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Why I love Instagram (and why Macmillan should love it too)

In this listicle Macmillan Social Media Officer, Alice Hajek talks about why Instagram is her favourite social media network and the opportunities that #throwbackthursdays and #motivationalmonday posts can provide an organsation.

Instagram boasts 300 million active monthly users worldwide. Despite this rather large figure, it is a relatively new social platform for many brands. At Macmillan, we only got into the Instagram swing of things last April when our follower base stood at 3000 people. 10 months later, and with 12,000 new followers, we are starting to establish Instagram as an integral social media platform at Macmillan.

Here are five reasons why I love Instagram (and why Macmillan should love it too).

1. It’s pretty

I love how anyone can make average photographs look great. Of course, I don’t have this problem because all my photos are brilliant… Whether it is a photo of your spiralised courgetti, the sunset from your office (the number of times our digital and PR teams have grammed the sunset over Battersea Power Station must be in the thousands) or our fantastic fundraisers – it’s easy to make your pictures look good. What more could you want?

healthy food image macmillan fundraisers vauxhall sunset

2. Engagement is high

As Facebook cuts the reach of brand pages considerably, the amount of likes and comments on Macmillan’s Instagram posts can sometimes outperform those on our Facebook page. When you consider that Macmillan has 600,000+ likes on Facebook and 15,800 followers on Instagram, this shows just how strong the engagement is on Instagram and the high percentage of followers that we are reaching with our content. It highlights Instagram as a key social channel for Macmillan.

On my personal account, it’s all about the 11 like threshold. If the names of those who liked it are still visible (you need 11 likes to go from names to numbers) you might as well admit defeat and take the post down – #embarrassing.

10 likes vs. 11 likes

3. The younger audience

We have noticed that some of our followers are quite young. There are a lot of usernames full of kisses and ending in years of birth such as ‘04 and ‘05. We know this young audience is not really Macmillan’s target demographic but it is great that we are able to reach them this way. Are they taking in our messages in the 0.02 seconds it takes to double tap (like) a photo, who knows? But at least they know we exist.

However, this is the extreme end of the scale. From what we can see we’re reaching lots of people in their late teens, twenties and thirties as well as our usual Macmillan supporters. I must admit, the younger audience is definitely more useful for Macmillan than for me personally. It can be quite hard to contain my jealousy as my younger sister and cousins receive more likes than me…

4. Recent updates

We can now flick between different Instagram accounts without having to log in and out. YAY! This means it is a whole lot easier to go between my personal account and the Macmillan account, oh and the account my sister and I set up for our dog Angus over Christmas…

Instagram has also announced that we will soon be able to see how many times people have viewed our videos, which will be great for analysis and evaluations. Instagram are still behind Facebook and Twitter in terms of their analytic offering so we are quite excited about this update. They will be rolling the new feature out over the next couple of weeks.

5. Instagram content is the best (in my opinion)

There are lots of clichés on Instagram. Wanderlust photos, motivational quotes, throwback Thursday pics, dogs in fancy dress, cats in fancy dress, random items spread out on the most pristine white tables you’ve ever seen, but I love them all. And luckily lots of them can work for Macmillan.

We’ve shared a pug in a Macmillan t-shirt, motivational quotes from our case studies, throwback Thursday photos, minions up mountains, healthy recipes and cat coffee mornings, to name just a few. And there’s more we can do. We’re still experimenting with what works well but it is an exciting place to be right now.

pug minion quote

You can Follow Macmillan on Instagram here.

Big Vinnie meets Little Vinnie

Ever wondered what hardman Vinnie Jones was like as a child? Haven’t we all? Now thanks to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), big Vinnie meets little Vinnie.

Following the success of their previous CPR awareness video (which we blogged about earlier) the BHF has created a kidsspoof complete with mini henchmen to encourage the teaching of CPR in schools. And big Vinnie even makes a guest appearance.

The most wonderful time of year?

