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?

 

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Stay Social

Spanish Banks
Spanish Banks

In order to get the most out of your online social networks and social media, just remember that the word social always comes first.Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are communities built on the principles of give and take, and if you expect people to take the time to view your content you need to do them the courtesy of giving them your attention as well. This is not necessarily a one to one ratio or an exactly even exchange, more of a way of operating. If you just blast your info and message out without considering or connecting with your audience, they will quickly tune out. The great thing about social media compared to traditional media is the ability to have immediate interaction with your audience, don’t let that go to waste!

Point Grey
Point Grey

If you want comments, likes and retweets, you need to be dishing them out as well. Plus, if you ARE getting all these wonderful things make sure you are showing your appreciation.  Sometimes I wait until Friday to thank a week’s worth of re-tweeters or new followers on Twitter with a Follow Friday tweet or two. Sending a thank you in a direct message may seem more personal, but getting a public shout out is usually considered more valuable.

Steps Away
Steps Away

Commenting on blogs that share a similar subject is a great way to bring traffic to your own blog and broaden your readership. Encourage more people to comment on your posts by replying to comments, even a quick “Thanks for the comment” will usually do. You may also have noticed the links to other related articles at the bottom of my posts, It’s simple to add these in WordPress, as recommendations are provided in a handy little box in the Edit Post screen. I’ve been introduced to some fantastic articles and incredible bloggers through this one little thing and I always appreciate (and comment) when other bloggers link back to one of my posts.

Sky framed by branches
Sky framed by branches

To increase viewership, when I post a new image on Instagram, I add several relevant hashtags so people who don’t follow me can find my pictures and maybe click the “follow” button. Then I will click on one of two of the hashtags in my comment, which goes to a search for other photos with that hashtag, and “like” or comment on the ones I admire. This generates many more likes and comments for my pics, it also causes more spammy comments, but those are easy to clean up.

It’s all about engagement and the best way to make people care about your message is to show that you’re listening to what they have to say as well.

How do you show appreciation to your followers and likers?

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!

Facebook Feed Filler

Focaccia Bread
Focaccia Bread

My mother would always tell us not to fill up on bread at the dinner table. She knew that the other dishes had more nutrients and therefore more value for our growing bodies. Just as we have only so much appetite for food, people have a limited appetite for information. While reading about how a share on Facebook is 6 times more valuable than a share on Twitter, it made me think about all those Facebook pages that are filling our feeds with junk.

Paul Croteau by Julia Austine
Paul Croteau by Julia Austine

I recently “liked” a local photography business, but then “unliked” them not long after as they were posting multiple photos each day and I was getting tired of seeing pictures of people I didn’t know. Those images were taking up a lot of valuable visual real estate in my newsfeed and it became annoying. I actually went to their studio to have a video transfer done last week, but I didn’t find out from Facebook that they offered this service. Nope, I read it in a paper brochure in a neighbouring business. They obviously put time and effort into their Facebook presence, but it definitely could be paying off more. All the photos they share are posted to their timeline, when it would be much more effective to create albums (Weddings, Children, Portraits, etc) for prospective clients to browse. While they sometimes shared information about specials and services, the majority of the images had no text at all.

Frostings Cupcakes
Frosting’s Cupcakes

Another business that I “like” on Facebook (and that I’ve blogged about before), Frosting Cupcakery, shares their list of daily flavours, but since it is just text it doesn’t fill up the newsfeed and is easy to ignore if I’m not in the mood for cupcakes (yeah, right). They also share photos on their timeline as well,but the photos are relevant and timely (graduation cakes, pink cupcakes for Pink Shirt Day, etc) and include a description and often a call to action (eat cupcakes).

People want interaction, engagement and information from businesses that they follow on Facebook. