8 insights into young people’s attitudes towards banking


Disruption defines technology’s role in challenging traditional business models by creating a ‘sharing economy’ or innovating to replace archaic products or services. It’s about iPhone VS. Blackberry, Airbnb VS. hotel industry, Amazon VS. highstreet booksellers, famously Uber VS. black cabs. The one industry on the precipice of disruption is financial services, more specifically, retail banking – its ‘uber moment’ is approaching.

Disruption in the simplest sense is a market adapting to meet public expectations. That’s why Good Rebels and Revoo’s ‘Bank to the Future’ report looking at 16 – 25 year olds attitude towards banks and everyday banking is so crucial. They are current customers and customers of the future, growing up in a space where investment in fintech products has ballooned over the last three years.

In a presentation at Lansons, Good Rebels ran through the executive summary of their findings. It’s clear that the financial services sector radically underestimates this consumer group. Banks need to be smarter with data, be even more transparent with how services work, be supportive by speaking an understandable language, and be convenient.

Thanks to Laura Dinneen (@lauradinneen) I’ve now read through the whole report picking out key pieces of insight. There is a lot more information in the full report and you can see the panel debate that took place last year below. If you have any questions, drop me a comment or give Laura, the real expert, a shout.

Bank to the future – panel discussion from Reevoo on Vimeo.

#1 Ambitious and optimistic with global outlook

16 – 25 year olds strive to achieve more in life, focus on developing new skills, and have a passion for social issues. Social media has opened up activism on a global scale for them but has also reinforced the need for validation in themselves. From a global perspective, 39% strongly agree that they want to live and work abroad, with 72% wanting to explore the world around them – not as ‘tourists’ but travellers, getting hands on with world cultures.

#2 ‘Always on’ culture

71% say that they are constantly connected online and 53% say it’s critical that they must be contactable at all times. This means the mobile phone is more important than their wallet, not just for connectivity but potentially because mobiles can now be used as a digital wallet with contactless payments. Giving personal details to companies online isn’t a worry, but it must be for the right reasons – a worthy trade-off.

#3 Plugged into the online reputation economy

They seek expert opinion before buying products and services, with the internet playing an important part of this. However, once they find a brand they like it’s common that they stick with it. Demonstrating the importance of getting the consumer experience right for long-term customer loyalty. Although this could be endangered if the company in question has a social issue, clashing with the first insight.

#4 Attitude towards money

It’s worth remembering that life experience varies immensely between 16 – 25 year olds; from students, undergraduates, and young adults in work. The research identifies five different money-types in the age group. This ranges from those heavily dependent on their parents, a group suspicious of modern banking procedures such as online banking, those classed as ‘adults in training’ experimenting with a range of money products, super users who are confident with their finances, and the checked out who are pessimistic about their financial future.

#5 Financial journey, a story of dependent to independent

There are three key financial milestones. Around the age of 14 a part-time job or handling one-off payments such as birthday money aligns with choosing a bank account – occasionally moving away from one setup by parents. The second is going to university that means looking at student accounts, credit cards, or even short-term loans. The third is graduation, having your own home, or receiving a first full-time pay check, leading to shopping around for financial products to fit (also dealing with debt from University).

#6 Savings and investments

It may surprise you, but 72% do have some form of saving or investment, but its older age groups who have the larger investments. Cash, savings and pensions rank highly, but so are alternative investments such as gold, art and antiquities.

#7 Finance back on the agenda since Brexit

Interest in the economy has been on the decline for the last three years, but 2016 saw a resurgence of interest, possibly due to Brexit. Despite this, overall levels of interest in personal finance/investments is down for 16 – 25 year olds, with proportional increase of interest per older age groups.

#8 There are major pain points

There are a few major pain points when it comes to the relationship between 16 – 25 year olds and banks.

