When Instagram announced the removal of likes on the platform, we mourned the easy access we had to an influencer’s top line engagement metrics; concerned about what it would mean for social media and influencer marketing.
Three months on, Facebook has now decided to trial the removal of likes in Australia. This is a bold decision for the social media giant who made the ‘thumbs up’ a globally recognised symbol of online popularity and approval.
When Facebook announced the major platform change on Monday, the social media giant cited similar motivations that led Instagram to remove the like count. Mia Farlick, the ANZ Director of Policy at Facebook said, ‘the test aimed to help people focus less on likes and more on telling a story’. From this, we can conclude that it’s a way of harnessing the social elements of the platform and shifting away from the popularity contest that negatively affected the mental health of many Australians.
Three months on, we also believe this change has also benefitted the world of social media and influencer marketing.
Here are 3 reasons why we should be celebrating the removal of likes:
We can measure what matters
While likes are a great way to measure how engaged your audience is with your content, it has been known to overshadow more important metrics, like driving traffic to a website. Now that this ‘vanity’ metric is hidden, it gives us the opportunity to explore other measurement options that are likely more important for a client’s bottom line.
It could lead to more authentic content from influencers
The removal of likes allows influencers to experiment with new types of creative that break away from highly curated feeds and ‘polished’ content. This could be beneficial for brand collaborations by making their endorsements carry more weight due to the influencers not being so dependent on the validation of likes.
It could create more genuine communities
By removing the like count, we can use social media platforms to create more conversation. This means encouraging comments and creating a space where a consumer’s opinions are valued. Perhaps this change will entice consumers to write a comment or send a DM instead of hitting the like button, creating genuine consumer-brand relationships.
At this stage, we don’t know if the removal of likes will become the platform’s standard operating procedure. But we’re hoping this change is here to stay.
Australia’s lagging broadband speed aside, the amount of data we produce daily is astronomical. And it’s only set to increase. By 2020, there will be 40 times more bytes of data than there are stars in the universe.
This data economy has paved the way for whole new industries – tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook wouldn’t be where they are today if not for their complex algorithms which analyse trillions of data points on billions of people every day.
For traditional industries like media, understanding data has become a matter of survival. The changing ways we consume media has put a strain on traditional news outlets, which have seen major contraction.
But in true Darwinist fashion – data savvy media are thriving.
Australia’s most visited online news outlets (the likes of your News.com.au and Daily Mail) have seen readership surge through the adoption of a churn and burn publishing model, which feeds data on article clicks, shares and search performance straight back into editorial planning.
Successful online publications are agile, reactive and (thanks to data) understand their readers implicitly. As a result, their stories consistently climb to the top of our news feeds.
Media has evolved, it’s time we did too
Public relations professionals have traditionally relied less on data and more on experience to inform strategy, at least compared to their counterparts in other marketing disciplines.
You could argue that an industry built on relationships doesn’t have the same need to digitise its practices – but to really claim a deep understanding of today’s media, we need to start looking at the news cycle with the same analytical lens.
When applied to PR, data is an amazing tool. You can use data to predict news cycles and trends, discover the topics and content formats that track higher for social engagement, and even pinpoint the best day of the week or time of the day to go out with your story.
On top of ideation, data can help identify the publications and journalists that have the highest share of voice on a given topic, allowing us to better tailor the news we share with them, and ultimately get our clients’ word in front of the right audiences.
With journalists increasingly measured by clicks, shares and search performance, data allows us to unearth new insights and story hooks to turn a good story into a great one.
You don’t have to be a data scientist to get started
A tool you can get going with right away is Google Trends, an effort born from Google’s News Initiative to help journalists thrive in a digital context.
With 5 billion searches made on the internet every day, search data is a powerful tool for gauging public sentiment on current affairs and breaking news, which can be used to inform a direction of thinking, or even generate a story in itself.
Following mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, we uncovered a spike in public concern which provided a timely hook to the work our client, Greening Australia is doing to improve water quality in the region. News.com.au’s environment editor even worked the search trend into her coverage.
Digging for a story? Proprietary data is a goldmine
Most brands, consumer facing or not, are collectors of data. While their data might not seem like much on face value, when analysed correctly it could be just the type of information that journalists are hungry for.
