A Twitter Change Years in the Making

FINALLY!!

Yesterday, Twitter made a move that has been years in the making by changing the character count for all users from 140 to 280. With this development, I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. I had been anticipating this change for two years and was starting to get antsy. The past month and a half was especially brutal as Twitter gifted select users with the 280 privilege. However, neither I nor @ccuchanticleers received the coveted longer tweet clearance, something that made me feel a bit left out.

But not anymore. The major Twitter overhaul is here and everyone can start composing dramatically longer tweets. With such a drastic change to one of the platforms on the Mount Rushmore of social media, is this a good thing?

Five years ago this month, I sent out my 15,000th tweet and 1,500th Instagram image. Since then, a lot has changed with both social media giants.

Well, it depends on who you ask. As is the case with every social media channel makeover, you will have users who detest any adjustment made simply because it is different. What Twitter did yesterday wasn’t just a minor tweak; it basically nullified the foundation of what the service was founded on. Thus, many Twitter traditionalists trashed the increase in characters, making their opinion known through…well…Twitter.

You also have Twitter users who are more accepting of the change. It is tough to be a 140 character precisionist. The freedom to now cram more words and emojis into a single tweet relieves some of the pressure of attempting to “get it all in.”

As for me? I take the same stance I always do when reacting to social media change. I don’t just accept it, I embrace it. What else can I do? As a social media professional you have no choice but to expect, and then capitalize, on changes. Today I asked our audience what they hope to see from our account with respect to the new character limit. A good percentage wants us to stick with 140 character tweets but the majority would like to see a combination of short and long messages. Also, it is very obvious that the last thing our audience wants is for us to use the max character count for every single tweet we send out.

Earlier today, I asked our users what they want to see from our account in respect to the Twitter character limit.

So I will move forward with using the increased character count when it is to our advantage. There is no need to abuse it. I will go about drafting tweets as if I only had 140 characters to work with and then fill in with more detail as needed. I have quickly found out over the past 36 hours that 280 characters gives you much more leeway than even I had imagined.

From a personal standpoint, I am excited for the change. I think it will vastly improve Twitter dialogue among users and I might start sharing excerpts from my blog when I publish a new post. I will take the same approach with my own account as I am taking with the Coastal account and challenge myself to only use 200+ characters when absolutely necessary. Until analytics say otherwise, I do think tweets closer to 140 characters will have more of an impact than tweets closer to 280 characters.

The transition period after such a change can be tough. But just give it a week or two and I am sure many of us won’t even remember when Twitter was synonymous with the number 140. Embrace the change! Don’t Blink.

The Major Change Coming to Twitter

I learned last night that Twitter will soon completely change its identity. I am not talking a logo makeover though, I am referring instead to a move that will completely transform the service.

Very soon, perhaps by the end of the month, Twitter will increase its tweet limit from 140 characters to 10,000 characters. So much for micro blogging, right?

I admit that when I first heard about the impending change I was shocked. I never really considered Twitter going away from 140 characters, let alone increasing it by over 70X. But when you are a social media professional you can’t stay shocked for long. You also can’t feel bitter or angry. Change is a constant in the social media world and people like me must embrace it.

So while I am pumping myself up for the major move I have a couple questions in the back of my head: What exactly will the new Twitter look like? How do I want to use the new capabilities for the Coastal Carolina Twitter account?

The reality is that I won’t know the answer to the two questions above until after the reveal. Of course once the change is made I will immediately know the answer to my first inquiry but it will take more time for the second. I will have to become very familiar with how the new version works, analyze how the longer tweets look on the timeline (both from a desktop and mobile standpoint), and investigate how features such as tagging/retweeting/replying are impacted. Although I will need to step back and digest these changes, I can’t take forever. Twitter users are going to be freaking out when the switch occurs and they will be looking to accounts they know and trust to lead the way in demonstrating how to effectively master the new way to tweet. If I am on my game, Coastal Carolina University will help pave that road.

