Instagram: Summer Fun with Longterm Business Appeal

Social Media Trends By Karen Hendricks

Summer and photography go hand-in-hand, right?  And the relatively new smartphone photography app Instagram is riding a wave, right into the summer season, with 60 new photos added every second.  That’s 5 million photos every day.  And at 40 million users, Instagram is on track to reach the milestone of 100 million users faster than any other form of social media.  (Source:  Mashable)

And, for those of you who are reluctant to add yet another social media platform:  it’s as easy as pie.

Whether you join Instagram for purely for fun, sharing photos with family/friends, or approach it from a business perspective, you’re getting in on the ground level of the next big trend in social media, but with a nostalgic twist.

The app lets you select from a variety of filters (18, currently), many of which give your photos a retro feel.  For example, there’s the “1977” filter with a Polaroid-esque appearance.

Basically, your “feed” consists of photos from people that you follow, similar to other social media streams.  The big difference is that Instagram is 100% eye candy–simply photographs with very little text (just short captions which are optional).

Personally, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with photos from one of my favorite hobbies–gardening.  Here’s a sampling of some of my pics with “flower power.”

New businesses, non-profits, celebrities and sports teams are hopping on the Instagram train every day and adding it into the marketing mix.  What a beautiful way to showcase a brand, whether behind-the-scenes or highlighting products, events or features via photography. Some of the big, established brands so far are NBC News, USA Today, National Geographic and Starbucks (of course).  I recently discovered the Philadelphia Zoo–beautiful animal pics!

Want to learn more? Check out the Instagram Blog to take a peek at what’s being posted.  Relying on the strength of iphone, ipad and Android users, the app is free (check out http://instagr.am/).  Like Twitter, hashtags are essential to finding photos within a theme.

Do you have Instagram insights?  Share your tips or favorites to follow, below.  And feel free to follow me @karenhendricks9.  I look forward to seeing your pics!

4 PR Lessons from “the Last Day of School”

By Karen Hendricks

Early June never fails to bring a contrasting mixture of sweet, as well as bittersweet, days.  My children are celebrating every moment that brings then closer to the last day of school.  As a Mom, I find myself celebrating as well, but also savoring those fleeting final milestones (i.e. final spring concert, last soccer game, etc.).

I think there are four basic, fun and useful lessons that can be learned, by looking at the public relations, marketing or writing world through a “last day of school” lens.

1.  Take time to celebrate.

Think back upon your childhood and try to remember that euphoric “last day of school,” when the entire summer beckoned to you, filled with the promise of sun-drenched adventures.   Pure bliss.  How often do you take the time to truly celebrate marketing or PR milestones, or look forward to new ones, with a similar spirit?  So often, we’re on to the next writing assignment, or caught up in the building blocks of a marketing campaign. This is the perfect time of year to be in touch with your “inner child” and allow yourself to celebrate your accomplishments.  Be reinvigorated by looking forward to new challenges.

2.  Reflect on how far you’ve come.

Depending on the age(s) of your children, they may or may not be in a reflecting mood at the end of the school year.  My children accumulate school papers, projects and other paraphernalia in large baskets throughout the school year.  At some point early in the summer season, they each go through his/her basket, deciding which items are truly worth saving, incorporating into scrapbooks, or tossing.  But it’s always a great exercise that results in several exclamations of “Wow, I forgot about this project,” or “Can you believe algebra (or fill in the blank) used to be hard for me?”  So too, should we as writers, marketing and PR practitioners, evaluate our work periodically and take stock of where we’ve been, noting which projects caused us angst but allowed us to grow.

3.  Are your goals within sight?

As the school year winds down, my children are simultaneously planning next year’s schedules, making sure they’re meeting school and graduation requirements, being mindful of their goals.  During this season of final endings and new beginnings, it’s the perfect time to evaluate our clients, our work and our future goals.  Are you accomplishing everything you set out to do?  If not, make adjustments that allow you to stay in focus and on track.

3.  Remember that summer is a season of growth.

I treasure summers for the time they allow me to spend with my children, so I’m not a fan of year-round school, however I do agree with the experts that summer presents some of the best opportunities for learning.  Studies show that children are healthier during the summer season, growing more during this season than any other–physically, emotionally and mentally.  We too, as writers, marketers and PR practitioners, should tap into the unbridled, wide-open skies of summer to find inspiration and new approaches to our projects (I was trying to avoid the cliché “think outside the box” here!).  Allow summer’s green horizons, blue skies and golden sunshine to work its magic on you.