My Top Ten Blog Posts of 2015

It is time for the big blog post. With 2015 coming to an end, today I countdown my top ten posts of the year. In my 2014 edition, I had 253 entries to choose from. This year I have 252. How about that for posting consistency?

I am making a small change to this year’s top ten. Instead of going in chronological order like last year, I will list the posts countdown style. Yes, this year I will name my top post of 2015. Before we reveal the best of the best, I want to give a genuine thank you to all my readers. I sincerely appreciate your loyalty and support. Each year readership goes up and my motivation to write becomes greater and greater. Thank you.

As I did last year, I went through all my blog posts I wrote in 2015. From there I wrote my favorite 20 on a piece of paper and then selected finalists. Although my top favorite was never in question, it was competitive filling out the rest of the countdown. Enjoy.

10. Top Ten Mistakes Made By Social Media Professionals (November 17): I start my top ten list with another top ten list. In November, I wrote a blog post listing the ten mistakes that plague social media professionals the most. While I thought the content itself was good and helpful, this post stands out because I got a little creative/weird. I created and starred in a meme for each blunder, an endeavor that was both fun and time consuming.

This is one of the memes that illustrated a mistake that social media professionals make.

This is one of the memes that illustrated a mistake that social media professionals make.

9. Premium vs. Knockoff Showdown (June 7): Needing a blog post idea one Sunday, I went to the store and filled my cart with name brand snacks such as Cheetos, Pop Tarts, and Fruity Pebbles. I also threw in the generic counterpart of each product as well. I then took it all to Sidney’s house and gave her a blind taste test of the real deal and the knockoff. It was a fun experiment with a very definite result.

One of the collages I included in my blog post testing the differences between generic and premium items.

One of the collages I included in my blog post testing the differences between generic and premium items.

8. A Visit From Santa and His Elf (December 23): Although I wrote this just a week ago today, it is memorable and special enough to make the countdown. My brother was nice enough to let Sidney and I come to his workplace, the Northeast Youth Center, and visit the kids. However, we channeled our alter egos for this particular appearance. I dressed up as Santa and Sid dressed up as an elf. Once at the center we surprised the children and then read to them. The hugs we received after we passed out the candy canes will be something we always remember regardless of whether I wrote this post or not.

Sidney and I reading to the kids at the Northeast Youth Center.

Sidney and I reading to the kids at the Northeast Youth Center.

7. The Best Way to Prepare for Marriage (November 25): At the conclusion of our Pre-Cana classes that Sidney and I took to prepare for marriage, I wrote this blog post about how enriching the experience was. Having a great sponsor couple in Tim and Kathy McCormick was a huge blessing and left us very happy that we took this route to allow us to marry in the Catholic church in June. I think my enthusiasm is evident in the post.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick.

6. The Fake Brent Reser (May 13): This particular blog post makes the countdown because it illustrated the power and dedication of my readers. In May, I was alerted by a friend that a fake profile of myself was circulating on Facebook. It used my name and likeness but contained loads of bogus information and corny status updates. I asked you to help me out and report the profile to Facebook. Thanks to my readers, within 24 hours the impostor social media account had been removed.

5. A Great NCAA Tournament Experience in Omaha (March 22): I had the honor of traveling with the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team to the NCAA Tournament in March. As I have said on numerous occasions, attending the Big Dance in a working capacity is a major highlight for anyone with a career in intercollegiate athletics/higher education. I had a terrific experience as I enjoyed my time in Nebraska with many great people from the Chanticleer athletic department. Every moment (except for the loss to #1 Wisconsin) was great, but perhaps my best highlight was engaging in a Twitter dialogue with the rival school that generated lots of positive attention for CCU.

Me on the court moments before Coastal and Wisconsin tipped off.

Me on the court moments before Coastal and Wisconsin tipped off.

4. Twins or Not? (March 3): I still get made fun of for this one! I hired twins to produce a commercial for Don’t Blink. Well, rather I hired a person to produce a commercial for Don’t Blink. Billed as a video ad starring two twins, Sidney immediately called “fraud” when she watched it. She bluntly told me that it was the same girl playing both parts. I asked my readers to weigh in and they overwhelmingly supported Sid. I was duped!

I had my leg pulled.

I had my leg pulled.

3. Blog Takeover: Dating a Blogger (August 9): This year, after much convincing from my fiance, Don’t Blink debuted a new feature. Each month on a Sunday, Sidney writes a guest post for my blog. Although I have loved every post she has written, her initial one will always hold a spot in my heart. She explained the “peaks and pits” of dating a blogger. It was so funny and honest that it became an instant classic in Don’t Blink history. It was after the overwhelmingly positive reaction to this post that we decided to extend the “blog takeover” concept to a monthly basis.

