Instagram

4 Tools to Maximize Your Hashtag Strategy

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Hashtags are widely used on Twitter and especially so on Instagram.  But how does a person know which ones to use?  Here are four of my favorite tools to find and analyze the effectiveness of the hashtags we use.

Hashtagify

With this tool, you can search for hashtag trends, popularity and correlations.  You would type in a hashtag, click on search and find the hashtags popularity, recent popularity, and if it's trending up or down.  You would also receive a list of related hashtags and some influencers within that hashtag's demographic.
There's also a section that provides you with the most popular hashtags for a period of time.
For personal use, it's $9.00 per month but comes with a free trial.

Ritetag

Ritetag is a Chrome extension that works by adding a little widget to the bottom of your screen. You can either type in a hashtag and get suggestions of what other ones to use or you can right-click on an image on a page and it will give you suggestions based on real-time hashtag engagement. 

It is accompanied by an app which provides trending hashtags (if you can take advantage of a trending hashtag and jump in with an appropriate post, it's great, but be sure to check what the hashtag is really about!) , statistics, images and influencers who use the hashtag. 

There are free and paid version of Ritetag but the paid version is currently a one-time fee. 

Display Purposes Only

Funny name, but a fairly good tool. With Display Purposes Only, you type a couple of hashtags in the search bar and it will provide you with similar tags. What I like about it is that  it has a little slide bar so that you can request anywhere from 1 to 30. Once they populate you are able to copy them and paste into your post. It will also allow you to manually select which tags you want to use before you hit copy.  If you're wanting to hide your hashtags within your image comment, you can select to check the "Five Dots" box and they will be added to your copy/paste. 

Display Purposes is free to use.
 

AutoHash

You can find this tool in your Facebook Messenger app (seriously).  You simply send them an image and it auto-populates with a group of hashtags befitting the image. This is a great one for Instagram because Instagram's A.I. is now examing images and may penalize those who post random tags that don't seem to fit with the image (that's a whole other story).

Autohash is free to use.

Bonus: Iconosquare

I couldn't really discuss hashtags tools without including Iconosquare which does have a hashtag component but also does a whole lot more.  But only Iconosquare’s higher-price tiers (Elite package and above) include hashtag analysis. Iconosquare can measure engagement for hashtags you use in your posts and assess the growth of branded hashtags but it doesn't really offer hashtag suggestions per se.

Pricing begins at $9.00 a month for a single account.

So that's it!  Let me know if you have used any of these and if you have a particular favorite!




 

Stay Up-to-date with these 10 Social Media Platform Changes

 

Several platforms rolled out changes this week. Here's a quick run-down on some of them.

Facebook:

The "Log In As Your Page" option has been disappearing and will soon be gone for good. We can still do the things we did before (viewing the feeds of the pages we liked, commenting and liking other page posts, etc.) but we just need to do it differently. It's alittle more cumbersome but just like all other Facebook changes, we'll get used to it.

In this video, Grandma Mary (Andrea Vahl), shows us how:

 

For the full story, read Andrea's article here.

Pinterest has several new updates.

How-to Pins: this is exciting for pInterest users because DIY pins will soon be able to show a snapshot of the project directions right below the pin image. I'll be curious to see how this affects bloggers as Pinterest users may not even need to click over to the website anymore. If you'd like to try this option for your DIY website, you can request it here.

Universal Pin Descriptions: Pins now have description that are automatically created using a variety of sources instead of the note from the original pinner. This can be good or bad. The good: repinning becomes easier because you don't need to recreate a description. The bad: your pin descriptions may not carry through when others repin.

(Rich Pins will stil carry the original title and metadescription that appears so you may want to apply for rich pins very soon.)

Also, if you have Rich Pins, there will be a change to their descriptions in order to make them less redundant. Their descriptions will now be hidden in the feeds because Rich Pins already have a title and short description attached. Check your website's metadata to make sure the best title and description are showing up.

