Tag Archives: Instagram

Let’s Get Visual!

I’m going to tell you the worst-kept secret that you already know. Nobody likes to read anything anymore. Well, not anything that is just a wall of text. We’re all guilty of scanning a document instead of reading every word or sharing an article after just reading the headline. Nobody is proud of it, but with the sheer bulk of content that is produced everyday, we have to get through all of it somehow.

All of the most digestible information we encounter now has enormous visual pieces coupled with it. Think of every infographic you read, every photo with a caption, and video you can play while multitasking. You learn much more from these visually captivating pieces than from walls of text similar to this post (but I’m breaking up this content with pictures, so bear with me).

Social media provides a great platform for watching how people consume information. We started off with blogs that were hundreds––if not thousands––of words long. We then moved to Facebook, cutting people’s word count by at least half, and then to Twitter, keeping our count to 140 characters or less. Now, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr are allowing for content sans words, replaced by images, audio, and visual communication.

But just because we are truncating what we write, does that make it more effective? It sure seems that way. Here are some stats:

  • 44% of social media users are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures (as opposed to other types of media)
  • Facebook photos get at least 7x more likes than links do
  • Pinterest, a completely visual social media channel, has grown by 6000% in the last 8 months
  • Images are the most clicked-on content on Twitter
  • Recruiters spend more time looking at a user’s LinkedIn profile picture than anything else
  • More than 6 billion hours of YouTube videos are being watched per month
  • Flipboard, a visual news app, was the #1 application when the iPad launched
  • Images are processed 60,000x faster than text by the human brain

So are you prepared? Content is still king, and visual content requires originality and thought. Make sure everything you post has something engaging to look at.  Visuals will cut through regular marketing speak, and original visuals can even stand out from other media of the same ilk. So charge your smartphone and grab your camera––you have some work to do!

Author: Zack Smith


Facebook News Feed Redesign

The great Facebook overlords have struck again. On March 7, it was announced that the News Feed section of a user’s Facebook page would be getting a redesign in the next couple of months. The third and final change promised in 2011, the News Feed redesign follows the introduction of Timeline and Graph Search.

Personally, I think the redesign of the News Feed is long overdue. As soon as Timeline was rolled out, the two layouts never matched up in design or function. Timeline was a complete overhaul of the previous layout, now favoring visual media over everything else. While that was great for individual user profiles, the separate News Feed to view everyone else’s content did not share that aesthetic. It was still clunky, text-heavy, and reminiscent of past designs. The new, media-heavy design will make the News Feed cohesive and organized as well as consistent across all devices.

The deeper reason for the redesign, however, is most likely to better display media from Facebook’s recent acquisitions, namely Instagram. Instagram accounts connected to Facebook will automatically post to users’ News Feeds. Facebook has also hinted at more developments like this in the future, possibly in the audio and video fields.

Regardless of Facebook’s intentions, it’s a very nice change and an overdue spring-cleaning for the social media site. Time will tell if it will help increase retention or subscriptions to the site or its partners. But in a world where things move quickly and everyone wants a piece of the market, it’s good to know Facebook is not just sitting on its hands.

To make the change more exclusive and to create a little stir, there is a waiting list to sign up for the slow rollout of the design. To be on the waiting list for the new News Feed design, sign up at :


Author: Zack Smith

Stay Together for the Followers

If you’re a part of the social stratosphere, you’ve probably heard that Twitter and Instagram underwent a pretty significant relationship shift in the past two weeks. After being acquired by Facebook, the social photography app seems to be a child in the middle of a tumultuous divorce. Although it was only a matter of time before Facebook and Twitter started sparring with each other, we now must confront some issues:

  1. This seems to be the first time in the world of social media when the consumer is not being considered. Social media has always been praised for its integration and ability to play well with others, thriving on sharing content across networks in an efficient and seamless matter. Of the newer social networks, Instagram relied on other websites to promote its users’ images, contributing to the content already established there. Taking away Instagram’s image-viewing card from Twitter so that users have to access their photos on a website with considerably less traffic seems illogical. However Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom cites the reason for removing the card is to drive traffic back to Instagram. Although parent company Facebook is not said to have made this decision, the timing of the release of new Instagram web profiles a few weeks ago and the fact that you can still view Instagram images on Facebook suggest otherwise.
  2. To quote the band Flobots, “There is a war going on for your mind.” The two social giants are starting to have a very public battle about which is the better social network. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and easier integration with Foursquare is fighting against Twitter and its new integration with Pinterest. The removal of Instagram from Twitter tells us that eventually a side will have to be chosen––classic vanilla or chocolate, Apple or PC. Google+ and YouTube aside, all the major players are beginning to be drawn to the battlefield. Ultimately, this defeats the purpose of social media. The social world works best with clean interactions across multiple channels.
  3. Everyone has been talking about using social media for business. It is now becoming clearer that social media is the business. The mindset started to become obvious after Facebook went public. Although its opening act in the market was less than desirable, Facebook has steadily climbed and tried to reposition itself. However, with that climb comes the problem of becoming a public business. Seemingly overnight, the focus goes from what consumers want to what investors want. The people of social media are losing their voice, as was evident in the failure of Facebook’s user base to rack up enough votes to be counted (30% of the users must weigh in), resulting in all users losing the right to vote on Facebook policies.

