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Creatives are a bit mysterious aren’t they? Shuffling about with their macbooks and hipster outfits, paid to have fun and mess around with colours and words. I recently wrote a blog post about graphic designers, and how people don’t really understand what they do – I think copywriters definitely fall under the same mysterious creative banner.

I often think that it’s probably our own fault that we’re seen this way. We never really lift the creative veil and say ‘hey so we actually do some really practical work behind our Notebooks!’ We never really think about explaining our trade our creative process properly.

First things first – we do a lot more than write up words, we (like graphic designers) wear a few different hats that help us create copy that doesn’t just sound good but actually creates web traffic, loyal customers and increases sales.

Which hats do we wear?

I would say any copywriter worth their salt is also a brand expert, a marketer, a creative writer and understands the basics of design. A copywriter also constantly walks a tightrope between the creative and commercial world so that the copy answers a brief, is engaging and taps into something unique. A copywriter’s goal is to captivate the reader and take them on a journey from brand awareness to loyal customer, without them even realising.

Step by step

When it comes to websites, getting the copy right is crucial. Websites are now the first place a person looks to find out more about your business and why they should even interact with you. 80% of website users will never go back to a website if they’ve had a negative experience. If you have a website that looks like a digital dinosaur, they will probably never come back and will hop to your other competitors on Google without a second thought.

Your website isn’t just a shop window, it can be used to push your users to action and should be integral to the success of your business. Great copy helps create a quality customer experience for your website which elevates your brand, company values and creates long-term loyalty.

So why is investing in professional copywriting so important for websites?

1: Attracts potential customers to your website

Great website content improves website traffic, increases customer interaction and raises awareness of your brand and services.

How? By picking the right words that your audience searches for on Google, otherwise known as SEO, which will help more potential customers find your site, and can convince readers to choose you over your competitors.

Good SEO captures google visitors by adding keywords to your website that people search for and stops users clicking off your site by appealing to their interests and needs.  Good quality copy works subtle SEO into the body of the text which attracts users to your site and shows them what makes you special.

2: Helps convert a visitor into a loyal customer

Once your content attracts a visitor to your website, the copy should work in tandem with great website design so that you lead the visitor through an online journey which convinces them to browse through your website and ultimately interact with you.

Professional copywriting takes on board what your core audience is interested in and what will help convince them that you are the company to pick. Good content takes on every step of customer conversion – from discovering you on google, browsing through your website to facilitating contact.

The power of words can make a visitor pick up the phone and ring you because they feel you offer what they need and that you appeal to their values. A good professional copywriter will add the right keywords, structure, layout and tone – giving you the building blocks to capture visitors and nurture long-term customer relationships.

3: Strengthens your brand

A strong brand is directly linked to increased sales. People want to instantly understand who you are and what makes you tick.

Words can help you transform how a reader views your brand. Words can create a consistent image that connects right to your target audience.

When a skilled copywriter works on a website project, one of their main aims is to strengthen your brand. They will work on your brand values, what your target audience cares about, and how to let your best-selling points shine.

4: Differentiates you from your competitors

If 10 other companies in your area sell a very similar service or product, how can you convince someone that you are the company that they should go with?

It’s simple – if your website is the best on the market, your customers will think you are the market leader. Or think about it this way – if two people went for an interview and one was sat upright and dressed in a suit while the other was slouching and had a creased and stained T-shirt on, which one would you choose before even seeing their C.V or speaking to them?

Your website is often the first thing potential customers see about your company, and first impressions count. Copywriters work in tandem with graphics designers and website coders so that every part of a website is consistent and shines a spotlight on why you are unique and why someone should pick you above someone else.

Copywriters understand that words have the power to put you above your competitors and know how to use them in the most effective way for your business. A great copywriter will work closely with you to find your unique selling points and values to elevate your company and put you a cut above the rest.

5: Gives a positive online image of your company

First impressions aren’t just about beating your competitors, they are also crucial for your company’s image. 80% of website users will never go back to a website if they’ve had a negative experience. Bad website design and badly worded pages are the top reasons why users click off and find another website that gives them what they need.

Sleek website design and memorable content help users easily find what they want and understand who you are – creating a positive image and helping you to achieve long-term relationships with your customers.

A mix of quality content and web design is the magic formula for creating a website that your customers remember for all the right reasons.

Psst! At Bamboo, we have our very own copywriter, Sara Benaissa. If you are thinking about a new website and need to work on your web copy, give us a call and we can have a chat about how great design and content create the best websites on the digital market.

Whose line is it anyway?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, what even is a strapline?

They are basically business catchphrases, slogans or small groups of words that make up a memorable sentence. A good strapline should reflect who you are, what you do as a business and alert your target audience to your main business values in a snappy soundbite.

The almighty strapline basically sits on top of a carefully planned brand strategy, acting like a beacon, streaming out a bold and simple message.

When it comes to branding, the big bad companies out there spend troves of money finding the right strapline for their brand, because they understand the colossal impact it can have on their audience. They know that words have the power to shape perception and buying habits.

Customers buy from brands they trust and can relate to. Audiences flock to websites that have strong stories and values that align with the individual and society.

Great straplines can also make your company look better than your competitors, who are essentially selling the same product or idea. They can create loyal customers who believe they are buying from someone who understands them and their lifestyles.

Up in lights

To really bring home how much sway straplines can have and how they push you to think in a very specific way about a company, here are two of the best straplines out there:

  1. Because you’re worth it
  2. Just Do it

99% of the modern world know which brands these straplines belong to. The clever trick is that we aren’t just thinking about the company, we’re also subconsciously accepting a very carefully planned brand message.

The globally recognised because you’re worth it, is a brilliantly executed strapline. Firstly, it answers the question ‘Why should I buy from you?’. Secondly, it makes you think that buying luxury or treating yourself is a worthwhile investment. And thirdly, it implies L’Oréal Paris is good enough for your tastes.

The brand flatters your ego, tells you that they are better quality than their competitors and so makes you think they are value for money. All in 5 unassuming words.

Just Do it is a fantastic strapline for a sports brand because it inspires action, positivity, a drive to do better, and ultimately to buy a brand that helps you do that. Nike even capitalises the ‘Do’ so you only associate that exact phrase with the brand.

Great straplines tap into our human nature, for Nike that means playing into our need to always improve and be our best selves.

The Perfect Recipe

So what makes a great strapline?

I asked resident graphic designer and co-owner of Bamboo, Simon Nolan –

“Your strapline basically sits next to your brand and acts as a message, helping users to sum up your ethos, your values and what you are about. The strapline is the introduction and summary of who you are. A great strapline should act like the glue that holds your content together and should be the start of a strong and consistent brand story that runs from your website right through to your business cards.”

Creating a good strapline is like pouring icing on top of a cake so that it trickles down between the layers. It strengthens your image, puts a bold idea out there for your audience to digest and helps streamline your business values.

So how do you go about creating a strapline?

