Blog

April 15, 2016

Livity Presents Centre of Attention

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I’ve been diving deep into the fascinating behavioural psychology, tech innovations and social mechanisms that underpin attention, curation, trust and influence in 2016. The idea is to try and decode and demystify why, what we do – creatively enabling and empowering young people to influence and inspire each other – works so well.
We’ve also been snorkelling through the murky waters of social influencer marketing to try and shine a light on the potential pitfalls and pots of gold that this nascent sub-industry presents as it continues on its inevitable rise over the next few years. And, as is the Livity way, we’ve been involving smart, engaged young people in this exploratory process throughout. Sure enough they have pinpointed important subtleties, examples and explanations that no professional marketers or seasoned vox-poppers would have chanced upon in a thousand focus groups or data analytic reports.

We have also been looking at some of our own social channels for clues and case studies that illustrate the complexities of growing audience, earning attention and activating influence.
One of the top 5 most ‘influential’ tweets from our main agency twitter account, @livityuk according to social measurement tool Klear, was this piece of praise for an initiative by cobblers and key cutters Timpson, giving job seekers free dry cleaning for interview outfits. As brands continue to deliberate over whether to invest long term in growing their own reach and influence, versus leveraging the influence of others, it is a timely reminder that inspiring (not paying) other people to praise you will always be more powerful than singing your own praises. Timpson did a brilliant thing, but then rather than shout about it themselves, they made the act visible in an authentic, unobtrusive way, and ended up with thousands of tweets, coverage in dozens of papers and the BBC; trust-building, brand-building influence that money literally cannot buy.

As a piece of social content, it also illustrates the value of really understanding what your audience is interested in and where they perceive your authority as a voice of influence lies.

Because of who we are and what we do as a youth agency with a soul (as someone once described us), that strives to gets brands to help young people and young people to help brands, Livity’s influence spans across areas of youth, communication and social purpose, and our 11k followers are a mix of young people and those that want to understand and influence them. Sharing stories about things you love, that you believe your followers and friends will love, perfectly illustrates an insight that a young person explained to us recently, that at its best social sharing is a form of gifting, an act of caring, of friendship, even of love and that each little act of love will win love in return.

April 7, 2016

3 months, 300 young people, a Harvard acceptance, and one man in space.

 

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At the start of 2016, and following the programme’s continued success in South Africa, we kicked off the UK pilot for Digify – a two month, fully paid digital skills incubator at Livity, for young people from diverse backgrounds looking to break in to the creative marketing industry.

And my word, what a few months it’s been! Ten Digifiers lending their energy, enthusiasm, and expertise to Livity’s work and the wider industry, are now four weeks into their 6 month internships with top agencies: Iris, DigitasLBi, Engine, and Jack Morton to name just a few.

The Livity family grows and grows – in the first 3 months of the year, we’ve welcomed over 300 young people into our Brixton space to rehearse, apply, work, book space, get mentorship, experience, and advice. We’ve even revamped one of our meeting rooms, with Paint Livity’s winner Reece Thompson adorning our walls.

As a talent transformation engine, our aim is to have the greatest impact on young people in the UK and abroad as humanly possible. Our young people continue to amaze us – some returning to education and full-time employment, some completing training programmes and internships, and many many more pushing themselves just that little bit further in the knowledge that Livity’s love surrounds and supports them.

Two stories from 2016 so far that we’d be amiss to mention, come from Livity alumni Yara Shaikh and Hussain Manawer:

At age 14 Yara started as a contributor to Live Magazine where she grew her interest in humanitarian work and diplomacy. This year Yara was not only accepted into Harvard, but also met Michelle Obama!

Hussain, a spoken world poet and mental health advocate, started as a contributor to Live Magazine at Livity – and will be the first British Muslim to go into space in 2018, after winning a competition at the One Young World Summit!

If you’d like to get involved with changing lives, please email hello@livity.co.uk.

April 4, 2016

Why humanism continues to dominate the world’s biggest tech conference

SXSW

For the fourth year in a row I was lucky enough to attend SXSW in Austin last month. Despite going in with a certain set of expectations, every single year it manages to blow my mind. It’s incredibly hard to describe it if you haven’t been, as it sits somewhere in the large chasm between Burning Man, TED and Glastonbury. SXSW is an eclectic pot of inspiring thinkers from all around the world, all seeking inspiration and insight that will challenge their understanding.

