How to be Awesome on Instagram

A few weeks ago, I posted about Vine and making videos. So I thought I should also post something about Instagram!

Instagram is a fun photo/video/social network/app that is now owned by Facebook. And it’s on 180 million people’s smartphones. That’s a lot of pics!

Some organizations and brands are using Instagram to connect with their customers, and libraries should think about using it, too. So here are some tips to get you started using Instagram for a business or organization:

  1. Master the tool. If you haven’t used Instagram, dive in and figure out what all the buttons, settings, and filters do. Which means you should start taking photos!
  2. Mix fun and business. The fun keeps people coming back, the business keeps them interested in your business
  3. Use your Instagram images in other places. Like on Facebook, Twitter, and on your website.
  4. Follow your followers! If someone follows you in Instagram, follow them back (well, unless they are an obvious spammer – they DO exist in Instagram).
  5. Follow people first. You don’t have to wait for people to follow you. Think about finding your customers and following them.
  6. Post consistently. Create a posting plan, make a schedule, and stick with it
  7. Show off your library. Take photos and videos of your stuff and your staff.
  8. Use #hashtags. Don’t go overboard, but do use relevant hashtags. Does your community have some local hashtags that are used? Find ways to use those.
  9. Run a contest or a game! Use a hashtag for people to participate. If you don’t want to do a contest, then create a game. For example, ask followers to take photos of the book they’re currently reading, and give them a hashtag to use for the posting (i.e., #fridayreads).
  10. Interact with your followers. Leave comments on their pictures, and respond to people who leave a comment on your posts.

And for some actual photo tips: I have four Instagram photo tips for you:

  1. Get close. Make sure to get as close as possible to your subject … then get a little closer still.
  2. Find quirky angles. Don’t center everything, or even necessarily follow the “rule of thirds” composition rules. Try something different.
  3. Make those colors Pop. Make them bold and bright. Remember – people are seeing tiny versions of your pics, and you want them to click on it.. So make them really vibrant, and even slightly saturated.
  4. Minimize shake by using your finger. When taking a photo in pretty much any smartphone app, an easy way to minimize shake is to touch and keep your finger on the shutter button. Then, when you’re ready to take the picture, simply take your finger off the button, and the photo is taken. This works much better than tapping the screen and potentially causing movement (which might cause blurs in the photo).

Are you using Instagram at your library? I’d love to know how – leave a comment and share!

12 Tips on Making Better Vine Videos

Are you familiar with Vine? It’s an iPhone and Android video app that makes 6-second videos. With Vine, you can watch videos, follow other Vine video makers, and easily share your videos on other social networks like Twitter (Twitter owns Vine).

And … Vine is one of a handful of new, popular, visual social tools. Others in this category would include Instagram and Snapchat.

Vine has the potential to be a really powerful and fun medium when used well! So – first, go watch a bunch of Vine videos to get a feel for what can be accomplished. Done? OK. Now, let’s talk about using it well.

Here are 12 tips (that’s like 2 tips a second in Vine mode!) for making better Vine Videos:

  1. Plan, practice, reshoot. I know – planning and practicing seems pretty silly, right? I mean, it’s only 6 seconds – what’s to plan? Quite a bit! You have six seconds to get your idea across, share a joke, or show something off. So planning it out and doing one practice run might be useful. Then reshoot it until you’re happy with the video. There is no edit button.
  2. Share one thing. You want to make sure your main idea is communicated in six seconds. So no introductions. Just do the one thing you want to communicate, and get to the point fast.
  3. Good lighting is important. As always in video, even six second video, lighting is important. Vine videos are created on your phone, so you don’t necessarily need to set up a lot of fancy professional lights for that six second video. Just shoot outside, by a lamp, or by a window.
  4. Audio is HUGE. Arguably, the most important thing in a video isn’t what you see. It’s what you hear. That means you need good audio! Try using your headphone mic (iPhones come with with a mic/earbud combo – do Android phones? Not sure). Or get one of those “made for iPhone” mics, like the i-Microphone.
  5. Think in scenes. Don’t make one big, boring, six second scene unless it’s a beautiful waterfall, or you have discovered a Sasquatch in the wilderness. Otherwise, make multiple quick scenes, multiple angles, etc. You can break up your sentences, too. Speak one phrase, then lift off your finger, shift position, and then say the next phrase.
  6. Use another lens. Have a clip-on lens? Use them. I have an Olloclip lens that gives my iPhone a fisheye, macro, and wide-angle lens. They work for Vine videos, too!
  7. Shoot through something else. You can get some pretty cheesy effects by shooting through semi-transparent things. Shoot through see-through cloth, water, a foggy window, your glasses, etc.
  8. Animation – try it out. Animation is fun, and really easy to do on Vine. Just quickly touch and let go, and you have one “frame” of an animation. Usually animation is about 10-24 frames per second, so … this will be a little time-consuming, even for six seconds. But you can quickly move something around on a table, touch your Vine screen a lot, and see what you get. Make sure to use Vine’s Ghost mode for stop-motion animation, and think about using your phone in Airplane mode. You don’t want to be interrupted mid-way through!
  9. Fun effects. Want music? Turn on the radio or have someone play beside you. Sound effects? Same thing – have someone do them off-camera. Visual gags and effects can be done easily by stopping the video, changing out a prop, and starting the video up again. Experiment and see what you can come up with.
  10. Talk to another video. One funny thing I’ve seen done is talking to a famous person via a Youtube video. The on-camera person might ask a question, then have someone else “answer” the question using something they said in a Youtube video.
  11. Hands-free mode. Apparently, you can swipe left to right at the bottom of the recording screen in Vine, and the video will record in hands-free mode. I haven’t gotten that to work. But you can also set up an assistive touch gesture on an iPhone.
  12. Use hashtags. This will help other Vine users find your video.

