The Changing Face Of Instagram

Earlier this month, Instagram announced it will be changing its chronological feed in an attempt to ‘improve the user experience’ and ensure you’re not missing out on the moments you 'care about most’.

After the testing began across a small number of accounts earlier this week however, guarded anticipation turned to panic and frenzy. Users’ feeds were filled with posts from brands and influencers, asking to be ‘turned on’ – a reference to having users activate push notifications and ensure their content remains visible. Instagram was quick to respond and quell the disquiet, saying that they were listening to feedback and stating, “We promise to let you know when changes roll out broadly”.

Before Instagram announces any more changes, we thought we’d recap on the latest updates to the platform.


60 Second Videos

Rolling out today, Instagram will allow videos to be 60 seconds long, doubling the time you have to tell a story. Instagram has reported that within the past six months, they’ve seen a 40 per cent increase in users watching videos.


Search Followers

Want to search a specific user's followers, but don’t have time to scroll? Instagram has introduced a search bar in both the ‘Followers’ and ‘Following’ section! This makes it easier for stalking and allows brands to obtain a greater understanding of influencers’ audiences.


Desktop Notifications

Hinting that desktop may start to have a stronger impact, Instagram has introduced web notifications, showing likes, comments, mentions and new followers. This may be the first step in taking back Instagram from web viewer sites such as and Iconosquare – and is an interesting change for such a mobile-centric app. 


Discover on Desktop

A new compass icon on the desktop version of Instagram takes you to a personalised ‘Discover People’ page that functions like the feature on the app – showing accounts that you may want to follow, based on your network. The page allows you to be inspired by new talent, locate friends you’re not following yet and seek inspiration.

Instagram's new desktop functionalities.

Instagram's new desktop functionalities.

Time Specific

Say farewell to so many ‘weeks’ ago, Instagram now states the exact upload date the image or video was published. For brands, this deserves a parade as reporting just got that much easier!





Posted on March 30, 2016 .

Six Success Secrets For Women This International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day, we had the incredible opportunity of being inspired by two women who ooze success: Jackie Brian, acting Managing Director of Intuit and our very own Managing Partner, EJ Granleese. Both have paved their own path to accomplished careers and we were lucky enough to find out their top tips to succeed in an industry where 70% of leaders are male.

1. Be hungry for knowledge, listen and learn

Workplace Gender Equality Agency has shown that 90.1% of women aged between 20 and 24 have achieved year 12 qualifications or higher, compared to only 86% of men1. The thirst for knowledge is there – keep pushing yourself outside your comfort zone by volunteering for projects, shadow industry leaders and attend career development workshops.

2. Don't take no for an answer

It’s not a ‘no’, more a slight speed bump and new challenge to tackle. A great example EJ used was her ability to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘wait and see what I can do’. In one instance, this resulted in her becoming the youngest and only female MD of her company in the Asia Pacific region.

3. Utilise connections

Connections and building relationships are key from the beginning of your career and throughout your growth. To strengthen and established contacts, utilise LinkedIn and make the effort to catch up in person, taking an interest in peoples’ lives outside of work.

4. Never apologise and take pride in your differences

If you’re a female in a chair position, only 14.2% of the seats next to you are also filled by women2. Leverage your differences and use your uniqueness to stand out. When working in Korea, Jackie highlighted that instead of apologising for her foreignness, embracing her differences allowed her to complete her role more efficiently.

5. Know your intention

In any job, role or situation, identify what you want to achieve. For a role within a new company, your intention may be to become an expert of a certain field, or if you a promoted within your current organisation, your intention may be to educate your peers.

6. Set goals

Whether it’s for 5 months, 12 months or 5 years’ time, have clear goals of what you want to achieve and map out how you will get there. Continually go back, review and edit – the path may have changed or the timeline altered, but it’s important you remain focused.

With the gender wage gap slightly decreasing year-on-year to sit at 24%2 in 2015, we all must be striving to achieve equality.


1.     Intern Bridge, ‘The Debate over unpaid college internships’

  1. WGEA (2015), Australia’s gender equality scorecard,

Posted on March 9, 2016 .