2. The Triumph of Sean Carty and the Community (May 22): During the spring, I blogged several times about Sean Carty, the former head football coach at Mead High School. Starting with a post titled Feeling Bad for Coach Carty, I did what I could to keep my former high school football teammates and other community members updated on the road Sean took to fight back against the screw job inflicted upon him by a few bitter parents. When the truth came out and the motives of the small number of moms and dads were exposed, Coach Carty was reinstated as the head coach. This blog post captured the sweet feeling of vindication and what can happen when the community unites together. After the battle was won and the message sent, Carty would later gracefully resign to spend more time with his family.

Standing with Sean Carty a couple years ago in MIssoula.

Standing with Sean Carty a couple years ago in MIssoula.

1. The Proposal (June 24) – There was never a doubt. By a large margin, this is my top post of 2015. When you write about the best moment in your life, the words just come easy. The Proposal was written with love and euphoria. It received an amazing social media response and it will be something that Sidney and I look back on and read for the rest of our lives. It is #1 for another reason too. Shortly after Sidney and I got engaged, her grandmother passed away. Sid’s mom told me that the family used the blog post to give them some relief and joy during the difficult time. When I write my top posts of the decade in 2020, The Proposal will probably be #1 as well.

That magic moment.

That magic moment.

—————-

It was quite the year for Don’t Blink! If you have any memorable posts from 2015 that I did not cover, please let me know. Enjoy the rest of 2015 and be sure to catch my first post of 2016. Don’t Blink.

Reflections on My First Year at Coastal Carolina University

It is funny. Often times you can look back on a period of time and not quite know if it flew by or seemed to last. If you are like me, sometimes you end up deciding it was a little of both. Today I celebrate my one year anniversary at Coastal Carolina University. For the most part, the last 365 days passed quickly. But then I realize that next week I will cover my fourth commencement and it makes me feel like I have been around campus for a little longer.

This is my one year anniversary photo!

This is my one year anniversary photo!

On May 1, 2014, I reported for my first day at Coastal Carolina. I spent that Thursday in new employee orientation learning about policies and procedures. It was an uneventful and low key day. That would be the last one of those. From the end of that initial day on out I had the opportunity to go full speed ahead and that is exactly what I did. I arrived on campus just before the start of graduation week and went right into covering the craziness of it. I covered a lot of events and met a lot of people. Those first ten or so days really helped set the tone for my first year.

My rookie debut at CCU was a good one. Yes, it was successful. Our social channels grew exponentially, #CCUSocialMedia became a brand, we won an award, and we received far more media coverage than I could ever imagine. But that is all I want to say about job performance. My one year reflection blog post is much more than that.

What I want to really hit on is what a good fit this position has been. I came from a job where I wore a ton of different hats and had little free time. For the past year I have showed up for work at a place where my focus is much more defined and my time out of the office much more adequate.

From the start I said I took this job because I could concentrate on social media. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t grown in other areas. Although I might not have 15 different responsibilities to tend to on a given day like at Montana, I have been able to embrace a diverse set of opportunities that improved me as a professional. Encouraged to create my own news show segment, assigned to write for our alumni magazine, requested to serve on working groups, and asked to help out on search committees, I was enabled to expand my reach. Aside from running our social media program, I relished these additional roles.

Another part of the fit has been the energy and culture at CCU. Our university is growing, both in terms of physical structures and student enrollment. We are an institution on the rise and I wanted to be a piece of that. Additionally, and I truly mean it when I say this, Coastal is just different. We are built on customer service and this attitude is reflected from the top down. There is a pride and a vibe here that is special, one that I relate to and embrace. Our “Feel the Teal” mission motivates me at work each day.

Most importantly, this arrangement has worked because of the people. It all starts out with our Vice President of University Communication who had the guts to hire me. Bill Plate brought me from Missoula to Myrtle Beach and I am so glad he did. He had the vision and rationality to know that a social media position was needed at CCU and he made it a reality. So many other people helped me (and continue to help me) after Bill and I wish I could recognize them all. Although this is not possible I do want to thank a few people really quickly. Thanks to our administrative assistant Kim Harper for helping me with pretty much every office task and organizational logistic you could think of. Thanks to April Betsch for reaching out to me at one of the first events I worked and taking me around to meet many of the key people I would end up working closely with. Thanks to Eileen Soisson for teaching me what it means to Feel the Teal and for going out of her way to support me. Thanks to Matt Hogue, Seth Horton, and Kevin Olivett from athletics for treating me so well and for genuinely caring about my ideas and input.

Year #1 is in the books and it was great. I am appreciative of the opportunity Coastal Carolina University has afforded me and I can’t wait to improve. Don’t Blink.

Modernizing: My Website’s New Look

It is with great excitement that I introduce the brand new look for my website. Last month I reached out to my audience asking if anyone would want to design a new banner for me. In the post I was very specific that I wanted something that incorporated the area in the country where I live while also telling the story of who I am. The person who stepped forward knew exactly what to do.