Useful Vine Video links:

Finally – follow me on Vine! I’m davidleeking on Vine.

One Difference between Twitter and Facebook

Somebody recently asked me about Twitter for their library (which lead to my last post and this one). As I was answering her question about social media strategy, I said (a version of) this:

Facebook is a bit more conducive to “branded conversations.” Facebook can be highly visual, and the conversations are a bit more contained and threaded (i.e., comments and likes go underneath the actual post). If you’re not into one conversation, move to the next.

Twitter, on the other hand, is just the raw conversation as it happens. Sure, it can be visual and sorta-kinda threaded now, but it’s still (in my mind, anyway) pretty much real-time text-based conversation.

What’s that mean? For Facebook, you can insert some branded, “market-y” stuff, and not really bother anyone (as long as you have other content too!). It’s expected.

But with Twitter, if an organization starts sounding market-y – if they are mainly using Twitter as a broadcast tool to push out their programs and services – those tweets will stick out like a sore thumb.

That’s a great way to be ignored – fast – on Twitter.

Megaphone pic by Gene Han

 

One Library’s Twitter Strategy

My library has been doing a few different things with our Twitter account the last couple of years, and have finally settled on a Twitter strategy to try for the next 6 months or so.

Who’s connecting with us? Our Twitter followers tend more towards marketers, advertisers, start-up business types, the “activist/we get stuff done” types in town, the 20-40 year old business up-and-comers, and a lot of media types (broadcast, newspaper, and some radio journalists). And a bunch of young geeks.

We are focusing on this type of content:

  • What’s interesting (to the library) right now and why?
  • Library “breaking news”
  • No big sell – share what the library finds interesting
  • Be yourself, be casual, but at the same time remember you represent the library
  • Friend our customers and local businesses
  • In general, try for friendly and helpful, but not pushy.

Posting schedule: We post multiple times a day, every day. We have seven staff members assigned, one on each day. I’m the floater/substitute for when people are sick, on vacation, etc. And I monitor activity, answer the harder questions, and make sure we’re on-target.

How will we know if we succeed? I will measure growth and engagement via the new-fangled Twitter analytics!

That’s our plan. What’s your organization’s Twitter strategy?

Pic by Jeff Turner

10 Trends Shaping how Content is Consumed Today – #BEA2013

Wow – the Book Expo America conference was busy and exhausting! I’m finally getting a chance to share some notes from some of the sessions I attended.

The first one comes from the final keynote at the BEA Bloggers conference (I was on the advisory board for this). Randi Zuckerberg talked – yes, Mark the Facebook guy’s sister. She has some interesting things to say about content:

10 trends shaping how content is consumed today:

1. You are more than what you write. People want to know the person behind the writing. Your passions. Show the messy, human side of your life.

2. Brands as media companies. We are all media companies. Example – Red Bull can function like an NBC, because they can post articles, journalist-style interviews, videos, etc.

3. Enhanced media. Starting to see that people will pay for what they love, even premium content online. Ed tech as example. I’ll also add Youtube’s recent threat to charge for premium content.

4. More signal, less noise. When we curate content, that’s a really useful thing for our readers. Those “what did you miss this week” lists from some blogs are a good example.

5. Images speak louder than words. Instagram, Pinterest, etc. let customers post pics. Or find your photo on Facebook, and tag it.

6. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur. She’s starting to see things like small startups within large companies. “Evangelist” jobs, etc.

7. The @ reply is the new autograph. Talking to fans makes them feel special – like when an author or “known person” replies to you via Twitter. Facebook chats, too.

8. Gameification of everything. Apply game mechanics to everything. She used the Gym Shamed app as an example – if you don’t go to the gym, it blasts out how lazy you were to all your friends. Or a scale that tweets your weight. There’s apparently a clock that donates your money to charity every time you hit snooze.

9. Video for everything. Newsrooms use Vine to show personality, or behind the scenes glimpses. Live stream from the fashion model out to an audience.

10. Etiquette and digital detox. How do I manage my professional digital reputation? How much screen time is too much for my kid? Not really tech tuff, but more modern living. Step away from the computer type stuff.

Interesting talk!