Content Marketing and The Best kind of sell there is

To paraphrase a friend, when all you have is a hammer, that’s the time you follow the #hammer hashtag on Twitter and feel good about being one of those super-cool hammer owners. Never mind things looking like nails — just being cool enough to own a hammer, and know how to use it, is enough to get back slaps and high fives. This is how I feel about #contentmarketing some days.

Don’t get me wrong — as someone who does it for love and money, I love the science of it. The tide of content marketing continues to ebb and flow, and each time, more washes up on shore — more case studies, listicles of tips, top ten tools posts, more noise. However, as clients start to wade themselves into the waters, it can be difficult to help them understand that good content marketing doesn’t mean slapping your sales message in every post.

Last week, at the Strategic Content Communication conference, I heard first hand from Jillian Bowen how The Naked CEO content program had delivered above expectation for CPA Australia. Among the many nuggets of hard-won wisdom she presented was the idea that the program had been successful because it hadn’t pushed to drive sales. That’s an unusual position for a brand in general, particularly one so bolstered by content marketing, and yet it holds up. The sell that the Naked CEO program makes isn’t designed to convert, or even show up in a metrics report.

They’re selling something both immeasurable and unmeasurable — transparency, trustworthiness, the joy of a hyper-engaged leadership to a very passionate community. It’s a message that inspires belief and enthusiasm (and maybe a little envy in some) and doesn’t make you want to buy anything. It makes you want to join something, which is a far more powerful and enjoyable experience.

Nobody likes being bludgeoned, and smart marketers everywhere are reigning in the instinct to include extra ‘convert’ to their content. Today’s consumers aren’t stupid — they’re the most brand-savvy, most marketed-to and most scam-aware collection of people in history. They’ll see it coming, and at best, they’ll call it out as something oleaginous, something smarmy and sleazy. And no one wants that for their brand, particularly since content marketing relies so heavily on being helpful, rather than forceful.

The best sell you can make is one they won’t remember. When you want it, when you like the people you’re buying it from, when it helps you — then it’s not a sell anymore. And that’s the best kind of sell there is.

Posted on February 24, 2016 .

The Politics Of Proclaimation

In a world of social media and the sharing of life events, a curious thing has happened. We have become so used to using social media to track the events in other people’s lives that we’ve bestowed legitimacy on status updates and timeline events that makes them official. In short, it didn’t happen unless it’s online.

This raises a curious question around the politics of proclaiming what’s going on with your life. If you start dating someone and don’t change your status to reflect this development, is your relationship official? If you take a new job and don’t update LinkedIn, is that a message that you might not be sticking around? The interpretations of online behaviour are becoming part of our social landscape, in much the same way that adherence to etiquette has done in ages past.

It’s interesting to observe. A friend of mine is dating someone who, for a bunch of social and political reasons, doesn’t want to include the new relationship in their social landscape. This includes, but isn’t limited to, not being connected on Facebook, not acknowledging attendance at events together, and having to invent fictional spouses to avoid drama. While this is amusing to those outside, it’s interesting to see how the lack of ‘public knowledge’ is starting to affect their relationship. I’ve seen it happen with friendships and the post-breakup dividing of friendship groups too.

The public proclamation of a major shift in life via social media has become a milestone which, if ignored or voided, has profound implications for the ‘truth’ of that fact.

If we choose to live publicly through social media, does the desire to keep some things private,or to withhold information, affect the perceptions of our audience?

Posted on February 24, 2016 .

Real-Time Content Breeds Real-Time Discontent

My team is a team of spectacularly talented people. They are arguably some of the best minds in this field — the field of spontaneous creative brand communication. If that seems like a series of buzzwords, I’ll remove the wank factor — we’re social media strategists. We’re the people who impersonate your favourite brands on Facebook. We write the tweets. We make the carefully planned and executed ‘hidden camera’ pranks. We are the ones who find a link between Kim Kardashian’s latest news making selfie and a chicken burger. We are the ones deciding whether your online snark constitutes an actual attack on our brand, and in all probability, we’re the ones who write back for your favourite tech company or fast food brand or car maker.

It’s an interesting and ludicrous profession, tantamount to impersonating fictional characters. Brands aren’t real anyway, but at least twice a day I have conversations about what a brand would and wouldn’t do. Brands don’t have lives, but I run their Instagram accounts and pretend they do. And I’m part of a team of more than twenty people, who (to varying degrees) either sit at the digital coalface and respond, or sit in the brainstorming vault and come up with cool shit for brands to do, so that people buy their product, based on a Facebook post. It’s a hard job to explain to the family.

