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 launches in San Francisco

by Leila Thabet in News

As you might have heard in Adweek or MediaPost, we’re delighted to announce that We Are Social is officially open for business in San Francisco!

We’ve been overwhelmed by the success we’ve experienced since we opened in the US in 2012; we now have 50 people in our New York office, with no sign of this growth slowing down as we continue to win more great briefs from fantastic clients.

The launch of We Are Social in San Francisco rounds out our US offering and responds to the increasing demand we’ve experienced for our services amongst West Coast based clients. And of course we’re proud to be following in the footsteps of the social media heavyweights who already call The Bay Area home – you know, companies like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest.

I‘m also pleased to announce that Old Navy has appointed our team in San Francisco to manage their social media engagement across the US.

Team San Fran

It’s a new chapter in the story of We Are Social; San Francisco marks our 9th international office, further strengthening our global network. We now have a team of over 500 people across five continents, just over six years after We Are Social launched. This amazing growth just goes to show how our mission to put social thinking at the heart of our clients’ marketing strategies resonates with brands all over the world.

And if that’s not enough to tempt you to say hello, then perhaps the newest member of our team in San Francisco might sway you – G, our office dog.

Pop in and say hello, or drop us an email anytime. We’re looking forward to making a lot of new friends in the West Coast as we bring our passion for social media and for doing the best work for our clients to an even wider audience.

Facebook: life after organic reach

by Nicki Page in News

The Wall recently published this article by me about Facebook’s declining organic reach. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below. 

Over the past year the decline in Facebook’s organic reach has been a key discussion point for social media marketers, and has affected the content strategies of brands using the platform.

Instead of targeting fans of a community with a high volume of organic content, brands have started creating content specifically designed to be supported with paid media. A brand’s success on Facebook used to be, in part, measured by its page – the number of likes, the number of engaged fans and so on. Facebook marketing revolved around growing and engaging with its fanbase.

However, enlightened brands are now focusing on paid media strategies that reach consumers in their newsfeeds even if they’re not fans. Facebook – now a far more established advertising platform than it was a year ago – is ‘encouraging’ this behaviour with continuing cuts to organic reach.

With brand pages becoming less important in social media marketing strategies, we are seeing a slow but significant shift in brands’ Facebook use; brand content led from paid posts, or even dark posts (advertised posts that don’t appear on the community page itself). This means a decline in apps, updates that encourage social interactions i.e ‘like this post’, and community focused content.

Facebook has been heading down this path for a while, and it’s now even more crucial than ever for marketers to understand how this affects their Facebook marketing strategies. What it does mean, is that Facebook is no longer a free ride – as with any advertising, brands need to be prepared to pay to get results.

What it doesn’t mean, however, is that marketers can rely only on paid media for success on Facebook. Quality content is more important than ever. A really killer piece of creative can both capture the limited organic reach that is still available, and amplify the effectiveness of the media spend behind it. A great idea with the right strategic support will generate better results than poor content with a bigger investment.

With 1.2 billion users on the platform, there is no arguing that Facebook is a great place to target users with relevant, branded content. And at present, really strong creative or organic newsfeed competitions that incentivise fans with small relevant prizes (or even, just for fun), can still see a solid uplift in organic reach and interactions.

But with these opportunities becoming more and more rare, now is the time for brands to get serious about investing in social, balancing strong creative with a solid paid media strategy.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #244

by Nick Mulligan in News

Facebook not suffering from other networks’ growth
US adults are using more and more social networks, but not at Facebook’s expense, despite what some reports have suggested. The Pew Research Center found that 71% of internet users surveyed were on Facebook, the same as in 2013, and 70% said they used the platform each day, up from 63% in 2013. LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter all saw growth, as you can see from this lovely graph.

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Marketers upping social spend
Salesforce’s latest ‘State of Marketing’ report spells good news for social media. Of all marketers surveyed, 70% plan to increase their organic social/content marketing budgets, and 70% are also upping their social ad spend. You can have a look at the rest of the stats here.

