Category Archives: Uncategorised

HdK’s Mannequin challenge

HdK had a go at the Mannequin Challenge! We hope you enjoy this…

Have a wonderful holiday.

All the best,

How to figure out what content people are after on your website


We’ve all visited a website as some point and not found the content we were after. Some users might simply leave the website, others will use the designated search field.

The search field on your site can reveal exactly what your visitors are after. Giving you a great tool to optimize your website. To collect data from the search field in a manageable way we use Google Analytics.

To get started collecting this data simply follow these steps.

  1. Log into Google Analytics at and head to Admin > View settings.
  2. Enable site search tracking at the bottom of the page
  3. To find the Query Parameter head to your website and do a sample search. The parameter will be the letter or word after the “?” in the top bar of your browser.
  4. Finally click the tick box saying “Strip query…” and you’re done.

The data will show up within 1 day on your Google Analytics dashboard. If you have any questions regarding today’s post, or for help setting up site search tracking on Google Analytics, get in touch! We’d be happy to help.


The Julehygge Playlist for Christmas

Hans writes: I remember making my first mixtape with the help of my friend Vicky’s parents back in the seventies. It was music from their collection and introduced me to the likes of the Mammas and Pappas and Neil Diamond on one side and classical hits like Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie Overture and the theme for 2001: A Space Odyssey on the other.  I listened to that mixtape with my family on car journeys for years after and now whenever I hear any of the tracks I’m immediately transported to a place of warm happiness. Such is the potency of music shared with friends and family.

Mention mixtapes in the office and I get indulgent smiles from the youngest team member – Theis. This is despite, following vinyl records, cassette tapes supposedly making a comeback. Meanwhile, office DJ Sarah serves up her various playlists on Spotify, keeping us calm and collected throughout the day.

So this Christmas and to mark the end of 2016, we’ve compiled two playlists which we want to share with you in the spirit of the old mixtape. From us, to you, with love.

Christmas while you work

This is our Christmas playlist for the office or when you’re at home wrapping presents. It’s Christmas and Hygge in one – or Julehygge. We know its Hygge as we have a real Dane and half Norwegian in the office! There are some essentials included – the must-have Mariah All I want for Christmas and a very camp Shirley Bassey with her Chestnuts Roasting... But we have also included others that are less known but equally festive.

HdK’s 2016 musical review

HdK’s designer Raf has compiled a Spotify playlist of non-Christmassy music inspired by performances we worked on in 2016. It’s perfect Friday afternoon office listening – enjoy!

For any of you who don’t use Spotify but want to give it a go, call or email us and we’ll be happy to steer you in the right direction.

Have fun this Christmas.

Love from HdK

How to get the right data about your users

Google Analytics

Google analytics is a wonderful place for a digital marketer – it provides a wealth of data about the people using our website which can be sorted, analysed and filtered to our heart’s content.

Google Analytics naturally shows everything on the website, including stats from everyone exploring the site, whether they’re working, visiting or editing. We know this can be an issue for some businesses,  so we’re here to address it.

To make sure you see an overview that best reflects your website’s users, and not your colleagues updating or checking pages, Google has developed a way to filter traffic from certain sources. Here’s how you would exclude data from your office, for example, to create a filtered view of your website users.

First visit, login and go to the Admin in the navigation bar.

Make sure the correct URL / web address is chosen. Then press ‘All Filters’, ‘Add Filter’ and choose the same options as shown below. Add a Filter Name such as “Customers View”.


To find your IP address go to the following link and copy / paste the result. If you work in an office it is highly likely that you share the same IP address with all of your colleagues. If you want to exclude designers and developers, ask them for their IP address and add here too.

Then simply press Save and next time you look at Google Analytics and select your newly created view you will see the results that exclude your selected IP addresses.

One issue with this method though is that all your data will be filtered, meaning the stats from the office will be lost. If you’re interested in having a view both with and without the stats from your office, you simply head to Admin, View, enter the dropdown and press ‘Create new view’.

You then choose the new view from the top right corner and follow this guide changing the parameters as appropriate.

Any questions regarding today’s post, or for help setting up a filtered view on Google Analytics, get in touch! We’d be happy to help.

Are you Insta-savvy? Tips from Sarah on growing your Instagram audience


Sarah can talk for hours on what to do or not to do on social, so  she’s compiled a short list of tips that will help you grow your Instagram following and be more Insta-savvy.


Like with most things in life, it’s best to be prepared. An Instagram strategy doesn’t have to be complex, but it will help you define what you want to achieve from the start, so you can target the right audience with the right content. Here are three key questions to ask when creating or tweaking your plan.

What’s your aim?
Having purpose to your posts is key. What do you want audiences to do? Buy tickets? Go to your website? Know who you are? Your Instagram strategy should coincide with your marketing strategy, so this is a good place to start.

Who are you targeting?
Picture your audience. Having an idea of who you want to talk to will help shape the tone, message and content of your posts.

What do you want to say?
Creating narratives will give your content a sense of purpose and generate a talking point, making your account more attractive to potential new followers. What have your customers achieved? How is your work or product made? Make sure your posts are creative while your message is clear.


Always use high-res imagery that will draw attention to your account. The best Instagram channels have very carefully curated content with a clear visual aesthetic. Being a highly visual platform, bold colours work brilliantly along with prints and anything colour coordinated. Use free app Layout to collage your images into one post, Boomerang to create short looping animations or Hyperlapse to make lovely time lapse videos.

See Burberry, Air B n B or National Geographic for visual inspiration.


Engagement rates are high on Instagram, and the more socially engaged you are, the more approachable your brand appears. Top brands on Instagram are seeing engagement rates of 2.3% compared with the same brands on Facebook (0.2%) and Twitter (0.02%). Three easy ways to increase engagement with your followers are:

  • Ask questions or encourage action in your captions – ‘what do you think of this?’ ‘Watch our recent video’– if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  • Respond to your followers. If they post a comment, reply. If they post a complaint, definitely reply!
  • Share content – see something you like? Share it! Like it. Comment. (Use free app Repost to share on Instagram).

The more users who interact with your content, the more likely you’ll feature on Instagram’s Explore tab (this tab is unique to each user but is a combination of post popularity and the users previous likes/interests).

Lastly, make sure to fill out your bio with address, website and contact details (a feature of Instagram’s analytics). Give your followers – and potentially followers – somewhere to click!


You’re missing a trick if you avoid them. Specific and relevant hashtags allow you to anchor conversations; categorise your content and engage with users on shared interests. Creating your own hashtag is great for social monitoring and for creating a community around a theme or event.

So how many? We’d recommend two or three hashtags per post. More tags don’t mean higher engagement, in fact the opposite –  studies show that engagement lowers after the use of a fourth of fifth hashtag.

With this limit in mind, BE SAVVY: specific tags work better. For example, use #socialmediatools over #socialmedia or combine #dance and #photography: #dancephotography. Hashtagifyme is a useful tool for finding trending tags related to yours. But keep hashtags to the end of posts; in the middle interferes with your #sentences and can be #distracting for readers.

Hashtags make your content discoverable, which leads me nicely on to number five…


Some very specific tips here to get your account noticed by potential new followers:

  • Announce your account wherever you are on social– pick up followers from your other social networks
  • Link to your Instagram account from blog posts
  • Embed an Instagram feed into your website
  • Follow! Find your new followers by finding them first. Follow your competitors, your competitor’s followers and followees, as well as those who fit your target audience.
  • Establish a realistic number of daily posts you can stick to. Consistently is key here. You’re the judge.


Don’t post content at 3am on a Tuesday when your audiences are asleep or 11pm on a Saturday when they’re out partying. This comes back to your target consumer: when are they awake? Are they checking their phones on a lunch break? Obviously you can’t reach all your followers with every post, but determining the best times will prevent your posts going unnoticed and potentially reach those Instagram fiends scrolling their commutes away. You can investigate optimum post times by using Instagram’s new insights feature, or by testing how your photos perform at different times of day. In general, avoid posting between 12am and 7am (dead hours) and remember to consider where in the world your audiences are and note the time differences.


You must remember to check in regularly on your analytics. A monthly report of your figures will help you track your success and checking in on which posts did well (and less well) will help you improve your engagement rates for future. Not set up with a business account? See our Analytics gone mobile! for help here.

