Busy week? We bring you six bits of information that you might have missed.
1) Surprise! Not many businesses believe social is important. - MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte surveyed 2,545 business professionals in 99 countries on the topic of social business, and found that only 36% of surveyed professionals viewed social as important to business.
2) If Instagram is high school 2.0, who are you this time around? - Instagram is the high school of social networks, allowing users to develop their style and personality in a very public way. Find out what typical high school role (The Star, The Selfie, The Foodie, etc.) you play with your Instagram portfolio.
3) Facebook is raking in profits from mobile advertising. - The social networking company said Wednesday that it had revved up its mobile advertising from virtually nothing a year ago to 41% of its total ad revenue of $1.6 billion in Q2 2013.
4) Chipotle faked their own Twitter hack, and it worked. - To promote their 20th anniversary, @choptletweets posted a series of abstract tweets that were hints to their daily trivia. Because of the stunt, they gained over 4,000 followers and received over 12,000 RTs; that’s way more than the normal 250 followers they gain per day.
5) Instagram ads are on the horizon. - Mark Zuckerburg announced during a Facebook Q2 earnings call that Instagram might one day have ads. It’s no secret that advertising on social boosts brand engagement, but will users accept the interruption?
6) Facebook user stereotypes: are you a stalker, a newbie or a curator? - Facebook users each browse and post on the platform in different ways, but this Optify infographic attempts to whittle them down to nine stereotypes. Which profile best suits your habits? Note: none are particularly complimentary.
Social media has provided brands, regardless of industry or size, the opportunity to connect directly with their community of supporters. The brands that are most successful on social provide relevant, engaging content to their fans, rather than exclusively talking about themselves. Twitter hosts countless customer service interactions, YouTube often showcases internal culture, and blog comment sections allow brands to garner and digest immediate feedback. In each of these instances, the focus is on listening to the customer and turning social media into a two-way conversation, not a highway billboard. While there are many examples to choose from, the health and fitness industry has done an especially great job, using their social channels to listen to their customers and tap into their lifestyles.
Here are a few examples:
ViSalus has turned their Instagram channel into a platform that fans can visit for weight loss motivation and encouragement. They share recipes, boast member before-and-after photos, and showcase the healthy, happy members of their community. They also regularly show off the gym in their corporate office, demonstrating that the ViSalus team is truly committed to health and fitness.
Weight Watchers is doing a great job on Pinterest, a channel that often gets the little-brother treatment. Rather than focusing exclusively on product, they have made an effort to make their pins useful to their customers. By filling their Pinterest page with healthy recipes and motivational boards like “Words to Live By,” the brand is a helpful resource and acts like a loyal friend to their customers. And Weight Watchers didn’t simply set up their page and forget about it; they actively drive traffic to their Pinterest page through their Facebook posts.
Whole Foods consistently does a great job of nurturing brand loyalty and trust. They listen closely to what matters to their community and adjust accordingly. With over 5,000,000 YouTube views, they use the channel as a vehicle for transparency and communication, by directly telling their customers what they're doing and why they’re doing it.
These brands are each making the most of their social channels by creating content that is relevant to their customers’ lifestyles and providing useful services. They successfully demonstrate just how critical transparency, authenticity and connection are for brands today.
This is part three of a three-part series about getting your friends, colleagues, family or associates to join social networks and find their value.
Now that you’ve got your friend to join multiple social networks and find a community for them to embrace, let’s talk about how they can create value for their audience.
Before we get into the tips for each network, let’s first define what social media value actually is.
If you’ve ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, you would know that he places people that force cultural change into three distinct groups: Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen. To quickly sum up the roles of each, Mavens have vast knowledge about a particular subject and are able to talk about it eloquently; Connectors are people who know individuals in a particular field; and Salesman have the ability to make individuals adopt ideas that they were previously unsure of.