Say bye bye to this banner that graced by website for 3 years.

Say bye bye to this banner that graced by website for 3 years.

My co-worker and friend Jonathan Ady (aka Jady) took time out of his busy schedule to usher in the new era of Don’t Blink. A graphic designer here at Coastal Carolina University and creator of the “I Love SC” merchandise line, I knew I was in great hands. We met and discussed specifics of the project and then he went to work.

Jonathan Ady and I at our work's Christmas party. "Jady" did an awesome job designing my website's banner.

Jonathan Ady and I at our work’s Christmas party. “Jady” did an awesome job designing my website’s banner.

The images on the banner come directly from Jady’s camera. The beautiful ocean photo of Myrtle Beach gives an accurate and expressive depiction of where I now call home. The other photo is of Coastal Carolina University. It highlights the center of campus with Blanton Park and the Singleton Building, the latter being the actual structure where I go to work at each day. In the center of the banner is the goofy author of this blog, photography also done by Jady. I wanted to make sure I was showing off my support for CCU and my super comfortable white Adidas Chanticleer jacket was the perfect way to do it. As with my previous banner, the title of my blog and my social media handles are included only this time they look professional.

I am very pleased with the new banner of my website.

I am very pleased with the new banner of my website.

For those of you who pay close attention to detail, you will also see that I made a switch to my background. I eliminated the PNC Park image and replaced it with Myrtle Beach ocean clouds. I think it gives my website a classier, less distracting look. Tomorrow I will update my Facebook banner with the custom graphic that Jady also provided me with.

I took the clouds from this image of me on the beach and used it  for the background of my website.

I took the clouds from this image of me on the beach and used it for the background of my website.

Thank you so much to Jonathan Ady for modernizing Don’t Blink. I am pleased with the results and am no longer embarrassed with an outdated look. If you would like to inquire about Jady’s services or order “I Love SC” merchandise, you can contact him by clicking here. My website is looking good for the new year! Don’t Blink.

My Own Segment: The Social Circle with Brent Reser

To see my segment in Coastal Now, click here and go to the 26:22 mark

Today marked an important day at the Office of University Communication at Coastal Carolina as we released our brand new show titled Coastal Now. This program was the result of countless hours of brainstorming, debating, and collaborating. Intending to appeal more to our student population, we wanted to introduce a modernized version of our former show, Coastal Today. By modifying the show’s format, introducing hipper segments, and rolling out fresh graphics, we achieved our objective.

Here is the funny part: As part of the show’s revamp and the mission to grab the attention of our digitally obsessed students, it was decided that I would receive my own segment.

I was given my own segment. Let me introduce to you the Social Circle with Brent Reser.

I was given my own segment. Let me introduce to you the Social Circle with Brent Reser.

Say what?! Like, seriously…I was going to be trusted with developing my own social media segment?…For the University’s news program?…And then actually present it on camera? Talk about an intimidating and humbling proposition! Although a little timid to come up with a package and then nervous to tape it on set, I went ahead and accepted the opportunity because of the amazing team I have around me.

The week before filming, I sat down with Martha Hunn, our Director of News and Public Affairs. A former hot-shot news anchor in the Myrtle Beach/Conway area, I knew I was in good hands as we started to plan my segments. Using an idea-sharing approach we talked out the beginning and end of my first two show packages. After our discussion, half my script was written in Martha’s iPad. She then gave me the freedom to write the meat of my segments myself. With the great start she gave me, I filled in the middle portions and my first two scripts for Coastal Now were complete.

The next week at the studio I felt a little nervous as I waited in the greenroom area. I watched our host of Coastal Now, Robin Russell, film her pieces and interview a couple guests. It was then time for me. I walked into the filming area and stood in front of the green screen. Our media services crew cued me and I hit it. I stumbled a couple times resulting in new takes. However, the whole time throughout the shoot I had Martha and Robin rooting me on and assuring me that I was doing a decent job. To have two veterans of the news business in your corner makes things so much easier. You know what else makes things easier? A teleprompter! It was so nice to read a script with no fear of your brain turning off and your voice disappearing.

Me on set of Coastal Now.

Me on set of Coastal Now.

All the times in the past when I had gotten in front of a camera I always dreaded the end product. However, after filming my first segments for Coastal Now I actually felt good about what the outcome would be. To make it even better, I had a great time during the filming. This past Friday our office had a premiere party in the studio. We sat around a TV and munched on snacks while watching the historic first show of Coastal Now. The finished product was amazing. Our media services team did such a great job shooting and piecing the show together. Segments were fresh and fun. The 30 minute show seemed to fly by. They even managed to make me look somewhat respectable. It was cool to see a group work so hard on something and have their efforts pay off.

If you care to watch me, the Social Circle with Brent Reser starts at 26:22. I want to thank Martha Hunn, Robin Russell, David Russell, Bryan Stalvey, and Josh Chesson for the help with creating/filming/producing my segment and for all the encouragement. This so far has been a great experience and I can’t wait to help out with more shows. Don’t Blink.

