The Glorious Debut of Instagram Stories

Yesterday, a certain social media giant made a blockbuster move by introducing Instagram Stories. I never saw it coming but when it dropped on Tuesday I experimented with it and read up on it as much as possible. It is what you have to do when you are a social media professional.

So although I still have a lot to learn, let me say this: Instagram Stories is pretty cool.

The introduction of Instagram Stories rocked the social media world this week.

The introduction of Instagram Stories rocked the social media world this week.

Over the past 36 hours, people have expressed either their love or hate for Instagram’s new rollout. I don’t see what there is not to like. You can now go to a powerhouse social media channel, one that most of us already have solid followings, and perform two important social tasks. You can post a beautiful, filtered picture or you can send off your grainy, silly 24 hour picture message. How is this bad?

Right by my house there is a joint Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts store. In my opinion, this sure beats going to each individual location if you woke up one day and wanted both an ice cream cone and a chocolate donut. To have ice cream and pastries under one roof is helpful, much in the same way that having artsy photos and sloppy images under one app is.

Best of all, Instagram did Instagram Stories right. Besides no geofilters (yet), Instagram’s version of 24 hour storytelling social media is perhaps better than Snapchat’s. Instagram rolled out a product that is easy to use, that is accessible, and that is powerful. I have perhaps 25 people that look at each of my Snaps in any given story. With still four hours left before my first image I posted to my debut Instagram Story disappears, I have already had 57 people view it.

As you can see from the number at the bottom of this image, 57 people have already viewed this terrible selfie.

As you can see from the number at the bottom of this image, 57 people have already viewed this terrible selfie.

But that is small potatoes compared to how big Instagram Stories will be for brands. Images I have posted to the Coastal Carolina inaugural Instagram Story just this morning are already receiving 2,500 views. Earlier I asked our audience to screen capture an image on the story and post to Twitter. Since then, multiple people have completed this tedious task. Keep in mind that this feature hasn’t even been out for 48 hours yet. For it to catch on this fast says a lot.

To test how our audience would respond to directions given over Instagram Stories, I posted this on the @ccuchanticleers Instagram account this morning. The response has been fantastic.

To test how our audience would respond to directions given over Instagram Stories, I posted this on the @ccuchanticleers Instagram account this morning. The response has been fantastic.

I have a reality to bring up and a question to ask. First the reality. This addition by Instagram obviously means more work for social media managers. Instead of telling one 24 hour story, we will be telling two. Of course telling the same story across both Snapchat and Instagram Stories won’t suffice. People in my industry are going to have to upgrade both the workload and creativity.

Our first test at Coastal will come this Friday at our summer commencement ceremony. Because I am fortunate enough to have two student workers, I will place one on Snapchat and one on Instagram Stories. I will then post myself to our regular Instagram platform. This will hopefully result in three different unique perspectives (but one voice) that will translate into great coverage.

My question is this: How will Snapchat be impacted? My opinion is based on what I have learned in the past. Remember when Instagram shattered Vine’s world three years ago with the release of video? At the time, I said Vine could remain respectable. I was wrong. Although Vine has survived, it is a shell of itself. The service still has a cult following but it is anything but a major player in the social media game.

Will Instagram take down another social media channel and force Snapchat to meet a similar fate as Vine? I don’t think Snapchat will be as doomed. Because of advertising and a massive number of people using the service, Snapchat won’t become irrelevant. But it won’t come away unscathed either. Mark my words, Instagram will take a big bite out of Snapchat. Money, contracts, and celebrities will help Snapchat continue to float but Instagram delivered a huge blow with yesterday’s rollout.

It is kind of weird getting to know my Instagram friends on a Snapchat level. But like with any social media change, after a week it will be the new normal. Well played, Instagram. Don’t Blink.

