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Innovative sleep technology

by Tom Ollerton in News

The Drum recently published this article by myself and Alastair Cole looking at the innovations that are trying to help us sleep betterThey’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below.

In January 1986 the Space Shuttle Challenger took off from Kennedy Space Centre with seven crew members hoping to better understand the universe beyond earth. Within seconds, the ship exploded killing all on board. Several key managers on the project had showed up to work having had two hours sleep.

This edition of the Innovation Ramble looks at the innovations that are trying to help us sleep better and the innovative science trying to crack the codes of our body clocks.

The Challenger disaster took place at the end of a decade synonymous with the all-night, work hard/play hard culture of Gen X. A lifestyle made cool by Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen in Wall Street set in New York – the city that “never sleeps”. It wasn’t always like that.

In the preceding centuries, the night was a place populated by people of disrepute – criminals, prostitutes and drunks. So we stayed home, and enjoyed two sleeps spanning 14 hours, waking for a couple of hours in between. This time was used to pray, meditate on dreams. It was only as we became increasingly time-conscious and sensitive to efficiency that we started sleeping in one consolidated block. Today, in the United States, 250,000 drivers fall asleep at the wheel every day, according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School resulting in 100,000 crashes.

So how can innovation help us get better sleep?

Sprayable Sleep is a spray can which emulates the body’s natural melatonin production, bypassing the digestive system and making the application more natural than taking the chemical in pill form. Hush earplugs send you to sleep with soothing sounds by masking unwanted sound up to 70 dB with more pleasant, soothing noises. A small speaker driver in each earplug plays locally-stored noise, masking sounds for up to 10 hours.

There are many sleep tracking smartphone apps, wearables and sleep mats that give you data on your sleep patterns. Nintendo has filed patents in this space which indicate hardware that will project your sleep patterns on the wall next to your bed as you wake up. Quantifying your sleep isn’t a solution to serious sleepy time issues. If we want to innovate and truly change they way we sleep we need to look further than the app store.

At Oxford University prof Russell Foster was granted £3m to investigate a new discovery called the sleep “switch”. The ventral lateral pre-optic nuclei is the on/off switch for the neural system that keeps us awake. The research raises the possibility of developing a drug to allow our bodies to ignore the light/dark cycle. This could help with jet lag, insomnia – even depression and autism.

Recent innovative research has also shown that sleep deprivation might actually be a good thing. The Wellcome Trust-funded research which investigated the effects of sleep deprivation in a clinical setting. Subjects were shown film scenes containing traumatic content. They were then either sent home to get a full night’s sleep, or deprived of sleep in the laboratory. Scientists noted that those deprived of sleep experienced fewer bad memories of the films than those who got a good night’s sleep at home. The reason for this is that sleep reinforces neural pathways for memories that are powerful and important to us. So depriving a trauma sufferer a good night’s sleep can help disrupt these pathways being formed and consequently relieve the stress.

Sleep is a fundamental human process and it’s unlikely we’ll be able to meaningfully affect it any time soon. However lucid dreaming, the ability to be consciously aware while in a dream, is becoming a reality. Tech-infused sleep masks and head-bands are enabling users to cognitively influence their dreams.

Devices such as the RemeeNeurodreamer and Aurora play music and show light patterns while you’re in REM, the deepest stage of sleep. With practice and dedication, these companies claim that their devices will help you to achieve lucid dreaming. With this innovative technology the hope is that we will overcome recurring nightmares, expanding creative output and simply have fun.

If this is all a bit straight laced for you then turn to Lemmy, the Motorhead frontman who took so much speed he stayed up for two weeks. Or as he put it in their classic The Ace of Spades – “that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t wanna live forever”.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #276

by Laura Muldoon in News

Unilever confirm that positive social media mentions drive sales
Shawn O’Neal, VP-Global People Data and Marketing Analytics at Unilever has announced that recent findings have proved that social media buzz does really drive sales. O’Neal has said that these were enough to convince Unilever’s senior leadership about social media. He must be buzzin’.

