Tag Archives: Twitter

How to Use Instagram, the New Visual Twitter

Instagram, born yesterday – October 2010 – , is already a giant, over 200 million users busily sharing pictures in that weird square format typical of antiquated Polaroid photos.

When Facebook bought it in April 2012, paying one billion dollars in stock and cash, it knew what it was doing! In 2013, Instagram grew at a fast-clip 23% while Facebook crawled at 3%.

Twitter has only recently woken up to the need of sharing pictures and video clips – hence its purchase of Vine – but it looks like it might have woken up too late…

And sharing pictures on Twitter is not anywhere as easy as it is on Instagram.The user experience is very different: with Instagram, the picture leads you in, not the tweet.

Indeed, Instagram looks like it’s on its way to dislodge Twitter – essentially because it responds so much better to the visual needs of the younger generation, Millennials and under.

Even a Baby Boomer like myself is beginning to catch on, take a look at my Instagram account (upper right corner) and my “likes” (press that heart!), like on this photo:

We’ve all heard that the future of marketing is “visual”. Hence, PINTEREST and Instagram have risen to the fore in marketers’ strategies (see articles below).

As far as I can tell, few writers seemed to have caught on – though I suspect the younger ones among us already have. Here’s an example of how one writer uses it:

A screen shot of her book on Amazon, a short description to say that this book has achieved best seller status, a link to buy it et voilà!
Sounds good and easy-to-do (if a little pedestrian)?

Yes, it is. All you need is a smartphone (no, you can’t do it from your computer) and you need to take pictures with it. Actually, it’s fun, you can play with the Instagram-provided filters and come up with cool-looking pictures in a matter of seconds.

Then, throw in the picture description and appropriate hashtags, just like on Twitter, and you’re done. Since June 2013, there’s even a video-sharing feature (up to 5 seconds clips) – presumably a move to counteract the fast rise of Vine. 

But…but, yes, there’s always a “but”. If you’re going to sell your book outright, you won’t get far.

Just look at that screen shot of the book above, it only got 9 likes (including mine). On the other hand, if you build up a reputation for good, interesting pictures that don’t aim to sell anything in particular, you get loads of “likes”, like this one (I just picked one at random):

Yes, that got over 1,660 “likes”. And some people are so successful on Instagram that they get multiples of that for some of their images…

Some Instagram users also do eventually sell what they make, for example pieces of jewelry. Selling books? Maybe, if anyone of you has managed that, please share your experience with us!

Just one last point: hashtags. 

They’re like on Twitter and since you’re not limited with the number of characters, you can just add them on and on, to get to a wider audience and obtain more “likes”. Hashtags are also fun, anything playful goes: #selfie, #pretty, #traveljunkie etc. How to behave like a teenager is beautifully explained in this Business Insider article here

Though, as pointed out in that article, it won’t win you followers if you start playing “I-follow-you/you-follow-me” then “I-unfollow-you” games just to gain followers and show how popular you are.  That’s the teenage approach: a lot of followers make you feel important with your friends. But followers gained that way are a mirage…

Also, remember Instagram is NOT integrated with Twitter: they decoupled the day Facebook bought them, now they are rivals and you won’t be able to tweet links to your Instagram photos. Ah, the joys of the Net!

Still, just like on Facebook, you can make comments:

And that’s a good way to connect – even if a little superficial. But don’t look for deep meaning, after all, these are just pictures.

You know what’s Instagram’s secret for success?

It’s just plain….fun!


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Too Much “Noise” on the Net: is “milq” the Answer?

 We can all agree that we are bombarded with information and that most of it is useless. It’s coming at us from all directions: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Goodreads, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Tumblr, online magazines, blogs, the list is endless. 

We’re deafened with “noise” on the Net.

And in all that “noise”, do you find what you want to read? Not often, and when you do, you may try to save or bookmark that gem on your computer but most of the time you just lose it.

That’s where milq comes in. Or would like to try to come in. 

Instead of a timeline or feed or wall, the way you have it on Facebook, or picture boards like you have on Pinterest, you get “beads”, i.e. topics where you can upload your find, whether a video, an article, a song. Their landing page looks like this (my screen shot):

A very minimal design, and easy to navigate. It’s also very easy to join, just let the app access your Twitter or Facebook data and you’re done. 

Is it of any use?

Three weeks ago, the New York Times took note, (see here) and remarked, without really reaching any conclusion, that milq is intended to “separate wheat from social media chaff”. That’s a nice way to put it, but does it do it?

I tried it from my own standpoint and interests: remember, I’m into books, I like to keep abreast of social trends (how else could I write a book set in the future like Forever Young?). 

Well, I was thoroughly disappointed. 

Basically, the “beads” are a series of virtual shelves showcasing stuff about the same topic or theme, or to use their exquisite terminology, they are “collectively curated channels of culture”. And the stuff uploaded by someone with a big Internet presence gets precedence over the little guy. Also, their business model foresees that they “sell” beads to businesses – for example they’ve already got Condé Nast interested in topics, sorry, I mean “beads” linked to their magazines.

I tried to find the bead about books and that’s where things started to unravel. I stumbled upon a vast series of beads on bizarre topics, all phrased as questions (this apparently is meant to attract people’s attention) – here’s an example:

“Movies that made me want to become a filmmaker” or “genre stew”? To be honest, I have never seen a film that made me want to become a filmmaker, as to “genre stew”…I’m not sure what that means anyway nor whether I want to waste time to find out (even if some people feel enthusiastic about it).

Finally I found the books bead:

You’re told that Pamela Talese created this bead in February of last year and the picture of books surmounted by chocolate candies suggests the bead is going to be yummy. 

Wrong, the bead is meant to be…musical! Yes, it is about books but only if expressed in songs: the introductory blurb says it’s “about books, their characters, authors, poets, and playwrights. Also-librarians, bookworms, comic-book collectors, folks hooked on the phonics but SONGS ONLY please. There are many fabulous interviews on this topic-but words to music keep the story moving.

This songs-only approach is highly restrictive. Result? Very few posts over a year – maybe a dozen or two dozens, I didn’t count them. 

Another restriction is that you can only share or comment on the posts, with no hope of response. NO real discussion. This is not a give-and-take forum-like website. Just a place where you collect stuff, the way you collect pictures on PINTEREST – with the possibility of starting your own bead, provided it is highly visual or musical or both – authors addicted to the written word are warned!

Did you try it? If you did, please share your experience!

BIG NEWS! Part 4 of FOREVER YOUNG is OUT, see here – now all 4 parts are published on Amazon and all major e-platforms, the full book is out! 

You can start reading Part One for free on Wattpad where I release a new chapter every day – 5 chapters published so far, click here to start reading. And if you like it, please “vote” (that’s how “likes” are expressed on Wattpad) Many thanks!

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