How I Used Instagram to Choose My Home

Moving across the country to start a new job will give any person a mile long checklist of things to do before the official start date. When I accepted a position at Coastal Carolina University last week I put one of the most important and stressful components of relocation at the top of that list: housing. For the past several days I have poured a lot of energy into finding a nice place in the beautiful Myrtle Beach area. I am happy to say that with about three weeks to spare I have found my new home.

I did not take this decision lightly. Knowing only that I would definitely be renting I looked at houses, condos, and apartments. Not enjoying the luxury of looking at properties in person definitely adds an additional component of mystery and stress to the search but luckily I was not alone. The head of University Communication at CCU put me in contact with one of his real estate friends to give me advice and guidance throughout the process.

As the smoke started to clear I settled on an area where I wanted to live and I had my eyes set on two apartment communities. I left no stone unturned as I researched both of them through every means at my disposal as I scrutinized websites, read every review ever published, interrogated the leasing agents, and of course consulted my real estate contact. With me still going back and forth on what community I wanted to live at I decided to institute a tiebreaker by going to one final source…social media!

As I looked through the photos on the Facebook page of one of the two complexes I was looking at I saw a flyer for an Instagram contest they conducted (that creativity won them extra points from me right on the spot). Tenants could enter the contest and possibly receive money off rent by taking a picture at the complex and using a certain hashtag. Of course right when I read it I opened up Instagram and searched the hashtag.

Several beautiful photos showing the complex’s pool, pristine landscaping, and apartment layout popped up. Here I was looking at photos actually taken by tenants living there! No doctored or enhanced professional photos taken by the complex to possibly fool me. Although the photos looked nice these Instagram users were obviously submitting the images because they wanted to win a contest. Of course they were going to try really hard to post pictures that looked aesthetically pleasing. Because the promotion ended months ago I knew I could reach out to these people and get an honest opinion on what they thought about living at their location.

I targeted four of the people who entered the contest, two males and two females, and I commented on the pictures that they submitted. Well, technically I didn’t “comment”….it was more like asking them to tell me everything they liked and disliked about living there. Within a couple hours I had long, detailed responses from all four, with one of them transitioning into a very helpful e-mail conversation. The reviews they gave me were glowing. Besides the e-mail conversation I entered in with one of the people, I also asked follow up questions on Instagram to the others. I got the information I needed and of course it made my decision a no-brainer.

I received some great reaction from Instagram users who took the time to answer my questions. Here are the initial responses I received.

I received some great reaction from Instagram users who took the time to answer my questions. Here are the initial responses I received.

By April 28 (pending an accepted application of course) I will be living at Alexan Withers Preserve, an apartment community in Myrtle Beach that is absolutely gorgeous, only five minutes from the beach, and just a mile from the vibrant city center. Although those are just facts that you can get from the website, it was the reaction I received via Instagram that won me over. When legit people who I contacted out of the blue described the complex as “the best I have ever lived in,” “luxurious,” “overall I would recommend Alexan ten times out of ten,” “brand new,”and “the crowd is great” it eased a lot of my fears and uncertainty.

An image of the apartment complex I will be living in. Thanks to the Alexan Withers Preserve Instagram account for the photo. (@alexanwithers)

An image of the apartment complex I will be living in. Thanks to the Alexan Withers Preserve Instagram account for the photo. (@alexanwithers)

Social media helps me in my life every single day in multiple ways. I find it fascinating that even a service such as Instagram that is more designed to showcase photos rather than serve as a way for people to talk and ask questions can yield fantastic results. Congrats to Alexan Withers Preserve. They designed a contest intended to engage and reward current tenants but it also brought them a new one. I can’t wait to live there. Don’t Blink.

My Personal Policy for “Liking” Instagram Photos

Not long ago I wrote a post about my quest for Instagram likes and my fascination with people about five years my junior and younger that can pull in triple digit likes with as much as a grainy selfie. While I highlighted my desire to receive big time likes for myself at that time, I hold no animosity towards the people who scroll past my food pictures and arena images without pressing that “like” button. Quite the opposite, I actually applaud you.