  1. Keep it Simple

If you take one thing from this article, it should be ‘the simpler the better’. Flowery constructions or wordy poetry have no place in the strapline cattle market. You want short, sharp words that pack a punch.

  1. Make it Memorable

Along with a simple idea and message, you want someone to remember your brand, and for the right reasons. Whether you are a big or small company, when a loyal customer sees your strapline they should immediately think of you. In an ideal world they should even speak about your strapline to other people, think Budweiser or Specsavers.

How do you make it memorable? Humour is a great trick, as is appealing to someone’s emotions. You need to understand your audience and what makes them tick and then use your strapline as a mirror back to their own values. But keep it honest, consumers can smell a red herring three google clicks away.

  1. Stay Positive

So, you’ve got simple and you’ve got memorable, now you need positive.  You don’t want to be remembered for making children cry or horrifying your core audience (although sometimes that can work). Stay positive, people always want a happy ending to a story.

  1. Be Unique

One of the big reasons that straplines work so well is that they help you look different to your competitors and raise you up to a new playing field.

I firmly believe that most competitors sell a very similar product, but not all competitors have the same values. Concentrate on what makes you different from the crowd and create your brand message and strapline around that.

  1. Show your Worth

A strapline helps convince your audience that you are worth their time, money and energy.

How do you get them to think that? Like most things in life, start with the basics. When you are setting up your brand or refreshing your image, you need to have a serious think about your core principles before you decide on a strapline.

When I say core principles, I mean the basic values that define your company. Defining your core values is also about what you and your target audience finds important. You core values should create a bridge between your goals and their expectations – – whether that’s ethics, speed, simplicity, or family values.

Once you’ve thought of them, a good trick is to imagine if someone took those 3 or 4 values away, would you still be the same company? No? then those 3 magic words are your building blocks to branding glory.

Next step is your strapline, which should have 1-2 of your core principles worked into the content, and the best straplines do this without even saying those exact keywords.

The road to Tipperary

Even if you’ve never done any sort of branding before, you know your company more than anyone else, so spend some time thinking about who you are and what makes you unique. Then start using our 5 top strapline tips as the first stepping stones to a great brand story and a star-studded strapline.

PSST! Did you know that we have our very own copywriter? If you want to rework your website and freshen up your content, give us a ring or pop into Ziferblat Edge Street, Manchester – where we’ll be more than happy to have a chat about your website project and how we can help over some Zifercake

I recently went to a tech talk in Manchester where a speaker introduced his topic with this – “We are now naturally urban animals” Or in other words, we’ve moved on from our rural origins, have long since walked out of the savannah and our chosen birthplaces are now among skyscrapers.

The hills are alive

We’d certainly be forgiven for thinking that we’ve turned our backs on our old ways and that we’ve evolved into concrete dwellers. As trends go, we have consistently been leaving our rural homes behind since the very first cities shot up. On average, 74% of all developed and 44% of all emerging countries are now urban.

But aren’t we forgetting something? Isn’t nature where our origins lie, isn’t it still our habitat?

Moving to the big smoke has always been about getting a job, finding new opportunities or leaving a ‘worse’ life behind. It’s never been about putting ourselves in concrete mazes away from nature, it’s just become a by-product.

There are also scores of studies that prove flora and fauna aren’t just pretty, they are integral for our health and sanity. Increased exposure to nature is directly linked to decreased levels of stress, depression and anxiety which often have a detrimental impact on physical health – which means we need to be near nature to feel better.

Windows Explorer

Our online spaces are, in theory, the most far-flung spaces from physical nature, and it is perhaps for this reason that we are constantly designing and coding with nature in mind. Perhaps we are unable to truly design or invent anything completely outside of our own viewpoint or experience and so logically our most high-tech inventions have their origins in something that already exists in nature.

Take the internet itself, which represents a spider’s web in its most simplistic form, and how our brains make connections in its most complex. Or if we think of ‘the Cloud’ it works in a very similar way to how we store memory.

You can link the structure of code to how soil works for living things, it creates strings of organic matter (or code) which forms connections and binds those separate connections to form more complicated organic structures.  Even our phones are created to work in tandem with how we think, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to use them or understand how to extract information. Our smartphones sync so well with how we communicate and connect ideas that they now feel like an abstracted part of ourselves.

Our most forward-thinking robotic experts are also building biomimetic robots to either to look like us or to represent an animal or the best parts of lots of animals that already exist.

Let there be light

We are also slowly realising that the concrete gap between us and nature needs to be bridged with metaphoric gardens.  Biophilic design, or designing with nature in mind, is a great practical example and is a trend that is moving at the speed of light.

We are quite literally bringing natural elements through our windows and into our internal spaces. Panoramic views, wood, indoor gardens, rooftop greenery, natural colours, open spaces, floor to ceiling windows and circadian lighting are all trendy examples. But biophilic design reaches far beyond architecture or office décor and has jumped right into the digital world.

Gone are the fluorescent colours and jarring navigation of the early noughties. Our websites and social media accounts are now designed with clean lines, simple navigation and fluid connections. We are creating open, light and welcoming digital spaces that mimic our old natural spaces.

SEO is also riding the trend. Most words that have a naturally meaning score highly on user retention and engagement. Words like social, open, organic, natural, green, local, sourced, community and space, are all prime terms for websites and branding, and are all systematically linked to nature and our roots.

Another great example is UX design, which basically foresees what is going to happen to our online behaviours and physical designs around those predictions. If you ask any UX designer they will agree that it’s paramount to create navigation from A to B, B to C and C to A in the most fluid possible way, because it is a sure-fire way to create a positive and productive user experience. It is because of this that internet spaces are now completely interlinked, just like our real lives because conversation and communication are naturally fluid and interconnected.

Digital Organisms

Our mass urban exodus also doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. In 2050, 70% of the world will be urban. The challenge for the future will be adopting practices and developing innovations that truly merge nature into our physical and digital spaces, so that we create real urban jungles that are healthy for both us and the planet.

I think it would be naïve to think we can go back to a simpler time, but what we can do is use both the future and the past to create a balanced present where urban and digital nature more than just lovely a sounding paradox.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Why are website designers giving us simpler and more stress-free user experience?

If only life were more simple right?

In a world filled to the brim with information, communication and smartphone planners, how do we hit the stop button and take ourselves off warp speed? What even got us on the priority lane to burn out in the first place?

It’s a sweet paradox that the latest technologies are hungrily consumed because they promise to save us time and energy but are actually the main instigators of fatigue, stress and yes, having less time.

Our lives are so busy and littered with tech that we are now going full circle by wanting a mammoth sized time out from it all. Users are now logging off and bouncing away from websites much more easily and without a moment’s hesitation.

Build me a road to paradise

How does this affect website design?

A functional website is no longer enough to stand out from the crowd. A website now needs to be beautiful, seamless, and completely in tune with how users surf and interact with a site.

