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We have 10 offices across 5 continents and help brands like adidas, Beats by Dre, Tesco, Mondelēz, Intel, Heinz, Expedia, Netflix and HSBC.
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.

Brands: Sign up for our Social Smackdown

by Sophie Fitzgerald in News

After delivering a series of impressive blows at our seventh Social Media Smackdown in May (take a look at the video above for a taster of how it went down), it’s time to welcome back our social media southpaws and brawlers.

This time we’ll see Unilever and Sony sparring with their best social campaigns from the last year, in front of a brand-only audience. If this wasn’t enough, We Are Social Creative Head Nick Hearne will be showing our audience how to unlock their inner creative heavyweight champion of the (social) world.

If you fancy coming along to watch the action unfold, here’s how it works. Each speaker will give a punchy ten minute presentation, where they will reveal the challenges they faced and solutions they responded with during some of their best recent campaigns. This will be followed by three intimate roundtable discussions, giving the audience a chance to ask the presenters questions about their work and their wider social media strategies.

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The next Smackdown will take place on Wednesday 2nd September at We Are Social’s London HQ in Clerkenwell, with the first round commencing at 8:30am sharp. Arrive at 8:15am to fuel up with hipster coffee and breakfast butties.

If you work for a brand and would like to come along then please sign up here or email me and I’ll sort you out with a ticket.

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We look forward to seeing you ringside!

The innovation of money

by Tom Ollerton in News

The Drum recently published this article by myself and Alastair Cole about how tech is redefining value, from biometric payments to cryptocurrency. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below.

The Innovation Ramble podcast investigates the world of innovation one subject at a time. Today we’ll focus on money, inspired by the recent UK launch of Apple Pay, amidst a flurry of excitement, and a few warnings – not least those from Transport for London. Paying with a wearable may be a growing global trend – but any guesses what the oldest form of world currency is?

Well, it’s not cash. Nor is it the snails traded by the people of Paraguay. Or the butter exchanged by Norwegians, or the deer hides used by early U.S. colonists – the origin of the modern term ‘bucks’ for dollars. The correct answer is the cow.

Humans have been trading cattle since 9000 B.C., and they were still used as money in parts of Africa until the middle of the 20th century. Unsurprisingly, when the first bronze coins emerged in around 2000 B.C., they were cow-shaped.

One of the greatest marketing innovations in money was the practice of rulers putting their faces on it. One sure fire way of telling the populus that you were the man in charge was to whack your mug on the moolah. Julius Caesar was the first to do this, ensuring that his grimacing face was staring up at you when you were paying for a new toga.

Money and power have been inseparable and amusingly so in the post-war period when the people of Germany fell in love with American chicken. The local birds weren’t cutting it and they were imported in a such huge amounts that the local chicken peddlers took umbrage. They forced the German government to slap a large levey on Uncle Sam’s foul and regained control of the trade. The US were annoyed about this and looked for the nearest German import to take this out on. At the time VWs were everywhere and so the government slapped on a 25 per cent chicken tax on to all foreign vans being imported. This tax froze out foreign vans and still stands today.

Fast forward to today and the use of technology to liberate our lucre from us in myriad new ways is gathering momentum. Barclaycard has just launched bPay into the UK – allowing users a choice of a wearable wristband, sticker or fob with which to touch-and-pay for goods up to £20 in price. The big plus for the consumers is that you don’t even need to bank with Barclays. Instead all you need to do is transfer money from any Visa/MasterCard debit or UK credit card.

Barclays is comfortable being at the forefront of the transactions but PayPal has created an innovative security system – a password you can eat. It comes in pill form that dissolves in your stomach, recognises your unique chemical identity and emits a signal that unlocks your PayPal account. Gulp. Chemical identification is just one of a number of new biometric methods being explored in the search for better security and payment processes. According to Dr Windsor Holden, head of consultancy and forecasting at Juniper Research, “The role of biometrics in payments is likely to be critical [in the future take-up of mobile payments].

Biometric verifiers are already on the scene. The Nymi wristband authenticates wearers using their heartbeat. Based on unique EKG readings, the wristband offers continuous proximity-based identity verification. It is also tied to MasterCard to enable wearable tech payment for users. Another method is finger vein recognition. It’s similar to the fingerprint sensors used in iPhone and Samsung devices, only much more accurate. A Chinese food chain is using facial recognition to let you pay with your face and Alibaba have a product in beta called Smile To Pay.