And any help or guidance with social, Sarah’s on hand – when she’s not on Hootsuite, that is.

Feel free to tweet us any questions, or follow us for news of further posts.

The one thing your site needs – Google Tag Manager


Today we live in a world where more than three billion people are online.  It has never been easier to reach more people at the same time than the age we live in right now. With the increased number of people online an old issue arises. How do I know if people are seeing my content and how do they find it?  There are a number of different solution including Google Analytics as well as Facebook and Twitter remarketing.  These tools give us the ability target advertising as well as collect all sorts of different data about how our users interact with us. 

An issue which often pops up is managing all the snippets of code that these different services require us to add to our website. Each time, they require implementing a piece of code on the website sometimes referred to as a pixel. Usually you would ask your developer to do this. but it might take time to implement and incur charges. Then, further down the line you need the code taken off the site. 

Google Tag Manager solves this problem. By asking us to add a single piece of code to your website you will be able to add any further tracking codes directly yourself. And failing that, it will be quicker and cheaper for us to do it for you. It will all be done through a simple Google login. Whenever you want to add a new tracking code it is as easy as copying and pasting the pixel or code supplied into Google Tag Manager and pressing publish. The code has been added to your site – simple as that.

To learn more about Tag Manager and how to get started using it, get in touch for a chat about the features it offers and integrating it into your website.  


Will the arts be taken over by AI Robots?

Articles about Artificial Intelligence (AI) abound in 2016. Searches  on Google have reached a new peak this month from five years ago. On top of that, with the launch of the new Pixel phone, Google has also positioned itself as an AI First company – a transition from a decade of being a Mobile First company. With the other big companies like Apple and Microsoft also bidding to develop successful AI products such as Siri and Cortana, we wondered how if the world of arts and entertainment could possibly be better run by robots with Artificial Intelligence. Surely Artistic Expression is what distinguishes humans from robots?

Artificial Intelligence is the ability for a computer to think like a human. We’re far off from that at the moment. Experts predict 2050 as a time when we might be able to reach that if at all with billions of pounds being spent in the race to get there. The ability for a machine to beat Garry Kasporov at Chess was an early premonition back in 1997 that things might not always go the Human’s way.


Here at HdK, we’re interested to know how it might affect our clients. With a number of our clients considering the Arts Council England’s Digital Policy and Plan guidelines while preparing their current funding application, this seemed like a suitable framework with which to consider AI. The guide highlights a number of ways a digital policy might be part of an overall vision for an arts organisation. One of these reasons is that technologies “create opportunities for innovation in artist and cultural practice“.

With AI, there has been a number of documented experiments of using AI to create art in music, the visual arts and dance.

The Google Brain team, in Project Magenta offer their first computer generated melody. The Piano based melody was completely self-learned from listening to other MIDI tunes. No rules or structures were given. is a startup from Chicago that uses AI to offer music streams specifically aimed at helping you focus, sleep or relax. The theory is based on research by neuroscientists. Algorithms create personalised playlists based on your feedback. But the interesting thing about is that the music is created by a complex music-AI engine. In fact, I’m listening to music to help me focus while I’m writing this very blog post!

Since 1973, Artists have experimented with Artificial Intelligence. Aaron is a computer programme that the artist and professor Harold Cohen pioneered.  Ben Grosser is another artist  and professor who more recently developed his own system. We’ve already established that real artificial intelligence hasn’t been developed yet so critics who question their results are perhaps missing a point – that we’re still on an incredibly complex journey.

There are two points of view,” notes Michael Jude, in an article with TechNewsWorld. “First, that art’s in the eye of the beholder – and second, that it’s an emotional expression of the artist or musician.

The first perspective allows the inclusion of art and music created by machine intelligence, while the second does not, Jude suggests.

I would say that an AI with sufficient training can create art, he goes on to say.Whether it’s great or not depends on the reaction of the audience.

With that thought in mind, what else is possible? Could whole award winning plays be eventually written with the help of AI? Again, it seems to be a matter of small steps. Crystal is a system that helps you write sales emails based on the recipient’s profile gleaned from their online presence. A small step perhaps to AI generated novels and plays? We’ll have to wait and see.

Other’s certainly believe that machines can make good art. But what is more imaginable is not that machines will be making true art on their own but how they work together with artists.

For those people who are actually interested in AI and interested in art, the real question is what will the two be able to do in concert,” he said.The answer is ‘a hell of a lot.’ And some of it is quite beautiful and extraordinary.

But its not just the opportunity to create art that AI offers us. What about areas of management in arts organisations? Back to the Digital Plan and Policy guideline from ACE and another consideration is how technology “can help you promote, create and share experiences with audiences online“.  Are early forms of AI available to help in this area? The obvious way that AI is starting to make an impact is in online promotion through advertisers such as Facebook and Google. It doesn’t feel that we’re that far from these channels building and optimising a campaign that intelligently seeks out the right people to target in the most efficient way. The lessons learnt during these processes could easily support offline choices.

Other narrow areas where AI can could start having impact is with dynamic ticket pricing or predictive customer service. Organisations will customer is likely to get in touch so organisations can be more prepared while Skype Translator can translate calls in real time with ticket buyers who don’t speak English.

The ACE guidelines also suggest we look for ways to save money by automating existing processes.  In Kevin Kelly‘s article on three recent developments that have finally unleashed AI into the world in Wired Magazine he imagines AI being “boring” services from a few big players similar to Amazon Web Service today but with added IQ working in the background and helping us do what we want in more efficient ways. It will enliven inert objects, much as electricity did more than a century ago.



Small, specific tasks are already starting to employ AI technology. In the spirit of ‘every penny counts’,  X.AI and their virtual assistants Amy and Andrew help you save time by co-ordinating meetings. They claim that the average meeting takes 8 emails going back and forth. Using natural language processes, you copy them into an email to a client and they take over, emailing back and forth with the invited guest and checking your calendar until a time is agreed. Reviewers have said that the language is so natural that it isn’t obvious that it’s a robot.

We  have been talking about big data over the last few years but AI is going to become more relevant to us in the Arts and entertainment sector and now is the time to start thinking about the impact it can have in reaching our objectives. It’s unlikely that Robots will take over from artists, producers and managers – at least during the next ACE funding round – but there’s a lot of potential to help us do new and exciting things with support from our AI friends.

If you need help developing your digital policy and plan, drop Hans a line.

The imminent death of email has been greatly exaggerated

It’s quite ironic. Over the years, we have helped many of our clients with their email newsletters. We’ve helped build their lists, we’ve helped test what works best for their objectives, we’ve designed them, we’ve sent them, we’ve reported on their success. Over those years, I presented seminars across the UK and in Europe and written in industry journals. But the irony is that we’ve never produced one for our own clients.

Earlier this year, we did a phone survey with a cross section of our clients and many requested a newsletter sharing insights, the lessons learnt and the experience we’ve gained working with over 200 clients from the arts and entertainment sector.

But newsletters are so last decade aren’t they? Before twitter, I remember being told that RSS feeds would replace the junk in our in-box. Since then, social media, instant messaging, push notifications and other real time communication platforms have all been cited as threats. Well, research suggests that that past reports of the death of email has been greatly exaggerated. Here are just a few recent statistics to suggest otherwise:

  • Millennials are the age group most likely to check their email from bed (70%), from the bathroom (57%), or while driving (27%). (adobe)
  • 75% of Gmail’s 900 million users access their accounts on mobile devices. (Source: TechCrunch)
  • 33% of email opens occurred on an iPhone, while Gmail, second to the iPhone for opens, only accounted for 15% of those opens. (Source: Litmus)

However, one statistic made me pause. According to’s 2016 UK Benchmark report, we are one of the worst performing sectors with open rates under 20% compared to other sectors reaching 37.2%.

Emails open rates by sector
Emails open rates by sector

Why the sector is performing badly is hard to explain but it’s a timely reminder that one of the great opportunities with digital marketing is to test, measure and improve.

We regularly help our clients find ways to achieve between 35% to 45% open rates. Recently we helped Artis Education increase their delivery rate by switching bulk email system. If you want us to help you increase your open rates or click through rates, drop us a line and we’ll work out a plan.


