Snapchat, Instagram Stories, or Facebook Stories—Which is Right For You?

3 airplanes in the sky
Image via Mihai Surdu under CC0 1.0

It’s hard to remember a time before they were everywhere, but long ago in Internet time, there was only one name associated with disappearing video: Snapchat.

In 2016 (five years after Snapchat), Instagram got in on the game, adding Stories to their platform with filters, stickers, and text overlay. And in 2017, their parent company Facebook rolled out Stories of its own, with unique filters and the option to crosspost between platforms.

The videos may disappear, but the format is now everywhere, offering rapid-fire cycles of possibility. The only question that remains is, which platforms make the most sense for your brand?


It wins among younger audiences

Let’s start with the OG. Snapchat is beloved by users of all ages, but it’s especially popular with Generation ZSeventy-nine percent of US teens have a Snapchat account, and they rate Snapchat as their favorite platform.

Compare that to the two percent of Baby Boomers who use Snapchat, and this platform starts to look like the fountain of eternal youth. As other platforms struggle to hang on to their younger users, Snapchat is still growing in popularity with this demographic.

Its users are highly engaged

Snapchat users watch over 10 billion videos each day and send more than 3.5 billion Snaps. One hundred and eighty-seven million daily active users spend about half an hour each day on Snapchat, and open the app about 25 times per day.

It’s harder to use, but that makes it cooler

Part of the appeal of Snapchat is its secret-handshake nature—it can be deliberately confusing, but that’s why users love it. It also offers a lot of features, though they’re not always easy to find. But that means brands who can navigate the app acquire an instant cool factor. It’s kind of like getting your motorcycle license, but for social media.

It’s all about spontaneity

Snapchat’s ethos is authenticity and openness – compared to other platforms, it’s more spontaneous and raw. That’s what draws users in, especially younger audiences, who are resistant to traditional advertising methods.

As a result, brands who use Snapchat to go behind-the-scenes can build loyal followings from users who are as interested in people and process as they are in the finished product.

Everlane, an apparel startup committed to “radical transparency”, grew their audience through a conversational, candid Snap series called #TransparencyTuesdays, where they answered questions and shared product insights and previews.

And playfulness

Geofilters are custom frames that show up for users who take a Snap in a certain location—this can be an entire country, for major campaigns. They’re a major investment, with a price tag in the six figures, but country-wide Geofilters typically reach 40-60% of all daily Snapchat users, offering massive exposure.

Sponsored Lenses are face-altering filters that users can add to their Snaps, to share your branded content with their following. Taco Bell smashed records last year when they released a Cinco de Mayo filter that turned users into tacos, which was viewed 224 million times in a single day.

Brands that stand out on Snapchat find a way to harness the platform’s spirit of playfulness to capture users’ attention. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like a taco? That’s part of the genius of Snapchat: to stand out, you just need a great idea that no one can resist.

Ads perform well

Snap Ads are sponsored, 10-second videos that appear in between Snaps—entice users to swipe up and view longer content or visit a website. Ads perform well on Snapchat, pulling in more visual attention than any other social media platform.

The timeline prioritizes friends over brands

In January 2018, Snapchat rolled out a major update that radically transformed the app.

And the reception has not always been warm. A tweet begging for its reversal has been retweeted more than 1.4 million times, and a petition to scrap it has a million signatures and counting. Despite the backlash, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel insists that the update is here to stay—so there’s no time like the present to leap in and learn to swim.

The biggest change for users: splitting Snaps into two feeds. Prior to the update, users could watch Snaps in one stream. Now, feeds are split into “Friends” (for users who follow you back) and “Discover” (for everyone else—including publishers, celebrities, and content creators).

What this means for companies is their Snaps will no longer appear in the same feed as their followers’ personal friends, likely resulting in less exposure. One way around this is to follow your audience back, but even then your Snaps will likely sink to the bottom of their feeds. The new Snapchat timeline is also algorithmic, pushing friends who interact frequently with a user to the top of their feed.

However, the update also came with a new opportunity for companies to share sponsored content, with Promoted Stories. These allow companies to push their Stories to more users and appear on the Discover screen, reaching new audiences beyond their followers.

Oh, and don’t worry about missing the opportunity to captivate audiences with your take on the taco filter. The update didn’t impact branded content like Geofilters and Sponsored Lenses, which will still reach users exactly the same way.

Instagram Stories

Contrary to stereotypes about middle children, the middle child of the disappearing stories family gets plenty of attention.

Instagram already had a massive user base in 2016, but Stories were like the Nos in The Fast & the Furious. When they launched, they gave users an incentive to check the platform daily and catch all those disappearing videos, increasing time spent on the app to around half an hour each day.

Users skew young, but not as young as Snapchat

More than 500 million Instagram users open the app every day, and 300 million of them are watching Stories daily. Like Snapchat, Instagram skews young—60 percent of users are under 30—but it also includes more older users as well, with one-third of 30-49 year olds using the app.

Instagram Stories share a lot in common with Snapchat Stories

After unveiling Stories, users and brands who had previously used Snapchat for candid videos and Instagram for curated content had both in one place. And brands had the same opportunity. Remember Everlane’s #TransparencyTuesdays? Those can now be found on their Instagram Stories.

Outdoor Voices, which makes workout clothes that fashionable people love, use their Stories to share videos of brand ambassadors #DoingThings outdoors, and approachable fitness tutorials that showcase products while inspiring followers to get active.

screenshots of Instagram stories by Outdoor Voices

Instagram Stories have a lot in common with Snapchat. They also offer face filters that can flatter you with Photoshop-like effects, or make you look like a sea witch or a bunny rabbit (to name a few). Users can also add stickers, text, and recently (to the great delight of the meme-loving masses) GIFs to their stories.

If you thought that a Story was good before, just wait until you add a dancing cat GIF to it.

They are sorted according to an algorithm

Stories from people and brands that users follow show up in a row at the top of the Home feed, sorted algorithmically. A “Discover” tab includes branded content and promoted stories, featuring trending content and videos tailored to users’ interests. As with Snapchat, brands can promote their stories or create ads to reach more users, as well as share all their Stories with their followers.