I am a big believer in sparingly distributing “likes”. You see, when I go through my Instagram or Facebook feeds my thumb is not going up and down clicking away. I don’t give out likes in the way that I give out candy. Rather I reward them based on the best content that I see. That means I am not liking someone’s Snap Chat screen captured photo they post to Facebook. Or I am not liking an Instagram photo that someone took of another photo that carries with it an awful glare. Or I am not liking a photo of someone’s dog that was taken while the animal was jumping up and down resulting in a blurry mess. I refuse to pad someone’s “like count” when they are producing garbage.

Someone will get my seal of approval with a quality, creative, or appealing image. By my best estimation, I probably like one photo for every four that I see. What separates the fourth of pictures I like from the other 75% that I just pass by? Effort. As I explained at the beginning of this paragraph I need to see an attempt at a meaningful photo. You and I both know the distinction between a good photo and a bad image. If someone I follow took a quality photo of his young kid in an intimate moment I am going to like it. If someone rearranged her desk items in a creative pattern and applied a sweet filter I am going to like it. If a girl I follow who I find attractive posts an appealing image of herself I am going to like it.

I don’t do “likes for likes”. I don’t give in to people who solicit them (unless they ask me personally, then I will). I don’t have people I follow who will receive a like from me no matter what they post. Plain and simple I distribute likes to images that deserve them. When I like a photo, it is a compliment to the person who took it.

SIDE NOTE: There is one time I will like my own Instagram photo. If I post an image and it has garnered 9 likes I will go ahead and like it myself so it will display “10 likes” under the image as opposed to a long slew of nine usernames. True stuff.

I do change my philosophy up a little bit when it comes to liking Facebook comments and favoriting Tweets. But that is a blog post for tomorrow! I hold my standards high for social media photography and I think that is a good thing. Don’t Blink.

Photo Editing Apps: Making Instagram Photos Even More Beautiful

Every now and then when I scroll down my Instagram feed I will see photos that jump out from the others. The colors of the photo are magnificent and you can tell that a pretty sweet filter has been applied, one that you can’t get from Instagram. When I would see these pictures I knew that the person posting it was using an app outside of Instagram. However, although I always meant to research what these people were using to make their photos stand out so much I kept putting it on the back burner.

Last night I was reading a magazine when I flipped to the tech section that talked about photo editing applications. It mentioned a lot of different ones and then highlighted a few as the best available currently. After taking 2,600 photos on Instagram without using any other third party applications except for Instaframe and a couple others similar to it, I knew it was time to spice up my “Instagram Game” a bit.

Today I downloaded the free version of Pixlromatic and then I purchased the newest version of Color Splash. Let me tell you, these apps will blow your mind. I don’t want to spend too much time getting into specifics about what these two apps do. Just know that Pixlromatic is a service that allows you to apply a couple different levels of filters to your photos, filters that are 10x better than anything Instagram offers. Color Splash lets you isolate colors around a canvas of black and white. I am pretty sure you have all seen the product of this app before….think of an Easter basket sitting in the middle of a busy kitchen with everything black and white except for the vibrantly colored eggs inside the basket. That is what Color Splash does.

My first photo with my new apps. I used Color Splash to make just Glen and I in color at Dodger Stadium and then used a filter in Pixlromatic.

My first photo with my new apps. I used Color Splash to make just Glen and I in color at Dodger Stadium and then used a filter in Pixlromatic.

These apps totally transform a normal photo into something totally different. When done right, this “totally different” product looks like a work of art. In just the second image I created with Pixlromatic I took a photo of a tree with its leaves changing right by campus. By itself it was a decent picture but after I applied a couple Pixlromatic filters it went from a tree with yellow leaves in front of blue skies to a striking reddish-orange tree in front of purple skies and cool shadows. It immediately got 22 Instagram likes (a high number for me).


This was the original picture I took.

This was the original picture I took.


This is what I ended up with after using Pixlromatic.