Money laundering has taken on a whole new form with washing detergent being used in the US as currency. The largest bottles of Tide are commonly recognised as a superior product with a fixed financial value. This means that Tide is now being traded for drugs. If a user can’t get the money together then they can steal a bottle of Tide and use this to pay for their hit. The dealers know that the Tide has a recognised value ascribed to it and acts a currency and it’s clean too (ouch) because Tide bottles, unlike notes, are untraceable.

No article on innovation in money would be complete without mentioning cryptocurrency and there’s no space here to explain how bitcoin works. But much like Tide, salt, stones or many of the other weird things we’ve used to represent value; users of Bitcoin agree on its worth due to the transparent technology it is built on. And because it’s all open source, anyone can create their own currency using the technology it’s built on. Rather amusingly, DogeCoin was at one time more heavily traded than Bitcoin itself. Citibank are taking this innovation seriously and are experimenting on their own Citicoin. Finally, there is SolarCoin which you can earn by installing solar panels on your roof.

The original invention of money allowed people to ascribe value in abstract. A credit note said that a certain person was good for the money. And now with the innovation of financial biometrics the journey of money has come full circle. Our physical beings are once again a test of our personal value.

The Virtual Reality Gold Rush: Part Three

by Don Anderson in News

In this final instalment of our three-part series, We Are Social’s Managing Director in Singapore, Don Anderson, looks at the future of virtual reality and live events, journalism, social sharing and, dare we say it, porn.

Forecasts vary when it comes to the potential annual revenue from the consumer virtual reality industry. Some estimates top US$5.2 billion per year by 2018 off the back of device and software sales, with much of the growth occurring among the kids, tween and teen segments.

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From education through to medicine, the applications for this technology are seemingly endless.

In medicine, virtual reality may allow for the treatment for specific phobias – letting someone stand on a ledge to combat a fear of heights or getting on a plane to combat a fear of flying.

It has the potential to change the traditional TV experience, particularly live events from sports, content and general entertainment.

Earlier this year, Los Angeles-based VR production company VRSE teamed with NBC Universal to allow viewers to ‘sit’ with the studio audience for Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary. The segments are made available through the company’s mobile apps and an interactive 3D version is available through YouTube.

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Software company Jaunt teamed up with Paul McCartney last year to launch a mobile app that put the viewer front and centre at the musician’s Candlestick Park concert in San Francisco. They also produced an Android VR app experience with former White Stripes frontman Jack White that captures three different performances.

VRSE has also partnered with Vice News and director Spike Jonze to film the Millions March protests in New York in December 2014. The segment takes you deep inside the event, walking you through the crowds that gathered on the streets of New York City. Many suggest this is a demonstration of the future of journalism as it creates an entirely new approach to coordinating around and communicating major events – surely something that brands should take note of.

“Frankly, journalistic storytelling and brand storytelling if done well are one and the same. Good branded content should be of value, interesting and entertaining to the audience that it’s intended for”, said Alex Light, Head of Content for Vice Australia, during a recent Singapore visit.

“It allows you to experience the narrative more first hand. It can really add a level of richness and depth to that story that traditional linear video doesn’t.”

Not surprisingly, the US Air Force is also using VR for recruitment, where candidates can fly an F-35 through an obstacle course.

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In January, Qantas launched a trial VR entertainment services for their first class passengers that provide virtual tours of select destinations, although the safety of this approach is somewhat questionable. British Airways has also offered its own take on virtual travel experiences.

And to no one’s surprise, the most widely anticipated application is expected to occur in the porn industry, which has already seen an initial wave of experimentation and device integration. In Japan, where VR pornography is already an established business, Japanese developers recently produced a fake pair of breasts fitted with pressure sensors that connect to an Oculus Rift.

And it also comes as no surprise that global searches for ‘virtual reality porn’ have increased substantially in the last six months, with a major spike in January.

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Global searches for ‘virtual reality porn’ are exploding.