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘Christmas’? Carol singing? Presents? Or the stress of getting everything ready on time?Avoiding every perfect Christmas cliche, Morrisons has brought us the real Christmas. From the forever-shedding tree to the endless sprout peeling, the ad has captured the comedy of the stressful pre-Christmas rush. Mum has decorations to hang and mouths to feed, but with the help of Morrisons, the turkey wrestling and card writing is all worth it in the end.
We think it’s a brilliant alternative to the traditional Christmas ads, and what’s more, they’ve also set up a Crimes Against Christmas page on Facebook. It invites shoppers to share their Christmas mishaps and submit pictures of their Christmas crimes. Five £100 prizes will be awarded each week in the run up to the big day and £1000 will be given to the snapper of the photo voted the guiltiest. That would make our Christmas a whole lot merrier.

Fright fest

It’s time to carve the pumpkins, stock up on the fake blood and ignore the constant ringing of trick or treaters. Yes, it’s Halloween again and with it comes plenty of spine-chilling adverts to sink your teeth into. And here are a few that have had us cowering behind our desks this week.

The dead undead

It might look like a scene from the latest George A. Romero flick, but this video is actually part of a campaign by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. The action takes place in the midst of a zombie apocalypse to highlight the importance of CPR in making the dead, ‘undead’. Get it?
It has reached nearly 600,000 YouTube views, which along with it’s great website, has grabbed the attention of some of the world’s biggest media companies. Business media magazine Fast Company praised it as one of the best ever Halloween ads. And it certainly had us reaching for the light switch.
The campaign also encouraged the public to buy tickets for the ‘safe zone’ at Canada’s Holiday Halloween Haunt to learn for themselves how to make the dead ‘undead’. And it proved a massive success with more than 5,000 people taking part, a North American record for people learning CPR at one time.

Dirty devils
With the ticking clock, the chilling screams and the dark setting, the latest ad from Dirt Deivil could almost pass for a scene from The Exorcist. But instead of revealing a demonically possessed child, Dirt Devil recreated one of the film’s most memorable scenes to show just how powerful their own ‘Devils’ can be.

Can you remember you worst childhood nightmare? Whether it’s clowns or giant bunnies, they’re all turning up in Fragile Childhood‘s latest awareness video.
Using some truly terrifying monsters, it highlights a child’s perception of their parents under the influence of alcohol. As the story unfolds we realise these creepy ‘monsters’ are in fact grownups. The video questions ‘How do our children see us when we’ve been drinking?’ in an attempt to make parents aware of the damage their drinking can sometimes cause their children.

It’s already grabbed a lot of attention with more than 1.5 million YouTube views. And we think it’s a brilliant way of getting parents to think before they drink.
Horror hotel
Doritos found the perfect way to put some more bite back into their brand with the help of a spooky internet game.

Inviting teen players to spend the night in the very haunted, very scary online Hotel 626, Doritos employed some clever techniques to create a unique gaming experience. The game sends players on a scream-inducing journey to escape the hotel and its terrifying inhabitants with the help of their own technology. Your computer microphone allows you to sing a ghoul to sleep while your camera flash banishes the hotel’s scary maid. What’s more, the game takes a cheeky photo of you using your own web cam which appears in the game inside a madman’s lair. To add to the terror, the game can only be accessed in the dark (between 6pm and 6am), and your only salvation is a creepy phone call on your mobile giving you directions out.

The games and its follow-up Asylum 626 proved a massive success for Doritos. Four million people in 136 countries viewed Hotel 626 alone, driving Doritos sales back up.

A sign of the times

Let’s face it, we’ve become a nation joined at the hip with technology. So what better way to get an advertising campaign into the public eye than by putting an interactive spin on it? Interactive ads are a brilliant way to engage the public and inspire support for a campaign. And now, more and more advertisers are jumping on the interactive band waggon. We’ve been sharing plenty of them among the creative team, and here’s a pick of some of the best.
Sounds like a plan

Plan are on a mission, a mission to give girls more choice about their future. And they’re doing it with the help of some very clever bus shelter ads.
Their ads have a built-in facial recognition scanner which cleverly detects your sex and shows you a  different video depending on your gender. Girls receive the full ad which includes various success stories to inspire them to give support. And boys receive some shocking statistics and only half of the ad to demonstrate the lack of choices girls have around over the world. They’ve already had great success with more than 100,000 youtube views and 1,000 Facebook mentions. Which gives hope that Plan’s plan is grabbing some attention.
Down on the farm

Ever wanted to feed a pig without trudging through a smelly, muddy field in your wellies? Of course you have, and now thanks to Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) you can do just that.