This is what I ended up with after using Pixlromatic


I feel now that if I wanted to I could do all my Photoshop work that I do on my PC right from my iPhone…and maybe even get better results! The technology available to edit photos on smart phones is absolutely incredible and for the most part, easy. Another cool aspect of these apps is that you can use them together. I can take a photo and use it in Color Splash. After I save it I can pull it up in Pixlromatic and manipulate it some more from there. Finally I can bring it into Instagram and do any further editing that I see fit.

However, it is important not to overdo it. I definitely have no plans to start uploading heavily filtered photos each and every time I post to Instagram. I just think if you continually post significantly doctored photos to your account it makes you and your photos look a little fake. We all know that filters help to disguise and flatter and trust me, some of the new photo editing apps take disguise and flatter to new levels. Whether it be a photo of nature or a selfie, it is important to go #NoFilter at least 35% of the time and give your audience a regular dose of reality.

I don't really look this way so there is no need to always portray me like this.

I don’t really look this way so there is no need to always portray me like this.

I think an Instagram account for a sports team should go even lower than that 35% number but I will save athletics filtering for an entirely separate blog post.

If you like photos and you like posting to Instagram, definitely check out the photo editing apps out there. They provide a great way to get very artistic and creative. Remember to have fun with them but also remember to set a limit for yourself. Don’t blur that line too much between reality and Filter Land. Don’t Blink.

A Stellar Social Media Promotion

As social media keeps growing and growing, the pressure is on for companies, organizations, celebrities, and even athletic departments to step up their game and offer their fans fresh social content. Within Grizzly Athletics, this duty falls upon my shoulders. I make it one of my top priorities each and every day to make sure Griz Social Media leads the way in the FCS and that our program can hold its weight with the major schools in the BCS. To accomplish this priority, we try new things and take risks. Some of the social media ideas I have introduced have not always caught on. On the other hand, some of them have. I would briefly like to share a success story.

This social media success story has to do with Instagram.

This social media success story has to do with Instagram.

I depend on Kim Staninger from EPIO Solutions to offer me a second voice on social media. EPIO Solutions is a marketing/PR/social media consulting agency who we proudly work with. I directly work with Kim and we chat and brainstorm ideas to make Griz Social Media better. One idea she offered me was to institute a “Guest Instagrammer” during the football season. This person would get sole access to our Instagram account (@UMGRIZZLIES) and gain complete access to the Washington-Grizzly Stadium sidelines on Saturday. I was intrigued by the idea and decided to run with it.

At first I had to get past the idea that someone besides me would be posting to our social media accounts. I take great pride in posting about 95% of our content across our platforms so to give up the reins to someone not even within Grizzly Athletics made me just a tad bit uneasy. But it only took me a couple seconds to get over my control-fit because it wasn’t like I could do it myself during the games because of my responsibilities up in the press box. Also I knew we would capture a new perspective from our Instagram lens with someone else providing the content. I also knew it would give a loyal fan an ultimate Griz experience he/she would never forget. We were definitely doing this!

Make sure to follow @UMGRIZZLIES on Instagram.

Make sure to follow @UMGRIZZLIES on Instagram.

The week before our first home football game I wrote a story for our website and posted on our social media outlets the big announcement: We would debut our “Griz Guest Instagrammer” at the Appalachian State football game! I decided to choose our guest Instagrammer from an application process. I had interested parties e-mail me and provide me with the following: 200 words on why he/she loves the Griz, 200 words on why he/she loves Instagram, a copy of his/her best Instagram photo, and his/her Instagram handle. I knew this information would enable me to choose a person who would make this promotion a hit and who would improve our social media program.

I read through the roughly 20 applications I got and ended up choosing a girl named Christina. I looked through her materials and knew she was who I wanted for the first game. I notified her and she met with me on Friday before the game so I could give her the all-access photographer armband that would get her everywhere in the stadium. I also told her what I was looking for, showed her how to access the field, went over policies, and answered questions….oh yeah, I also gave her our Instagram password (the transfer of power!).

