SABRE In2 Awards EMEA honours ShareThyme

A chance supermarket encounter between a 79 year old Bangladeshi woman and a 32 year old techie became the inspiration for our work with ShareThyme, a digital platform to help combat loneliness.

Since its launch, it’s attracted a community of enthusiastic supporters and united young and old people through a shared love of cooking.

We’ve been working with Red Badger and our agency partners 10x on this project and are proud that this picked up further recognition (after receiving an Honorable Mention in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas 2020) as it has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence in the Best in Digital Brand Platforms category in the In2 SABRE Awards EMEA.

You can read more about the project on Red Badger’s website here.


Congratulations Red Badger team!

We are excited to announce that Red Badger’s ShareThyme has been given an honorable mention in Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards. The platform has been selected for not one, but two mentions in both the Health & Wellbeing and Corporate Social Responsibility categories.

Positive social impact is a key driving force to the work we do Fanclub and integral to our team values, both personally and professionally. As such, we are delighted to be part of such a fantastic project like ShareThyme that’s helping to combat loneliness by bringing generations together through a shared love of cooking.

To see the full list of awards visit Fast Company’s website.

 


Fanclub favs. TikTok

In case you haven’t heard, TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform in the world. While some of us might automatically think of the 2009 hit song by Kesha, for others the name has taken on a whole new meaning and has led to the creation of a unique subculture. For brands, this opportunity to achieve cultural relevance by tapping into nuances and connecting with consumers is why TikTok should be a priority consideration for communication professionals.

We at Fanclub are admittedly big TikTok fans and during the past couple weeks, we have been spending a lot (maybe a bit too much) of time on the app. So in light of this, we thought we would share a list of Fanclub’s favourite TikTok’s. We hope you find them as funny and entertaining as we do! 

 

Emilee: Everybody at Fanclub will be able to tell you that I have been hooked on TikTok for some time now, so hooked that I have even given myself a specific time and limit every day to watch them. Every night at 10 pm, you can find me in bed scrolling through my feed while silently giggling to myself for 30mins. As I am on the app quite frequently, I like to think TikTok’s algorithm knows me quite well, as 90% of the videos that are suggested to me are of either dogs or cute old people. So, in line with my theme, one of my favourite TikTok’s comes from Grandma Sandy, who recently discovered the Coke and Mentos challenge for the first time.

 

Fab: Ok first thing’s first; TikTok is literally nothing like Vine. It offers way more in terms of creativity with filters, green screens and even music built into the app. Now I’ve stated that, let me introduce you to one of my many favourites. For context, Anna Faris is one of my favourite actresses of all time (no one has her level of range) and teamed up with the current coronavirus pandemic, it does nothing but make me laugh every time I watch it.

 

Hannah: At the start of the week, before we decided to write this blog I wasn’t on TikTok. And to be honest I was a little sceptical about all the hype around it. Fast forward to last night, I was up until 1:30am watching TikTok videos. Think it’s safe to say that it’s a little addictive and in times like these when we don’t have much else to do with our evenings what’s the harm, right? Here’s my favourite from last night’sbinge - it’s just his face and the look of regret, the more I watch the funnier it gets…

 

Adrian: For me, TikTok is a snack-sized entertainment platform. But what really blows me away is the amount of creative talent on there; I’m excited about the future of content. Because TikTok just fills in the ‘in-between’ moments for me, I enjoy the comedy videos the most. They’re like a little blast of joy to lift you up. Before the UK went into COVID-19 lockdown, this video was shared with me, and I liked the way that this creator captured the criticism of the government’s delayed response to the threat in a really funny way.

 

Camille: My participation in TikTok up to this point has been limited to following various recipe accounts, watching the Rosa and Marlene TikToks (if you know, you know) and marvelling at how funny my 14-year-old sister is on there. I think it’s really fascinating seeing what’s gone viral and done well from the platform. It’s often the really weird, unpredictable, and silly content that fares best, making it unlike any other platform right now. To that end here’s my pick, I think we can all find something to relate to in this TikTok. Sometimes we are all this aggressively southern child, just wanting to pet a dog, other times we might be the dog that you’re not allowed to pet. Ultimately this is a TikTok about the human condition. Also, this kid’s voice is hilarious.