Website timelines

Working with over 200 arts organisations and producers we start to notice a few sector trends and one has been requests to create online timelines. They tie in particularly well when an organisation has reached a big birthday but can be used in all sorts of ways.  The ones we’ve built recently have all be created in WordPress which makes it quite affordable.

They don’t take too much work to set up and can be updated with new events over time. They tend to include the ability to link to videos, other pages or just simply display a quote or a photo. They work on mobiles too.

We’ve done a few over the last couple of years and most recently for Spitalfields Music Festival. timeline2

It’s time to WOW users: how to improve user engagement

Hi all, I’m Theis and I’m the new guy at the HdK office in Hoxton. To be more specific my daily duties include web development and solving all sorts of seemingly unsolvable issues. In September this year I joined the team after one year as a Dane trying out the big city life in London.

Growing up, my great interest have always been technology and how it is constantly evolving into newer and better things. Technology is never at a standstill. Not a day passes without some new development. It might not be a new iPhone removing the headphone jack or being water resistant but that just means that there’s space for another company or another individual to create something exciting.

In this day and age, we often take our devices for granted. We will complain if our Twitter feed or Facebook newsfeed doesn’t load fast enough. The world we are currently living in requires content to be available on demand and at the push of a button.

The pressure to decrease web page load times has been one digital content creators have been trying to solve for a long time. Many different companies have tried to solve this issue by using a wide range of different technologies to improve load times, though many of these solutions end up only cutting a few hundred milliseconds off the load times.

The issue has led to the creation of a framework called AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages. The open source AMP framework has been developed in part by Google, Twitter, and a range of other larger and independent companies to combat users missing out on content due to poor loading speeds of content. In an analysis based on data from Google Analytics and other similar suites it  found that:

  • 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load
  • The average load time for mobile sites is 19 seconds over 3G connections

These points show just how demanding the current generation of consumers are. They are hungry for great and meaningful content, but it needs to be served fast for them to stay interested.

As you can see from the above video one of the brilliant uses of AMP is when mixed with Google’s caching engine. The news story loads almost instantaneously, and this will be the experience on almost every device with every kind of connection. Try searching on Google for The Guardian. At the top of the page a range of stories should appear with the AMP lightning at the bottom. Clicking on any of these will make the story appear on your screen instantly. This will not only engage your users more by allowing them to get to your content quicker, it will also give your site a better rank on the google search page. Google loves when you implement things like this to give users a better experience with you and their product.

If this sound like something you and your users can benefit from I would definitely encourage you to send me an email at theis(at) to have a chat about integrating this into your website.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Analytics gone mobile!

pexels-photoWe are delighted to announce that Instagram have recently introduced analytics – or Insights, as the app calls them – and they look amazing! The new profiles offer businesses a wealth of super useful info that will help users reach the right audience at the right time.

In this post we’ll give you a quick tour of the tools as well as the inside scoop on how to use the new profile to your advantage. Much like Facebook insights, the new profiles will allow users to track important characteristics of follower activity including post engagements, site clicks, top posts, most popular hashtags… the list goes on.

14273445_10154366495089333_817327813_oIf you haven’t already, the first thing you need to do is activate your business profile. To do this, tap the wheel in the top right of your Instagram profile and select ‘Switch to Business Profile’ (this option only appears if you have a Facebook account). You will then be asked to log in to Facebook and select which Facebook page you want to connect. You must be an admin of the page you’re wanting to connect, and can only connect one Instagram Business profile and Facebook page together.

Once you’ve activated your business profile, a chart icon appears next door to the wheel – here you’ll find your analytics. You’ll also notice a ‘Contact’ button appears on your profile besides the ‘Edit Profile’ button (or ‘Following’ button on other profiles), which allows you to call or email directly from the app. When clicking through to Insights you are immediately shown your weekly impressions, reach and most usefully, how many website clicks you’ve had. This means you can now track and compare conversion rates across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.


The new features!

Top posts

Instagram displays your top posts, organised by number of impressions per post, and you can choose to filter these from 7 days to two years. Do note that Instagram Insights do not pull historical data; it only starts tracking once an Instagram Business profile is set up.


You can click individually on posts to see the total number of times
the post has been seen, the number of people who have seen the post and the number of likes/comments. The app also defines all its statistics for you (so you know what you’re looking at!) Example definitions below – you can see at any time by clicking ‘What do these mean?’ below your statistics.


Instagram will tell you your total amount of followers, including how many new followers you’ve gained each week. Aside from this, Instagram is handing out gold for businesses: follower demographic analytics. Now you’re able to see where your followers are located, their age range, and the gender – even the ratio of men to women!

Location: You can now see your top follower locations by country and by city. Not only is this incredibly useful data for marketers to understand their audiences, but it also gives you a better sense of when you should be posting time zone-wise to reach the majority of your followers. On this note, you can also see the days of the week when your followers are most active and the average times your followers are on Instagram, so you can schedule posts in the specific hours in which followers are most active – hooray!

14247730_10154366493134333_1072462407_oGender and Age: 
Next, you’re able to break down the gender and age of your followers and You can use the age and gender statistics to see the age range of men and women both separately and combined, and view a breakdown of your male to female follower ratio in a circle graph.

Promoting posts

Much like Facebook, you can now turn everyday image posts into ads at the touch of your thumb! You will see below every post you have a ‘Promote’ option – from here you are guided through the steps. Since the app is linked to Facebook, you also have the option to invite or find Facebook friends to follow.

We hope that all this rich data will help you create effective content for Instagram and market your business more effectively. HdK are delighted to see it in action and are excited to incorporate the insights into our clients’ digital marketing plans.

Any questions for us? Don’t hesitate to contact. We’d be happy to walk through the Insta-analytics with you.

That’s all for now!




In this blog post we’re talking Instagram – the fastest ever growing mobile social network. We’ve come up with some handy hints and tips we think small businesses ought to know – we hope it’s useful!


Instagram has become an extraordinary social, visual space. With over 300 million active users per month globally on the mobile app, it’s hard to comprehend that the platform operates solely from the palm of our hands. But with the mobile age upon us, and with such small screens and limited time in the day for social media activity, it’s worth being Insta-savvy.


The key to content success is to be consistently pleasing on the eye-buds, as Instagram is a highly visual platform. The best Instagram channels have very carefully curated content with a clear visual aesthetic. Think of your feed like a mood board – what is the visual thread? Bold colours work brilliantly along with prints and anything colour coordinated.

Check out Burberry, Air B n B or National Geographic for inspiration.

Use your Instagram account to demonstrate your company’s values, passions and hobbies. Do you have a staff yoga session #FitnessFriday, a subject to discuss #ThursdayThoughts or a morning #coffeebreak? Consider getting your brand involved with popular trends or events that are appropriate for you and for your audiences – they’ll respond positively if they feel a connection with your brand.

The video feature allows for extra creativity on the channel. Think about slow motion or behind the scenes videos – give your audience an insight into the workings of your business. Short videos work best as users have a very short attention span – they have a lot of content to scroll through! You can gain more visibility through clever hashtag use (more on this later).


As both its name and USP suggests, we ought to be Instagramming, well, instantly, but with more than 80 million photos uploaded every day, it’s worth considering when your audience will be looking at their feeds.

Weekday mornings are a good time to post. Not only are users having their pre-breakfast, pre-work scroll, but posting volume is relatively low in the early hours, so your posts have less competition and a substantial audience looking for their early morning Insta-fix. More recommended times from us include Wednesdays at 5pm and weekdays between 6am and 12pm – avoid evenings and weekends for important posts. Having said this, it’s important to consider your current and target audiences. Think about a day in the life of a potential follower and try to post accordingly – when do they wake up? Do they commute? When are they taking a break? But again, do remember audiences value the liveness of the platform and the instant connection with your activity, so be mindful of when and what you’re posting – is it time and place appropriate? In the same vein, Insta-advertising is a turn-off for your audiences who want to see real, organic content. Promoted posts are indicated by Instagram, so if you are spending money on a post, make sure the content is sweet and the advertising is subtle. The less emotional and more commercial your promoted posts appear, the less of an emotional connection you’ll establish with your audience.  Topshop are the Queens of Instagram advertising, with posts that don’t appear staged or constructed for a camera – so the audience feels a direct relationship with the brand, as if they could’ve taken the images themselves.


