Draft Daydream

Spring Budding
Spring Budding

I was inspired to sign up for one of Hootsuite’s webinars when I spoke with one of the webinar wizards at the Hoot Hire open house at Hootsuite’s new headquarters in Vancouver. These free online web seminars are only 45 minutes long and a great way to make sure you are getting your money’s worth out your Hootsuite Pro account (or to see if it’s time to upgrade from the free version).

For my first webinar I chose the Hootsuite Pro Overview. Since I’ve been using Hootsuite for quite a while, I’ve got most of the basics down, but I picked up a few tips on how I can make it work for me even more effectively!

Pussywillows at Granville Island Public Market
Pussywillows at Granville Island Public Market

I regularly tweet and retweet links to my blog posts, which can be time-consuming to copy and paste and shrink the individual post’s web address each time. By creating a draft in Hootsuite, with the shortened link and info about the blog post, I can easily re-tweak and re-send the tweet multiple times. This only works in the desktop version of Hootsuite, as you can only save one draft in the mobile app.

Water Blossoms
Water Blossoms

Tutorial for creating a draft in Hootsuite: 

Compose a message in the upper left hand corner of your Hootsuite dashboard. Add in any links or photos. Click the little disc icon (“SAVE MESSAGE AS DRAFT” will pop up). You have just created your first draft!

To access your drafts, click on the little downward triangle next to the disc icon and all your drafts will appear. Click on the draft you want to use and make any additions or adjustments. You can then share it right away or schedule it for a later time.

If you click the SAVE icon after you make changes, it will save the new version as well as the old. If you click SEND NOW, it will keep the original draft.

ScienceWorld Outdoor Science Park
ScienceWorld Outdoor Science Park

This is a great way to easily reshare links, photos or event information. Say, for example, if you have a blog post about Follow Fridays on Twitter  that you’ve been tweeting on Fridays for over a year, you’re life just got easier! Now, as the days get warmer and longer there is more time for daydreaming.

What do you frequently re-share that would be a dream to have in draft form?



Hootsuite Hiring Hootenanny

While I do worship at the altar of technology, I also know that nothing can replace good old-fashioned face to face interaction. Never has this been so clear to me since I started my search for my next challenging and exciting source of employment. When I last went on a full-out job search, postings could be found online, but it was still appropriate and acceptable to walk in and present a résumé or fill in a paper application. Now personal interaction and paperwork is pretty much shunned. Yesterday, I practically had to force front-line employees to accept a paper resume at places where I had already applied online. The managers at both locations were not available for me to shake hands with or present my cover letter and resume in person. Both times I was directed me to the online application, which I had already filled out.

Signing in at the Hootsuite Hiring Fair
Signing in at the Hootsuite Hiring Fair

So it was a sweet-scented breath of fresh air when I showed up at the open house hiring fair at Hootsuite that evening. It was an energetic crowd that lined up for a look at Hootsuite’s new headquarters in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. After an efficient sign in process, where my paper resume was cheerfully accepted, we waited in the lobby for a bit and then were released into the rest of the building. Our name tags were colour coded with the department (Marketing, Sales, etc) that we expressed the most interest in at the entrance, but we were encouraged to talk to anyone. The staff wore the same style of name tags, with just their department or position added.

Friendly Wanna-be Owls
Friendly Wanna-be Owls

Everyone was ridiculously friendly and approachable. There was a buzz in the air and lots of stickers scattered everywhere with Hootsuite’s feathered mascot Owly. I had some great conversations with Hootsuite staff as well as other interested applicants. It was a fun and fantastic opportunity to get a peek inside their new nest and see all the interesting open-work spaces and hang-out places. The best part was just being able to meet people I had been getting to know through Twitter and Instagram and to actually be acknowledged back as a real person. It’s ironic that a high-tech company comes across as more human than places that have store fronts and are built on customer service. Thanks Hootsuiters, for giving a hoot about meeting me and shaking my hand!

Hashtag Hullabaloo

Pacific Central edited with Picfx, Instagram & Wordphoto
Pacific Central edited with Picfx, Instagram & Wordphoto

If you are on Twitter and Instagram, you have probably noticed, and hopefully used, hashtags (#). On your phone it’s known as the pound key and looks like a mini Tic Tac Toe game, apparently it is now a baby name as well. Hashtags were first used in the late 80’s within Internet Relay Chat networks to label topics and groups, and the practice was adopted by Twitter users in 2007. Chris Messina (@chrismessina) claims to be the #godfather as it was his tweet that started it all and Wikipedia backs this up. In 2009 Twitter turned all hashtagged words into hyperlinks to search results for that keyword, making it even easier to find connected tweets.

Aki & Alex of Ideas in Food at #blogherfood

Hashtags are used on Twitter to highlight keywords to group tweets so that discussions, events, groups and trending topics can be searched. When I attended Blog Her Food 2012 in Seattle, the organizers chose #blogherfood as the official hashtag and listed it in all their media. This was adopted by most of the Twitter users when tweeting about the conference, but some attendees still used #blogherfood12 or #blogherfood2012. By using these hashtags, it was much easier to find, follow and ReTweet or reply to our fellow conference goers and made for lots of interesting and hilarious interactions.