In real life, you’re lucky if you become one of these archetypes, but in social media, the ones who are adding value to their connections are all three. Value comes from being knowledgeable when commenting on relevant topics, interacting with people and letting others see it, and being convincingly opinionated so that you are sometimes at the point of being controversial. Doing all three of these things consistently plays a major factor in determining your value on social media. Think about your favorite blog site—would you visit it if they didn’t update it on a consistent basis? I don’t think so. Would you follow your friends if they didn’t contribute to a conversation on Twitter? I didn’t think so either.
Creating Value on Twitter
Having a strong, consistent and opinionated voice on Twitter can attract an audience to a specific account. This is where you can take the reins of being a Maven on Twitter.
Don’t hesitate to jump in conversations that surround a topic you’re interested in. If one of your followers is talking about a subject that interests you, or one that you can formulate an opinion on, just hit the reply button and put in your two cents.
Your fashion friend can set up lists of industry bloggers and search terms using Tweetdeck to monitor hot hashtags or and reply to their tweets. Here are examples of tweets containing the hashtag “#fashion”:
A response that can be written in reply to @CuriousYam that adds value would be something like “@CuriousYam I really like the #Floral #Circleskirt. I bought a similar one from @Target but it’s a print pic.twitter.com/adsuha”
Another example is answering questions that users post. For instance, if a person is looking for a specific product and you know where it can be acquired, you become a Connector by replying with the answer.
Engage With Influencers
By finding and following the major influencers in a specific industry, it’s easier for a user to be “in-the-know” of breaking news to form an opinion and share it with their followers. When it comes to social media, like in real life, the faster your access to information, the more influence you can have. Most individuals have to build this influence organically by constantly updating their social feeds, unless they have a pre-established reputation.
To find interesting influencers, you can run a quick search of “fashion” on Listorious.com, a site that lists reputable accounts by topic. You can quickly see a few of each account’s most recent tweets and reply to them from inside the website. Have patience in building relationships with these influencers. Sometimes they won’t respond, but if you reply to one of their tweets with something insightful you may be rewarded with a retweet or a mention. When influencers start taking notice of your ideas or thoughts and start to engage in conversation with you, it raises your status as a Salesman.
Creating Value on Instagram
Images hold a lot of weight in the online and mobile space because, besides videos, they capture a person’s attention the longest (after all, a picture is worth a 1,000 words). We might as well make every one count.
Mix Images With Descriptions That Resonate With Your Audience
Along with pictures that showcase a brand’s work, telling a story or putting a description with relevant keywords will resonate with your audience.
In the picture above @sethbrundle is able to showcase his new partnership while using relevant keywords. You can see that he received a bunch of likes and comments on his post.
Let’s say for instance that your friend, who has a huge following in New York City, posts photos of a new shop and their products to her Instagram account (and tweets them). She becomes a Maven by showing her followers where it is and the things she bought, and she becomes a Connector and a Salesman for that brand once she mentions them on her picture. By doing this, your friend helps to create value for those interested in fashion and even people who are interested in new shops that open in their neighborhood.
Creating Value On LinkedIn
People go to LinkedIn to find news, get valuable insights from experts in their particular industry, and to also have access to them. Being consistent in posting relevant articles, statuses or questions in groups and on your homepage can create interaction and lead to discussions.
Let’s go back to your friend, the fashion designer. For him or her to create value, they will have to be on the forefront of news that relates to their industry in order to share it on their timeline. If your friend has a fashion blog, sharing new posts on their timeline can create views and showcase their expertise. Even if they’re not creating original content, providing commentary on articles from the LinkedIn Today – Fashion & Apparel section, for example, will generate positive activity on their timeline.
Interaction within groups can raise your friend’s value as well. Many people, particularly in fashion, are looking for manufacturers, as evidenced in the Textile, Apparel, Footwear and Fashion group.