Why use Instagram? You may already be active on the platform, or alternatively you may be questioning whether Instagram is an appropriate platform for you – and this is a valuable question to ask before embarking on any new social media platform. What are your goals? What audiences are you trying to reach? And for Instagram specifically, do you have mouth-watering visual content? Will your photos represent your brand well and engage your target audience? Instagram’s users are predominantly 18-35 year olds – will this work for you?

Instagram presents a unique opportunity to visually represent your brand, celebrate its personality and inspire your audiences to act – whether this be attending a show, buying a product or using a service – by placing you literally before their eyes. Research shows that audiences are young and relatively affluent, making for a highly attractive demographic for businesses looking to promote products. Instagram is owned by Facebook, meaning ads are easy to create and benefit from Facebook’s detailed audience targeting. You can target exactly who sees them, depending on location, age interests, even the last time they used Facebook. You can set the budget to suit your business and Facebook estimates the reach of your posts, and you can launch, pause or delete ads in real time (more on Instagram advertising in a later post).

… and #hashtag?

Hashtags are a common conundrum – how many and what to hashtag? Well, unlike Twitter and Facebook, Instagram’s social etiquette allows for more hashtags per post – you may find they’re less annoying and more useful. Our advice with hashtags is to be specific, relevant and observant. Being specific will help you reach like-minded audiences by occupying a highly targeted tag page. For example, the hashtag #dance will fall into a pool of 31 million posts, while #danceshoes or #dancestudio will be more like 100,000. Being relevant will help you attract new followers who are more engaged in your content, because your hashtag accurately describes your content. And being observant means paying close attention to your hashtags – who else is using your it? Another tip is to identify influencers – what hashtags do they use? You may discover a more popular or more specialised hashtag to tap into. (You can set up notifications for particular accounts by clicking on the three dots in the top right hand corner of the account and selecting ‘Turn on Post Notifications’).

Our favourite popular hashtags include #ootd (outfit of the day), #thingsorganizedneatly (self-explanatory and surprisingly popular) and #flatlay (items photographed aerially – simple yet so aesthetically pleasing).

That’s it from us folks! More to come on Instagram later – but for now: don’t make ads look like ads, be hashtag-savvy and remember, keep it real!

Dance Consortium’s Q & A with Nederlands Dans Theater

Working with Dance Consortium, a group of 17 large theatres located across the UK, HdK has the lovely job of sharing behind-the-scenes content from the international dance tours that Dance Consortium bring to the UK each year.

Since 12 April 2016, the world-class Nederlands Dans Theater 2 has been touring venues across the UK; we have been catching the dancers where we can, and sharing live content from the tour on the Dance Consortium blog and social media feeds.

Now with just one venue left of the 2016 UK Tour, we thought we’d share the post-performance Q and A from the Theatre Royal in Plymouth to give you a taste of the company before it heads back to The Hague, Netherlands. The two NDT2 dancers in the Q and A were Rachel McNamee [21] and Benjamin Behrends [23]. For the dancers’ biogs head to the tour microsite. The dances in the night’s repertoire were: I New Then (choreography: Johan Inger), mutual comfort (choreography: Edward Clug), Solo (choreography: Hans van Manen) and Cacti (choreography: Alexander Ekman).

Audience member: How much input do the dances have in the choreographic process?

Rachel: It really depends on each piece and each choreographer and what they want. Every choreographer is very different in every process. Sometimes the choreographer comes in with a very set idea of what they want and they have movement and they just give it to is, or sometimes they come in and ask us to give to them, or they see what’s in front of them and create with us… so it really depends on the situation.

Benjamin: Adding on to that, we also do a bit of improvisation in some of the pieces. In the last piece, Cacti, some of the spoken word is ad-libbed and also some of the dancing as well. All the nude work before the couples’ dance is all improvised, so it all depends on what the choreographer wants.

Audience member: Which piece did you enjoy dancing most?

Rachel: It’s hard to have a favourite because I enjoy all of them. I think it also depends on the night. A piece is always a magical experience but I think for me, all the pieces I danced tonight, for example I New Then – the music is amazing and it always puts you in such a special place and it has such a heart-warming feeling for me at least as a dancer. I feel like I give a lot to it.


I New Then, NDT2 2016. Photo: JOHAN PERSSON








But also in Cacti, it’s nice to have a big group and it’s very fun and exciting. It’s nice to have such a range of repertoire because you get to experience different parts of yourself within each piece.

Benjamin: Also for me, each ballet has its own jams that you get to discover while you’re dancing. For me, I really enjoy the technical aspects of Solo, when you finish it you just feel really good if you’ve had a technically clean one. And then I New Then is very special, it’s very easy to get into the role and have this sunshine-y feeling, and then Cacti is the big horah!


Cacti, NDT2 2016, Photo: JOHAN PERSSON



Audience member: Do any injuries occur whilst handling other people’s bodies?

Benjamin: Yes (laughs) I think actually for me personally, all my injuries have happened completely on my own – no one was handling me! But yes as a profession of course we’re very careful and we train very hard every day. Fatigue also comes along with that. We always try and keep our bodies ready and fit to prevent injuries but of course things happen.

Audience member: How much do you train each day?

Rachel: We have ballet class every morning at 9.30am and then we rehearse for the rest of the day until 5.30pm and that’s usually 5 or 6 days a week, but we also do a lot of shows and touring, so sometimes we might have performances and things, but 9.30am – 5.30pm is the regular.

Audience member: How long does a show like that take to put together?

Benjamin: It’s about the programme and depends on how many dancers know it from previous seasons. I would say it takes us roughly two months to prepare for a dance like Cacti because it’s a huge piece. But when you’re creating with one of the choreographers it can take anywhere between two weeks to one month and sometimes they come back. But usually two weeks for set pieces. We have a great artistic team coaching us so sometimes it can go a bit faster.

Rachel: We also don’t work on one thing at a time. We have our programmes in Holland that are often new pieces and new creations and then half way through that run we go on tour with a completely different programme, so you’re working on about 8 pieces at any one time for various different shows, so it’ s hard to tell how long each piece takes but it’s quite busy!

Audience member: There’s a lot of rhythm and combination. You’re all doing the same thing at different moments! And you did it [Cacti] to perfection I must say!

Benjamin: (laughs) We practise a lot! And something with Cacti – it’s also a piece that gets brought back a lot so that’s one that the dancers might know from previous seasons but also we listen to the music in great detail. We have different groups: first row boys, back row boys, first row girls, back row girls, so it’s like now you do this, now you do this… (laughs) At the beginning it can be quite a challenge.

Audience member: How do you memorise the moves? How do they stay with you and do you listen to the music and immediately know what the movements are? How do you remember?

Rachel: It’s a skill that you develop because we’ve both been dancing for many years so for me now it seems normal to pick up movement and to learn it within my body. You feel yourself getting stronger at it. You don’t magically pick it up, you learn it and you think about it but there becomes a point where it gets into your body. That’s when you can play with it or feel it rather than just think it.

Benjamin: Also what we call muscle memory, it can be almost like a twitch, you know you have to do this on the music. Of course you can still put the same thoughts or emotions behind it but it might not be so in-your-brain about it. Like Rachel said, since a young age we have to memorise so much just in class, we’re constantly memorising what the teacher’s saying. It’s a tool you develop throughout your career. But also I find you can go into a room and completely forget why you’re there, so it doesn’t leave a lot of room for other stuff! (laughs)

Audience member: Do you use yoga in your training?

Benjamin: Lots of dancers do yoga on their own, it’s not required for us to do it, but some do it for cross-training. A lot of the positions we make on the boxes in Cacti are also improvised. They have a set structure, a geometric pose, and then you hold it, but actually the postures are based on the dancer’s interpretation of the pose and the music.


Cacti, NDT2 2016, Photo: JOHAN PERSSON

Audience member: When did you start training?

Rachel: I started when I was three – a long time ago!

Benjamin: I started a bit later when I was thirteen.

Audience member: Do you require classical ballet training?

Rachel: I think it depends on the company and the work you’re doing and the dancer. We’re both trained in ballet and we start each day with a ballet class, but all of us come from many different countries and backgrounds and training and so we bring those differences into the repertoire we’re doing. It’s important to have some classical training but to be able to use that and go beyond it.