As I said above, my strategy for the new Twitter will not be completely formulated until the updated version is released. However, I don’t feel like I will be one for using the whole allotment of 10,000 characters for every tweet (if any). General information and updates will still be brief in nature. With the reputation that Twitter has built for almost a decade, I just don’t see users wanting to read what will amount to be a 10K character blog post. Will I ever tweet out a press release in its entirety? Heck no, I think the #CCU account would lose half its followers after a couple times of doing that. I will still summarize and leave a link. I mean let’s be honest here, this new change isn’t revolutionary in the idea that users will now be able to cram more text into a tweet. With the current 140 character version of Twitter, people already post large amounts of text; they just utilize hyperlinks and JPEGs to do it.

I am more interested in finding out if the new version will allow for multiple higher quality photos to be tweeted out at once. I am also curious to see if I will be able to mention our whole incoming freshmen class in a single tweet. Will Twitter also lengthen the character limit for profile bios?

I think the new Twitter will impact other people more than your typical university social media manager. I think sports reporters will love the luxury of sending out more detailed messages when they are live tweeting games. I think comedians who distinguished themselves by typing out hilarious 140 character jokes will lose steam to less Twitter-inclined comedians who now have more space to hit their punchline. Politicians will take advantage of more space to explain their policies and views. Speaking of politicians, Donald Trump’s Twitter insults are already vicious, can you imagine giving him 10,000 characters to really let loose on the people he looks down on?

One thing is for sure, Coastal Carolina University is preparing for and anticipating this big social media development. As for my personal Twitter account, I could definitely use a few extra characters when tweeting out my blog post teasers. Don’t Blink.

I Can’t Say a Word

Another interesting story resulting from social media use recently hit the national news. A dedicated Twitter user boarded a plane for a 50-minute flight. While waiting for the aircraft to take off, she noticed a couple across the aisle from her engaging in an argument. It started to get pretty emotional and heated as the young man and woman discussed ending the relationship right there. This Twitter user, Kelly Keegs, started to live tweet the whole mess. For those not familiar with “live tweeting,” think of it as a descriptive radio play-by-play of an event that happens to be transmitted through social media as opposed to the airwaves.

Kelly Keegs recently became a very famous Twitter user.

Kelly Keegs recently became a very famous Twitter user.

When Kelly caught wind of the argument she started to tweet out the dialogue between the couple word for word. Early on in the dispute she also tweeted out a photo of the pair. (I would love to re-hash the whole conversation for you, but it would do the feud much more justice and save me time if I just direct you to a spot where you can view the whole back-and-forth). The argument reached a boiling point and a breakup seemed imminent but then surprisingly the couple started to makeout. It gets a little better…

Once the kissing started, the plane was finally ready to take off so Kelly had to power off her phone. Once the aircraft touched down, however, it was right back to Twitter. Kelly reported to her followers that right when the wheels went up, the couple ordered six vodka drinks that they chugged between makeout sessions. What a flight!

Just a little sample of Kelly's play-by-play tweets.

Just a little sample of Kelly’s play-by-play tweets.

Now some people hail Kelly as a Twitter hero. A growing group, however, thinks differently. They label Kelly as a nosey, manipulative, drama queen menace. When I first heard of this story I thought long and hard about the moral dilemmas involved. In my heart I definitely wanted to side with the group who is petitioning for Kelly to be kicked off Twitter. But I feel if I do take a strong stance against her I might seem like a huge hypocrite for two reasons.

First, I am a chronic live tweeter. Mind you, I don’t just do it for my job or monumental events. I live tweeted my sister and fiancé going to the movies together. I live tweeted the entire 90 minute special of the 101 Sports Jeers of 2013. I live tweeted my dad shoveling the driveway. Many outraged people out there find the whole concept of live tweeting utterly stupid. Although the more reasonable folks just take issue with the subject matter of what she was live tweeting, I find it hard to strongly criticize someone who engages in the same practice I routinely do.

Second, I sometimes tweet out photos of random people. When I saw Kelly’s depiction of the #PlaneBreakup I wanted to immediately blurt out that the tweets themselves were fine but it was the photo of the couple she sneakily took that crossed the line. How could she broadcast what they looked like to her whole social media audience? But then I took a step back. In the past I have also tweeted out photos of strangers doing interesting and bizarre things. I never briefly considered that the image I took of the person holding the dog at the DMV might be retweeted 4,000 times, exposing her identity to everyone. Of course this didn’t happen to me but it did to Kelly (replace the image of the lady at the DMV with the arguing couple).

