Stripe Communications Blog

Has Twitter lost its USP? How you can utilise Twitter’s new character limit without feeling compelled to use it.

Has Twitter lost its USP? How you can utilise Twitter’s new character limit without feeling compelled to use it.

This week saw Twitter, famous for its limiting character count, expand the number of characters Tweeters can now use from 140 characters to a generous 280. The aim of this, as described by Twitter, was to allow everyone in the world to express themselves easily.

This was tested in September this year and Twitter found that only 5% of posts made in this time took full advantage of the extended character allowance, however, the posts that did exceed the traditional 140 character limit generally received higher levels of engagement (mentions, replies and retweets).

However, is this good news?

Within 24 hours of Twitter announcing they were extending the character limit for all, bar tweets in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, the #280Characters had been used over 350,000 times, receiving a very mixed response.

Many argued that Twitter has now lost its unique selling point, which made it stand out as a micro-blogging site, whereas others claimed this would fully allow them to share their thoughts online in much more depth and without abbreviations.

The past few days have not given us the clearest idea on how Tweeters and brands alike will choose to use their new found character limit freedom, with most 280 character tweets being filled with either random characters or song lyrics and numerous other ways people have chosen to fill the limit simply to experiment.

Utilising #280Characters

We’ve seen several brands toy with all 280 characters, with some using the space to write longer messages of appreciation from their customers, or grab their followers attention, such as this post by Give Blood NHS.

Others using it to drum up follower engagement with quizzes and emojis, such as this post from Spotify.

My favourite was this from Penguin Classics.

Only time will tell how the new character limit will play out in terms of brands communication with customers and vice versa, opinion sharing and online debates and news sharing, however, if longer tweets have been proven to create higher levels of engagement then why not test it out?

What are your thoughts on the 280 character limit? Will you be writing war and peace in a tweet with your additional characters or shying away from it and sticking to what you know best? Let us know in the comments and share your favourite #280Characters reactions with us!

To the Wildlands and back

To the Wildlands and back

“Let’s make a feature length documentary on the war on drugs and release it alongside the launch of the video game.” When I sit on my sofa with my laptop and write that it sounds easy.

A couple of points to note. We had never made a feature length documentary film. We knew nothing about film distribution. We had a great idea but no idea on how to translate that into something you could sit and watch on a Saturday night.

This week, Wildlands premiers on iTunes and Amazon Prime, followed by GooglePlay, and following an international film premiere at BAFTA. It’s still hard to believe we dared to achieve that.

The term branded entertainment content covers a multitude of sins. Some examples in our industry barely doing those three words justice, some genuinely making a step towards how brands can create meaningful connections to their consumer.

Ubisoft – one of our founding clients in London and one for whom has defined for me, a collaborative partnership, visionary marketeers and a true desire to innovate in a dynamic and fiercely competitive category – tasked us to launch Ghost Recon Wildlands, a video game exploring a fictional narrative of Bolivia in the grips of a drug war and on the cusp of becoming a narco state.

From this brief, we recognised the opportunity to harness global interest in a morbidly entertaining subject matter and create a companion documentary to enable real life comparisons with a fictional video game world, realised from the stories of those who shaped it in Wildlands, the documentary.

The journey to make Wildlands was like going horse riding for the first time and they hand you Desert Orchid. It bolts off at 100 miles an hour and you hope you have the courage, desire, concentration and instincts to finish the race. It turned out we won the race. Wildlands won a D&AD pencil at this years’ awards, followed by a Silver Award at the Clio awards for Branded Content. We hope many more will follow.

We travelled to the slums of Medellin, the coca fields of Bolivia, and small-town America to discover the stories of those who have shaped the war on drugs from both sides of the law. Our real-life characters mirrored to and characterised in a video game. We created branded entertainment content to accompany, celebrate and elevate our clients’ entertainment product – what we achieved was genuinely innovative and won critical acclaim from a notoriously cynical industry.

We hope you enjoy the film (and buy the game).

Rules of the game: Branded content in football

Rules of the game: Branded content in football

As the dust begins to settle on the majority of the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification rounds, we now know the identity of (almost) all of the teams who will be heading to Russia next summer, with only a handful of places left to be claimed.

Qualification is a serious matter, not just for fans, players, managers and governing bodies but for brands too. The World Cup is the most watched sporting event on the planet, with the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina in Brazil drawing almost one billion viewers alone.

With so many eyes watching, sponsorship and branding around the competition is big money, with thousands of brands owning a multitude of rights and competing to produce branded content that will stand out amongst the considerable crowd.

