WHY A GOOD SCARE IS A GOOD THING

It’s Halloween! And it’s a time we love to scare ourselves. Fear is thrilling, and the familiar creepy ghouls and nasty critters we see around this time of year touch off sensations and instincts that date back millions of years, according to evolutionary psychologists. Fear is natural and protects and motivates us; our distant ancestors who were scared of heights and tigers didn’t fall off cliffs or become lunch. We live in a time when people are becoming desensitised to frightening stuff because we see so much horror in the papers and on TV, fictional or, more horrifyingly, not. Such events tap into our inner fears and sense of vulnerability and remind us of the fact that too much in life is completely beyond our control, which is pretty terrifying. When the brain’s innate fear centre goes on high alert, reactions can be exaggerated and far greater than what is justified or required, because fear can take over the driver’s seat and overpower all other drives. That’s bad in life and in business.

We shouldn’t let ourselves become desensitised to or succumb to fear – fear challenges us and makes us push ourselves and test our limits. If you want to achieve your goals, you’ll need to learn how embrace fear. It’s how I got to where I am today. My dream was setting up and running my own communications agency, and honestly there were times when it did take a lot of guts and bravery, but whatever your goal is, when you go after your dreams you have to develop that fearlessness because you are going to encounter countless situations that frighten and challenge you along the way. I certainly did, and learnt how important it is not to run away from them and to face them and use that adrenalin rush, rather than letting that fear pollute your mind and way of thinking, or hold you back. Conquering fear isn’t just for life-or-death situations; it’s something we should be doing in our everyday life. That rush of adrenalin and subsequent sense of relief when we get scared that invigorates you – whether you like that feeling or not, you need more of that in everyday life. Franklin D. Roosevelt once famously said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and though he didn’t have to sit shaking through Sinister or Saw, he’s right: when you push yourself and face fears, you learn new things about yourself and what you’re capable of. Let it power you and see where it takes you.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! From everyone at Zaboura.

WE WON! BUT IT’S MORE THAN JUST A TROPHY

STILL buzzing from Friday night when we scooped the 2016 PCR Women of the Year Award for PR Powerhouse. Obviously, it’s an absolute honour to be recognised and rewarded for our hard work and dedication, and the glitzy party was fun (plus, that trophy does look nice in our office) but awards like this are important. 

The PCR awards aim to shine a spotlight on some of the tech industry’s most inspirational and influential female contributors across all levels, and the impact is touching. Some people (sore losers included) believe that industry awards are little more than back-slapping parties but that just shows why they probably aren’t winning any themselves; they’re no good at spotting opportunities.

 

It’s free marketing

That you get to shout about all year long (unlike a dated piece of coverage) and have on your website and at the end of every email. Third party validation carries a lot more weight than a company bragging about their own product or services and is going to look a lot more impressive to colleagues and potential new business. To our existing clients, too: when they see us win awards, whether for a specific campaign or just because we make Zaboura an awesome company, it reminds them that they can trust that we know what they want and need, and are dedicated to helping them achieve it. It’s a reaffirmation that they’re working with the right team, and it helps relationships grow.

 

They make you reassess yourself

Bench-marking is very important because it makes everyone look at themselves differently and in direct comparison with competitors. Awards submissions should be thoughtfully and carefully written and having 600-odd words to sum up why you’re awesome forces you to take another sharp look at your business and practices, which is only ever a good thing. You need to ensure that you stand out from the crowd in terms of strategic thinking, creativity, people, and growth and by analysing where you stand, whether you win the award or not, you may find that you discover better ways of doing things and ways to improve.

 

They help you get the very best

Attracting and holding onto the very best is vital but difficult in an industry that is constantly changing and expanding across the globe. The very best people don’t want to work in a stale, boring environment that doesn’t challenge them; they are always growing, learning and adapting and you need to demonstrate that your company is the best environment for doing so if you want them to stay. You’ll get more from your team this way; if they’re working with the best, they will deliver the best, and that in turn is how you get the best clients.