The infamous photo that Kelly Keegs took.

The infamous photo that Kelly Keegs took.

So what this all means is that I can’t say one bad word about Kelly Keegs. Until I change some of my own social media habits, I don’t have the tiniest bit of room to talk. I do think the situation is more unfortunate than funny but that is pretty much all I can say. I have no business calling a fellow Twitter user out.

But who I will call out is the airline. Did they really serve the couple SIX vodka drinks?! All at once?! On a 50-minute flight?! I have traveled on flights of that duration before and seen the airline kibosh beverage service completely. To think that they brought an obviously distressed couple that much alcohol seems a little strange. Can someone please cue Dierks Bentley’s “Drunk On a Plane”?

I would definitely watch something where a late night show brings the couple AND Kelly Keegs together for a reunion. I would love to see what goes down and what is said. I am sure someone would tweet about it. Don’t Blink.

My Personal and Business Guidelines for Liking/Favoriting on Social Media

Yesterday I described my policy for “liking” photos on Instagram. Basically I explained that I only like photos where I can tell that a degree of effort was put forth in producing the posted image. When it comes to Facebook statuses/comments and Tweets I am a little more lenient. Let me explain.

When it comes to Facebook statuses I make it a habit to like the big news conveyers. You know, when people announce via a Facebook status that they got a job, got engaged, graduated, had a baby, etcetera. It is important to celebrate other people’s success and sometimes liking the status announcing it is the only way to do so. I also like funny, creative, and informative statuses as well. I am pretty much down to like anything as long as it is not a rant, a ploy to get sympathy/pity, or a “20 things you didn’t know about me” disaster.

I am even more liberal on comments, especially if someone leaves one underneath one of my statuses. I appreciate engagement on the content I post and if someone takes the time to leave a comment I will make sure 98% of the time to like it. The 2% exception comes from a friend of mine who has a knack for responding with “no one cares,” “loser,” or “get a life,” each time I post a link to my blog. But for the most part, even if someone is disagreeing with me, I will like the comment as a token of appreciation for taking the time to respond.

With my post yesterday I explained that while on Instagram I won’t go blindly through my feed liking photos. However, I almost find myself doing the exact opposite when it comes to Twitter. I don’t have a problem favoriting tweets. I think the discrepancy between liking/favoriting on the two services for me is that people are just more refined with Twitter at this point. Because Twitter has graced our lives for much longer than Instagram I think we do a much better job composing quality tweets as opposed to quality Instagram photos. Similarly with me liking comments on my Facebook posts I will almost always favorite tweets that are directed my way. Again, it is just my small way of saying thank you.

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My feel good approach to liking and favoriting comments and tweets on a personal level does not extend to how I administer them while running social media accounts on a business level though. Rather, when it comes to Facebook and Twitter for Grizzly Athletics I use tough standards similar to what I impose for my personal Instagram use when recognizing responses.

I always respond to questions and inquiries with Griz Social Media. However, when it comes to Facebook comments and tweets I am only liking/favoriting the cream of the crop. You see, we get so many fans who contribute to our social media outlets in varying degrees of quality that I feel it is our responsibility to reward those who go above and beyond while encouraging the others to reach that same level.

When a fan pours a lot of effort into crafting a thorough, supportive, and rich response to a Facebook question or feature he/she will receive a like from the Montana Grizzlies. Although we very much appreciate the standard “Go Griz” response the user who quickly types that out will not get a like. Many organizations and brands believe that every comment or tweet deserves a like or favorite because it gives the user “a special connection to his/her favorite team” but I don’t subscribe to that thinking and this is why:

Don’t you find great validation when your boss tells you great job on a project that you worked your butt off to complete and that you exerted a lot of effort into? Okay, what if your boss took time to tell you great job on a project that you hastily completed and that you knew very well didn’t reflect your best work? On ensuing upcoming projects that might encourage you to continue to put forth mediocre efforts. I don’t want to get into that pattern with fans. I want Griz Nation to strive for that coveted like or favorite each time they comment on Facebook or tweet at us knowing that only the very best will get recognized.

A great social media program is composed not just of great content provided by the brand but by great content provided by the customers/fans as well. While doing my best to enrich the content that Grizzly Athletics puts out on a social media level I also want to continue to push our fans to do the same. When quality keeps rising on both ends, the program keeps getting better and better.

