Hello, we are social. We’re a global conversation agency, with offices in London, New York, Paris, Milan, Munich, Singapore, Sydney & São Paulo. We help brands to listen, understand and engage in conversations in social media.
We’re a new kind of agency, but conversations between people are nothing new. Neither is the idea that ‘markets are conversations’.

We’re already helping adidas, Heinz, Unilever, Heineken, eBay, Jaguar, Intel, Moët & Chandon & Expedia.

If you’d like to chat about us helping you too, then give us a call on +44 20 3195 1700 or drop us an email.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #224

by Nick Mulligan in News

Global social users pass two billion
After Facebook released their latest active user figures, it seems that global social media users have passed the two billion mark, out of a total global population of 7.18 billion, and 2.95 billion worldwide internet users. Mobile is increasingly big, too – 1.56 billion are considered ‘active mobile social users’. Facebook is the largest network, with over 1.3 billion monthly active users worldwide, while Tencent QQ is the largest messenger app with 848 million. For more information, you can read our blog post on the subject.


Internet users are almost always online
Recent research reported by eMarketer has found that US internet users are almost always connected. A total of 60% of those surveyed claimed either to never disconnect, or to do so at most a few times a year. In contrast, 20% managed to disconnect altogether at least once daily.

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Ofcom report shows omnipresence of online media
Ofcom has released its Communications Market Report on the media habits of UK residents. It found that the average amount of time spent with ‘media’ devices is now 8 hours 41 minutes, making it higher than the 8 hours 21 minutes spent sleeping. Indeed, in the evening, the average adult is more likely to be using media/communications than doing anything else.


There’s a clear divide by age, too. TV remains strong among older groups, but is falling among 16-24 year olds, who are spending more and more time on other, online media.


Finally, social media continues its mobile growth. Every network analysed (except, errrr, Friends Reunited) has grown its mobile user base between April 2013 and April 2014.


Brits complain about customer service on social media
A May 2014 poll has found that 15% of Brits will complain about poor customer service on social media. While it’s less popular than talking to a supervisor, or even quitting the brand entirely, it’s a significant minority, which shows the importance of keeping track of what people are saying online about your business.

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Snapchat is growing its smartphone penetration
Snapchat is now the third largest social app on US millenials’ smartphones, according to the comScore Mobile Metrix for June 2014. The app is present on 32.9% of smartphones owned by 18-34 year olds in the US; only Facebook (75.6%) and Instagram (43.1%) are higher.

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Facebook is removing like gates
Facebook is scrapping the ‘like gate’, the system by which developers can require users to ‘like’ a page in order to enter a competition or use an app. The network appears to be keen that when people ‘like’ a page, it’s because they actually like it. A Facebook blog post said:

To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

Twitter updates ad pricing model
Twitter has announced new tools for ‘objective-based campaigns’, including four new ways to buy ads on the network. Previously, the only option was ‘cost per action’ (RTs, replies, favourites), but the following are now all viable payment options: new followers, conversions to external websites, app installs or user email addresses.

Twitter launches ‘flock to unlock’
Twitter is testing a new feature called ‘flock to unlock’, in which a certain number of users must retweet a message in order to unlock a deal, or exclusive piece of content. The first brand to trial the system is Puma – the sportswear giant will be offering access to a set of TV ads two days before their full release.

Twitter tests showing tweets from accounts your friends follow
Twitter is reportedly showing some users tweets from accounts they don’t follow, but which are followed by those that they do. The below tweets by @aleefbaypay display what it looks like.

Twitter adds ‘payment and shipping’ option
Some Twitter users have noticed a new ‘payments and shipping’ option in the settings section of the Android app. It’s not currently functional, but has fuelled speculation about a native shopping service on the platform in future.

Pinterest updates messaging on the platform
Pinterest has released a new messaging feature, which allows users to further discussion about their favourite pins. Previously, users could share pins with one another, but the feature has been expanded to include proper conversation. The video below details how it works.

Foursquare launches its new app
Foursquare has launched the latest version of its app, minus the check-in. Since all its social features have been moved to Swarm, the main app is now intended as a rival to the likes of Yelp, and hopes to provide personalised recommendations. These will be based on a combination of location data and specific ‘tastes’, which users can enter into the app.

This is bound to have an impact for advertisers. Naturally, there are challenges with moving from two apps to one; Foursquare now requires people to download Swarm before it can continue obtaining their valuable check-in data. In theory, though, there are also huge potential benefits. With access to location and taste data, Foursquare could become a destination for highly targeted marketing – it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Sprint sends the Frobinsons on holiday
Telecom company, Sprint, has been using a fictional family, named the Frobinsons, to promote its friends and family plan. It is now extending the campaign on social, by sending them on a road trip, in a brand tie-in with Roadtrippers. Content will be released from @Sprint, @TomFrobinson and @Roadtrippers on Twitter, as well as on Facebook.

