Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive.

Part 1: Let’s start with some coffee!


Anne says: When was your last coffee? My day doesn’t start well without a coffee and there’s typically a couple more squeezed throughout the day. In fact, how many “catch-ups” or meetings revolve around grabbing a coffee with someone or working from a cafe (or coffice) – of course wifi is required to fully function as the office alternative.

But there’s more happening with coffee than just our need for it. Did you know that coffee is the most popular food or beverage item to be shared on Instagram! Yes – we appear to be obsessed with posting photos of our coffees!! Crimson Hexagon report that between 2015 and 2016, nearly 73 million people shared photos of their coffee experiences on Instagram – seriously!! That’s an extraordinary number of coffee photos… before you even start to add up how much coffee people are drinking!

The question (you should be asking) is why? What’s going on here?

Understanding how people are using social sites, provides us with insight into people’s behaviours and preferences and just a glimpse into how they can be engaged in the workplace.

Firstly – we could highlight the low barriers to participation: a smartphone and an Instagram account.

Then – we look at how people are using their Instagram accounts. With coffee – it’s become part of their visual diary. Here’s where I am, drinking coffee; here’s my coffee; here’s who I’m drinking coffee (meeting) with.

How does this impact coffee suppliers and venues?

Dissecting the data, Crimson Hexagon can identify the current top trending coffee is a latte. By looking at the photos, we can also see the trend that appearance/presentation matters.

This Instagram data can be used to identify deep insights into people’s behaviours – in this case, coffee is just an example. However, deep understanding requires more than just data – but starting with the richness of these data sets enables ways of uncovering hidden behaviours that may not be revealed in our typical research methods – such as interviews, workshops, or observations.

The next time you meet someone for a coffee catch-up … take a moment to consider if it’s an Instagram coffee opportunity.

Here’s my latest contribution (wink)



Podghazi: Instagram influencers use comment collusion to game the algorithm

“…the issue goes back to validating the true value of influencers versus them simply excelling at hacking a platform for gain…essentially, platforms created this beast.”

Emilio says: A couple of months ago a friend, who is an Instagram Influencer we worked with at Ripple Effect Group for a client campaign, posted an intriguing status on Facebook. In the post, my friend revealed that a paid subscription service that automated comments and likes – one that fly-by-night Instagram influencers had become dependent upon to grow their accounts – had been taken down, finally, with a sigh of relief.

Ever since Facebook, Instagram and the rest of the popular social media platforms reprogrammed what, when and how they would serve content in our feeds, brands, publishers and content creators including influencers are having to scramble through these platforms’ secret algorithms. Hacking the algorithms so that their content remained visible on users’ feeds, by paying nothing or as little as possible, has become the go-to shortcut strategy.

For those of us in social media, there is one metric we hold dear: engagement on our content. We regard it as gold, far more valuable than sheer follower numbers and vanity metrics such as reach and impressions.

‘Engagement farming’ tactics being employed by unscrupulous influencers such as ‘comment pods’ – where Instagrammers deliberately comment on each other’s posts to prop up everyone’s content – can hurt an Influencer’s legitimacy and reputation, as well as the campaign overall. We should be wary of the practice. Since engagement is gold, anything less than true engagement is worthless.

At the end of the day, what we want to see in our influencer marketing campaigns is genuine engagement on our content, by people who are potential consumers of the services and products being promoted. The quality of the content and the storytelling are what should generate interest and engagement.


When a farmer’s internet speed was slow, he built a private 53m tower

Joel says: It’s a well known fact that many Australians complain about our infrastructure and internet speeds. But one Brisbane farmer has gone one better and done something about it. Andrew Sevil consulted with a Brisbane engineer to design and construct a 53 metre high guyed mast tower that would allow him to connect to internet services in neighbouring towns.

Prior to the installation of the tower, Andrew’s internet speeds were only a few megabits per second, but by accessing internet from St George – 50km north – they are reaching speeds of 40 to 50 megabits per second through Telstra.