It can be very hard to pull out macro themes from the event because it is so sprawling. Tens of thousands of people flock to the city for one week, all with different agendas and areas of expertise. Every talk you’re in, you’re listening to someone at the pinnacle of their field, and it can be incredibly hard to choose where to direct your efforts.

The key theme I took from this year is one that has been growing more and more since I first attended in 2013. Even though it was only a few years ago our attitude towards technology has matured an incredible amount since then.

In 2013 SXSW was filled with blind optimism, with every speaker listing off all the amazing possibilities of where tech could take us (epitomised by Elon Musk was telling us how we were going to colonise Mars in the near future). However, the year after there was a cataclysmic change in tone, as Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald took up the Keynote slots and privacy left a dark shadow over the festival. Suddenly the rose tinted glasses were removed and we had to confront some really tough questions – not ‘What can we do with technology?’, but ‘What should we do with technology?’

It feels like we’re still living in the wake of 2014 to a certain extent, as that blind optimism is no longer present at SXSW. In its absence a new theme has risen – humanising technology. In a world that changes this rapidly anything can happen, and that can lead us down some very dark paths if we’re not careful. In 2015 an answer was suggested and this year it was unanimously accepted – if we are to thrive (or even survive) in the future, we need to make sure we don’t lose the human touch in our relationship with technology.

This was present everywhere you went. Big data and AI were both big topics this year, but this year they took a different angle. In the past they have been full of case studies from Intel and the like, showing the amazing possibilities of these technologies. However, this year the focus was much more on how to combine machine learning with a human touch – Facebook spoke about this extensively with their new AI customer assistant, M, which uses a combination of the two to ensure they are able to deliver a personal touch but at a large scale.

Big data and Al were core themes in a lot of the talks, the one I found most inspiring at the event was by Brian Wong (the founder of Kiip) talking about connected moments and the future of the internet of things. He spoke about how the internet of things is going to open up a far wider range of ‘moments’ in people’s lives where brands can communicate, and the key is going to be ensuring that we use them in a positive way. We have a responsibility to ensure they are contextually relevant and a positive addition to someone’s experience, because otherwise we are only going to alienate our customers.

The humanising tech theme was confronted very directly by Hiroshi Ishiguro also, who showcased the robot version of himself having a real-time conversation in multiple languages in front of a live audience. He gave the audience a very interesting provocation – since SXSW had only invited him to speak about the robot, his identity is defined by the robot. When they both have the same name, look the same, and have the same personality, who does that identity belong to? His assertion was that identity is not only malleable but transferrable, and that in a world of robots and AI we are going to need to accept that we may not own exclusive rights to our own identities.

Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired, shared his 12 inevitable tech forces that will shape our future. While this covered a lot of topics that had been discussed at length elsewhere (VR, AR, AI, big data, etc), it did in a nuanced way that explored the personal and societal implications of his claims. One of the more interesting topics he tackled was the balance between privacy and personalisation, and how directly we are going to have to confront it moving forwards (due to the meteoric rise of sensor technology, data capture and the quantified self). He says that while he thinks we won’t be able to stop the inevitable rise of tracking, we need to ensure there is transparency, accountability and a real value exchange, and ultimately we will end up in a more positive place than dystopian fiction would imply.

Anyone playing a role in defining the world of tomorrow needs to have humanism front of mind, and not let it take a back seat to technological possibility. We are already designing our future, and we need to design the world we want to live in.

February 22, 2016

Why I Think We Should All Be Vloggers

Vloggers

Vloggers – a term that once could describe the niche community of people who video blog their everyday lives online. Now the word can be applied to describe the group of high profile, young successful entrepreneurs that are making movements around the world, as social influencers. If you’re familiar with YouTube, names of online stars like Zoella, Jenna Marbles and PewDiePie should ring a bell to you.

The topic of Vloggers is a hard one to ignore; no longer limited to social media, some of the most popular ones have spread out into the real world and entered the film industry breaking pre-sale records for 2015. Some have sold out arenas with their contributions to the comedy and music business and others even have waxwork model replicas that sit amongst the legends of our times at Madam Tussauds!