Suppose your friend is an experienced designer with connections to models and raw materials. Answering questions on these topics in LinkedIn groups allows them to become a Maven, Connector and a Salesman in the group. Asking questions about relevant subjects also can potentially create leads that eliminate the middleman, which would strengthen your friend’s reputation as a Connector..
Last, but not least, your friend can connect people to others. LinkedIn offers the ability to “introduce” two individuals who are not yet connected to each other. You can call it e-networking. Most users do this when they'd like to talk to people who are offering jobs on LinkedIn.
There you have it, three steps on how to get your friends to join social networks, find value for themselves and create value for others. I hope this works for you. Now go out there and make some new friends, followers, and connections! Don't forget to read part one and part two.
This is part two of a three-part series about getting your friends, colleagues, family or associates to join social networks and find their value.
Part II: Helping your friend find their community
The biggest step is now over—you got your friend to sign up for Twitter, Instagram and/or LinkedIn. Let’s move on to the next step: how does your friend find the people who share the same interests and passions?
I firmly believe that social media becomes worthwhile when a person finds a niche community that they interact with on a regular basis. Going back to our example in my previous post, your clothing designer friend will value social media only if they can use it to meet the designers, big fashion houses and trendsetters that matter to them. Fortunately, there are a number of tools and techniques within each network that can help guide your friend’s search and unlock the power of social networking.
The first group of people your friend should immediately follow is their real-life friends. These folks are a good place to start because they probably share some of the same interests as your friend, and they’ll be willing to divulge information from within a particular online community. Advise your friend to look through their friends’ followers and connections for interesting accounts to follow.
A big purpose and where the power of social media resides is being able to go outside your reach and connect with people who you wouldn’t have access to in real life. The following tools exemplify this and heighten a user’s experience in a way that can benefit them.
Follower Wonk: This tool allows you to search Twitter bios for particular keywords and compare followers or following of up to three separate users. For instance, if your friend is looking for other fashion designers to collaborate with or get advice from, a search for the terms such as “fashion,” “fashiondesign” and “couture” reveals hundreds of results. From there, your friend can compare three users to see who they mutually follow in order to grow their network even further. Go ahead and give it a try.
Tweetdeck: Tweetdeck is a desktop or browser add-on that lets you monitor and engage various users; the platform also provides insight on certain keywords and allows you to create lists for certain followers and search terms. Your friend can monitor words like “fashion AND NYC” to see who is talking about certain fashion events in New York City. The strength of the keywords and lists can help your friend see who is actively engaged in the topic of their choosing. This is a great way to be more specific in a search for users that are considered influential within a certain community.
Search: Probably the most powerful tool for Instagram is already located within the app itself. The search feature allows you to look up hash tags found in the picture’s description and comments. Searching for the tag “#fashion” brings up close to 13 million images. Once your friend sees a user who consistently posts high-quality images that are constantly receiving plenty of interaction, they should tap the follow button because that person is viewed as an influencer. Monitoring several tags at once can help your friend target their niche market.
Statigram: Statigram is an online Instagram viewer that allows users to view more pictures at once in a web browser instead of scrolling through their mobile app. It also gives you a great breakdown of the metrics within your account. The only feature that it doesn’t have is the ability to post pictures to an Instagram account.
Like Instagram, LinkedIn’s search bar can be used to access all of their users, groups, and companies. Their advanced search feature allows a user to be more thorough in their search. This can be helpful if your friend is having trouble finding a person’s name but remembers their title and company.
To find big guns, joining groups would be the best place to start. Members in groups are typically employees within a certain field that are trying to gain benefits from the content and discussions that are posted. Within each group page, on the right column, LinkedIn lists the top influencers for each week. Since these individuals are leading a lot of the group’s discussions and managing the group, interacting with them could offer more insights. All your friend has to do is make their acquaintance within the group and then request to connect with them.
Now that your friend has found influential people to follow and started interacting with people who have the same interests as they, it’s time to move onto the final step: creating value to gain a loyal following.
