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We Are Social’s Tuesday Tuneup #222

by Dinnie Lim in News

Facebooks launches feature for English to Hindi status updates

Facebook has released a feature in its Android app that allows users to type in the English keyboard while the app translates the Roman characters into Hindi script. This is a response from the social media giant to feedback asking for efficient composing of statuses in native languages. With India being one of the largest countries in the world and with Hindi being the official language of the country, this will go a long way in attracting new users.

New Delhi implements the ban of surge pricing
With surge-pricing on rides-on-demand apps like Uber, passengers sometimes pay three or four times their usual fare during periods of high demand. Commuters have often taken to social media to vent their frustrations. In an attempt to keep fares more consistent, the capital city of New Delhi has introduced a ban on surge pricing as well as cab rides. However, as a direct result, many users in New Delhi were unable to book a cab through its service due to a lack of available cars on busy days. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curiosity Stop Special: Chat Bots

by Tan Xing Long in News

Chat bots. They don’t sound very sexy, but they are the hot topic following the F8 announcement that Facebook would allow (hell, encourage) developers to create automated apps within Messenger. This time next year, we won’t be able to move for bots (*shudders*), which is why you should embrace bot life right NOW – starting with our lowdown on those that have already landed in the artificially intelligent universe.

Poncho was one of the first apps used to demonstrate Messenger’s new Send/Receive API. It’s a weather bot, and it wants to be your friend. You can ask Poncho questions like whether you should wear sunglasses today or what the weather’s going to be like this weekend, and it will send you alerts up to twice a day, if you want. The ambition is for Poncho to be able to talk to you about anything light-hearted, like you would with a mate, but it has to be taught what to say first.

Not so for Quartz for iPhone, which is written by a bunch of (real) journalists. Quartz gets that chat bots are an entirely new (and artificial) beast to work with. If you want to create a chatty news app, you can’t just pull stories from your website and push them out to users. Using Quartz for iPhone is like having an ongoing conversation with your really bright mate. The app will text you news snippets full of emojis and GIFs (obvs), but it will also send some serious stuff. If you want to hear more, you can just ask, or move on to the next story. You can also personalise what Quartz notifies you about depending on what you’re into.

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Bots have barely become a buzzword and already we have a loser. Yes, we’re talking about Tay. Tay was (she’s currently on a time out, thinking about what she’s done) Microsoft’s millennial chat bot. Her Twitter bio reads: “The more you talk the smarter Tay gets”. The problem is that Microsoft presumed the world would tweet smart things to Tay. It did not. Multiple racist comments later, and Tay was put back in her box. Tay serves as a reminder of the dangers of artificial intelligence. The most worrying bit? The robots aren’t the dangerous ones – we are.

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Discover the full range of chat bots on the market in our Curiosity Stop Special, which includes character-based bots like Miss Piggy on Messenger to functional apps like TacoBot. Then pray no one teaches one of them to write social innovation reports and blog posts. Gulp.

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Themes from Facebook’s F8 Conference

by Aubrey Teng in News

WARC recently published this article by We Are Social’s head of creative technology, Matthew Payne, examining the themes and developments that stood out at Facebook’s F8 Conference. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it below.

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Mark Zuckerberg opened this week’s Facebook F8 with a clear dig at Donald Trump and his anti-immigration stance. His message set the tone for the event – it was one of opening up and connecting the world, not of blocking expression – “instead of building walls we can help build bridges”. The Facebook CEO’s view is that we’re one global community and we’re all better off for it. There was a lot to get excited about at F8 – 360 VR cameras, Chatbot engines, Sponsored messaging ads, developer kits, and more. But here are the themes and developments that stood out for me this year.

All about bots
The headline stealer at F8, at least for agencies and brands, has been the introduction of Chatbots on Messenger. What are the brand implications? Content teams will need to start creating brand / product personalities that can now truly interact with people; digital user experience dictates that the expectation will be for chatbots to be more than dumb service robots.

There will be a host of fairly predictable teething problems here. As we’ve already seen, the bots can be slow – consumers want and expect real time. They will arrive rampantly, but most will probably be terrible at first. Can bots replace humans in customer service tasks, such as call centre support? I wouldn’t rule it out in the long-term once brands get their acts together.

Tying all of this in with machine learning will help brands better understand users and their interactions. We now find ourselves at the point where technologies, in what was previously considered advanced fields of study, are becoming available for everyday use.

West (still) chases East
While Facebook showed some impressive developments in messaging, in many ways the West is still playing catch up with East here. Facebook boasts Messenger as the ‘next big platform for sharing privately’, but much of what Messenger is trying to become is what apps like WeChat already deliver. But finishing second is better than not finishing at all, and this is a step in the right direction.

The crucial thing for brands to remember is that Messenger is a personal space, so brands need to work out what purpose they have on the platform – they must be useful, not spammy. Once you start to build a Messenger community do not simply start messaging them in a similar way to SMS. Part of what makes the likes of Snapchat so successful is that brands there aren’t constantly slapping readers round the face with unwanted content. Remember users can block you very easily.

I also hope to see the Messenger team start to push the boundaries of what the app can do even further, allowing for more unique experiences such as custom pages, better search, gamification and so on. Some of these would require an in-app browser that’s actually good, so people aren’t forced to leave the platform for the experience.