My Look-Alike: Russell Wilson

You don’t understand. Rarely does someone tell me that I look like a celebrity. The couple times it has happened the comparisons have been, how shall I put it, less than flattering. Howard from “The Big Bang Theory” and Dory from “Finding Nemo” are the person and fish that I supposedly look like. So, after over a quarter century of life without ever hearing someone tell me that I look like a desirable famous person that all changed on Sunday night.

I don't like being compared to these two.

I don’t like being compared to these two.

If Russell Wilson ever needs a double to walk through the streets of San Francisco for him, I am his man! Yep, you heard it right. Apparently I strike an uncanny resemblance to the NFC Champion quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. Forget that the Seahawks are my favorite professional team and that I am a huge fan of Wilson myself, I am just beyond pleased that someone would say that I look like an athletic, good looking guy.

I would like to introduce you to my double, Russell Wilson.

I would like to introduce you to my double, Russell Wilson.

Let me fill you in on the backstory real fast. On Sunday night I was engaged in a Twitter conversation. One of the participants in this conversation was Mike Nugent (@MikeMNugent), a respected realtor in Missoula. While talking about Super Bowl preferences he noted my resemblance to Russell Wilson. Taken aback I asked him to confirm it and sure enough he did!

It was confirmed that I look like Russell Wilson.

It was confirmed that I look like Russell Wilson.

This excited me a great deal! In fact, it led me to hastily put together a collage comparing myself with Wilson. I then tweeted it out asking if anyone else could verify Mike’s belief.

I sent this out to my Twitter followers.

I sent this out to my Twitter followers.

I tagged my harshest critic, my brother, just so I get his sarcastic and mean tweets in response to my new discovery. Of course he delivered by entirely shooting down Mike’s thought and insulting me along the way. However, all of Glen’s barbs at me couldn’t match what my dad responded with when my brother asked him about the resemblance:

Classic response from my dad.

Classic response from my dad.

Just because my own family doesn’t buy into the Russell Wilson/Brent Reser comparison doesn’t mean it lacks validity. I have known Mike for about eight years now dating back to when we both worked for Residence Life. He has seen me in person numerous times and even though he wears glasses he is not blind. In fact the other person involved in the original Twitter conversation, Jordan Treece (@JTreece13), also agreed with the resemblance. Sounds like we are onto something here!

Jordan confirmed everything.

Jordan confirmed everything.

That night I did spend a little time in front of the mirror analyzing my physical traits. Acting impartial here, I actually saw some similarities! Our eye features are similar and our hair both turns the same type of curly when it starts to grow out. Although I am naturally not as dark as Wilson, give me an hour out in the sun during the summer and we have the same complexion. Standing at just 5’11 he is only two inches taller than me and weighs about twenty-five pounds more. I am sure we bench the same and he might run the forty just a tad faster than me.

You have to be convinced that we are pretty much twins by now, right?

You have to be convinced that we are pretty much twins by now, right?

No, I would not say the comparison of looks between Russell Wilson and myself is a big stretch. I appreciate that Mike identified my doppelganger for me. What do my readers say? Think I would pass the look test if I suited up in a #3 jersey on Sunday? If anyone wants to pay a modest sum to have a Russell Wilson look-alike come liven up your Super Bowl party on Sunday let me know…I am still working on the impression. Don’t Blink.

Trying Not to Settle For My Subpar Work

Tonight I got home and after I had some dinner and got caught up on the MLB playoffs I sat down to write a blog post surrounding an idea that came to me a couple days ago. I labored through the post, trying to make each sentence flow perfectly and working to make sure I crafted the passage in such a way that it would really drive my point home. I spent more than a couple periods just staring at my computer screen contemplating what words I should add next. I struggled through the whole thing. Compared to my average post, I spent much more time and wrote much more on this one. I then made a decision:

I decided not to publish it.

After taking about as much time to scrutinize and think about the post I had just written as it had taken me to draft it in the first place, I decided that I would not publish it to Don’t Blink. I came to the conclusion that it just didn’t fit my brand and that it probably wasn’t my best work. Yep, even though I did spend a lot of time on it that toil didn’t quite translate to Grade A quality.

I am glad I have come to the point where I can recognize work that is subpar and then not go with it. I definitely have not always had this discipline. I can glance through my almost 400 posts in Don’t Blink and see pieces that are garbage. Either my topic sucked, my writing lacked substance, the structure was off, my voice wasn’t coming through, or all the above. But my desire to “get something out there” that particular night led me to publish it. I have a plan in the near future to go through my blog and delete some of the dead wood that I should have never of put my name to.