In the fast pace world of 2018, the main challenge coders and UX designers face is successfully ridding us of unnecessary time-wasting features and navigation. The most popular sites and the highest user retentions now come from the dream of dreams – quick and easy information that leads us on a beautiful trip directly from A to B.

Users no longer want to scan through a site to find the information they need, they don’t have time to find the needle in the haystack. They want the right information thrown at them, and preferably within 2-5 seconds.

The harsh reality is that browser back buttons give people an all too easy exit strategy to your other 15 competitors sitting pretty on Google.  People are more willing to opt out and try another website if you give them a crystal maze style website journey.

Over the rainbow

The most popular time-saving designs hit the right balance between simple but not oversimplified. Good designers create enough complexity to keep someone’s attention span but not too much to burn out their already highly charged brain sockets.

Linear design is one of the most popular website design styles because it follows a chronical or beginning-middle-end format. Instead of just having a drop-down menu at the top of the screen, linear websites have all the necessary links or nudges to other parts of the website throughout the homepage.  As you scroll down suggestions follow you along, reminding you that there are plenty more pots of gold within the website. Linear design is also continually adapted over time by analysing user experience and wrapping the website journey around the user.

Some other popular time-saving features include:

  • Minimalist inspired navigation – design that encourages the minimal number of steps needed, from when a user clicks to when they take the intended action. Proactive design, eye-catching and optimised buttons, nudge features and easy-access menus are all added to produce Hansel and Gretel style bread crumbs, so you get right to where you need to be and don’t get lost on your way.
  • Automated suggestions –  basically personalised suggestions which are based on a user’s former navigation history, and works best with member based websites. Coders and UX designers can using past user experience data, to predict what someone might like in the future and which will increase the likelihood of suggesting something that peaks the user’s interests and in turn, improves user satisfaction. 
  • Visually rich content – combining engaging content with pictures, videos, moving graphics and fluid design to help break up information and guide the eye to the intended information more quickly. The idea is to sprinkle bits of sparkle across a site by combining multiple visual mediums. Visually rich content works particularly well if you want a user to focus on a call to action or a part of the website which encourages interaction.

Knowing me, knowing you

In the end, websites need to mirror our own lives. A good website design has to be both technically awesome and in tune with the modern Zeitgeist. Building a successful website is about blending ground-breaking design, elegant imagery, swish code and listening to your audience.

Putting the spotlight firmly back on the user and having your ear to the ground is paramount for predicting any impending stampede towards change. In 2018, people need stress-free convenience, and savvy websites designers are building exactly such a world for us, brick by streamlined brick.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Where is your phone right now?

Mine is flashing next to my laptop as I write this, never too far away and always patiently waiting for me to over use it. I’m not the only one who feels like they’re on their smartphone too much, with 50% of teenagers admitting that they are probably addicted to their phones.

Shockingly, our handy digital helpers have only been around for 18 years, that is a shorter amount of time than most people have spent on this earth, yet they’ve managed to turn our lives inside out within a blink of a screen shot.

Like any 18-year-old, smartphones are fresh faced and doggedly shaking up our way of life. How much time we spend on them, the way they’ve changed our hobbies, what we view and read, how we search for information and communicate, and even our attention spans have been deeply affected by our clever devices. But the influence that smartphones could have, has the potential to become a lot deeper and weirder.

Through the looking glass

We type our thoughts, habits, conversations, relationships, passions, hatreds, careers, and hobbies into our screens. We use it as an extension of our own brains, to help store information, jog our memories and communicate.

You may think that we keep a lot from our phones, but it’s a lot less than you think. Smartphones aren’t just about apps or social media, they also monitor what you look for and how you use your phone when you are alone and left to your own devices. And all that information isn’t lost or static, it’s stored and, according to experts, gives each smartphone user a unique code or a digital personality.

It might also explain why we feel strange being away from our new best friends for too long or why we feel such a compulsion to use them as much as we do. We aren’t just addicted, we are also developing a symbiotic relationship with our phones.


Symbiotic smartphones might sound like one of the new Black Mirror episodes, but it’s actually something that is already happening to us. We might not yet put 100% of everything we think and feel into our phones, but we are relying so heavily on them that they are becoming our surrogate brains or at the very least an external hard drive for our thoughts and lives.

Relying on our phones to do what our brains are actually good at, means we are systematically using our brains less. Our cerebral supercomputers are being side-lined for an external device and experts are warning it could have an irreversible effect on how our brains work.

The smartphone revolution is moving so quickly that it is becoming a slippery beast, and the scope of information at our fingertips is enough to overwhelm and affect even the most ardent memories and those who still know how to focus.

Beam me up

And things aren’t going to stop there. Smartphones are already IoT enabled with software such as Siri, and so if you choose to have voice activation on your phone, it effectively listens out for keywords so that it can instantly react to your instructions. What if in the near future the likes of Siri become an obligatory function that stores your every conversation to predict how it can help you with your daily life and long-term goals?

Even weirder, what if smartphones could start recognising and recording our body language, all in the quest to become the dream personal assistant. Face recognition software is already a well-established tool that is used for passports, law enforcement and less serious apps. It isn’t a huge stretch to assume that one-day technology could also start to recognise body language and blur the line between us and our phones so much that the line won’t even matter anymore.

Cycle of Life

Everyone likes a happy ending, so you’ll be glad to hear that it isn’t all doom and gloom.

We always do the same thing when inventions change our way of life. We tend to go full throttle into a movement, panic and then end up finding a balance between the old and the new, and eventually even strengthen our roots with the old ways. Think chains vs. independent businesses, the industrial revolution vs. environmentalism, fast food vs. clean living, capitalism vs. ethical consumerism.

Technology’s opposite, physical engagement, will come back to the forefront, because our current relationship with our phones is unsustainable and because we always go back to our innate needs.

We can already see the tide starting to turn. Huge watchwords such a tech fatigue, digital detox and tech free days are storming their way through the smartphone clouds. We might still have our heads firmly stuck in the digital sand, but we will never be able to alter our need for physical interaction in the real world. And this intrinsic need will create a future where will hopefully find a much-needed balance between pouring ourselves into our digital soul mates and actively searching for those healthy and brilliant moments when we live completely free from our digital devices.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Why Google Rankings strategies matter

Your site is up and running, it’s looking sleek and shiny, ready for the whole world to see. You sit at your computer waiting for the thousands of visits and leads that are going to come knocking on your digital window.

So why have the weeks gone by and you’re yet to receive the tidal wave of requests you expected, and your views are struggling to hit the 100 per week mark?

First things first, you are not alone, many companies navigate through the choppy waters of website traffic and have no idea how to bring the boat into port in unchartered territory.

Google is effectively the gate keeper of high search rankings and organic traffic. Meeting Google ranking requirements is one of the most important things for high website traffic, and ultimately lead generation.

What then is the magic Google recipe to put you above all your competitors and become the cream of the Google ranking crop?