Facebook offer new reassurances about ad-views
Some brands have had the barefaced cheek to question whether Facebook users actually see the ads they pay to promote to them. What’s that? You’d like something back for your investment? Well, Facebook has come back with two answers to this troubling trend. The first is that it will be working with Moat, a digital-measurement company to check how often advertisements are seen and the second is that it will now be offering a premium buying choice with an option to only pay for an ad when the entire unit appears on the user’s screen. This no doubt comes in response to big hitters like Unilever, Kellogg’s and WPP pushing for better standards in this area: “Three seconds—and 50 percent of video online not listened to with sound—is ludicrous,” said WPP Chief, Martin Sorrell while speaking at Dmexo in Cologne Germany last week.

Facebook continues its wooing of journalists by introducing Signal
Signal is a new platform created by Facebook to help journalists find trending and emerging stories and content from Facebook and Instagram. The aim is to place Facebook at the heart of the news gathering process by giving journalists access to trends, photos and videos from Facebook. Facebook is striving to do the same thing it does everyday… TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD (become a number one source for news, without users even having to leave the site).

Signal appears to have taken some look and function inspiration from applications like TweetdeckSignal appears to have taken some look and function inspiration from applications like Tweetdeck

Facebook At Work is coming
Facebook’s internal collaboration tool for companies, Facebook At Work, is coming to the end of its closed beta testing period and is likely to be launched by the end of this year. The interoffice networking product is exactly the same as regular Facebook but intended for communicating at work between colleagues *pokes Colin in Finance*. It is already being tested by 100 companies and has been in use at Facebook HQ for years. Once Facebook At Work is fully live, it will be in direct competition with Slack and Microsoft’s Yammer, with one of its main advantages being that of course, everyone (even nans now, amirite?!) already knows how to use Facebook.


The world keenly awaits details of Facebook’s new ‘dislike’ button
Following Mark Zuckerberg announcing last week that Facebook is working on a ‘dislike’ button, the digital advertising world has begun guessing with gusto as to how it might actually work when it finally comes to fruition. Our Global MD, Robin Grant said:

Mark Zuckerberg has been explicit that he doesn’t want Facebook to turn into a platform for voting on posts, so a ‘dislike’ button may not appear on every post. It seems to be primarily intended for people to express empathy for a ‘sad’ post where a ‘like’ would not be not appropriate – it’s too early to see how it’ll impact brands’ use of the platform.

Twitter works with payment startup Stripe to open up ‘Buy’ buttons to all
Stripe is a San Francisco based startup who has just introduced a new product called Relay which allows retailers to sell their products within third-party apps that use Stripe, including Twitter. Although Stripe has supported Twitter’s ‘Buy’ buttons since they began to roll out last year, as of last Monday the option is now open to anyone. So on that note, I’ve got one dignity going very, VERY cheap if anyone wants it?

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 16.06.07

No takers? Well if buying on Twitter doesn’t float your boat, how about donating to your favourite political candidate? Twitter has partnered with Square Inc., a mobile payment company to enable candidates to collect donations through tweets. It hasn’t hit the UK political circuit yet but I’m sure that when it does, hopefully they won’t make a pig’s mouth of it! Sorry, pig’s ear I meant, ear.

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Snapchat introduces its first in-app purchase & new lenses feature
Up until now Snapchat has only been making money from selling ads. That’s all changed as it has now introduced an option where people can buy three extra Replays of Snaps they’ve already watched for $0.99.


It’s also introducing lenses which can alter selfies using facial recognition software to make them vomit rainbows (among other things) – stop press! The company has said they’ll remove and add one lense every day to keep the crazy snap chat kids coming back for more (and hopefully replaying them)!

Snapchat - Vom the rainbowSnapchat – Vom the rainbow

Pinterest celebrates 100,000,000 monthly active Pinners
Since its birth in 2010, Pinterest has fast become the must visit platform for creativity and has now reached a milestone of 100,000,000 monthly active users. From Swiss beekeepers, to Canadian Landscapers and all – the mummies planning a new eco-nursery for their darling little Horatios – in-between, it can’t be said its user bank isn’t varied.

