Do I Spend Too Much TIme on Social Media?

At work today while I simultaneously shot a Vine video of our equipment room, posted a photo on Facebook of our stadium in graduation set up mode, Instagramed an image of a yummy Griz cake, and tweeted out a press release it dawned on me that I can’t escape social media. Definitely not at work, and not in my personal life either….not that I am complaining.

I take care of social media duties at Grizzly Athletics. I oversee 11 different Facebook accounts, 11 different Twitter accounts, an Instagram account, a Vine account, a YouTube account, and very soon a Pinterest account that we are currently developing. I could spend twelve hours each day non-stop just working on this end of job. But I can’t because of the other part I am in charge of that includes: running a website, promoting other forms of digital marketing, overseeing a mascot program, contributing to various special projects, and of course working at pretty much every Griz event there is.

While not at work I become fully engrossed in my personal forms of social media. While I don’t Pin or YouTube, I do spend a considerable amount of time blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Vining, Snapping, and doing whatever social app is popular at the moment. I am constantly charging my phone because the battery dies so quickly as the result of my constant usage. A full battery will usually last me from the morning until about 2 p.m.

Do I spend too much time on social media? Just read right below and I answer that question.

Do I spend too much time on social media? Just read right below and I answer that question.

Do I spend too much time on social media? I sure do! This is something that I am well aware of, just on some certain days (like today) it becomes even clearer. Do I regret spending too much time on it? Hmmmmmmmm. I would say that 90% of the time I don’t while 10% of the time I do.

The 10% kicks in when I get burnt out. Or it kicks in when I see people acting stupid on it or when I see spam accounts running rampant and ruining the content of others. I also regret it when I realize that at that certain moment social media is taking me away from enjoying a beautiful day outside, a great game coming down to the final seconds on television, or a face-to-face conversation with someone I love. Those are definitely reality checks.

But the majority of the time I honestly don’t regret it. Social media has opened a lot of doors for me and connected me with so many people. It is a huge reason why I am getting paid right now. I have learned so much and contributed so much by way of SM. I also take solace in the fact that social media is simply the communication tool of our time. One hundred years from now there will be far more advanced forms of communication and I guarantee you that people will remark, “Remember back in the old days when I could simply just send someone a Facebook Message or an eight second snap picture? Today everything is just so complicated.” I don’t let people who believe that social media is corrupting communication to guilt trip me. Everything is relative and people will always have a skewed sense of the past.

So while 9 out of 10 times I don’t think twice about my excessive use of social media I want to get to the point where 10 out of 10 times I never let it bother me. I think I am on the right track because at least I recognize the rare times I do feel like social media gets in the way. I just need to take to heart that I don’t need to document every single moment via some social channel and instead just experience it through my soul…no smart device needed. I am a few minor adjustments away from feeling totally content with one of my passions and when I make them, it will be a great thing. Don’t Blink.

Instagram Spam

I still choose Instagram as my favorite social media service. With over 2,000 pictures taken and counting on my account, I will not be slowing down anytime soon (Follow me…@BrentReser). Even though I am loyal to Instagram and routinely sing its praises, there is something about the service that takes some of the fun out of it: SPAM.

I try to keep the selfies to a minimum.

I try to keep the selfies to a minimum.

I know, I know, I know, all social media outlets are prone to spam. What service has not fallen victim to annoying garbage? Facebook has all the silly app requests and wall posts, Twitter has fake accounts, and MySpace became a deserted wasteland overran by spam. But you know what? Besides MySpace, the other two social media services successfully combated spam as the networks evolved. With Facebook I can simply turn on a switch that will prevent users from posting mafia, angry birds, and entourage gibberish on my wall. I can block certain applications from even bothering me with a notification. With Twitter, no longer do I get e-mail notifications telling me that some bot has followed me. No longer do I get automated replies to my tweets. Twitter cleaned up and has policed its service effectively. Bravo.

Too bad for Instagram…instead of starting out with problems and fixing them over time like FB and Twitter, the service started out pretty clean but is now getting taken advantage of by spammers. My frustration stems from the fact that there are just so many ways to get spammed on Instagram. Many of these ways ruin pictures, distort “like” counts, pollute the picture database, and trick gullible people. Let me run down the different ways that spam manifests itself on Instagram.