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So if you missed it, let me recap everything:
Level of Difficulty Getting Me to Like Your Instagram Photo: Hard
Level of Difficulty Getting Me to Like Your Facebook Status: Medium
Level of Difficulty Getting Me to Like Your Facebook Comment: Easy
Level of Difficulty Getting Me to Favorite Your Tweet: Easy
Level of Difficulty Getting Montana Grizzlies to Like Your Facebook Comment: Intermediate
Level of Difficulty Getting Montana Grizzlies to Favorite Your Tweet: Intermediate
Level of Difficulty Admitting to Others That You Read My Blog: Hard

Don’t Blink.

Keep It Classy, Denver: Social Media Arrogance

On Monday, the Twitter account of the Denver Broncos made national news in the sporting world. The account rattled off many impressive stats of the prolific offense ran by Peyton Manning including this one:

The Broncos sent out this tweet.

The Broncos sent out this tweet.

In my opinion, the tweet standing alone is just a tad bit bush league. However, I don’t think it is totally out of bounds. That is not to say that I would ever tweet anything of that nature from our official Twitter account at Grizzly Athletics (@UMGRIZZLIES). I don’t disparage or call out opposing teams. I think it is in bad taste and I think it reflects poorly on our department. But again, I don’t think the tweet in and of itself constitutes a major social media no-no.

But there is something about the timing of the tweet that makes it bad, something that the person running that account should have either realized or respected…

The Broncos play the Jaguars this weekend.

Starting in high school it seems like every coaching staff uses bulletin board material to motivate players. Anything an opposing coach or player might say that can be twisted around to sound like a diss will be utilized to fire the other team up. Believe me, this type of motivation works. It has helped me play harder and, outside of the playing field, work harder.

What the staff member in charge of the Broncos’ Twitter account did was provide the Jaguars with bulletin board material. Now I know Jacksonville has a .000034% chance of beating Denver. I know they are the largest underdogs in NFL history. I also know that in all reality most of the grown men playing on the Jaguars couldn’t care less about the tweet. BUT, there is the possibility that maybe a few of the players might actually take it to heart and use it as motivation on Sunday. If this is the case and maybe just as little as one player exerts a little more energy than he normally would because he thought of that tweet for a split second, that staff member has done the Broncos terribly wrong.

Those of us who handle social media for college and pro teams have to be cautious and accountable. Many of us speak to large fan bases several times on a daily basis through multiple posts, tweets, pictures, etc. We carry the voice of the school/organization we represent and it only takes one instance of stupidity to make our program look bad. Out of the numerous different ways to do so, displaying arrogance regarding an opponent several days before playing them qualifies as one.

In any athletic department or professional organization, the main goal of the support staff is to never do anything that might decrease the chances of victory. That tweet by the Denver Broncos staff member definitely didn’t help to increase the chances of victory and like I said, if it only ends up resonating with just one athlete on the Jaguars, that staffer has done a disservice to his organization.

Jacksonville did respond with a tweet of its own:

This is how Jacksonville responded.

This is how Jacksonville responded.

Personally, I wouldn’t have gone that route either. I think by them mentioning Denver outright it gave the Broncos too much recognition and it displayed bitterness on the part of the Jaguars. I would have quoted the tweet and put something in front such as “Irrelevant”, “Motivation”, or “Doesn’t matter come Sunday.” The Broncos responded back to Jacksonville but it just gets stupid so I won’t even go there.

Many of us who have played sports remember these three words of advice: Respect your opponent. This wisdom should not be lost as we enter our professional careers but perhaps embraced even more….social media gurus included. 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.

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.

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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.

Life’s Little Instructions

One thing I am not is a quotes guy. As I have explained extensively, I find quotes both overused and corny. I am not one to recite them, write them down, or share them over social media. However, I do have one exception when it comes to quotes. For seven years, I have had a desk page-a-day calendar based on the famous “Life’s Little Instructions”.