Griz Guest Instagrammer - Christina

Our first ever Griz Guest Instagrammer, Christina. This was her the day before the game when she picked up her credential.

On gameday Christina showed up an hour early and one of our marketing interns greeted her and once again confirmed that the whole field was available to her to take awesome Instagram photos. Once I saw from my vantage point in the press box that Christina was set I kind of forgot about the whole Griz Guest Instagrammer thing and went about doing my job. At halftime I was briefly reminded about the cool social media promotion we had going on when Christina showed up in the press box and informed me that her iPhone had died (I still laugh at this). We did some troubleshooting and got her a charger and after that I forgot once again.

It was not until after the game when I was walking to my car did I remember that we had someone else using our Instagram account for the past few hours. I pulled out my phone and looked at Instagram. My eyes lit up more than the fireworks that went off just 30 minutes prior.

Shots like this immediately jumped out at me.

Shots like this immediately jumped out at me.

The shots that Christina took were absolutely amazing. Not only were the pictures themselves just gorgeous but she managed to tell the whole story of the game. She had the skydivers, the band, the fireworks, the students, the mascot, the touchdowns, the crowd, and the jubilant joy of the players after the game. By Instagram standards it was absolutely beautiful.

She captured everything about the game so well.

She captured everything about the game so well.

Not only did she cover the game better than anything I could have imagined but she improved Griz Social Media. Over the weekend we gained 400 new followers! 400! We went from 1200 followers to over 1600 followers. You can’t ask for much better results than that, especially when all you are doing is giving a passionate Griz fan the opportunity to roam the sidelines and capture the game through her eyes.

I loved it how Christina had the presence of mind to run over to where the football team was singing the fight song and take a picture.

I loved it how Christina had the presence of mind to run over to where the football team was singing the fight song and take a picture.

I am excited for our future Griz Guest Instagrammers. Christina said she had a great experience and I am glad I am able to afford that to five more people this season. The bar has been set high and I will be happy if we get half the results over the next five games that we did with this first one. Go Griz Social Media and thanks Christina! Don’t Blink.

Catching Up With Instagram Video

A little over two months ago, Instagram came out with “The Announcement” and introduced video to its photo sharing service. The announcement and subsequent rollout of the upgrade seemed to create a buzz and hysteria analogous to when American troops took out Osama bin Laden. However, although a very important moment in social media indeed, I tried to keep a cooler head. Before proclaiming Insta-Video the savior of the social world, I wanted to wait several weeks and see how people used it and the influence it had. I have a couple observations to make.

Personally, I think video on Instagram has underachieved. Bottom line, I don’t think people are using it that much and I definitely don’t think people are watching it that much.

I don’t think people are using Instagram video that much because it isn’t the easiest platform to use and it can be time consuming. Half the time I attempt to use Insta-Video I get an error message popping up saying I don’t have enough memory to record. The times when I am actually able to roll tape I find my thumb missing the red record button or I believe I am recording something when I am really not. The way the video screen charts how much time left you have to record is not visually appealing and seems a bit primitive. Also, it seems like a lot of effort has to go in to making a decent Instagram video. Now of course to be successful in social media you have to put effort in to all of your content but I think Instagram Video adds a little more labor than necessary. I know you don’t have to use all 15 seconds but when you have a certain amount of time available to you, the tendency is to use it.

While I can’t be 100% certain, I would bet my yearly salary that Insta-Videos receive much less attention, views, and likes than regular pictures. For many people, once they see the video icon in the top right hand corner of the image they scroll right by it. People don’t want to spend 15 seconds watching something. They just don’t have the time. Users want to look at a picture and get all their information right then. They don’t want to wait for the delay of the video to start, they don’t want to be startled by the loud volume of the audio once it finally does, and they don’t want to watch a shaky 15 second video with nine different takes. It doesn’t take a genius to spot the obvious. From looking at the videos that I post and that others post, I would say that videos only receive a third of the likes that a traditional picture does. Maybe it will take some time for video to really catch on but by no means has it transformed Instagram overnight.