Levi’s incorporates social elements in new microsite
Levi’s has launched a new ‘Live in Levi’s’ microsite, on which it is featuring several films telling the stories of young creatives and their jeans. At the heart of the site is a shoppable video, while users can also submit their own content across social networks using #LiveinLevis.


McDonald’s gets backlash from Instagram ads
McDonald’s has been running a series of ads on Instagram in the last few weeks. However, user feedback hasn’t always been great – in fact, there’s a significant amount of negative feedback on each post. This may be the case as Instagram users get used to ads on the network, but it’s a worthwhile warning to brands using ads on social media.


UK FCA sets out rules for financial social media
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has set out its approach to financial promotions on social media in the country. The organisation has laid out a number of specific rules, which you can read here, but these include: promotions for investment products must be clearly recognisable as such, each post needs to provide ‘standalone compliance’ to the rules and risk warnings should be included in certain cases.

Global Social Media Users Pass 2 Billion

by Simon Kemp in News

We Are Social - Global Digital Stats 2014-08

The latest figures from Facebook suggest that the number of people actively using social media each month has now passed the 2 billion mark. More than half of these use Facebook each month, while Tencent’s QZone platform is home to almost one-third of all global users.

These aren’t the only platforms posting good numbers though – Twitter in particular has shown impressive active user growth in the past few months:


There will inevitably be overlap between users of these platforms though, so we’ve been careful to only include the numbers for the largest network in each country in our total global figure.

Given that, it’s worth noting that another big contributor to the global active user number is VKontakte, which accounts for 75 million of the total global figure. That’s not enough to place it in the Global Top 10 rankings above, but VK is still a dominant force in Russia and a number of its neighbours.

Beyond the social media stats, it’s equally exciting to report that more than half the planet now owns a mobile phone, with unique users now exceeding 3.6 billion.

Globally active mobile subscriptions now exceed 7.1 billion, suggesting that the average phone owner maintains almost 2 active subscriptions.

Internet growth also continues apace, with globally active users now tantalisingly close to the 3 billion mark.

Mobile social media use is also on the rise, with 77% of all social networking users now accessing via mobile devices.

You’ll find more specific figures – including data for more that 100 countries around the world – in our SDMW series of reports.

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Marketing That Marketers Love

by Simon Kemp in News

Over the past year, We Are Social has been partnering with the World Federation of Advertisers to identify the brands that marketers around the world respect the most.

We’ve asked hundreds of the world’s top practitioners for their thoughts via social media; from global creative directors and agency heads, to client-side CMOs and global brand directors.

During the course of these conversations, however, we realised that the same handful of brands came up again and again.

So what is it about brands like Red Bull, TOMS, and Dove that marketers all over the world respect so much, and what can we learn from their success?

1. Their value propositions extend beyond their products
When Felix Baumgartner jumped out of his space capsule high over the deserts of New Mexico, there wasn’t a can of Red Bull in sight.

Red Bull’s intention wasn’t merely to raise awareness; and 36 million people didn’t turn to YouTube to watch an ‘ad’.

Instead, the brand – with Felix’s help – set out to challenge the world’s perceptions of what’s humanly possible.

Similarly, when the brand teams up with people like Danny Macaskill to create amazing content, it doesn’t resort to mere ‘audience mirroring’ – the weak, “we like what you like, so buy our product” sort of approach.

Instead, Red Bull strives to produce content that people will go out of their way to engage with and share – an approach borne out by the 3.5 million subscribers on the brand’s Youtube channel.

Red Bull doesn’t just offer the world an energy drink; it inspires people everywhere to explore their own limits, and achieve something more.

2. They’re not just differentiated; they make a real difference
Many of the industry’s leading practitioners indicated a strong preference for brands with a ‘conscience’.

The most commonly cited example was TOMS, a brand whose core ‘one-for-one’ proposition ensures someone in the developing world benefits every time someone buys their products.

What’s most interesting is the way this brand proposition has allowed TOMS to transcend product categories.

The brand has extended beyond its initial one-for-one shoe program, where it donated a pair of shoes to a child in Argentina for every pair bought in stores, to offer sight-saving treatment for someone in the developing world for every pair of sunglasses sold.

The brand’s most recent development involves providing a week’s worth of clean drinking water for someone in Africa each time someone buys a pack of TOMS coffee:

TOMS doesn’t just sell products; it sells a promise – a promise that we can still indulge in little luxuries, safe in the knowledge that we’re also helping other people lead a better life.