 

Emily: Amidst the chaos of the world right now, TikTok is undeniably a destination for light relief. What I particularly love at the moment is how its content transcends generations- and keeps the world connected, no matter what their age. Outside of ruddy-faced dads bounding down the driveway to Blinding Lights, and eating a continental breakfast with Old Man Steve , I was beaming when I watched videos from Westhill Park. The residents at the care home in Kettering have all been isolating, but have been staying connected by learning TikTok dance challenges- from Elvis to Doja Cat. For every naysayer who says that TikTok is a Gen Z cesspit, there is a 90-year-old grooving to Funky Town and becoming a small-scale TikTok sensation. It definitely brought a smile to my face!


By Lina Prestwood, producer of the FT's "Culture Call' podcast

Anyone can make a podcast - but with 900,000 series and 30 million episodes available on Apple as I type how do you make a good branded one, one that will actually cut through? After years of working in both television docs and on award-winning branded content in both video and audio, here are some brief thoughts, questions and tips for brands to consider before pressing record.

  1. A podcast is not your field of dreams; just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come - in a cacophonous market where discoverability is the main challenge your podcast has to really give the audience something they can’t get anywhere else. What is your brand’s superpower to exploit? Once you have established that, figure out what you want your podcast to achieve and how you will super-serve your audience (for, indeed, you must)  in order to hit that target.

  2. Clarify your proposition again and again and again until you can articulate it in one sentence. It will inform EVERYTHING you do from top to bottom whether it’s booking guests, writing questions, choosing music and marketing your work.  Think about at least one format point that gives you, your guests and your listeners a guiding principle for the conversation. From Desert Island Discs to Reply All to TED Radio Hour all have clear format points and a clarity of editorial focus that their audience know and love. Be specific, be niche - that will win you fans in podcast land.

  3. Create a clear sonic identity for your series and treat it with the care that you would any other part of your branding -- think of your favourite podcasts and chances are you will be able to hear them clearly in your head. (Hopefully it goes without saying that you need to ensure your podcast’s tech is up to the job, and that you need to edit your podcast properly -  inarticulate ramblings and unsatisfying tangents can occur in even the most intelligent of conversations, no doubt, but lose them or lose your audience). While we are here: cough up a few hundred quid for your own theme music and some stings exclusive to your brand and treat your producer to access to a music library - it doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out Epidemic, for example.

  4. Whether it’s Serial, Jessie Ware’s Table Manners or The Guardian’s Today in Focus, all good podcasts  - i.e. the ones you genuinely look forward to updating in your feed and happily share -  are, at their core, entertaining stories and so get a producer who values editorial pre-production as much as technical production. By researching your guests and putting genuine thought into your discussion and scripts ahead of time you are respecting your contributors and your listeners - and your host will come off as an absolute star; the women I work with at the FT on Culture Call are brilliant interviewers as a result of the remarkable journalistic integrity they bring to the table. Culture Call is an extension of the FT brand - it’s hosted by two FT editors and brings listeners behind the scenes every now and then but ultimately our listeners stay for the fact that they have two smart as hell hosts talking to the people who are pushing culture forward.

  5. Before you start, ring-fence your branding clearly - will you mention it once at the top and leave it? Half way through? Or even just in the artwork and not at all in the audio? However heavily or lightly your brand features please don’t try and subtly drop it in ninja style - podcast audiences readily understand that brands pay for great content but won’t take kindly to feeling like they’re being tricked into listening to an advert.

Lina Prestwood is a former documentaries commissioning editor at Channel 4 and executive producer at Virtue where she was responsible for the branded content of brands such as Mazda and Lexus, including the viral film First Flight for Vodafone (which won a couple of Cannes Lions and a Lovie and was watched over 4m times on YouTube). Her audio documentaries about Fathers and Sons for Mr. Porter took gold for Best Branded and Podcast of the Year at the British Podcast Awards in 2017 and she currently produces Culture Call for the FT.

Listen to Lina's podcast by clicking the image below.

Welcome to the team The Chemistry Group

One of the books that has most influenced me is called “From Good To Great” by Jim Collins, in which he studied the traits of high performing companies. Chapter Three is titled, “Who… Then What”. The basic premise of this is that “good-to-great leaders” begin transformation by finding the right people, then figuring what to do with them. In other words, the right talent in the right roles is the engine of high-perfoming companies, over and above anything else. It’s something I absolutely believe in.

So too, does our latest client The Chemistry Group. It believes that everyone should have the opportunity to be brilliant at work. And it has the behavioural and data scientists, and technology to help match people to roles by predicting their performance with stunning accuracy.

They liked us, too. Roger Philby, CEO at The Chemistry Group, commented, “Fanclub really impressed us as an agency that shares both our business values and ambition to help everyone thrive at work. Fanclub was able to demonstrate its expertise with a clear strategy to convey a compelling narrative and build our position as a trusted talent strategy partner to today’s top business leaders”.