Spam Followers/Spam Likes: Nothing sucks more than opening up Instagram and getting notified that you have eight new likes and three new followers only to see that the notifications are only popping up because accounts such as @Shoutouts_123321_ and @_get_new_ipad_3_6 are following you and liking your pictures. How are these accounts allowed to exist? Everyone knows that these profiles are not going to get anyone shout outs or anyone an iPad just like the @get5550likes_vvf account is not going to get anyone 5,550 likes. Besides being completely useless and impersonal, these accounts also contribute to an inflated “like” count. Call me weird but I do take pride in pictures that I post that produce lots of “likes”. However, all sense of accomplishment is gone when spam accounts make up half the of them. These garbage accounts don’t just waste space, they provide skewed data to users.


It is depressing to have so many great followers only to have it ruined by a spam account.

It is depressing to have so many great followers only to have it ruined by a spam account.


Curse of the Hash Tag: Whereas all users are prone to the above general spam accounts that follow and “like” everyone, those of us who enjoy hash tags must put up with a different wave of spammers…those accounts that automatically “like” specific pictures marked with a hash tag. Now I love cats and I love Instagraming pictures of my own cat but I HATE getting “likes” from @mjthecat, @instaabycat,@raph_the_cat, and @tuxedokitty01 the SECOND that I post a picture of her. Besides once again inflating numbers, these accounts make me look like I have some type of sick cat fetish. I find it unnerving that Instagram has not implemented a policy or software that disallows spam accounts from automatically liking pictures based on keywords. Just because I like football does not mean that each time I hash tag #football in an Instagram picture that it has to get “liked” by counterfeit football accounts.

I love cats, but this spam account is much too corny for me.

I love cats, but this spam account is much too corny for me.

Automated Comments: Out of the four spam tactics on Instagram that I am speaking out against tonight, this one irritates me the most. In fact, it doesn’t just irritate me, it makes me mad. It is one thing if a fake account is going to “like” my picture and get its name denoted under the image but it is a whole different thing when a trash account comments for everyone to see. I detest messages that go like this…”Hey want 2 make some $$? Respond with your name and address to be eligible”…..or….”Follow us right now to gain 1,500 followers guaranteed.” I want nothing more than my photos to spark conversation between my friendly followers. It makes Instagram fun and engaging. But when a spam account puts some baloney credit card or money related automated message under the picture, it kills discussion. Worse though, it just violates my account and I hate it. I never remember Facebook having problems with spam appearing under photos. Why Instagram? What will always get me to lash out, however, is when a legitimate account leaves an automated spam message under one of my pictures. Right away I will call the user out. A few times the user has responded to me with curse words but more often than not the user will apologize and admit that he/she had their account hacked. If the user responds to me with obscenities I will report that account, if the user is sympathetic and admits to getting hacked I take it as a self-awareness lesson. Regardless, Instagram needs to do something to control this.

Eyesore Pictures: Finally, Instagram needs to clean up the pictures in its database that really aren’t pictures at all. The service has a problem with spam photos that perpetrate the same types of schemes that spam accounts plague on our own legitimate photos. For example, I love to search hash tags on Instagram. Every now and then I will enter #Vegas. Mixed in with all the beautiful pictures of the Vegas strip and the gorgeous pools, you will find several images that consist of terrible graphics and mangled words. Many times the photos will nudge the users to do something to **surprise surprise**gain more followers or to apply for cash. These spam pictures will use many of the most popular searched hash tags to aid people in finding them. It is a joke. It is also an eyesore and a complete scam.

I hate seeing this garbage when I search hash tags.

I hate seeing this garbage when I search hash tags.

Instagram is an awesome service with still a lot of potential. However, measures need to be taken to address this growing spam problem. With its multi-billion dollar deal with Facebook, I am hoping that the great minds at Mark Zuckerberg’s company can create something to lessen the impact of the junk train that is making the constant rounds at Instagram. With any business or service the goal is to improve, not digress. While still on the upside, I hope Instagram cleans up this problem before it gets really out of control. What a shame it would be to become the next MySpace. Don’t Blink.