Coca-Cola become first brand to have its own emoji
Twitter has capitalised on the huge emoji trend right now by creating a custom one which appears when people tweet the hashtag #ShareACoke. Coca-Cola has also brought Vine stars like Ethan Dolan, his brother Grayson and Hayes Grier to spread the new emoji love to users. Twitter’s senior director of brand strategy Ross Hoffman said the social network chose Coca-Cola to test with as it was a “perfect opportunity to work with a nimble and smart marketer to make this happen”.

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Nescafé ditches traditional websites for Tumblr
Hats off to Nescafé! Already Nestlé’s top-performing brand on social media, it’s now made the decision to move both its global and local sites to micro-blogging site Tumblr. Regarding the move aimed at Millennial consumers using tablets and mobile phones, Michael Chrisment, Global Head Of Integrated Marketing has said: “A key point is accessibility. In this world mobile goes first, and really the website is truly optimised for mobile smart phones and tablets”. Nescafé claim the move will make it easier to integrate user-generated content. At this stage, I’m not sure whether that includes this jittery blog post written after my perfectly balanced, nothing to worry about, five coffees for lunch.

Nutella jar personalisation campaign goes s&!t
When Nutella launched a campaign letting users personalise their own labels, did they think it would end up panning out like this? Probably. They asked users to share their labels on social media using the hashtag #mynutella and share their labels on social media using #mynutella they did. Here are some of our favourites:


Hack Attack: Get Me to the Game

by Tom Ollerton in News

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 09.32.12

The Rugby World Cup has come to the UK. Finally. You don’t want to miss a minute of it. But your meeting has run late and you only have 20 minutes to get to a TV screen to watch the game. You’re hours from home and you don’t know where the closest pub is. WTF do you do?

This is the kind of first world problem thousands of us in the UK will be facing over the next few weeks. Or will we? Here at We Are Social we set out to help solve this with a hack day.

Hold on – what is a hack day?
Well, according to Wikipedia:

A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development and hardware development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects. Hackathons typically last between a day and a week. Some hackathons are intended simply for educational or social purposes, although in many cases the goal is to create usable software.

Why do we hack?
The reason we do a monthly hack day is to experiment with applying social thinking to creative tech – educating ourselves, our clients and the industry while having fun and pushing ourselves.

How does it work?
The dev, creative, design teams get in a room for a day and work on a brief. It has to be completed by the time everyone goes home – or else. On this hack we partnered with three creative undergraduates from Ravensbourne college who added some brilliant outside perspective to the problem we were looking to solve.

What was that problem?
You’ve been busy at work all day and you look up at the clock and you realise that the next Rugby World Cup game is starting soon. You don’t know which pubs you and all your mates can get to before kick off.

What was our solution?
#GetMeToTheGame is a hack that plots a route to all of the pubs in the UK you can get to in time BEFORE the next RWC game starts by public transport. Once you’ve chosen a pub, you can share the location with your buddies and they can plot their route too.

How does it work? (Technically)
When you land on the app and click “get my location”, we use HTML5 Geolocation in order to get your coordinates. Then, we take advantage of the Google Maps JavaScript SDK including the Places Library to find “pub” venues that are within the reach of your location, taking into account the time left until the next game.

When you choose a pub as your destination and click “Invite your friends”, an Ajax request is sent to the server, and a meeting is created with all the relative information (initial user location and and selected pub). We used MongoDB for the data storage, which is ideal for quick hacks as it doesn’t require you to set a database schema, you just store the data and that’s it. A unique link is then created that you can tweet, and through this link, invited users can follow a similar process, but with their meeting already set to the one they’ve been invited to.

Wins and Losses
We’re pretty pleased with what we managed to do in one day, and what we learnt as a result, but the app would need more development to be really useful. The crucial bit that’s missing is that we don’t know which pubs are actually showing the games. Google doesn’t have this information and there’s not a source online (we could find) that tells us this. If we were going to do a V2 of this we’d have to find out which pubs were showing the match.

What you need to do now
#GetMeToTheGame will be live for the duration of the the RWC. Please remember this was built in one day in a mad rush so it’s not perfect and may have some bugs. Please be patient with it and realise it is purely an experiment. But enjoy experimenting, and hopefully we’ll help you get to a pub, with a pint in your hand ready for kick off!

