Social Media Week: Generating UGC with Instagram


This article was originally written by me for The Platform Blog.

After returning to base our lovely Instagrammers posed with their well deserved prizes

Our Instagram Scavenger Hunt event was flagged as one of the top 5 recommended events for Social Media Week London and it was a great incentive to ensure we made it exceptional, and enjoyable.

We’re great fans of Instagram here and lots of us use it personally but we also recommend it for clients because it tells a story visually, something which is often overlooked when it comes to creating digital assets.

Story telling was one of our objectives for the event; we chose the London Instagram Meetup communityas partners for a scavenger hunt to build a social footprint for us which tells people about where we live in London.  Based on Kingsway, we’re sandwiched between theatreland and the Royal Courts of Justice and surrounded by world famous architecture, statues, landmarks and even chocolate boutiques, so the area is great fodder for photography.

Scavenger hunts are an enduring favourite in the world of social media as they are fun and engaging and also a low-tech form of gamification.  Groups of people are challenged to solve a number of clues against the clock, photograph the answers and post them online.  This works well at events when groups are let loose on the locale for 30 minutes or so and return with a collection of images.  We chose Instagram as the visual platform for our event because it’s a great for producing cool looking images plus it gave the challenge a new edge.

The mechanics of the hunt were simple, sign up and show up.  Entrants were tasked with a 10 stop tour of Covent Garden and Holborn; they were given a series of cryptic clues which they had to solve and once they had, photograph the answer.  There were some really great photos along the way and the winning images were rewarded with prizes including champagne, whiskey and other goodies.  Images were posted on Instagram using our hashtag #SMW_FH with our ‘hunt leader’ monitoring proceedings from back at FH towers.  Prizes were awarded in categories including Best Photo, Fastest Team and Best Team Photo among others, congratulations to our prize winners, dianakakkarigerslondonef61,lesscherryshinesquadarturring, and onemanand.

From a UGC perspective, the activity delivered really well; 12 people joined the event and within one hour we had over 120 high quality images, tagged and posted on instagram.  This shows that getting great fresh content just needs the right ingredients to do it successfully.

Our key thoughts on what those ingredients to create successful UGC activity are:

– set your objectives and desired outcomes

– choose your platform and understand how to make it work best for you

– create a strong theme and publicise the event

– work with established social communities

– create a short burst of activity for maximum impact

– incentivise if you can and reward entrants with social recognition (tweets, likes  and so on)

– amplify content across your own digital and social channels

And finally, here are some of the images collected on the scavenger journey around WC2.

A huge thank you to all of our enthusiastic Instagrammers for contributing to such a fantastic event, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

How has social media impacted on charity comms?


This article was originally written by me for The Wall Blog and The Platform Blog.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Verity Pillinger-Cork, Web and Digital Marketing Manager for RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), to discuss how the charity is using social media to connect with those in need of information and support, and its assortment of stakeholders including carers, fundraisers, sponsors and donors.

On paper, it sounds phenomenally challenging, especially as it must be incredibly tough to decide which stakeholder group will be most receptive to communications messaging and therefore deliver the most value to the organisation.

After all, the charity sector in 2012 is fiercely competitive, with the top 1000 UK charities fighting for approximately £19.6bn each year. But does social media give these organisations an edge and how are RNIB using it to gain ground on the top 10? Let’s find out…

BF: First off, how is RNIB using social media to reach its audience?

VPC: “Ultimately we want more people to find out about our charity and the amazing work we do trying to reach almost 2 million people in the UK living with sight loss.

“We started using social media in earnest a couple of years ago, and since then we’ve seen the number of people engaging with us in this way grow at a phenomenal rate. Social media sits alongside our website as a way of being able to tell people about our services, and to encourage people to support us. It’s also great that we get to have a conversation with our followers/likers – it’s a really immediate and friendly way to talk to our customers.

“We’re trying to be sensible with the number of social media accounts that we have. For instance, we’ve got one main RNIB Facebook page and Twitter account and a handful of off-shoot accounts that are used to support specific, key areas of the business like campaigns, fundraising and our reading services.

“Our main Facebook and Twitter accounts cover a broad range of subjects. This ranges from promoting our core services (RNIB Helpline, RNIB Membership, RNIB National Library Service which includes Talking Books, accessible products and publications), to getting someone to write to their MP about benefit cuts, to inspiring someone to run a marathon for us.

“We are also engaging blind and partially sighted people in awareness campaigns, such as our Switch on to technology and Service Matters months, and promoting our services as referral routes for professionals who work with blind or partially sighted people.