Tell me the truth

One of the most important and relatively easiest ways is with quality content. Writing engaging and relevant information on your website which is often refreshed (i.e. with a blog) is a sure-fire way to see your Google rankings rise.

People react most to genuine content that hits a Zeitgeist or speaks to their values. Which means that no amount of hyperlinking or SEO can replace interesting content that attracts your core audience. You can even attract long-tail traffic, which is basically attracting visitors that are interested in what you do but weren’t specifically looking for you.

A good example of this is if a restaurant, which has a website and blog, posts weekly trend setting recipes. A person might research a recipe that is on the blog and stumble across the post, like what they see, look at the whole website and decided to visit the restaurant.

SEO my heart out

Another way is through SEO, a term which is being bandied about a lot and is being propelled as the new way to write content. Away from the marketing jargon, SEO is just writing compelling content for your brand which contains words that people are likely to search for when they are looking for what you do.

It’s important though, to firstly write quality content and to secondly concentrate on SEO. The worst mistake a lot of websites do is to try and drive content by solely concentrating on searchable words, this often created conceited and jumbled up sentences which tends to lead to high traffic but also very high bounce rates.

SEO works when you can’t tell the searchable words are there. They should never be the gravitational pull in a sentence but should instead sit calmly behind the scenes in a genuine piece of writing.


It’s also not just about the words you write for the whole world to see, it’s also important to get your back-end in order. All I mean by back-end, is the page settings in your editor suite, where you can view each of your pages and write meta-tags or searchable terms which help Google understand what your site does, raised your profile and directs the right traffic towards it.

It is also important to do this for pictures and videos. Google is basically a very complex algorithm and reacts to data (a colossal 20 petabytes per day). If Google processes a picture or video without a back-end description it is basically invisible to Google and won’t help your rankings.

Social Space

Social media also has a big part to play, because it can help drive more traffic to your website. Having various social media accounts for your company effectively shines a stronger beacon towards your website by picking up visitors from a wider angle.

You are quite literally providing more opportunities to be searched for on the internet, and Google likes knowing that traffic is coming to your website from multiple sources. A bit like the popular high school kid, who decides whether you’re worth their attention based on how many friends you have.

Picking which social media platform is right for you is also important. If you’re a design company, Pinterest and Instagram are probably the way to go, if you’re a street food company Instagram and Snapchat will probably get you genuine engagement, where a data analyst organisation will probably look to Twitter and LinkedIn as a more appropriate route.

The key strategy with social media is to get your branding streamlined and to constantly generate compelling content which will, if all things go to plan, drive increased traffic to your website and give you a healthy boost on Google.

Rising Star

In the end, raising your Google ranking can feel a bit like a shooting star, some days your rankings soar and some days you are left scratching your head and wondering what changed from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Don’t lose faith though, the best sign that your google ranking strategy is working is that the long-term pattern is one of growth and that you are enjoying writing your content. Sometimes that can be a reader’s individual feedback, an average increase in session duration or a few more contacts via your website or social media accounts than last month.

Whenever I write for myself or for companies I always stick to a genuine voice and write about what is genuinely interesting to the core audience, and then I back it up with metatags and SEO. Just like in real life, when you are faking it, people can tell, and tend to back away. The need for genuine conversation reaches all corners of our life, including the internet and our websites.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Why coders are today’s rock stars

Every decade we have a ‘cool’ job gang. And every decade there are a set of people that go from working behind the scenes to rocking our professional world overnight.

This decade is the age of the coders. Gone are the socially inept stereotypes and in its place, are hip tech-savvy individuals working for futuristic Google-esque companies and changing the world as they code.

Tech is now seen as cool and as a by-product the people that have kept it afloat are the rock stars of this shiny new world. Coding trendy new apps, inventing social media, birthing websites, working with governments, or developing ground breaking software has transformed the classically introverted coders to completely different social creatures and given them public relevance.

Coders were the belly of the digital beast, but have long since walked out of their computer filled backrooms and onto the media stage. Coders are now talking about their achievements and are rightly seen as an integral part of the future of digital.

Code of Fire

It comes as no surprise really. The internet is built by and dependent on coders, as is all software, most modern technology, and is used in music and modern art.

When what someone does becomes so crucially important across our entire lives they have much more room to fulfil their potential. In turn, this attracts more rising stars and helps make the industry even more ground-breaking.

Art and science is also becoming very blurred. The omnipresence of technology means that the new generation will have a much deeper interest and knowledge of basic tech and code and will use that to create, invent and innovate.

Even now, artists actively use creative software tools and web developers learn how to use the arts to create inspiring digital platforms. And because this generation’s coders are the first to pioneer the marriage between creativity and technology, they naturally become the Johnny Cash of code.

Here comes the sun

Coders were working underground for decades partly because it took society a long time to realise that coders aren’t strange people typing a string of incomprehensive letters and numbers.

Our access to technology has raised our awareness of code and its importance in our daily lives. This naturally peeked our interest in who makes our smartphone apps or how a website is built and makes us want to know much more about coders. We have that same thirst for celebs, and which makes them systematically cooler than the average joe.

Because technology is revolutionising our daily lives, it is also creating social and pioneering movements just like rock and roll did and still does. Being the first of a mass movement makes you ground breaking. Hackathons, big data and the internet of things are all trendy buzz words for a reason.

The idea of ‘geek’ is also finally being turned on its head. Scientists, tech inventors, mathematicians and coders are finally having their day in the sun because of the technological advancements they are creating and the digital movements they are pioneering.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Why people want to know the story behind the brand

Humans have always connected through stories.

Even when we didn’t know how to write, we passed on stories through folklore, songs and pictures. Some of our most beloved stories and books are actually just modern versions of the most ancient of tales, which shows how truly enduring a good story can be.

And so it comes as no surprise that we want exactly the same thing from our favourite brands. We want companies to tell us why they are doing something more than what they are doing. We want the back story, the origin of the idea, the raison d’être.

Hole in my soul

I’ve talked a lot in my previous blog posts about brand ethics and how consumers are getting tired of being obviously sold something. In the same vein, nothing sells less than knowing that behind the snazzy product or sleek website is a hollow company that effectively has no soul.

What do I mean by this? Well, people want to humanise brands to emotional engage with them. They want to know that the brand reflects their ideals, projected image and values. The easiest way to humanise a brand is to tell the reader a background story.

That is why so many adverts and promotional material now shy away from obviously promoting the benefits of their products, focussing instead on their core principles and how they reflect society’s values. Think about how adverts have changed from the ‘buy me now’ 1950’s poster to the ethereal embedded videos that now freestream on your Instagram or Facebook.

Paint me a picture

Some companies don’t market their product at all, but gamble on the fact that an abstract and engaging story will translate their brand idea and make it more memorable. For me, the undisputed UK maestros are the producers of John Lewis Christmas adverts. Each video never talks about what John Lewis does or sells, but always goes viral and becomes a staple annual discussion point around the Christmas table.