 

They motivate your team

It’s just as important to remind your existing team why your agency is the best place to work. Of course, you expect your team to give it their all regardless of a trophy win and ours aren’t the type who require constant praise, but it’s too easy to take them for granted and important to tell people when they’re being stand-out exceptional. Winning an award like this one shows your team that not only are you thankful for all of their efforts, but the industry is too. It sees a huge boost in morale and a buzz around the office. This motivates them to keep challenging themselves and their peers, delivering even better work to your clients. That ‘war for talent’ issue is no joke; don’t get complacent and expect team members to hang around. Someone else will snap up your best talent if you don’t put their interests first.

 

They challenge the industry

We believe in nurturing and fostering talent at Zaboura, because the industry is ever-evolving and without new, fresh ideas and minds, we can’t grow and continue to evolve. We need exciting new people and agencies to challenge the status quo and keep us from becoming stale and repetitive, so we need to acknowledge and encourage that talent to flourish and shine. Not just new, young people either; it’s important to recognise those here already and making a mark. It only further inspires and pushes them, and reminds them that this is exactly where they need to be.

 

Winning the PCR PR Powerhouse award is a reminder that the work we do and the people we do it for really matters, because it’s helping them and their messages matter. So a huge THANK YOU to all our amazing team, clients, colleagues, PCR Online and everyone else who helped us become the PR Powerhouse we are today!

 

ZABOURA RULES FOR SUCCESS

Regardless of your career, one of the most important things you should be doing is establishing an effective life-business balance. There can be a fine line between success and failure, and it’s a tricky rope to walk.

Building a business up takes hard work, determination and a thick skin. It’s easy to let it all get on top of you and lose sight of yourself, and it becomes all you can think about, but that will only be detrimental to your business and your personal life. The road to success is never an easy path unless you’re incredibly lucky or privileged, and you won’t get a pot of gold for nothing. But there are thousands of articles and books on how to succeed in business, and all areas of life, and it can be difficult to boil it down. So, we’ve outlined these 8 easy to remember rules to apply across your whole life spectrum that will help you shine and stand out from the rest:

 

Get yourself a mentor & pay it forward

No successful person gets to where they are with a helping hand or few along the way. There’s no shame in it; who better to learn from than someone who has lived and experienced it all already? Mentors have travelled the road you want to, made and learned from the mistakes you will likely make, are better connected and will help you reach your goal faster than if you go it alone. Whether financial, health, professional or personal – support is essential and having a mentor you trust to help with the frustrations can turn venting into actually working to solve the problem. It will help with your confidence and show you how important it is to pass that wisdom onto the next eager young you once your goals are achieved.

 

Add value

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you want to be adding value. In your professional life, offering increased value means making more money and in your personal life, more value translates to closer relationships and strong personal growth. How do you add value at work, and in your personal relationships? What do you bring to the table? Asking yourself this question makes you identify your strengths, values and goals and think again about what people around you want, so it’s one you should be asking yourself consistently.

 

Go with your gut

Einstein called intuition the only truly valuable thing; Steve Jobs said that it is “more powerful than intellect” and much as we hate to cite the man, Donald Trump credits his multi-billion dollar empire to decisions based purely on intuition. There’s definitely something to it and as a business owner, and in life, you need to learn to make proper judgements and be able to trust and depend upon yourself. Self-doubt leads to you missing out on opportunities and forever planning stuff without making a start, and tapping into this gut intuition is a very useful business skill.

 

Analyse yourself

We are all a work in progress, and mistakes just happen. You will make many of them, but if you don’t properly analyse them and learn from them, you’ll become stale and stagnant. You need to adjust your attitude and you will grow. Examine all your relationships, because your relationships with people are what make you successful in all areas of life. Don’t hate yourself for failing. You just found another way not to do it, after all. Pick yourself back up, examine what went wrong and why, and identify what you need and know for the next try.

 

Stay open-minded & educated

History has taught us that closed-mindedness only holds us back. Change is constant and ramping up speed lately, and you don’t and won’t know everything so be open to new ways of thinking, creating and doing business, and make the effort to keep up. Staying open-minded and educated will give you increased confidence and a stronger sense of self.