“But it’s not all about Facebook and Twitter. We’re just beginning to see how we can use sites like LinkedIn to engage with a different audience group. We’re producing far more videos as an organisation and engagement with our YouTube channel is on the up.”

BF: What are your core objectives when using social media?

VPC: “One of our key objectives is about independence. As an organisation, RNIB wants to end the isolation of sight loss, helping people to live independently. We can really drive that objective forwards via social media. That might be by telling people about what we’re doing – maybe introducing people to services that were unknown to them – or by giving them a way to share experiences with others in the same situation. For instance, if you’ve just been told you’re going to lose your sight, coming to our website can be daunting. But asking us a question via Facebook is a much easier step – and you don’t just get a response from RNIB, you’ll get responses from other people who have been in the same boat.

“Of course, another of our objectives is about increasing our reach. We know that we’re reaching new people as well as those who are familiar with us. We’d like to keep doing that!

“We also use social media to gain customer insight. I think this is an area that we need to explore more. Now that we’ve built a solid presence it’s time to look at what insight we can get and how that can translate into marketing and service delivery.”

BF: Who exactly are your key stakeholders? And are they contactable via social media?

VPC: “Our key stakeholders can be split into three customer groups:

1. Blind and partially sighted people, their friends, families and carers

2. Professionals whose work impacts on the lives of blind and partially sighted people

3. Supporters who raise money for RNIB Group charities.

“The majority of blind and partially sighted people are older (75 plus) and so are less likely to be using social media, but many of our followers do have sight problems.

“Our professional customer groups range in age and occupation, and may also be friends, family or carers of blind and partially sighted people. Often they are more likely to use and engage in multiple social media platforms.

“Our supporter base is comprehensively segmented. Our fundraising team design and deliver many different products and use social media and other digital media in different ways to engage these groups.”

BF: What social channels are you seeing most return on investment from at present?

VPC: “We know that Facebook gives us the most engagement and therefore ROI. However our main Twitter account has almost double the amount of followers, so arguably the reach is greater.

“The power of video to tell us stories must also be acknowledged and therefore You Tube acts as a brilliant support to both Twitter and Facebook.”

BF: How has social media changed RNIB’s marketing practice in the last five years?

VPC: “We were late adopters of social media field due to concerns about the accessibility of these sites for blind and partially sighted people. What we have learnt anecdotally is that blind and partially sighted people have found alternatives, for instance, they use the mobile version of Facebook as they find it easier to navigate. We take these access issues into account when planning and designing our content, and always make sure that content is accessible on our website, so that no-one misses out.

“Social media has become an integral part of our marketing rather than an ‘add on’. We are developing campaigns where social media is the lead, rather than an afterthought. People recognise these sites are here to stay and the numbers of people on them can’t be ignored by anyone!”

BF: Where do you see your communications strategies developing the next five years?

VPC: “RNIB is a long way through a broader programme of work to develop our customer relationship management.

“We recognise that digital is only going to become more important. We are already working on a mobile version of our website, which is vital given the rapid rise in the number of visits to our website via mobile devices, and looking ahead to future developments of our website. We’re also increasingly using enewsletters to talk to our customers.

“We will continue to use offline communications channels to engage customers. Many older or blind and partially sighted people will continue to value printed materials, audio and face-to-face contact, so they will remain important to reach and introduce our services to them.

“Our investment and focus on digital communication will continue, but with a focus on ensuring better integration across platforms and positioning the channels to better support and add value to the customer experience when they come to us through other channels.”

You can connect with RNIB on: FacebookTwitterYouTubeLinkedIn

Platform 101: All about Instagram


This article was originally written by me for The Platform Blog.

Introduction:

Instagram is a free photo-sharing  social network that was launched in October 2010. The service allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it, and then share it with other Instagram users they are connected to on the social network as well as on a variety of social networking services (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr). Instagram currently has 80 million registered users. A distinctive feature is that it confines photos to a square shape, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras.

Instagram is owned by Facebook after the social networking giant bought the platform for a reported $1bn in April 2012. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Founder, noted that Facebook was “committed to building and growing Instagram independently”, after the deal had gone through. Instagram released version 3.0 in August 2012, enabling users to geo-locate where the photos were taken and attach them to an interactive mapping system powered by Foursquare.

Key statistics:

– Each second, 58 photos are uploaded.

– Each second, a new user is gained.

– There have been more than 4 billion photos uploaded.

Key demographic:

The latest report from appdata.com states that 70% of users are female.

Accessibility:

Instagram is currently a mobile-only platform app, available on iPhone (since October 2010) and Android (since April 2011). There are currently no plans to release the app on Blackberry.

Best resources:

–      Instagram for Business blog

  • Explore how businesses are using Instagram through tips, brand spotlights, API examples and news from the Instagram HQ.

–      Instagram for users blog

  • See what’s happening around the world, right now, through photo features, user spotlights, photo tips and news from the Instagram HQ.

Latest developments:

New research published in August 2012 shows that 40% of the world’s top brands (as defined by InterBrand) now have a presence on Instagram. While the photo-sharing platform currently lags behind the big guns such as Facebook and Twitter, the opportunity to reach 80M+ potential customers means this will continue to rise – possibly rising to between 60-70% by mid-2013.

The top 10 brands using Instagram are very B2C focused, with strong engagement rates and large volumes of followers:

This research highlights a unique opportunity for corporate brands to be involved on the social networking platform. At present, there are very few organisations that have incorporated Instagram into their marketing strategy.

Saying that, General Electric has a pretty astonishing profile, which consists of glossy imagery focused on their innovative designs and Olympic 2012 sponsorship. GE use the profile as an extension of their other marketing communications, perfectly integrated with campaign activity and owned social media channels.

What are the key benefits?

– The social network has an audience of 80M+ users, as well as the capacity to share content across popular channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

– Visual content is a great way to reach an audience – the popularity of video and imagery content has dramatically risen in the past 5 years.

– Customers and stakeholders show greater levels of engagement when content is visual and are more inclined to share amongst their immediate community.

– Organisations can benefit from user-generated content when hosting promotional competitions and giveaways.

– Brands have the chance to offer exclusive insight into their operations, thus increasing transparency, with back-stage access to new products, services and innovations.

What are the key risks?

– Comments are not moderated and cannot be deleted – so negative comments will forever be searchable, which becomes more important were the platform to migrate to a website rather than simply a mobile-only app.

– Imagery can easily be downloaded and then manipulated free of charge – which could be used by activists or campaigners in a defamatory manner.

– Similarly, Instagram photos hold no copyright to the origin whatsoever.

– If an organisation doesn’t claim their username, a profile could be set-up and used by a member of the public or activist group in a manner that doesn’t best represent the organisation.

Social channels:

Instagram can be found on Twitter (8.1M+ followers), Facebook (1.6M+ fans), Google+ (25K+ followers) and, unsurprisingly, Instagram (7.1M+ followers).

Conclusion:

So now that you know all there is to about Instagram, you’re ready to start shooting your own photography and telling your brand’s story. After all, there’s only one real way to understand something, and that’s to try it out!

I’m @bnfx on Twitter, if you have any questions or comments.

Google+: Understanding Hangouts and its SEO benefits


This article was originally written by me for The Platform Blog.

Google+ is one of the fastest growing social networks of all time, yet it continues to get a pasting in the mainstream traditional media.  It wouldn’t be the first time there was friction between these two camps but it’s also a lesson in looking behind the headlines and reading between the lines.

At the end of May 2012, The Daily Mail Online wrote an article labelling the social network a “virtual ghost town”, stating that the average user posts once every 12 days and the average update gets less than one share, one reply and less than a single +1.

A powerful story like that would knock most companies off their feet; not Google though.  They’ve been around far too long and are now such a generic trademark for online search that “googling” is part of everyday life, and according to their latest figures, Google+ has over 250m worldwide users which equates to about four times the UK population.  So it’s hardly a ghost town worthy of such derision.  This anecdotal evidence from Cadbury is testament to the fact this platform is producing measurable and useful results.

Google Hangouts

Well, let’s start with the Google Hangout feature. A brilliantly simple idea (so simple but no other social network has ever properly cracked it), which allows users to talk face to face via a video conferencing service. Up to 10 people can join a hangout either by desktop, mobile or tablet device.

But even better is the fact that this online video conversation can also be broadcast globally usingHangout on Air and shared via YouTube, giving brands the opportunity to launch announcements, new products and celebrity partnerships in both a visual and experiential manner.  Cadbury (which has both a corporate and consumer facing owned brand presence on Google+) has claimed it as a “favourite feature because of the opportunity to speak with customers easily and with little preparation”.  The brand also sparked a fantastic news story, simply by launching a new product, Dairy Milk Bubbly, on Google+ way back in January 2012.

Improvement in search

According to Cadbury, Google+ is also having a big impact on search results. Keywords such as ‘London2012’ or ‘Rebecca Adlington’ are now showing results for Cadbury for users who have ‘circled’ the brand on Google+.