Audience member: Is it all about interpretation or is there a narrative or storyline?

Rachel: It depends on the piece. There’s definitely an intention behind every piece. mutual comfort is about the relationships between the dancers on stage. There’s a sensuality. There might not be a full story or narrative but it’s opened up for the audience to feel something and interpret it in their own way, or maybe they see their own story in it.

Audience member: Assuming you don’t have an injury, how long can you keep going? What happens when your body says ‘that’s enough’ – what do you do then?

Rachel: I think that depends on the dancer and what they want. And also the type of dance and the way you dance changes as you get older. There are dancers in NDT1 who have had families who still dance beautifully. Sometimes dancers choose to stop early, not because of their body, but because they want to do something else, or many go into choreography or teaching, or some go into something completely different. Right now I hope to be dancing for much longer so I can’t really say personally what I’ll be doing.

Audience member: How important is the applause? Is the dancing the rewarding part or do you like to get that response from the audience?

Benjamin: We always love a response from the audience and you guys were amazing thank you (laughs) but of course we do it for the dance, it’s a way of expressing ourselves on stage. It’s good to feel a vibe coming back and it’s a great feeling on stage to have an audience with a great energy.

Audience: You don’t ever feel, ‘I’m tired and I want to go home now’?

Rachel: (laughs) No. It’s funny because when you’re on stage you can actually feel an audience’s energy and even if they’re not saying anything or laughing or making any noise, you can feel it. Audiences can be really different and it actually really helps me understand the piece when I can feel the audience reacting. It gives me energy or it helps us to share something. We dance to share, and it’s an honour to share it.

Benjamin: It’s also nice to have a piece like Cacti where it’s almost interactive with the audience, we hear you laugh and it’s really nice to feel like we’re playing with you and you’re playing back. It’s a nice feeling!

To see the microsite for NDT2’s 2016 UK Tour or book tickets for the show at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, click here.

For contemporary dance fans, follow Dance Consortium on Twitter for news of their future tours.

HdK’s guide to successful YouTube-ing

Not long ago Hans and I attended YouTube’s very own seminar where expert YouTubers divulged the best practises for implementing a super savvy video content strategy.


And as YouTube is now the second largest search engine globally, we thought we’d share some useful pointers on how to tackle the beast – straight from the horse’s mouth. From beginner Tubers to fully-fledged video makers looking to grow audiences, the following carefully honed hashtags apply to anyone wanting to share content on the channel.

#Shareability – will people share your content?

Is your content emotionally inspiring or relatable? If your content talks to people, you start a conversation. When viewers see content that communicates to them personally, they feel excited to pass the message on to friends, family and followers. Are these title structures familiar to you: Things people who don’t need glasses will understand or You know you love food when…?   So simple. So effective. Whether your content inspires laughter, fascination or even tears, a video that evokes an emotional response compels viewers to share the link.

#Accessibility – can each of your videos be appreciated by a new viewer?

It’s very easy to become wrapped up in your channel and forget that every new viewer is joining your conversation mid-way. Make sure your video is open to fresh eyes through video introductions, appropriate titling and accurate captioning. Assume viewers have never heard of you, aim to hook them in the first 10 seconds and don’t keep them more than 2 minutes. In today’s world, viewers want bite-sized chunks of information. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you won’t be able to get away with videos longer than this.

#Discoverability – will your videos be found through search?

You must be smart with your titles and descriptions – they should be both relevant and intriguing. While your title should be clear and concise, the video description is where you can go into depth, providing insight into you and the channel. An example familiar to us all is including lyrics in the description of a music video – if a fan knows the chorus but not the song title, the lyrics will help them find your video.

Most importantly, tags are the best way to frontload relevant key words. One of YouTube’s most valuable tips was to include a random word, not associated with in the bass layer of all your videos’ tags. This way, it’s more likely your videos will show up on the right hand side when a video of yours is playing. Another way to do this is to use Playlists. This way viewers are lead directly from one vid to the next! And in answer to a popular question, it doesn’t matter what order your video’s tags are in.

Finally, trends trends trends. Are there any big events, days or celebrations coming up? Find them, join them, and really use them. You can use Google’s trend tool, to find out what’s happening and keep up to date with what your audiences are talking about.

#Collaboration – can you include other creators in your videos?

Joining forces is the best way to grow your audiences. The top tip for collaborating is involving people who have relevant audiences. Will your viewers be interested and vice versa? If successful, you’ll naturally feed off each other’s fans. Like friendly, intelligent leeching.

#Consistency – are there strong, recurring elements to your idea?

What’s your stamp? How do people recognise your content as yours? Is it content, genre, format, set-up, schedule, voice…? Whatever it is, it’s got to be strong, consistent and reliable. One specific tip here that might surprise you, is to steer away from having text on your thumbnail image. With your title and name readily available, the thumbnail is all you really have to market your video, and it’s your opportunity to seamlessly interlink your popping artwork to your clever titling. Design a high contrast, high impact and high resolution thumbnail that stands out.

#Targeting – do you have a clearly defined audience?

If the answer is no, you’ve fallen at the first hurdle. This one really is very important. Begin by answering the following questions: What is the purpose of my channel? Who is the channel for? What do I want to say? The clearer your idea of your audience is, the more likely you are to reach them.

#Conversation – are you initiating conversation with your audience?

Conversation is the key to engagement. You’ll find that highly successful bloggers talk directly to the lens, a simple technique used to simulate eye contact and generate a relationship through the camera. You’ll hear conversational content interspersed with colloquial terms ‘you guys’; questions ‘how are we doing today?’ and fillers ‘you know’, are all geared towards engaging the viewer in an online conversation.

#Interactivity – can you involve your audiences in your videos?

Vivaldi Partners Group coined the term Social Currency in 2010, defining it as “the degree to which customers share a brand or information about a brand with others.” It’s about the experiences and participation that is created around a brand which creates value. This is particularly essential amongst younger audiences. Don’t be a nameless and faceless entity. Audiences on YouTube want to connect with their favourite channels. One way to do this is to engage in the comments section of your videos. Keep revisiting your comments section and respond to first-time viewers. Another way is to mention your audience members by name, this might be through shout-outs or competitions, as this cultivates an emotional engagement with fans and helps to builds a social arena around your content. Think of your videos as opportunities for your viewers.

Finally, always have a subscribe link in your description and be prepared to talk about subscribing. Instruct people verbally as to why they should subscribe in your videos. SPEAK TO YOUR VIEWER. They just want to be loved.

#Sustainability – if your audience loves it, can you make more of it?

This is a key question, and if the answer is no, or not quickly, you could be in trouble. Updating content regularly not only keeps your channel fresh, but it sustains people’s attention. If they can rely on the fact that returning to your channel means seeing something new, they’ll do exactly that.

#Inspiration – are you your number one advocate?

This one links to the point before; are you passionate about the idea and is it sustainable? If you don’t love your videos, you won’t be inspired to make more. Don’t let this be the case!

So, these are our top pointers for practises to implement into your overall YouTube strategy – not a check list for every video! As a general rule, keep your videos short, create thumbnails that pop and remember, content is king. GOOD LUCK and let us know how you get on.

Formatting images for the web – Part 2: Cropping a larger image to fit specific dimensions

While many content management systems include functions to crop images to size before uploading them to a website there are reasons why it may be better to prepare yourself using image formatting tools. But getting the formatting right can be tricky.

In the last post we mentioned Photoshop and the free to use Pixlr as suitable tools but there are many others out there.

For this post, we look at tips on resizing the images to include as much as the image as possible.

Often you want to use an image but the website design requires a fixed height and width ratio that is different. We often see examples of images that are simply resized to match the specified dimension. The results are images that are distorted on the website. It cannot be overestimated what a damaging effect this can have on the visitors perception of the website particularly when portraits are used.


Compare the first image with the original on the right and you can see how the mountains have been squashed.

TIP: Always start off with your source image being bigger in height and width than the final dimensions of the image space on the web page.

In your image software, open up a new canvas and set it to the desired height and width. Then open up the image you need to resize.

Make a note of the height and width of the desired final image and compare that with the height and width of the original image.