-- Sean Clark
In his short story “The Aleph,” Jorge Luis Borges recalls an experience he had gazing into an aleph. He describes it as “one point in space that contains all other points. The only place on earth where all places are—seen from every angle, each standing clear, without any confusion or blending.” This fictional story regards the aleph as a both a gift and a curse because it gives the gazer a chance to see and know everything on earth. That is what social media has developed into today. Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and countless other sites, we now have the opportunity to see all—to see into people’s lives and to see the world like never before. Social media has opened up the unimaginable universe. Like peering into the aleph, checking your newsfeed or your Twitter timeline provides insight into everything in our world, from every angle—simultaneously, infinitely.
The aleph is significant beyond Borges’ short story. Its symbol is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is literally a part of the word “alphabet.” It is venerated by Kabala and other mystic traditions that put value on an aleph as the pursuit of truth. Like the aleph in these ancient traditions, social media is the means by which we seek truth in modern times. From companies to customers, from artists to fans, from friends to family, and from your PC to mine, we can now paint a more accurate, “truer” picture of the people we interact with via social channels. Social media offers us an endless amount of communication that is continuous and extremely transparent. Through following people, companies, bands, etc. on social media, we can see who their friends are, what interests them, where the have been, where they plan to go, their religious, and political stances and a plethora of other information that we otherwise wouldn’t have discovered.
"Aleph Sanctuary" - Mati Klarwein
Thanks to the advances of social media technology and the massive amounts of information these sites are processing, we have transitioned into the age of the “recommendation.” There are logarithms, programs and software that can now introduce you to more people, places, and things based on what you already like and your physical location. You can discover when concerts and art festivals are happening in your area, what news is breaking, and what song will go well with your mood for the day. Other sites will recommend vacations spots, restaurants, lawyers, and doctors. Heck, these sites can find you a job or an employee—all out of the comfort of your living room! This age of “recommendation” is giving us options like never before and it is shocking how incredibly accurate the recommendations are.
As our technologies grow and progress, we must accept that our lives are no longer veiled in secrecy. You can be a pessimist and see this as an intrusion on your privacy, but if you are receptive to this information exchange, the possibilities are endless. The more you share, the more people will share with you. The more you follow, the better recommendations you will get and the more useful social media will be for you. So instead of being wary of this connectivity, you could revel in the endless possibilities of this aleph. It will undoubtedly open your world to bigger and brighter things while introducing you to more people and experiences you would have never had an opportunity to access before.
— Jake Annear
“I just don’t get it – what’s so great about Twitter?”
This is the typical response I receive when my friends notice how much of my time is dedicated to my phone screen, reading tweets from my 500+ followers. What ensues shortly afterwards is back-and-forth dialogue where I argue for the advantages of social networks and then notice I have a new follower a few days later with my friend’s name attached to the account.
Convincing your friends to join a social network that you’ve already fully embraced can be an arduous task; fortunately, I’m battle-tested and willing to share my tactics for making them social media believers as well.
In this three-part series, I will help you to win your friends over and open them up to the world of social media. In part one, I will explain the advantages of the three main networks I believe each individual should join: Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Part two will have advice on finding and engaging an audience that shares your friend’s same interests. Finally, the last part in the series will be how your friend can create content that will add value and attract a following.
Most of the confusion that stops my friends from embracing social networking is that they really don’t know what each network is. I don’t blame them for stopping there - I wouldn’t try to go in the kitchen and try to make my grandma’s mac-n-cheese if I didn’t know how a cheese grater worked. Rather than trying to explain to them how each network works, I instead try to show them the purpose of each. Here is an excellent example using donuts:
However, if they’re still confused after seeing this, I’ve broken down the uses of each the social networks I mentioned earlier.
Twitter gives real-time updates of situations happening in real life. Your friend still doesn’t believe you? Go to Twitter and search for “DNC2012” to view the thousands of tweets that inform you who was at the DNC podium and what line from their speech resonated with the audience. If there’s anything happening with more 500 people in attendance, there are probably at least a few tweets about it.