The Griz Intern Social Media Contest

One thing I have mentioned before that I covet about my job is having the opportunity to work with a group of 8-10 college students who serve as interns in the Marketing Department of Grizzly Athletics. I utilize our interns heavily when it comes to our social media program. However, even though many people equate social media with the word “fun”, I have to admit that much of what I have them do for me doesn’t constitute fun at all. Basically, I have them do a lot of adding, inviting, and deleting. Because of the monotonous and boring tasks I put them through, I try to give them at least one opportunity to let their creative juices flow and let them shine within Griz Social Media.

Christie and I with several of this year's interns

Christie and I with several of this year’s interns

For the second year in a row, I have instituted the Griz Intern Picture Challenge. To put it simply, this is a contest where our interns each submit one Griz related picture and battle it out for the most “likes” on our official Montana Grizzlies Facebook page.

That is the simple description of the contest. Of course there is so much more to it…….well, not really.

I presented the contest at our weekly intern meeting a week ago last Monday. I laid down the rules and told them that they had a week to brainstorm, capture, and then send me a picture that in some way relates to Grizzly Athletics. Because yesterday was President’s Day, I made the deadline today. Now that I have all the pictures in my possession, the fun can really begin.

Each weekday starting from today through the end of next week during the time period of 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., I will feature one of the intern’s photos on the Montana Grizzlies page, under the Montana Grizzlies name. From the exact time that I post each photo, that particular image will have exactly twenty-four hours to accrue the most “likes” possible. For example, I posted the first picture of the contest at 4:08 p.m. today. The picture is eligible to receive countable “likes” up until 4:08 p.m. on February 20. The second the deadline hits, I will record the total amount of “likes’ for that photo and that will count as the intern’s score.

This was the picture submitted by my intern Gianna. I ran this one today at 4:08 p.m. on our Facebook page.

This was the picture submitted by my intern Gianna. I ran this one today at 4:08 p.m. on our Facebook page.

Yesterday I randomly drew the order of when each intern will have his/her picture posted. Yes, everyone knows that some days and exact times of posting are more advantageous than others. My interns also know that news at the intercollegiate level breaks unpredictably and can result in a picture getting drowned out on the Facebook page immediately, even if it was only the lead story for fifteen minutes. So naturally some pictures will be in more of a position to succeed than others but it is just the luck of the draw and the nature of the contest.

Our Montana Grizzlies Facebook page has close to 80,000 likes. We have the most successful Facebook page at the FCS level and we beat out numerous other schools in the BCS ranks. None of the fans of our page know that the contest is going on. They simply will just see nice, creative pictures displayed around the same time for the next several days. If they like them, they will actually “like” them with the click of a mouse or a tap of a finger/thumb and participate in the contest unknowingly. Of course I encourage my interns to campaign for their pictures amongst their friends and family so I guess in that respect people outside our intern circle will get to know about the contest.

On Friday, March 8, the winner of the contest will be announced via our closed Griz Marketing Facebook group. The big prize for the winner? Free school for the duration of their education at UM? Full time job in our department? A special place in our Hall of Champions? No, no, and no. I will award the intern whose picture garners the most “likes” with a gift card to the restaurant of his/her choice. Definitely a small prize but at least it is something to strive for. After all, the biggest draw of this whole contest is just the opportunity to get one’s own photography up on a medium for thousands of people to see.

Last year, Steph won the competition. She chose a gift card to Iron Horse as her prize.

Last year, Steph won the competition. She chose a gift card to Iron Horse as her prize.

Of course I consider Griz Social Media the biggest winner in this whole ordeal. Fans love to see pictures, especially well-taken pictures that are creative and that take them behind the scenes. This contest feeds them for eight days. As everyone knows I LOVE to take pictures and I love to share many of the ones I take for Grizzly Athletics on our social media channels. However, I have a certain style. In life it is good to switch up techniques every once in a while and get a fresh take. That is what makes this contest so valuable. It is not my work…it is the work of the interns. Fans get to see a different angle besides the one that is coming from me or the one that is coming from our university photographer. True, some interns submitted better pictures than others but I guess that is not even for me to decide, it is rather a decision for Griz Nation.