Repin counts: Pinterest now counts likes and repins for a piece of content throughout all of Pinterest instead of just for a specific pin. Tis should encourage Pinterest users to not rely on just one popular pin for social proof and to provide consistent value to other PInterest users.

Change in aspect ratio The maximum aspect ratio for Pins will be reduced from 1:3.5 to 1:2.8. This means that anything taller than that will be cut off so you'll need to adjust your image sizes accordingly.

White will now be the background color on the app so Pinterest will now add a bit of gray to those images that are mostly white. If you have images with drop shadows, this might affect you.

Instagram

The algorhithm - lots of Instagram users panicked and began posting images with reminders to "turn on post notifications" so that Instagram users would not miss their posts. I can see why - we all know what happened on Facebook. I don't think we need to panic. If one of your followers really didn't want to miss one of your updates, they would have turned them on already. 

Instagram stated The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”  –

Longer videos and the ability to make videos from multiple clips on your iOs camera. Videos can now be 60 seconds long. Of course, the longer videos will be excellent for advertisers, as well.

The ability to view notifications on the Instagram desktop version - YAY!  You'll find these under the heart icon on the upper right of the page. You can also now delete comments very easily.

 

The Explore Tab is also now viewable on desktop. You'll find it to the left of the notifications icon (as above). The explore tab is great for finding new people to follow. You'll notice that as you like on comment on certain Instagram posts, more of the same will show up in your Explore feed.
 

Social media is an ever-changing, always expanding media experience. It's important to keep up with the changes in order to maximize your opportunity on your chosen  platforms.  Sign up for our newsletter so that you can stay up-to-date.

 

 

 

Quick Tip for Managing Multiple Instagram Accounts

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Instagram has recently made it easier to manage multiple Instagram accounts, but each Instagram account still requires a separate e-mail address.  And if your business has different locations, or different departments that need their own account, this becomes difficult in a hurry! This is also the case with Twitter accounts.

There are 2 easy ways to get around that problem by using the alias feature in a gmail account.

The first way is by using the alias address feature in your Gmail account. This will allow you to set up multiple e-mail addresses that will go to the same e-mail inbox. *The one caveat is that you’ll still only be able to sign up for a limited number of accounts via one device (i.e. desktop, laptop, tablet, etc.).

The first thing you’ll need is a gmail account. If you don’t have one, you can go to mail.google.com to set one up. If you already have a gmail account, you can use that.

As an example, I’ll use my TheSocialWebbClientCare@gmail.com account. (Hopefully, you have a gmail account with less letters!) And let’s say that I want to set up an Instagram account for a restaraunt called The Purple Cow. The Purple Cow has locations (in my imagination) in Newport Beach, Anaheim Hills and Laguna Seca and each will have their own Instagram account.

Because each Instagram account (and each Twitter account) requires a different e-mail address, we’ll use an alias address for each. I could use TheSocialWebbClientCare+CowNB@gmail.com for one and TheSocialWebbClientCare+CowAH@gmail.com for another and so on.

You can add whatever you want as the +as long as it’s after your usual gmail name and before the @gmail.com. You could just stop here and still recieve e-mail but it’s best to set this address up as an alias in your gmail account so that you can manage it better.

To set this up, go to your gmail account. Next go to settings and then Accounts and Import. Click on “Add anther email address you own”. In the second box, put your gmailaccount name (in my case, that would be “thesocialwebbclientcare” and then add +(whatever name you choose) and then @gmail.com. There should be no spaces (as you’ll see in the example below). The “Treat as an alias” box should be checked. Then click on “Next Step”.

 

 

 

And that’s it! You can now use this address to sign up for a social account and still have all email come to one inbox.

The second way is by adding a dot (.) anywhere in the username and all emails address to that new alias will still reach your mailbox. For instance, if your original email address is TheSocialWebbClientCare@gmail.com, any emails sent to The.SocialWebbClientCare@gmail.com or TheSocial.WebbClientCare@gmail.com will land in your mailbox because Gmails ignores periods in the email username.  Of course, you need to be sure to keep track of which dot placement you used for each account.  And again, you can only sign up for so many Instagram or Twitter accounts per any one device.