They can drive direct traffic

Instagram Stories also offer a few special features that set it apart. For instance, brands have the option of adding links to their Stories, which direct users to an external URL after they swipe up and provides a ton of opportunity to drive traffic and engagement. Prior to adding this feature, brands could only have one link in their bio, and couldn’t include functional links in the photos and videos posted to their feed.

They get engagement

Creating a Story is not only easy, but effective: one in five Stories generate a direct message from followers.

Stories also have the uniquely engaging “Polls” feature, which lets viewers vote between two options.

screenshot of an Instagram stories poll

Brands who excel at Stories know how to use these engaging features to keep users coming back – not just to watch, but to join in the conversation and feel like they’re part of an insider community.

The beauty startup Glossier built their following on Instagram by creating a mood board of images, each garnering thousands of likes, before they had even released their first product (they also raised $24 million dollars). They use Stories to engage with their followers, by offering sneak previews of new products, customer Q&As, and introducing the people behind the brand. But they also maintain their dreamy aesthetic, with Stories that are as Millennial-pink and Pinterest-worthy as their main feed, reinforcing their brand values of accessible beauty and casual luxury.

They have a non-disappearing option

“Story Highlights” allow users to pin Stories to the top of their feed. Unlike regular Stories, which disappear after a day as expected, these ones stick around for as long as they’re pinned.

Story Highlights are perfect for showing off your top performing Stories, latest products, biggest announcements, and the spirit of your brand.

screenshot of story highlights on Molly Yeh's Instagram profile

They can be viewed on desktop

Even though Instagram is designed for mobile use, users who are looking you up on their computers instead of their phones can now also watch your stories, effectively increasing visibility. You still can’t upload from the desktop version, but given Instagram’s track record of giving the people what they want, that may not be the case forever.

Facebook Stories

Facebook is the blue whale of social media platforms, with a staggering 1.4 billion (!) daily active users, and 2 billion monthly users. In the U.S., the number of adults on Facebook (68 percent) is about the same as Instagram (35 percent) and Snapchat (27 percent) combined.

Pew Research Centre graph depicting social media network users (Facebook has the most users)

Facebook launched their Stories in March 2017, replacing a similar feature called Messenger Day with a more obvious parallel to their Instagram offering.

The two platforms share more in common than just the name. Facebook Stories also mirrors the placement of Stories (above the main newsfeed) and the camera to record them (top-left corner). It’s instantly familiar for anyone who’s used Instagram. So it’s a bit surprising that it hasn’t quite taken off—yet.

Facebook has the largest audience

Facebook hasn’t yet released numbers for how many users are sharing and viewing Stories, but anyone who looks to see how many of their own friends are posting them will likely arrive at the same conclusion: it’s not nearly as popular as Instagram Stories.

The slow uptake might lie in Facebook’s audience demographics, and how they use the platform. Everyone really is on Facebook: 76 percent of teens (ages 12-19) have a profile, but so do 62 percent of their grandparents (adults over 65). As a result, some younger users think Facebook is for old people. They’re using it to message their friends and watch videos, but not to discover content or follow brands the way they do on other channels.

For older users, who are less likely to be on Instagram and Snapchat, the Stories format isn’t second nature. They may just not be creating and engaging with this form of content yet.

It’s a blank slate of potential for brands

Stories may be slower to take off on Facebook than they were on Instagram, but this platform has nothing but potential. It’s a blank slate with great opportunities – and Facebook has been clear that they’re committed to the success of Stories, so we can expect they’ll keep rolling out features to improve ease of use and visibility. And Company Pages only got access to Stories in October 2017, so it’s still a brand new field of dreams.

It’s not limited to one platform

Why should you be posting to Stories? For starters, Facebook has the best ROI of any social media platform, according to 96% of social marketers. Facebook Stories can be integrated with other high-performing ad opportunities on Facebook, like promoted videos and posts in the Newsfeed.

And since you can cross-post your Instagram Stories directly to Facebook Stories without any extra effort, why wouldn’t you? Cross-posting isn’t always a good idea, but given that your Stories will translate perfectly to each platform, it’s worth testing.

It’s an opportunity to bypass the algorithm

Facebook Stories also presents a new opportunity to bring users to your Page.
Many brands have noticed declining engagement since Facebook prioritized personal connections in their algorithm. But the Stories feed could be a way to reconnect with users who aren’t seeing your content in their Newsfeed the same way.

Your friends may not be posting there yet, but some companies are already using Facebook Stories with great results. Paddington 2, the surprisingly popular sequel to a movie about a bear in London, launched a Facebook Stories campaign with a Paddington filter that let viewers try on his stylish outfit (listen, a duffle coat and floppy hat counts as stylish for a bear, okay?)

Paddington 2 Facebook Story on mobile phone

Viewers also saw Stories of other Paddington characters, as well as iconic sets. This was a perfect fit for Facebook: a family-friendly movie on a multi-generational platform, showing off the most fun features in the app. The result: a three-point increase in awareness of the movie, and intention to watch.

Another example is Japan’s Kao beauty company, which used Stories as well as other Facebook ad placements to launch their Pyuan haircare line. Targeted to women in their 20s (the largest demographic on Facebook), Kao focused on short, high-quality videos tailored to the short attention spans and discerning tastes of their demographic. The strategy resulted in a 10-point increase in brand awareness.

There are opportunities for user-generated content

Facebook is determined to make their Stories more than just a clone of Instagram, and recently unveiled their first truly unique opportunity for brands to take advantage of the platform: Group Stories.

Group Stories allow anyone attending an event on Facebook to contribute to a Story roll, hosted on the Event page and visible in the Stories feed. Event administrators can moderate Stories and approve them. For companies concerned about the wild-west nature of other platforms, this is a reassuring mechanism. If your company hosts events, whether in person or virtually, Group Stories is a new opportunity to promote them and engage with your followers.

Which platform is right for you?

Keep your brand values and goals in mind: are you willing to be casual, informal, and offer candid insights? Do you prefer to keep things polished? Do you want to reach people of all ages? These questions can help you narrow down which Stories platform makes the most sense for you.