Over the weekend I watched BBC Three’s ‘The Rise of the Superstar Vloggers’ documentary, where Jim Chapman, a UK YouTuber with over 2 million subscribers interviewed other Vloggers about why they think they had gained so much success online. One quote from the programme that stood out to me in particular came from Youtuber KSI:
“I work every single day just to try to expand my brand”
With 11 million subscribers and placed No.4 on the Forbes list of The World’s Top-Earning YouTube Stars – KSI may have the key to success here!

As a digital marketing trainee here at Livity, the topic of personal branding is frequently discussed. As part of the Digify programme I have taken part in several sessions to determine exactly what my personal and professional brand should be. Similarly, with my group of Digifiers we have worked on defining our online brand for our Instagram and Twitter channels. Our brand is the diversity of our backgrounds and the unique insights that we can bring to the industry based on this. Just like KSI, each day we work on that by training and increasing our knowledge of the industry, thus expanding our brand.

Working at a youth marketing agency, Vloggers are often talked about because of their outreach to the age groups that we target; this is because Youtubers are capable of influencing mass audiences in the same way as traditional celebrities.

There has been a lot of discussion about the relationship between young people and social media; more recently, the negative effects a young person can experience as a social influencer interests me because of my own personal experience.

In 2009, at the age of 16 I decided to become a Vlogger when I first discovered the small beauty/make-up tutorial community on YouTube. After I had uploaded a video I would enjoy looking through the YouTube Analytics information to see where around the world I was being viewed. As my viewer numbers increased so did my confidence in filming and I continued to post more videos. However, explaining the concept of filming myself and uploading it to the internet seemed a bizarre thing to tell people during a time where it wasn’t a common thing to do. I never openly discussed what I was taking part in with my friends, so it developed in to some kind of a secret.

After a while it dawned on me as a teenager, how embarrassing it would be if people from my college watched my videos. When I noticed an increase in my London viewers, my paranoia and anxiety increased over what the outcome would be if people I actually knew in real life were watching my videos. Strangely, although I was willingly broadcasting myself to the world, I also liked the thought of being anonymous. In the end I deleted everything from my channel and continued as a consumer of YouTube.

Now aged 23, I still watch a lot of YouTube videos, a lot more than I realised! (I am currently subscribed to 110 channels), and have witnessed many Youtubers that started with a small amount of views, gain over a million views and have a strong influence over their following on other social media outlets such as, Instagram and Twitter.

So as a Digifier or a Marketeer, our online influence should mean more than what is written on our CV’s. By making our lives more transparent on social media, we are marketing our personal brands to our followers and the success we gain in promoting our online profile should reflect on our capabilities as marketing professionals. The future of Vlogging is certain to increase in popularity because of apps like Vine and Snapchat, as well as broadcasting apps like Periscope, so perhaps you should consider Vlogging your next career move and be the influencer of your own networks.

 

 

Nicole Taylor, Digifier, 18.02.16

January 26, 2016

An all white Oscars will be a thing of the past…

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An all white Oscars will be a thing of the past…

The fact the lack of ethnicity has received more media attention and conversations this year than the previous, could be seen as a step, but steps don’t sit on shelves and validate successes, so I guess nobody wants to hear that. Last weeks news that not a single actor or actress of ethnicity, received a nomination at this years Oscars, leaves me feeling impatiently frustrated and with an urge to want to do something. Especially seen as both ‘Beast of no Nation’ and ‘Straight Outta Compton’ moved me to tears (and I can’t be the only one) through the great acting of black actors! The urge in this case however, is slowly washed over by thoughts of my own insignificance.

To be honest, my insignificance may be true in terms of single handily changing this weeks shiny pinnacle of success for actors and actresses. However, as I give it a second thought here at work, I don’t feel discouraged. This is my third week as part of Digify at Livity. Working with everyone here, as well as the senior level professionals from companies such as Google (ever heard of them?) and the Marketing Agencies Association (they’re amazing), I don’t feel frustrated in the slightest. In fact I feel very, very, excited and motivated! To us Digifier’s it’s obvious; diversity allows for the very best creative work to be produced, as through it, you gain an increased amount of varying cultural values, attitudes and life experiences. Which will reflect in audience reach and engagement.

To be around so many people who know this isn’t rocket science is motivating. To see the need for a more diverse creative industry pushed naturally from a business perspective and not only one of equality, is refreshing. So there are a lot of things rapidly changing, and from being here I see that those part of it and around it are loving the success. This can get clouded while I read the news of the Oscars, but it’s also the reason why I believe it’s gained particularly more media attention this year in the UK.