The causes of these tremors of change are still not apparent, although speculations can be made all day. It’s safe to say that no matter what, the social environment will go through a significant adjustment in 2013. Which then brings up two questions that can’t be answered:

What is going to happen to social media in 2013?

And, more important, how will social media’s new business mind-set affect users?

Author: Zack Smith

Twitter Keeping Everyone Connected, Despite Sandy’s Best Efforts

Whenever I have to justify to others the utility of Twitter, I usually land somewhere in the “think of it as a global newsfeed” explanation. I am then normally countered with the very understandable “that’s what I have TV and the Internet for.” Hurricane Sandy, devastating to some areas here in New York City, has finally offered a valid rebuttal. What happens when your TV and Internet disappear?

With the recent power loss here in New York City, all those informational outlets short-circuited. For the first time in a long time, parts of one of the most populated cities in the world were cut off from everyone else. If you happened to have an Internet connection, however, you noticed the social world was keeping everyone informed.

The Pew Research Center analyzed Twitter activity during Hurricane Sandy between October 29 and October 31, when over 50% of related tweets were news and documentation of the disaster. News sources eventually caught on, and instead of broadcasting breaking news, pushed all information to their connections on social media, which then continued along the social web of connections. In the past, a disaster like this could have cut people out completely. But Twitter pulled through when almost everything else failed to deliver.

Other social channels also saw an influx of activity during the storm, with Facebook being used to make sure friends and family were safe and Instagram being used to document and share people’s experiences. One of Facebook’s most posted phrases was “We are ok,” while Instagram experienced its most shared event yet, with over 800,000 photos documenting the storm with the hashtag #Sandy.

Although the cause was unfortunate, it’s interesting to see how the tide to social media changed when almost everything else went under. Hopefully, users will realize that social media can be a viable means of conveying information and news, not just tools for chitchatting and networking. As with any other aspect of technology, social media can be useful––it’s just a matter of using them for your own needs. The hurricane shed some light on the situation, and there may be a shift in the way news is delivered on the horizon.

Author: Zack Smith

Internet Technology: Time to Face the Music

It usually takes a while for an industry to utilize technology in a way that capitalizes on the new tools available to it. The music industry has been especially resistant to converting from physical and broadcast distribution to making use of Internet-based technology. But over the last two years, artists have been releasing videos and collaborations that are starting to test what the Internet can do for them. It’s a breath of fresh air when artists from different genres tap into some of the available technology to create compelling music videos, release interactive environments, or crowd-source content through social media.

The first time I knew the tide was turning was after viewing the short film “The Wilderness Downtown.” Directed by Chris Milk, the Google Chrome Experiment featured Arcade Fire’s song “We Used to Wait” in a video highlighting the new possibilities offered from HTML5. The video introduces three impressive features. The first is the incorporation of a predetermined GPS coordinate and its surrounding area right into the video using Google Maps and Street View. The second is a content-aware design created by the user during the video. Finally, the whole video is separated into numerous screens, removing the notion that a video is restricted to one screen. None of these things would have been feasible before HTML5, and “The Wilderness Downtown” shows the level of personalization and interaction a music video could have.

To view “The Wilderness Downtown,” visit http://www.chromeexperiments.com/arcadefire/.

(The video can only be viewed correctly in Safari or Google Chrome.)

Miranda Lambert’s new music video for “Fastest Girl in Town” offers another take at interaction. Released on July 30, the video allows you to choose your viewing perspective by placing two buttons at the bottom of the screen. Powered by Interlude (http://interlude.fm/), the buttons let you switch the camera’s perspective, theoretically creating a new video experience with every viewing. Additionally, four “Extra Footage” buttons appear throughout the video, offering behind-the-scenes footage if clicked. This gives the viewer some insight into the making of the video and presents Miranda Lambert with additional opportunities to distribute information.

To view ”The Fastest Girl in Town”, visit http://www.mirandalambert.com/interactive/.

In addition to new technology, Internet communities can also be used to create compelling music videos. A recent trend among pop stars has been to release an “official lyric video” before the live-action/animated video. Ellie Goulding gave her fans a chance to incorporate themselves into the lyric video for her new single “Anything Could Happen.” Released on August 9, the video is composed entirely of fan photos uploaded onto popular photo-sharing channel Instagram (http://instagram.com/).

Goulding posted the lyrics to “Anything Could Happen” a week earlier and then requested her fans to send photos that they thought best represented her words. The result was a complete crowd-sourcing project that resulted in over 1,200 photographs, forming a video in a short amount of time and with almost no time or expense on the part of the recording artist (or music label) and, while also allowing fans to be a part of the experience. It’s the perfect concept for the social generation.

In short, artists and record companies are starting to take advantage of what is available to them. Music videos no longer have to be constrained to one screen, showing the same video with every viewing. Videos can be diverse, creating different experiences for each viewer, with plenty of chances for fans to be involved from start to finish. Exciting times for music lie ahead, with the bar being set higher for video quality. It should prove interesting to watch, to say the least.

Author: Zack Smith