But the best part about Twitter that makes it stand out from other social networks is the access. Because it’s a public forum, viewable even if you don’t have an account, it grants a ton of transparency to thoughts, ideas, whereabouts, and announcements from people you would never meet in real life – and for free.
Let’s say that your friend is a fashion designer. They’re about to launch a new line but they don’t have any exposure within the fashion industry. By tweeting often about the developments of their upcoming line and using the right hashtags, such as #fashion, #fabric and #design, your friend can introduce their products to a relevant audience and possibly even create a demand for them before they’ve premiered.
You can also consider Twitter’s search option a powerful, real-time engine for updates on current events and trends. This helps if your friend likes to research different topics or find out what’s happening in a certain area.
Need further help explaining? Instruction AE put together this video to explain Twitter:
Instagram is a photo-sharing community that has exploded onto the scene within the past year and a half. With membership reaching close to 100 million members, Instagram has yet to show any signs of slowing down. Even though you can attach a photo to a tweet on Twitter, Instagram fosters interaction around a photo by allowing users to like and comment on a picture like they would on Facebook. Instagram also allows users to share their pictures across other social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and through email. Idea Channel even thinks Instagram is the best thing to happen to photography:
Let’s go back to your friend, the clothing designer. They have tons of designs but aren’t getting exposure for them. Imagine they take a picture of a shirt they’ve made and instantly someone asks how they can buy it. How did that user find it? Simple: our friend added a hashtag such as ‘#shirt’ or ‘#fashion’ to their picture, which allowed other users searching those hashtags to come across that photo. If the picture is aesthetically pleasing, more than likely it will receive a decent amount of attention. Since Instagram has not yet allowed pictures to be shared, a lot of users screenshot the image and post it on their account while giving credit to the original photographer. That’s the end result of exposure via Instagram: a possible sale for your friend.
With 60-80% of jobs coming through personal connections and networking, why not have a social network to lend a helping hand? Voila! Enter LinkedIn to serve that purpose. LinkedIn’s power is in connecting people in various professions so that they may collaborate on ideas, projects, and find new positions. A profile on LinkedIn closely resembles a resume, which is advantageous for recruiters who are searching for the person that best fits their needs. Linkedin is different from Facebook because it is viewed as being a strictly professional network.
Your designer friend has experienced some success selling their items and wants to now become an in-house designer for a major fashion label. Using LinkedIn, your friend can search for a label, view any open positions and clearly see if any of their connections work at that company or if someone they know is connected to an employee and asked to be introduced through a simple message. If your friend fears networking events, LinkedIn offers a new way to make connections.
LinkedIn Groups is also a powerful feature for job seekers and professionals who want to network and keep up with their industry. Mostly dedicated to different types of professions, Groups offer insights and resources on their particular industry.
If looking for a job on Linkedin is on your friend's mind, this little tutorial could be useful:
Hopefully by this point your friend has created an account on each of these networks and is ready to learn what they can do to find out where their audience is and how to engage them. I’ll discuss how to teach them these next steps in my next post.
-- Sean Clark
We all know that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so if your brand had a chance to tell its story in photographs, exactly what words would it be saying? Instagram may have been designed for individuals to share their lives with their friends through photos, but because Instagram is one of the most popular social platforms today, companies are now utilizing the free photo app to share their stories through compelling images on the digital and social space.
How it works:
Instagram succeeds because of how simple it is. Just about anyone with a smartphone can snap a photo, choose a filter, and share it with friends on several different social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and more. There’s a lot of flexibility with this app when it comes to sharing. You can keep your profile private, limiting your photo reach to only your friends, or keep it public and reach potentially hundreds or thousands of people.