Another shot at search
So far, Facebook’s attempts at grabbing some of the search market share haven’t been anywhere near enough to keep anyone at Google HQ up all night (Graph Search anyone? Didn’t think so). Now, with Messenger allowing consumers to search for brands and speak directly to them about their purchases, Facebook will be hoping this helps shift at least some of consumers’ queries in their direction, cutting out the search engine giant. Facebook wants to be able to lay claim to as much consumer data as possible – capturing some of this market will be a win for them if successful.

Everyday VR is still a way off
Integrating virtual reality and augmented reality in the everyday consumers’ life sits at the latter end of Facebook’s 10-year plan, when it’s cheap and prolific enough for everyone to use easily. However, it’s clear that they are still pushing heavily in the area in the short term. The plans announced at F8 were exciting and progress is already being made with Gear VR launched, Oculus Rift shipping (soon…) and early adopters already viewing over a million hours of VR content.

While complete social VR experiences may be a long way off, Facebook’s long-term plan is sensible and there is great progress being made. There are a number of social VR spaces out there already. Go try them out and go to any event or experience offering VR – you will see the strides companies are making in this field with every demo you try.

The bigger picture
Away from the consumer-focused products targeted at those of us in the developed world, there was a much bigger message at F8 – one of how Facebook is connecting people globally. As part of its ‘Free Basics’ programme Facebook is building drone planes and satellites to bring the internet to more people who can’t currently get online. These people won’t have disposable income to spend on data allowances, so developers will be asking themselves what they can create for billions of people without a lot of money, using internet with tiny data packages – it’s a chance to do some good for the world, potentially helping people and communities grow and develop. No doubt we’ll see the most innovative and forward-thinking brands moving in on this space too, even if it is sometimes for slightly cynical PR reasons.

Social thinking at the heart
The biggest positive takeaway for me from the conference was to see Facebook’s focus on social thinking, not just on platform-specific updates. It’s time we stop thinking of social as just ‘social media’ – it’s about asking the question “how can I bring people together” – and this is exactly what Facebook is doing. It reflects what we’re trying to do at We Are Social too, using innovation and creative technology to help brands provide something really useful for people.

The contrast between Facebook’s two worlds – the data-heavy commercial bots and the provision of what we’d consider the most basic online access, was stark. It felt a little ironic that when Zuckerberg told the audience that Facebook has a drone plane that can fly at 60,000 feet to open up the internet to the rest of the human race, bringing billions online, no-one seemed that bothered, but when shortly afterwards it was announced that Facebook was giving out free VR headsets and phones, everyone went nuts.

But you have to be optimistic to want to change the world and we saw that as usual, Zuckerberg has this in abundance. It’ll be fascinating to watch how this plays out over the next decade as Facebook’s plans unfold. What we should be doing as developers and creative technologists, and as brands and agencies, is to be innovative with how we experiment and adapt to these changes. This isn’t about being first but doing it right. Go out there and help one another.

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We Are Social’s Tuesday Tuneup #221

by Kristie Neo in News

WeChat is China’s most popular social app, scores 706 million monthly active users

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WeChat remains (unsurprisingly) China’s most popular social app, surging past 700 million monthly active users for the first time in March. The only social messaging app that comes close to WeChat is QQ, also owned by Tencent. Alibaba’s Taobao comes at a distant third, at 250 million less users than WeChat. Yes – 250 million users. (Don’t blink.)

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Shell We Move?: Suumo turns sandy beaches into live media

What do hermit crabs and house hunters have in common? Lots apparently.

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Suumo, the largest real estate information agent in Japan embarked on a social project called “Shell We Move” involving hermit crabs, oceanographers and engineers. The project got the team building new ocean-friendly artificial shell homes for the crabs, turning the entire beach into a live media site for Suumo. View the full vid here.

BMW wants you to keep your EyesonGigi

What’s sexier than Gigi Hadid? A blue BMW 2016 M2 Coupés, of course.

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No actually – 5 of them, and you, racing in the middle of a desert. Follow Gigi closely as she gets into one of the cars. They accelerate and swerve through a series of formations before you guess at the end of the video, which one she was in. The video is shot in 360, so navigating it makes it a little extra fun.

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If you guess incorrectly, you don’t get anything, but if you do guess right, you…don’t get anything either. Nothing except an extra clip of Gigi fixing her hair and smiling straight at you. Should be worth the effort eh?

It’s a great example of how 360 video can be coupled with extra interactivity through a guessing game. View BMW’s campaign website at EyesonGigi.com.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Social Media for Travel Brands

by Simon Kemp in News

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) recently commissioned We Are Social to investigate the emerging trends shaping people’s use of social media in relation to travel. We uncovered a number of interesting trends that we think will be relevant to all marketers – regardless of which industry they work in – so Singapore Tourism Board have been kind enough to let us share our key findings here.

We shared our findings in a presentation that I gave to a couple of hundred marketers at STB’s recent Marketing Lab in Singapore; you can read the full presentation in the SlideShare embed above (or read it here if that’s not working for you), but we thought it might be helpful to share some additional insights too, so read on below for some even richer context.

Read the rest of this entry »

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