Instagram and Twitter scuffle means your photos display differently

You should be aware that beginning today, your Instagram photos won’t appear in your followers’ Twitter feeds in the same way. The two social media tools are in a battle that results in big changes for end users – the very people you are trying to reach with your photos and strategic communications.

I’ll offer tips and best practices for how your organization or business can work around this change as things shake out in the next few days, but in case you wonder what this is all about and you want to find out more, here are a few links to the news that explains what is happening:

You can also follow my Twitter feed for more tips related to this and other communication topics: www.twitter.com/robmcnairhuff

One way to create inexpensive video

If you need to create a video for your website or for posting on YouTube, Derrick Story offers some tips and inspiration regarding how he created a high quality time lapse video using a Third Generation iPad and editing software on his Mac – Time lapse behind the scenes look at Leo Laporte’s TWiT studio.

This short blog post does intrigue me, since I work with a Third Generation iPad and I haven’t done anything really useful with the camera, other than make jokes about people who hold up iPads to record events. Maybe it’s time to stop being funny and learn something!

Promoting your story in an age of dwindling readership

The local daily newspaper made a sobering announcement last weekend. Beginning Dec. 17, 2012, access to articles on the paper’s website will cost readers nearly $10 a month. This isn’t a surprising announcement. Before the creation of the Internet, everyone had to either pay for the newspaper to be delivered at home, pick up a copy at a newsstand or newspaper box, or read a free communal copy at the local cafe or library. Now the Internet readers – the fastest growing audience for most newspapers – will have to pay or go away.

Newspapers have to find a way to make money from the growing online audience, and it’s easy to debate whether your local paper or the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or any other paper that has set up a paywall is implementing the right policies to attract paying customers, but regardless of this debate, papers are changing or dying.

Why does this matter for you? If you have a story to tell or products to sell, and you rely on coverage in the local newspaper to create awareness for your story or products, it is very likely that the potential audience for your message will drastically drop when your local newspaper turns off free access to its content on the Internet. Those who opt to pay for online access to news and advertising that they are used to getting for free, and those who follow the industry will soon see how these paywall experiments work. But more importantly for you and your business, how will you work around the likelihood of a smaller readership if you count on newspaper readers to build buzz for your products and services?

The need for an effective communication and marketing strategy that uses multiple channels to get your story in front of readers and potential customers is growing more obvious every day. And remember – many people still want to stay informed about their community and the stories within their community. It’s just that the delivery methods for that news are more diverse than they were in the 1950s and 1960s, before the Internet grew into such a resource and distraction.

An emerging community on Instagram

As you make decisions about what social media tools you should use to reach your audience, one of the keys to consider is whether a particular tool has a growing audience or is falling out of vogue. It’s safe to choose Facebook these days, and there is still a growing audience on Twitter, but you wouldn’t want to choose to build an audience on an outdated service like MySpace, for instance.

When it comes to new social media tools, one of the fastest growing sites for sharing visual information is Instagram. This photo-sharing site offers easy ways to use the camera on your mobile phone along with the available filters built into the Instagram app to create a personal or business presence on the Web.

20121203-142851.jpg

I took the photo above while doing a trail run yesterday in nearby Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington. It is one of a few hundred photos that live on my Instagram feed.

A business can create its own Instagram feed to highlight its products or people, to do promotions of holiday sales or just about any other purpose that would benefit from a highly visual communication method. In fact, the content you create on Instagram is easy to use across a number of social media tools. But remember that, just as it is with most social media, you need to build an audience before you can expect a new presence on something like Instagram will grow into a truly useful communications platform in and of itself.

Are you already using Instagram to promote your business, government or ideas? I would love to hear about your experiences so far. Just reply to this post below.

Reading the tea leaves for social media in 2013

Welcome to December! It’s the month for looking back at communications trends and lessons from 2012 as well as for an endless supply of articles looking to the future in 2013. While no one really knows what will happen in communications and social media in 2013, a number of luminaries and amateur soothsayers are making their best guesses heard. Here are links to a couple of worthwhile summary pieces, as well as a reference to a new tool for managing your posts on Pinterest.

– Earlier this week, a piece on Ragan.com offered The best social media advice for 2013.

– Yesterday, the CEO of Hootsuite offered his prognostications for the top five trends in social media in 2013. The takeaways – more mobile, more social and more big data. Read the whole piece.