For as long as I’ve done this job, there’s been a debate about the nature of ‘reactive content’ vs ‘ narrative content’. Is it better to jump on the news cycle, or to start one? Is it better to create fast, unrefined content to attach yourself to the news through parody/comment, or create something that might get picked up and become news?

The truth is, it’s both. But the other truth is, it really depends what kind of brand you are.

This trend of ‘real time content’ (RTC) has a success ratio that inversely mimics the size of purchase. You’re probably not going to buy a truck or a computer because you like the jokes they make on Twitter. And given the way Facebook’s algorithm works, you’re probably only going to see the hilarious piss-take your favourite brand of detergent did of the Oscars if you’re already an active fan, or in their core demographic. If keeping the brand fresh and top of mind from a social media perspective to influence daily purchase decisions is your goal, then real-time content works very well.

However, the trend of brands moving to an RTC model has become a bit of a trap. It’s quite difficult to align core marketing objectives (which usually involve a version of “build trust, encourage loyalty, drive sales”) with the ability to be bitchy, snarky and constantly commenting online about what’s in the news. It’s full of potholes, and after 18 months of constantly doing it (and no small amount of time selling it!), here are a few of the traps.

It makes your brand into Jon Stewart
(at best).

Writing comedy isn’t an easy job, even when you know the delivery patterns of your talent. Heck, it’s not even an easy job to walk the line of benign violation when you’re paid to do it for a living. Those who can do it and do it well, do it because they have support teams of other writers, and a talented performer whose personal charisma can smooth the road. Even then, not every joke’s a winner, and people are much more likely to forgive a comedian for a bad joke than they are to forgive a brand for tasteless, offensive marketing.

It dilutes a reputation for quality
(more often than not).

Given the amount of money and time that brands spend on their set pieces (such as TV ads, outdoor ads, digital, websites, etc) it seems counter-intuitive to lean on high-speed content creation to drive awareness and reach. Does taking a photo of your new gourmet hot-dog on your iPhone and editing it in Instagram help reinforce your brand’s commitment to bespoke marketing images? Does it support your traditional look and feel so it’s recognisable? And if it doesn’t, what does it say about your recognisable and expensive ads, that the best way to reach people is to look line something else?

Most companies aren’t set up for real-time approval.

You’ve either got it or you don’t. And by ‘it’, I mean an approvals process that limits the amount of feedback that goes into ‘perfecting’ an RTC post. How many people (yours or the client’s) are feeding into what the brand should think about Kanye’s new joint? Every voice beyond the person who wrote it and the person who ultimately approves it only serves to dilute the power of the post.

Their shelf-life is at odds with what it takes to make them.

These things are visual snackfood — high-calorie, throwaway content to keep people feeling fed enough that they don’t go looking for dinner elsewhere. They’re the Doritos of the soul. They’re designed to live brief lives of high shareability and then evaporate. As moments in time, they’re eminently forgettable, designed to elicit an amused grunt from a fan or follower. But as pixels which make up an image of your brand persona over time, they add up to a lot of in-jokes which stopped being funny when the world moved on.

The trend of making stuff that won’t matter tomorrow seems like an odd way to build love and enthusiasm for your brand, unless your brand only wants love today. If being ‘cool’ and ‘with it’ means more people get to lunch or dinner and think about your product because you said something funny on Twitter, then maybe you’ve done your job and can call yourself a Marketer with a capital ‘M’ for today. But if you’ve sent hours working on a Facebook post to promote a $40K SUV that trades on something that’s already yesterday’s news, then you might want to look at what you’re doing with your time, energy and money long-term.

Good communication (for both people and brands) involves knowing when to speak to people in their language, and knowing when to say what is uniquely your own, so that your voice becomes part of the language tomorrow. Cover versions rarely make it to number one. And given the machinations behind trying to make the brand sound like a cool, authentic contributor to whatever cultural moment is currently making waves, there seems like a lot of work to make something that, by definition, is designed to be forgettable.

Posted on February 24, 2016 .