I hope this helps.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

11 Quick Tips For Double-Tap Worthy Instagram Photos

As the Instagram platform becomes even more popular and more photos are being shared, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out amidst all the great images.  If you want some extra attention, you may need to step up your game.  Here are11 tips to ensure that your images are worth the double-tap!  (Some of these are directly-related to the iphone but most are generic.)

1Turn off the flash.

It’s not that powerful and can sometimes ruin the image that you think you are capturing.  Some folks advise that using the flash during day time is a good way to capture detail but I don’t find it to be effective.

2. Don’t use the zoom.

As with most smart phones, the zoom on the iPhone is a digital zoom, not an optical zoom. That means that the more you zoom into your image, the more blurry it will become. If you want a closer shot, you need to use your feet.

3. Reduce clutter.

Each of your photos should have a subject. There can be more than one but there should only be one main subject. If you can’t easily find that subject in your image, then you have too much clutter in the photo. Rearrange your shot to get rid of some of the clutter.

Simple photos do better on social media, perhaps because of the size of the screen they are being viewed on or because of the attention span of the viewer.

4. Snap your photo with the volume button on the side of your phone rather than using the dot on the screen.

This will help to eliminate any movement caused by pushing directly on the screen and will help to maintain focus. Both the volume up and volume down button can be used for this.

5. Shoot in square mode.

Because Instagram images are square, shooting in this mode will give you the exact image that will be shown on Instagram. The “square” mode is to the right of “photo”.

6.  Shoot from the level of your subject.

If you are capturing images of pets or small children, shoot from their level for a more realistic and interesting view.

7.  Remember the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds applies to composition of the photograph. Basically, you break an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically so that you end up with 9 boxes (like a tic-tac-toe board).

The premise is that this grid now identifies four important parts of the image that you should consider placing points of interest as you are framing your photograph. A person’s eye usually goes towards one of the intersection points rather than the middle of an image.

Simply stated, don’t put your subject in the middle (either horizontally or vertically). Putting it off to one side will make a much more interesting image. Of course, rules are made to be broken, so there will always be exceptions.

You can add a “rule-of-third” grid on the iphone by going to “settings” ~~> Photos and Camera ~~> Grid (turn the button to green).

8. Take silhouette photos.

Silhouette images are often much more intriguing than regular images, perhaps because they are a bit mystical.  You can easily capture silhouettes by shooting against the source of light. Place your subject directly in front of the light source (or hide the sun directly behind the subject). Sunrise and sunset are the best times to capture this type of image.

 

 

9. Include long shadows in your compositions. Shadows are more prominent in photos than in real life and can make for an attractive visual.  Again, in this image, only the shadows are visible.

 

You can create the shadows by hiding the sun behind your subject.  Play around with this idea and see what you can come up with.

You can also increase shadows by increasing the contrast when you are editing an image.

10. Shoot your images from a different angle.

 

Whenever I'm feeling down, I just look up.

Whenever I'm feeling down, I just look up.

Show the world as people are not used to seeing it by changing the perspective. Consider a very low angle by getting your camera as close to the ground as possible or get down low and point up towards the sky.

 

11. Clean the camera lens!

That’s pretty obvious but we often forget to do it.

Play around with some of these techniques and let me know if you find any of them helpful.  If you’re on Instagram, let’s connect!  You can find me at Instagram.com/ShelleyWebb.

Image credit: Top and bottom two - Shelley Webb
                       All others: DepositPhotos.com

  

What The Professional Photographer Needs to Know About Social Media

In the not-too-distant past, photographers were able to rely on their photography to speak for them in order to create their success and although there was competition, it was not as fierce as it is now. Due in large part to the ability to enter the marketplace with less expense, the availability of high-functioning digital options, more simplified editing software, and the ease of establishing a website, the competition is huge. Becoming a published and successful photographer in the modern age no longer requires just the ability to take amazing shots. It also requires that you be able to market yourself in the right ways to develop contacts that will pass your name along to companies and clients in need of your expertise.