I will give Instagram Video credit on a couple fronts. With the ability to film for 15 seconds, you can connect to your followers in a more intimate and expressive way. You can relate your opinions, thoughts, and moods by taking a quick video. I don’t think many people are utilizing it in this way just yet but I think that users who want to have a true impact with Insta-Video should do so. You can really create an interesting little vlog with Instagram now. If you can express yourself in an honest and unique way you could really pull in an audience.

Another way that Instagram has succeeded with its video rollout is that it has crippled Vine. No, it hasn’t completely destroyed it but it has dealt it a big blow. My friend activity on Vine has died down probably 75%. Of the 25% of the activity still taking place, more than half of it is through re-vines…lame. Instagram definitely wanted to accomplish two things: Create a top of the line video experience while knocking Vine off of its rapidly rising social media pedestal. To this point, it has only succeeded with one of those objectives.

I am going to continue to keep tracking the strides that Instagram Video will or will not make in the next couple months. Like I said, it might just take a little time for it to catch on. However, at this point, I have to say that Instagram Video has been a disappointment. Don’t Blink.

A Big Day in Social Media: Insta-Video

Okay, okay, okay….the joke is definitely on me. Last night I pretty much got down on my knees and waved my arms up and down in a “We’re not worthy” motion and glorified Vine as the solution to coming up with unique content across all social media channels. If that display of admiration didn’t sell how all-in I was with Vine there was that other post I wrote a little over a month ago christening Vine as the future of social media.

Today, just about 12 hours after writing my last post, Instagram made an announcement. No, not just some minor release about privacy settings or the addition of a new picture filter but rather they made “The Announcement”. In a move that made the social media world go berserk, Instagram informed the public that the service was now video capable. Introducing 15 second videos with 13 different filters, Instagram pretty much crushed the current version of Vine in multiple ways. Basically, Instagram came through with a big time walk off homerun at Vine’s expense.

A few things…

1. Instagram is now more powerful than ever before. The service skyrocketed to stardom about a year and a half ago and stayed on top for about 12 months. Once Vine went mainstream and other social services started to emerge, Instagram lost a little bit of its luster. Not anymore. Instagram has reclaimed its supremacy as the #1 social media app. It now challenges Facebook for the most powerful social media service period.

2. Competition is wonderful in any industry and the same goes for social media. When apps and services continue to push out top notch and improved products in response to a competitor’s latest version, we as consumers win. This is a great day in social media even if it makes me look like a total moron.

3. Don’t count Vine out yet. Although it appears that Instagram could have delivered that knockout blow, let everything settle for a month. Let’s see how well Instagram’s video feature functions. Can it keep up? Will videos load quickly? Will it do anything to mess up the main photo feed? Also, let’s be fair to Vine and give them a chance to respond. What will they come out with to combat this significant move by Instagram? Will they do anything to try to keep the Vine loyalists sticking around? This will be interesting to observe and we do need to let it play out a little bit before we erect a Vine gravestone right next to the Myspace one.

4. Don’t get me started on the people who are resisting this move by Instagram. Can you believe that some folks are upset that IG would introduce video? There are Instagram purists out there who believe the service should for the next 100 years be devoted strictly to still photos. They are the same people who whine about every update Facebook makes and still detest the Timeline. Come on, social media sites evolve over time, change is a constant in this industry.

5. Finally, my point from last night still stands (about the functionality of Vine, not necessarily its supremacy). You can use many images from a Vine video to create unique content across all of your other social channels. The one advantage that Vine has over Instagram video: When you pause an IG video, the annoying pause icon comes up in the right hand corner. This of course makes cropping it out impossible if you want to save the integrity of the whole picture. Vine still allows its videos to be converted into flawless images without the necessity of cropping out an annoying icon. At least I saved a little face.

Historic day in social media! Let’s keep with the competing and evolving of social networks, it is just too fun…even if it makes me look like an idiot. 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.

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.


