The evolution of apps and riding the wave

February 13th, 2017 by Charley Downey

using apps on the go

What would we do without apps?

It’s inevitable that there’s an app for anything we need to do. Any task you need to carry out, you name it, there’ll be an app for it somewhere. Sending a video from a night out? Snapchat. Convincing your friends that you’re now a super healthy cook? Instagram. Checking out your old friend’s cousin’s wedding from 2008? Facebook.

Online banking, dating, streaming, dieting, running, cooking, editing, messaging, leading, sharing, eating – there’s something for it all.

It seems that we’ve fallen into a world where it’s expected. We don’t need to do things the way we used to, because well, our tech is there to do it for us. We don’t even have to manually type stuff into Google anymore (god forbid, that would be a hard task) as Siri is there at the touch of a button to assist all our needs. Some say it’s a bad thing, but I think it’s brilliant.

A world where we can choose to be constantly connected isn’t something to be afraid of. From a personal perspective, it amazes me how rapidly the digital/social/share-economics industry has grown, and how it will continue to grow. Couch Surfing offers free accommodation to travellers. Meal Sharing allows you to eat in people’s homes around the world at the touch of a button– both of which would’ve seemed almost impossible for travellers to organise a few years back.  The volume of information and the culture we are now able to access as a generation through technology is unreal. Of course, we must also acknowledge that for all the positives, there are also negatives. But hey, that’s a whole different subject matter.

Apps are where we all are. Falling into the younger generation, I do think we, unknowingly, take apps for granted slightly. We’re used to being able to answer any question, access our finances, our friends and family instantly. I was a late 90s kid – so although I grew up in this crazy digital escapade, I do remember dial up internet and Nokias (before apps were a proper thing). But it’s only when I hear an older relative say how they’d have to walk to the bank in town to transfer some money, or wait weeks for a written reply from a loved one that I’m like, woah – we really do have it easy.

The point I’m trying to get to here is that the reliance on apps is a whole new wave within the evolution of technology. Apps were primarily for social or leisure needs, but they’re slowly beginning to play important roles in our day to day life. The shift in what we use apps for is incredible, and you either grab your surf board and ride the wave – or you bob your way back to the shore, and convince yourself that this gig will never take off. I came across a term recently that really stuck with me – it completely represents how fast-paced the modern tech world is, and how important it is for us as consumers, and businesses, to stay ahead of the game. ‘Digital Darwinism’ – the evolution of consumer behaviour when society and technology evolve faster than your ability to adapt.

It’s never been so important.

Personally, social media-wise, I think we have everything we need for now. The big five (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube & Snapchat) pretty much have all areas covered. A steep statement perhaps, but from a millennial point of view – I don’t see a huge gaping gap within the social media app industry that needs filling. Not any time soon anyway.

The sharing economy is the most recent wave to hit us, but this is something that’s been brewing for years. The likes of Airbnb, Deliveroo and Uber have taken the world by storm in recent years and it’s a sector that has no limits. As a society, we thrive to save both money and time, and businesses who can help us do so are the winners. ‘’ was launched in 2008 after two guys decided to rent out their living rooms as they couldn’t afford their own rent. Airbnb now has over 2 million listings in 34,000 cities worldwide. Deliveroo launched to market in 2013 and now has over 5,000 people across Europe and Asia delivering food to consumers. Uber was also founded in 2008 and is now available in 60 countries and over 300 cities worldwide – fulfilling one million rides daily, with over eight million users.

These apps gave consumers an easier life –  leading them to phenomenal growth and world domination. 

For me, my favourite app depends on the context. In terms of most used, Facebook is certainly at the top of the list. In terms of most useful, Uber is fantastic. I also love the Halifax banking app, Missguided and Instagram – I really couldn’t define one app as being my favourite.

Working in a comms agency – I’m one of the many meerkats bobbing up and down searching for new opportunities and platforms. As an agency, we’re constantly riding the wave of this crazy evolution… and the future excites us.

Gif me a giggle

December 12th, 2016 by Sarah Gough

woman with laughing emoji head looking at phone

A certain smirk adorns the faces of the PR team when we know we’ve nailed a gif. It’s exclusive to this occasion – unmistakable and closely followed by the words “wait for it”. For visualising purpose, it’s similar to the ‘I’ve emailed you a meme’ smirk, only with more linger. I know you know.

In communications we seek memorable engagement with our clients’ audiences. Video has long been hailed the future of marketing, because by its very nature we are likely to spend longer ‘absorbing’ it than we are with words or pictures. Gifs are video champions of our generation – short, succinct and widely appealing, they offer quick-fire fun in a fast-filling feed. When Twitter introduced a free bank of gifs, we rejoiced. When they ceased hogging character count, we fist pumped. Now, to top it all off, WhatsApp has jumped on the bandwagon and it’s a bloomin’ revelation.

