Influencer Pressure: The Good Kind of Peer Pressure

With so many ever-evolving platforms, comes so many users, and with so many users comes a tremendous amount of influencers – influencers that a majority of users aren’t even aware of.

Fortunately for the Bon-Ton department stores, they have such a wide variety of audiences to reach. I say “fortunately” because with a wider target audience, the wider the options, and the more influencers they have to choose from to use to their advantage in order to best and most organically promote their products.

 

Asking a millennial who is obsessed with all social media, especially Instagram, to discover some strong influencers for Bon-Ton was the easiest, most appealing task that a professor could’ve asked of me.

The target audience that I chose to discover influencers for was women whose posts revolve around health, cooking and the overall facets of a happy lifestyle.

My top five influencers are as follows (in no particular order):

1.) Kristin Cavallari (@kristincavallari)

Bio: Wife, mother, jewelry & shoe designer, NY Times best selling author, True Roots cookbook out spring 2018

Number of Followers: 2.6 Million

Posts:

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Why?: Kristin would be the absolutely perfect large-scale influencer for Bon-Ton because of how well-rounded she is. When first looking at her page, she has this soft, pastel tone that runs through all of her posts, making her account and posts attractive and consistent. She also incorporates a little of everything in her life into all of her posts, which is wonderful for Bon-Ton because she’s primarily focused on living and a healthy, happy and fashionable lifestyle.

2.) Rosanna Pansino (@rosannapansino)

Bio: Make it sweet to be yourself 🍭 🍪 Creator of @NerdyNummies 🐥 Twitter: RosannaPansino ▶️ YouTube.com/RosannaPansino 👇 Newest video! youtu.be/YQ1YNjV7IY8

Number of Followers: 2.5 Million

Posts:

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Why?: Rosanna could be another incredible large-scale influencer for Bon-Ton! A majority of her posts are focused on her baked goods, but she also does an amazing job at ensuring that a variety of other aspects of her life are represented as well. Whether that be her fun and cuddly posts with her dogs, sporty posts showing her yoga health lifestyle, or her getting creative with her friends. No matter what the post may be, she is always wearing such a cute outfit that is true to her identity, which is why I think she’d be a perfect influencer to promote Bon-Ton clothing items because she emphasizes her outfits very subtly, while still being one of the focuses.

3.) Colleen Gallagher (@colleengallagher_)

Bio: Founder of @TheFitGal Health – Life & Style Blogger Twitter/Snap: @ColleenGal Nashville, TN 📍 www.thefitgal.com/programs

Number of Followers: 37.8k

Posts:

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Why?: Colleen is another incredibly well-rounded influencer that Bon-Ton would benefit greatly from. She is a young woman that is fit, hip and happy! Her posts primarily contain her fashion lifestyle, along with her healthy/workout lifestyle, including her posts at the gym, as well as her healthy, home cooked meals. All of her posts have inspirational captions, allowing her followers to feel inspired to be, dress and act like her, which is exactly what Bon-Ton is essentially looking for through their influencers.

4.) Addie Martanovic (@chickpeainthecity)

Bio: health+wellness | yoga+spin 🙏🏻 #chickpeatravels ✈️ taco lover, coffee drinker. ✨ i call chicago home. 🌙 💌 addiemartanovic@gmail.com chickpeainthecity.org/finding-passion-purpose-and-soul-in-45-minutes

Number of Followers: 45k

Posts:

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Why?: Addie is, in my humble opinion, one of the absolute greatest influencers on Instagram, and is someone that I have been following for a very long time. She’s actually just a typical college student at Loyola Chicago University, but she’s extremely passionate about living and a happy and healthy lifestyle. Whether that be through her promotions of new foods, new yoga apparel, or new places to visit! She would be a great option for Bon-Ton because she’s very different than any other type of influencer. She’s young and she’s constantly expressing her openness to new things. She is incredibly active on Instagram stories as well, which is where she could capture her live shopping experience at a Bon-Ton department store. Addie’s positivity radiates to her followers, and like Colleen, she would very easily inspire her followers to purchase what she has – I know I have before!