Attitudes towards banking

These are:

  • Banks not speaking an understandable language. There is a lot of frustration as the language of banking is full of jargon and terms difficult to understand. This age group crave straight-talking and impartial advice.
  • Lack of personalisation. Many feel banks view them as just a number and this age group responds by feeling no particular loyalty towards their bank. Feeling undervalued means shopping around online for another deal.
  • Exploitation, the banks just want my money. I can personally relate to this one as moving from a student current account to a standard one can cause havoc with managing overdrafts.
  • Banks look down on young people as they have less money. This was a significant feeling, especially as the age group felt banks didn’t trust them with sensible financial decisions.
  • Banking technology is limited. This is just a fact for the younger generation who have grown up with smartphones, needing constant connection to the internet. Seamless online banking still needs developing to catch-up with the other activities this age group do through their smartphone. Someone in the study switched banks because theirs didn’t support Android Pay.

Do read the full study for more information and if you have any questions leave a comment or get in touch on social media.


London needs these entry-level digital roles

There are currently 40,000 technology businesses employing almost 200,000 people in London, which is 3.5% of the capital’s workforce.

To drive digital innovation and futureproof the workforce of London’s businesses, the Mayor of London launched a new £7 million Digital Talent Programme in December that will provide entry-level digital opportunities for young people.

The programme supports 1,500 young Londoners by offering work placements, providing learning opportunities, and matching academic prowess with real-world experience. One of its primary objectives is to provide work opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and ethnic groups.

To celebrate the launch, the programme has released their “Priorities for entry-level digital skills needs in Greater London” report, a result of a consultation made earlier in 2016, setting out the priority digital needs by companies in London.

I’ve read through the report so you don’t have to, picking out the key pieces of insight. It should be useful reading for anyone interested working in the digital industry as a whole, and sheds some light on the state of digital marketing in London.

Digital priorities are broad

The priority entry-level digital roles in London includes cyber security, which should be embedded across all business areas and has a real need for specialists. Games development is a profitable business area and is considered a priority beyond other software and applications roles. For digital business roles, digital marketing specialists are needed – as we know from the public relations industry, often this may involve introducing digital expertise to traditional companies.

Foundation knowledge for the digital industry

Businesses who responded to the consultation said that irrespective of the entry-level digital role, foundation knowledge in digital should include:

  • An understanding of the digital landscape that means knowing how different digital roles are interconnected with each other, along with how businesses are now using technology
  • Understanding cyber security and the best working practices
  • Entrepreneurial working approach and the ability to respond quickly to change

Shortage of cyber security specialists

Even though the report is aimed at entry-level roles, it admits roles in cyber security need to be more specialist. This means jobs tend to be more focused around operational functions, such as managers, risk analysts and penetration testers (*giggle*). If you want to enter the profession then a basic foundation in cyber security is obviously required, along with a foundation knowledge of coding, law, and ethics.

Software and game developers are needed

The biggest digital priority in London is the need for software and games developers. This covers everything from analysts, design, providing excellence for user-experience and implementing internet solutions. Most common skillsets required are those who can use the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Flash, After Effects, etc), with knowledge of the languages Unity3D, Unreal and Swift.

IT and Big Data

Alongside the need for straightforward IT support in businesses, are roles that cover the creation and maintenance of databases, plus the analysis of data. In this category knowledge of SQL Server is a must, Microsoft software, and Oracle EBS. Understanding of statistics tools R or SAS are needed for data analysis.

Digital marketing

Digital marketing is the single biggest priority area in business services across London. It includes everything from content creation, search engine optimisation, advertising, community management, email marketing – the list really does go on. There is an opportunity for the public relations industry to help plug many of the digital marketing gaps here, but also a realisation that with growth across online advertising and e-commerce roles, public relations may not be a suitable ‘umbrella’ discipline to futureproof businesses in London.

Lights, camera, action!

Jobs in film production are still the largest sub-sector in all film related employment and visual effects is a significant part of roles in London. A number of roles in these areas have to be filled by overseas work according to the Migration Advisory Committee, so the Mayor’s apprenticeship programme is aimed to plug this gap.


If you are currently looking for an entry-level digital role in London, then I encourage you to read the report to discover exactly the types of knowledge and skills that will be expected from you. For example, computer science degrees are still more naturally aligned to roles in the IT sector.