I invite you all to follow the Griz Intern Picture Challenge the rest of this week and all of next week through the official Facebook page of Grizzly Athletics. Enjoy the photos and make sure to “like” the ones that you feel are deserving. Don’t Blink.

To Disclose or Not to Disclose Resolutions

The new year has arrived and with it the multitudes of people who boast about their resolutions. Social media has made it way too hard for most to have a “personal new year’s resolution” where one simply executes their annual improvement plan without any fanfare or Facebook statuses.

However, I am not here to hate on those people at all. In fact, I pretty much take my hat off to those brave enough to broadcast their resolutions electronically to everyone from their family to their best buds to their intramural teammates to their co-workers to their old high school/college classmates etc. etc. I don’t know what better motivation there is to succeed at a New Year’s resolution than telling your 1,297 people on your Facebook friend list what you plan to do. Let’s face it, if you have the guts to tell everyone you know that you plan to lose 30 pounds, you better do it.

That is why I almost went along with the trend and dedicated tonight’s blog post to detailing my 2013 New Year’s resolutions. However, after much scrutinizing I decided to keep them personal. Believe me, I am not going public because I am fearful that I won’t accomplish my goals because I WILL. Instead, I just much rather have people notice the changes in me when I reach my goals rather than telling them about it before I even begin. I don’t need the praise of my peers but if I do get it I am going to make sure it is after I actually accomplish something rather than getting the empty round of applause that accompanies the act of simply declaring my intentions.

With that said, I hope that everyone has at least a couple of resolutions for 2013. Yesterday I was going through my Twitter feed and I saw someone tweet something along the lines of this: “We shouldn’t need to make New Year’s resolutions because we should already be doing the right thing on a daily basis.” Even if there was a person in this world who lived out perfect days on a daily basis, he/she could still find something to improve upon. If he/she already ran 12 miles each morning, he/she could run 14 miles each morning. If he/she had 4 doctorate degrees, he/she could get 5 doctorate degrees. If he/she read 300 books a year, he/she could read 310 books a year. You get the point? There is absolute no ceiling for self-improvement. We can always challenge ourselves, we can always push our limits, we can always get better. Every single one of us has room to grow and the start of a new year is a perfect time to better ourselves.

As I mentioned last night, take it one day at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by looking too far ahead. Also, don’t be afraid. Sometimes making a big change and sometimes the channels you need to go through to make that change can be intimidating. Just tell yourself that the end result will be worth it. I always observe the new people who come into the gym for the first time once January 1 hits. Some of them look so scared and out of place…DON’T BE! You made a huge step by actually showing up! Now just go all-in for the next hour and a half and don’t think about anything or anyone else. Do you. This applies not only to working out but it also applies to rekindling a strained relationship, eating better, becoming a better person, spending less money, or watching less television. Simply jump right into it, immerse yourself in the goal, take it one day at a time, and don’t look back.

What a remarkable gift we all have right in front of us with 2013! A fresh new year with limitless possibilities. Let’s all get better and make it the best year ever. Don’t Blink

Overreaction to Instagram Privacy Policy

From what I observed out of people throughout the day, I could have sworn that December 18 marked the end of the world as opposed to December 21. In my time following and working with social media, I had never such an unjustified joint freaking out as I saw on Tuesday. Facebook feeds and Twitter streams filled up with needless paranoia and anger as people reacted to Instagram’s revised privacy policy.

At the heart of the privacy change, the part that is getting so many people outraged, is Instragram’s position that the company has the right to use images uploaded to the service for its own purposes such as selling them to other companies so that they can do with them as they see fit. In fact, the exact language on the policy goes like this: “To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

First off, kudos to Instagram for pretty much getting right to the point and telling its user community the liberties they are taking. That sentence is pretty much cut and dry, yes, Instagram is reserving the right to sell any image they want to third parties. The company didn’t hide behind legal jargon and ambiguity, something that I appreciate.