Like all societal trends, brands are likely to increasingly jump on gifs and memes as a revenue and brand awareness stream. Whoever developed the gif function in WhatsApp must have been a Friends fan, because there’s Chandler-a-plenty. Every time I choose him, to some extent I’m re-igniting the Friends fire within myself and the gif recipient (and most recently Elf has naturally been the common theme). As we did when adverts started to appear on our Instagram feeds, we’re likely to feel a bit put out to start with, but I’m sure we’ll become accustomed and the more creative brands are, the more we’ll want to be in on the joke.

Gifs are the gifts that keep on giving. When you’ve picked the right one, it‘ll tickle you every time (see our #CowAppreciationDay Twitter post on 8th July.) We could do with a chuckle this week so go on – show us what you’re made of and give us a gif @WeAreBoutiqueUK.

That’s all from me,


The Power of Celebrities and Bloggers

March 31st, 2016 by Charley Downey

Instagram influencers

We see them all over our newsfeeds day in, day out – usually propped ever-so-glamorously next to Protein World’s Weight Loss Collection, or taking a selfie holding up some Cocowhite strips. Perhaps they’re sipping some Fit Tea whilst sitting in their waist trainer? The list goes on.

We’re all fully aware of the impact and influence celebrities, make-up artists and bloggers have on consumers – particularly young adults – but when you put their power into perspective, it’s actually pretty mind-blowing.

Falling into the ‘young adults’ category myself, I’m an average 19-year-old girl who obsesses over anything make up, beauty, tan or use-this-to-get-the-perfect-figure related. Teas, oils, and shakes… I’ve probably tried it – and I’m seriously a sucker for jumping on a bandwagon, particularly if I see someone from TOWIE backing it. Do I know that they’re most likely getting paid as part of an agreement to promote the product? Yes. Does this have any significant impact on my choice to buy the product in question? Nope. It doesn’t.

I think, for me at least, it’s the case of ‘what if’. The thought of missing out on a product that could be my new holy grail seems to overpower the voice in my head telling me ‘it might not work you know’. When I scroll down my Instagram feed and see that Kylie Jenner uses a particular moisturiser to retain her lovely glow, I instantly feel like I need to try it. And I don’t think I’m the only one out there who’s guilty of regularly being so easily influenced by celebs on social media. Am I?

Although it’s slightly worrying for consumers (as we’re pretty quick to spend cash we don’t necessarily have on a cream that’ll supposedly change our lives) it’s a revelation that is incredibly exciting for advertisers. Celebrities and bloggers are now an advertising platform in their own entity, much like a newspaper or a radio station. Their fans are loyal, trusting and will jump at the chance to try a new product because their favourite celebrity uses it. They can speak to consumers – particularly teens and young adults – in a way that other platforms can’t.

Am I stating the obvious somewhat? Maybe so. Let’s actually put it into perspective with some numbers:

Love her or hate her, Kim Kardashian is arguably the biggest celebrity influence at the moment – particularly amongst those interested in anything beauty-related. At present, she has a total of 65.3million followers on Instagram. That’s approx. 5 million more people than the population of Australia and Canada combined.

Another scary stat is that top models, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevingne are expected to pull in between $125,000 – $300,000 for a single promotional post on any of their social media accounts.

Talk about being in the wrong job, right?

Another example; I previously read an article on well-known make up brand Anastasia Beverly Hills. The founder of the brand, Anastasia Soare, is an inspiration to me – so, naturally, I follow her activity and have followed the brand itself for several years. It’s pretty incredible to see how much of an effect bloggers have had on the brand.

After her daughter (now brand ambassador) convinced her to join Instagram three years ago, the brand’s earned media value now sits at £46.5million, versus MAC’s £26.4 million – a business that’s been established for much longer. Four of the top make up bloggers that work closely with the brand (Samantha Ravndahl, aka @ssssamanthaa, Desi Perkins, aka @desimakeup, and Christina Cagle, aka @chrisspy) collectively accounted for £11,178,882 in earned media value in the second quarter of 2015.

In the first half of 2015, ABH was the 14th ranked brand in prestige colour cosmetics, and 6th in the eye category. In 2012, the brand was ranked 25th and 12th, respectively. The figures saw a significant increase, directly relating to when the company joined Instagram. Although this may have been one of many factors contributing towards the brand’s success, it’s definitely a pivotal one – and is by no means a coincidence.

The impact that celebrities have on the advertising landscape is unbelievable and this will more than likely continue to grow. And although we consumers are a bit savvier than we used to be when it comes to spotting paid promos, the promise of achieving our dream body and perfect skin will always convince us to buy the latest lotions.