WhatsApp’s user base is growing
WhatsApp is going from strength to strength, with 700 million users sending 30bn messages every day. I’ve only sent one today, to ask my housemates what they’d like for dinner. I’ll keep you posted with any updates on that thrilling tale.

Facebook Messenger use increases rapidly
ComScore has released its US mobile app report for November 2014, which shows strong year-on-year growth for Facebook’s Messenger app. Facebook’s core app was used by 69% of all smartphone users, compared with 76.2% the year before, while Messenger had increased in the same timeframe from 22.1% to 43.1%. Now, you statisticians will know that correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it could well be that splitting the app in two has been good for Messenger, and not so great for the main app.

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More video content on Facebook
If you needed more evidence that Facebook is becoming a more video-heavy platform, you’ll love the next sentence. Globally, users are now posting 75% more videos on Facebook than one year ago – in the US, it’s up 94% – and 360% more videos are appearing in users’ feeds.

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Facebook buys QuickFire Networks and Wit.ai
Facebook made two acquisitions last week. The first, QuickFire Networks, developed a software platform for reducing video files sizes and upload times, while the second, Wit.ai, has built an API for building voice-activated interfaces. The former is described as a ‘Pied Piper’ of video, presumably due to its colourful cloak and ability to charm rats and children with its music. You can see how the latter works below.

wit-ai-voice

Twitter is launching autoplay
Twitter is set to release autoplay video, with a distinctly ‘Twitter’ spin. Brands will have a six-second preview (which can be any part of the video) to entice a user to click, at which point sound will start and advertisers will have to pay. Here is a picture of a play button surrounded by Twitter logos, to help us all visualise what’s happening.

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Twitter to sell ads on other sites
Twitter has laid out plans to make money from tweets seen across the web, outside of the network itself. It is to start selling ads within streams of tweets displayed on apps and sites of other companies.

Advertising on Snapchat
A recent survey has suggested that Snapchat users are okay with ads on the network – 60% of respondents said that they enjoy ‘Our Story’ ads and 44% were happy with ‘brand stories’. Some might say that the Snapchat-commissioned study could be accused of bias, but not us. In fact, here’s an article on some of the best ads on Snapchat so far. They include Universal’s promotion for films ‘Ouija’ and ‘Dumb and Dumber To’, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and Samsung at the American Music Awards.

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LinkedIn gives access to its publishing platform
LinkedIn has opened its publishing platform, previously available to brands and influencers, to 230 million of its users. The only stipulation is that you have to live in an English-speaking country (desolé).

Coca Cola wants to trademark hashtags
Coca Cola is attempting to trademark two hashtags, #cokecanpics and #smilewithacoke. The move raises a number of interesting questions about the legal status of social media content, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on it.

Under Armour creates its own social platform
Under Armour has created a new piece of ‘health-tracking software’, called UA Record. The platform, which the brand describes as a “social network for activity”, pairs with a number of wearable devices.

Nike+ sends personalised clips to users
Nike has created 100,000 personalised animations, each under the banner of ‘Your year with Nike+’. Every Nike+ user is sent their own clip, created with data including location, weather and training information.

Sainsbury’s includes bloggers in ads
UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has recruited two food bloggers to star in its latest TV ads. Barry Lewis and Becky Wiggins feature in the ads, which feature in the campaign “Love Your Freezer”. We’re sure it’s purely Platonic.

Social media at the Golden Globes
Awards season really got going yesterday with the Golden Globes – as you can imagine, social media was heavily involved. L’Oreal Paris recreated red carpet outfits using shoppable GIFs that were then posted to Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Meanwhile, Facebook and Instagram partnered with the event; the former had an exclusive booth on the red carpet, while the latter had access to backstage photographs taken by fashion photographer, Ellen von Unwerth.