Also think about which features excite you most and fit the best with your content strategy. Do you want your audience to weigh in on new products? Try a poll in Instagram Stories. Hosting a launch party? Use Facebook’s Group Stories to engage attendees. Want to gain awareness among younger audiences? Try a Snapchat Sponsored Filter.

The important thing is to take advantage of the full menu of options when you try out a platform. Users get excited about new features as much as you do, so don’t leave them out when considering your strategy.

v Test out an idea on all three, and see where it performs best. Compare engagement rates and views. Many brands had success by rolling their Snapchat strategy over to Instagram, and others will find that cross-posting on Instagram and Facebook yields results.

Whatever you try, there’s one thing you should always keep in mind: users are savvy. If you make content that’s not true to your brand voice and identity, your followers will unfollow. Filters and stickers aside, videos let you build real connections with viewers and keep them engaged with authentic, insightful content.

Show off what makes your brand special and unique (you might surprise people!). That’s what your audience wants to see. Throwing a dancing cat GIF in the mix? That’s just the icing on the cake.


About the Author

Michelle Cyca is a writer, editor, and digital content strategist. Offline, she likes hefty magazines, public libraries, all-day breakfasts, and bike rides.

This article originally appeared on Hootsuite.


Hack. Hustle. Design.

Zooka Creative Gives Back

By Jeffrey Heid

Hack. Hustle. Design. Streetcode Academy believes these are the key components for a wider, better future. A future that doesn’t just include the rich, fortunate, digital native, uber-educated, English speaker, or people of specific color born in certain places.

These components are meant to invite every person to seek a greater future.

That’s why on July 21st, we invited Streetcode to bring their students to Zooka and learn the what’s, why’s and how’s of an ad agency in the 21st Century.

Streetcode Academy recognizes, diagnoses, and occupies the distinct lack of accessible high-tech training for youth and young adults in communities of color. They combat this by offering free, high-quality tech education classes in coding, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

Hack. Hustle. Design.

We wished to give back to those communities and help Steetcode in their mission.

From young children to ESL adults, dozens of eager faces attended several mini-classes created by our different departments.

Our designers, led by Art Director Sean Lopez, gave quick lessons on design principles, walking students through the design process of a sample logo we created just for them.

This process includes the often painful step of eliminating weaker ideas to discover what’s strongest.

Our virtual reality team described the unique potential of VR, giving everyone the chance to walk the virtual plank of our mixed reality experience.

Over the course of the afternoon, our visitors learned about everything from design and VR, to content and social media, to branding and web development.

Many asked smart, thoughtful questions about our processes and strategy. Some told stories about their struggles with the quickly and ceaselessly changing landscape of technology.

But everyone left with smiles and the hope for a better, brighter future.


This post originally appeared as a blog with Zooka Creative.

Hear from Steve Decker, Zooka’s head honcho at the VMA Design Conference, June 15, as part of AIGA’s SF Design Week.

Getting to the top is hard, staying there is even harder.

Open Table Case Study by Sequitur

Everybody knows OpenTable. Even our moms. Which is cool, because they never seem to understand what we do. Anyway, when the folks on the restaurant side of the company reached out to us with a tasty, challenging problem to solve, we leapt at the chance. Basically, they were the first-mover in the market with the biggest customer base and the largest network of diners, but they weren’t sure how to convince new and existing customers to try their brand new, cloud-based product. While many OpenTable employees came from the restaurant industry, there wasn’t a deep cultural understanding of what their customers really valued. And having spent the past 18 years adding innumerable features, OpenTable had kind of lost sight of how big the idea of hospitality actually is in the industry. And that was causing them to miss a slew of great product and marketing opportunities. So, we brought the customer’s voice back inside the company, holding a series of workshops and office hours (more on that later), and producing some authentic, documentary-style videos to realign the team around what they always sensed was their true mission: helping restaurants create memorable moments for diners.

Tall order, up!


  • Creative
  • Prototyping
  • Research
  • Strategy
  • Teaching
  • Video Production
  • Workshopping


The Whole Story


Getting to the top is hard, staying there is even harder.

OpenTable is far and away the most dominant player in the online reservations space. They’d been first-to-market with a hardware and software solution that could replace the traditional reservations book. And after spending 18 years innovating incrementally, their offering on the restaurant side was starting to feel a bit tired, overpriced (even though their fee structure hadn’t gone up in nearly two decades), and not particularly in tune with the evolving needs of restaurateurs—even though the network of diners using OpenTable to book reservations had grown to 23+ million people a month. Having defined the category and built the business around a leased hardware solution (basically outdated terminals), the company was trying to pivot to a cloud-based solution redesigned from the ground up to deliver greater mobility, actionable insights, and a simpler UX. With a whole host of nimble competitors—from Resy and Reserve to Yelp—nipping at their heels and stealing away frustrated customers, it was time to pause, do some digging, and figure out to promise (and deliver) real value again.


Help us get back in touch with what made us great to begin with–knowing our customers and serving their needs.

We kicked off our engagement by getting to know people within the company—across the entire organization, from Sales and Marketing to Product, Engineering, Support, and Brand. Not surprisingly, everyone knew there were some big issues that needed fixing. There was a clear sense internally that OpenTable was seen as the most complete, but also most expensive and (possibly) least innovative player in a market full of upstart rivals. Management copped to having built an untidy product line that had grown in an ad-hoc fashion over nearly two decades. And the Product team was antsy about having a large cohort up and running on a legacy product that was about to go bye-bye. Sales was looking for an edge to differentiate themselves from growing competition. And there was increasing pressure to scale the business globally. Change was always afoot, but also fleeting. And, even though no one saw their dominant position going away anytime soon, everyone seemed to be struggling to identify a compelling, credible, new promise that they could hang their hat on.


Which pretty much bore out when we went out and talked to restaurateurs around the country. To a person, everyone agreed that OpenTable works. It feels expensive, but it delivers real value—mostly because having tens of millions of people walking around with your restaurant in their pocket is too tantalizing to resist. That’s how people are making reservations nowadays, right? But here’s the thing: no one we talked to really felt like OpenTable ‘got’ them. They didn’t feel like the folks at HQ understood the challenges of running a restaurant in today’s environment.

