and a tour of the “the most magical place on Earth” – Walt Disney World.

Photo Magic prompts Facebook Messenger users to share pictures
Some photos should never be shared. Some should be, but never are – they sit forgotten on your phone, using up storage space until you drop it into a pint glass/out of your pocket/down the toilet and they are lost forever. Facebook is tackling this #firstworldproblem with Photo Magic, a new feature in its Messenger app which scans newly taken photos with facial recognition, and notifies you with an option to send pictures to friends that are in them. Currently being tested in Australia, Photo Magic will be rolled out to other countries pending positive feedback.

Facebook tests disappearing messages
Not content with taking on one social giant this week (see Twitter/Notify above), Facebook is moving in on Snapchat’s space too, with self-destructing messages. Currently available on Facebook Messenger for some Android and iOS users in France, people are able to send messages that vanish in an hour. In a press statement, Facebook said:

“Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger. We look forward to hearing people’s feedback as they give it a try.”

Fans can now subscribe to celebrity Live feeds on Facebook
Launched in August, Live is a product by Facebook which allows celebrities to live stream all their exciting news and events. Now fans will be able to subscribe to be notified when their favourite is next washing their hair/eating fried chicken – yay!

Twitter sees 6% pick up in “Like” activity after first week of hearts
After changing the Twitter Favourite star to a Like heart, Twitter’s SVP of Product, Kevin Weil has announced a significant increase in engagement with the button. As for the reasoning behind this, Weil said that they believe the heart is a universal symbol, much more inclusive and ultimately easier for users to understand.

Twitter boasts about new GIFs you can fast-forward and rewind
Twitter has revealed GIFs which you can rewind and fast-forward. If only this had been around during Lenny Kravitz #PenisGate, hours of fun! Try it for yourself with this surfer dude who is unfortunately a bit savvier about his snake.

YouTube announces two new VR features for its Android app
The first of two virtual reality announcements for YouTube is that the Android phone app will now support virtual reality video which users will be able to see using a cardboard viewer. Users can upload VR content themselves but at the moment there are only around 12 videos to be viewed. The second announcement is that viewers will also be able to watch current YouTube content with a more ‘limited virtual reality experience’, with videos looking like what a viewer would see on an IMAX Screen (if the viewer was a 100ft giant).

Tumblr gets instant messaging
Tumblr has granted its users the most requested feature to date – instant messaging. Before this, the only way they could communicate was reblogging with comments or by using Fan Mail, a feature which everyone hated. They’ve opted for a viral launch with only 1,500 people getting access for now but if they message you, you’ll then have it. It should be fully rolled out by the end of December.

Snapchat’s new ad format requires a swipe from users to view more
Snapchat’s new ad format means that users can opt in to see more from an advertiser while they’re viewing branded content. The first use of this style of ad was by Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 which ran from the Daily Mail’s channel in the Discover section of the app. Usually ads in the Discover section will autoplay, whereas this needs action from the user to trigger it.

Snapchat’s rainbow vomit is back
Snapchat’s lense store has been updated but don’t try and get your next glasses prescription there dummy! It’s a product which lets you add different elements to your selfies, one of the most popular ones being rainbow vom. They are also an opportunity for advertisers, as brands are able to sponsor them. 

As you can see, not everyone’s thrilled about having to pay the 99¢ for the rainbow regurgitation. I also get frustrated having to pay for goods I receive but I can’t talk any more about that for now until the court case is complete.

Pinterest introduces visual search tool
Going on Pinterest sometimes brings me out in hives, SO MANY THINGS, ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE. Also, sometimes I see things and I don’t know what they’re called. Currently I’m trying to track down a wirey, thingamabob that goes on a surface which also contains a bulb. Anyone? Pinterest now introduced a search tool which means users can highlight something within a pin and then you get taken to that exact product. Long story short, I dreamt this into life.


Hyatt offers customer services via Facebook Messenger
I often think before complaining publicly via Twitter, ‘Do I want to be THAT person’ for my followers to see (Hi mum! Hi @LDNHotBoyEscorts!)? I usually decide that getting that extra £1.50 back is worth throwing away dignity for, but some people prefer to make their complaints privately. So well done to Hyatt who have made that possible via Facebook Messenger. As most Facebook users have basically been forced to download the messenger app anyway, it makes for a perfect medium for communication, which Hyatt do using the Businesses on Messenger feature.

Taco bell are verrrrrry excited for the taco emoji launch
As part of a social campaign surrounding the imminent launch of the taco emoji, Taco Bell has created 600 pieces of original content to tweet back at people. What will happen is: when users tweet Taco Bell with the taco emoji + another emoji, they will be treated with a gif or an image of those two images mashed together. I wonder what will come back from [taco] + 🍆? A baby? Or maybe just some tears and STOLEN DREAMS. Oh no, I’ve over-shared again.



We Are Social tracks ‘heat’ for National Geographic
National Geographic and GE have partnered with Breakthrough, which is a six-part series exploring scientific discoveries, each directed by a different Hollywood A-lister. We Are Social has supported this with a BreakthroughHeat Map, that tracks conversation surrounding the series and allows user to view what, when and where it’s happening all over the world. Benjamin Arnold, business director at We Are Social said:

Data visualisation mapping is a really exciting and compelling way to capture a hugely talked about subject. It also represents a breakthrough in itself in terms of the actual consumer uptake and usage of technology, as well as in our ability to monitor and decipher conversations as they happen and as they are impacted by content consumption.