Getting people to truly engage with your brand without actually selling what you do is a very clever thing to achieve. People will always promote your brand when they want to share a great story, and will accept that part of sharing that story is also talking about your brand.

Digital Ancients

Like most things in life, branding has come full circle. Forward thinking Marketeers have realised that tapping into ancient traditions that stand the test of time, such as storytelling, is a sure fire way to get their audiences more engaged.

In the end, it’s quite ironic but also comforting to know that in our modern, digital world we engage the most with a brand when it lets us do what our ancestors did – share stories that speak to us and bring us closer.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

The modern human attention span often gets compared to that of a gold fish, or sometimes shown to be even worse. Whether it’s true or not, one thing web designers are all too aware of is that it’s a very tricky game to keep someone’s focus.

Our attention is being grabbed from literally all corners of our viewpoint. We are so bombarded by information, images and sound that our clever brains are forced to bring up the drawbridge and only allow a certain amount of information through to our conscious or subconscious mind.
Our brain literally creates a filtered reality of the best or most useful information that we come across in our daily hectic lives – like sifting through mud to find diamonds.

Relax, just do it

Think about it. If we actually listened to every single word of every conversation, read each advert, drank in every honk and screech of the city and saw every single pixel of colour and image – we would, at the very least, need a sleeping beauty style nap.

The brain has become so good at phasing out certain parts of reality that many people are now talking about the brain taking over too much and creating chronic ‘auto-pilot mode’. A good example is when you walk, drive or bike on a route and you don’t remember the process of actually doing it because you were too lost in your own rambling mind.

Apple of mine eye

So how are websites supposed to extract people out of their thoughts long enough to actually see and engage with their information?

Our eyes aren’t just windows to the soul, they are also one of the main ways we receive information and play a crucial role in how we perceive design. Our eyes actually have a very narrow focus, and although we think we are noticing everything around us, we are actually only really seeing what is right in front of us – which is also a nice metaphor for life in general.

Translate this into web design and a user won’t be able to see the whole website at once, but will take in various elements of a website, adding them together to make up the bigger picture or overall experience.

Most sites now have their main content in the middle of the page and let the user scroll down instead of looking freely around, because they know that people tend to look slap bang in the middle of a page and then read down, like a book. Any information in the peripheral corners of the page can be the equivalent of an attention holding graveyard.

Even though our peripheral vision is poor, it does help guide our focus, is very good at picking up motion and is one of the main reasons why videos create such great engagement wherever they are on your page, especially if they run freely.

The simple life

Another consequence of our frazzled lives is that we need things to be really simple. We don’t want to spend more than 2 minutes reading most articles, we don’t want a million flashing images or adverts bombarding us with irrelevant slogans.

A user doesn’t want to search for anything, it should be handed to them on a digital plate. If they can’t find how to contact you in less than 3 clicks, they treat it like a personal scorn and will generally go back to google and start their search again, stepping over your google ranking pop up.
This is why website designers now design with a shrinking attention span in mind and typically have a ticking time bomb to contend with when it comes to users bouncing away from the site.

Something that helps keep users on websites for longer is fluid UX design, or in other words, that the user journey is tailored towards how people naturally navigate around a site and that a simple but stylish design creates focused searching or quick retrieval of information.

Branding is obviously crucial and I’m a huge believer in memorable design, but substance will always supersede image and should never be put on the backburner. A great web design effectively puts the digital footprints in place to help the user get to the pot of gold at the end of a sleekly designed rainbow.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Why ethical marketing is here to stay

Social responsibility, conscious capitalism and ethical marketing are all buzzing around the internet, are being pinged across email servers and are heatedly debated in meeting rooms around the world.

Why? because those who are paid to watch out for changes in market trends have already noticed that responsible business practices are much more than hipster fads or great searchable hashtags, they are part of a real shift in business behaviour that is in direct correlation with how our relationship with the planet is changing.

My fair lady

Ethical Marketing is a business philosophy that focuses on promoting fairness, honesty, and responsibility in an honest and valuable way. The idea is essentially that making a profit and doing something that is responsible for the surrounding environment doesn’t have to be at odds with one another.

In the past, charities, NGOs, and social enterprises would take the mantle and fight for our rights and protect our already damaged planet against the profit obsessed wheel. Now people are asking, how can we slowly change profit based companies to also care about social and environmental values? The answer is combining the two.

The very fact that modern marketing content now always involves showing the consumer that the company has ‘real values’ is a sign that ethical marketing is not just the cherry on the cake but is actually becoming the basic recipe for successful promotion.

If I were a rich man

Some may scoff and say just because companies are starting to promote ‘green’ or ‘corporate responsibility’ values doesn’t mean they have changed, they are still making a profit out of being ethical – but that is exactly the point! It would be well intentional but entirely naïve to expect the majority of companies to significantly reduce profit margins just to do ‘the right thing’.

We are living in pragmatic times, and we understand that you can’t dismantle such an ingrained economic model without getting a bit messy and revolutionary. But what you can do is improve it and make it more in line with human nature and in balance with the planet.

Marketing also has a boundless power to affect consumer choice and so ethical marketing promotes a product or idea as honestly as possible to avoid misleading the audience. Working under the banner of integrity, value and respect also feeds into a growing hunger among consumers and so is actually a smart business decision.

It’s been a long time coming

Marketers by nature always have their ear to the ground, and have heard the pitter patter of changing consumer values for some time. They know that people are saturated by information and are tired of being obviously sold something or taken for a ride. Consumers are also slowly but surely prioritising companies that give back and that affect the environment in a positive way or in the very least limit their negative impact.

Which is why ethical marketing isn’t just something to appease the recycling loving millennials, it is an idea that is practical, pragmatic and slowly transforms a profit margin obsessed company into a company that still hits its targets but is part of the system of change our planet and our societies so desperately need.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

WordPress is arguably the most successful and influential blogging and website platform there is, and is estimated to power 14% of the world wide web today. A large part of its success is due to its rich set of features and its highly adaptable and powerful plugins.

For those of us who are still getting to grips with the mysterious digital realm of building blogs or websites, plugins are basically bits of software that can be added onto your page by uploading them.

Plugins tend to either extend or expand how your page functions and in many cases, provide a complete solution for the user, i.e. most of the background work is done by the plugin builders.

Plug me IN

‘Which WordPress Plugins should I be using?” has to be the most existential and googled WordPress user question out there.

So before jumping head first into frenzied google searches for Top 5 WordPress Plugins to use, the most logical thing to consider before setting off is whether you actually need one in the first place.

To answer this, ask yourself the following 4 things –

  1. Can the issue be solved without a plugin?
  2. Does the theme I’ve chosen have a built-in solution?
  3. Do I want to find a plugin to perform a specific task?
  4. Is what I’m trying to change or improve actually necessary?