Take the smallest measurement of the original image and set your software to resize to the smallest corresponding measurement of the end result image. Make sure that the option to constrain proportions is ticked so that the image is resized without distortion.


Once resized, copy and paste the image into your blank canvas and align the image so that the smallest edge is perfectly aligned. Your software should automatically hide parts of the longest edge and you can move the image around until you get the best crop.


Notice on the left canvas in the example above the parts at the far sides of the photo have been hidden. When you are happy with what has been cropped out, save your image ready to upload to the web.

The same principle applies to portrait shaped images and even square shaped images.

Happy New Year and happy tweeting!

Firstly to introduce myself, as you won’t have heard from me yet: I’m Sarah and I’ve taken over from the wonderful Sophie as Hans de Kretser’s social media savvy sidekick. Pleased to e-meet you!

First of all, we’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a very merry New Year! As the new year is almost upon us, I wanted to share some thoughts and tips I gathered from a recent Twitter webinar on how to best plan for a successful social media start to 2016. Hopefully you will find them useful when tweeting in the new year…

The mobile age is finally upon us, and we are more connected than ever! 2015 saw smartphones overtake laptops as the most popular device for accessing the internet in the UK, with 33% of Britons naming their smartphone as their most important internet device. Our phones have become irreplaceable – on our commute, in the gym, before bed. 7 in 10 of us admit to taking our smartphones to the bathroom with us – even in our own homes!

With this in mind, along with the fact that 80% of Twitter users access Twitter on their mobile, our phones are providing an ever-present stream of content and so are proving to be the most powerful tool for organisations to connect to people all day, every day.

Now let’s focus on Twitter.

Tweets can be broken down into 4 major categories – we can break these down further, but for now let’s look at the big names.

The Everyday tweet – Tweets that reference the everyday moments that Twitter users express casually from day to day. These tweets provide engaging content and are a great way to engage with what audiences are talking and thinking about. Believe it or not, there are around 15 million tweets about coffee per week! And these are super effective.

The Event tweet – Tweets that focus on key events that people share and voice, for example the World Cup or the X Factor final. Advice here is to stay connected after big events. 77% of fans on Twitter think it’s highly important that brands are committed to artists/events in the long term, so bare this in mind if you set up a campaign for a particular event. One way remain in the loop is to throw back to past events or historical moments when it’s relevant. I’m sure you’ll be familiar with #ThrowbackThursday – use this to throw back to big events that will re-capture fans’ attention.

The Passionate tweet – Tweets that mention what people are passionate about on Twitter, for example exercise, music or gaming. If it’s relevant to your organisation, reference things that people are passionate about. It’s a great way to pique the interests of a larger audience. Did you know for example that 39% of people look for recipes on Twitter?

The Intent tweet – Tweets to drive direct response, which might include a link to a website, a product or a show. Have you tried using Twitter cards yet? This is something I’ll address in detail in a later post.

It’s quite common to find that organisations have a very high proportion of the Intent tweets, and not enough of the others. In particular, the Everyday tweet is underestimated as the most powerful way of contributing to everyday conversations online. People love to be reminded that behind every tweet is a human being.

In fact, everyday tweets can be broken down into the following 4 sub-categories: behind-the-scenes, questions (both rhetorical and direct), unique offers and news. It’s been recommended to consider these sub-categories in order to get a good variety of tweets and to keep audiences engaged and alert.

So how often should we be tweeting? There is really no right or wrong answer to this, but more often than not, businesses are tweeting less often than they should, or could be. What’s more important here is that your rate of tweeting, whatever it is, is kept consistent. 3-5 tweets per day is a good number, and don’t be afraid to tweet the same tweet twice. Twitter is frequently described as an online cocktail party – only a handful of people will hear what you have to say at any one time, so it’s natural to repeat yourself.

And finally, plan, plan plan. There is many a way to go about your Twitter scheduling. Tweetdeck is a powerful tool for scheduling tweets from a number of accounts at once, or Hootsuite if you’re looking to set up a number of platforms on one system. I would personally recommend constructing a social media calendar that works for you – this will help you to schedule tweets to go out at the most effective times, and will ensure your posts are kept consistent. The most powerful way to create excitement and conversation is to share content in real time, so if you’re super organised you can schedule tweets to happen in ‘real time’ when you know that events are coming up.

And one more tip! I said finally but wanted to keep you reading. Use more video. The most successful Tweeters of 2015 were tweeting videos left right and centre; we’re in the dawn of the mobile age now – embrace it!

So in a nutshell: plan ahead, tweet far and wide, and remember to be a human.

I hope you found today’s tips useful. Tweet us your thoughts, feedback or any of your own tips to @hdk_assoc. (Your tweet will be one of 6,000 sent out in the next second.)

Have a fabulous festive season and a smashing start to 2016!

Young people and social media

social media treeOn November the 13th, Sophie gave a talk on ‘young people and social media’ at Sadler’s Wells, as part of the Dance Education day. It was bitter sweet – sweet because it went down very well, and sparked some interesting discussions, but sad because it was Sophie’s last day at HdK. We’ll miss you Sophie!

Here’s what she had to say:

Researching where your audiences are, allows us to explore and discover the best ways of reaching them, talking to them and encouraging them to engage with us. And not just in a promotional sense, it can also be a brilliant and crucial tool for evaluation of your show or project.

Whilst it may not be practical to use all these social networking apps within your work, it’s good to know what’s popular with young people and why, especially if you’re working with them closely – even if it’s only for something to talk about… or to understand what they’re saying! So!

Where do young people hang out online? Firstly, here are some stats for you:
The media briefing website tell us that “among the 2-17 age bracket that use the web, the top three most-visited sites are YouTube, Google and Facebook.

(Whereas for people aged 25 and over and Amazon feature in the top three.)

Boys are more likely than girls to report that they visit Facebook most often (45% of boys vs. 36% of girls). Girls are more likely than boys to say they use Instagram (23% of girls vs. 17% of boys).

Older teens ages 15 to 17 are more likely than younger teens to cite Facebook (44% vs. 35% of younger teens), Snapchat (13% vs. 8%) and Twitter (8% vs. 3%) as a most often used platform, while younger teens ages 13 to 14 are more likely than their older compatriots to list Instagram (25% vs. 17% of older teens) as a platform they visit most often.

Let’s break those platforms down a bit more:

Generation YouTube:
BBC Radio 1, who asked more than 6,000 young people aged between 18 and 24 how they get their music fix. More than eight in 10 young people are using YouTube as their primary source of music, ahead of physical CDs or even streaming from places like Spotify. So we know young people are using the platform, but how
else are they using it?

Vloggers – AKA video bloggers. Let’s look at Vlogging sensation ‘Zoella’

Zoella has 9,465,435 subscribers and 586,711,156 MILLION views since she started her channel! Those are some pretty impressive stats.

She has real influence over young people and they want what she has. They want to wear her clothes, copy her makeup techniques and use the same bath and beauty products as Zoella. The ‘short attention span generation’ will sit and watch hers (and others) videos for 20, 30, 40 minutes, transfixed, paying attention the whole way.

The fact YouTube appears on the top 3 sites visited by young people tells us that’s where they are.

Facebook remains a dominant force in teen social media. Asking young people which platforms they used most often, many reported that Facebook was the site they used most frequently. But:

“Facebook has become a social network that’s often too complicated, too risky, and, above all, too overrun by parents to give teens the type of digital freedom or release they crave.”

Young people also report it being akin to an “awkward dinner party that you can’t really leave.” They are there still, but they are a somewhat reluctant audience as other platforms creep in, offering more freedom and less advertising.

Instagram is by far the most used social media outlet for young people. Please note the verbiage there—it is the most used social media outlet. Meaning, although the most people are on Facebook, they actually post stuff on Instagram. Let’s look at it this way:

It’s not a surprise to see someone with 1500 friends on Facebook only get 25 likes on a photo yet on Instagram (where they have 800 followers) they get 253. How can it be so? Here are some reasons:

  1. You are not as pressurised to follow someone back on Instagram, meaning feeds are normally comprised of content you actually want to see
  2. The content on Instagram is usually of higher quality. People take time to edit their photos with filters, use different brightness/contrast settings (it’s even one of the steps to posting a photo), etc., to make the pictures look the best they possibly can
  3. Instagram hasn’t been flooded yet, not everyone has an Instagram) meaning it’s still “hip” and “cool” to the younger crowd
  4. People do not post 10000 times a day on Instagram. Many are much more polite about posting, either doing once a day, or a few times a week.