Moxy Hotels launch new YouTube series targeting Gen Y
Moxy Hotels is a new brand launched by Marriott focused on 3-star accommodation and they’ve now launched Do Not Disturb, a YouTube video series featuring creator Taryn Southern. The series involves Southern interviewing other influencers in a sample Moxy guestroom. The influencers range from fans of whips to those who just want a cuddle, with content having a refreshing lack of Marriott presence. The first episode has launched featuring Flula Borg.

Barber champions the ‘Great Outdoors’ in social campaign
British brand Barber has launched a global Twitter and Instagram campaign to encourage fans to explore the countryside around them. It stars 2014 British Adventurer of the Year, Sean Conway, who has completed a triathlon taking in the entire length of Britain three times over, and also has a fantastic beard. In the campaign’s launch film, Conway and his beard visit the Lake District in an attempt to capture the perfect picture. Barber fans can get involved and win products by sharing their outdoorsy pictures on Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #HeritageOfAdventure.

Reddit AMA backfires for REI
Outdoor retailer REI generated plenty of positive PR recently when it announced that it would be closing its stores on Black Friday, and paying its 12,000 employees for the day. But when its CEO Jerry Stritzke decided to run a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session last week for consumers to ask questions about the move, it became apparent that not all was rosy in the REI family. While many were complimentary about the company, concerns were also raised about paying employees a “living wage,” and the most popular comment of the night came from former employee who complained about how aggressively REI pushes its membership sales. The event highlighted that Reddit can still be a challenging forum for brands looking for publicity.

Innovation and your memory

by Tom Ollerton in News

The Drum recently published this article and podcast by me and Alastair Cole, looking at innovation’s impact on learningThey’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it below.

This week on the Innovation Ramble we look at the innovation of learning.

For 65 years the Turing Test has been the arbiter of testing machine learning. In June 2014, a chat bot became the first ever computer program to pass the test when it successfully fooled a bunch of researchers into thinking that it was a 13-year-old boy named Eugene Goostman. This catalysed artificial intelligence experts to start thinking about a new way to test machine learning. According to experts, the new tests could include requiring machines to complete comprehension and learning challenges, such as assembling flat-pack furniture.

While the machines are assembling our wardrobes, the singularity-busting Evolutionary Robotics movement is encouraging robots to learn and evolve in the same way that organic species do. Fumiya Iida at Cambridge University has built a mother robot that creates offspring. The mother then works out which one of the offspring should be kept and which should be discarded: “We want to see robots that are capable of innovation and creativity.” Gulp.

Robots aren’t just teaching themselves, but our kids too. Adaptive learning is the practice of applying an algorithmic analysis to children’s responses to different teaching methods. An artificially intelligent virtual teacher will meticulously analyse how each student learns, and then breaks apart course material. The AI then matches coursework to the kind of brain that person has, delivering it in bits and pieces that slowly build up to a holistic understanding of the material.

They say two heads are better than one, well how about six?

In a series of experiments earlier this year, scientists connected live animal brains into a functional organic computer. The ‘Brainet’, as they called it, could perform basic computational tasks – and do it better than each animal alone. A second team looked to build upon previous work in the field of neuroprosthetics to see if a Brainet could control a digital arm. To achieve this they implanted a large electrode array into three rhesus monkeys to record their brain activity, and then taught the animals to move a virtual arm in 3D space by picturing the motion in their heads.

When we learn our brains physically change. Each memory has physical locations in the brain. In the journal – Nature, scientists are showing that you can reverse the emotional associations of specific memories by using light to control the activity of neurons. It is possible to alter the memory by manipulating the proteins that trigger the impulse of this memory. Therefore, if you experience a negative emotion with a memory, targeting a protein in the emotional regions of the brain may help to remove that connection alone. If you were given a pill to forget a memory, would you take it?

Live streaming this Halloween with TCL

by Sam Rong in News


In late October, we ran a Halloween-themed Periscope activity with China-based TCL, the world’s third largest TV manufacturer. As TCL’s slogan is “The Creative Life,” we wanted to creatively explore a new and exciting social media platform – Periscope. And, we thought that getting into the Halloween spirit by putting a “possessed” TV on a live-stream would be a good way to start…. obviously.

So, we ‘took over’ one of the brand’s new curved UHD TVs and placed it on Periscope, where it was mysteriously be possessed by a ghostly face. By using digital puppetry we were able to control the seriously spooky face in the new 65 inch TCL H8800 TV, allowing us to directly engage with Periscope users who came across our live-stream.

Periscope users who tuned into the live-stream found that the “haunted” TV immediately greeted them with a spooky laugh, voiced by a stand-up comedian, who manned our digital puppet. As he voice-acts for the face, he controls its mouth-movement, facial expressions, and the general motions and gestures of the head.

The fact that someone on Periscope can immediately have a real-time conversation with one of TCL’s mainline products gives the brand a unique social media experience, which provided TCL with a fun, and imaginative way to reach and engage its potential consumers.

Our client at TCL, Ranjit Gopi, Global Marketing Director of TCL Multimedia, commented on the campaign:

We want consumers to see that TCL has personality; that we’re ready to listen to their feedback and questions and to respond to them. We Are Social‘s approach of engaging Periscope users in a creative way will allow us to engage in a two-way conversation with our global target audience while building an emotional connection with our brand.

We’ve now finished spooking hundreds of unassuming Periscope users, but this isn’t the last they will see of TCL. Watch this space for more fun, creative activations as TCL looks to reach even more consumers outside of China.