If you’ve brushed the first two off with a no and answered the last two with a firm nod of the head, you are on the right path and do in fact need a WordPress plugin. Next step on the road to your plugin holy grail is to decide whether to use free or premium plugins.

To pay or not to pay

A large part of the WordPress community actually believe all plugins should be free. There are a lot of free WordPress plugins already out there which are great because they do what they say on the tin and, if you are strapped for cash or don’t believe in paying for plugins, are a more than viable option to solve your WordPress building woes. Some popular free plugins include: Contact Form 7, WordPress SEO, Google Analytics and WP Super Cache.

So then why part with your hard-earned coin when you can just upload something for sweet nothing? The two main reasons to air out your wallet when it comes to choosing the right WordPress plugin are –

  • Range – in some cases the issue you are trying to solve hasn’t been developed by charitable plugin builders and premium can be your only option.
  • Reliability – support teams from premium plugins actually work on issues reported by users, maintain security and compatibility with the latest WordPress version and ensure the plugin is compatible with other plugins you might also want to use on your site. This can also happen with free plugins but isn’t as widespread.
  • Saves time and effort – the support team works on issues flagged by users which saves time and effort trying to work them out yourself and means you don’t even need to manually monitor your plugins for vulnerabilities.

Don’t forget that after you pay for your initial premium plugin you usually need to pay extra for any major upgrades!

The final hurdle

In the end choosing between free or paid WordPress plugins depends on your budget, whether there is a free plugin for what you need, the complexity of your issue, your knowledge of plugin set up procedures and how much time and energy you are prepared to invest.

Now all that’s left for you to do is to find the specific plugin for your issue. If you know your stuff, go straight to the WordPress directory and have a good, long search. If you are a little bit wary of making the wrong decision and love expert advice then there are plenty of great bloggers out there that can help you choose the right one for you. Type in your specific issue and let the magic of the internet guide you to the right plugin for you.

PSST! The team @Bamboo Digital Manchester might be the genie to your lamp. We also create our own WordPress plugins!

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Getting through to your audience has never been more complicated.

We are living in an age of hyper-communication where each individual, on average, processes the equivalent of 174 newspapers and is exposed to an estimated 10,000 adverts every single day.

The hurrier I go the behinder I get

Cutting through the noise and grabbing fickle attention spans means that content must be engaging, digestible, genuine, and quick.

People essentially want to know the core point of any online content in under 2 minutes. 80% of people won’t read to the end of your page and most of your audience will only read 20% of any web content you post.

With these depressing statistics to hand, the only way to persuade audiences to read on is to galvanise your page titles and make sure that your first few points really pack a punch.

Made in his image

And let’s not forget the colossal importance of videos and images that give the reader a quick energy boost between grammatical constructions.

Infographics came on the scene to transform deep data into visual short hand. These visual ‘word bites’ are an extremely effective way of sharing a lot of information in an easily digestible and shareable format.


So why use infographics?

  1. Visuals boost engagement

    The human eye is naturally drawn to images, users pay more attention to graphics and are more likely to linger and retain more information because you have engaging visuals.

    ‘Engagement’ is banded about a lot on marketing sites, all that it really means is that there is a two-way interaction between the audience and the source. Infographics are the best of both worlds because they combine detailed information with images so that you get the necessary attention and engagement from your target audience.

    Crucially, they help move your content away from static results nestled in lengthy paragraphs and elevate data to build a visual information grid that captivates the reader.

  2. Infographics are more likely to go viral

    When a reader is engaged and believes that the information will also help others, they are more likely to share and generate a social media snowball effect.

    Visuals are a great way to highlight important information that your audience might not have time to read or even skim through in the body of your text.

    Without visuals, especially infographics, insightful and shareable information can often be over looked and can disappear into the pool of content swirling around the internet.

    Infographics help users immediately process and instantly relate to what you want to get across, which are the building blocks of social engagement and ultimately creating a viral post.

  3. Infographics are highly shareable

    Some people don’t actually need to go viral and just want to create enough awareness to start attracting new customers or increase their followers.

    Infographics are a great way to achieve sustained awareness and increase web traffic to your page or social accounts. They are a great tool to reach every corner of the internet and spread awareness far and wide.

    You can pin infographics to Pinterest, tweet one via your twitter account, share via private message or embed an infographic into your blog.

    A relevant and useful infographic will increase your site’s traffic because the people that share it will also link to the source and you will create organic traffic back to your site. You can also add HTML coding to your infographic so it becomes searchable and helps increase your google rankings.

    You can even let your infographic loose in the real world and print it for marketing campaigns, presentations, posters or leaflets. In fact, it’s a wonder an infographic isn’t taking over the world as we speak.

The Circle of Life

The reason infographics work is because they don’t just emit out information, they use engagement to push people to share which draws the audience back to you, your company or your online passion.

The circle works because, when you do it right, the traffic loop should never end. Your information is out there and every day someone is picking it up, and the more its shared the more it will attract users right back to the source.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

What does your online presence say about you?

‘Who am I?’ is a timeless question, and answering it has never been straight forward. Your true self not only changes through time and experience but is also adaptable to different situations.

Then there is the projected self, or how you show yourself to the outside world. You could call this your public profile or your own brand. The projected self is basically a more socially acceptable you that can jump more easily through life’s many complicated hoops.

In the past, this would usually mean understanding how to act respectfully in society within the laws and social rules of the time. Now, there is an additional way to project yourself, and that’s through your online presence.

Forever Me

The main difference between how you project yourself face-to-face with someone and declaring who you are online is that your thoughts and ideas are written on the internet with permanent marker and can be accessed globally.

If you aren’t very savvy on your privacy settings, any prospective boss, new love interest or potential follower can search where you went out when you were 18, what music you liked when you were 25 or what political beliefs you had when you were 30.

Away from your private online moments, there is also the intentional, public image you are uploading on the cloud. What you are doing on the internet matters not just now but in the future and the idea that you can balance separate personal and professional images might apply in your real life, but the distinction is blurred on the internet simply because both worlds can search for you.

Here are 3 examples that come to mind:

  1. If you own a business and don’t regulate all your online accounts, including your personal social media, you are setting yourself up for a damaging impression from a potential client who will automatically carry out a google search.
  2. If you are a CEO and share environmentally focused articles on your social spaces but your own company has no environmental image or accreditation, the two online profiles will look at odds and both will seem superficial.
  3. As an employee, shouting loud and proud about any idea on a public platform that is opposed to your organisation’s values can often lead to disciplinary action.


Push the Button

In a world that is quickly throttling towards never being offline, understanding how to balance your personal and professional online presence is crucial. Finding the balance between respectability, reputation and originality has always been a goal in life, but now getting it wrong can have a much more lasting effect.

The internet is what it has become today because we not only extract information out but we also constantly add our own selves into the framework, and simply pushing a button can catapult a thought or view across the internet. Knowing your own moral limits, personal values and professional goals are key in being able to navigate a digital world riddled with communication potholes.