Before I dive into story time, let me educate those out there who are not familiar with “Life’s Little Instructions”. Basically, the concept of “Life’s Little Instructions” is to educate a person in one or two sentences about the lighter aspects of life. Some of the instructions are helpful, some are funny, some are witty, and some are just downright stupid. To illustrate what these instructions are like, check out the entries from the past five days: Politeness is called for even when you dislike someone (3-6) / Don’t go looking for trouble; it will soon find you (3-5) / Give people a second chance, never a third (3-4) / Laugh more. Frown less (3-2 and 3-3) / Don’t finish other people’s sentences (3-1) . Get the idea? Okay, let’s move on.

This is an example of what a daily instruction looks like.

This is an example of what a daily instruction looks like.

Every year for Christmas for as long as I can remember, my mom would always buy the three of us kids a page-a-day calendar. For me, themes ranged from this day in sports to bible verses to Jeopardy trivia. But that one Christmas seven years ago my mom decided to try something a little different and got me the “Life’s Little Instructions” calendar. As a freshman in college, the little bits of advice helped to keep me in line while also giving me a laugh. Each morning, like never before with my previous calendars, I looked forward to ripping the previous day off to see what the new instruction on the new day said. I enjoyed these instructions so much that as the next Christmas came around, I asked my mom to get me the same themed calendar.

The evolving then started to begin. When I got my second “Life’s Little Instructions” calendar six years ago, I decided that I wanted to share the daily wisdom. Because texting had just started to pick up steam, I used that avenue to spread the advice. Because she bought me the calendar, because I knew she would appreciate the little sayings, and because it was a great way to communicate with her on a daily basis, I started to text my mom the daily “Life’s Little Instructions” tidbit each morning. Although it started out a little rough namely because my mom did not truly understand text messaging and because the texts arrived at 4:30 a.m. for her (during my college years I would get up to work out at 5:30 a.m. and in Montana we are one hour ahead of Washington State), she quickly started to enjoy them. Not only were the instructions good, but it also let her know that her son was okay and up and ready for the day. Presently, my mom is still the first one to get my “Life’s Little Instructions” piece of advice each morning.

It is me with my very special calendar!

It is me with my very special calendar!

Seven years ago I started to get the “LLI” calendar, six years ago I started texting them to my mom, and then five years ago another development occurred…I got a Twitter account! Even with my disdain for sharing quotes on social media, I went ahead and started tweeting out the little instructions each day. I did this because the quotes are really not quotes in the first place…they are instructions. I simply just put quotation marks around the advice to let my followers know they are not my own words. Secondly, I wanted to do something that kind of gave my Twitter account its own special twist. Just like how I sign off each night with “Don’t Blink”, sharing the daily “LLI” gave my account more personality. Thirdly, I just wanted to tweet them because many of them are actually useful while others provide a good laugh. So, it just seemed right to start that little tradition and five years later it is still going strong.

The sharing of my page-a-day calendar has branched off once more since Twitter. Fifteen months ago I got an Instagram account. Knowing I needed to do something to make me constantly update my account, I decided to take a picture of my calendar each day. After I text my mom the daily advice and after I tweet it out, I Instagram it. I take a picture of the specific date, apply the “rise” filter to it, caption it with “Life’s Little Instruction for (month, day)”, and then upload it. I never realized how many people would actually enjoy the Instagram version of “Life’s Little Instructions”.

While my mom responds to about 30% of the “LLI” texts I send her and while I will occasionally get a reply or a retweet when I tweet out the instruction, nothing compares to the response I get from sharing it on Instagram. In particular, nothing compares to the response I get from females about them.

Each day on Instagram I can always count on several “likes” and at least a couple comments on the advice for that particular date (mostly all from women). I have had girls text me and ask “Where do you get those pictures of advice from? They are so cute. Do you know where I can get my own?” Today a friend of mine messaged me and she asked if I could picture message the advice I shared on Instagram earlier this morning. About a few times each week, someone will come up to me and say that they look forward to checking Instagram each morning to see what the instruction will say for that day. If it is a weekend and somehow I forget to upload the day’s instruction right away, people will check in with me to make sure I am okay…and then tell me to get it up ASAP.

Where my calendar sits in my room.

Where my calendar sits in my room.

So what does it say about me that I like something just as much as a bunch of females? Well, I rather not think about that. Instead, I just find it cool that I have started a little tradition that a lot of people enjoy and even depend on. A calendar that my mom purchases for me each year for about $10 yields a much higher return on investment than I could ever calculate. Thank you for sharing with me “Life’s Little Instructions” each morning. Keep the reaction coming! Don’t Blink.