Good chemistry, you might say. Onwards to great work, then.


Hacking PR to supercharge e-commerce & digital

We know that PR has more to offer the digital world and it’s been our mission over the last few years to bridge this gap.

We have invested in our knowledge, experimented with our clients, created new processes, adopted new tools, and have spent a lot of time listening to digital marketers. What we discovered is that PR has the potential to supercharge digital sales. It just needs to be engineered in the right way.

We’ve taken what we’ve learned over the last few years, looked at what’s coming up in the future and have published a guide to hacking PR for e-commerce and digital sales. It includes

  • an explanation of how the ‘death of the linear customer journey’ has impacted the role or PR in sales
  • an overview of new channels of influence
  • practical advice on how to optimise PR to deliver more value across organic and paid search, shoppable social media and voice
  • an overview of the role of algorithms for content discovery and what it means for PR and communications professionals.

It’s free to download. Just click here

You can thank us by giving us your feedback at hello@fanclubpr.com, or drop us a line about anything else you’d like to hear from us.


Algorithms as the new editors

By Adrian Ma

If you catch me in an 'in-between' moment, you'll most likely find me scrolling through one of my feeds on Facebook or Instagram. It was while scrolling through Facebook that I learned of the death of Delores O'Riordan from the Cranberries. In fact, it's where I discover a lot of news.

I'm not alone in here. A Reuters study points out, 51% of us are now using social media as a news source, which marks a shift in news and content discovery that we need to build into our own working practices.

the role of gatekeeper to news stories is falling out of the hands of editors, and into the hands of the algorithms that promote organic content on our feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc.

I don’t think that algorithms will completely replace editors. I certainly hope not, anyway (that’s another topic). But as PRs, it’s our role to manage the visibility of brand reputation, and because of this, we need to adapt our way of working to ensure that we’re considering the role of the social algorithm in content discovery.

Let’s use the Facebook algorithm as an example. Facebook breaks down the steps to its newsfeed algorithm into four stages

  1. Inventory – Facebook takes an inventory of the stories that you and your friends have posted and the pages you follow
  2. Signals – Facebook considers all data available to determine how interested you will be in a story (these include who posted a story and how much engagement it has had)
  3. Predictions – Facebook then uses signals to make a prediction to calculate how probably you are to read, comment or share a story
  4. Score – Facebook generates a ‘relevancy’ score

 

This process happens every time you open Facebook, and determines what your feed looks like.

Changes that Facebook announced recently may, of course, change all this. But the one thing that remains clear is that if you’re working on a story that you want to be discovered, it’s important to consider the role of ‘Signals’ in discovery. This is true of any social media platform and the algorithms work in very similar ways.

Mainly, this means that if you want your content (whether it be a piece of coverage, or something direct from a brand) to be seen, it’s got to be something that receives engagement.

Of course, there are those that seek to ‘game’ these algorithms. I’ve known Instagram influencers to create WhatsApp groups (or ‘Pods’, as they call them), with fellow influencers to announce when a piece of content is posted, so that they can all ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on it at the same time in the hope that it will increase visibility.

We’re not suggesting that you adopt these practices. In the long term, these algorithms always wise up to them, and you’d run the risk of being penalised as a result of these ‘Black Hat’ practices.

But at the very least, you should be considering your role after a piece of coverage has been landed, or a piece of content is live. Life doesn’t stop with coverage. In fact, for many of our clients, it’s just the start and it's our job to work with them to help get it discovered.

For more about Facebook’s algorithm, check out this article on Social Examiner.


We chat WeChat

By Matthew Taylor

As of July 2017, Chinese super-app WeChat had 900 million daily active users, with 50% of those using the app for more than 90 minutes daily. This is more than Facebook, which last year reported its average daily user time was 55 minutes.

Lauded for its stickiness, WeChat has moulded a unique, addictive platform that has combined lifestyle, commerce, communication and service into one completely immersive, disruptive life hack. Since its launch in 2011, the all-conquering platform has transformed the fabric of China’s digital landscape.

Recently we had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Edward Lindeman, Chinese Specialist and Business Development Manager at Digital Retex, WeChat’s trusted European delivery partner. In his two years living in China prior to joining Digital Retex, Edward experienced first-hand the immense power and utility of WeChat and the way that it’s changing daily life. But also, he saw the vast potential for businesses to build real, tangible consumer relationships in-app.