Bay Leaf Bonanza by Kitchenette Finds
Bay Leaf Bonanza by Kitchenette Finds

Instagram also uses hashtags as searchable keywords that users can use to tag their photos. When I started using Instagram I didn’t use hashtags and I only received likes or comments on my photos from people who already followed me. Once I started using hashtags in the comments my likes and followers increased. My number of spam comments increased as well, but it’s easy to do an Instagram Comment Cleanup. I recently posted the photo above on Instagram and one of the hashags I used was #herb, as bay leaf is a culinary herb used to season soups and sauces. When I checked out the profiles of some users who liked THIS photo, to see if I want to return the like or follow their images, I found a specific segment of Instagram users was liking it: pot smokers!

Spotted #SouthGranville "whimsies" only $22 #seriously #forreals #justwrong
Spotted #SouthGranville “whimsies” only $22 #seriously #forreals #justwrong

Hashtags can also be used to add a touch of humour, emotion or context to a tweet or a photo with no intention of categorization or search-ability. Yes, you can just make up your own!

So, don’t be afraid to use a hashtag or two, just try not to go overboard on Twitter unless it is for comedic effect. The accepted etiquette on Twitter is a maximum of two hashtags per tweet, these can be added to keywords already used in the message or tagged on at the end. On Instagram you can go crazy with the hashtags, but I suggest creating a second comment to load up, especially if you are sharing to Facebook and/or Twitter. Hashtags are not that useful on Facebook for categorizing, but the humour does translate, just not to your grandparents’ generation… at least not yet.

What are the best/worst hashtags you have seen/used?

Four Fab Photo Apps

Science World in Vancouver edited with Picfx
Spacey Science World edited with Picfx

Photography has been a passion of mine for a long time. I’ve played around in a dark room, manipulated Polaroid emulsion transfers and I bought a digital camera when 4 mega pixels was a big deal. One thing I was not quick to embrace was cell phones with cameras. I saw it as a useful tool to capture data, but I was not open to the artistic merit angle. I usually carried a camera with me, so I never relied on capturing essential images with a phone. Well, that all changed when I switched from a Blackberry to the iPhone4S last year. It finally dawned on me that it was not the technical specs that was the key feature of using the camera on smartphones (though finally it was on par with point-and-shoots) it was the share-ability of the images captured. Rather than waiting to download scores of images to my laptop (usually late at night) and then finally getting around to putting them up on Facebook, I could instantly share what I was seeing with friends, family and all my social networks. Over the last year I’ve gotten more creative with the images I share and here are the top four iPhone apps that I have used the most:


Victoria Cityscape edited with Instagram
Victoria Cityscape edited with Instagram

I started using Instagram mostly as a way to share images with Facebook, Flickr and Twitter and I played around with the filters, frames and blurs. Lately, I’ve been more interested in Instagram as a social network as there are some amazingly talented and creative people who share their creations through Instagram. I’ve started using more hashtags on my photos under @juliaaustine and I’ve seen the number of likes and comments go up as well (also the amount of spam, but I figured out how to delete those comments).


Powerful Sky edited with Picfx

After using Instagram for a while, I noticed that people’s images were going beyond the manipulations offered there and so I started looking for ways to add more effects to create more dramatic images. I downloaded Picfx (paying a whopping $1.99) and haven’t looked back. With over 100 effects and the ability to layer effects and control the intensity, there are a mind-boggling amount of combinations that can be created.


Sun Forest edited with Picfx, Bokehful & Instagram

One of my favourite effects from Picfx was the different bokeh light layers. The only problem was that it was static, you could adjust the intensity but not the placement. Enter Bokehful. For 99 cents, I could not only control the intensity and placement, there were colour palettes and shapes literally at my fingertips! I keep reminding myself that less is more so that I don’t go overboard.


Diner Desires edited with PicFrame & Instagram

A photo may say a thousand words, but sometimes that’s not enough! From the same designers as Bokehful, ActiveDevelopment, I turned to PicFrame to solve this dilemma. By dropping another 99 cents, I’m able to put multiple images together with a variety of frames and labels that I haven’t tired of yet.

Though I mostly use Instagram to share the final images, I’m finding that to create the effect that I want I sometimes use ALL of the above apps to tweak the original shot before sharing it. So get creative and take a boring pic that anyone could capture and make it your own!

Please let me know what your favourite photo app is as I’m always looking to add to my image arsenal.

Video: Hootsuite: Owl You Really Need?

I’ve used HootSuite to manage my social media profiles for a while and I recently upgraded to the Pro Plan, going from free to $5.99 USD per month. The limit of 5 social profiles was feeling constricting and I was becoming more interested in the custom analytics available. I love that HootSuite is a local tech company in downtown Vancouver and that they seem to be committed  to staying here. Not to mention that the owl mascot is adorable! Go ahead and “like” the Meat of the Message Facebook page and you’ll be in the loop with my latest scoop (I promise they won’t all rhyme).

Do you use HootSuite? If so, what do you like about it? If not, what’s holding you back?