Complicating matters further was the fact that restaurants are maddeningly hard to segment. There are fast food, fast casual, fine casual, casual chains, fine groups, and every other combination and dining innovation that might give someone an edge. How could any one product appeal to such a wide range of needs?


Would you like sparkling or still?

It didn’t dawn on us until we were about halfway through our discovery interviews—somewhere in Denver (which, BTW, is an insane foodie mecca all of a sudden)—that this gig wasn’t going to be like any other one we’d ever done. Normally, the people we interview out in the world start off seeming a bit put out by having to take time out of their busy schedules to talk to stupid old us. But here, things were different. Every time we sat down, the first question that came our way was: ‘Would you guys like some water? Sparkling or still?’ Seriously. Every single time. Which makes sense, in retrospect. These people are hardwired to serve. They were there to take care, to comfort, to look after the needs of others—to be hospitable.

There is definitely a “tribe” of restaurant people. Everyone knows everyone. People jump from resto to resto. And they just didn’t feel like OpenTable was in the tribe. More than anything else, restaurant folk live and breathe hospitality. For them, the sometimes soul-crushing, inevitably low-margin grind of running a restaurant was worthwhile solely because of those little moments of delight—those eye-poppingly beautiful, delicious experiences only they could create. And, to them, OpenTable just didn’t seem to be cut from the same cloth. They seemed like a big tech company that just happened to be in the hospitality industry. But they weren’t happy about it. They wanted OpenTable to treat them like they treat their customers. They wanted to be served, to be heard, to feel like OpenTable had their back. Funny thing, that’s exactly what OpenTable wanted, too. It’s why they were cooking up GuestCenter. It’s why they hired us. It’s why they were so hungry to get to know their customers better.

Bottom line, the restaurateurs we talked to didn’t feel like OpenTable saw the world with the same service-oriented eyes they did. The product was basically a good fit, but the attitude, over the years (especially at the top of the company) felt off. And in a world where relationships really matter, some serious counseling was in order. Because the growing rift was leading to all sorts of (negative) magical thinking. Long-time customers were starting to convince themselves that if they just turned off OpenTable, nothing bad would happen. People would keep coming. Things would be fine. Right?

Not so great a mindset to let fester, especially with competitors knocking at the door. Time to square up some tension and kickstart the sort of hospitality-driven innovation that OpenTable was great at, back in the day.



Practicing hospitality.

Like any chef, maitre-d’, general manager, or hostess will tell you, you can’t really fake this stuff. Running a restaurant is like putting on a show. It’s like theatre, like dance. You need to make the near impossible seem effortless. Every little moment needs to be considered, choreographed—even or especially when it’s scorchingly, blisteringly difficult to pull off. And when you’re part of that world, that mindset, everyone you deal with holds you to a higher standard. And that that’s where OpenTable had been falling down. Sure, they’d built this amazing crew of Restaurant Relations people who would go over and above for their customers. But that same work ethic, that same relentless focus on hospitality, wasn’t really coming through—even though it was actually pretty deeply ingrained in the field and at HQ. That’s where we focused our efforts during our first off-site workshops with folks from across the company.

OpenTable needed to operationalize their approach to hospitality. They needed to relearn how to treat their customers like their customers treat their diners. And we helped them begin to figure out what that would take from the Product, Engineering, Sales, and Marketing teams. What would it look like if the entire company hit the reset button and started thinking differently about how they go about their day-to-day?

“To entertain a guest is to be answerable for their happiness so long as they are beneath your roof.”



Leaning into this notion of taking responsibility for the wellbeing of your guests, your customers, we worked with folks on the inside to develop a pithy, memorable set of five simple commandments—from ‘Know thy customer and anticipate their needs’ to ‘Empower thy customer and give them control’—that could help shape decision making across the entire organization. Over the course of two day-long workshops, we formalized a methodology for making good on big promises (about the power of the network to enhance hospitality, operations and marketing) in tangible, meaningful ways. Discussing, formulating, and agreeing upon these simple yet profound principles aligned this group of influential managers—giving them purpose, energy, and permission to start making meaningful change.

Then, we shifted gears to segmentation—something everyone within the company told us would never, ever be possible. For some reason, the prevailing notion in the halls of OpenTable was that every restaurant was a completely unique, wholly distinct snowflake. Their needs, their goals, their ways of looking at the world were all wildly different. Which, in some ways, of course, is true. But when we started parsing through the hardcore quant work that had started the quarter before we were hired, we realized that (regardless the size of the restaurant, the focus of the cuisine, the concept, the menu, or the particulars of the scene in which the restaurant operated) the basic, fundamental emotional drivers of the decision makers within the restaurant were easily categorized.

The more we looked at it, and the more we unpacked the data, the more we realized that you could build simple, clear emotional segmentation around five distinct ‘types’—all of whom have different needs that OpenTable was uniquely well-suited to meet. And, as we started socializing this new approach to understanding (and engaging with) customers, things suddenly started taking on a ton of momentum. Where previously, the company had taken a one-size-fits all approach to product and communications, now everything from feature prioritization, email marketing, and customer support comms could be custom-crafted based on a clear understanding of a specific customer and segment need. Seriously, it was like a bunch of bare filament Edison bulbs (of course) going off every time we walked out of a conference room after a meeting. And while there’s still work to be done, it has been super-gratifying to see our approach to segmentation start to take hold.

“Rudi and Ed have an insatiable curiosity, and the ability to home in on the most important details. The work we did together was both effective and fun. It led to concrete deliverables like customer segmentation, new websites, and product marketing videos. And it contributed to a renewed sense of purpose across the organization.”


Vice President of Restaurant Marketing


Getting the story straight.

With insights in hand, segmentation sorted, and a high level messaging framework at the ready, we shifted gears to execution. The immediate problem became: how do we get 600 people on four continents on board and firing away with these new tools?

Of course, time was of the essence—as the battle for hearts and minds in the restaurant space had started heating up and GuestCenter was finally ready for prime time. To speed up the process, we embedded ourselves within the company for several months of our engagement—spending what our client ingeniously dubbed ‘Office Hours’ every Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00-5:00 at their San Francisco headquarters. During that time, we took what we learned from our insights and workshops and helped the rank and file understand it and execute on it. And, together, we and our host of collaborators set about crafting new ways to tell the OpenTable story in an audience-informed fashion. With a relatively pithy and pointed messaging framework in-hand, we hammered out everything from site messaging and direct response campaigns, to strategic frameworks for content marketing and industry events—all the while, serving as a sounding board for folks on the Product team as they explored new features and functionality targeted at solving the particular needs of each of our segments.