As I read this report, it’s clear that the public relations industry has a need to clearly outline its career journey and look at skills being asked for across other digital industries; such as video production, data analysts, and broader areas of digital marketing.

I fully support the Mayor’s Digital Talent Programme, especially as we’re now living in an age where rigid academic structures struggle to keep up with the pace of digital innovation – leaving real-world ‘hands on’ experience as a priority.

Why doesn’t anyone want to buy Twitter?

Twitter on iPhone

This article first appeared in the Lansons Autumn Newsletter, which reflects on the world of business since the UK referendum result. Read the entire newsletter here.

Twitter’s mission is ‘To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers’, but it looks like these dreams were not possible for the social network as an independent company. The process of selling Twitter has begun.

Potential suiters Google, Apple, Disney, and Salesforce have all reportedly ruled out the possibility of a takeover. Leaving only turbulent times ahead for Twitter as the social network tumbled another 5 per cent and future bids look abysmally unlikely, a disappointment to investors much like its stalled user growth.

It’s no secret that Twitter has never made a profit in all its history and continues to struggle with trolls (people who start arguments and upset people, mostly for fun, on the internet). The social intricacies of interaction has no doubt been a barrier to new user growth and the shift to video has put pressure on Twitter to move beyond its limited 140 character count.

Whilst the latest statistics from Twitter may paint a picture of doom and gloom for investors, arguably for its users there is another story. Twitter has become the social network for customer services interaction, still giving those with profile the ability to build their own following and not rely so heavily on traditional media, and regularly informs mainstream media of breaking stories and insider information.

The challenge to remain relevant and deliver revenue

Twitter faces three critical issues: It needs to be profitable, user growth must be rekindled, and the culture of the social network needs reviving/cleaning out.

These issues formed the bedrock of Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, returning to the social network he co-founded, replacing Dick Costolo. In that time the social network has made an effort to monetise its 313 million monthly active users through offering new ways to share content and introducing features that simplify the Twitter experience for new users.

Only a week after Dorsey’s appointment, Twitter launched Moments, a product that provides a magazine view of Twitter’s most popular news stories and shared items. Apart from acting as a social news service, Moments is easy to understand, allowing people to enjoy Twitter without necessarily engaging in parts of its technical social etiquette. Some companies have advertised with Moments, with the first being Tesco and their #FeelGoodCookBook.

Other developments have taken place, especially when it comes to video. Twitter’s acquisition of Vine in 2012 was fully realised when Vine videos could be integrated into tweets in 2015. This was the same year Twitter acquired streaming start-up Periscope, which was integrated into tweets in early 2016.

Twitter’s new capabilities provide a rich tapestry of possibilities for businesses looking to become their own media companies, joining in conversations with customers or even B2B stakeholders. It’s just that tricky question of how to make a profit that needs answering.

The $20 billion question

When Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26 billion, the share price of Twitter jumped as investors licked their lips at the possibility a similar bid coming their way. Ever since the dot com bubble burst, you would have thought investors would have been more restrained when investing into social media ventures. It’s easy to be carried along with the hype and when Twitter had its IPO in 2013, the mood was that this could be the next Google and its advertising network would be sure to grow, along with its user-base. Now we’re three years on and the picture is far different.

Arguably, Twitter needs to convince potential buyers that there is something unique to purchase. As the conclusion of this Recode article quite rightly observes,

“While Twitter’s foray into mobile video distribution is compelling, sources note that Apple can benefit from that without owning or managing it. And, of course, paying upward of $20 billion for it.”

Why invest in a service that would be cheaper to build yourself? The only possible answer to that would be if a certain internet culture already exists that is profitable.

Whether social media is an online touchpoint for purchase or simply referral is a debate that continues in the marketing industry. Quite often this isn’t a case of a social network’s capabilities, but if users are willing to transact through a social site.