The eventual destination for VR will most certainly be a hyper-experiential world, where as Douglas Trumbull’s Brainstorm foreshadowed we will be able to share complete experiences among friends, relatives and strangers. The combination of Facebook and Oculus Rift makes this an inevitable conclusion.

Mark Zuckerberg first alluded to this when the company purchased Oculus, suggesting it would be part of a new phase of experiential social sharing. In February, Facebook announced that it is moving forward with the concept and developing social applications for Oculus Rift.

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As we brace for a society filled with people equipped with box-shaped devices strapped to their heads, is this really the best thing for communications? Putting aside Hollywood’s own paranoia-inducing productions, are we prepared for the likely adverse outcomes from mass adoption, including the potential for addiction and related disorders?

The VR ‘gold rush’ will undoubtedly stir further debate around real world versus virtual experiences. While there is room for both, it is the responsibility of those involved in promoting the adoption of these new technologies and related content to ensure that everyone, particularly our children, recognise the difference.

The 5Ws of a great social command centre

by Cristina Forlani in News

Marketing Magazine recently published this article by me explaining what makes a great social command centreThey’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below.

Do you believe in the power of real-time data and insights? Yes? Then you’ve probably already heard about the concept of the social media command centre, a real-time data solution that major brands all around the world including Netflix, Kia Motors, Reebok, Gatorade, Dell, MasterCard, eBay, NAB and many others use for monitoring conversations and campaign performance in real-time across social media.

Is it all about charts and numbers and other geek stuff? No. Well, it could cause some tech-envy as it often involves banks of shiny, large monitors, but the main focus is streaming social media data and conversations (from social and traditional media) directly to screens within an organisation in order to continually map the situation and be ready to react quickly.

This is exactly what Netflix recently did for the launch of the service in Australia and New Zealand: during the event hosted in Sydney in March, the social media team joined and leveraged organic conversations online, creating bespoke content in real time based off the monitoring of trending conversations and hashtags, to surprise and delight the community.

What is it then that brands like Netflix, Kia Motors and Reebok can teach us about the power of real time marketing? Each of these brands have successfully established and leveraged the insights provided by a social media command centre.

So before asking yourself if your company needs one, here are the 5Ws for a successful social media command centre:

1. What kind of metrics should be included in a Social Command Centre? 
In general terms, brands should be looking at metrics like share of voice, demographic and geographical data, sentiment, trending topics and information. Other metrics may be added based on what is relevant to your business and industry at that moment (e.g. if you, or your competitors are running a specific campaign), and any other specific brand objectives for your social media activities (e.g. to drive traffic to the e-commerce, to track the sentiment about a specific issue, etc).

2. Where should it be hosted? 
This is really up to you. You can host it at a dedicated physical space at your place of business where monitors can be accessed by your entire team. You can also access an off-site (e.g. a partner agency or campaign headquarters) command centre via a desktop or mobile app, creating a ‘virtual’ room people can join and personalise according to their needs. Either way, the key is to make the data accessible in real-time to all those staff and other stakeholders who may need it.

3. Who is it for? 
Social media command centre information can be useful to many departments within an organisation. Staff involved in analysing online conversations, campaign and content strategists, content and community managers, content designers, customer care specialists and anyone with an interest in real-time consumer information can benefit from access to this data.

Multiple stakeholders across an organisation can be provided access to this information, for example, brand managers can personalise their data set in order to focus on specific brands, while the CEO and CMO can draw valuable real-time insights about business announcements, product performance and other relevant business activities.

4. When to monitor conversations? 
24/7 should be enough! Real-time monitoring of what people say about your brand allows key staff to respond quickly when needed, i.e. providing real-time customer support and addressing problems before they escalate.

Obviously you don’t need to have your staff working every single hour of the week, but it is important that automated software keep on monitoring what happens in the social web, even when you’re not there. Automation allows the capture of data and information that can be analysed as and when needed.

5. Why does your business need one? 
Real-time awareness is valuable. Knowing how people talk about your brand, your competitors and related relevant topics is fundamental to staying connected to the market and getting closer to your customers. Also, monitoring what’s hot in the social web will help your brand to tap into organic conversations occurring around a specific topic or event, allowing you to join the flow of spontaneous interactions that are taking place on the biggest social networks.