Speaking on WeChat's mammoth adoption, to what the future holds for the app and consumers, here’s what Edward had to say:

Why should we care about what WeChat is?

There are a few simple reasons why Europe needs to sit up and take notice. First and foremost, WeChat is setting the benchmark for integrating mobile services into social media, something that is being targeted more and more by western mobile services and social media platforms. We know that social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are paying close attention to WeChat, wanting to copy some of the incredible online-to-offline functionality inside the app. And with WeChat’s incredible user engagement rates, it’s a great example to follow in an increasingly competitive digital and mobile space.

Ultimately, if you want to predict what the future of social media and digital commerce will look like in the west, WeChat is a great place to start.

How are businesses leveraging WeChat to build consumer relationships?

Businesses traditionally use WeChat as a platform to share engaging content, in a similar way to how a company would do with social platforms in the West. This content can come in the form of articles, photos and videos that directly inform the user about a brand, and its latest offerings. WeChat is also widely used by brands as a customer service platform that allows followers to interact with a brand and ask it questions, as and when problems arise. In doing so, a brand can either respond in real time using trained staff or, as is being used more and more frequently, by using BOTS that recognise specific terms and questions. Naturally, with pro-active, intuitive and adaptive services, brands are integrating themselves closer within the lives of consumers through WeChat.

If, for example, I were a Chinese tourist following a luxury brand on WeChat, I could message the company’s page and ask where the nearest store to me is in any city around the world. To this, I can expect to get a response within a few minutes. In a wider context, we’re starting to see Facebook and Twitter pages also harness this functionality. Moving forward, I expect to see more sophisticated AI playing a key role in helping brands to build better, more tangible consumer relationships via their social channels. 

What insights can we draw upon for how WeChat works in China, for potential shifts in consumer behaviour on mobile?

One thing we know for sure is that people are spending more and more time on their phones in all parts of the world. Though our standard smartphone screen features tens of different apps like Uber, Deliveroo, Paypal, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Instagram, Google maps and many more, WeChat is showing us that it's possible to integrate these apps into one place. If a social media platform is able to replicate this effectively, then it has the very real potential to change social media from being a platform for communication and content consumption, to a place where people can also access an almost infinite range of online and offline services as well.

And more specifically, how will WeChat develop over the coming years? Are there any trends in terms of western businesses migrating to the app?

It’s hard to say exactly where WeChat will head in the coming years. It’s been one of the world’s biggest innovators in the social media space and the consumer internet in general; predicting what they’ll do next is the million-dollar question! 

I will say, though, that I think there will be a couple of main focuses that will mirror wider consumer and technological trends. Firstly, on the branding side, WeChat will likely focus on providing brands with better tools to create even richer content experiences through tools such as AI and virtual reality. Ultimately with WeChat, better consumer experiences mean higher consumer adoption and usage – this will therefore always be at the strategic focus of everything WeChat does. At the same time, I’d be surprised if Tencent doesn’t try to grow WeChat’s share of the super competitive Chinese e-commerce market that is controlled by its rival partner JD.com, and its rival arch, Alibaba.

On the user side, you can already book taxis, pay utility bills, pay for things in-store and arrange doctor’s appointments through the WeChat digital wallet. Essentially, any service that can be handled through a digital product has already been integrated into WeChat. And whilst I expect there will still be continued on this side with the arrival of new services, I see Tencent turning their focus more towards improving the WeChat user experience overseas, where it has the challenge of re-creating and scaling the experience of the app in China. Because of this, it will be crucial for western companies that serve Chinese tourists, expats and student in the UK and Europe to pay attention to what WeChat is doing in order to continue adapting their services in line with the wants and needs of this key consumer group. 

Can you give a specific example of how exactly it is that WeChat works?

Sure. A day for a Chinese WeChat user could look a little something like this…

Morning

Wake up and check messages from friends and loved ones on WeChat.

Read news stories from official media channels on WeChat.

Hire a bike using WeChat’s mini-app to ride to work.

On your way, you stop for a drink in Starbucks and pay using the WeChat wallet.

After enjoying the drink you order, you recommend Starbucks’ new style of Frappuccino to a friend via WeChat and earn loyalty bonus points as a result.

Once at work, you sign into WeChat desktop to start communicating with colleagues about daily tasks.

Lunch

Order and pay for lunch through WeChat’s Deliveroo equivalent.

Once finished, you leave a review of the food via WeChat.

Afternoon

As your Mum is coming over this evening to visit, you order a cleaner to clean your flat through WeChat.

You instantly pay the cleaner through WeChat’s digital wallet.