The ultimate solution is knowing what to put under lock and key, understanding your online rights, keeping up to date with current branding trends and knowing what to SEO like mad.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Sharing is caring

Are we transcending traditional social media?

There is a lot of online buzz about whether social media has replaced traditional marketing and journalism. The short answer to this is yes in a fashion it has, and quite a while ago.

What is more importantly happening is that traditional social media channels are being completely overhauled in favour of one streamlined and integrated communication space.

The clever coders and designers, that have helped each social media giant rise to fame and cling to it, have adapted their platforms to their users by using social media analytics to track how their platforms are being used and then adapt them accordingly. Some platforms are even letting their code change organically with each end user. This means that we are quite literally evolving and transforming social media channels just by using them.

If humans are naturally social, and want social media that can give them the most rapid, easy access and logical way of communicating then the unfaltering end-point will be that separate social media accounts will be transformed by their very users who will need all the channels to be part of one global platform.

Welcome to my world

Social media works because it lets us connect to others better and helps us feel part of a network. The birth of social media is often attested to Facebook, but often the invention before the invention is the place you should be looking.

Myspace, in my opinion, was the grandfather of social media. It has all the hallmarks of all our slick 2017 social apps; you had your own personalised space, you could share your tastes, beliefs and most importantly connect and communicate with other personalised spaces. Myspace was infamously left out to dry because it wasn’t integrated enough, didn’t update fast enough for its users, and didn’t put ease of communication on the pedestal it should have been. In other words, it became a static space.

Then Facebook came along and truly started the concept of social media. It used the concept of myspace and elevated it to immediate communication and used our need for recognition and popularity within digital circles to set the web world on fire. It is not an exaggeration to say that Facebook changed the world, in the very least for the first Facebook generation.

Time for a change

What Facebook and all other major social platforms do well is that they understand that the world of social media is ‘adapt or die’. The user is fickle and will jump to another platform if it fits more with their lifestyle, viewpoint, and modern way of connecting. This has forced the social media channels to constantly react or face Myspace style extinction and so what we are seeing is a mass merge of unique social media features.

Like kids at the playground asked to share a bag of sweets and thinking that by taking half of another kid’s sweet they have more overall.

The list of examples is long but here are 5 that come to mind-

  1. Instagram is becoming the place where you post your status via images (instead of content only on Facebook or even album sharing) You can also post on Instagram and instantly share on Facebook, twitter and Tumblr. Basically, making all three platforms one sharing space via Instagram.
  2. Hashtags are no longer a Twittersphere phenomenon but can be used on any social media and searchable on google.
  3. Instagram and recently Facebook now have ‘stories’ just like snapchat and even have Snapchat style video filters.
  4. YouTube is testing community features to allow creators to share images and text (just like Facebook)
  5. Facebook is trying to be the go to place for sharing stories, videos, and news articles (aka twitter and YouTube).

In their dogged quests to outdo each other, eat up the competition and remove the others individuality, they are inadvertently throttling towards one, open and integrated communication space. Soon all social media will have bitesize and immediately streamable/shareable video, image and content that you will be able to share over all social platforms at once to get the maximum impact.

This then brings about an unavoidable prediction – If all social media is reacting to the user and the user wants to be connected to all platforms at once then an elevated super social platform that transcends traditional social media channels is where we are heading.

And if that is hard to believe, think about if people in the 1960s would have believed how much journalism could change with the invention of an online social address book.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Why Manchester is becoming a global centre for digital creatives

The red-brick northern giant, the home of Oasis, the set of Shameless and the birthplace of the industrial revolution. The city today is as iconic as it is infamous, as gritty as it is cosmopolitan and as northern as it is global.

Manchester has always been a rule breaker and a thought-pioneer. The city and its inhabitants like to do things on their own terms and in their own way, which has inspired ground-breaking inventions and an outpouring of creative spirit. From the invention of the computer, the discovery of the electron and the creation of graphene, Manchester has never been afraid of using science to create innovative technology.

From the ashes

Manchester’s regeneration after the IRA bomb in the 90s catapulted the dormant city onto the global stage once again. Huge reconstruction and historic investment were pumped into the Northern Powerhouse. The city was rebuilt, re-modelled and transformed until it inadvertently had everything it needed to become the global tech hub it is becoming today: strong economy, cultural heritage, historic innovation, and a surplus of creative people and ideas.

The tech revolution hit the Mancunian streets like a fish to water and took the city on by storm.

Innovative start-ups, digital collectives and tech entrepreneurs filtered into the once empty red brick warehouses and old Victorian buildings. Modern offices, co-working spaces and freelance friendly cafes are now popping up more quickly than quirky restaurants or independent boutiques. And as the city’s architects plan to build up to the sky, similar plans are set in motion for the Manchester digital scene.

What’s all the fuss about?

Manchester is currently the largest tech cluster outside of London, it has the UK’s second largest GVA growth and has the 4th highest digital turnover at £2.2 billion.

Local and national government are intent on keeping this momentum going to ensure that Manchester realises its global digital potential and has recently granted Manchester £4 million to create a tech hub centre which will nurture start-ups, be a place of digital mentorship and help ingrain digital collaboration across the city.

Away from government investment, the city is receiving masses of ex-Londoners as part of the historic exodus from the capital, and is also importantly retaining northern talent who no longer feel the pull to move down south to be able to realise their professional goals.

Welcoming companies as they decide to relocate, open a branch or be based in the northern city is also becoming a common affair. Companies and organisations such as Google, the BBC and Bohoo.com have all decided that Manchester is the place to be. There is even tongue-in-cheek talk of moving the capital up north.

Cobbled Roots

Whether you believe that Manchester will become a totally transformed global digital mega city, that it will cling to its northern-rooted creative identity from yesterdays, or that it will be a mash up of both identities, one thing is irrefutable: Manchester is going through a phenomenal metamorphosis.

The risk with such a dramatic push towards a ‘better’ Manchester is forgetting the city’s history. We risk, like many cities, favouring gentrification instead of accepting our imperfect but real identity. We risk doggedly pursuing global recognition and lobotomising what made us famous in the first place: being Mancunian.

There is however something that will always save us from ‘growing at all costs’ and that is our thirst for originality and our intransient need to navigating our own way through anything, including  becoming a global centre for digital innovation and talent.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

How social media and the digital world are inspiring social movements

The concept of society has always existed in some form and has been social at its heart, but what is different now is that we are simultaneously living in two different social worlds.

World Wide Web

The internet was at first very separate from the physical world and a means to finding and disseminating information. We then very quickly became active participants in evolving it to a collaborative interaction between individuals and their digital device.

Every personal interaction is now uploaded onto a connected worldwide network which transforms how the network is used and interacts with others, an ever-evolving framework of communication. A platform that grows and adapts with every emoji we send, every article we skim read or cat video we share on Facebook.