Get beer delivered to your seat through Twitter
You can now get beer brought directly to your seat during a Miami Dolphins game, just by tweeting @beerme. A great system, even if it does include Bud Light Lime.

beerme-twitter

Virgin Trains saves passenger on Twitter
Word to the wise: if you’re going to get stuck on a train without loo roll, make sure it’s a Virgin train. The brand last week came to the aid of a passenger who tweeted them with something of a dilemma.

Groundbreaking or uninspiring? #CES2015

by Matthew Payne in News

Following last week’s 2015 International CES, we asked our Head of Creative Technology in London, Matthew Payne, to share his and his team’s thoughts on what stood out for them at this year’s event.

CES

Ridiculously large and unbelievably high definition screens – check. Drool worthy concept cars – check. More health trackers – check. Internet of Things – check. It is, of course, CES 2015.

I was unable to attend this year’s show, which in no way has left me bitter (honestly). However, I have been left unimpressed with some of the main releases and at the same time, quietly excited by other snippets that have been pushed to the side.

One the things I think should have got more attention was the Compute Stick from Intel. Released for either PC or Linux with varying RAM and Flash Storage amounts, these little computers, no bigger than a stick of gum, have high potential in my eyes. Imagine a hot desking office where you just carry your stick around and plug it into any monitor – love it. Whilst still in their infancy, I’ll be keeping a close eye on their development and will obviously try and buy one without my wife knowing I have bought yet another computer. At least this one should be easy to hide.

Elsewhere we’ve seen even more Virtual Reality headsets, in what is becoming a saturated market for the hardware devices. Developers and startups working to make experiences for VR are the current heroes, rather than the people making yet another headset. We need more innovators in the software now, rather than just focusing on the hardware. The social aspect of what Virtually Reality can offer us is exciting for all. Brendan Iribe, Oculus’s Chief Executive, has said that they want to put 1 billion people into a virtual world. This is the aim and attitude that excites me more than the hardware.

Our Creative Technology & Development team followed the event closely. Here, a number of them have shared what they think is exciting, useful or just annoying at, or about, CES 2015. Oh, and Tom our Marketing Director wanted to get in on the action too.

Chris Applegate, Lead Creative Technologist

Peak wearable
2015’s CES has shown we’re approaching peak wearable. Nearly everyone at CES had a smartwatch out, and everyone else has something that in some way attaches to your body and does interesting stuff before the battery runs out.

Wearables, however, at the moment seem to be fixated around the idea of surveillance. True, some of that can be useful – take AmpStrip, a heart monitor that fits inside a sticky plaster – something that if they get it cheap enough, I can see the medical profession taking up and using in the near future.

ampstrip

But for the home market and the casual user, this surveillance may be overkill, to the point of ridiculous. For example, a headset that measures your brainwaves and shares them via your smartphone; cycle shorts that measure how long you’ve been in the saddle and how much you’re sweating; or a belt that measures how fat you’re getting. Even kids can get in on the action – there’s a temperature-tracking smart dummy to give parents one more thing to fret about.

The overall impression is that with these new technologies, we’re not so much cyborgs as lab rats. The wearer is a subject to be studied rather than a user to serve. What can be measured can be managed, so the saying goes. But once the novelty is over, who is going to want to pore over reams of data on how often you loosened your belt? What do we really get out of it, apart from feeling guilty about that third slice of pie, or that bike ride we skipped?

Perhaps once the craze for measurement has been and gone, we can look at wearables that actually do things that are useful, or fun, that make our everyday lives more interesting or connected, just as the smartphone did. But first we need to stop being obsessed by measurement and start thinking more about experience.

Alberto Gomez, Developer

Thync’s enforced happiness
From all the products in CES 2015, there is one that stands out for me. It’s something you would imagine in a distant future sci-fi movie, not in a tradeshow in the present day. Thync mood enhancer claims it has the power to change your mood. It achieves that by “sending ultrasonic waveforms to signal patterns in the brain” (whatever that means – your guess is as good as mine).