Move over Snap Chat, there is a new darling of the social media world. Although not completely entrenched in mainstream use yet, in a couple months I think this little app will be on the iPhones of everyone who happens to own one. I give you Vine.

Vine is a video sharing application for the iPhone that takes six second videos. Yes, a very basic premise and I am sure many of you can rattle off a couple other video sharing apps that do similar things. I used cinemagram for a long time, an app that at first glance might seem like Vine, but not really. Vine differentiates itself because you film your videos in a “start and stop” type of fashion. You have six seconds to film whatever you want but you can space those six seconds over two days or two years if you want.

You see, to start creating your video you push the screen once in the actual app. It will then start filming. You let one second go by and then you hit the screen again and it stops it. You then press the screen again to resume filming…and then stop…and then start again. Of course you don’t have to start and stop over and over, by all means you can let the video run for the whole six seconds and post as is. But Vine is so cool because you can tell a story in six seconds.


This was my first ever Vine video.

This was my first ever Vine video.


Let me just give a couple examples. Let’s say you were cooking homemade pizza. You could take a half second shot of each step in the process of making that pizza. You can create a video that starts with a countertop full of ingredients that goes to a plain crust that goes to a crust with sauce that goes to a crust with sauce and cheese that goes to a crust with sauce and cheese in an oven that goes to a perfectly baked pizza at the end….all in six seconds. Or today I made the early morning drive from Spokane to Missoula. During the drive I shot different parts of the trip, culminating in a six second video that took me from Spokane to the Montana border.

However, not all of your Vine videos have to be so cut and dry and make perfect chronological sense like the two examples I just provided. The best Vine videos are the ones that incorporate random shots, utilize the actual iPhone user himself/herself, and bring an element of humor to the action. But let me not get too ahead of myself, let me explain the app a little more.

When you post a video it will go to a home feed type thing just like any other social media service. You scroll down and you view all the other videos that people you follow have uploaded. Videos are stacked vertically on top of each other with only one video fitting into the screen of the iPhone at a time. Whatever video you have situated in your iPhone screen will play. Complete with full sound, the video will start and finish…and then start again! Videos on Vine loop endlessly and that is a good thing because it takes a few views to capture everything that is jam packed into a six second video. Like other social services, hash tags play a large role. You can search any topic that strikes your fancy and watch endless six second videos that others have created on that said subject. Just another way to pass time on your iPhone.

Glimpse from the Vine video I did on my travels from Spokane to Missoula.

Glimpse from the Vine video I did on my travels from Spokane to Missoula.

As I briefly mentioned, Vine comes with sound. This allows you to narrate your videos. With so many different shots you can produce, you can do some really fun things with narration to make yourself sound pretty cool. If you wanted, you could do a Vine video with 12 different shots and say one word for each of those 12 shots. The end result is a pretty trippy sounding video.

Vine will skyrocket in the social media world because it allows users to be creative. The amount of room that is available for people to experiment and let their artsy juices flow is on the same level as Instagram…perhaps even vaster. The limits are just endless on what all you can do. I know there are many talented and creative people out there that don’t even know that Vine exists but when they do, they will create some amazing content.

While there are many talented and creative people out there who don’t know about Vine’s existence there are also many people in general out there who don’t know about Vine’s existence. Probably about 5-7% of my social media friends (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) are on Vine. Of that 5-7%, only about half are active on it. I used to be in that half that had an account set up but didn’t touch it but I recently came to grips with the power and intrigue of it. I now post regularly. Just today I created a Vine account for our athletic department. Hear me now, this app will soon explode.

A couple drawbacks with Vine: First off, it is only available to iPhone users so it definitely excludes a large population of people. Secondly, you can only take shots from Vine’s video player. Thus you can’t import footage that you took with the standard iPhone video feature. But this app is so young and promising!! The future is bright and improvements will be made. I recommend that if you have an iPhone you should definitely jump on the bandwagon, download the app, and start Vining! Don’t Blink.