Live tweeting lessons from the catwalk

by Sarah Hecks in News

Campaign recently published this article by me about live-tweeting lessons from fashion brands in the run up to London Fashion Week. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it below.


With its captivating mix of striking visuals and a new must-have trend each season – not to mention that oh-so-important sexiness – fashion lends itself particularly well to Twitter. So well in fact, that 47 per cent of fashion mavens have bought from a brand as a direct result of following them. This means competition for attention on people’s newsfeeds is fierce.

The social media platform has also revolutionised Fashion Week, taking it out of the magazines and into our feeds, delivering the action in real-time. Today, you can see designers’ latest collections the moment they hit the catwalk, without even being anywhere near the front row.

So how do you garner some serious cut-through in an already-crowded space? Bringing the right content to the right people at the right time requires careful planning, social know-how and more than a few tricks up next season’s sleeve. We take a look at the past Twitter catwalks of some of the world’s biggest haute heavyweights for some social know-how on how to capitalise on live event opportunities.

Build excitement
Live-tweeting begins long before the day. You need to ensure people are aware of the ongoings and drum up excitement beforehand. Fashion designer Matthew Williamson boosted visibility of his AW14 show by activating a follow and retweet competition with offering a pair of tickets to the event.


If you can’t give tickets away to your event, releasing a series of teaser assets (e.g. giving a glimpse of hero looks) is a great way to bolster interest.

Give followers the inside scoop
Offer exclusive content and you give users a reason to follow and to share. For its AW13 collection, Topshop collaborated with technology platform Chirp to give consumers behind-the-scenes access to the collection. Users were sent a digital image they could tap on, to reveal usually unseen aspects of the show – including images of the pattern rooms, and first-look photos of the collection. Giving users a backstage pass to your brand increases your social footprint and will help to grow advocates for next season.

Interact with your audience
Engaging with your audience is key to any live event. Burberry took audience interaction to new levels at their AW15 show when they introduced #TweetCam.

The fashion house allowed Twitter users to control cameras on the catwalks, and receive personalised images of the trends as they hit the runway. You may not be able to interact at the same scale as Burberry, but you can look out for questions to answer, positive comments to respond to and negative feedback to address. Monitoring tweets can get overwhelming, so it’s good to remember, it’s not just about monitoring – it’s about monitoring the right conversations. Involve influencers Influencers are vital in your live-tweeting arsenal. For New York Fashion Week AW15, Twitter gathered 50 editors, writers, celebrities and bloggers to share their experiences of the week using #fashionflock.

The hashtag was trending in no time, and the initiative was so successful, it is being run at NYFW SS16 this week, showing the impact that influencers can have on increasing visibility of your event. When looking for an influencer, look for people who only post sponsored content occasionally, as they tend to be more trusted and appear more authentic, so choose carefully.

And squeeze…
Just because your event has ended, doesn’t mean the social buzz has to. In the follow-up from LFW AW15, we saw New Look sharing videos of street looks, ASOS showcasing make-up looks, and of course there were bags aplenty in the tweets coming from Mulberry HQ. Even before the event has happened, come up with a narrative framework for post-event coverage, to ensure you are banking the right assets during the event and to keep your brand’s storytelling going long after it has finished.

Hello Play! picks up a Silver Clio Award

by Sandrine Plasseraud in News Google+

It’s often said in the industry that winning one big award is a good omen that you will soon pick up a few more. So, after our fantastic double Cannes Lions win earlier this year for Hello Play!, created in collaboration with Hello bank!, we were hopeful this would be the case for us.

Yesterday, we were delighted that this indeed did happen, when we were awarded a Silver CLIO Music Award for Hello Play! in Digital – Social / Brand – Website. For those not aware of Hello Play!, it’s a simple idea. It allows Hello Bank!’s customers and non-customers alike to fund music projects, helping support the future of the music they love.

hello play

This new award helps to continue recognising the brilliant collective work of our team and the forward-thinking nature of our friends at the BNP Paribas-owned Hello Bank!. It rewards the determination, insight and strategic vision that went into this project.

Hello Play! has not only stood the test of time during the awards season, it’s also still running as a service. So far Hello Play! has helped over 85 music projects into fruition, and we hope there will be many more to come!