The device can induce your mind to three different states: energy, focus and calm. I’m sure many people will be wary of a device like this; how the brain works is still a big mystery in science. Tricking our brain to be in a state it’s not supposed to be in might have unexpected consequences, although Thync does stress the technology is backed by scientific studies and it is totally safe to use.

The Thync applies low electrical current to the brain in order to alter the wearer's mood

It will be interesting to keep an eye on this form of “mind altering” technology. Perhaps in the future it will be developed to have a broader palette of emotions. It also raises all sorts of scientific and philosophical questions. Would an artificially induced happiness still be happiness?

Jaswinder Virdee, Developer

Enhancing the everyday  
For me, CES stands for what’s new and coming to the hands of the mass market soon. But for the past couple of years, the events have seen more and more concept products featured to get the attention of media outlets; this year’s item being the driverless car from Mercedes. That’s going into very few hands even in the next 50 years. At this stage I feel our focus shouldn’t always be on new products per se, but new behaviours and accessories to make what we do have better. So my top picks from CES aren’t ground breaking, but enhance the tedious aspects of everyday life.

Most of us use a music streaming service. But switching between devices is a hassle, particularly on Spotify because it doesn’t remember between mobile and desktop where you are (I know – first world problem, right?). But at CES, Philips debuted its Spotify speakers; simply press the Spotify button on the speaker in your hallway and the music instantly picks up right where you left off on your last device. Simple, clever.

phillips speakers

On the same day Google announced the launch of Cast for Audio, allowing Cast-ready speakers to pick up your music where you left off. Granted this is new hardware and should perhaps be first bridged with an adapter to clip onto existing hardware, similar to Chromecast as affordable accessory. I think this will be first and best step to the more connected home of tomorrow.

On another note, improving life subtlety outside the home, QNX debuted video side mirrors on a Maserati to aid viewing blind spots, literally giving you the green light to change lanes. If this could be attached to any car as an accessory it would another short jump for man into the future without having to buy entirely new products.

Beth Allchurch, Developer

Electronics capable 3D Printing
My stand-out product from CES comes from Voxel8, a start-up based in Massachusets, headed by Harvard professor and leading materials researcher Dr. Jennifer Lewis. At CES the company unveiled a printer, also called Voxel8, capable of printing in both PLA and conductive silver ink, allowing for the creation of 3D electronic devices with embedded circuitry.

The most immediate benefits will be in the area of electronics design. Embedded circuitry will give designers more freedom, as rather than choosing where to place circuit boards the circuits will be integrated into the design itself. Prototyping will become easier and faster as testing a design becomes a matter of simply printing it out.

Michael Molitch-Hou, founder of The Reality Institute, shared even grander visions in 3dprintingindustry.com:

Once people begin designing for the Voxel8 platform, the company will be able to push their technology even further – perhaps, to an industrial scale. In the long term, one can imagine industrial printers capable of printing objects with embedded electronics en masse. Leveraging Lewis’s bioprinting research, it’s also possible to see a medical-grade version of their machine used in laboratory settings to 3D print multiple types of cellular materials into a single, biological object.

voxl8

And of course, there’s the tantalizing prospect of being able to download, customize, and print electronic devices in your own home. Voxel8 has opened up a huge range of possibilities with this product, but the real excitement will come when electronics designers and developers begin pushing at the boundaries of what’s possible with the Voxel8 and its successors.

Tom Ollerton, Marketing Director

Social teeth cleaning
My CES highlight is The Grush Gaming Toothbrush. It’s a smart toothbrush that turns cleaning your teeth into a game via a smartphone app. The accelerometer in your toothbrush tells you where you’ve missed a bit, but it also allows you to play a Temple Run-type game as you brush. This is meant to be an incentive for kids to spend more time on their pearly whites whilst also being a social game for families. It might just work…

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The evolution of social in 2015

by Robin Grant in News Google+

We’re just a week into 2015 but, as is tradition for this time of year – no-one is focused on today. We’re all talking about what will be going on by the end of the year, or even beyond.