I think in this day and age we as a society have this conception that we must get “stuff” out there. I am sure most of you have heard someone say or said yourself “we just need some content.” Without even thinking about quality many of us just want the mediocre feature or the lackluster post to take up space. As I just admitted with my blog, I have triumphed this thinking too many times myself. But I am trying to get better and tonight was a good step.

Just because we work on something doesn’t necessarily mean that what we created was a success. We need to be honest with ourselves and honest with who we are. If we create something that doesn’t sound like us or that doesn’t reflect who we are and we go through and make it live we are deeply damaging our personal brand. No amount of time spent on a project that doesn’t meet standards could ever justify posting it at the expense of the reputation that we have worked so hard to build. Don’t Blink.

The Analytics Part of Don’t Blink

Quite often people will start talking to me about my blog and ask if I have any idea about the analytics that my site garners. The answer is yes. Thanks to my friend Chris Lynn who installed it within the backend of Don’t Blink, I have a program called Jetpack that gives me a day by day account of the number of browsers that access my site. This information is invaluable to me as I like to have a good idea of how many people visit my blog and what topics the majority of my readers prefer over others.

Besides the volume of traffic statistics that I receive, I also get other really interesting pieces of information delivered to me regarding my blog. I am told what key words people type in to search engines to find Don’t Blink, what outside sites are referring people to my blog, what links people are clicking on once they are reading my posts, and a breakdown of what individual posts are getting accessed. I assess this information about two to three times every week to have a better understanding of my readers.

When it comes to my daily volume of readers there are a couple trends. I usually always get a large audience on Sunday nights, especially if I post something (which I always try to do). Also, the more consecutive days I post, the more traffic I will get on the latter days in that string. For example, if I published a new blog post Monday through Thursday my web traffic would increase each day, with an exceptionally high impression number on Thursday night. Readers reward you for consistency. However, there are random days when my traffic will shoot right through the roof even though I had not posted anything in a couple days. For example, last week when I was too busy with work to even think about writing a sentence for Don’t Blink I checked my analytics and saw that 900 people (browsers) had visited my site on Wednesday. After looking at the full report I saw that roughly 700 of those hits came by referral of a Japanese website. I had written a blog post 10 months back about Barry Anderson, the mascot of the Chicago Bulls. For whatever reason, Japan LOVES mascots. Barry visited Japan a couple years back and to this day he still has rock star status in the country. On this site there was some thread about Barry and someone found my blog post link and shared it on there. The floodgates opened.

I love looking at the key words people use to find Don’t Blink. Of course I get lots of searches dealing with “Brent Reser,” “Brent Reser Don’t Blink,” “Brent Reser Bio,” and “Don’t Blink Blog,” but many of the other searches are much more random. Just for today, here are some of the key words people typed in to find my site: “random ugly guy,” “Rascal Flatts time on stage,” “double pan fried noodles at PF Changs,” “cheer camp arrival,” “red robin mascot head, ”Boston Bruins stadium,” “iron horse queso recipe,” “embarrassing loss for Loyola football program,” and “don’t waste money on autographs.” Yep, I am proud to say that I have covered such a myriad of topics while authoring this blog that internet users from all over can type in seemingly random phrases and be directed to my little space on the web. Definitely a little creepy too.

I enjoy seeing which blog posts are performing well. As I mentioned in my 2 year anniversary blog post, my passage titled “Instagram Spam” is my all-time most read post. Even right now it is still the most read post pretty much each day. My newer posts are usually always right underneath “Instagram Spam” and then it is whatever post got shared on some random website rounding out the top five most read posts for that particular day.

Speaking of random websites, I pay close attention to which sites are contributing to my site’s traffic. Of course Google, Facebook, and Twitter are my big top three referrers but I am more interested in the websites that will pop up for a couple days and give me rushes of traffic. Because I wrote a couple posts related to Montana Athletics this week, I have had a lot of people from the popular blogging site eGriz take a gander at what I got going. Many times when I review a restaurant or a product the company will get wind of it and share it from their website or social media sites, thus sending people to Don’t Blink. Sometimes, just like with the Japanese website example, a link to my site will get shared on a random platform and I hit viewership gold.

Part of the fun of authoring a blog for me is definitely scrutinizing these statistics and identifying trends. It is cool to see that my writing has an impact on many people from all over the world. Seeing this evidence on a daily basis motivates me to continue to write and to do my best to put out quality work. Don’t Blink.

Using Vine to Diversify Your Social Media Content

It used to be bad enough when people would link their Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts together and send the exact same content simultaneously to both services. I cringed seeing a 50 word post that originated on Facebook get cut off halfway on Twitter. Or maybe even worse, I got turned off right away when I saw a tweet show up on my Facebook newsfeed with five different hash tags and a big Hootsuite or Tweetdeck logo accompanying it. Forget the fact that Facebook now has clickable hash tags, back then it just showed laziness and lack of understanding by the user over two different social media outlets.