For those unequipped to analyse spreadsheets or databases, there are others who will do the hard yards for you; Data Journalists are a new breed of journalist, exploring the vast amount of digital information being made available and finding digestible ways of presenting it.
We not long ago partnered with Fairfax Data Journalist Craig Butt to create traffic-led stories using Traffic Analytics tools from HERE Technologies, a global provider of mapping services and location data intelligence technology.
Thanks to a strong local appetite for traffic and congestion stories, the result was a series of in-depth articles rolled out across Fairfax’s mastheads utilising HERE’s powerful data and featuring commentary from HERE’s traffic and location technology experts. The data was brought to life through interactives displaying how traffic congestion impacts commuting, which are used in breaking traffic stories to this day.
The Fairfax team are so proud of this collaboration that they have twice put forward the joint project for Australian journalism awards.
And there’s no reason this approach can’t work with other industries. Any data that creates debate, sparks a conversation with audiences or illustrates the problem your brand is solving has the potential to increase awareness through column inches.
Just like we’re seeing with the media industry, the growing ubiquity of data has the power to transform public relations for the better – if we as communicators are willing to learn and adapt.
While we remain hopeful that the digital outlet will find its feet, we must ask ourselves: where would our media landscape be without mass listicles, click-bait quizzes and meme-driven blog posts?
And, should we have to live without them, how can we mould our content strategies to suit the incoming status quo – now and over the next few years?
Other free digital outlets are showing similar cause for concern, with Conde Nast rumoured to be putting up paywalls on all their US titles, and free online news sites taking knocks in all corners.
In the wake of these changes, brands need to be able to bring understanding of their audiences in-house and avoid simply imitating trending media formats – in other words, learn to stand on their own two feet. Here, a renewed focus on what the people want, and how best to give it to them, is imperative.
A few things we learnt from the red giant
BuzzFeed’s growth story is a real crash course in digital disruption, altering their offerings and constantly improving their content for search optimisation and mass engagement. They played into the waiting thumbs of young audiences around the world. What do the people want? Cat GIFs. What are the people going to get? You guessed it. Cat GIFs.
At some level, they helped to invent a new media landscape: the biggest-scale digital model for revenue production they could come up with. And then they kept evolving.
They branched out to feed the outliers, with more sophisticated platforms like the Pulitzer Prize-nominated BuzzFeed News. They saturated the social media space – when Facebook became all about the video, they did too, and very effectively at that. And they partnered with brands to create bespoke native advertising, providing an “authentic” means of talking to millennials when brands didn’t know how to.
Their agility has been remarkable, hinged on a dedication to understanding their audiences’ interests. But with so many shifts in consumer perception, brands can’t just outsource their audiences to the big players.
Know your audience, and how best to speak to them
These days, in a world of increasing automation, algorithms and fake news, consumers are craving the one thing that we won’t likely lose in a hurry: genuine humanity. Authentic stories told by real people that really connect and provide value to the reader are the way forward in a market where consumer trust is hard-won and cut-through is nigh on impossible.
According to Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber, millennial influence is a key driver of this shift: “They want committed brands with authentic products. Natural, simpler, more local and if possible small, as small as you can.”
In fact, a study showed that big brands in the US were losing $22bn market share over only five years owing to the audience’s favour of small companies. And VICE’s new youth survey The Big Shrink surveyed 3,700 16-38 year-olds, finding that avoiding stereotypes and hero-ing credibility and authenticity is the only way forward for media in the 21st century.
So, yes. The “Which Melancholy Vegetable Matches your Personality?”quiz will always be great for a mindless scroll on the morning tram commute (I’m a ‘downcast cabbage’ if anyone is interested). But in a world now over-saturated with this kind of viral celeb-centred content, and fraught with global disaster, readers are beginning to want to know more about real stories and real value closer to home.
Blended, owned content strategies are the future
The news of BuzzFeed’s potential diminishment in the market signals a need for organisations to build blended content strategies, where their owned assets (such as a website, content hub or, god forbid, a database) live at the centre of their publishing priorities.