5.) Health Beauty Fitness

Bio: info@hbfit.com hbfit.com/wedding-prep-with-hannah-planning-priorities

Number of Followers: 58.6k

Posts:

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Why?: Although there is no one designated individual being captured throughout this Instagram page, I think that’s something that Bon-Ton could really benefit from – page’s like this that bring in a variety of identities at once, allowing for a better chance for their followers and buyers to feel “influenced” enough to purchase a Bon-Ton product. This page provides a wide variety of types of posts, which again, is something that Bon-Ton could really take advantage of to ensure that they’re hitting as much of their target audience as possible, and more!

 

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Chicago and Food: Name a Better Dynamic Duo…I’ll Wait.

Chicago, food and Instagram: these are a few of my favorite things.  So, why not combine them all and do some research and figure out the best Chicago food related things on Instagram?

My infographic demonstrates the top restaurants in Chicago according to their popularity, or the number of times they’ve been geotagged on Instagram, the top Chicago food accounts according to their number of followers, and the top Chicago food related hashtags according to the number of posts they’ve been tagged in on Instagram.

I’ve lived 20 minutes Northwest of Chicago my entire life and I was very surprised by the top restaurants in Chicago. Of the top five restaurants, I’ve only heard of and been to two of them, Au Cheval and Homeslice. That said, I’ve made it my new personal goal to go and eat at the other three!

I also follow over 15 food accounts on Instagram (I told you, I love food), and among those 15+ accounts, I only have heard and follow @ChicagoFoodAuthority, so naturally, I immediately followed all of the others, and I must say, I’m already impressed and drooling at their pictures!

10/10 would recommend to check out all of these places, accounts and hashtags! Thanks, Instagram!

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The Power of a Sponsored Instagram Ad

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Being a millennial who is studying and has interned in the advertising industry, the conversation of sponsored Instagram advertisements is nothing new. Some people hate them, some people love them, but with anything in life, you can’t please everyone, right?

Personally, I really hated them at first. They weren’t geared towards my interests, so they just became a nuisance to my feed.

But after Instagram finally settled on a working algorithm for the ads, I actually found myself accidentally liking the pictures and even going to the brand’s page and following them.

The sponsored advertisement pictured above was mixed in with my feed earlier today. And like a majority of the other sponsored ads in my feed, it made sense.

If I had to guess the primary objective of this ad was, I think it’s pretty obvious. The Silk brand came out with a new product, targeted towards a specific demographic, and through a simple picture and caption, they’re encouraging Silk consumers to buy and try it.

In regards to the specific demographic, they’re targeting women who live a healthy life-style, and even more specific, a dairy free lifestyle. They’re also targeting individuals who are already Silk consumers.

As Facebook Ads Guide explains, the second most important piece of an ad is that your business name is the most prominent aspect of the picture, and that is very much the case with the above ad. The Silk name is the first thing you see, no matter how fast or slow you’re scrolling through your feed, Silk made the wise decision of making their name the most important part of the picture because even if you saw the Silk name for half a second, and you’re a Silk consumer, you’re going to stop scrolling to focus on the product.

Silk continued with their strong decision making and created a simple caption, with a simple image. It’s simple, but the brightness and the colors used in the image aren’t overwhelming, but they are very attractive to a consumers eye.

Truthfully, I think Silk nailed it on the head with this ad. Because I’m a consumer who is a woman who lives a healthy lifestyle (well, as healthy as you can be in college…), this ad jumped right out at me. Due to the copious amounts of healthy food accounts that I follow, this ad blended right into my feed, and I would absolutely be willing to try this product.

Fake News: The Greatest Oxymoron

“I find it ironic that I have to talk about journalism, because I don’t know jack shit about journalism…never studied it”

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This is the first thing that Scott Dikkers said to his audience of 100+ at the Burleigh Media Lecture, and to be honest, it perfectly encapsulates his entire story of becoming the founder of The Onion, a newspaper that delivers fake news.

When Dikkers bought The Onion for a whopping $3,000, he became the sole responsibility for filling 8-12 pages of news a week, which, for anyone, is an extremely challenging task to take on. Luckily, Dikkers had plenty of people volunteering to work for Dikkers for free, and eventually, they started getting paid $5/week to create one article each week.