Oh, and maybe even some sickness tablets…

Kim Kardashian Instagram

Facebook releases Canvas – a new immersive ad platform for mobiles

February 29th, 2016 by Louise Trent

29.02.16-compressor HARD

The last week has seen a new product introduction from Facebook; Canvas, a brand new ad platform which aims to see brands and products brought to life when viewed on a mobile. Canvas is a post-click advertising space which allows you to host a full-screen and interactive advert aimed to allow brands to engage with their customers almost seamlessly.

A real concern that Facebook has voiced is that click-through content hosted on separate websites is often slow to load and can create a disjointed experience for a customer – a sure-fire way to lose the interest of your target audience. What we now have is an almost instantaneous advert load with the ability to host a mix of video, images, text and call-to-action buttons all in one advert. You can even upload tilt-to-view panoramic videos!

With more searches now being carried out on a mobile and with 73% of its ad revenue made up with mobile(!) (Facebook Q4 2015 Results), Facebook clearly felt it important to significantly improve the customer experience and build customer engagement levels.

Chris Jones, Head of Creative Technology and Facebook Creative Shop gave the following comment on Canvas:

“We made the creative community a priority when we designed and built Canvas. It’s a product that represents our commitment to creative craft and delivering the best mobile experience for businesses and people”.

I think it’s fair to say that rich media advertising is where it’s at, and where it’s going to be, in upcoming months. Certainly when the promise of high customer engagement is luring advertisers to spend on the new Facebook advertising craze. The aim is also for tracking to be even more robust by keeping customers on Facebook throughout the ad experience, rather than customers dropping off after click-through.

Canvas has already allowed some of the biggest advertisers to promote products and create engaging brand-strengthening campaigns. Burberry, ASUS and L’Occitane are just a few who have trialled the platform.

Coca-Cola have built a Canvas ad campaign to launch their new series of Aluminium Bottle. The campaign managed to reach 16 million people and achieve an average view time of 18 seconds.

Bandwagons filled with guff

January 7th, 2016 by Thomas Selby

jumping on the bandwagon

I hate guff. And bandwagons. Especially bandwagons filled with guff.

So as you can imagine social media does at times leave me exasperated. Especially on LinkedIn, it’s a professional network, not Facebook.

As you may have heard, BBC Three has a new identity.

After being forced onto its knees at gunpoint and asked to look away, the channel has risen from the ashes with a new shiny suit, ready to enter the world of online only entertainment.

The suit in question is a bright pink Adidas track suit with an exclamation mark as the third stripe, which I’ve taken as a nod to the channels focus on finding new breakthrough comedy and drama and the typically younger audience it attracts.

I actually quite like it and as one of the ignored millions who signed a petition asking the BBC to keep the channel, it gives me confidence that it won’t be side-lined now it’s off the air.

However as you would expect with anything new, the internet has reacted with a barrage of criticism. It seems bandwagons roll past like Swiss trains nowadays and there’s always room to jump on. The real problem here is that we haven’t seen the brand in action or any of the wider brand beyond the logo, it’s far too early to come to any informed conclusions. (Wait, does this mean I’ve inadvertently jumped on the bandwagon too!?!?!?)

With this and other topics, people from the ‘industry’ fire out comments and opinion without thought. You’d think peers would be a little more patient or sympathetic….

One of the most popular bandwagons at this time of year seems to be ‘the inspirational quote’. Why on earth would you use LinkedIn to post ‘profound’ quotes about life – surely it ruins credibility?

As it turns out, science agrees with me.

A team of researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, published a study called “the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit” .

The Oxford English Dictionary defines bullshit as, simply, “rubbish” and “nonsense”.

As part of the study the scientists used a website that would randomly generate ‘pseudo-profound’ sentences from a string of words, they then asked 300 subjects to differentiate between the made up sentences and actual philosophy quotes.

The report’s ultimate finding was a link between people who believe these ’profound’ statements and low intelligence. Stating that those who were more receptive to the made up statements were “less reflective and lower in cognitive ability (i.e. verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy) and are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation.”

So we can now all assume that when someone posts a weird life affirming picture of a quote, they should probably be given a wide berth.

LinkedIn is a great tool to show real knowledge and well-formed opinion; I genuinely enjoy reading most of the things my network posts, and having an intelligent discussion about it. There are other places for us all to jump on bandwagons and post pictures of whatever we want, unfortunately LinkedIn is not the place if you want to be taken seriously. I’m not saying stop voicing your opinions, in fact I’m saying the exact opposite. Be mindful of your audience and platform, making proper use of the tools modern life has given us.  Next time you feel like posting a Deepak Chopra quote on LinkedIn remember this… science says it makes you look a bit thick.

Five brands that are killing it on Twitter

June 25th, 2015 by Charley Downey


Twitter is the ‘big dog’ within the constantly evolving social media world, and these days you can search for almost any celeb or business and find their Twitter account. Whether it be breaking news, opinions on a TV show or social competitions, Twitter is the first point of call for many consumers- so it’s incredibly important for brands to stay active and ‘ahead of the game’.