CIWF have created the world’s first real live feed which allows shoppers to feed Patsy the pig on a giant Westfield shopping centre billboard. All it requires is a £1 text donation, after which you are sent a unique URL link which connects you to an online broadcast of Patsy. The broadcast then connects you to a machine that scatters feed for the pigs, and you get to watch Patsy scoffing away on your donation. Your donation goes towards CIWF’s campaign for free range farming and better welfare standards for animals everywhere. And we think it’s definitely something to squeal about.  
Hope to millions

Welcome to The Hope Tank, the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) first interactive billboard. Supporting their Mending broken hearts appeal, it encourages shoppers to add a zebra fish to The Hope Tank with a small text donation.

‘Why a zebra fish?’ you ask.

Well, a zebra fish has the amazing ability to heal its own heart, something the BHF want to achieve for people everywhere. They are hoping to raise £50 million for research into the fish’s regenrative abilities, which could give hope to millions of people with damaged hearts. After sending your text donation your fish will be plopped into The Hope Tank for all to see. And what’s more, you’ll even get a personalised message on the billboard, thanking you for your support.

Every cloud has a silver lining

It’s that cold, wet and miserable time of year which gets us all wishing for white sandy beaches and Palm tress. And now lowcostholidays.com are capitalising on our winter blues for their Wish you were here campaign.

Their billboard asks passersby ‘Where are you thinking of going today?’ while capturing them with a hidden camera. It then relays the image back at them with holiday destinations in thought bubbles floating above their heads.

It’s proven to be a brilliant way of grabbing shoppers’ attention, as seen in their promotional video. And it’s even better for a lucky few who view the ad at it’s competition times for a chance to win a holiday. That would be enough to banish anyone’s winter blues.

Power up

What better way to advertise a new energy efficient car then with an energy efficient ad?

Well that’s exactly what Glue Isobar set out to do to to promote the new Toyota Yaris Hybrid. Partnering with PaveGen, a company which harvests energy from footsteps, the campaign uses PaveGen’s floor tiles to highlight the power of renewable energy. Using Ocean’s Eat Street location to showcase the car, shoppers walking past the screen and over the tiles help to create some of the energy to power the screen.

Each time a level of energy is produced, the car is ‘released’ to give one lucky shopper a free ride home. It’s aleady leaving footprints in the advertising world, winning the Ocean Outdoor digital competition. And it’s definitely got our stamp of approval.

Make a stand

What do Gwenyth Paltrow, Alan Carr and mum-of-three Trish all have in common?

They’re all standing up to cancer, and they need your help to do it.
It’s a harsh reality that more than 1 in 3 of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point. But Stand Up to Cancer want us all to beat the odds.

What started as a campaign by the US Entertainment Industry Foundation has grown into a global cause which aims to create new cancer treatments and awareness. And now our glitzy transatlantic friends are joining forces with Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK to bring the star-studded campaign to Britain.

At the heart of it all is Channel 4’s fundraising extravaganza which is bringing the biggest stars of TV, film and music together to raise millions to support the campaign. It isn’t airing until 7.30pm on Friday 19 October, but in the meantime you can get involved by fundraising, buying merchandise and spreading the word all over the internet. What’s more you can also check out the website for more information. And make sure to watch their brilliant ad campaign and videos by people affected by cancer and celebrities alike.
 Here at Macmillan, we think it’s a brilliant campaign, which we’re sure will inspire millions around the world to stand up to cancer together.

Behind closed doors

Would you intervene if you believed someone was a victim of domestic violence?

Less than three in five people said they would.

It’s a startling fact, but a fact that Amnesty International used in their It happens when nobody is watching campaign to open people’s eyes to domestic violence.

It’s the first of its kind, an interactive poster that responds to people looking at it. When staring at the poster, the couple appear happy and normal. But when you turn away, the man is seen beating the woman. It cleverly shows how easily domestic violence can be overlooked because it usually happens when nobody is watching.
This Berlin bus shelter was the only place to receive one of these brilliant ads. But we think it’s an excellent way to get an important campaign into the public eye.

The future’s bright, the future’s Orangereed

It’s the time of year again that every student dreads. The fun of freshers’ week is over and freshers’ flu is back to ruin study time. But never fear, it’s all worth it in the end, and here’s an amazing wesbite by a 2012 Illustration graduate to get you inspired.
Orangereed is the alter ego of Carl Reed, a self-confessed ‘doodler extraordinaire’ with a liking for moustaches. His fun doodle creations and projects can be seen on his website. And hopefully they’ll inspire every hungover student that hard work (and a few late nights) pay off.

Creative countdown

Here at Macmillan, we’re always sharing exciting projects among the creative team. And this is our round up of what’s got our creative juices flowing this month.

  1. Helpless

Imagine going through the toughest fight of your life and then dying in a way which could’ve easily been prevented. Well, that’s just what the latest ad from St. John’s Ambulance shows. It follows the journey of a man who finishes cancer treatment, only to die as a result of choking because no one knows basic first aid. Hard-hitting and moving, it powerfully draws attention to a very big problem.

  2. The $#*! Kids Say 

Despite coming out in March, I only recently stumbled upon this short film for the NSPCC’s Don’t wait until you’re certain campaign. Building on the success of the book $#*!  My Dad Says, it urges people not to ignore their niggling doubts about a child’s safety. And it highlights the fact that more than half of the people who contact the NSPCC have had concerns for at least a month.  

  3. First World Problems

Don’t you just hate it when your phone charger doesn’t reach? Or when you go to the bathroom and forget your phone? WaterisLife.com uses these ‘first world problems’ in their latest ad to highlight the need for clean water in developing countries. It draws on the ever-popular Twitter hashtag #firstworldproblems to give us all a big reality check that first world problems are NOT problems.

  4. Back to the Future

Admit it, at one time or another we’ve all squirmed at our old photographs, regretting those dodgy haircuts and fashion disasters. But luckily for us, photographer Irina Werning has roped some brave souls into digging out their retro snaps for her Back to the Future projects. Here she brings the past and present together, warts and all, in a series of stunningly recreated shots.

  5. Sea Change

It’s amazing how much can change in a few hours. Since 2003, photographer Michael Marten has shown this by travelling along the British coast photographing identical sea views at high and low tide. The result is a brilliant collection of shots showing the changes to our seasides.

Meet The Superhumans

With only three days to go until chaos descends upon the capital, the merest mention of the Olympic Games fills most Londoners – especially commuters – with dread. However, Channel Four are doing a great job to counteract the ever-growing panic by making us really excited about the Paralympics, set to start on the 29th August.

If you don’t feel proud about London 2012 I would recommend watching C4’s newest 90-second ad, Meet the Superhumans. Both Meet the Superhumans and Gallop (read about Gallop here) show just how advanced recent video ad campaigns have become, with every shot, setting and sound timed to perfection. They’ve responded to the rapid increase of digital and social media, where the buzz around a brand can snowball in seconds – but disappear just as rapidly. As Tom Tagholm, director of Meet the Superhumans, explains: “We knew we had to make some noise. We knew we had to add some edge and grit and attitude.”

It’s clear that the other aspects of C4’s online Paralympic presence have also been years in the making. Its specialised Twitter page has attracted over 45,000 followers. Its Facebook page posts regular video interviews and profiles. There is even a dedicated, up-to-date and compelling blog written by James Ballardie, That Paralympic Blog. It complements That Paralympics Show, which has been gracing our TV screens and gearing us up for the Games since 2010.

Channel Four’s flawless marketing and raw, honest portrayal of our Paralympic athletes makes me feel that there’s no better channel – or group of sporting heroes – to represent Great Britain. 

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