This is firstly because we clearly can’t rely on the digital media gods (Vice, Vox, Refinery and more) to provide their services in perpetuity, or rely on the fact that their model will be relevant in perpetuity. They are as prone to market weakness as anyone is, and shouldn’t be leant on in place of internal innovation.
But it’s also because a healthy mix of owned and quality earned media will prove more sustainable in the long run, and paint a more holistic view of your brand from the outset. By tapping into your own amplification and distribution channels, you can engage your (well-defined) audiences on a more intimate level amongst their daily highs and lows to truly create resonance and connection – rather than relying on a third party or superficial templated posts.
Owning and creating your own brand of storytelling with authentic, engaging and actually interesting content that caters to the right audiences, is a sure way to weather the digital storm.
Change is inevitable, but real stories last forever.
We know a thing or two about food at Keep Left – just check out our Instagram stories for proof!
To celebrate our new kitchen and photography studio being open for business, we sat down with our Studio Manager, Natasha Pavlou to find out her top five tips for creating the perfect foodie photo.
Planning is key
As with any creative project – planning and preparation is key to getting the result you want.
Natasha recommends visualising what you want the final image to look like and working backwards from there.
“When we are doing a shoot we always plan out the shot list and break down the suggested styling and background elements.
Think about the dish itself – if you’re baking a layered cake and want to photograph it from a 45 degree angle, a cake stand may be the way to go. Or perhaps you’re baking cookies then placing them on a cooling rack. In this case, it may be better to shoot from above to add some texture and layers to the shot.”
Find great light
Lighting can be tricky in food shoots.
“Making food look delicious on camera can be a lot trickier than you think. Sometimes blending a natural light source from a window works with some additional fill light to bring any highlights or shadows into the shot. When using natural light – we usually use something to diffuse and soften the light so it’s not too direct on the subject.”
Get some work-in-progress shots
It can be easy to focus on getting the final plated-up food shot, but you miss out on some great opportunities for content along the way.
“If your photographer can set up the lighting early and then take the camera off to be able to capture some work-in-progress shots then why not! Make sure you capture some shots during the preparation and cooking process. It’s a great way to capture the story of your dish and highlight the freshness of your ingredients.”
Emphasise the natural beauty of the food
Think about what makes a dish delicious and then serve it in a way that flaunts that.
“There is nothing better than the crispy, golden skin on a roast turkey – so photograph the whole bird to highlight the crunchy skin, rather than slicing it up. If you’re photographing sausage rolls, capture the texture of the puff pastry to make your audience’s mouth water.”
Craft your story
The job of a food stylist and photographer isn’t just to make the food look delicious. It’s to bring it to life and to tell a story.
“Work your shot for the audience it is intended for. Are your audience into more home cooked food? If so, then you might be in a more homely setting with some plates on the side with some serving elements and a chair in the background with some natural light coming in.
Or does your audience prefer fine dining? If so, then you might create a perfect place setting and shoot the image from above to show the intricate details of the meal.”
Need the perfect space to shoot your next campaign or recipe book?
Contact Natasha for more details about our kitchen studio.
With a concentrated media landscape, it’s never been more important to take an integrated approach to client storytelling.
Since formally expanding our services to include content production two years ago, we have met a number of talented creatives who visually bring our client’s key messages to life. One of those artists is Kate Tartsus, an experienced video producer with a passion for visual storytelling and multimedia production.
Today we took Kate away from the computer to talk about the power of animated storytelling and how businesses can use this tool to effectively communicate complex, boring or sensitive ideas in a visually engaging way.
Tell us a little bit about yourself Kate
Where do I begin…I was born in Estonia and moved to the UK in my early twenties to complete a Public Relations degree at University of the Arts. When I graduated, I started working as a film publicist at a global communications agency in London. This is where I discovered my passion for visual communications. The company I was working for helped me enrol into several courses and before I knew it, I was a qualified video producer who knew she had found her calling.
What is animated storytelling?
It’s a design technique that puts storytelling at the heart of animation. You can tell a story by shooting a live action piece or create a whole world from scratch, using animation. Shooting live action is fun, but sometimes there are elements that are totally out of your control such as lighting, location availability and talent. With animation, you can design, light and animate characters however you choose.