The most public manifestation of OpenTable’s new vision was their restaurant-facing websites (starting in the US, and also launched in the UK, Australia, Germany and Japan). They needed a simple and compelling way of signaling the real value of GuestCenter, the company’s all new, cloud-based product offering. Working closely with the Opentable marketing team, and the smart, hard-driving crew at Fantasy Digital, we evolved the value proposition, brand voice, imagery, and site architecture. The existing versions were a convoluted patchwork of buzzword-heavy, feature-centric, me-me-me marketing messaging–all hidden behind a intimidating lead-gen forms. Not the best user experience, to say the least. And not the best way to shine a bright light on the groundbreaking innovation already well underway within the company.

Lastly, to bring things around full circle (and show the wider world that OpenTable actually does understand the dish-shattering pace of real restaurants), we brought in our pals Danny NiederJesse Dana, and Donavan Sell to shoot a series of short-form documentaries about folks in hospitality biz using GuestCenter to delight their guests, streamline their operations, and reach more diners. They told true stories in an honest way that reflected OpenTable’s renewed commitment to delivering unique value to restaurateurs, while at the same time highlighting the benefits of exclusive new features only available on the cloud-based product offering.



Just an amuse-bouche.

Having gone so deep with our pals at OpenTable (and having built up so much shared history with our compatriots and drinking buddies within the company), it was a bit tough to step away from this one. Sure, there were plenty of speed bumps along the way—so many moments of ‘Holy shit, how the hell are we going to pull this off?’ But we can’t say enough about how gutsy they were—staring down the challenge of transforming an 18-year-old incumbent into a nimble, attentive, user-led organization striving to build tools to help restaurateurs delight their diners and grow their businesses. Like any good story, this one is still very much a (very satisfying) work in progress.

Can’t wait to see what’s for dessert…

We picked this up from Sequitur’s website to give you a taste of what they will discuss at the VMA Design Conference of June 15, part of AIGA’s SF Design Week. Join us!

The Future of Birds in our National Parks

The birds you expect to see in your favorite National Park may be radically changing soon due to climate change. It’s been a joy and an honor to help the @audubonsociety with the visualizations in this new landmark study called “The Future of Birds in our National Parks,” which launched yesterday.

There are three main numbers we care about for the purposes of this study:

  1. How many bird species are in each park now?
  2. How many new bird species will potentially colonize this park when the climate changes?
  3. How many birds will potentially be driven out of the park when the climate changes?

Audubon’s study is exhaustive, covering every National Park and the hundreds of species of birds that live in them at various seasons. All in all it paints a portrait of a rapidly changing ecosystem in which National Parks serve as an increasingly critical sanctuary for birds seeking suitable places to live. GlacierDenaliGrand CanyonBadlandsEverglades, they’re all there.

A crucial element of all of this is the difference between summer and winter populations. On the whole, the Parks will lose more species in the summer than in the winter as things heat up. Just because the weather in these places will be suitable for bird populations doesn’t mean they’ll be able to get there safely, of course. But this is a good way for us to start to get a handle on the changes to our landscape & Parks that are coming, so we can start to figure out what to do about it.

The interfaces also allows for each park to be placed in context, so you can see where each location sits in relation to all the other National Parks in the study:

We’re delighted to be working with Audubon again. Our first project with them and our friends at Mule Design visualized bird range shifts over the whole US in“the broadest and most detailed study of its kind,” and it’s good to see the work continue in a big and public way.

The full report is online here.

Whiskey Series Takes Inspiration From Wild West


Born in upstate New York but “like many freedom loving Americans before him,” Josh Jevons made the journey west. Now based in Denver CO, Jevons has used this as an inspiration for packaging for the Grand Teton Distillery that captures the spirit of the Wild West.


The series visualizes stories and myths of legendary pioneers, frontiersmen and adventurers of the wild American west. Says Jevons: “From Teddy Roosevelt’s dagger-clad bout with a puma to a bloodthirsty manhunt by Blackfoot tribesmen, these labels celebrate the western spirit of adventure, tenacity and grit.”


The labels feature custom diecuts and metallic ink, and feature custom illustrations and handcrafted type. Continues Jevons: “The aesthetic is intended to communicate the rugged nature of the stories as well as the place in which the whiskeys are made, the Teton mountains, while maintaining a modern feel.”


This article originally appeared in GDUSA.

Coca-Cola Packaging To Sing a Different Tune


This summer, Coca-Cola will again try to teach the world to sing — this time with a little help from its bottles and cans. In a new phase of its “Share a Coke” campaign, the cola giant will put song lyrics pulled from more than 70 popular songs on packaging. Lyrics cover a range of music, from rock ‘n’ roll classics like Queen’s “We are the Champions” to patriotic songs such as “Proud to Be An American” by Lee Greenwood. Coke will also include lyrics from some of its iconic campaigns, such as I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke.


The campaign, called “Share a Coke and a Song,” will be supported by music-themed spots, social media and a summer-long experiential tour. The campaign will encompass Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coca-Cola Life, advancing a new one-brand strategy that unites multiple varieties together in the same marketing.


Agencies on the campaign include Wieden+Kennedy, Portland for creative; Universal McCann for media;Arc Worldwide for shopper marketing; Cornerstone for music; Fast Horse for PR and FortyFour and Irban Group for e-commerce. Coke plans to extend its campaign to mobile by encouraging consumers to use the Shazam app to scan specially marked 20-ounce bottles and in-store signage. That will allow users to record a 15-second digital lip-sync video that can be shared on social media using the hashtag #ShareaCoke, according to the brand.


This post was originally viewed on gdusa.

Ten Things You Should Do Now To Get More Clients

I get tired of fielding questions around how to get more clients, so I’ve decided to write an article on things you need to do right now before going online and asking, “Help. How do I get more clients?”