– It’s a safe bet that new add-on tools will continue to emerge in 2013 that will make the current social media favorites easier to use and manage. One example I saw mentioned today is pingraphy, for scheduling your Pinterest posts to the most opportune times and tracking statistics using that tool.

I’ll link to the articles I find most useful throughout the month here, and I would love to hear from others who run into good summaries and advice throughout this busy holiday month.

Using video to tell your story – short, professional, simple

One of the most effective ways to appeal to appeal to and tell your story to a larger audience is to integrate video into your public relations efforts. The challenge though is to tell your story well in video. There is no doubt it is easier to string together a few words and images to communicate, but putting that same communication into an effective video presentation – especially a video that you aim to share on YouTube or Vimeo – requires planning and execution.

There are a few simple best practices to keep in mind when you create video for the Web:

  • Shorter is better. A 30 second or 60 second video will have more impact than a longer spot.
  • The production value of the video needs to look professional. Unless a hand-held look and feel is a strategic part of how you want to tell your story on video, you are better to hire a video pro to help you create the spot.
  • And most of all, simple is better. If you can match compelling video with a concise message, you are well on the way to an effective video.

The video below is an example of a catchy, professional video with good production value. With the help of a funny tune and a cartoony look, the video has emerged as a viral hit over the last week or so. But the video still is a bit too long, and you can be the judge about whether it would change how you think about rail safety, if you watch through to the end:

Dumb Ways to Die (YouTube)

 

Is you website mobile-ready?

If you have been paying attention to communication trends at all, you are probably aware that the fastest growing segment of Web users are those who are browsing sites on their smartphones and tablets. Recent statistics (from NetMarketShare.com) show that more than 10 percent of Web users now visit sites on mobile devices – a big leap from earlier this year thanks to improved devices in the marketplace.

But have you taken that information to the next step and tested to see how your website works on mobile devices? You don’t have to own all of the tools to test how your site works. Simply search for browser emulator tools on your favorite search engine and you will find a number of tools to test how your site looks on popular devices like the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Especially if the audience you are trying to reach is likely to use a mobile device as their tool of choice to access the Internet, you cannot afford to ignore or not know how those site visitors are experiencing your site.

When should you post on Twitter, Facebook and others?

Many businesses and people looking for the best way to be effective on social media eventually find themselves asking – when is the best time to send a message out into the world? It turns out that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

The best time really depends on what you are trying to do with your social media communications. An article posted today on the Ragan website offers an infographic on this topic: Saturday is the best day for social media engagement. Embedded in the graphic are answers to a few of these common questions.

The takeaways include:

  • In general, on Mondays through Fridays, most posts are made between 1-4 p.m.
  • As the article title suggests, Saturday is the best day to interact with social media users
  • The reach for your social media posts multiplies with the number of tools you post on

But even these tips are too simple and deserve more scrutiny depending on your goals for using social media. As an example, you may find that your community of social media friends or users is too busy with life on the weekends to make Saturdays a realistic target for social media engagement. Or, if your Twitter feed focuses on posting news or commentary as events happen, those priorities will override the general guidelines of when it is best to post.

To be effective communicating and engaging a community on social media you have to make a plan and establish clear goals and milestones to measure your success over time. Many of the fundamentals of successful communications apply on social media as well.

The role of social media during and after Hurricane Sandy

To make social media an effective communication tool in a crisis, you have to build your community before the storm hits. This was no more apparent than with the recent impact of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. Pete Hunt outlines some of what has been learned about the use of social media throughout the ongoing disaster in Hurricane #Sandy: Socializing Traditional Media.

The key takeaways from Mr. Hunt:

Three key media lessons emerged in the storm’s wake: (1) Social media is invaluable, but its limitations are significant. Twitter is useless when your phone is out of batteries. (2) Radio and other traditional news outlets still have an important role to play in emergency broadcasting. But their reach is amplified when they embed themselves within the social media environment. (3) During a disaster, the best news is local news. People will track down local information on whatever platform they can find it.

Although I am far from the Northeast U.S. where Sandy had a direct impact, I did follow the storm live, especially on Twitter, as it was unfolding. And the networks of friends and news sources in the area continue to make Twitter and Facebook the most intimate, localized way to follow how the storm and its aftermath is impacting life in the affected area.

The article is a good read if you ever envision the need to reach out and keep your community informed during a natural disaster.