Dikkers didn’t really have much of a strategy when it came to hiring writers. As he explained, “we didn’t search high and low, we just searched low,” and low is exactly what he got. Majority of his staff came in high, drunk, on anti-depressants, or all of the above. Little did he know that over time, these fake news writers would become some of the best writers in the country. The Onion writers have won more awards than the New York Times, and eventually went on to win a plethora of Emmy’s.

As one could only imagine, Dikkers ran into a variety of ethical dilemmas; the phrase “I’m going to sue you out of existence” became a dear friend to Dikkers. That phrase and the variety of other threats that he received never scared him, though.

As time went on, Dikkers became more confident in his writers, and The Onion really began settling into its own voice. Because the writers were always striving to make one issue better than the next, they settled on the fact that they wanted The Onion to be a serious, yet funny AP parody style newspaper with a satirical voice. After The Onion settled into its own identity as a “news source,” the fake news world really took off.

With the rise of fake news sources, comes the rise of social media presence. Because more and more people depending on the Internet and social media to gather their news, our society becomes very easily overwhelmed and convinced by what we read.

Dikker explains that we are easily convinced to believe everything that we hear because “we all agree with information that is agreeing with our own bias…we like things that aren’t true, we almost prefer them.” Now, who can’t agree with that?

How much politics is “too much” politics?

Where to begin with the Super Bowl advertisements?

I will admit that trying to watch the Super Bowl, while also monitoring Twitter wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but was well worth it.

I don’t think it’s any secret that everything from Lady Gaga’s halftime performance to a handful of the commercial advertisements were criticized for being “too political,” but considering the unfortunate divided nation that we’re currently living in, I think it’s going to be pretty impossible to not incorporate politics into almost everything, especially when it comes to business.

However, I do think it’s important to recognize the fact that FOX was very particular on their political limits when it came to accepting or turning away submitted commercials.

84 Lumber, the brand that received the most commentary, especially on Twitter, was transparent with their followers and respectfully answered the million dollar question that every Super Bowl viewer had, explaining why they cut their commercial off:

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After following 84 Lumber closely on Twitter during the remainder of the Super Bowl and for 24 hours after,  I believe that 84 Lumber did an incredible job responding to both the positive and negative tweets.

Not only did 84 Lumber take the time to respond to hundreds of tweets, the company had transparent and consistent messages, they didn’t pick and choose to respond to only the positive tweets, and what most stood out to me, they responded to tweets in the same language that was tweeted to them. For example:

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In regards to their consistent messages to followers tweets, 84 Lumber killed the game. To the people who complimented their work and thanked and praised them, 84 Lumber kindly thanked each and every one of them. To those that didn’t agree with the commercial’s message, 84 Lumber replied back with the same exact message (below). Through this subtle but effect, consistent and simple messaging and branding, I have gained a whole new respect for a company that I had never even heard of before the Super Bowl.

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I gotta hand it to a variety of other brands like T-Mobile, who also did a great job responding to their followers on Twitter, but I think 84 Lumber takes the cake this Super Bowl.

Only 362 more days till the next Super Bowl, but who’s counting, right?

 

A Day in the Life of a Millennial

  • 8:30am: Refusing to accept the fact that I can no longer sleep any longer unless I want to be late, I roll over, shut my obnoxious alarm off, and unlock my phone. I go through all of my apps that have a notification and check those first. Usually a bunch of spam email, and then some late night snaps that I missed. I’m very OCD about keeping my phone notification free, so that’s why I go to those first, and then I head to Instagram because it’s so easy to easily scroll through my feed and catch up on all of the pictures I missed while sleeping (cause there’s always so many good Instagram’s at 3:00am?).
  • 8:36am: After spending a solid 5-6 minutes catching up on what I missed, I roll out of bed, walk to my bathroom and open Spotify. I move very slow in the morning and I’ve realized that having one of Spotify’s morning playlists play while I get ready jump starts my energy and gets me moving a little quicker. Some people resort to coffee right when they wake up, I resort to Spotify. To each their own, right?
  • 9:15am: During my walk to class, I continue flipping through Spotify and queuing up the perfect songs for the mood that I’m in, which, considering it was cloudy and kind of rainy/snowy and the fact that I’m not a morning person (but who is in college?), I was in a “Lumineers” kind of mood.
  • 9:26am: As we all sit around waiting for our teacher to arrive, I open up Snapchat to see what’s happened since I last opened it, and again, continuing with the OCD, I’m one of those people that has to clear all of the mystory’s. After tapping through those for a minute, I open up Instagram to check for any new pictures or Instagram stories. I’m not a huge fan of the story aspect on Instagram, but when I’m super bored with nothing else to do, I tap through those, and the first picture I opened up was of guac…see below and I hope you had the same reaction I did.