We know online advertising works, Facebook has successfully shifted from a social network to becoming an advertising network – people just aren’t buying on Twitter. The closest you can get is pushing traffic to a website, but this means comparing Twitter to successful services like Google AdWords. Forays in social video and socially curated magazines (Moments) deliver results on Twitter, but the marketing industry hasn’t made these primary or default advertising tools.

The birth pains of change have begun. Buzzfeed has reported that a number of Twitter’s 25-person commerce team have left the company and others reallocated into two separate product teams. Rumours and reports have continued throughout the year of senior hires leaving the company. It’s unclear how related Twitter’s financial performance is to the news that Twitter is shutting down their global engineering operations in India.

Is Twitter really worth a similar investment as Microsoft made in LinkedIn? Can Twitter offer itself as a package rather than a business formed of separate service acquisitions? What will happen if a buyer isn’t found?

Time will tell

The crystal ball remains foggy at present. Unless new buyers emerge, then Twitter looks unsaleable, at least for the expected price tag. As communications consultants, this could reveal a glimmer of doubt in our investment in Twitter as a social network. The mood in the media industry is indifferent: Twitter continues business as usual, but everyone acknowledges that changes/investment is required to maintain the network long-term.

For the moment, nothing changes. Twitter continues as a critical part of most social media programmes and an established communication channel among consumers. It remains (in my opinion) the most lucid social network available, the only real way for normal people to connect with the rich and famous, and a flexible site for businesses to establish their brand.

If the worst happens, and no buyers step forward, then we may see Twitter being dismantled piece-by-piece. The data will remain as it’s a social currency, but only the useful parts of Twitter will survive. It will happen slowly, similar to the process Google Plus is currently experiencing, and the successful services that once formed Twitter could be bought by the very tech companies who are currently rejecting the social sites’ current hefty price tag.

BrightonSEO: 46 billion reasons why public relations needs search

BrightonSEO, Sept 2016

To have BrightonSEO happen twice a year feels like a guilty treat. For a flagship digital event covering niche topics with practical advice, the amount of preparation must be astronomical. The BrightonSEO banner proudly proclaimed “a long way from a room above a pub”, and unlike most slogans, this one is true. I can’t remember the official numbers, but there must have been 3,500 digital marketing professionals; the Brighton Centre was packed.

When I last attended BrightonSEO earlier this year I wrote how SEO is no longer a discipline, it’s a skillset. After sitting through hours’ worth of talks and networking with highly intelligent digital professionals, it’s tempting to carry on beating the same drum. For modern public relations to be successful it’s important to have an intermediate knowledge of SEO.

I stand by that post earlier this year because it’s not just what the public relations industry should be aspiring to, but clients also request it. It’s the key to managing reputation online, driving website traffic, and ensuring products/services get heard amongst the noise online. How else will you get your website/clients noticed among 46 billion web pages?

Watching SEO agencies pitch

As I listened to talks, especially Yiğit Konur’s on keyword research (I was certain my brain was about to melt out of my ears), I couldn’t help but wonder if staple public relations skillsets that HR teams and practitioners request will remain relevant. My mind was filled with doubts over the quality of industry training available to practitioners, especially if SEO specialisms are important to generating awareness and engagement online.

A few months ago I found myself in a meeting with a financial organisation hearing from an SEO agency. For programme integration purposes they were running through their SEO pitch, a rare chance to see how their research, strategy, and tactics were formed. It was an excellent presentation that in many ways imitated the conclusions of our PR programme. The difference was that the presentation was underpinned by solid SEO research, based on facts and figures.

If you’ve ever seen an advertising agency pitch, it was like that. These are the types of programmes that can monitor return on investment so closely that companies will spend confidently, knowing the return can be tracked. It’s a very different business compared to straight forward media relations. Although as BrightonSEO reinforced again this year, the public relations industry has an opportunity to embrace basic SEO practices into client delivery. In case this isn’t obvious, that’s why I attended on behalf of Lansons – it’s an area we consult in.

BrightonSEO talks

Before not too long I’m sure a post will appear on the Lansons website about BrightonSEO but for the beautifully geeky readers of this blog, I highly recommend you check out the following three talks.