Of course, future gazing like this is important, particularly in the fast-moving world of social media. At the beginning of 2014, Facebook still had (some) organic reach and the term ‘vlogger’ wasn’t exactly commonplace. Over the year, instant messaging apps soared in popularity and image centric networks saw huge success.

In 2015 we’ll see many 2014’s trends develop, along with new ones. We’ll see a platform-led approach to social media become less important. Rather than Facebook and Twitter executions, the focus will be on understanding social behaviour, creating ideas that people want to share, talk about and get involved with. Alongside this, the now-mature social industry will be working to prove to brands the value of its efforts.

Of course, there are similarities and differences in the challenges and opportunities facing different markets around the world. As We Are Social’s reach spans eight offices in five continents, we’ve asked our senior management worldwide about how they see the social landscape changing this year.

Sandrine Plasseraud, Managing Director, France
Digital Transformation
The digital economy is nothing new, however its fast pace is drastically impacting companies. 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last couple of years. Instead of surviving on one-off campaigns, brands need to create ongoing storytelling to be visible within this data driven world. Content creation is no longer enough. We now have algorithm curation tools, like Facebook’s, making things complicated. Companies are battling for attention – the notion of ‘continuous partial attention’ highlights the fact that individuals now divide their attention among different devices, daily activities and real life conversations, in a desire to be recognized amongst their peers and avoid fear of missing out. How, as a company, do you grab consumers’ attention in this landscape, capturing them on them on the go, without interrupting their daily routines? This will be an even bigger challenge with the arrival of smartwatches and the rise of ‘glance media’ associated with it.

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Content production will need to take into account ambient proximity and potentially the emotion of users in the near future. The digital scene has been an extremely complex one for businesses, but is becoming even more so in 2015 and beyond. The need for digital transformation is crucial. Most companies claim to have embraced digital transformation, but in reality they have focused on technologies and channels rather than on their organisation and their employees. They now need to put consumers at the centre of their organisation, forget silos, think brand utility i.e. how to be useful to consumers rather than focus on technology and platforms. This is what we call Social Thinking.

Leila Thabet, Managing Director, US
Mobile Default replaces Mobile First
A cell phone hasn’t been “just a phone” for a long time, but more than ever smartphones and tablets are becoming the primary digital gateway for consumers. The reality of Mobile First, in which mobile serves as a platform for driving innovation, is being replaced by a new Mobile Default, in which mobile becomes the primary means for consumer engagement. As these new norms take shape in the hands (and on the wrists) of consumers, brands should be prepared to find new ways to offer value and engage in these diverse, always on contexts. Easy to use applications, image-led, concise campaigns will prove vital for brands if they want to use mobile effectively in capturing user attention and telling their brand story.

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Jim Coleman, Managing Director, UK
24/7 Marketing
The popularity of social media means the time to engage with consumers is not dictated by marketers, it’s led by the target audience’s lifestyle and their preferences. Many brands that we work with cater to a global audience, taking this one step further again. As our editorial director Charlie Cottrell wrote in the Guardian earlier this year, publishing models should now reflect consumers’ 24/7 behaviours. Marketers will need to take their audience’s habits and behaviours into account when creating and publishing content across any platform. They will need to analyse the data generated from their content (with a focus on business, not just social results) to learn what works and what doesn’t, resulting in a more effective long-term strategy.

Gabriele Cucinella, Stefano Maggi, Ottavio Nava; Managing Directors, Italy
Influencer engagement will strike back
In a world where all you need is reach – the right reach – and relevance, influencers are still one of the best and most effective tool brands can leverage to talk with specific target audiences. We will see a change in the form of collaboration between brands and influencers, from the one shot outreach approach (mainly earned media) to a more structured partnership model (mainly paid media) where the two parties can collaborate regularly to co-create a long term narrative.

In search of content and conversation
In 2015 people will have more and more tools to find content, and the platforms they find it on will change. Google won’t be the only tool people use to search, social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are presenting solid solutions for people who are looking for specific information; people will choose the channels they are already using every day as search platforms. In this important shift, social media will be a great destination to search for content, and brands will start planning their strategies to reflect this, thinking about social channels as a search channels as well.