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  • 10:47am: Class gets out and me and every other student pull out our phones as we exit the room to catch up, of course. This time I went to Facebook because I had 2 notifications so I cleared those, and then went to home feed to see what memes have been posted and which of my family members had posted pictures because those are typically the only two things that are present on my timeline. Then I tapped through all my mystory’s because, duh, gotta clear them all. But when I say clear them, I do watch them, some more intently than others, but I just need it cleared. Then I went to send a mass snap to all of my friends – a stupid one of me with the new bunny filter on.
  • 1:32pm: After running around at work and getting things done for my boss and socializing with my coworkers, socializing without technology I might add, I finally got to check social media. I opened Snapchat to 6 snaps, so naturally I replied to the ones that intended a response, and then swiped right over to mystory’s. Cleared those and headed to my next class.
  • 3:16pm: During my 45-minute break between classes, I head to the law library and get some homework done. During this time, I also flip back and forth between homework and Facebook on my laptop because I enjoy looking at Facebook much more on a bigger screen, honestly, not sure why?
  • 3:47pm: During my walk to my final class of the day, I open up Snapchat, respond to my friends snaps and then send a snap of my feet walking to class with the caption: “Can I go home now?” and then check out all the mystory’s. I close out of Snapchat after about two minutes and scroll through my Instagram feed, and pausing my scroll every time I look up to 1.) make sure I’m not running into anyone, and 2.) make sure I don’t miss a post.
  • 5:30pm: After getting home from class and charging my phone, I check Snapchat, tap through the mystory’s, and send a mass snap to my friends of me under my bed covers with the caption: “dead.” Then I scroll through Instagram, liking a bunch of pictures and tagging my friend Courtney in at least four meme posts.
  • 8:15pm: After waking up from my excessively long nap, I do my usual to catch up with what everyone is doing: open Snapchat, look at the snaps from my friends, respond to some, tap through all the mystory’s, exit Snapchat, open Instagram, like a bunch of pictures and tag people in relatable memes, exit Instagram.
  • 9:18pm: After watching an episode of Shameless, which is one of those shows where you can’t have any distractions, especially social media, because not only do you need to be paying attention, you want to be paying attention. Yes, it’s that good.
  • 7:48am: After realizing how truly tired I was that I fell asleep while watching Shameless (guess I’ll have to watch that episode again), I woke up freaking out, thinking that I had somewhere to be. Nope. It’s Friday. No class, no work, no responsibilities. But since I was up and my heart was racing too fast for me to go back to sleep right away, I opened Facebook to clear the three notifications that I had. Then I opened Snapchat and looked at the 4 snaps that my friends had sent me, and then looked through all of the mystory’s of my friends out and about, while I was sleeping…not sorry or mad about it. Sleep > everything else. Below is one of the snaps that my friend had sent me from earlier that morning when she was going to work. I hope you at least get a small chuckle out of it because I certainly did.

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After completing the 24-hour social media diary, I began to realize that I subconsciously didn’t go on social media as much as I usually do and I think that was because I was being self-monitored. I think that part of me didn’t want to actually realize and admit to myself how dependent I am on social media, especially in regards to keeping up with everyone.

As a millennial, I will happily admit that I am extremely dependent on social media, sometimes almost too dependent. Although we have texting and calling, social media just creates such a unique and fun way to communicate with people. My personal favorite is Snapchat. As stated earlier, I was subconsciously trying to avoid being so active on the platforms, but normally, I am snapping where I am and what I’m doing all the time to my top 10 best friends on Snapchat, and usually will add it to my own mystory as well.