Another brand that champions a cause is Goldieblox, who have set themselves the mission of encouraging more girls to consider careers in areas such as engineering.

As a result, the brand isn’t just making and selling great toys; it’s helping young girls to build a brighter future.

Other examples in this area include The Body Shop, Ben & Jerry’s, and Honest Tea, all of whom have made standing up for the things they believe in a core component of their marketing.

3. They don’t interrupt people; they involve them 
Red Bull has championed a participative approach to its comms, with events like Flugtag now a regular fixture in the brand’s global approach:

More and more brands are using ‘crowdsourcing’ to influence product development too, with Dell’s ‘Ideastorm’, Starbucks’s ‘My Starbucks Idea’ and Lay’s ‘Do Us A Flavor’ all popular examples of activities that brought the audience into the heart of the brand.

Taken further, the power of involvement may mean that IKEA’s self-assembly model actually adds value, rather than acting as a potential barrier.

In the words of Dan Ariely, Daniel Mochon and Michael Norton,

Labour increases people’s valuation of products, not just for those who profess an interest in “do-it-yourself” projects, but even for those who are relatively uninterested. [from The IKEA Effect]

The most extreme examples of this approach appear on crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, where people can actively contribute to the very birth of a brand.

4. They engage our emotions
When it comes to specific communications activities, the industry’s leading practitioners repeatedly offered two recent examples of brands that have swapped eyeballs for heartstrings.

Dove began its Campaign for Real Beauty a few years back with its oft-celebrated ‘Photoshopped billboard’ Evolution film (watch it again here).

Recent iterations have moved from shock tactics to a more emotional style though, with the brand’s recent Real Beauty Sketches film playing more on empathy than outrage:

In a similar vein, P&G’s Thank You Mom films have moved audiences to tears with touching stories of Olympians’ growing pains:

These activities work because they resonate with audiences’ own experiences; they harness empathy to engage our emotions, ensuring a more profound and enduring connection.

That may seem like stating the obvious, but that’s what’s so interesting; most marketers seem to understand this logic, yet it’s strange how few of us actually take the time to understand our audiences well enough to be able to deliver such powerful, empathetic marketing.

5. They help people to help themselves
Google’s Michael Burke asserts that “learning something is the top motivator when it comes to driving engagement,” and this is borne out in many of the examples of great marketing that people shared with us.

One of the most powerful demonstrations of this is American Express’s OPEN Forum and ‘Small Business Saturday’ initiatives that help small business owners to achieve their specific objectives.

By providing SMEs with advice, support, and a network of peers, AmEx has moved from being a mere payments facilitator to an added-value business partner.

In addition to organising widely-publicised events like Small Business Saturday, AmEx also offers small businesses advice on areas such as how to manage a Facebook page (complete with $100 of free Facebook adverts), how to construct compelling customer offers, and provides attractive POS materials and promotional assets.

The practitioners we spoke with also cited examples like Hubspot, a marketing services brand that provides a wealth of free materials to help marketers adopt and optimise an inbound marketing strategy.

A common thread
If you’re looking for the one thing that connects these themes though, it’s quite simple: do something that people care about, and there’s a higher likelihood they’ll care about you.

This is the first in a series of posts in collaboration with the World Federation of Advertisers. Find out more about this work and the WFA at the Project Reconnect website.

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The identity crisis in social

by Mobbie Nazir in News

Campaign recently published this article by me about putting social thinking at the heart of marketing strategies. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below:

Unsure of your role in life? Feel like you don’t know the ‘real’ you? If you answered yes to the previous questions, you may be experiencing an ‘identity crisis’. From being the new cool kid on the block to the recent tantrums over Facebook’s declining organic reach, the social media industry is reacting to a challenge to its “sense of self”.

Borrowing from the developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, who coined the term identity crisis, resolution of the crisis depends on achieving a balance between a state of commitment and exploration. Commitment to the principles of what has always made social media a powerful part of the communications mix, and exploration of what change might enable while remaining grounded in those original principles.

It will be interesting to see how the role of paid media evolves in relation to social media, but it would be a mistake to recast social media entirely as an advertising-led, mass-distribution channel. Instead, we should remain committed to focusing on how we place ‘social thinking’ at the centre of marketing strategies. It’s about creating ideas based on understanding consumers not just as individuals but as members of connected communities. It means understanding the needs and motivations of people, and activating these through creative solutions that encourage connection, conversation and sharing.