Hannah Smith: Art, virtual snowballs, and the feels (or why beer is rarely the answer)

Yiğit Konur: Keyword research in autopilot by Google Spreadsheet Macros

Paddy Moogan: Sustainable content marketing

It can feel like the public relations industry is in a constant state of reinvention, the impact of the Internet on society has accelerated this pace further. Today we’re a management discipline, we’re more than media relations, and if we claim to be about reputation management, we can’t ignore developments in the SEO industry.

SEO is no longer a discipline, it’s a skillset

Brighton SEO - registration

Tickets selling out in four minutes, a mile-long queue outside the venue, over 1,700 attendees; you would have thought a West End Musical or international musician was visiting Brighton. No, this is Brighton SEO and over the last five years it has moved from an attic room in a pub that fit 30, to the Brighton Dome.

Last Friday I attended Brighton SEO to hear from top search engine optimisation specialists and digital marketers from around the world. I can’t write about the key takeaways from the event without first mentioning how friendly everyone was.

Brighton SEO queue

Before I even made it inside the venue I struck a conversation with a web design agency from Reading. In that conversation I released that my knowledge of PR was just as sacred as the in-depth SEO insight I was seeking. It highlighted that for modern PR to be successful an intermediate knowledge of SEO is required.

Brighton SEO - registration

As the founder of Brighton SEO, Kelvin Newman, mentioned to The Register:

Newman believes SEO has gone mainstream. “It used to be a discipline but now it’s a skillset,” he said. “A lot of people don’t only do SEO. They’re doing many other things as well.”

When working as a digital specialist it’s important to respect the breadth and variety of skills required in the digital industry. As a near-generalist, I can cover most subject areas, but this enforces the need for me to learn from the true experts at times. That is why I attended Brighton SEO and wow, I didn’t leave disappointed.

Brighton SEO Kelvin Newman

After 9 hours of talks and SEO conversations, I left Brighton not tired but buzzing! On my desk sits a mountain of reading, notes and ideas. I’ve wanted to attend Brighton SEO for the last three years and now that it’s happened, I just want to go back.

My mind is still recovering, and whilst I chew through the information shared, here are some of the top resources shared at the talks I attended. Word of advice: if you want to cover all the talks at Brighton SEO then you will need three or four people – it’s that big and busy.

Three must-read resources from Brighton SEO

How to fix any SEO problem by Jon Earnshaw

This had to be one of the best presentations I attended because it provided a practical insight into troubleshooting an SEO problem. Jon transparently covered how he fixed an issue Waterstones was having with Google UK when a number of its links were being replaced by the competition. He has kindly provided the full presentation on SlideShare.

Ranking-Factors reloaded – Why content is key to success by Marcus Tober

This Star Wars themed presentation hooked the audience immediately and provided a data-led insight into Google ranking factors. The best bits have to be the industry-specific research and the difference this makes to online user journeys, how modern content is being viewed online, and rethinking link strategies. This clever guy has also hidden his presentation behind a data capture form – fill in your details and download here.

Introduction to personal branding by Mel Carson

I’ve frequently expressed my disbelief at how so many people who work in PR or digital marketing don’t bother maintaining their own online brand presence. This was a lesson I learnt years ago at university when maintaining an active online presence allowed me to get my foot in the door for digital roles in London. After eight years of writing about digital, I’m still personally reaping the benefits of maintaining an online presence.

Brighton SEO Mel Carson

Mel’s talk provided straightforward advice about why a personal brand is important and how to do it. His book for 99p on Amazon is worth buying if you’re starting out.


The above is just a tiny snapshot of the talks I attended at Brighton SEO and over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more. Keep your eyes on the Lansons blog as I’ll be writing a financial services specific post in the next couple of days.

Facebook reveals 10-year plan to take over the world

Mark F8 3 2016

Social virtual reality, a 360-degree camera, and chat bots in case human conversation becomes mundane. These were some of the announcements from Facebook’s (almost) annual developer conference called Facebook F8, named after the company’s tradition to hold eight hour hackathons.

When CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s 10-year plan was to “Give everyone the power to share anything with everyone”, the small print must have read ‘but only if you advertise’. The plans are ambitious, many projects far beyond the remit of a social networking site, but then Facebook isn’t your average social network; their plans to serve Facebook internet via solar-powered drone showed that.

Facebook roadmap

Numerous reputable news sites have dedicated column inches to Facebook’s big announcements. I personally recommend you visit The Guardian and Time for a quick read of the main events. This blog post looks behind the headlines to see what Facebook F8 may mean in the immediate future for internet-savvy organisations.

Balancing money and social experience

From a social engineering perspective, it could be said that Facebook has become a victim of its own success as the sheer volume of content means that organic (non paid-for) reach is in decline. This means increased competition among friends and brand pages for newsfeed coverage as on average 1,500 new posts could appear each time you log into Facebook. So Facebook’s algorithms attempt to show more high-quality content and from connections who you value the most. Remember that old school friend? Probably not, because Facebook has decided you won’t find value in their content.

The more sceptical side of the organic reach-gate debate would say the newsfeed algorithms have primarily been put in place to enhance Facebook Advertising. This would be cynical and entirely true. Whilst Facebook have denied the drop in organic reach is to fuel their advertising network, there is no doubt that this has been the effect of their decision. Facebook is fundamentally an advertising network and brands must be prepared to invest heavily in paid-for activities in the hope to get noticed.

“Our goal is always to provide the best experience for the people that use Facebook. We believe that delivering the best experiences for people also benefits the businesses that use Facebook. If people are more active and engaged with stories that appear in News Feed, they are also more likely to be active and engaged with content from businesses.” – Brian Boland, leader of the Ads Product Marketing team at Facebook.

The latest in-depth analysis of Facebook’s stock price is optimistic, showing the global active user base to be a whopping 1.4 billion people and their plan to reach users outside of the U.S and Europe is working. This is partly a self-serving prophecy due to the natural stock dip before Facebook F8 and it’s no secret that future cash will come from online advertising. To be precise, increased mobile revenues that will be driven by Instagram and WhatsApp, this is also linked to Facebook’s intent to monetise chat bots (we’ll come onto this later).

The latest in-depth analysis of Facebook’s stock price is optimistic, showing the global active user base to be a whopping 1.4 billion people and their plan to reach users outside of the U.S and Europe is working. This is partly a self-serving prophecy due to the expected stock dip before Facebook F8 and it’s no secret that future cash will come from online advertising. To be precise, increased mobile revenues that will be driven by Instagram and WhatsApp, this is also linked to Facebook’s intent to monetise chat bots (we’ll come onto this later).

The question that hasn’t been asked by the mainstream media when analysing Facebook F8 is “What does the future of online advertising look like?”. This is an article for another day but with expectations that online advertising networks may soon have to ask users for their consent before targeting them with Ads, and questions being raised around the fairness of advertising networks using individual people’s mobile data to target them with useless advertising, Facebook’s 10-year plan may have a bumpy ride.

Meeting shareholder expectations and to continue serving the world’s largest active online user base will be tricky.

Monetising conversations

As a past employee at Microsoft I witnessed the sadness first-hand when Microsoft Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger) was laid to rest. The chat programme, alongside Internet Relay Chat (IRC), were my two-ways of communicating in the post-Facebook world. The launch of Facebook Chat in 2008 had a buggy reception but quickly began eating market share from Microsoft, wounding the giant as advertising revenues fell.

It’s widely accepted that if online advertising continues to grow, then it will need to become smarter than banner ads to gain the attention of users. Especially as the use of ad-blocking solutions soar, with Opera browser saying it will build the feature into their next release. This has made “native advertising” a hot topic, but embedded videos and sponsored articles can still become a nuisance and even misleading for user-experience. Only last week did I read a glowing review of the newly release game Quantum Break to find it was actually sponsored by Microsoft – talk about editorial independence! I won’t get those 10 minutes of my life back.