There have been some interesting developments over the past few weeks in this pursuit of attention. Most recently, Australian striker Tim Cahill showcased a ‘sponsored’ goal celebration on behalf of an Australian travel company for whom he is the ambassador. A move which has caused quite a stir amongst both football media; who bemoaned the never-ending commercialisation of ‘the beautiful game’, as well as the game’s governing bodies who may yet investigate Cahill under the same laws which prohibit removing one’s shirt to reveal slogans or advertising.

Popular character Harry Redknapp recently tweeted his enthusiasm for cryptocurrency, a move which confused many, as fans struggled to draw the link between ‘Arry and the digital payment method. In the absence of a clear link, football fans assumed Harry had simply been paid to post, despite the company sharing tweets denying this.

Football audiences are unique. They can be tribal, intensely sceptical and frustratingly demanding. At the same time, they can also be rich cultural hubs, empowering communities, and downright hilarious.

Whilst there are many nuances to each football crowd, I believe there are some general rules which can be applied when deciding on the best way to maximise sponsorship rights and to produce engaging, motivating branded content which strikes the right chord with your audience:

Be Fan-focused – Football and sport in general is nothing without the fans. Understanding who they are, their unique fan culture, their traditions and their history is a must. Few audiences will be less forgiving if you miss the mark, but few will be more appreciative of content created for them, by a brand who understands them.

Ensure relevance and authenticity – For the most part, content should have a clear, authentic link between brand, sportsperson and creative concept. As was made clear with the Harry Redknapp/cryptocurrency example, in the absence of a clear link fans were taken aback by the comment and it was clear by their reaction that it came across disingenuous. Even though it’s been said that Harry had posted it as a personal point of view, it is likely that potential positive brand associations, were diminished from what they might have been.

Add to the experience and culture – Branded content must add to and enrich the football culture and conversation. The biggest asset that brands have at their fingertips is often the access to the clubs and players that their sponsorship rights give them. Tapping into this and bringing fans closer to their idols, in a way that they haven’t experienced before, is perhaps the most powerful tool of all.

Micro Influencers – What are they and where can you find them?

Micro Influencers – What are they and where can you find them?

If you’re unfamiliar with influencer marketing, it is the term used to describe brands using influential individuals to promote their products.

Influencer marketing is fast becoming one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience as consumers are trusting third party recommendations more than traditional outbound marketing efforts.

The term influencers can cover a wide range of people including celebrities, sports stars, bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers and more. However, often when the term influencer is thrown around we think of A-list celebrities with millions of followers and fans.

Yet, brands are increasingly stepping away from the most well-known influencers and looking towards a new type of influencer – the micro influencer.

What is a micro influencer?

A micro influencer is someone with a following of 3,000 – 100,000 – otherwise known as the sweet spot for engagement. Micro influencers are very successful in terms of interaction, engagement and conversation. This is because social media users aren’t as keen to interact with celebrities compared to someone they can relate to and influencer marketing is most effective when the individuals are viewed as peers.

Why you should be using micro influencers

Engaging with micro influencers is the perfect way to promote your brand’s offerings though genuine and authentic content. As their audience is very valuable to them, the micro influencer will only post content they know their audience will want to see and a lot of their success depends on authenticity. As a result, sponsored posts will feel more genuine if they align with the usual style of content posted by that influencer.

Generally, studies have shown that the larger someone’s following is, the lower levels of engagement they received from their followers. Someone with 1,000 to 3,000 followers is likely to receive, on average, 8% post engagement in relation to their followers whereas, someone with between 500,000 and 1,000,000 is more likely to receive 1.7% – 2.4% post engagement on average.

Despite having a smaller following, micro influencers are likely to have a much more engaged, targeted audience because they are more likely to share content related to a particular niche as opposed to just being followed for being ‘them’. Examples of this include travel instagrammers and fitness bloggers. As the user will follow that micro influencer due to their interests, they are much more likely to engage with the content – much more valuable than hundreds of thousands of eyes scanning a post yet not registering it in any way.

Based on this, using micro influencers is proving to be cost effective for brands. Micro influencers generally charge significantly less than an influencer with a much larger following. Therefore, it is likely you will be able to engage with several micro influencers for a fraction of the price of one celebrity, yet see higher engagement and more effective results.

How to find and choose the right influencers for your brand

To find influencers who are right for your brands, the following tips are useful:

  • Use relevant hashtags to find micro influencers who are interested in what your brand offers
  • Research on social media to see who has a large following and is already interacting with your brand
  • Search on Google for influencers in your target area. An example of this could be ‘travel blogger in London’
  • Research the influencer’s audience – are they valuable to your brand?
  • Look for a community or network relevant to the niche that your micro influencer works in. Such as ‘mummy Facebook accounts UK’
When Style transforms into a Story

When Style transforms into a Story

Today marks the start of London Fashion Week (LFW) which can only mean two things for the week ahead, stylish consumers will be glued to their phones and fashion brands will be working a lot of overtime.