A recent article in the “Notes From a Rep’s Journal” blog by Heather Elder mentions that in 2015, photographers who participate in their own marketing will be the ones who are the most successful.

“Photographers that are committed to their marketing plans, engage in their own networking, have a strong voice on social media, utilize blogs and other websites to promote themselves and are engaged in the estimating process fully are the ones who are the busiest.” ~Heather Elder, photographer rep

Accomplishing this marketing is best done by utilizing all the tools that available.  There are portfolio reviews to attend, e-mail promotions, snail-mail promotions, interviews, website updates, blogs, and networking events to attend. One of our photographers shared that she learned to play golf in order to network . Another states that he pays monthly in order to remain on the first page of Google.

Social media is another marketing option and in this article, we are going to concentrate on its benefits to the professional photographer.

Why Are Social Platforms Excellent for Freelance Photographers?

Basically, social networking is successful because of two things: people’s desire to connect and their desire to be entertained.  Social media allows people to connect with one another, and to share what has entertained them (in the case of their children and pets, perhaps too often, but I digress)

People also are visual. They love images. This makes social networks ideal for sharing your work and building your reputation as a quality photographer.

Before I lose you, let’s address the elephant in the room:  yes, there is a possibility that your images may be lifted. Even when protections are put into place, that possibility exists. There are ways to obtain images from websites even when the right-click is disabled and there are ways to remove watermarks.  But because of the competition, it’s a chance that needs to be taken.  Don’t be careless but don’t be so protective of your work that you cut off your nose to spite your face.  Watermark your images. Most social networks have mechanisms in place that will allow you to report theft. This will result in the offending person’s images being removed in most cases.

You can publish your photos on social networks and quickly develop a following that allows you to prove to potential clients that their target demographic enjoys your work. You may even be able to find a way to become featured on one of the larger community “hubs” that republish awe-inspiring photographs with the proper attribution.

It’s also not just about your work, it’s about you. In 2015, it’s less about the photography than about the photographer. Social media allows you to showcase your personality, your vision, and your talents, as well as your work.

The Social Networks You Should Use as a Freelance Photographer

The best approach to take when establishing your presence on social networks is to take a broad one. You want your name on as many of the social networks that you can handle, as this will allow you to best grow a more generalized audience for your work.  It’s best to try to acquire a standard name across all the social networks so that friends from one platform will recognize you on another.  If you feel that participating on all social networks is just too much, at least try to claim your name and fill out your profiles completely. You never know who will be looking at your work.

“I look at a lot of work online. I have about a thousand bookmarks that I try to randomly browse through when things are quiet at work. I like to keep up with what some of my favorite photographers are shooting, but by choosing bookmarks at random I tend to rediscover people whose work I admire but for whatever reason have not stayed top of mind. It’s good to refresh my mental list of who is working on what out there; there are so many people making great work and I want to work with them all!” ~Genevieve Dellinger, Art Producer at 72 & Sunny

If you find that one or two networks produce better results, then you should focus on driving interaction with the followers you have on those networks without forgetting about the other ones. One of the keys is interaction. Showcase your work but do engage in conversation, as well. Below is a brief list of the social networks you might choose to use as a photographer.

1. Google+

When Google+ first entered the scene, it was one of the most popular social networks among photographers and artists. They said that there images looked better on Google+ (Facebook and Twitter’s images were much smaller at the time) and the gallery was an excellent feature for photographers, as well.

Google+ circles are great for dealing with the “noise” and the communities offer a lot of opportunity for sharing with similar interests.  Hangouts are being used to network with other photographers or clients, to talk about gear to give tips, provide portfolio reviews and community photo critiques and even more.

And remember, Google+ is owned by Google. It is good forsearch engine results.