Chat bots aren’t new to the world, it’s essentially what Google Voice and Siri attempt to do with varying success. However, the ability for Facebook to provide a service where organisations and publishers can utilise chat bots to service their own businesses is new. In fact, you could almost call it revolutionary as it provides businesses a new way to service customers. Examples provided at Facebook F8 showed how the service could be effectively used with Uber and KLM to book services.

How long will it be for a financial services company to offer automated advice to customers? Could a chat bot begin showing signs of artificial intelligence as it trains from conversations you are having with it? Facebook’s chat bot announcement has huge opportunities, not least for monetising WhatsApp in a new way. How could your organisation utilise a chat bot?

Let’s hope that the chat bot future doesn’t go the same way as Microsoft’s Tay, Microsoft’s Twitter bot who quickly became “… a Hitler-loving sex robot”.

Microsoft Tay Hitler

360 Video and Virtual Reality (VR)

Currently the fastest watched video on Facebook is the title sequence for TV show, Game of Thrones. Why? It’s been given a 360 video makeover allowing viewers to look around Westeros and Essos. Have a play; it includes clues for Season 6.

360 video is a new way to share real-world experience and it really is immersive, especially if you match it up with a VR headset. If you have a spare £21,000 you should pop out and buy Facebook’s new 360 video camera, Surround 360, offering 3D and easy 360 video creation that can be uploaded to Facebook. It’s a publisher tool that may begin justifying its price if 360 video becomes the gold standard for video creation, rather than a fad.

As competition in the Facebook newsfeed intensifies utilising new features such as 360 video may give organisations a chance to standout. This is another level of storytelling that is really only for organisations who can afford the price tag, but as with all technologies, we can’t be far away from 360 video becoming a mainstream way of sharing social experiences. The lovely people at Pocket Lint have shared a list of cameras currently offering a 360 view of the world; watch these prices over the next year or two.

 Instant Articles

By far the biggest announcement for publishers and a sign that Mark Zuckerberg is now seriously taking on News UK, Instant Articles is now open for all publishers (even my little blog). Instant Articles are a way for publishers to host their articles directly into Facebook when they hit publish, giving readers a cleaner experience as they don’t have to wait for an external website to load. For publishers this means that they can benefit from an article receiving the traffic from their own website and the reach from Facebook (with a massive caveat around advertising). However, this does also mean Facebook ends up hosting some of the most valuable written content from around the world – potentially devastating for publishers’ own advertising efforts.

Facebook Instant Articles

This announcement was technically made before Facebook F8 but has still managed to continue making the headlines. Increased engagement is claimed and of course, the ability to add in a spot of branded content. Over a 1,000 publishers have joined up and this number will inevitably only go up as Facebook have smartly offered an easy WordPress integration.

What else?

Many more features were announced at Facebook F8, but the ones explored in this article feel the most valuable for me in the immediate future. Facebook’s 10-year roadmap is ambitious and we remain to see if some of their innovative announcements can be monetised in time by pioneering businesses to make the investments worthwhile. Other announcements such as 360-video and improving video quality are safe bets, social virtual reality is fun but currently experimental.

We should all keep our eyes on Facebook’s mysterious building 8 led by Regina Dugan, former Director of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), just to make sure Skynet remains fantasy.

Scandinavian countries boast best data access

What is your internet connection like? Chances are it’s not as good as Scandinavian countries, as a new study has found they are technologically ahead when it comes to accessing computers, mobile phones and the internet.

Scientists from the University of Portsmouth have produced the first global map of data poverty showing where in the world people have the best and worst access to information technologies.

Iceland, Norway and Finland top the list of 189 countries which feature on the map. The United Kingdom is ranked 17, ahead of Germany, Japan and Russia. While Yemen, Myanmar and Burkina Faso are at the bottom of the list.

Leidig_Teeuw_map of global data poverty

In order to create the map the researchers considered internet speed, access to hardware, mobile-device availability, internet usage and education.