15,000/1,500 Club

 

This morning I hit a huge milestone for myself when I simultaneously sent out my 15,000th Tweet and my 1,500th Instagram picture.

This morning I pulled off my biggest social media milestone to date as I managed to hit the 15,000 Tweet mark and the 1,500 Instagram mark at the exact same time. It was truly a day of celebration for me as I managed to coincide these two accomplishments with one tap of the “share” button on my phone, putting a successful end to a personal campaign that I started to eye last week.

At around this time one week ago, I became aware that I was approaching my 15,000th Tweet and my 1,500th Instagram. Upon this realization I immediately thought it would be pretty cool to hit both of these marks at the same time. However, a week ago I was at around 14,800 tweets and 1,425 Instagram pictures, thus I was 200 and 75 posts away respectively from the big milestones. It was at this point where I decided that I would just continue to post as usual to both Twitter and Instagram, knowing that by going at my regular pace I would naturally come upon both marks at around the same time.

My strategy roughly worked. On Monday of this week, I found myself about 20 Tweets out from 15,000 and 25 Instagram pictures out from 1,500. Well, if you know me, even though I Instagram like it is going out of style, I am more known for my prolific Tweeting. Also, Tweeting in general is just something that is much easier to do than posting pictures to Instagram. For most people who utilize both social media services, one Instagram picture is equivalent to about four Tweets. For me, the ratio is a little lower, probably one Instagram picture to every three Tweets. Even at that ratio, I knew I needed to slam on the brakes when it came to Tweeting and amp up my Instagramming if I was going to hit both milestones at the same time.

Yesterday came and I found myself 10 tweets away from 15,000 and 19 Instagram pictures away from 1,500. Now was the time where I really needed to buckle down and force myself to tilt the scale towards Instagramming more. But I couldn’t control myself…I tweeted a few times when I didn’t really need to and then mindlessly replied to my followers via twitter as well. When I got to my 11 a.m. meeting I realized I was three tweets from 15,000 but 15 pictures away from 1,500. Now was the time more than ever to get serious.

I put myself on a “Tweeting Freeze.” I mapped it out and made a plan. I told myself that I would only tweet once that night to promote my blog post, once the next morning (today) to send out my daily “Life’s Little Instruction,” and then finally of course my dual Twitter/Instagram post that would commemorate the benchmarks. So obviously I had the Twitter half of my plan but what about the Instagram half? Well, that part was very simple…post like crazy!

I get annoyed when people Instagram continuously in a short amount of time, filling up the feed with several of their own pictures in a row. However, when it came to Tuesday and today, I became a hypocrite. I started posting the most insignificant content possible. Oh, is that a milk truck? Let’s Instagram it! Should I take a second picture of our office’s blown up dinosaurs? Definitely. Go take a picture of my boss’ mini Christmas tree? You bet! How about snapping a picture of my key chain? Trashy, but I better do it anyway! It went on and on like this until at about 10 a.m. this morning I had caught up and was finally ready to send out my ground breaking post. I was at 14,999 Tweets and 1,499 Instagrams.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do to commemorate the milestone visual wise. I have always laughed at the Wilt Chamberlin photo of him marking his 100 point game by simply holding up a piece of paper with a hand written “100” sloppily depicted on it. Although extremely tacky for such an amazing feat, the picture has lived on in history. In a tribute to Will, I wanted to go for the same thing. On a piece of printing paper I jotted down “15,000 TWEETS” and “1,500 INSTAGRAMS”. Off to the side in small letters I wrote “Don’t Blink”. My co-worker Jerek snapped the picture for me and then I drafted the text to go with it: Thank you for your support! This is my 15,000th Tweet and 1,500th Instagram. Don’t Blink. I then sent it out to the world via my two favorite social media outlets, successfully completing my 15,000/1,500 campaign.

I apologize to everyone who follows me on Instagram. I cluttered up your feed simply for the pursuit of my own personal milestone. Rest assured that I will go back to posting at a more normal rate. As I said in my post this morning, thank you all so much for following me through social media. It has and will continue to be a fun ride. Don’t Blink.