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.

Your slides aren’t the presentation

I sometimes see/hear a presenter who, though they probably don’t realize this, ends up talking in outline form. They’re looking at their outline that’s up on the screen, and they don’t even read the whole screen – instead, they summarize the words of their outlined slide … and end up sounding like a rough-draft outline of their presentation.

Remember this – your presentation is not the slides. And believe me – I spend a lot of time on my slides, to make them as attractive as possible, sometimes to make them funny, and always to have them relate to what I want to say. I DO think slides are important – they work great at conveying information visually.

But I have also realized that the actual presentation is me – it’s the words I say. Even if I’m summarizing something on the screen – I still need to speak clearly, in complete sentences, with a good explanation. A story that summarizes what’s on the screen is even better.

Just something to think about if you present.