While each method has its own challenges, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your vision come to life after hours of toying around with different character rigs. You have complete creative control of how a message is visually portrayed which means everything is there by design and nothing is left to chance. For a brand it means that every character move, every bit of typography, colour or shape is intentional, and part of a bigger picture.
Why should businesses embrace animated storytelling?
We have used animated storytelling initiatives for a variety of our corporate and consumer clients over the past 6-12 months. It is a great option when there are elements of your video that you cannot capture using live action such as when you are making a forward prediction or want to communicate a futuristic concept. It can also be effective when you want to say something sensitive in a way that your audience can easily digest.
When done well, I believe animated storytelling adds an extra layer of satisfaction to a viewer’s experience.
Orthodontics Australia by ASO explainer animation
What are your tips for animation?
The most important part of your animation is the script. At Keep Left, we work with a team of very talented copywriters who perfect this part of the workflow before production begins. For a designer, it can be tempting to jump right in and start devising visuals, but you need to make sure you have a strong, clear and logical script first.
Another thing I always say to our clients is to make sure they focus on one or two key messages. When it comes to visual communication, you don’t want to bombard your viewer with superfluous information because they won’t be able to grasp what you are really trying to say. As a rule of thumb, stick to one or two key messages per 30 seconds of visual information.
Something that often gets overlooked when it comes to animation is the quality of sound. I recommend hiring a professional audio producer as having someone who is specialised in sound can make a real difference and elevate the creative work.
FlickPay explainer animation
Any final words?
Animation brings together the strengths of multiple communications specialists, but we always build on the foundations of storytelling by leading with a strong character and helping a brand connect with their audience in a meaningful way. We create commercial films that take viewers on a journey with a brand’s product or service and when it comes to content marketing, there is nothing more powerful than that.
It’s not often our work impacts lives in such a direct way.
But this week, Keep Left had the privilege of working with Ambulance Victoria to launch a lifesaving smartphone app, through an integrated campaign which included tear jerking videos, action orientated media coverage and a huge government, stakeholder and media event.
The innovative GoodSAM app alerts qualified registered first responders, such as off-duty paramedics, firefighters, doctors and nurses to a nearby cardiac arrest after a call is made to Triple Zero (000).
Its already helped save the lives of two Victorians through the pilot phase where more than 1000 Ambulance Victoria paramedics volunteered and through our campaign to drive more registrations, we’ve helped grow the army of Good Samaritans ready save more lives.
The technology can alert up to three nearby responders, using GPS to direct them to the patient and the nearest publicly accessible defibrillator to start the chain of survival before emergency services arrive.
Why the big deal? Every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces someone’s chance of survival from cardiac arrest by 10 percent, so while an ambulance is on its way, the GoodSAM app connects patients with first responders to start the chain of survival.
Keep Left and Ambulance Victoria worked together to deliver an integrated approach to the campaign, which had three vital stages
1. Driving defibrillator registrations through targeted Victorian metro and regional media and social content amplification
2. Increasing registrations amongst the first responder community through engaging insights-led video content
3. A significant launch event with a well-coordinated package to raise awareness of the app (and why a paramedic in their PJs could save your life).
Showcasing the functions of the app, stories of cardiac arrest survivors and an emotive case study demonstrating the power of GoodSAM, our film production helped add heart to an important technological development (and we’re pretty sure a tear in The Hon Premier Daniel Andrew’s eye.) He wasn’t the only one though – grab the tissue box and take a look for yourself:
And the results have been powerful.
Key messages delivered through hundreds of pieces of high quality metro and regional TV, radio, print and online media coverage.
Every minute without CPR following a cardiac arrest reduces the chance of survival by 10%
This App is saving lives. It connects people having a heart attack with trained professionals nearby so they can get to the scene first while an ambulance is still on the way. #9Todaypic.twitter.com/0FB2OKWnUR
Thousands of video views. Millions of eyeballs reached.
Help for cardiac arrest patients is closer than ever before. Now when 000 is called, not only will an ambulance be sent, but nearby off-duty medical professionals will also be alerted. @MelinaSarris7#7Newspic.twitter.com/wcI2x13pRd
Google’s recent annual developer conference, Google I/O, gave us a sneak peek into the inner workings of their empire. We saw how in the not too distant future, Google Assistant will be making calls and writing emails for us, and how augmented reality will seriously level-up Google Maps.