I’ve been asked the following question on many occasions: How would your life be different without social media? And honestly, my answer is the same every time – I have no idea. I grew up through this excitement and obsession with technology and I fell very deep into it all. So, because I grew into this lifestyle, it all seems so normal for me, so without it, I truly have no idea how my life would be different, other than the fact that I know I wouldn’t enjoy it.

 

8 Brands with the Best Content Marketing

According to the Content Marketing Institute, these are the top 8 brands with the best content marketing strategies:

  • IBM

Because IBM is a technical company, they need to have technical content, and they        implement that through their many different blogs. They are a company that is trusted by millions, and reaches millions of people in different technological facets of life. A few examples of their different blogs are: Citizen IBM, Building a Smarter Planet: A Smarter Planet Blog, IBM Software Blog, SocialBusiness Insights Blog, IBM Impact Blog: Promoting Discussion and Perspectives.

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  • Hootsuite

Hootsuite “lets you do more with social media.” Their video that they created, capturing the success of Game of Thrones went viral, particularly because they   understood that many of those in Hootsuite audience like Game of Thrones, and immediately connected with the video. Hootsuite advises other brands, even if they’re technical (like IBM), to have some fun! Create some non-serious, light content for your brand!

  • Buffer

As a social-sharing service, Buffer gets it, they know how to get their posts spread            across many platforms, many times! They’re advice on creating shareable content:

  • Don’t forget about killer content
  • Ask for shares
  • Put out your information strategically
  • Use subtle cues to further advance sharing
  • Have social fans!

“Promote the heck out of your content. Social sharing is just as valuable as creating the content itself.” – Neil Patel, Content Marketing Institute

  • Microsoft

The biggest thing that Microsoft has going for them is STORYTELLING! When a company can tell a good, compelling story, they will, without a doubt, gain any and all of the attention that they’re looking for. Two big things to remember when creating god stories for your brand is to stay humble and stay relevant.

  • McDonald’s

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert called McDonald’s content “the best example of             content marketing ever…could be the start of a cultural change that impacts every      business.” They reviewed 450 question on their website everyday, and answered   more than 10,000 of them. Could you ask for a better, more transparent customer service?

  • Disney

Disney specializes in being magical; they promote magical lifestyles. They invite people into their magical world through their blogs, and it works, people become hooked!

  • HubSpot

HubSpot’s “inbound marketing” strategy is what sets them apart from everyone   else. Inbound marketing “turns strangers into customers and promoters of your business.” Their blog page is constantly being filled with hourly posts with creative content; HubSpot has a lot of things to say and create, but more importantly, they have quality things to say and create.

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  • GoPro

As we all already know, GoPro is all about the visual content. My favorite part about GoPro’s content is that they don’t show-off their products, but rather they get their content from their customers using their products…it’s genius.

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lululemon knows why.

When asked to think of a company that understands why they exist, I didn’t hesitate to think of lululemon athletica.

lululemon athletica just gets it; they know why they exist, and they carry that out through every one of their services.

I became a fan of lululemon, and genuinely began to understand, and more importantly, appreciate what they stand for, ever since I got to college, three years ago.

They’re a brand that goes far beyond their products; their loyal customer base is why they exist. They are a company that truly sticks to their mission statement:

Creating components for people to live longer, healthier, fun lives.

In fact, a few months ago, I had an issue with a pair of lululemon leggings, and the entire issue could not have been solved any smoother or more professional; it’s a story that I share anytime lululemon comes into conversation (which is more than you’d think…especially with college students).

A few months ago, I noticed a very small hole in my favorite pair of leggings, actually the first pair of lululemon leggings I ever had…so this was basically a travesty for the basic white girl that I am.

I had heard how great their customer service was, so I put it to the test. I tweeted a picture of the hole to their official Twitter account, and explained how upset I was, and within minutes they slid into my DM’s (directly messaged me).

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After messaging back and forth for a few minutes, they provided me with their customer service number that I ended up calling a few days later.

The woman on the phone could not have been nicer. She gathered some personal information from me, as well as information regarding the pants, and emailed me the return label while we were still on the phone, in order for me to ship my pants back to their warehouse…for free.