LFW is the opportunity for journalists, consumers, buyers, celebrities and influencers to catch a glimpse of the next season’s collections six months before they hit the shelves – unless it’s Nicola Formichetti, then you can receive it within an hour from Amazon. But do not fret, if you are without an invite or ticket, this season, fashion brands and influencers alike will keep the FOMO at bay. And if you are within the 150,000 who are attending then well done, you’ve essentially made it.

Thanks to its audience of more than 500 million users, Instagram Stories has evolved to become the top choice for fashion brands to trial instant content. According to Instagram Advertiser statistics, 75% of Instagram users take action after viewing an Instagram sponsored post, and the number of brands using Instagram Stories is expected to rise to 70.7% by the end of 2017.

But how do Instagram Stories actually provide long-term value for a brand with content disappearing after 24 hours?

Fashion brands will benefit from this platform in a number of ways; whether it’s providing a countdown or showcasing their garments in action, it will create an impact. By inviting their followers to witness behind-the-scenes action of models getting fitted or practicing their walk pre show, this will provide an in for fans to what was previously an exclusive experience. This indoctrinates the viewer to become invested in the brand, becoming encouraged to view future posts and establishing longer term brand affinity.

You may have seen organic posts with ‘swipe up’ at the bottom that are reserved for users/brands with 10k+ followers. Most brands will have these verified accounts, enabling them to link out to their websites, landing pages or blog posts from within their stories – helping to provide a ROI for their short-lived stories.

A study from Rakueten Marketing has found that premium fashion marketers will pay up to £93,000 per post, showing just how powerful influencers and their stories are to an event like LFW. This year Topshop have invited actress Sophia Brown and Women in Fashion co-founder Lily More to take over their blog and to involve them both in a live streaming via Topshop.com.

For the social media spectators like myself, it’s a long term benefit to the brands to provide access into the behind the scenes of the event and are exposed to every aspect of this season’s collection, developing brand ambassadors and fans and fortunately Instagram Stories provide just that.

Fortunately London Fashion Week lasts a full 7 days, unlike Insta Stories – which can only be a good thing for fanatics like myself! So before you tap through those #LFW posts, take a second to think about the lasting power of Instagram Story.

Most exciting job on earth? Experienced community manager sought!

Most exciting job on earth? Experienced community manager sought!

We are looking for an experienced, passionate and ambitious community manager to work closely with one of our exciting clients based in London. With an international audience, the role will involve on and offline activity, content creation, influencer management, proactive and reactive social posting, tackling multiple brands and channels simultaneously and everything that comes with that responsibility.

You will be energetic, outgoing, have a love for all things entertainment and showbiz as well as the ability to work in a fast paced culture, but in an organised way. With a solid understanding of how brands use social channels, how they should operate in the social space and the ability to lead an account from planning, delivery through to reporting and analysis, you’ll deliver innovatively and effectively.

If you are curious and creative, with amazing communication skills and a major love of the Mail Online’s sidebar of shame, send your CV and links to your work to talent@stripecommunications.com.

Location: London
Ideal start date: ASAP

Kick-off transfer deadline day with a donation to the Homeless World Cup

Kick-off transfer deadline day with a donation to the Homeless World Cup

As the clock ticks down on what is set to be another record breaking transfer window, you’d be forgiven for getting caught up in the hullabaloo of the modern day football circus.

After all there is little escape from Sky Sports’ rolling news coverage and its perpetual scenes of reporters jostling for a glimpse of a club’s new multi-million pound signing in the latest transfer exclusive.

But over in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, an eight day football tournament with a difference is well underway and this year is set to be bigger than ever.

This year’s Homeless World Cup will see 570 homeless men and women from 54 countries across the world compete in a celebration of street football.

Connected by their love for simply playing the game, the tournament uses the power of football as a force for good to tackle homelessness. It has always amazed me how sport has a transcendental quality to transform lives for the better. The direct impact of the Homeless World Cup has on people’s lives is nothing short of remarkable.

An astonishing 94 per cent of players surveyed after the tournament last year in Glasgow said the event had a positive effect on their lives while an estimated £10m in social capital was generated from helping people off the street and into employment.

If you’re wondering how football can bring about positive change there are many benefits for a person who is homeless getting involved with the sport.

As well as developing relationships and learning to trust teammates, street football can also improve aspects of a person’s life such as regaining self-esteem, improving health and well-being and reconnecting them with friends and family.

The impact of this year’s tournament will also be far-reaching.

Not only are an estimated 3 million people set to tune in to the tournament which is being streamed live on YouTube, an innovative Fairtrade partnership between the Homeless World Cup Foundation and sports co-operative Bala Sport will ensure that an often forgotten army of men and women making footballs in Pakistan will also benefit by receiving fair rates of pay, safer working conditions and access to union representation.