Our innate social nature is what has inspired us to create a digital world in the image of how we see society and ourselves. And so as soon as we invented the internet, social media was inevitable.

We have slowly but surely let the lines between the physical and the digital become very blurry, our digital selves are becoming more representive of who we actually are and what we stand for, we are using the internet to achieve our career ambitions and realise personal goals, we are even using it to find love. Our sense of self is now directly affected by both worlds.

The negative side of such a rapid change in how we interact and communicate is that we become too engrossed in what is happening on our smartphones and stop engaging in the physical present.  Zombie smartphone walkers, your friend who is on the phone while listening to you, rising anxiety levels and technology compulsive behaviour are just some examples of how we have not yet found the right balance.

Hear me roar

On the flip side, if we are investing so much of our time and ourselves into our devices and on our social accounts, then the power social media holds is unilaterally phenomenal.

We now live in a world where you can tweet a company about your negative experience and they either respond to you and remedy your problem or they lose customers and negatively affect their image. Anyone can now start a campaign at a click of a button which can catch the attention of the public, start a huge online movement and force the government to debate it and in some cases actually change the law.

We can shine a spotlight on an issue when we form digital collectives, the power of the people finally being heard through the internet.

Huge political and historic shifts can be tracked and directly linked to social patterns happening online before an event occurs. The landslide victory of French President Macron who has no previous experience in government, the shock rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K, and the defeat of the powerful far-right in Holland can all be linked to how social media use and article sharing through social media portals affected public opinion. Trump and Brexit are of course the colossal elephants in the room.

No truer word said

If social media has such sway on geo-political events, then propaganda has an even scarier hold on public opinion. The rise of fake news, or propaganda, is now considered a world-wide digital pandemic. From hackers planting fake information on news sites which create political unrest or change election outcomes to baseless viral articles inciting racial hatred, violence and community division.

Information is now quick, readily shared, and easily accessible and we are running the risk of believing manipulations of the truth on a massive and detrimental scale. The problem is now so acute that governments are setting up fake news taskforces before elections and referendums and social media giants such as Facebook are investing in fake news teams and algorithms to try and fight the propaganda tide.

The technological revolution is moving so fast and dragging us along for the ride that we can’t really understand the true ramifications of how it is affecting the world and where it will lead us. Perhaps like the eye of a storm, we need to be prepared to hit rougher terrain before we find a calmer and more responsible way of living with and using social media in the future. And, like most things in life, finding the balance will be key.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Are Millennials actually 21st century hippies?

Millennials are receiving a lot of, sometimes unwanted, attention in the media. The privileged, digital dream seekers that are shaking up the modern business age.

Millennials though are much more than social media inventors or hipster café owners. They are part of the new technological revolution and are helping to forge a new way of not just running businesses but how society thinks and views itself.

The historic change we are seeing in collective mentality is actually directly linked to how the hippies influenced the 1960s and still have huge relevance to this day.

Power to the flower

The 1960s hippies and the baby boomers in general, were living in a time of social disquiet and heightened war. Hippies were a generation born into a world they didn’t agree with and felt disconnected from, they were misunderstood by the previous generation and felt both voiceless and helpless in the face of injustice.

If we raise a mirror to our own time we see a very similar thing happening now but with a 21st century twist.

The hippy solution was to campaign for the humanitarian ideals of love, justice, and equality. Hippies passionately believed if enough people united on these three common beliefs the government would have to act and the world would change for good.

We all hopefully agree that love, justice, and equality can only do good in the world. But I am sure we also all agree that the hippy dream fell flat on its well-meaning face circa the 1980’s power suit wearing, capitalist mega-boom.

The hippy dream, was in the end just that, a dream; and it lay bubbling below the surface for decades.  Something happened though to slowly re-awaken us, and that something was the world wide web.

Equality Uploaded

The children of the internet and specifically social media were of course the Millennials. This generation grew up with idea that global networks and open, mass communication were not only a norm but a birth right.

Millennials subconsciously wired their brains around accessibility for all and formed their identity around global social connection. Millennials could talk to someone from any country and any background instantly from their dial-up home computer for the first time in human history.

What this openness and accessibility created was the idea that we are not just individuals, forced to be part of an economic dog-eat-dog chain, but that we are in fact a plateaued communication network, which can and does work outside of the current status quo.

This by nature had the hippy fingerprints of equality, love and justice built into the framework. The hippy ideals were effectively uploaded onto our digital world and its main ambassadors were and still are the children of the technological revolution, the millennials.

I am you and you are the internet

Millennials, as a generation, also share that same hippy hunger – to do something good and to make a difference in the world. This innate nature and a digital world at their fingertips, meant that Millennials unintentionally managed to do what the children of the revolution failed to do – they found a practical way to disseminate humanitarian ideals.

Instead of trying to create a shared, ethereal belief to shake up the government, they side-lined the powers-that-be and went straight for tools of the people.  What they helped to create is a living and social hub of connectivity which is so powerful it is now holding authorities, businesses, and social norms to account. It has turned society on its head without the majority of people even realising.

You can see proof of this everywhere. Here are 3 hippy concepts that have been adapted for the modern age, have become mainstream through technology and are widely propagated by millennials:

  1. Conscious Capitalism

Something that sets modern day apart from the 1960s is that we have come to the pragmatic conclusion that necessary evils can’t be avoided. Conscious capitalism was born out of a need to stop the rampant injustices of money over people but also being fully aware of the complexities of overthrowing such a deep-rooted system. Conscious capitalism tries to find a balance between the two, some examples include:

  • Fair Trade
  • Social Enterprise
  • Corporate Responsibility
  • Collectives and cooperatives
  • Ethical marketing
  1. Reinvention of Currency

The idea of currency is changing. The internet has given rise to the question “if we can exchange information freely, shouldn’t we be able to exchange everything else without using money?”

Huge movements have sprung up from this very idea, including bitcoin, streaming, free apps and online courses, skype and even WhatsApp. The very fact that we are trying to find a way of helping each other and running a business at the same time without necessarily paying each other is the modern version of a hippy colony.

  1. Social Media changing Political Landscapes

Social media has inadvertently created a worldwide platform for the common man to be heard. Inadvertently because the main goal of social media in its infancy was to solely connect people. It is now a digital megaphone to shout, debate, laugh about or cry into our opinions, hopes and wishes.

Because major social platforms are free and accessible to all, they subsequently have huge audiences, followings and create immense public awareness. This means that if a social issue creates a buzz or goes viral on the internet it now puts pressure on governments, who need to act because they are voted in by the people angrily typing on their twitter account.

Social media has created the seemingly impossible, it has given a voice to the individual and the government has to listen.

There are of course negatives to the story – fake news being one of the biggest issues of our time and arguably one of the main causes for Trump and Brexit as well as heightened violence and racism in many parts of the world.

However, the overriding point remains that we are now more in charge of our future than we have been before and we are actively using technology to finally push for what society should be – more just, more loving and more equal.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.