Andrew set up the tower as the first part of an ongoing project to be able to have a live stream feed of his land which required greater internet speeds than any provider was able to supply at their location.

“I can look at it at any time and it’s not costing me a cent outside of the installation ($16,000). For me it’s a far better option.”

Maybe the Australian government should have a chat with Andrew and his engineer pals and roll out these towers Australia wide.


Ravens are smart enough to hack experiments

Jakkii says: In a study sure to add fuel to any ornithophobic’s nightmares, researchers conducting cognitive experiments with birds have shown their propensity for planning and, in the case of one particularly clever bird, engineering and teaching.

In the study, as well as solving puzzles and seeking food rewards, 78% of the ravens were able to successfully barter with humans – a skill I’m not sure all humans have mastered!

“Ravens are avian dinosaurs that shared an ancestor with mammals around 320 million years ago,” the Science paper notes.

What’s particularly interesting about the findings is the evidence that complex cognition has evolved in a species so far removed from our own. We have logical expectations of seeing complex cognition in apes through our shared history, but ravens have of course evolved completely separately from humans.

One raven in the experiment figured out how to work their rock/box contraption first, then began teaching the method to other ravens, and finally invented its own way of doing it. Instead of dropping a rock to release a treat, the future Ruler of the Raven Kingdom constructed a layer of twigs in the tube, and pushed another stick down through the layer to force it open. The bird had to be removed from the experiment before it could teach any other birds how to do it.

That at least one raven in the experiment was so sophisticated he deduced his own methodology for solving the problem as well as exhibited the skills to teach others (and that they in turn can learn) is fascinating. And also possibly a little creepy – the next time you see a group of ravens that look like they’re plotting against you, they probably are. I guess they don’t call it a ‘conspiracy of ravens’ for nothing.


The emerging science of computational psychiatry

Nat says: Whenever I read an article like this, alarm bells go off inside my head. The study of both psychology and psychiatry is predicated on the belief that there is a benchmark of ‘normal’ and acceptable human behaviour. In psychology, the word therapy means success in helping someone behave like everyone else. In psychiatry, therapy means playing with the mechanics of someone’s brain so that they behave like everyone else. My undergraduate degree is in psychology, with two-thirds of the coursework subjects devoted to statistics and the study of rats. I could never understand why complex human beings were constantly being reduced to mathematical equations, and why rats and maths were seen as reason enough to both understand and diagnose so-called foibles associated with the human condition. Who gets to decide the benchmark for normal anyway?

In the origins of the field, normality has largely been defined by middle-aged white men from the West. In Ancient Greece, the word ‘psychiatry’ meant “soul healer” which is arguably not what the profession stands for today. In current times, the profession is more associated with “cognitive mechanics” in which the essence of soul and body are viewed as inconsequential to the pursuit of fixing the neurological mind.

In the US edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) – the bible for psychologists and psychiatrists – the thickness of this book has almost quadrupled in size since 1952. There are more and more ‘labelings’ of human behaviour added to the list with every edition, so much so that it would be impossible for anyone not to be diagnosed with some kind of psychological ailment or disorder. The irony being is that we accept this book of abnormalities as being normal. We accept that humans are broken and need to be fixed. But do we ever look at a cloud and think it is misshapen? Or think the stars in the night sky need to be rearranged? Or that a wave is not breaking right on the shore, or that an animal is walking strangely, or that the branches of a tree need to be straightened out? Of course not, but humans escape with no such luck.

So when researchers claim they are using technology in relation to psychiatry, as is the case with the shared article, I always question what problems they are trying to solve, and what technology they are proposing to use in solving such problems. Man makes machines, just as man makes up words for describing so-called psychological conditions. This is not to say that mental health is not a valid subject of conversation, but how we go about the study of ‘fixing’ the mind is in a predominately western, mechanical and mathematical way, which speaks to no relation of the actual metaphysical experience of being human.


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