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!

Photojojo Lenses on an iPhone

I recently purchased some iPhone photo/video lenses from Photojojo, and wanted to show you what they do to iPhone video.

I bought the 3 lens bundle, which includes a wide angle/macro lens, a telephoto lens, and a fisheye lens. They actually work pretty well. Watch my video to see the three lenses in action (along with my trusty iMicrophone).

Do you use your smart phone to take videos or photos? Check the lenses out.

Photo Permissions at the Library

Photo 6A couple of weeks ago, Jessamyn over at posted about her experience with photo permissions at a library she was visiting. Interesting story – make sure to read the comments!

That reminded me that my  library recently redid our photo permission policy. Like many libraries, our previous photo policy required us to get everyone appearing in the photos to sign-off before we could use the photo … which was pretty hard to do. We ended up not taking many photos!

So, a group of us (admin, me, and a some of our marketing team) met with our lawyer to get some clarification … and ended up with a more flexible, modern photo permissions guidelines!

Here’s what we do now (reposted from our staff website):

A recent conversation with the library’s attorney led to some changes in how we proceed with taking pictures and/or video of our library customers. We hope this encourages more photographing and videotaping of library moments and publishing of them online.

When Do We Need to Use Photo Permission Forms?

For Models. For example, say you bring in your child, grandkid, cousin, friend, etc. and shoot photos of him or her, he or she is acting as a model and needs to sign a photo permission form.

For Close-ups. For example, you are holding a program. You take a close-up photo of one child because you love the expression on that child’s face. You need that child (or his or her parent in this case) to sign a photo permission form.

When Do I Not Need to Use the Form?

At programs held at the library. Want to take pictures at your program? Now it’s easier than ever. (yeah! no more backs-of-heads shots!) In lieu of photo permission forms, programers will need to announce at the beginning of each program that “the library may photograph or videotape you for library promotional purposes. Notify library staff if you do not want to be photographed.” HOWEVER,  if you zoom in for a close-up on one particular person in a large group, you will still need to get a photo permission form signed from that person.

In addition, Communications/Marketing has placed the following announcement in Oct./Nov.‘s connectnow, where it will be published with each edition. That does not mean you can neglect to make the announcement at the beginning of each program.

“Programs, events and classes are photographed or videotaped for library promotional purposes. Notify library staff if you prefer not to be photographed.”

That is not to take the place of the official announcement at the beginning of each event.

So – much easier paperwork for us (as in almost none). Also, this allows us to walk around the library and take random shots that we can use on our website, etc. This of course just applies to library staff. Patrons can take photos in our library – no problems. If they are setting up a formal photo session (we have that once in awhile) or if they are local news organizations, they need to talk to our head of marketing and communications first.

That’s what we do, anyway. What types of permissions does your library need for photographs at the library?