On one hand, the conference was a not-so-subtle reminder of the tech giant’s continued oligopolistic reign over all things internet. On the other hand, it was really cool.
At Keep Left, we love tech. We love the way it makes our lives easier and better connected, but also the way it makes us more efficient at what we do best: getting the right messages in front of the right people, in the right way and at the right time.
After much internal debate, here’s a run-down of some of our favourite (read: coolest) technologies unveiled at this year’s Google I/O.
1. Google Duplex
One of the most widely discussed technologies revealed at Google I/O was Google Duplex, which enables the Google Assistant to make and hold a phone conversation with a real, live human all by itself. The most impressive part? It doesn’t even sound remotely robotic.
As Google CEO Sundar Pichai alluded to during his presentation, the ramifications of this technology are incredible. It goes beyond making an appointment at the hairdresser or booking a table for dinner. It could help small businesses without an online booking function. It could help people who cannot make phone calls due to disability or anxiety. Down the line, it could make calls in other languages.
It’s a technology that has the power to revolutionise the way we live, work, travel and communicate with those around us, and for some of us it could be at our fingertips in the next few months.
2. Google Lens Beta
Google Lens has been around for a while, but the new version is even beta (unlike our puns), analysing everything your phone sees before you even capture an image. If you point your phone’s camera at a piece of art or a beautiful building, Google Lens can tell you what it is. If you point it at a dress you love, it’ll tell you where to buy it. Point it at a photo of a musician and it will offer you the option to play a music video by the artist.
In a few weeks, a new Google Lens feature called style match will help you look up visually similar furniture and clothing, so you can find a look you like. #io18pic.twitter.com/mH4HFFZLwH
But what got our team even more excited is that Google Lens will also be able to interpret written words. If it’s the page of a book, it’ll allow you to copy and paste the text it sees. If it’s a handwritten note or a menu in a restaurant, it’ll allow you to copy text from the real world to your phone. Think of the time saving after those whiteboard sessions! Think about how much more legible V’s handwriting will be.
Plus, Google Lens will be built inside the camera app instead of in Google Photos, so you won’t even need to open a new app to use it. Google Lens Beta will be rolling out across 10 different Android phones in the coming weeks (WEEKS!), so if you have an LGE, Motorola, Xiaomi, Sony Mobile, HMD/Nokia, Transsition, TCL, OnePlus, BQ, Asus or Google Pixel… watch out!
3. Google Maps + AR
Google Maps has been assisting the hopelessly lost and the directionally challenged for years now, but the latest updates will make it even easier for people to navigate areas they don’t know well. Google found that GPS was no longer cutting the mustard, and so have been investing in a new technology called VPS, or Visual Positioning System. It uses the visual features in the environment around you to recognise local landmarks and get you back on track.
But it’s not all about the destination. Google will pair AI with Street View to give an interactive AR experience, enabling you to make your journey from A to B with more knowledge and confidence. Whether it’s giving you information about the shops along your route or a friendly companion to show you the way, the new Google Maps will help you feel like a local in no time.
One of the core Google products which is being redesigned with AI is Gmail. Google announced it would be adding a feature called Smart Compose to Gmail, which uses machine learning to draft your email as you type. It understands the subject you’re talking about and makes recommendations based on it, and will use the information it knows about you, such as your address, to make suggestions. To accept a suggestion, all you need to do is hit tab.
It’s a bit like predictive text but a million times better.
So there we have it. Google will soon be writing our emails, calling our hairdressers, and advising us on our home interiors. Is it scary, or is it cool? OK Google…
Over the past six months, the Keep Left team has brought more than 20 events and experiences to life, from topping out ceremonies for our property clients and hydrating guests with FIJI Water at Melbourne’s Diner en Blanc, to entertaining the public at park cinemas and playing host to happy campers at Kathmandu’s Hidden Retreat.
Future-proof your communications with data-driven storytelling.
One thing’s for sure, there are already enough buzzwords in this world.