This year Stripe is proud to be able to lend a hand to the Homeless World Cup Foundation supporting the charity to raise the national and international profile of this inspirational event.

So next time you refresh your Twitter feed this transfer deadline day to see if your club has bought anyone half decent, instead why not take the time to see how your nation is performing in the Homeless World Cup.

For more information or to donate and help to change the lives of homeless people around please visit www.homelessworldcup.org.

Craving experiences

Craving experiences

Last month, Madame Tussauds London launched Alien: Escape, a terrifying multi-sensory experience, developed with one of the most genius creative companies in the world – Creatures Inc. When we first began working on Alien: Escape, I didn’t know what to expect. Isn’t that the beauty of working in PR though? You start a project with no previous knowledge and by the end you’re an absolute pro – whether it’s a video game, a food product, a documentary, or an experience inspired by a popular film franchise.

Alien: Escape is a multi-sensory experience, which follows the release of the critically acclaimed blockbuster film, Alien: Covenant and challenges guests to navigate a trail of blood, gore, chaos and danger. The mission is simple: Run. Survive. Escape. It is also the most terrifying experience Madame Tussauds has ever worked on, with a recommended age of 15+. If you don’t believe us, you can see how terrifying our celebrities rated it at the launch event.

Madame Tussauds London introduces Alien Escape
Michael Fassbender Alien Covenant

But why do we need them? Are we craving new experiences more than ever before meaning that we no longer need material belongings? Not really. In my opinion, we are still very much a commodity focused society. We love our products and we definitely like to show off with them even if we don’t admit it.

And because we love our products so much, they have been made much more accessible for us. In Western societies, it seems almost unreal to own an iPhone with a model starting below the number 5. No really, who has iPhone 4 anymore? The market is overly saturated and since we all use similar brands and products, we have changed the focus and become much more ‘spiritual’. We’re frantically looking for things to do, because we have everything.

Certain brands have realised this social trend and have adapted accordingly. Snapchat and Instagram are all about experiences – capturing places, people and things we have seen. Facebook has added a permanent “Feeling (happy, excited, tired, sad etc.)” to our status updates.

Any forward thinking brand that seeks leadership in its sector has to realise the potential in triggering some sort of emotion – whether this would be comfort, loyalty, excitement or fear. Madame Tussauds London has definitely raised the bar with getting its audience to show fear with their horrific new Alien: Escape.

Turing Fest 2017 – PR vs SEO

Turing Fest 2017 – PR vs SEO

Last week, Stripe attended Scotland’s largest tech gathering, Turing Fest to further submerge ourselves into the world of digital marketing for a day, with talks from international leaders in the field.

We were glued to speakers such as Rand Fishkin, Wil Reynolds and Lisa Myers on SEO; Laura Crimmons who gave us an important lesson in connecting with people whether it be clients or colleagues; CMO of ClassPass, Joanna Lord, who talked about the different levels of growth in business and how to achieve it and Purna Virji who discussed marketing in a conversational world, taking a closer look at the use of chatbots.

As someone who comes from a very PR background, the opportunity that lies with digital is fascinating and is something that has increasingly become part of my portfolio of experience as clients look for more than just those traditional pieces of media coverage, but integrated campaigns. The key takeaway for me from Turing was the similarities and crossovers between PR and SEO and how ultimately they can organically support each other.

PRs and SEOs both aim to achieve coverage through compilation of content and media outreach with the difference being that while PRs strive for the highest reach through calculations of readership, followers and unique user figures, SEOs aim for coverage in the form of links, ideally having authoritative sites such as the BBC or The Huffington Post including a link to the client’s campaign web page in their coverage of the story for example, which in turn would help improve the search engine rankings of the brand’s website.

As a comms consultant always upskilling in more digital disciplines, it made me realise that us PRs are already pros in a lot of practices involved in SEO – more of us just need to realise the digital value to our clients of incorporating something so simple as a brand web page link into content and highlighting the importance of that link being included in coverage of the story to our media contacts and voila… we’re on our way to being SEO practitioners.

Having had my eyes opened at Turing Fest to the world of SEO, I’m looking forward to seeing how the disciplines of PR and digital marketing will continue to merge, as clients continue to operate further into the digital space with campaigns and coverage KPIs.

We’re hiring!

We’re hiring!

We have lots of new clients on board so we’re looking for some new Stripes to join our Edinburgh team.

Stripe is a leading and creative, PR, digital & communications agency. Working across a variety of clients, you’ll have a minimum of 2 years experience and thrive in a fast-paced environment. You’ll be creative and organised with a passion for consumer comms and social media, and ideally have experience across sports and third-sector in particular.

If this sounds like you, please send your CV to talent@stripecommunications.com.

The closing date is 12pm Wednesday 26th July 2017.