2. Facebook

Facebook has a substantially larger active user base than Google+. This, coupled with the fact that it’s commonly integrated on other websites gives it an incredible amount of promise for photographers.

To utilize the site itself, you need only to create an account and to begin publishing your photographs. You can make your own business page, but this is only an optimal strategy if you plan to promote your own photographs alongside the work of others. As long as you don’t do too much promotion, you are probably fine with just a personal page.  Remember that a personal page must be your first and last name. It may NOT be the name of your company or even Jane Smith Photographer.

One reason to consider a business page on Facebook is the ability to advertise using Facebook ads. Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform which may sound like a negative, but in reality, it’s not. Facebook advertising allows you to post less content and reach a much more specific group of people.  And if you are growing an e-mail list (something you should consider doing), Facebook advertising has proven to be excellent.

One negative about Facebook is that 90% of users who “like” a page, never return to that page. This is another reason that Facebook ads have become necessary.

One positive is that Facebook is THE largest social platform and because your friends and family are probably already on it, you can take advantage of the 6 degrees of separation in order to make connections. Who better than friends and family to recommend you to their friends and family?

3. Twitter

Twitter is the platform that gives you 140 characters or less to publish your message. It is a phenomenal tool to connect with individuals and companies around the world. But it is a very fast-moving platform and as such you must regularly publish your messages because they disappear quickly.

Twitter users frown on too much promotion so it’s best to use the 80/20 rule: 80 sharing and 20% promotion.  Sharing your images is welcomed though and you are able to post up to 4 images at a time. You also have to option to tag your photos.

Twitter #hashtags allows for easy search results. For instance, type #photographer in the search box and you’ll be led to photographers who use Twitter or tweets with the hashtag #photographer in them.

Will you find many clients on Twitter? Probably not, but you will be able to connect with influential photographers to aspire to, companies who might utilize your photography, industry leaders in your area and because Twitter is usually the first to break news, a possible photo opportunity.

  1. Flickr

    Flickr is an interest network which means that its goal is pretty much just to share images. There’s not much interaction there. On Flickr, you are able to license images for reuse or print sales or you can choose not to allow that option.

    Flickr has come under fire lately when Yahoo! (its owner) started selling canvas images of its photos. They changed that policy but the negative feelings have lingered.

5.. Pinterest

Pinterest is unique from the other social networks listed here due to the fact that it focuses entirely on pinning and repinning images. Images are pinned from websites and placed onto virtual bulletin boards. Boards can be organized into categories of the user’s choice so for instance, images could be grouped into themes such as nature, street scenes, animals, marsala (Pantone’s color of the year), etc.

If you have a website where you share your photographs, sell your photographs or write blog posts, Pinterest might be a great platform to consider.  Images pinned from your website would link back to it and possibly bring visitors back to explore more of your offerings. One of the great things about Pinterest is that because of the “repining factor” the life of a pin is much longer than a tweet or a Facebook post.  A pinned item could be repined even a year after the original pin.

It’s also a great platform if you are a wedding, portrait or events photographer and is excellent for finding some inspiration.

5. Instagram

Instagram is a fun and easy way to share your images. You’ll find many photographers on Instagram and they seem eager to share each other’s work (with credit), so you have a good chance of growing a nice following. Plus Instagram is a great way to share photos of your life, your travels and your personality. Remember in 2015, it’s more about the photographer than they photography.

Instagram will also share easily to Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr and Twitter (although the size will be distorted in Twitter). Instagram cannot share to Google+.

This platform makes use of #hashtags and is the only platform where it’s acceptable to use large amounts of hashtags in a post. Check out the hashtags that other photographers are using.

It is a mobile only app though so in order to share images from your standard camera, you’ll need to upload them to Dropbox or another Cloud storage system and grab them on your mobile device. Another work-around for that (if you don’t have a cloud storage system) is to email them to yourself and then save the image to your mobile device.

Image credit: : DepositPhotos.com