 

Be clear in your vision & have faith

Having read dozens of biographies on great people and also from our own personal observations and encounters, we’ve realized that those people who achieve greatness – professionally and personally – are people who have followed their passions and been true to themselves. And (without being stubborn or letting goals become outdated) you need to be consistent with it, and keep pushing yourself. Do you have a tendency to throw in the towel when it gets tough? When a problem arises, is it a problem or an opportunity? Do you lost sight of objectives under stress? Would people describe you as naturally optimist? How do you view failure? Addressing these now is essential so that they don’t hold you back in future.

 

Stay healthy

In mind, body and soul. It’s hard to inspire others when you aren’t at your best yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy day-to-day and forget about the damage we’re doing to our bodies (stress-relief wine or never really having a proper lunch, for example) but whatever figures or sales you’re raking in, it won’t last if you’re not taking care of yourself. That means eating, exercising and keeping an eye on each end of the candle. It also means remembering to have fun and staying positive, replacing negative self-talk with gratitude and acknowledgement of how far you’ve come. Most people beat themselves up internally like this, but start practicing complimenting yourself next time you want to self-criticize and don’t waste any more time or energy worrying or complaining. Fear is inevitable — it’s how you choose to respond that makes the difference. Your business will inevitably face crises and crossroads. Don’t let any of them stop you.

 

Remember to share

Not only is it definitely true that a problem shared is one halved, but it’s also true that many minds of different interests/talents/diversities are better than one. Getting too close to the problem that you can’t see wood for trees is nothing to be embarrassed about and happens to the best of us. And there’s nothing better to get the creative juices flowing again than talking it though with someone who’s opinion you value, or even just someone you can use as a sounding board. Keep the right people around you whose opinions and advice you can trust; share ideas and accept help and criticism. Share blame, and be generous. Attitude matters and good team players are valued, and large complex projects always require people with diverse skills.

LISTEN UP, YOUTHPRENEURS: HERE’S THE KEY TO START-UP SUCCESS…

Reminded every day that gaining a decent first-time job is now akin to finding the Grail or a leprechaun, it’s not hard to see why there are a rising number of young entrepreneurs. Plus more people are realising how fulfilling and exciting it can be. Accessibility of media and technology is encouraging it, too. Over a quarter of students own their own business and according to Procorre, there are now around 26,400 people below the age of 21 currently listed as UK Ltd company directors.

Take it from Richard Branson: young entrepreneurs look at the world with fresh eyes and lively determination, and indeed, some of the modern world’s greatest ideas and innovations have come from young entrepreneurs. Evan Spiegel, for example, who founded Snapchat from his Dad’s house at the age of 20 and sold it six years later for over $16 billion. 

As well as the struggle to raise finance, lack of experience and knowledge can be a challenge for start-ups, and failure is very costly. Competition is tough (not just with other start-ups but with the millions of marketing campaigns your audience have hurled at them all day) and growing your business and brand with no money is the biggest Catch-22 young businesses face; there’s huge pressure on start-ups to maximise money without compromising on quality. The key to achieving this? Digital marketing. But worryingly, it appears that many start-ups reacting to that pressure in a rather self-destructive way and forsaking marketing altogether. It can be hard to maintain perspective when you’re so close to something that you created and the “it’s a good idea so it will carry itself” mentality is understandable and addictive… but that’s how great ideas go to waste and how you narrow your chances of success.

 

More than an afterthought

But for too many start-ups, that’s what digital marketing is to them. All effort and resources go into building the product without thinking about how you’re actually going to get customers and followers post-launch. You could run out and panic-hire an agency then, but by then it’s too late. Without the proper time, money or insight, even the best agency will struggle to put your message across. CEO of Rebel Hack Studios (who specialise in growth hacking), Logan Hall, says: “Any start-up thinking they can grow on zero marketing budget is deluded. Founders have to be realistic and allocate time for the business to learn. This costs money, whether you are paying for Facebook ads, developing rich interactive data-driven content for lead nurture, or experimenting with User Experience and pricing structures, it all takes time.”