Apparently though, most everyone else didn’t appreciate the frankness. Instead, they took the statement as saying that “ALL THE PHOTOS YOU POST TO INSTAGRAM WILL NOW BE SOLD TO SHADY, RACIST, CAREER ENDING COMPANIES AND POSTED ON LARGE BILLBOARDS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.”

What an overreaction.

Over 5 million pictures are uploaded to Instagram each day. That means roughly 35 million pictures are posted per week. Even though Instagram probably wouldn’t sell photos this way, for hypothetical purposes, let’s say that Instagram has a draft each week where companies can purchase images to use in their marketing campaigns. Let’s say on the draft day that a lot of companies participate and a staggering 35,000 images are sold. Although it is ridiculous to think that on a weekly basis 35,000 unprofessional iPhone snap shots would be bought for use in a well planned out, high profile advertising campaign, let’s just go along with it. This would mean that out of all the photos taken on Instagram that week, .1% of them would get purchased.

If you are like me and don’t classify as a celebrity, don’t have over a million followers, or don’t have super model looks, you don’t ever have to worry about the revisions to the Instagram policy impacting you. No company is going to purchase the photo of your macaroni and cheese dinner, nor your shot you took of yourself after you got ready for the day, nor your InstaFrame of your vacation, nor your Throwback Thursday of you and your date your sophomore year at Homecoming. You know how you always hear of those “You have a better chance of so and so happening than you do of winning the lottery” scenarios? You can substitute in having one of your Instagram pictures bought by an advertiser. It is just not going to happen.

But maybe you are one of those people who just feel the principle of abiding to such a policy is degrading and an inherent invasion of privacy. Okay, I can see where you are coming from but let’s get real here, we share information on a daily basis over the internet and other social media services that is much more intrusive and invading than what Instagram is proposing to do. What we do on Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, e-mail, and text messaging is much more vulnerable for exploitation, manipulation, and profiting than an Instagram image is. If you are so concerned and terrified by what Instagram can potentially do with the new privacy policy in place, I assume you don’t touch any other social services.

Talking hypothetically again, let’s say you do beat all odds and get struck by lightning four different times in your life and manage to have one of your Instagram images sold to an advertiser. What is possibly the worst that can happen? Instead of negative ramifications, you will probably enjoy notoriety and maybe even a little profit yourself. Please listen to me, Instagram will not deal with shady companies looking to buy their images. Rather, they will be dealing with top of the line, prestigious organizations willing to pay top dollar for these photos. My guess would be that your image would be paired with a company that is well-known and well-respected. Almost instantaneously, you could garner fame and recognition (if the photo had your personal image in it) or just the ego-booster that a national company deemed your shot (if it is of a landscape, object, etc) as advertising worthy.

Again, I caution you not to overact. BUT, if you do overact, please don’t totally jump off the deep end and make the bone headed mistake of deleting your Instagram account. As I have written about before, I find nothing more silly or damaging than when someone decides to get rid of their social media accounts. And to get rid of your Instagram account over the latest policy change is perhaps one of the dumbest reasons I have ever heard of for doing so.

Look, Instagram is really feeling the heat for this policy revision, even though I don’t think they should be. Most likely they will be revising it again and taking out some of the strong language that has turned off so many users. But whether they do or not, realize that the chance that this new policy impacts any of us is slim to none. Let’s not get carried away on a silly issue like this when there are so many more worthy causes in this world right now that we can devote our time to. Don’t Blink.

Responding to Facebook Birthday Posts

Growing up, my mom was notorious for making my two siblings and myself write thank you notes whenever we got something for our birthday, Christmas, or any other occasion where we received something from someone else. This practice started very young as I remember drawing pictures on a sheet of paper and scribbling out the words “thank you” before I could even dream of putting sentences together. On Christmas morning did we ever receive cool trinkets, candy, or toys in our stockings? NO! We received thank you notes.