Such insights are what takes communications from being interruptive content that, in the words of Banksy, “butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and disappear” to ideas worth sharing. But, sadly, many marketers still believe a social idea is something that is just executed on social media – indicated by the all-too-common practice of taking a traditional broadcast advertising idea and attempting to “adapt” it for social channels. Such efforts, at worst, create the epic social media fail moments of our industry and, at best, have no impact at all.

Placing social thinking at the centre of marketing requires a shift in how brands and agencies collaborate, a shift in mindset in terms of how ideas work and a depth of understanding of what makes an idea truly social. We Are Social was created with this in mind. Our analysts work quantitatively to provide our teams with an understanding of communities and their behaviour. Our community managers give qualitative feedback based on the daily observations of conversation dynamics. Our strategists use these insights to ensure we’re reaching consumers in the most effective way. And our channel-neutral creatives produce ideas that people want to talk about. Every part of the agency has been built from the ground up to create truly social ideas.

Our “Live young January” campaign for evian shows how social thinking can drive an integrated strategy to create mass impact. At the heart of the campaign was the insight that January is the most miserable month of the year, with people sharing their misery through social channels. We took this insight to create a stream of daily content to cheer up commuters with evian’s ‘Live young’ message. It was one of the year’s biggest print and outdoor campaigns, and included content on Transvision screens and escalator panels in train and Tube stations across London, as well as experiential events and content for social channels. The campaign generated a 19 per cent year-on-year sales increase for evian.

Social thinking can help marketers understand their audience, and listening to their communities and conversations can not only help develop better communications ideas but also products that consumers will love and naturally want to talk about. Our “Get Well Soup” campaign for Heinz embraced this approach and has been so successful that it has now run for four consecutive years. This concept began with a social insight – recognising that people were sharing their complaints about colds and illnesses during the winter and that others were responding with sympathy. We provided consumers with the means to help their friends feel better: a personalised can of soup, sent via Facebook. The concept even formed the basis of Heinz’s winter TV ad.

Social ideas unlock real value in how brands can build deeper, more impactful relationships with people. Social ideas encourage active conversation – it’s built into their DNA. People naturally want to talk about them, which, in turn, drives them to understand and formulate opinions about the brands they engage with.

Of course, that’s not to say that social media isn’t important – of course it is. This is where consumers are spending most of their time now, even overtaking time spent watching TV. But being able to understand and use social media for the insight needed to develop social ideas is where the future lies. And the agencies that will deliver the best work for clients in this future will be those that are putting social thinking at the centre of marketing.

An inspiring summer with HSBC

by Claire Dunford in News

Whether you’re travelling somewhere exotic or moving onto the next stage in your life, summer is the time to try new things. Whilst sunshine and finances aren’t a usual combination, our crack team has been working with global bank HSBC to inspire the UK public to make the most of summer.

Making memories

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Some of my fondest memories of childhood were the holidays I spent with my grandparents, sea-fishing off Lyme Regis and indulging in ice-cream fuelled donkey rides. HSBC’s new UK or Away game reminds us that regardless of our budgets, summer should be something to remember.

By challenging players to guess whether a picture was taken in the UK or abroad, we’re raising awareness of the options available to help create those treasured memories, wherever you go on holiday.  And we hope you may be pleasantly surprised at some of the answers!

Better yet, everyone who plays can claim a free Lonely Planet digital guide to help plan their next adventure. To encourage more memory sharing, eight lucky snappers who share a suitable holiday pic will win a brand new Panasonic Lumix TZ55 camera!

Finding your Future Self

Of course, holidays aren’t the priority for everyone – with a flurry of people buying property, making home renovations, and getting married, summer is also a time for investing in your future.

580,000 students will fly the nest and enter UK universities this year and whether they spend their first term swotting in the library, networking at the bar, or immersing themselves in university life, our second HSBC campaign of the summer encourages students to grasp opportunities with both hands.

Your Future Self focuses on the sharing of four real-life stories of students using their time at university to achieve amazing things. Take Jethro, an aspiring squash player – #1 in the university championships, he battled his way to #86 in the world until a career-ending injury challenged him to fall back on his university contacts and revolutionize squash training.

Or tech-whiz Jenny who started uni unable to code, but ended up creating Snapfashion, the mobile app that has crowned her one of the Top 25 Influential UK Women in IT.

The second part of this campaign will be run in time for A-Level results.   #Myfutureselfie will ask students to dream about their futures, and those who take the most creative and engaging future-facing selfies will be helped to take a step closer to achieving their Future Self.

Summer should be an exciting time for everyone, and our partners at HSBC want to make this summer one to remember.  So, whether you’re looking to fill a scrapbook with memories, bidding a teary farewell to the kids that have ‘all grown up’, or day dreaming about your ideal job – our HSBC summer campaigns have something to inspire everyone.