The ‘growth should be free’ way of thinking, and start-ups not wanting to throw any of their limited cashflow at marketing is understandable. Because of this, taking to the streets with guerrilla marketing tactics is popular with many. So is assigning one person on the team to tack marketing onto their existing job description. But to create and steer an effective strategy to it’s full potential, digital marketing needs your full attention. There are exceptions, but as a rule, if it costs nothing, it’s probably worth just that… it’s a digital world, and digital & content marketing is steadily growing: 55% of companies – huge brands and start-ups alike – have already increased their marketing budgets for next year. Start-up budgets can be small, but with huge and invaluable effects if the proper thought and planning goes into them. Here’s how:

 

You’ll have a strong, cohesive strategy

Marketing today is about more than just selling products; it’s about building a brand.  Unlike traditional marketing strategies, digital marketing (content/email/social media/mobile marketing) grows your brand and your image, across multiple platforms. Digital marketing enables you to transform processes and products utilising cost-effective technology, assists with brand visibility and lets you personalise your communications across the globe. Without a solid digital marketing strategy in place, any start-up is going to lose out on countless opportunities for generating revenue and find it very hard to reach worldwide audiences with such a small budget.

 

It’s about true engagement

Attention spans are short, but with digital marketing you can get even closer to your target audiences and improve how you deliver your messages. Social media, for example, allows you to connect with consumers on a personal level, and there are new platforms to utilise and profit from every day. With apps like Snapchat, you can let customers see behind the scenes of your brand and engage with product launches, events, office life etc. Social media can be free, but effectively boosting a post on Facebook or promoting a tweet works wonders.

 

You’ll get to know your customers better

We like data-driven, scientific marketing at Zaboura: as well as enhancing customer experience, digital marketing uses a huge range of data and tools to effectively analyse customer behaviour and feedback, and predict future actions. Start-ups need to commit to really getting to know their customers, You can learn a lot about yourself from them; this insight into their hearts and minds might also help to show you where to improve, focus or take your brand, perhaps even in a different direction.

TEACHING OLD DOGS NEW TRICKS: WHY IT MIGHT BE TIME FOR A NEW CAREER IN CODING

It’s hard to escape stories about the importance of teaching kids to code. It’s not just for the younger generations though, and adults shouldn’t dismiss it, even if it’s a career change, because there are some incredible perks to learning such a highly valued skill. 

Plus, though computers have always made things easier or have done difficult tasks more quickly than humans ever could, there’s a whole new frontier of software heading your way that combines Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Machine Learning (ML) and it’s going to mean the automation of all sorts of routine jobs: truck & taxi drivers, retail and sales, pharmacists, bartenders and even teachers, to name just a few (check out the Qihan Sanbot that we saw at IFA the other week). The outlook is pretty dismal for a lot of people across a lot of different industries, and up to 50% of all jobs currently performed by people are predicted to be taken over by robots in the next 20 years.

Technology changes at such a rapid pace in this industry and becoming literate in code will soon become as essential as being literate in language and mathematics. And even if your career isn’t in immediate jeopardy, according to the UK government’s National Career Service, starting salaries for computer programmers in the games industry start at around £25,000, rising to £50,000 with more experience and responsibility, so it’s not a bad skill to master. It’s one of the smartest things you can do right now.

How a few weeks could change your life

The demand for coders is incredibly high, especially women, and there aren’t enough programmers to keep up with demand. There are 607,708 open computing jobs in the US alone, according to Code.org, but only 42,969 students graduated in computer science. In the famous Lost Interview, Steve Jobs said, “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” Coding isn’t particularly easy to learn, especially as an adult, but that’s exactly why it’s so valuable – because it requires mastery of a problem-solving skill known as computational thinking, which does not come naturally and is tougher to drum in during adulthood. Computational thinking enables you to deal with complex problems of all scales and sizes in the most efficient ways; it’s the process of breaking down a task into a logical sequence of smaller steps, discarding redundant elements, diagnosing errors and creating new approaches when the first inevitably fails.

The benefits? Take your pick. Ever catch yourself doing the same task over and over again? Chances are you can get a computer to do it for you if you know how to code and you’ll be amazed at the time you can save once you know how to program a computer. That Steve Jobs quote isn’t just hyperbole; learning to code does teach you how to think about problems, and how to properly visualize complex structures, and knowing how to parse data is an extremely valuable skill to have. Developers are expected to learn fast, with little guidance and little more incentive, and learning how to code teaches you how to make this instinctive. It will also boost your attention to detail because of the care and precision it requires. Learning how to effectively focus on the small stuff makes anyone better at any job.

Going for the upgrade

It’s another platform for self-empowerment and creativity; it’s about using the languages of the web to bring ideas in your head to life. If you’ve got the next Myo or Snapchat in your head, then coding is potentially all that stands between that awesome idea and an actual product on Apple shelves, for instance. And creativity is also the key to learning. There are various environments where adults can learn to code and it’s never been easier to learn; there are countless online communities (far from the stereotypical idea of coding being a lonely, solo job) like GitHub, sites like Hacker News where you can learn and read related posts, and courses like CodeAcademy, initiatives like Code.org, backed by Silicon Valley heavyweights Facebook, Apple and Google. It’s surprisingly easy to get started and within weeks be creating and executing your own programs on your laptop or smartphone. There’s a whole community waiting with open arms, and offering better pay, for fewer hours’ work, with jobs and a schedule that you decide. And even if you don’t end up becoming a coder, you’ll gain an incredible understanding of the digital world around you.

VR & PR: IT’S GOING TO BE BIG

That’s right, VR is no longer merely the work of science fiction writers. Google, Samsung and Facebook have already thrust headsets into consumer hands and the response led the BBC to declare 2016 the year it goes “from virtual to reality”.

Business Insider estimates the VR hardware market will be worth around £1.9 billion by 2020, so it’s not surprising that VR companies and brands are forming lucrative marketing partnerships, because it appears that this time, VR is here to stay: we’ve already got affordable video cameras that record in 360° (and more than 20,000 360° videos have been uploaded to Facebook and Youtube content is soaring); the long-awaited high-end Oculus Rift product will finally ship this year; Samsung has rolled out integrated products; even McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes can now fold into a pair of VR goggles. It’s going to be everywhere, and “the most social platform,” according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who recently introduced Samsung’s new S7 and S7 Edge handsets, the new Gear 360 video camera, and Gear VR. He’s not wrong: according to eMarketer, not only are 80% of Generation Z Internet users interested in virtual reality, but so are 64% of Baby Boomers.

Initially explored through gaming and entertainment, VR is fast becoming the hot new medium. It’s a veritable godsend for PR teams hungry for fresh ways to relay brand messages, and a few of the more innovative PR & digital agencies are already capitalizing on its storytelling and media relations potential, demonstrating how virtual reality can deliver value to their efforts. VR is starting to be used for product announcements and releases, corporate social responsibility initiatives and case studies, for example, because soon enough it will be in every household, and smart marketeers know that VR will soon enough be in most households and both B2C and B2B buyers will naturally veer towards companies offering an exciting virtual experience. Not only will VR help brands to connect with a whole range of consumers, but it will also help them stand out in a digital environment clogged with content.

A new realm of possibilities

VR provides PR teams with opportunities on multiple levels. It transports people to another world and a different reality – a new level of ‘realness’. Incorporating multisensory VR in a campaign makes it more immersive and a more complete experience. Even the most brilliant ad campaign couldn’t top a VR headset that lets consumers experience a product for themselves without having to leave their living room. It takes ‘trying before you buy’ to a whole new level and lets brands and PR teams show things in a way never before possible, like test driving a new sports car, viewing properties for sale, soaking up holiday destinations virtually (Marriott are already getting on that, as is activewear brand The North Face, with their VR Yosemite National Park climbing experience, later downloaded thousands of times as an app), or buying a new pair of shoes or a new laptop. VR will craft a more memorable impression of a product in a consumer’s head because it’s a medium through which brand promise really comes to life.

The possibilities are endless, across all industries: from education becoming more meaningful and fun (trips back in time or a look around Mars from NASA’s Curiosity rover, for example) to NRMA Insurance recently using the Oculus Rift headset to promote car safety and simulate what it is like to be in a car crash. The New York Times also recently paired up with Google to equip readers with bespoke handheld VR headsets and a series of short hard-hitting news films such as the story of a Syrian child caught in the refugee crisis, demonstrating how VR can help build empathy by quite literally putting a person in another’s shoes. The New York Times explained that when virtual reality builds such a connection between the viewer and the environment, they are ‘”melded together… [in a] full-dress illusory world”, enabling a greater “suspension of disbelief… [the effect is] neurological, technological, relational, and psychological.” More immersive than any former digital experience, it’s fast proving to be worth the expense: Amnesty’s VR experiment, for example, received donations with 16% of people who experienced it signing up on the street to monthly direct debits.

PR people & marketeers, take note:

There’s no doubt that VR is the future of brand marketing and communications. It might not have an immediate impact, but it’s only going to get bigger, so if you get on top of it now, you’ll be at the forefront. However, don’t be lazy and assume you can rely on the novelty of virtual reality – this is an opportunity to access a new world of possibilities and really let creativity run wild; not a golden ticket to awesome, valuable content. VR without any real purpose won’t deliver any ROI but if utilised to its full potential, VR has the power to completely change the game. This next generation of storytelling is an opportunity to take consumers, journalists and influencers to somewhere they aren’t able to physically go, immerse them inside a brand story to connect to its core values and build a more emotional connection. That’s what makes VR so powerful: it renders your audience completely and utterly captive, and brands can spend a greater amount of the time with their consumers. Once the VR headset is on and they are totally immersed, they can’t get distracted by emails or check their Facebook. You’re going to have their undivided attention soon, so be ready with something spectacular.

A HOUSE SAVED FROM FIRE BY WELCOME, NETATMO’S SMART INDOOR SECURITY CAMERA

Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, home security cameras are revolutionising residential security. Smart home cameras now precisely detect unusual situations. They are for instance able to detect fire alarms before a fire spreads.

As the smart home revolution takes charge, monitored surveillance systems are being gradually replaced by smart security cameras. Less expensive, these new cameras use Artificial Intelligence technology to instantly detect unusual situations and send precise notifications to the users’ smartphones. For instance, smart security cameras recognise each family member and detect acoustic alarms in the house. Users can catch a burglar red-handed or alert firemen to come and extinguish a fire promptly.

That’s how Christophe, father-of-three and owner of a Netatmo Welcome camera with face recognition and alarm detection, was able to save his house and his dogs from a fire caused by an electronic toy. “Whilst my family and I were attending a basketball game a few kilometres away from home, I received a notification on my smartphone reporting that our fire alarm had been triggered”, explains Christophe, a Welcome user. “I immediately checked the video filmed by Welcome and saw that a fire had started in our living room. The firemen were instantly alerted and were able to prevent the fire from spreading. It’s thanks to Welcome’s accurate alert that our house and our two dogs were saved from the flames”, he adds.

Welcome is a game changer in the industry as it’s the most advanced consumer indoor security camera. With its state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence algorithm inspired by the architecture of the human brain, the camera recognises the faces it sees with the highest precision. It accurately learns to recognise faces and sends the names of the identified people to the users’ smartphones.

Welcome also detects acoustic alarms. The camera sends a notification and records a video whenever it detects a smoke alarm, CO2 alarm, security alarm or siren, to better protect the house.

 

About Netatmo

Netatmo is a revolutionary smart home company, developing ground-breaking, intuitive and beautifully-designed connected consumer electronics. Truly smart, Netatmo’s innovative products provide a seamless experience that helps users create a safer, healthier and more comfortable home. Netatmo carefully designs the mechanics, electronics and embedded software of all its products to the highest standards. Netatmo also creates the mobile and web applications that fully realise their potential.

Since 2012 Netatmo has released four devices, all of them infused with intelligence and delivering state-of-the-art features:

* The Netatmo Weather Station for Smartphone allows users to keep track of what is happening in their indoor and outdoor environments in more than 170 countries. It is the world’s largest collaborative weather station network.

* The Netatmo Thermostat for Smartphone, designed by Philippe Starck, allows users to control their heating remotely from a smartphone. With analysis of their daily routine, the Thermostat for Smartphone allows users to save 37% on energy heat their home.

* Welcome, the indoor security camera with face recognition technology, puts names to the faces it sees. The camera notifies the user exactly who’s at home, their loved ones or a stranger.

* Presence, Netatmo’s outdoor security camera, detects and reports on people, cars and animals. The camera understands what it sees and lets the user know exactly what is happening outside his home.

Netatmo is a key player in the smart home industry, with products available through various distribution networks worldwide, Amazon UK and John Lewis. The camera can also be purchased directly from Netatmo.com. In November 2015 Netatmo completed a series B funding round of €30 million. The company previously raised €4.5 million in 2013.

THE FUTURE, EVEN MORE SOCIAL, SOCIAL MEDIA

In the last decade social media has exploded, revolutionizing brand engagement and transforming the marketing industry. A new BIA/Kelsey report says social media advertising revenue will reach $11 billion by 2017, and almost 200 million people sign up to social media sites every year. One of the greatest challenges the digital media world faces is learning to fully understand its power. Many businesses still need educating on its innate value but for most, the benefits are abundantly clear. Brands have the ability to engage with customers on a personal level like never before and businesses have enjoyed increased brand loyalty, higher conversion rates, improved customer insights and a richer experience for their consumers. Through the use of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube, businesses can establish powerful thought leadership within their industry and among their customer base.

Brands are also becoming increasingly concerned with customer-service and the use of social media to handle the bulk of customer service inquiries is slowly but surely becoming standard practice. Keeping a close eye on your channels is important in an age where complaints are so public. According to a Social Times study, 61% of consumers say that social media reviews impact their buying decision, and people like to see brands respond when they comment on a Facebook post or mention the company in a tweet. Social media gives you the opportunity to add personality and let your character shine through as it would do in person. It’s a powerful extension of your marketing departments, and will show you for what you really are.

 

The backlash and opportunities ahead

While some social networks are growing exponentially (Instagram and Periscope, for example), others are starting to slow, some disappearing altogether. Scientist & writer Susan Greenfield gave a famously apocalyptic warning: “We could be raising a hedonistic generation who live only in the thrill of the computer-generated moment and are in distinct danger of detaching themselves from what the rest of us would consider the real world.” There are definitely the rumblings of a social media backlash and a desire to get more ‘personal’ again and ‘virtual face-to-face’, so businesses need to evolve the way they communicate via social media to survive this. Many are still catching up on what’s current, but all need to be preparing for what’s coming next:

Live streaming & Video – YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and other video sharing sites are already huge and can all be leveraged for marketing purposes. Live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat, and the short videos you can share on Vine, Snapchat and Instagram can have incredible engagement rates.

Chat and messaging platforms – WhatsApp, Snapchat and Skype are especially popular among younger consumers and will only continue to grow in both popularity and marketing & advertising opportunities.

Purchasing on social media platforms – It’s still in the early stages, but it’s the next logical step: selling directly to consumers via social media without having to direct them to a website. It’s already possible on Instagram and Pinterest, with Facebook and a few others currently experimenting with the idea.

Smarter, ‘real’ messaging

Social media is helping to shape our future, both in our personal lives and the business world, and it’s changing rapidly. We are going from Instagramming every meal we eat and tweeting about the mundane daily habits of our cats to deducing all that information to craft more powerful and tailored messages; quality over quantity. The web is about to get a lot smarter too; semantic search, artificial intelligence and targeted advertising are not far off, and Gartner predict that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human. Zuckerberg aims to have AI smarter than a human in place at Facebook within ten years.

Snapchat is the perfect example of what brands should be getting on board with – engagement is through the roof and according to a new survey from Piper Jaffray, it has now surpassed Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as the most popular social media platform among teenagers, with 28% stating that they believe it to be the most important social network, up from 19% last Autumn. Snapchat is fast becoming one of the most popular platforms because it’s provided us something that’s been missing from social media. It’s catching the attention of multiple generations, from Baby Boomers to Generation Z, because it’s become the closest platform to emulate real life: Snapchat is one-on-one and intimate. Once an interaction is had and shared, it disappears, leaving you with just the memory of it.

 

Up close and personal

We’ll see a lot more apps and platforms like this because they provide brands with a direct line to the customer’s inbox. They offer a level playing field for brands of all sizes, where it’s more about conversational interaction than marketing and crafting promotional content. Brands can be far more casual and friendly in tone with customers, which leads to increased fan engagement. The iHeartRadio music festival is the perfect example of how brands can leverage apps like Snapchat: fans sharing their excitement and snapshots of the event, and companies learning what their followers love and engaging directly with them in a more candid back-and-forth way. The points of engagement are also very specific and measurable votes of approval (and measuring social media results and ROI is something that many companies struggle with and differ over).

Platforms like Snapchat create an authentic brand experience, because it’s an incredible way to tell a story in a very personal manner; the impermanence and playfulness encourages brands as well as people to let their personalities shine. Marketers and business managers, take note: you need to go where your customers are, and in the near future that means personal, direct Snapchat-like services, via photo and video engagement.

IT’S PR, DARLING

With the release of Absolutely Fabulous the Movie just around the corner, Woman & Home stepped inside the glamorous world of PR to meet the real-life Edinas –  who actually do the hard work, sweetie – including our own Maggie Zaboura.

GET INTO THE FESTIVAL SPIRIT WITH OLLOCLIP: TOP 6 SHOTS TO PERFECT THIS SEASON, DESPITE THE DRIZZLE

It’s festival season again and Coachella weather would be awesome but let’s not forget where we live; the occasional downpour – and potentially the bad hair that comes with it – are just something that every British festival-goer has to tackle. This year though, olloclip, genius inventors of revolutionary smartphone photography solutions, are reminding you how to make even a rainy day look incredible on camera! Their wide range of clip-on lenses are designed to give you all the power of a professional photographer with just a neat little package that fits into your pocket or hangs around your neck (leaving more hands for beer).

Here are six shots to nail this year:

 

Wide angle of stage

Trying to capture all the action on stage can be tough, but olloclip’s 4-in-1 lens features four lenses in one clip. This includes a wide-angle lens specifically designed to capture more, so it will always look as awesome as it did on the day.

Macro shots

Let’s face it, it’s probably going to rain. But it’s not just raindrops that look amazing up close – eyes, flowers, skin, even the bubbles in a drink! Make the most of the little things with the 4-in-1’s two macro lenses (10x and 15x), perfect for documenting the detail you usually miss out on.

Group selfie

The all-important group selfie. Those perfect moments when you’re having the time of your life, and it needs immortalising. olloclip’s lenses clip on both front and rear-facing cameras, so you can use the wide-angle lens to make sure you get everyone and everything in shot.

 

ollogram

Get a fresh perspective and watch the world through the looking glass. All you’ll need is your smartphone, your fingers and the 4-in-1’s wide angle lens. It’s that simple

 

Festival Periscope

If you’re not already using Periscope, you’re late to the party. It works perfectly with olloclip lenses, too: use any lens and create your own festival footage to broadcast throughout the weekend. You can also check out live videos by other festivalgoers, including backstage interviews and footage from exclusive parties.

 

Fisheye with festival backdrop

Because why not. Get silly; you’re at a festival. 360-degree video is all the rage right now so forget face swapping and get some panoramic festival fisheye shots.

 

A must-have for festival season, the olloclip 4-in-1 lens is available at olloclip.com for £69.99.