Of course, over time this issue of duplicating content over different social media outlets has gotten worse. As new platforms have come in and gained popularity, people can now easily share the same content over three or four social networks at once. A year ago the annoyance I saw too many people do was take a picture on Instagram and send it out to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously. Besides the formatting nightmare that this reflected on the social sites other than Instagram, it just became tiresome to follow a certain person through various networks and know that you were always going to see everything they posted 3X.

Before I get to the main point/solution of this post let me say this: Sometimes we take awesome pictures that do need to be shared across all of our social networks. I get that. It happens with me sometimes and it also happens through the accounts I run at Grizzly Athletics. However, when this is the case post the picture separately on each respective account just so you can format it correctly. Not only will it make you look not so lazy but it will also make your posts look much cleaner and you will gain many more impressions, “likes’, retweets, etc.

When we do something worthy (or even unworthy) that warrants posting to all of our social media accounts, I firmly believe we need to document it in a unique way on each of our social platforms. So yes, preferably, when you go to Buffalo Wild Wings you need to cover it in a way that your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts all show something original from each other. A few months ago this principle that I am preaching would take quite a bit of work and require a lot of different shots with your iPhone camera. However, since then, a service has come along that has made this process easier.

Hands down, Vine is the coolest and fastest growing social media service available right now. About a month ago I gave a glowing review of the service so if you need a refresher on the details of Vine, check out that particular blog post. Anyway, not only is Vine a tremendous app by itself, but the content you record off of Vine can dramatically bolster your other social media outlets.

Make sure to follow me on Vine (@BrentReser)

Make sure to follow me on Vine (@BrentReser)

Just like everything else, please refrain from posting every single Vine you record directly to Facebook and Twitter. I would advise to never post a Vine on Facebook. It looks awful on the timeline, a lot of people on Facebook don’t get it, and most Vine videos rarely receive any “likes”. If you make a really cool Vine and your caption for it translates to Tweet-speak go ahead and post it to Twitter but make a general rule to only do this for 15%-20% of your Vines.

Okay, enough of all of my disclaimers! From time to time it takes me a while to get to the point. Anyway, with Vine you have a six second video of some story, event, or situation. Within those six seconds of video, you have hundreds (maybe even thousands) of images at your disposal. Remember back when you were a kid and it was so much fun to pause a video you were watching and capture still images?! Well you can do that with Vine only this time around the picture is clearer and with one simple move you can save it forever.

This move is simple. When the Vine video is playing, simply tap the screen to pause it. It will take some playing around but once you pause the video at the exact time that you want, activate the screen capture command on your iPhone. Now go to your camera roll, pull up the picture, and crop out the Vine interface surrounding the image. Save your work and you now have a perfect image that you were crafty enough to capture off of video. Cool, huh?

I caught this cool image by using a Vine video that my girlfriend took. Would never have been able to capture this with an iPhone.

I caught this cool image by using a Vine video that my girlfriend took. Would never have been able to capture this with an iPhone.

Use images captured from Vine videos to supply unique content to each of your social media outlets. Let’s go back to the Buffalo Wild Wings example. Let’s say you take a Vine that includes you entering the restaurant, sitting at the table with your friends, ordering from the waitress, scanning the numerous televisions, scoping out everyone’s orders, and finally smiling with a big plate of wings in front of you. Okay, you got the cool Vine video taken care of with you at BDubbs but now you got to document the experience on your other social networks too. Working directly from your Vine video, let’s get to work.

Let’s first start with Twitter. A perfect tweet for this occasion would be something like this: @BrentReser Watching the NBA Finals at BWW with @ImaginaryFriend , @FriendWhoDoesntExist , @WishIHadFriends #winning . Okay, now you use the Vine footage you took of your table to produce the picture that will go with this Tweet. Just pause the video right when it gets to the shot of your friends and go through the process I outlined. Attach that picture to your tweet and send away!

Time to move onto Instagram. Vine is PERFECT for making collages and this is what we are going to do for our Instagram image. For the make believe Vine video to Buffalo Wild Wings I mentioned six different scenes. Simply capture a photo from four of those scenes to make a cool collage (I am leaving out the two scenes that we are using for the other social platforms). You will have a nice montage of the actual restaurant, the waitress taking your order, the cool TV set up, and then the table full of everyone’s delicious wings. Give the collage a simple title such as A night out at Buffalo Wild Wings #BWW #Winning .

Now time to finish with the king of the social networks, Facebook. This one is all about you. Simply take the ending scene of the Vine video of you with a mile wide grin and a big plate of wings and capture it. Now post it to your timeline with a caption such as Great night at Buffalo Wild Wings. Time to devour these wings. Watch as this single original picture you put up garners numerous likes and comments.

It is important to form a consistent brand of yourself throughout all of your social media networks but it is equally important to establish it in a unique and fitting way through each individual service. Vine has made it easier to accomplish this goal. Be creative and give your followers something different through each one of your social platforms. Don’t Blink.