Being here everyday, working with the other Digifier’s, doesn’t make me feel worried or anxious at all about un-diverse workplaces or absence of recognition for future creative work. It’s no Oscars, but it allows me to see more clearly than ever before that things are happily shifting in the creative industries, and inspires me to pass it on, wait and watch, honestly I don’t think its too long before it reaches the deciding board of the Oscars too.

An all white Oscars will be a thing of the past.

 

Hannah Owens, Digifier, 26.01.16 

December 16, 2015

#KidsPrivacy matters. Here’s why

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There’s something afoot, sneaking in on the wave, fatigue and distraction that is December and a looming Christmas break. Last week European Union officials proposed new laws to increase the age of consent relating to data protection laws. Whilst the topic is one that has been under debate for sometime, there has been a quiet, last minute amendment to the age of consent, from 13 to 16. It would mean that millions of teenagers under 16 would be forced to secure permission from their parents or guardians whenever signing up to a social media account, downloading an app, writing a blog and even using search engines.

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December 14, 2015

Paint Livity

IMG_9166Paint Livity is a competition that offered a career defining opportunity to an emerging artist, inviting them to reimagine the walls of Livity.

The winner, Reece Thompson was awarded £500, mentored by renowned graffiti artist Josh Stika, and received 50 A3 prints to sell.

The 8  runners up were handpicked by Livity, and shortlisted from a long list of submissions. The runners up were: Corey Cummings, Sophia Pistofidou, Ed Moreton, Rachael Reed, Samme Snow, Rafail Kokkinos, Clara Baccau and Jake Attewell. All had the opportunity to showcase their work in an exhibition at Livity.

The winner, Reece Thompson, gave us a few words about the meaning behind his mural.

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November 26, 2015

The past can send a message

DJ Pressure

Some days the past sends a message to the future. And today a young man I first met and worked with at Livity in 2003 came back to the Livity office. Nice to see you Dave, AKA DJ Pressure.

Back in those days, Dave was working hard putting his past behind him, and used his passion for music to become Live Magazine’s first Music Editor under the guidance of then mentors Mark Gurney, Kate Burt, Gavin Weale and the then editor Jordan Jarrett-Bryan.

Dave enthusiastically looked after the music page for a few years, reviewing all the vinyl that arrived (that’s how long ago it was) keeping himself out of trouble and keeping us entertained – one day we turned up for work to find Dave blasting Two-Step from his turntables and sound system which he’d set up earlier that morning in the office to ‘cheer us all up’ as he felt we’d been ‘looking a bit stressed’.

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November 3, 2015

Sam Conniff’s #TopFiveLive

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Sam Conniff’s #TopFiveLive

1. Vexed - Of the many formats Live produced, it was always when young people had their own clear unadulterated voice that it was at its best and this Vexed episode is one of my favourites.

2. Live recordings - The entrepreneurial environment at Live Mag UK meant ideas often became projects. I’ll never forget Live Magazine’s own record label and the track still on my playlist is the Mark Ronson remix of the very first release, Keep Movin’ by the Vinyl Villains.

3. Tissue Paper Crew – Live started exploring video content early on, and created a Saturday film club at the same time the magazine was talking gangs. This video is a sometimes funny, sometimes cutting satire of gang culture, based around toilet roll.

4. Jamal Edwards’ cover - I could have picked many faces who graced Live’s front cover long before they were famous, from Rudimental to Rizzlekicks, but I’m most proud of the fact that we gave Jamal Edwards his first front cover, as what he’s achieved embodies so much of what Live stood for.

5. The Guardian - Of all the relationships Live cultivated, from Newsnight to News international, the proudest of the lot was the friendship with The Guardian that spanned a decade, and ranged from an annual hack day to the editor to editor mentoring, between Celeste Houlker and Alan Rusbridger.

October 30, 2015

Live Forever

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To the friends, family and foremostly, to the young people of Live Magazine.

On the 15th anniversary of Live Magazine it’s time to celebrate all that it’s achieved and to also completely re-think the way Livity benefits the lives of young people, and to do something new.

Live Magazine inspired a generation of young people, we know it will be missed, but it’s success and legacy will endure, no matter how good Livity made Live, it was the young people that made Live great.

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