Before you go hire a business coach or sales person, enroll in an online course, follow a get rich quick scheme, do this first. Warning, this is a long list of things to do. No easy answers, no quick fixes, but the bare minimum of what you need to do before looking for more help. Remember, people hire who they know, who they like and who they trust. So time to get known.

1. Build a website. State what you do clearly, then back it up with great examples. Show me. Don’t tell me. Make sure the site is responsive, avoid anything that will slow down or impair the ability for someone to navigate your site. This includes: Cinemagraphs, parallax effects, tricky animation or unconventional interfaces. A simple hamburger menu with the following will work: work, about, contact. Use a legible and neutral typeface. Limit the number of colors you use. Have a simple logo. If you don’t have one, just typeset your name in Helvetica Bold using upper/lower case. Make your site SEO friendly. Name the images on your site with descriptive names. “Untitled” or “Final_final_03” doesn’t count as being descriptive. Instead, try “Los-Angles-Design-Branding-Anime-Expo”. Basically, help Google classify the images so that if someone is searching for you, they can find you.

2. Update your LinkedIn profile. Start with having a professionally shot photo. Keep it simple (white, grey or black backdrop). It’s worth the investment since you’ll be able to use this elsewhere. Ask yourself, would I hire me based on this photo? Would I dive deeper into this persons’ profile? Do they appear professional, credible and friendly? Is this someone I can trust with my money? Is this someone I can see myself being around for a long period of time?

Write a captivating headline instead of a job title. Focus on a user/customer benefit vs describing what you do. What do you do for them? An example could be “I help small brands look like big brands.”

Update your education, work history, awards and accolades. Get a few, well written, but sincere testimonials.

3. Get on Behance. Have 3-5 in-depth case studies of outstanding work. Make sure they’re labeled and tagged appropriately to make sure others can find you. Keep the photography or mock-ups simple to make your work shine. Where appropriate, document the creative process. Put the time and energy into designing every component so that it looks as attractive (and expensive) as possible. Look at your work through the lens of a prospective client. Would this excite them? Could they envision working with you through the work that you presented? Is the thinking clear? Are you focused on craftsmanship and detail? Is your typography excellent?

Not sure about the impact of Behance on your sales leads? Watch this video with Farm Design Founder Aaron Atchison.

4. Ask for referrals. Reach out to current and past clients and ask them for a referral. Tell them that you’re growing your business and have additional capacity to take on more work, that you’d appreciate any referrals or recommendations to anyone that could use your services. If they know someone, offer to contact them directly vs. leaving it in their hands to follow through. People are busy after all and you don’t want to add any additional work on their plate.

Why would you say this? One, it’s fun to share exciting news. Two, they won’t worry about sharing you since you are growing your team. Some clients actually do worry that you won’t be available any more, or that you’ll become more expensive as a result. You can address by saying that, “Yes, our rates are going up, but I appreciate your business and loyalty. I will do my best to work within your budget moving forward and will give you preferential pricing.” Lastly, people don’t always think to refer you. It’s just not top of mind. So if you want something, you have to be willing to ask for it.

5. It’s old fashioned, but have a business card and use as a tool to engage with others. Keep it simple and tasteful. Make sure you say what you do and that your contact info is legible. Other than that, avoid using additional photography, illustration of artwork on your card. It’s a name card and not a billboard. Use 1-2 typefaces (max). When you are at social functions and have an opportunity to meet a prospective client, don’t give them your card. Instead, ask for theirs. Say, “I’d love to follow up with you after this event. Do you have a card?” When they give your their card, hand them yours.

It’s more important to get their contact info than to give them yours. This way, you can follow up vs. waiting by the phone or inbox for them to reach out. The next business day, follow up by connecting with them on LinkedIn. Add a short note reminding them of who you are. Keep it short and simple. Close the note by inviting further dialogue if there’s interest. You could close with something like, “If you would like to continue our dialogue about rebranding your company, I would love to help. Please let me know.”

6. Join communities and organizations. Be active in both social groups (Facebook and LinkedIn) and trade organizations. Chances are, there’s a professional organization within a few miles of where you are located (AIGARGD (In Canada), Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Meet up groups, etc…). Build relationship with people without trying to sell. Find out more about who they are, goals and challenges. The people that you form a genuine relationship will become your best resource for leads, people and resources. This is a long term activity that will not appear to be helpful or productive in the short term. If it’s online, post relevant articles. If it’s in person, volunteer to help. You can do simple things like set-up or clean up an event. You can help find speakers or be one yourself. Whatever you do, make an investment in the community to which you belong.

Here are some others you can join: Futur NetworkFutur Feedback/CritFutur Pro Members($75/mo.).

7. Invest in a good interchangeable lens camera (ILC or DSLR) and start taking pictures. Take photos of everything you do, places you go and things you see. Why buy a camera? One, your eye will become much more aware of composition, color and lighting. Two, you’ll learn a new skill. Three, you’ll be motivated to visit new places and do exciting things. Four, you’ll start to learn the value of having beautiful photography and how powerful a single image can be. Five, your social media posts will look much more interesting. I’ve had good results with the Panasonic Lumix cameras Gh4, Canon 5d Mk III (or even their entry level Rebel line), Sony A7s and Sony A 6500.

8. Read these 10 books:

9. Subscribe/listen to these 10 podcasts:

10. Watch these 10 videos:

Congratulations, if you’ve made it this far. If you’re thinking to yourself, yeah, I’m doing all of this and I have a ton of leads but am having trouble closing prospects. Or, if you struggle with overcoming objections or pricing work, you might want to consider the new Business Bootcamp we just launched. Click here for the details.

Finally, find a mentor and offer to work for free (for a period of time). Apply your skillset to help someone you admire. Reach out to them and offer to help them with something specific that taps into your strengths. Getting access to someone that you really look up to can change the way you think, but it can also open doors for future opportunities. You never know where this will lead.

This article originally appeared on Futur’s Website. You can hear more from Furtur’s Chris Do at the VMA Design Conference on June 15th in San Francisco. Join us.