But, what about Twitter?
Twitter is the least-used social platform amongst young people. There is always a core group at every school that uses it very religiously to tweet and another group that uses it to simply watch or retweet. There are different reasons for this.

Twitter is a place to follow/be followed by strangers, rather than socialise with your friends, however it is not very easy to find the people you do know on there. For young people who want to be more private it’s not so good, they use Twitter like Facebook—posting with the assumption that your employer will see it one day.

Some conclusions:
For young people, tweens and teens, Instagram — and, more recently, SnapChat (an app for sending photos and videos that appear and then disappear) are the places to be – both representing the opposite of Facebook in that they are:

Simple, seemingly secret, and fun.

We hope that was useful… do let us know what you thought over on Twitter.

Using the crop tool to select a square shape

Formatting images for the web – Part 1: Cropping a larger image into a square


In this first post in a series, we look at cropping images for websites. Even with the excellent inbuilt WordPress functions, it is often better to crop images to size before uploading them to a CMS.

Photoshop is an excellent tool for cropping the image and optimising the file size for web use but many clients do not have the budget for Photoshop so this tutorial uses the free online web app Pixlr. The principals are the same whatever decent image software you use.

TIP: You must make sure the width and height of your new image is the same or larger that the desired image sizes before you start. In most instances if your image is smaller, when you stretch them to the new size the quality will be greatly compromised.

In this first example the image for the web is supposed to be a square 260 wide by 260 pixels high: the photo that needs to be cropped is 3264 wide by 1836 pixels high.

Cropping images for websites
Cropping images for websites using Pixlr

There is a creative decision to make next:

  • Can a square shape be taken that is both smaller than the height and width of the image – ie a detail of the larger picture? (See below)
  • Do you need to get as much of the picture into my square shape? (See our next post)

How to take a square from the image that is both smaller than the height and width of the image.

This is a simple process if there is enough detail in the picture that you can highlight.

Using the crop tool to select a square shape
Using the crop tool to select a square shape in the middle of your image.

Simply find the cropping tool and take a square section of the image. It doesn’t matter how big your square is at this stage as you can resize it later. Pixlr, Photoshop and other software will tell you the height and width of the area you are about to crop. When the two are the same size, release the mouse and apply the change.

TIP: If you are struggling to get the height and width to match up, try using the zoom tool in the view menu to expand the picture before you try again.

You can then use the resize function to make your image the right size (as long as it is bigger to start with). If Contrain Propoportions is ticked as soon as you change one size the other will automatically change. Save the image.

Saving the cropped image
Once resized, save the image

In the next post on the same topic, we’ll show you how tips on resizing the image to include as much of the image as possible.

Writing copy for your website? We’ve got a blog for that…

On today’s blog we’re discussing the best ways to write copy for your website. We’ve come up with some top tips to keep your audience engaged and ensure they’re taking note of what you have to say (Without telling them they’ll win £1,000,000 if they read to the end of the page…. Might work though?!)

So, how do you write copy for people that don’t want to read copy? That’s essentially what you’re doing when creating written content for web. The aim of the game is to keep those short attention spans entertained and get your reader to engage with you online. But how?

Check out HdK’s top tips:

• Make sure you keep copy short and to the point. Online users scan read for the information they are looking for. Help them the best way you can.

• Put your most important information at the top of the copy. This way the reader finds the information quicker, won’t get bored and go looking for it elsewhere.

• Keep paragraphs short. Again, your readers want to access the information they need as easily as possible. This leads us on to the next point…

• Bullet points can help people scan read. People love to be helped.

• Use descriptive hyperlinks within your text. For example, telling you to ‘Click Here to read my other blog on copy writing’ may not do the trick. But letting the reader know ‘I have more top tips for writing entertaining copy’ might intrigue the reader more.

• Use keywords to help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), but don’t overdo it! Help Google to put your website/page/blog higher in their search results. What would your target audience search for on Google? Ensure those keywords sit in your copy.

• Add tags to webpages and blogs where appropriate, these also help with Google Searches.

• Break up copy with imagery or an embedded video.


• Check, check and check again for spelling and grammar.

• Caption images with full credits, because it’s nice (and good practice AND it helps with SEO).

• Use subheadings to divide content. It allows the reader to find what they are looking for and quickly!

• One topic per paragraph. It again helps with the scan readers out there and keeps your copy to the point.

• Include internal links to help users navigate around your website, plus it keeps them on your site for longer, bonus!

• Use ‘You’ rather than ‘I’ where appropriate. Think like a radio presenter. They’re trained to talk as though to one person, it’s a good idea for you to do the same. It makes the reader feel special. Do you feel special?

• Be clear, specific and bold in your writing!

• Would someone who has no idea about the copy topic understand it? If not, simplify what you’re saying. Simples.

• Always keep your content fresh. Check regularly that your copy is in date, including up to date contact information, news and events.

And there we have it. Our top tips on writing copy for your website. Hopefully you’ll find it useful! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, @HdK_assoc, for more blogs on all things digital and the arts.

Sophie learns to write brilliant copy… Can you tell?

HdK’s Sophie pretty much reckons she is the Queen of conversation, so we thought it would be a good idea to get her down to Shoreditch House to hear Eddy Lawrence deliver a talk on ‘How to write brilliant copy’. Well, why not try and be a least a Princess on paper too?

Here is what she learnt:

Firstly, just to say, I did a quick Google search on Eddy following our copy writing session, just to prove to you guys he wasn’t any Tom, Dick or ‘Eddy’ from the streets of Shoreditch, and found this profile on him from the Guardian. “Eddy Lawrence is a copywriter with over 20 years of writing and editing experience. He has written for and edited publications including The Face, Select, Melody Maker and Jack, and even some which are still going, such as Q, NME, Shortlist and the Guardian. Eddy has also worked on the Glastonbury festival daily paper, and taught journalism as part of the Time Out Trashed outreach project during his six years as Music Editor for Time Out.” So I’m going to presume that Eddy knows what he’s talking (and writing) about.

Eddy opens his speech on Brilliant Copy Writing by claiming it’s about ‘learning to cheat at English’. As my cheating tactics usually reach about as far as demanding to be the Banker and hiding the money under the Monopoly board, I was intrigued to discover how to progress my scheming abilities.

As I’m a nice person I’m going to share with you each of Eddy’s top tips; hopefully I’ve managed to include some of them when writing this blog. Do you agree? Tweet us at @hdk_assoc.

  1. Stalk your readers

Not literally, but online. What are their needs and wants? Make sure you know where they hang out online, is it on social media networks or maybe forums? What else are they reading and talking about? How can you find a way to entertain and inform them? These are all questions you need to consider when writing copy geared towards a particular group of people. You will need to have critical authority within your writing so make sure you’re well aware of what your readers like to read and talk about, and know your stuff!

  1. Approach readers with confidence

Know what you’re talking about! Ensure you examine your subject from many angles. What difference will your writing make to your reader? The readers of your content will know if you’re not confident in your knowledge, and remember, you need to have that critical authority!

  1. Start a conversation

This is your opportunity to be the most important person in the room. Or in other words, don’t let your reader get a word in edgeways! Use your first line to grab the attention of your reader, and tell a story to keep them engaged. Story telling allows the reader to use their imagination, connecting emotion to your words. Therefore if you need them to take an action, such as buying your product or sharing your content, they will be more inclined to.

  1. Be their new best friend

Give them ‘conversation ammo’. Make your reader appear clever, funny and well informed. Think of yourself as giving ‘informational free gifts’ and your reader will reward you by sharing your content amongst their friends.

  1. Make them an offer

Offer the reader a reward for continuing to read your work. This starts with the headline. Feed in information so your reader knows what they’ll get, but don’t give too much away. Think about how you would tell your story in just one journey in a lift, that’s your brief summary. Then make sure your copy is ‘on rails’, that it’s going somewhere and finally, end with fireworks.

  1. Build suspense

Drip feed points to hold the attention of your reader for as long as you can. This way you’re high jacking the readers’ attention and their imagination and then (*BAM*) hypnotise them into agreeing with you.