In saying that, tweets about ‘niche’ products or services will, understandably, require more thought and ‘thinking-outside-of-the-box’. No one likes sales tweet, after sales tweet, after sale – you get where I’m going with this.

So I’ve decided to compile a list of brands that, I think, are killing it on Twitter.

5) Charmin

Who said toilet roll was boring? With a following of 67k and engagement on every tweet, Charmin take toilet roll to another level.

Charmin Tweet     Charmin Tweet


4) Tesco

The likes of leeks, sausages and other groceries could prove difficult to tweet about- but Tesco goes about this problem perfectly.


Katy Perry- Tesco Tweet

Tesco Tweet
Tesco Tweet


3) Delta

Who said aeroplanes don’t have a sense of humour?


Delta Tweet

Delta Tweet


2) Arby’s

This American sandwich chain knows how to throw humour into their posts while also spreading brand and product awareness.

Arby's Tweet Arby's Tweet Arby's Milkshake Tweet


1) Taco Bell

And finally, my winner. With 1.57m followers you know these guys are doing something right. Oh and their followers have become so loyal over the years, a three word tweet can rake up 4.3k favourites. The screenshots say it all…


Taco Bell Tweet Burrito- Taco Bell Tweet Taco Bell Tweet  Bell is life


At Boutique we strongly believe a little humour gets you a long way. Where it’s possible to instil this into social, it goes along way to people engaging with your brand. The above examples all portray how important social engagement is to a business, whether it be loo roll or tacos!

If you want media advice, we’ve an office full of comms champions bursting with ideas. Drop in for a cuppa and we’ll happily share our thoughts!

Happy Tweeting.

10 tips for Instagram success

May 29th, 2015 by Elliot Jones


10 tips for Instagram success

Right, Instagram, where to begin…

…Well, it’s full of beautiful, arty types and narcissistic selfie-lovers, but the truth is there are businesses making Instagram a key communications channel for their brand, and there’s no reason why every business shouldn’t have at least some form of presence on Instagram.

But first, lets set some ground rules; consumers are lovely, and they are the lifeblood of your business, but the truth is when a consumer of your brand (or content in general) hit the web on their phones, tablets or laptops, they become inherently lazy, and demand immediate satisfaction in their content consumption before they lose interest and move on.

An article like this is perhaps not for those people (though I’ve done my best to summarise with bullet points, of course).

However, a beautiful image embodying a brand can be consumed instantly, and conveys an emotive love like no other.

This is where Instagram truly shines, and any brand can easily embrace and exploit this before it too becomes an intrinsically commercialised advertising commodity.

There are 10 key points to consider – as extolled by Instagram themselves, and I’ve detailed them below:

  1. What do you want to achieve? You need to have a clear Instagram goal. Is it to increase brand recognition? Build awareness? Shift perceptions? Or reach a new audience? Perhaps it’s simply to generate sales, but this should first and foremost be a happy addition to one of the above. Nail this down and the rest should become insurmountably easier.
  1. Tell your brand’s story. Think of your brand, and tell a cohesive story with images that embody everything your brand represents. Be diverse with your content, but always remain true and consistent to your overall theme.
  1. Take the time to make it beautiful. There’s no shame in taking inspiration from people who are already doing it well. Get inspired by other Instagrammers and learn how to create a great pic or video short that personifies your brand.
  1. Simplicity is key. Choose a clear, concise account name. It should be tied to your brand and ideally be your company name – but remember to keep it super-succinct and relevant.
  1. Get a simple profile pic. Make your profile picture simple and ideally a logo or graphic – it’s going to be cropped to a circle and 150×150 px on most mobiles, so bear this in mind!
  1. Tag when relevant. If it complements your image, tag the location and accounts to increase your reach – but keep it relevant never tag for the sake of tagging…
  1. Get creative with image tools. The image tools on Instagram are iconic, and users immediately recognise an instagrammed pic. Don’t be afraid to get creative with them, they are proven to engender trust and can make even drab pics ‘pop’ with depth…
  1. Nail down the subject matter. Authentic, immediate, unexpected and beautiful. All these describe what your images should be – all wrapped up in your brand’s theme. If you’re posting pics that don’t fit the bill – don’t post them, it’s your brand that will suffer.
  1. It’s about pictures not text. Keep your comments and captions short and succinct – let the pictures and vids do the talking.
  1. It’s a community! Get engaging and commenting – the more you engage, the more your brand will prosper. It’s that simple.

All of these tips are actually courtesy of Instagram – so I can’t claim the glory – but they are a good yardstick to plan your Instagram strategy.

10 tips to instagram success

And always remember, Instagram is just one of a myriad moments in a consumer’s daily engagement online – so don’t look at it in isolation, look at it as a valuable visual weapon in your brand communication arsenal.