We didn’t intend to introduce another one when we launched our data-driven storytelling methodology a couple of weeks back. We did it because we think it encapsulates how the most successful communications campaigns will be built, delivered and evaluated in the future and as an agency, wanted to be ahead of the curve.
So by way of unpacking it, here’s what we mean by data-driven storytelling and why you should care about it too, if you want to elevate and future-proof your communications:
Stories are how we connect as humans: Storytelling is a term that gets bandied around a lot, but it’s not a new fad – it’s existed since the beginning of time. Stories are how we teach lessons, change behaviours, instil morals and ethics and of course, stories are how we connect. Does your organisation push out disparate marketing messages connected to products or services, or tell a deeper story consistently that’s connected to your brand’s DNA? The right answer is a combination of both is what’s required to cut through.
But is anyone listening? There’s no point having a great story to tell if no one is going to hear it. Having the content is one thing, but having a strategy to get it out there – and controlling the timing and delivery of this – is the other important element. We’re increasingly recommending a combined earned, owned and paid strategy to make sure your story and message reaches the intended audience on the platforms they’re using.
Data is the new oil: These words came from the mouth of Kevin Plank, the CEO of apparel company Under Armour who recently betted big on a number of health tracking apps because it wants to play a role in helping consumers track their health data. Data is all around us and it is everywhere. There’s nowhere to hide when the analytics reports come in. With the increasing digitisation of media and the consumer buying journey, we’re plugging into all available data sources when planning, delivering and evaluating campaigns. It’s a big step moving from being ‘words people’ to ‘numbers people’ but it’s the way of the future and how we at Keep Left ultimately intend to prove our value.
If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist: This is our mantra. We don’t want to be an agency that talks about our success in terms of sentiment, AVE or even share of voice. We want to be able to show how our work helped deliver a measure outcome, action or conversion.
Our commitment to data-driven storytelling means you’ll always start with the right story, informed by insight and analytics, and we’ll take responsibility for seeing that story through to make sure it reaches the intended audience at the intended time.
It’s high impact communications that can be measured.
Storytelling via earned media continues to change. See how Keep Left is taking the humble survey mechanic to a whole new level for its clients.
ME case study
Consumer research is a tried and tested part of the PR toolkit. But nowadays, research on its own is not enough to cut through and tell a compelling story. Stats bounce off a reader and don’t have a lasting impact. Good storytelling connects with the heart as well as the head, so we’ve started developing editorial packages that aim to do both. We call this multimedia storytelling.
Our PR and content teams work together to determine how to build the best package, including:
· The narrative: Omnibus research often throws up a plethora of stats which can be overwhelming on mass. We decide what the crux of the story is and build a narrative around it to explore the key point in more depth.
· Creative mechanic: Vox pops, stunts, infographics. There are a myriad of ways to creatively tell a story these days using video, design or even audio. People prefer to watch and listen than read, and with the increasing dominance of digital, it stands to reason storytelling should be more creative – not just written words.
· Distribution: Earned media (PR) is still the main vehicle we use to get our clients’ stories out there, but we equally consider our clients’ owned assets (website/eDM), social channels as well as paid amplification. We produce a suite of assets that work alongside a static media release or pitch note, to control the message and take the audience on a journey.
Putting it into practice
We commissioned an Omnibus study recently on behalf of bank ME to better understand financial literacy and where the gaps existed, as part of ME’s commitment to helping Australians get ahead.
The research revealed some patchy knowledge, so after speaking to ME and understanding what was really important, we decided to deep-dive into the area that’s of most significance – home loan interest rates. The video we made was real, authentic, relatable and just a little bit funny. It was also extremely topical with interest rates fluctuating rapidly at the time (June 2015).
We sold the research results and video package into Fairfax Money who published a multi-media story on 9 June across the print Money section (Melbourne / Sydney) as was syndicated the online story – including our branded video – to 150 Fairfax publications online. The story performed so well, that it was promoted up to The Age’s homepage during the lunchtime peak, where it remained for a few hours.
This approach took dry statistics and through insight gathering and the development of a central narrative, developed it into a full-bodied story that was interesting, relatable and connected emotionally as well as rationally. We can’t wait to do the next one.