After checking your exes’ photos on WeChat moments, you decide that it’s time you went on holiday with your new partner.

You message your boyfriend and remind him that it’s time to book your summer vacation by sending through some options on WeChat.

You book the holiday using the WeChat wallet.

You decide that you need some new clothes for the trip so you buy a few items on Uniqlo’s mini-app built into WeChat.

You hear that you need to get a vaccination for the trip so you immediately book an appointment at the hospital using its mini-app.

Evening

You book a taxi to meet your boyfriend for dinner using WeChat.

You receive messages from your Mum saying that she’s at your apartment, asking why you aren’t here too.

You message your apartment concierge to let your mum into your flat.

Is there anything you could point us towards that really shows WeChat’s impact in China?

Whenever I’m talking to new people about WeChat, I always show them this video. It gives a great overview of the kind of behaviours that take place within WeChat, but also, it really brings to life the scale and impact of WeChat within Chinese life.

Edward Lindeman is Business Development Manager at Digital Retex.

 


More than a pout: The power of the selfie

By Megan Linehan

Entering the grand open space of the Saatchi Gallery and turning left into the first exhibition room, you are met with an unusual sight- a Rembrandt self-portrait on a T.V. screen.

The first room of the From Selfie to Self-Expression reframes the masters for the modern era, placing portraits into a screen, next to a Huawei phone (the smartphone manufacturer who teamed up with the Saatchi Gallery for this exhibition) which encourages viewers to ‘like’ the picture a la Instagram. The growth of technology has changed the way we view images, and ultimately how we as a society behave, perfectly exemplified by the exhibit.

Suddenly with technology, the power of image is not the reserve of talented painters, of photographers who can afford film, or advertisers who can pay for a billboard. Nowadays, everyone has the power to express themselves, and share it with millions online. The exhibit explores this, not only reframing the masters, but also by placing them next to selfies created by Kris Jenner (the matriarch of the infamous Kardashian clan) and various memes that undoubtedly you have seen shared across the internet (including a man who looks remarkably like Jesus).

We are in an era of democratised expression and art, where technology has opened the floodgates of pouts and poses.  And its effects are not only seen in the exhibit content itself, but also in its attendants.

In one large room, a cacophony of voices bounce off the walls, as a projection of thousands of videos (or vlogs, if you’re down with the kids) are played on loop against the walls. While this is an impressive sight- it is not the only interesting thing in the room. I helped at least three different groups of people take pictures of their silhouettes against the walls, witnessed someone film a vlog against the wall with a selfie stick, and joined in the creation of excited Snapchats.

Technology has given us the chance to express ourselves and share our world view. While selfies are often blamed for society’s down fall, they can be a tool for sharing a moment that might have been lost - even if it is only because your eyeliner looks really good that day.

An image tells a thousand words and a selfie can be shared by millions, the selfie is everywhere. The selfie is a mode of communication that should not be ignored- it’s a medium used by all, from world renowned artists to your mother accidently opening the front facing camera. A selfie can be a joke between friends or a piece of art; it’s a bodily movement that has been elevated to be a key part of this era’s cultural zeitgeist. Such a statement is validated with this exhibit. With this exhibit, the selfie has been permanently placed as a part of our culture that isn’t something to look down on; it’s an art form for all.


3 PR lessons from Bjork

By Adrian Ma

Bjork currently has an exhibition on at Somerset House: Bjork Digital. We popped by to see what this is all about, and have distilled what we learned from her into three lessons for you.

1.      There’s always a new way to engage with your audience. As an artist Bjork pushes boundaries. Her use of VR technology takes this to another level altogether. Bjork Digital is less of an exhibition, more of a show, where she controls the sensory experience through technology, in a way that no one has before. Don’t stop innovating with your audience experience.

2.      There are rewards in dividing opinion, if you’re being true to your brand. Not everyone liked all of the content. In one VR experience, you find yourself in her mouth, which distorts and contorts as she sings her song. It feels claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Yet, it’s talked about a lot.

bjork-mouth

3.      You can even innovate with the format of the press conference. Bjork appeared at the press conference of Bjork Digital as an avatar, beamed in from Iceland. This may be a good tip for Philip Green if he wants to avoid the difficult questions at his next AGM. At least he could claim that the connection is dropping out at that crucial moment when he’s cornered about BHS.

Bjork, as an avatar at the press conference of Bjork Digital
Bjork, as an avatar at the press conference of Bjork Digital

Bjork Digital runs until 23rd October. For tickets and info click here.