Bastian Scherbeck, Managing Director, Germany
Explosion of Social Performance
In 2015 “social performance” (performance optimized paid media in social channels), will explode as percentage of total media spend. This poses a both a risk and an opportunity. If done well, analytical expertise and social intelligence will help deliver relevant content (anything from text to interactive experiences), at the right time and place, to people who you know will care about it. However, if it’s done badly (as it often has been so far), it will result in the delivery of irrelevant content to huge numbers of people, with marketers doing it “just because it is cheap” compared to ATL advertising. If the advertising industry wants to thrive and prosper in a digital today and a digital future, it is essential that we use our tools and power, responsibly. Otherwise, we might lose the most important currency we have: people’s trust.

The focus on performance also poses another risk: it shouldn’t come at the expense of true creativity and innovation, with marketers falling into a “target group” mindset. Instead of outdated behaviours like this, a new mindset – what we call ’social thinking’’ – is needed.

Mobbie Nazir, Chief Strategy Officer
Content ROI
If 2014 has been the year of content creation, 2015 will be the year of content ROI. Continue to build content, but be smart about it. It’s hard to produce quality content in quantity, so think about how anything created can be leveraged and re-purposed. Ditch thinking about social as a free-place market. As with any form of advertising, inventory on social is limited and will go to the highest bidder. Make your investment work by taking the time to really dig deep on audience segmentation and targeting on advertising on the social platforms that are right for your brand. Measure the effectiveness of your investment by how your work affects your sales, not just your likes and followers. This is how the most successful, impactful activity on social will stand out in 2015 and prove the value of investing in social media.

Leslie Orsioli, Managing Director, Brazil
The rise of YouTube
YouTube is the second most accessed social network in Brazil, according to the ranking prepared by Serasa Experian. In the United States, the audience is so great that beats any cable network. Strategies focused on YouTube will become essential not only because of the number of people accessing it, but because campaigns developed on the platform offer a wider reach across the social and digital landscape.

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Simon Kemp, Regional Managing Partner, Asia
The increasing importance of Discovery
As social becomes more ingrained in people’s daily lives, ‘word of mobile’ takes over some of our more day-to-day search activities. People will be asking each other for answers as often as they ask Google, and while many of these conversations will be ‘hidden’ on closed networks like WhatsApp and WeChat, many will also take place in more public platforms like Twitter.

Don Anderson, Managing Director, Singapore
Hyper-Experiential Sharing
The initial seeds of a new era of Hyper-Experiential Sharing may surface in 2015 with the introduction of Oculus Rift, which is already expected to change the dynamics of gaming, film and a host of non-entertainment related industries. The real potential of this technology becoming ubiquitous will depend on whether users will be able to capture POV experiences — be it hurtling down a 30 metre drop on a pair of skis to summiting Everest — and then share across social networks in the same way we do with video and photos. If that possibility becomes reality, then Facebook’s purchase of Oculus makes even more sense.

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Nathan McDonald, Co-Founder of We Are Social
Innovation, addiction and the new normal
The explosion of blogging that created an alternative universe of media and opinion was a liberating era, full of exciting possibilities, in contrast to the mainstream, broadcast-led approach of the last decade. Since then we’ve seen the pendulum swing in the other direction, with concerns over the impact of monetization, commercial and government use of data, and the physical, psychological, and social impacts of internet and device usage. These worries will co-exist with an inherent techno-optimism about new innovations. Even as we start to fetishise wearable hardware (which gathers ever more intimate personal data), we’ll be checking in family members for Facebook addiction clinics.

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Even with the Snowden revelations in mind, we’ll demand more online services from governments, and see political parties take leaps ahead in their use of social and digital marketing techniques. The backlash against the increased monetization of our favourite social networks will be accompanied by an ever increasing reliance on social networks to facilitate our lives. As all this becomes the new normal, the pendulum swings ever faster.