With more users linking their Google+, Gmail and YouTube accounts, this will become increasingly more important for brands looking to create a positive impact in the SEO-verse, as well as an engaging connection with customers and potential consumers.

One to look out for…

I strongly believe that Google+ will be a force to be reckoned with the near future.  If you’re thinking about a platform for online engagement, don’t laugh it off just yet, the stats are complicated and confused at the moment, but that will all change!

Comparing the digital performance of the Olympic 2012 sponsors


This article was originally written by me for The Platform Blog.

Every fortnight at Fishburn Hedges, we hear from two FH-ers who tell us why they love a campaign, a website, a product or a piece of work.

This week was the turn of Director Judith Moore and I (Social Media Consultant Ben Fox), who focused on the Olympic Games and how brands and corporate organisations have creatively crafted communications around the events.

Sociagility and the Olympic sponsor comparisons

Sporting activity aside, there are 25 corporate brands powering the 3-week tournament with various sponsorship deals – all using social media in different way to improve their corporate reputation both in the UK and globally.

Sociagility have pulled together a remarkably intelligent tool that measures the impact (and ultimately success) of the sponsors within owned social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the corporate website.

The software used focuses on 5 key attributes of each brand in relativity to their performance online; popularity, receptiveness, interaction, network reach and trust. At present, Coca-Cola, Adidas, British Airways, Visa and EDF Energy are the top performers, but looking to the near future, the data suggests that Cadbury, General Electric and P&G have the greatest potential for improvement as the Olympic Games develop.

Stand-out campaign

British Airways really grabbed our attention with their #HomeAdvantage online hub. Beautifully simple, but technically brilliant, the campaign website is a perfect example of ‘mass personalisation’.

The concept of an aeroplane moving through the streets of London doesn’t sound particularly innovative on the surface. But putting your postcode into the campaign website transforms this perception as a giant BA plane moves through your street and past your house.

It’s proved a fantastic way for the aviation brand to connect with their audience through a unique experience and encapsulate the positivity associated with flying and the Olympic Games, as well as being virally shareable.

Even better for BA is the resonance that this campaign overall is generating on Twitter – triggering thousands of tweets.

More great campaigns

A neat summary of Olympic 2012 campaigns can be found in this blog post, commending the likes of Samsung, Panasonic, P&G and Visa for their efforts.

Top tips for a new Instagram


This article was originally written by me on The Platform Blog.

As an avid, but amateur, photographer, Instagram was like a dream come true when it hit the app store in late-2010 as an iPhone-only service. It gave me, and millions of others, a chance to share our creations like never before.

Image

Alongside individuals, Instagram has given brands and corporate organisations a fabulous opportunity to exploit a social media channel with a huge audience reach and instant share-ability across existing Twitter and Facebook profiles.

Fast forward 21 months to the present day and the Instagram machine tells a completely different story. It now has over 50 million users and over 1 billion photos uploaded in total (that’s over 5 million every single day).

However, there have been four major developments that have dramatically changed the Instagram offering; but for better or worse?

  • Instagrammers can now login to their account and access photos via the web, a functionality that should, in theory, increase the likelihood of ‘likes’ and comments. With a website refresh, and a transfer to a Tumblr blogging format, Instagram is attempting to appeal to the mainstream, but we’ll soon find out whether this suits their dedicated hipster-army in time.
  • For all the community managers out there, Hootsuite have announced that they’ve added Instagram (and Slideshare) to their list of social networks. This means we can now line-up our photos (pre-tagged, of course) and post them at an optimum time of day. But does this mean that the ‘perfect’ time, deemed when most users are online, will now become a saturated mess and have a white-noise effect?
  • For those that like their privacy settings on, they might be concerned to know that Instagram recently had a few issues with data and that a mysterious ‘bug’ infiltrated the servers to expose everything – private or not. In the spirit of being sociable, transparency is a key issue online – but it’d be nice to have a choice, right?
  • And finally, it seems that some of the most popular #tags have been deleted by Instagram with no official announcement made as to why. This is long been a tactic by those of us who crave ‘likes’ to use common hashtags in our posts, to build resonance with our creations. But now #iPhone, #iPhone4, #Instagram and the like have all been removed. My guess is that it’s to do with the sudden influx of Android users in an attempt to level the playing field, perhaps? Or a Facebook decision…

However, as a long-term user, I can see the wider value of Instagram. It’s my platform to share my visual thoughts. It’s also a great way for brands and corporate organisations to engage and connect with a creative audience in a new environment. Exciting, powerful stuff.

Here’s one of my favourite IG photos, would love to see some of yours. I’m @bnfx on Instagram!