Why it’s great for brands:
Two words: Company culture. Sharing photos from the company itself adds another dimension to brand voice, and an effective one at that. This is your chance to get really creative with a broad range of consumers. Depending on the brand image you choose to portray, you can enhance it with images. Demonstrate new uses of different products, share a photo from the latest office celebration, share live images from a fun company event, and anything else you think will captivate an audience.
Instagram is simple, but for fullest reach potential, the usage of the app still requires a bit of strategy for brands. Here are some best practice tips to further your brand’s social presence on this specialized platform:
- Informative profile: Many times, people see profile handles (names) before the photos themselves. Make sure your handle is relevant to your actual name, if not simply your brand name itself. Set the profile photo as something explicitly relatable to the brand, like the logo. Finally, include the company homepage in the profile. It might also be good to include Twitter handles and a link to your brand page on Facebook to simultaneously drive traffic towards them as well.
- Strategic hashtags: Instagram tells us to be specific, be relevant, and be observant. Simply put, it’s best to avoid generalized hashtags (like #iPhone and #instagram) and keep on the lookout for hashtags that are more popular than others. For instance, the #NYC tag has over six times as many photos as the #NewYorkCity tag.
- Post for the people: Leave the personal interests for your own Instagram profile, because a brand’s priority lies in the attraction of other people. Post quality, interesting photos that people want to see. Consider a trial-and-error posting process by recognizing the types of photos that generate the most buzz (more likes and comments).
Photo: Screenshot of @Starbuck's Instagram profile
Here are a few examples of brands that are doing Instagram right:
- @Sharpie: Sharpie does a great job in creating a solid brand identity. Their photos are rarely of their products; instead, they’re photos of what their products can do. Sharpie’s page is full of fun drawings, creative crafts and unique uses.
- @WholeFoodsMarket: A foodie’s favorite account, for sure. Whole Foods Market does a great job displaying company culture, plus food from worldly and local distributors that followers very clearly appreciate (just take a look at the likes and comments on their food posts!). Also, WFM has recently hosted an Instagram contest for Earth Month (April), boosting the number of followers and establishing an iconic hashtag.
- @Celtics: This team has an extremely loyal following, and no matter what happens on the court, they don’t disappoint in the socialsphere. This account posts photos of moments that won’t always be caught on ESPN.
- @Bergdorfs: This couture mecca consistently posts filtered fashion from the office, the runway, the store and more. Their 72,000 (and counting!) followers have a feed that won’t ever run dry!
Photo: Screenshot of a @WholeFoodsMarket Instagram with hundreds of likes
What are some of your favorite companies to follow on Instagram?
-- Jaime Cheng
Without a doubt, one of the biggest social media stories of the year has been Facebook’s cool $1 billion dollar purchase of Instagram, a free photo-sharing mobile app that allows users to edit, stylize, and upload photos to several social media platforms. Instagram’s popularity and success can be attributed to a variety of things they recognized about the social media world and its users. First and foremost they appreciated the growing importance of social media on the go, and made their app fast and efficient for mobile use. They also saw the potential in enhancing a mobile photo into a work of art with digital filters: people have the tendency to be more enthused about a personalized pretty picture they created than a regular ol’ snap shot on the iPhone or Android. Since the new Facebook with Timeline has become increasingly oriented around photos and aesthetics, it is not surprising that Mark Zuckerberg would decide to purchase the best app best suited to enhance this aspect of Facebook users’ experience (and perhaps even knock out future competition). Although Instagram is still immensely popular, social media stops for no app, and the company’s success has only energized other start-up tech companies to come up with the next big media-sharing app. And this future big app on campus will undoubtedly be a video-sharing equivalent of Instagram.
Leading the way for video-sharing apps at the moment is Socialcam, which is second only to Instagram in the Apple Store’s most downloaded free Photo & Video applications. Boasting over 10 million downloads, Socialcam allows users to upload their videos to social platforms and edit videos right after taking them on their mobile device. While the formula seems to follow that of Instagram to a ‘t’, Socialcam also allows users to further personalize their mobile movies with soundtracks and custom titles, as well as with Instagram-esque digital filters.