I had my dad, who works for FedEx (#blessed), ship my pants back for me, and exactly two weeks later, I received an electronic gift card from lululemon for $92. Naturally, I bought a new pair of leggings within 5 minutes of getting the gift card…it felt like Christmas morning.

lululemon gets it; they know why.

Take note people!

Twitter is your friend!

I was a big fan of Twitter in high school; I basically tweeted everyday (nothing academically related, just your classic high school tweets, such as: “Omg it’s game day! #FridayNightLights). But that love for Twitter started to dwindle away in college as Instagram became more popular, and became my new social media obsession (still is).

When we were first assigned to make 21 tweets throughout a 7-week time span, I chuckled under my breath because I thought, “Wow this will be the easiest assignment ever…free, easy points!” Yeah….no.

Because I was out of the Twitter game for about a year and a half before this assignment, my everyday, natural instinct that I had in high school to check Twitter and tweet at least five times a day had vanished during this assignment.

That said, honestly, I hated this assignment, I just felt forced to do something that really didn’t interest me.

But as much as I hated it, I am very thankful for the lesson that it taught me.

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We are college students, most of whom will be graduating within the next few years, which means we’re adults and soon enough we are really going to start having to act like it, which includes being up-to-date on world news, as well as news relating to our field of study.

This assignment taught me how much information and news is being disseminated every single day (and how much I am missing out on), but even further, it taught me that being up-to-date and “in the know” with your news, doesn’t have to be boring.

You choose who you want to follow on Twitter, such as AdAge or CNN, so it’s the best possible platform to get your news from because you’re not being thrown information at you that you don’t care about; it’s truly genius. It also makes getting your news more “fun,” if you will, because it’s interactive, and even if the account you tweeted at doesn’t reply, Twitter is still stimulating deeper thoughts beyond what is presented to you in the tweet or an attached article.

So, thank you Mame for this assignment; I may have disliked it, but I definitely learned something from it.

How Can Your Company’s Content Stand Out in 2016?

In one of my previous posts, I explained that one of the keys to success in regards to content marketing is understanding your audience and truly creating your content for them, based on their needs, wants, and passions.

Although I believe that to be one of the major keys to success, there is SO much more to the success behind content marketing. An article titled “7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Reign Supreme in 2016” from jeffbullas.com lays out a few more keys to success, for those looking to stand out in the digital world. Jeff Bullas is the world’s #1 Content Marketing Influencer, Social Media Marketing Strategist & Speaker.

Trend #1: The magic of user-generated content

As companies try to build and maintain customer loyalty, it’s imperative to understand that their target consumers are 70% more likely to refer to User Generated Content (UGC), such as reviews and recommendations from other consumers than the company’s professionally written content.

Trend #2: Zero in on interactive storytelling

I think that the best way to describe this section is as Jeff Bulla states: “They demand content in which they can get involved, without feeling targeted. They seek a visual story that’s powerful and out of the box.” The best way to connect with your audience, and ultimately allow them remember you, is through great, compelling stories.

Trend #3: Episodic content is a must-have

The best way to keep your audience your audience engaged in your company is by strategically disseminating your content over a period of time; this will subconsciously lead your consumers back to your content time and time again.

Trend #4: Try personalizing your content

We are surrounded by hundreds of different types of content every single. It’s gotten to the point that we don’t even recognize it anymore because it’s just become apart of our lifestyle. If your company has the opportunity, more importantly the budget, to create different content for each of your target audiences…DO IT!

Trend #5: Select social media for content distribution

92% of marketers reported using social media as a primary component of their marketing strategy in 2015. More social media platforms being created means an increase in opportunity to reach your target market. Companies need to study their audience, know which platform their audience is primarily using, and put content there!

Trend #6: Content marketing and SEO go hand in hand

The article said it best: “SEO and content marketing complement each other. Content marketing fulfills the demand created by SEO…Who doesn’t want to be on the first page of any search engine?

Trend #7: Budgets will skyrocket

Creating content good content that is engaging and effective isn’t cheap, and it’s certainly not going to get cheaper; content marketing budgets are going to see a significant increase in 2016.