Reality Check 
Collecting data on fancy monitors is nothing if companies don’t have processes in place that lead them to take actions based on those insights. Real-time insights can help inform business strategy and potentially help prevent crises by addressing issues and complaints. Real-time data also helps businesses develop stronger customer relations by anticipating, understanding and responding to customer needs.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #271

by Laura Muldoon in News

The YouTube versus Facebook video debate continues
Although Facebook is fast becoming a real rival to YouTube with its video offering, a debate has started around which metric is most useful to brands when measuring effectiveness on both platforms. Facebook places emphasis on ‘views’, which are logged after three seconds of watching, a strategy which has seen their results publicly scrutinised. YouTube on the other hand thinks ‘watch time’ is where it’s at.

Facebook lets users respond privately to local-awareness ads
In a move that pushes Facebook further into the direct response channel realm, a local-awareness ad service has been introduced that lets users message businesses directly with customer service queries. Businesses that respond quickly to users’ rants and raves will also get a public badge rating them as ‘highly responsive’.

Facebook adds live streaming – but it’s not for you
Unless you’re reading this Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson *waves*. A live streaming service has been introduced on Facebook but at this stage it’s ring-fenced just for the famous. Facebook has not commented on whether it will eventually be rolled out for brands or us, the lowly non-famous.

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Facebook launches new live event stream with Lollapalooza
For the first time fans are able to virtually attend a festival via Facebook, through its Place Tips feature. The stream was debuted for Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival; content was a culmination of user images and updates from performers at the event. Flat beer and endless toilet queues, not included.

Instagram finally switches on its money jets (advertising API)
Following what has been described as “one of the most anticipated moments in the evolution of advertising”, marketers will be able to advertise on Instagram just as they do on Facebook and Twitter. Now brands can sidestep phone calls with Instagram sales reps and instead self-serve ads with third-party platforms.

Twitter to roll out ‘breaking news’ tab
Twitter wants to get serious about news. How serious? Making a new tab serious, that’s how serious! When you click the tab, you’ll see curated top stories from major news publishers like The New York Times and CBS. It’s unconfirmed when this feature will be fully rolled out, so watch this space.

LinkedIn proves itself further for B2B advertising
It has been announced that LinkedIn’s native Sponsored Updates has accounted for 45% of its ad revenue in the second quarter of this year. This is a result of the platform’s move away from supplying traffic to third-party publishers and instead becoming a publishing platform in its own right.

Social Selling Index helps LinkedIn users measure personal brand health
Sales professionals on LinkedIn, or anyone else interested in ‘social selling’, will now be able identify key areas for improvement using its new Social Selling Index, which rates users out of 100 based on four categories. I won’t tell you what they are here but will reveal that none of them are based on how dashing you look in your profile picture.

Republican presidential hopefuls’ social media offerings
Behind every self-respecting politician nowadays is a social media-savvy twentysomething with a smart phone and a Vine account. Ad Age has kindly compiled a look at the best, or the worst (I just can’t tell anymore) of the Republican presidential candidates’ new media attempts. #DontMessWithTheInternet

Very.co.uk creates shoppable YouTube ad
The problem with doing a cover of ‘Summertime’ by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith set in England is that you actually have to shoot a video with some sun in it. Although Very.co.uk can’t offer that to viewers, it has given the option of buying everything you see in this peppy re-hash by Rizzle Kicks, one of the UK’s first shoppable YouTube ads. An aged Jazzy Jeff is unfortunately not for sale, I’ve looked.

Tube drivers strike, brands run a good service on all platforms
Londoners – did you arrive three hours late for work last week during the tube strikes, but then take a look at some of these tweets and feel much better? I know I did. Here are some of the Tube Strike social media brand best bits.

Nine tweets that made #NationalUnderwearDay weirder
To end my inaugural mash-up, it was National Underwear Day last week, I know! Did you not celebrate? Brands like Calvin Klein and Spanx also didn’t but luckily for us Justin Bieber’s package gets re-aired virtually by Vevo and two Postman Pats encourage you to ‘keep it clean’. Here are some of the best, but for a post mash-up treat, search Lenny Kravitz on Twitter to see how he (unofficially) celebrated. You’re welcome.