Don’t Blink’s Second Year Anniversary

Two years ago today I sat down and wrote my first ever entry for Don’t Blink. As I look back on that initial entry I shake my head at my stupidity for titling it the way I did. I am sure many people looked at it and thought I was writing about something other than just the introductory post to my new blog. Well, you live and you learn.

Over the past two years I have definitely lived and learned quite a bit, both through authoring a blog and through life in general. The best part is that this two year period is all documented through more posts in my blog than I ever thought I would compose. If you took the time to read my initial awkwardly written post, you will see that all along this was my number one goal. I started a blog because I wanted an electronic record that chronicled my life’s adventures as well as my thoughts and opinions. Mission accomplished (thus far). After 24 months, I think of myself as a pretty dedicated blogger.

Thanks to all for supporting my blog over the past two years.

Thanks to all for supporting my blog over the past two years.

Today’s entry marks my 313th post for Don’t Blink. When I started this project back in May of 2011 I didn’t know if I even had 50 things to write about let alone over 300. But as I started to get in a groove, ideas just kept coming and new experiences continued to find me. Throw in all the trips I went on, new restaurants I tried, unique social media mediums I played with, inspiring people I came across, random situations I got myself into, and social norms that I felt compelled to comment on and you can definitely see that I have been very blessed with plenty of blogging content.

But a good blog doesn’t just depend on good content. The quality of writing and the presentation of the site are two crucial factors that will determine whether readers will give your blog the time of day. I try to improve my writing each night I compose a new draft. I am definitely not the best writer (what do you think I am, an English major?) and I like to think I am not the worst either (I have seen some scary things before). I consider myself an average writer with some skills but with a lot to improve on. My pledge to my readers is to get better over the next two years. A year ago I switched from an elementary looking blogger page to my current www.brentreser.com website. Over the past two years, this change has no question been the most important development in my blogging career. The credibility, readers, statistical tools, and search engine optimization that I have gained from this move will always have me wondering why I didn’t do it from day one.

Enough though about my reflections on the boring things regarding Don’t Blink over the past two years. How about I sum up the last two years using a couple of lists? Everyone loves lists! I first will present my top five most viewed posts over the past two years. I will then provide my top five favorite posts that I have written the past two years. Here we go!

TOP FIVE MOST VIEWED POSTS

1. Instagram Spam (April 9, 2013): Even though I just wrote this a little over a month ago, I still get at least 70-80 views on it a day. It just goes to show the obsession that people have with social media along with the negative role that spam plays in it.

2. The Feud: Colin Cowherd vs. Dan Patrick (May 8, 2012): Until “Instagram Spam” overtook it, this was by far my most popular post. The sports talk radio industry has a very large and loyal fan base, and many of these people are tied to the internet and blogs. I get comments sent to me from radio junkies referencing this post all the time.

3. Thanks, Jim (April 4, 2012): A few days after our athletic director Jim O’Day was let go I wrote down my thoughts about what he did during his time at Grizzly Athletics. The first full day the post was up it received over 1,500 views. It garnered around the same amount of views the next day as well. Even though the post was entirely for Jim, it picked me up numerous readers who still view my stuff today.

4. #HashTags (February 16, 2012): I wrote this as a tutorial to everyone who felt confused about hash tags and I couldn’t be more pleased that the internet community continues to read it every single day. I did my best to explain hash tags during a time when people did not have the grasp that they have on them now.

5. Serving the Youth (October 29, 2012): One October night, Christie and myself turned the championship game of a youth football league into a Grizzly Game Day production. I wrote about the experience and parents of the kids shared my post like wild fire, resulting in the fifth most viewed post of all-time for Don’t Blink.

 

MY PERSONAL TOP FIVE

1. The $25,000 Man (October 19, 2011): Undoubtedly my all-time favorite post, I got such a kick out of telling the story about the time my brother hit it big and the shenanigans that followed.

2. Naturally Dark (September 3, 2011): I think this might be one of my favorite posts just because of the absurdity that made me write this in the first place. I have a few very outspoken people who challenge me on why I turn so dark during the summer so I felt that I had to write it all down for them.

3. Posting Food Pictures on Social Media (June 11, 2012): What a hot topic this is! I love debating with people when it is okay to post food pictures and when it is not and that conversation grew even more after I wrote this. I literally laughed out loud while composing this one.

4. Treat Your Waiter Right (June 5, 2012): Man, I was on during June of 2012!! I honestly judge people by the way they treat their restaurant server. I have a great respect for the people who wait on us and serve us our food so I tried to defend them as much as possible in this particular post. I think it is in my top five just because I believe in what I say so much.

5. An Amazing Day in Grizzly Athletics (March 19, 2013): On March 16, 2013, Grizzly Athletics experienced a day for the ages and I was right in the middle of it. In this post I talked about what it was like to work a day in which we sent both our women’s and men’s basketball teams to the NCAA Tournament on our home court. It will forever be one of my favorite memories and only natural that it is one of my favorite posts as well.