  1. Good references are important

Anyone with a degree will hear the word ‘referencing’ and shudder inside. However, your credibility soars with a reliable source. Referencing allows your business to business content to be more credible, whereas dialogue from films or books can create an illusion of intimacy between you and your reader (I’ll always read anything with a Harry Potter reference!) Tapping into the imagination of your reader using specific and nostalgic references lets their imagination do the work for you.

  1. Write like Mohammed Ali, alliteration, rhyme and rhythm

Alliteration, rhyme and rhythm allow you to emphasise specific points. You can use them to aid the punchline to your piece. A variety in the length of sentences also helps to mix up your writing. Too many long sentences? Boring. Too many short sentences can be frustrating. Use the long sentences for descriptive, lyrical content. The short sentences? They back up your points with facts.

  1. Stay active

Use verbs! Give your readers’ brains a work out. Being able to imagine what their reading about will make the experience more fun, engaging and memorable. Therefore, keep your language active and trim down adjectives. Use as little words as you can.

Enjoy yourself

Find the element of copy writing that you enjoy. Is it the stalking, participating in the conversations that your articles spark, or finding a way of making your content shareable? Whatever it is, focus on that when approaching writing a new piece.

Plus we have a few more handy pointers:

Never use a word in print that you would never use in conversation. Discover a new word? Start using it in everyday life. Does it work for you? If yes, great, pop it into print, if not, put the thesaurus back down.

Talk to someone you like about your topic. Record the conversation. Look at how you structure your explanation, how you tell the story and get your points across. Now use those techniques in your writing.

What are your top pointers for writing brilliant copy? Let us know at @hdk_assoc.

Translating websites


Occasionally, our clients are interested in offering their website in multiple languages. As a result, we  signed up to a  recent talk by Pauline Eloi for Clever Boxer. Here are some of our notes from that talk combined with our own observations on how some of our own clients have managed the situation.

In Pauline’s introduction, she pointed out translation provides exposure for your brand, allowing you to speak directly to a segment of your audience.

She warned that a bad translation can harm the credibility and authority of your brand giving examples where online automated translation services can lead to embarrassing results.

Pauline split the available solutions into agencies, freelance translators, in-house translation and hybrid solutions and created a list of questions to ask yourself in order to determine which service was best for you. Questions included:

  • How many languages?
  • How many words and by when?
  • How often will you need copy translated?
  • How involved do you wish to be with the translation?
  • Is there a degree of specialism?
  • What is your budget?

Agencies are ideal when you need your website translated to multiple languages, Freelancers when specialist knowledge might be required occasionally and in house ideal for quick turn around and consistency.

Pauline introduced us to CAT tools – Computer Aided Translation which human translators may use to help with the process. SDL was the software she demonstrated. She showed how they can help with consistency particularly where content is repetitive

Although she didn’t suggest what a typical translation service might cost, she explained that level of specialism, urgency, number of repetitions can all effect the price. Prices can be set per word or per 1k words.  She pointed out that the daily output of a translator can be 1,500 to 3,500 words a day. Factor in that you should have the translations reviewed as well as a separate additional cost., the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, and Chartered Institute of Linguists are reputable places to start looking for a translator in addition to your contacts on LinkedIn and local translator associations.

Thinking back to our own clients and websites we have worked on, we are more experienced in providing ways for clients to manage translations on their website. For Span Arts we incorporated a special plug into WordPress to manage both the English and Welsh versions of copy for the site that works really well. With Cheek By Jowl, who perform across the globe and sometimes in foreign language such as Russian, they have chosen to create a few welcome translations with selected content in French, Italian, Spanish and Russian. Languages with different alphabets to our own, such as Russian, require a bit of extra coding to display the character set.


Social Media predictions for 2015

visual-social-media-web-pageSocial Media continues to grow rapidly in importance with business marketing strategies. At HdK we’re having a lot of discussions with Arts organisations about how to develop their digital strategies and embrace social media that little bit more.

Visual content continues to be the most popular form of content throughout all social platforms. It was reported at the end of 2014  that Instagram has over-taken Twitter in its popularity as the image and now short video continue to shoot upwards in popularity. Posts on Twitter and Facebook have a higher chance of engagement if they include visual content to attract attention.

My advice for 2015 is to upgrade your images to short videos. You can include up to 15 second videos on Instagram and Facebook videos are set to play automatically as you scroll down your timeline. Vine allows six seconds, with touch screen stop/start editing and Flipagram allows you to turn your favourite pictures into a short video roll. Fun videos with an impacting beginning will therefore catch your online audience attention as they scroll through their social media timelines.

Do you work in the Arts like us? Don’t forget you’ve already got amazing content right in front of your eyes. Go to rehearsals, take pictures and short videos and get them online! I recently attended a talk with dance Choreographer and Director Matthew Bourne who recently put on two celebrity galas of his current production of Edward Scissorhands at Sadler’s Wells. They were encouraged to tweet afterwards if they enjoyed the show. In the follow up to this the box office bookings soared. A few days later when the critic reviews came out the box office moved nowhere near as much. People are listening to online conversations and influential voices online far more than they are the reviews. Can you utilise this in your social media marketing?


Social Video

Peter looks at the rise of Social Video in 2014 and where it will go in 2015:

Social video has experienced an explosion in the last year and it brought forth a simultaneous explosion in user-generated video content. Last summer’s Ice Bucket Challenge saw a surplus of consumers creating video of their own, indicating the idea that everyone is able and willing to make content when it’s on behalf of a notable cause and it allows them to be part of something good.

The rise of YouTube stars will run the show as content producers in the coming years. A recent survey shows that YouTube stars are more popular with certain segments of the population than mainstream celebrities and parents with young children today have realised that the tablet rules over TV.

With the continual rise of bite-sized, social video content, longer form video content is simultaneously finding an audience online. Consumers crave authenticity and brands are seeing the value in taking them deeper into the story. The ideal length of any given YouTube video continues to be under three minutes – but consumers are willing to commit more time if there’s something worth hanging around for.

Peter Blach has been making and editing films for HdK’s clients for more than 10 years.


Peter Blach

2014? Check. Hello 2015

The new year is time to take stock of what has passed and what will be it seems. There have been so many reviews of 2014 and predictions for 2015 that I considered the best service I could offer was to review the reviews for our first post of the year.

In 2014, HdK Assoc said a sad goodbye to one of our developers, Ashe, as he went to pastures new. Good news is that he still consults for us from time to time. We also said hello to Ken and Audrius. Both have different and complementary skills that enables us to expand what we offer our clients including our first mobile phone app for the Family Arts Festival.

Trends we spotted last year included the increased amount of content creation that we do. Sophie, Peter, Ewan and myself have been making videos-a-plenty interviewing artists across the globe… well, Europe at least. And we seem to be re-purposing video content into more and more formats for different social media platforms.  In 2014 we began to feel that Social Media was a best that would devours what we fed it.  Look out for a post about film and video from Peter very soon.

For years we’ve been told to encourage interactivity on websites so we’ve been building features that allow visitors to leave reviews. But we see less and less reviews being left on websites now and more on Social Media. For a few years we’ve been integrating social media feeds directly on to websites but in 2014 we started to integrate Storify direct into the Dance Umbrella website and I think this will be the way forward for 2015.  With this method you can curates your audience feedback across different social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook into one place.

Generally, we can see, our clients have been allocating more of their budget to Social Media management and content creation in 2014 along with more for online advertising. Our clients continue to commission websites and microsites to run alongside the social media campaigns. It is true that they are simplified in terms of content but they have to work on a wider range of mobile devices.

Looking forward to 2015, and having read other people’s predictions, I think we’ll be getting more analytical about the Social Media while looking to increase our activity on platforms such as Instagram who recently made a splash in the Press about now having more active users than Twitter. Once small thing we’re starting to do is helping clients roll out twitter cards to improve their links from Twitter to their website. Fundraising is increasingly on our clients lips and we find that it is crossing over with the work we do. I predict we’ll be exploring this area more this year as we discover how Social and Digital can play its role.

So let’s see what happens in 2015. We’ll be adding a few more predictions from HdK team members over the coming days including Sophie on Social Media, Peter’s thoughts about film and Raf’s thoughts on web design.