How Mixed Reality will change your perception of public and private spaces

We live surrounded by messages and we consume them everyday in private and public spaces. Communication streams hit us everywhere from the brands of the clothing we wear to signs on the street, instructions on the oven, traffic lights, etc. Anywhere the eye can see it’s likely to see an ad or intentional message. MDI estimates a normal American consumes around 4,000 to 5,000 ads a day but that doesn’t even count all the other visual clues and indicators we see and seek with a purpose (i.e directions, bathroom signs, exit signs, etc.).

In this abundance of messages we have learned to navigate through them and we have almost become numb to their effects. Just like users tend to ignore banners online we ignore street signs if we know where we’re going or we ignore traffic lights if we are not driving. All these messages visually clutter our environment by targeting everybody when in reality they are only relevant to some of them. With the arrival and spread of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality a few things can be expected to change.

At the risk of describing a dystopian future I believe traditional communication platforms will be the first to feel the burn with the arrival of these new devices and that they will soon affect the design of private and public spaces as we know them.

How — Information depth in Mixed Reality

To disrupt everyday communication platforms and therefore our living spaces, Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality devices will need to follow a series of principles and perceptive rules so users can immediately assimilate how they work and see its value. Just like with any other new device the golden rule will be familiarity plus progressive enhancement. Find a hook and little by little it will become a habit. To achieve this I believe Mixed Reality devices will operate at three different levels of our reality.

1. Anchored to your view

Your most personal space ever that won’t ever be occupied by anything other than what the user decides (maybe notifications / alerts).

2. Anchored to objects to reveal contextual info.

Objects will trigger their own interfaces depending on the user and their intent. For example the interior of a car will be different if you are the person driving it or sitting in the passenger seat.

3. Anchored to physical spaces to reveal extra info.

Street signs, landmarks and any other physical representation will potentially be enriched by MR and AR.

From context to intent — A mindset change

Since the users are the platform themselves physical spaces will no longer need to be designed around static platforms and the contextual clues that normally feed UX studies will become irrelevant. Context (demographic information, time of day, location, etc) will no longer be the only source of information used to define UX.

A given space can have distinct meanings to different people. When designing spaces different types of use are prioritized and that is translated into its design. Take an airport for example, its primary goal is to get people through a series of planned steps (checking to boarding) and its spatial design and signage is articulated accordingly.

However the goal of a given space is not always that clear and its type of use isn’t either. What’s relevant to you if you are in the middle of a street? Everybody around you shares the same geographical context but depending on their purpose their attention will be focused on different aspects. Are you looking for a subway station or are you waiting to cross a crosswalk? Different purposes will seek different signals.

With the introduction and mainstream adoption of MR devices the current paradigm is likely to experience a structural change. As soon as the individual people become the platform, physical spaces will no longer need to display lots of messages for different uses. Instead, users will shape their space according to their current intent, independent from their geographical context. Walking in the street will be a different experience if you are trying to find a restaurant or if are trying to catch a Pokemon.

Private spaces are also designed based on contextual assumptions. Apartments for example are organized according to the most common living patterns (sleep, rest, leisure, dine). Most living rooms for instance are organized around entertainment- last century it was the radio and more recently it’s been the television.

Cars are probably the best example of contextually designed physical layout due to their limited space and capabilities (mi4 car interaction with map). Traditionally there are up to 3 main roles in a car, the driver, the passenger, and the cargo. The driver needs focus and has total control, the passenger shares some controls with the driver (complementary to the driving experience) like maps, music and heating and AC and the passengers in the back seats have no control whatsoever and only sometimes have their own individual entertainment sets.

Cars dashboard and interior experiences are defined by their physical limitations. Now let’s imagine how AR/MR devices could help ease the cognitive load of driving a car. How would a car look if we could define controls and indicators based on your intent? I bet it would be less cluttered and more focused since it wouldn’t need to show every single control at all times. Also voice activated UI will alleviate the cognitive load of presenting every single choice all at once.

By looking at the user intent each space can become what the user requires at a given time with no room for interpretation or messaging hierarchy needed. Intent is ultimately the most accurate description of the user needs and the physical world should be the canvas users look at to meet those needs (instead of their phones).

Drivers will be able to define their experience according to their needs. AI doesn’t need to look fancy, it just needs to work. Photo: Alejandro Gonzalez
Passengers on the other side could totally opt out of the driving experience and focus on entertainment. Photo: Nathan Anderson

Why might this happen?

1.Economic Reasons

The internet made real targeted marketing possible and created better ways to target relevant users with more personal and behaviour based messages. It created digital spaces and introduced new financial models (CPC) helping advertisers getting the most roi out of their budget.

Advertising, for better or worse, will play as big of a role with MR devices as it has done with the internet over the years. With the arrival and popularization of MR, digital spaces will finally break out their physical constraints and find a place out in our world. Media companies will jump at the opportunity to finally being able to talk to the right users in the right places.

2.The Final step to Owning the ecosystem.

Big tech companies are trying to engage customers throughout their most common living scenarios. I.e. Apple has Carplay, Homekit and has pushed for Apple TV since 2007. Google on the other side has Android TV, Android Car and NEST. In the quest for being present throughout the user’s life, tech giants have put their efforts into creating as many devices as necessary to reach the user wherever he’s at, (home, transportation, on the go, exercising). The flexibility and portability of MR devices will render all those devices obsolete making it easier for these companies to be omnipresent.

3.The burden of owning multiple physical platforms

For the most part users update many devices at home once in awhile. A new TV, faster phone, and more powerful computers are just examples. Marketing tells customers they are major breakthroughs in innovation with each new iteration but reality says their evolution is closer to sales cycles than it is to true innovation. While planned obsolescence is not going to go away, a MR device could unify many of the devices we use throughout our day therefore simplifying the device ecosystem we are part of.

Collateral effects on society

If we entertain the idea of communication platforms becoming obsolete, how would that affect us anyway? Back in 1964 Marshall McLuhan suggested that not only the content being delivered by the media affected society but that the medium in which that content was delivered and its characteristics were also affecting society. The internet is a good example of this theory. The mere existence of the medium and its characteristics (immediate transmission and consumption of information anywhere in plenty of affordable devices that allow consumption and creation), is far more important to define the current society than the messages transmitted through it.