Socialcam is one of many hopefuls in the race to be the next Instagram, and the competition is sure to heat up with apps like Viddy, Klip, and others gaining momentum. Because these apps are all free, users are able to discriminate by personal preference, aesthetic, and desired capabilities.
Viddy allows users to upload 15-second videos to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr. Like Socialcam, Viddy allows you to edit your mobile movies on the go with music, digital filters, transitions and more. The Viddy celebrity community is spearheaded by Britney Spears, who has 28.3K followers. While Viddy is the 9th most downloaded free Photo & Video app, it might be able to amass more of a following if the app was available for Android phone, as only iPhone users can enjoy Viddy now.
Klip, another iPhone-only app, offers users 20 real-time video effects. On klip.com, users can upload directly and share their movies with the klip community publicly or more privately. Klip also encourages social media platform integration not only by sharing movies on a variety of platforms, but also by enabling searchable hashtags on the klip site. Users can use hashtags in the title of their videos, track trends or find like-minded movie makers.
Video might not kill the Instagram star, but these apps are certainly the ones to keep an eye on in the upcoming months.
Have you downloaded a video-sharing app? What do you think the next Instagram will be? Let us know what you think.
- Emma Neisser
Back in simpler times— let’s say 2006— when Twitter was in its infancy and Facebook was caught in an awkward adolescence, photo-sharing services were an essential part of one’s online persona. Sites like Picasa, Flickr and Photobucket invited users to upload their pictures, share with friends and “follow” others long before such features had caught fire in other social systems.
But where are they now?
While the aforementioned services still enjoy a great deal of traffic, they seem to have been shuffled to the corner in terms of general buzz. Soon Picasa (along with Blogger) will lose its unique brand nameas part of the Google+ integration— a decision that could relegate Picasa (neé Google+ Photos) to the ranks of Instagram and Facebook Photos.
In 2006, Webshotswas my photo-sharing service of choice. Five years later, the site still sends me regular updates on my albums’ activity (surprisingly, people are still looking). The appeal of Webshots lay in its low-pressure yet dynamic atmosphere; it was a place to share images with non-Facebook users and to show off my shots to anyone who happened to stumble upon the account. While Webshots never boasted a strong community environment, it did feature a “Picture of the Day” and invited users to get lost browsing a smorgasbord of images— some funny, some pointless and some extraordinary. Bought by American Greetings in 2007, what was once a tidy and quiet site now seems cold, cluttered and too commercial.
Is the friendly, inspiring and not-too-social atmosphere a thing of the past for photo-sharing sites? Perhaps not.
500px, a startup from 2003 and recent darling of Microsoft BizSpark is attempting to create a home for professional photographers and photo-lovers alike. While the site features a follow function, Twitter account and Facebook page, its tie-in to social media is more conservative. LiveJournal, not WordPress or Tumblr, hosts the site’s blog. Eschewing the share-happy mentality, their mission is “to help photographers get greater exposure, reduce some of the marketing headaches, and to let creatives concentrate on what they do best.”
Although 500px might not be the best fit for an amateur photographer like me, it’s reassuring to know that high-quality images (see editors’ picks) have a community base unfettered by tags and tweets.
— Nicole Duncan
Justin Bieber gave the photo sharing application Instagram a big boost when he tweeted a picture to his more than 11 million followers. The result? A server or two blowing up.
Soon after he tweeted the instagram picture (of LA traffic), he was gaining 50 followers a minute and a comment every ten seconds on the app. Instagram, though an already popular application with 6+ million users, has never seen activity like that before.
Justin started using Instagram on his own, which is a positive sign for the rapidly growing company. Celebrity endorsements are valuable, especially when the celebrity happens to have something of a cult following on Twitter. Now, Instagram can expect a good number of those more than 11 million followers to sign up for the application as well.