Of course this proper form of acknowledgement that my mom taught me at a young age translated into a dutiful habit as I entered into my adult life. I have thank you notes stock piled both at home and in my office and I always try to write them the same day that I receive something or have something nice done for me. While back in my toddler years I may have gotten the pardon of my understanding relatives if I did not send them a thank you note (even though my mom would never let it happen) there is no such thing as a free pass in adulthood. It is expected to send thank you notes whenever someone goes out of their way for you, both personally and professionally.

And I couldn’t agree anymore with this standard. A thank you note shows gratitude, recognition, and appreciation towards the person or entity that did something nice for you. Not sending a thank you note shows laziness and ungratefulness. Now I know that not everyone had my mom and not everyone received the same strict teachings from her but if you can’t figure out the necessity of sending a thank you note by the time you turn twenty-one you need to have a crash course with Miss Manners herself.

So because of my strong upbringing with thank you notes, when it comes to other displays of gratitude I make sure to be on top of my game as well. Now people take completely different approaches to this situation, and I am not saying my approach is right, but there is always that question of how to respond with Facebook birthday wishes.

As I said, people respond to this conundrum very differently. Some will go through and like every single birthday wish post. Others will post an all-accompanying status update thanking everyone for the birthday wishes, saying how they had such a good day, talking about how loved they feel, etc . Still others will like certain posts, comment on others, and maybe even delete some. Some people will do absolutely nothing (why even have a Facebook if this is the case?). I like to take the more time consuming approach…

I make sure to respond to each and every person who posts a birthday wish on my wall. As has been my personal policy since I was twenty years old, I make it a priority to thank everyone. My birthday fell on a Monday this year and because of the high volume of traffic social media sites receive at the beginning of the week combined with the large push I got from Sunday night, by the end of my birthday I had around 140 posts on my wall. After my birthday celebration died down and I got through the work day on Tuesday, I started to go to work.

Now back when I was a Facebook rookie, you could not reply to posts on the same page. Crazy, huh? Instead, if someone wished me a birthday on my wall I had to go to that person’s wall and leave my thank you. These days things are much more easier as I can just go down my wall and reply to each person without leaving my own profile. Man, we had it so hard back in the day!

Although it does take over two hours of my time, I actually enjoy individually responding to each person. Birthdays are a great excuse to reconnect with people you haven’t talked to in a long time. I did get some satisfaction out of viewing the posts from people I have not talked to since high school. It is just a little reminder that they still care a tiny bit about you to write a sentence or two on your wall. Responding to each birthday wish is also a great conversation starter. Some interesting, successful, and let’s be honest here, very good looking people post on my wall for my birthday. When thanking them for wishing me a happy date of birth I have no qualms asking them a question about how life is going or if they are going to be at a certain event. They will then reply and a little conversation has started. On my birthday my notifications jump about 12X for a normal day….each day thereafter for the next week I see about a 6X increase in notifications for a normal day. This is because of all the people “liking” and responding to my follow ups.

For each birthday post I get, I make sure to write at least two sentences in response. Depending on how much effort is put into the post will translate into how much I put into my thank you response. I would estimate that 40% of my birthday posts say no more than “Happy Birthday Brent.” Of that 40%, probably half of those responses just say “Happy Birthday.” The people who just say “happy birthday” and don’t even recognize me by my name will get the minimum two sentence response. I am not criticizing these people at all, I am just trying to explain my methodology. The people who wish me a happy birthday in ten different languages, write out the words to the birthday song, bring up an inside joke, or post a meaningful message will get longer and more thoughtful messages from me. Sometimes, the posts might even get a “like” from me as well.

I am not here to call out anyone’s Facebook practices on such a silly issue as this. However, I am saying that you can never go wrong with always trying to show gratitude no matter what the situation or no matter how much of a pain in the ass it might be. Unfortunately, birthdays will continue to come until we die. That means we all have many more birthdays to come. In one of these next birthdays, I challenge you to respond to everyone who wishes you a happy birthday and just see how cool the result really is. Now I know many of you have way more Facebook friends than I could ever dream of having so it will be much more time draining for you but I still recommend you give it a try. But most of all, if you never do respond to every birthday post you get on Facebook please make sure to still write thank you notes. Don’t Blink.