With that in mind, if we are able to detach the medium from its physical stationary platforms and liberate public and private spaces of the burden of hosting these devices (tvs, computers, billboards, etc.), what effect would that have in our society? How would “restructuring our living spaces” impact the definition of our society and its members?

Personal shared spaces and privacy

Considering experiences are better enjoyed when shared with others the adoption of MR/AR would also redefine how social events are experienced in a group. A physical shared space in a group would not be fully shared since each individual would be able to define the space based on their personality, intent and needs. How much of that digital entity is shared among users vs what other parts are strictly private would be up to each person.

As we expand our digital profile to our physical reality those levels of privacy would define what other users know about us and also what 3rd parties could use to better target their messages to us. If you find yourself on the hunt for Thai food in the middle of the city and as part of your profile you indicated you’re allergic to nuts the results displayed in your field of view should be defined by your needs.

A clutter free world

One of the most exciting prospects of this future scenario is the idea of removing persistent callouts from the urban layout. What would a city without billboards look like? What could be defined as an essential part of our cities if we could redefine them without the burden of indicators, marketing callouts, traffic signals and any other unnecessary message now present?

Advertising was first introduced to the Times Square area in the early 1920s. Since then Times Square has become almost a pilgrimage destination for tourist visiting NYC from all over the world. What once was considered advertising today has become part of the culture and identity of the city. When MR/AR devices become mainstream, will we consider Times Square a vintage reminiscence of a past time?

What will happen when people are able to individually recreate visual experiences equally as impressive or without the need of a physical set up?

And specifically when looking at private spaces…

What would your living room look like without a TV?

This post originally appeared here Hacker Noon

Data and Design: How to Tell Stories that Get Heard


By: Theresa Christine

The way we consume information is changing at a rapid pace. As a kid, you went to the library and flipped through encyclopedias for a research paper. Then the internet put even more information within grasp. Now, videos from around the world are right in the palm of your hand, literally.

But because we are bombarded with information daily, it often means we tune things out. So how can designers clear out the mess and actually reach people with their work?

Jessica Bellamy knows this struggle all too well. After fighting to have her work heard, the Adobe Creative Resident and Designer sought a more effective way to share information.

“As a college student who was constantly writing long papers on topics that intersected with race, I understood that no matter how well-written my papers were they were still going to go unread,” she said. “I wanted to find new avenues to have meaningful and transformative conversations about race, so I started making some of my papers into infographics.”

Jessica developed a way to harness information to tell visual and personalized stories, especially when it comes to ethnomathematics—the relationships between culture and data. It’s not merely about using charts or graphs, though. “People appreciate a visual narrative rather than just a data visualization; however, from a design perspective, beauty should never be the only goal,” she stated. “Aesthetics should never be placed above function. Data can be made less intimidating by incorporating allegorical illustrations that speak to the issue.”

While some creatives may shy away from numbers, she insists it’s an integral part of design. Graphic designers use the golden ratio when creating layouts, and architecture and product design couldn’t exist without data.

Jessica also highlighted the crucial role math plays in the industry. “Its role is to be accurate and well-researched,” she explained. “It also must be accountable to the negative or positive effect of the design narrative.”

Naturally, as an infographic designer, Jessica loves complex problem solving and system design. This led her to create the infographic wheel, a tool which would allow people to create more effective infographics—what she called her most exciting and challenging project to date.

“To create the infographic wheel I had to do weeks of research and experimentation,” she said. She read through several books and referred to multiple web portfolios, compiling a master list of ways to create this type of visual experience. “Once I had a list of 113 infographic layouts I started categorizing them based on use. I also began to identify the types of data that typically were associated with each of those layouts.”

The result? A wheel which features a refined list of 36 essential, familiar layouts to use when creating an infographic.

Social change drives her work, which helps topics like race become a part of the conversation—a conversation which engages people, one they’ll actually pay attention to. Jessica even started her own video series, Designing from the Margins, about the intersections between men and women of color and design. “I’m hoping to find as many Creative ways to both inspire conversations around race as well as instill pride in Black people,” she said. “The content that I’ve created acts as a mechanism for reconciliation and healing, which is a result that I’ve not always had the opportunity to work towards with design.”

It might be a slow process, but it’s important to continue breaking down the barriers and highlighting the work of people of color. “When we start to recognize the many contributions of Black and Brown people,” Jessica mentioned, “we begin to dismantle our internal bias that limits whose faces we show in our designs, whose perspective is explored in our work, and whose voice is heard through our projects.”

This work is invaluable, especially when it’s no secret the design industry isn’t exactly the most welcoming for people of color or women. Jessica’s advice to them? “Collect mentors, eat as much media as you can, and get past your self-doubts by finding your ‘why,’” she advised. “You are limitless.”

Jessica Bellamy who will be speaking on June 15 at the VMA Design Conference in San Francisco as part of San Francisco Design Week.


Theresa Christine

Theresa entered the world of design through The Dieline. With a background in writing and journalism, she has a passion for discovery and cultivating human connections. Her work for The Dieline is a constant journey to deeply understand all facets of the design process and to investigate what makes designers tick. Theresa’s writing has taken her snorkeling in between the tectonic plates in Iceland, horseback riding through a rural Brazilian town, and riding an octopus art car at Burning Man with Susan Sarandon as part of a funeral procession for Timothy Leary (long story). When not writing, she is planning her next trip or taking too many pictures of her cat.


Whiskey Series Takes Inspiration From Wild West


Born in upstate New York but “like many freedom loving Americans before him,” Josh Jevons made the journey west. Now based in Denver CO, Jevons has used this as an inspiration for packaging for the Grand Teton Distillery that captures the spirit of the Wild West.


The series visualizes stories and myths of legendary pioneers, frontiersmen and adventurers of the wild American west. Says Jevons: “From Teddy Roosevelt’s dagger-clad bout with a puma to a bloodthirsty manhunt by Blackfoot tribesmen, these labels celebrate the western spirit of adventure, tenacity and grit.”


The labels feature custom diecuts and metallic ink, and feature custom illustrations and handcrafted type. Continues Jevons: “The aesthetic is intended to communicate the rugged nature of the stories as well as the place in which the whiskeys are made, the Teton mountains, while maintaining a modern feel.”


This article originally appeared in GDUSA.