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THANK YOU TO ALL MY READERS! It has been a great two years and I can’t thank you enough for all the support you have given me regarding this blog. I look forward to continuing to take you inside my head on all subjects and experiences. You are the best. Don’t Blink.

Do Your Research

These days I really don’t think there is an excuse to check into a hotel, go out to eat at a restaurant, or have a drink at a bar without having a general idea on what you are getting yourself in to. With the proliferation of the internet, blogging, and social media, you can now get a comprehensive review on any place before you invest in it. In my opinion, this is a great thing.

When planning a trip, I feel you are a fool if you don’t thoroughly research all your options before booking. While ten years ago you would have to rely on travel books and word of mouth, in today’s modern age you have access to thousands of reviews on single places right at your fingertips. Making matters even better, most of the reviews are written not by the snobby professional reviewer who probably has standards that differ dramatically from yours but rather from someone who you can relate to much better…the average traveler/diner like yourself.

On the internet you can find numerous review sites that cover every hotel, restaurant, bar, venue, resort, ice cream shop, theme park, transportation system, bowling alley, miniature golf course, etc. For me, I find these reviews very useful. When I do travel out of town, I like to have a somewhat decent idea of where to go and what to do. Although I admit that sometimes I like to walk totally blind into a place with no preconceived notions, most of the time I like to know what I can expect. As I said, the internet is filled to the brim with reviewing sites and blogs dedicated to informing people on the finer points of every business out there so it is kind of easy to get overwhelmed. Because of this, I typically narrow my research to a couple of sites.

I rely on TripAdvisor and Yelp to give me a good idea on what places to go to and what places to avoid. Both sites are well-known and very well-funded and have millions of users. I utilize TripAdvisor mainly for hotel reviews while I use Yelp for all dining and entertainment options.

These sites are so great because of the honest reviews and the specific detail that is available. I can type in the name of a hotel in to TripAdvisor and instantly I will have 10,934 reviews discussing the place. After reading about ten of them, I have a comprehensive summary on the hotel. I immediately know everything about the front desk service, the location, the restaurant/lounge, the pool, the elevators, the rooms, the bathrooms, the noise level, the parking, the lobby environment, the amenities, and so much more. Additionally, you also get access to tons of pictures taken by the people writing the reviews. This goes a long way for me. I will take a quick iPhone snap shot of someone’s dirty room over a professional, hotel choreographed photograph any day to get an idea of what a place is really like.

Yelp is very similar in the format/wealth of information available as TripAdvisor but it just covers a wider area. I use Yelp especially for restaurants and anything that I may be visiting or using while traveling. Just as with TripAdvisor, the quantity of reviews is significant and very detailed.

A positive about TripAdvisor and Yelp is that both sites are extremely accepted amongst travelers. Not only do customers/clients of hotels and restaurants use these sites before deciding where to spend their money, but the hotels and restaurants use them themselves to see what people are saying about their businesses AND to respond to the reviews. Many businesses watch these sites like hawks and make sure to provide instant response the second a review pops up. If the review is good, the business will thank the person for writing. If the review is bad, the business will respond with an apology and then an explanation for the negative experience or a promise to get the problem fixed. This is another measuring tool I use when making my travel decisions. If I look up a hotel on TripAdvisor and I see that the management is responding and interacting with past customers, I am more likely to stay at their hotel because I know they care about the people who are staying with them and also care about what is said about them.

As with any website, there are a couple drawbacks to these review-centered forums. Yes, some reviews are completely fabricated and not written by an actual customer. It is well documented that some businesses have employees write sparkling reviews for their own properties while also having them write scathing, ugly reviews for competitors. Sadly, some businesses also bribe actual guests to write favorable reviews in exchange for discounts/goods/comps. Also, as is typical on the internet, there are just a lot of dumb people in general who “contribute” to the discussion. These dumb people include those who can’t spell past a third grade level, those who can’t express criticism in a half way professional manner, those who can’t articulate thoughts in a logical flow, and those who you can tell complain about every single detail regardless of it is warranted or not.

But the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. For the most part, the sketchy reviews are vastly outnumbered by the honest, thoughtful reviews. Confession time for me: I used to write reviews for TripAdvisor. However, after I started my own blog I decided to devote all of my writing and reviews to Don’t Blink. With that said though, I can attest to the valuable tool that TripAdvisor is and I can vouch for the fact that there are lots of decent, helpful people who contribute to TA and the other review sites.

We live in the information age and it applies to all aspects of life, including lodging, dining, and entertainment. Most of us work hard for our money and there is no reason why we shouldn’t spend it in a way that will return to us the best experience possible. Review focused sites enable us to do just that. Make sure to do your research! Don’t Blink.