Lead researcher Dr Richard Teeuw, from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said: “Since the 1990s there has been concern about the ‘digital divide’ between the data-rich and data-poor – those who have and those who don’t have – access to computers, the internet and other technologies.

“Information technologies can play a key role in sustainable development, improving our quality of life without damaging the quality of life of future generations, and reducing disaster risk. ‘Data-poor’ countries do not have easy access to digital maps and other data needed for disaster preparation, early warnings and emergency response.

“This map highlights where in the world support is needed for improving access to the internet and mobile phone networks in order to build resilience to the impact of disasters.”

Co-researcher Mathias Leidig used data from the World Bank website to produce the map and found that the level of data poverty does not necessarily correspond to a nation’s wealth.

Mr Leidig said: “Italy, Antigua and Barbuda, Oman and Trinidad and Tobago are among the World Bank’s high income countries, but they’re not leading the way in terms of data wealth. This is largely due to the countries’ slow download speeds, compared with other high-income nations.

“However Belarus, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Lebanon scored better than one might expect for data poverty, considering their income class.”

The paper is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Buzzfeed’s approach to investigative journalism

Heidi Blake, at Social Media Week

After working for the Sunday Times as assistant editor and in the Insights Team, Heidi Blake made the radical decision to leave the traditional newspaper world, joining Buzzfeed as UK investigations editor in January 2015. Investigative journalism stories typically hang well from the reputation of a mainstream news title; Buzzfeed is a different animal.

Heidi Blake, at Social Media Week

Heidi has a well-known reputation in journalism for being behind some of the biggest investigative stories of the 21st Century; including the award-winning story into the alleged bribery to Qatar to win the 2022 World Cup (AKA. Fifa Files). Therefore her move to Buzzfeed, the infamously listical ‘social news and entertainment company’, did cause surprise in the industry; a well-known ‘traditional’ journalist moving to a new form of social media news website.

From the very start of her talk at Social Media Week London, it was clear that part of Heidi’s decision to move from the Sunday Times was due to their corporate decision to launch the paywall. As soon as the paid-for barrier was raised in 2010, it became much harder to draw people to the website, with the newspaper frequently losing out to social media sharing opportunities. So despite her award-winning Fifa Files story, competitors frequently gained more traction online.

Reading between the lines of her talk, clearly many journalists at the Sunday Times were concerned by the paywall decision. There was no doubt the newspaper was losing power to its competitors on social media, which really made the reputation of the Sunday Times’ name ineffective; nobody knows your article exists.

At the same time Buzzfeed was making a lot of money from social advertising but wanted to reinvest in hard hitting journalism; Heidi was the clear choice. The remit was the same as a newspaper, to see heads roll and a positive impact to society. Proper investigative journalism should be about bodies found and money stolen, and Buzzfeed can help frame those stories to make an impact.

Okay, clearly there were a few jokes about Heidi’s job becoming the master of Buzzfeed post-style lists. Heck, why not? The format of writing a story about “The top 50 bribes for the 2022 World Cup” may actually gain more traction than a long-form broadsheet article. It’s already working, the Buzzfeed investigations team’s post “15 Insane Confessions of a Buckingham Palace Guard” went viral on social media.

Integrating social media into investigative stories has been critical. Traditional newspapers could almost be likened to dictators, as it’s the editor who has the final say. Unlike Buzzfeed where people’s feedback on social media has democratised the news process; an online audience curates and stories can be targeted at different social media communities.


To an extent this allows Buzzfeed to guide it’s ethical decisions too, the guiding philosophy for Buzzfeed is to not be a barrier to information. If others are publishing sensitive photos that have already gone viral online, Buzzfeed may as well publish too.

Even in terms of investigating, it’s now possible to geo-lock social media searches to spot keyword related phrases that are linked with a current investigation. Incredibly useful for monitoring what staff of an organisation might be writing about on social media; it immediately provides a first-hand account. LinkedIn is another obvious choice, as the social network allows investigators to search vertically across typically difficult to navigate organisational structures.

Whether Buzzfeed can fulfil it’s aim to become the defining media company of the 21st Century remains to be seen.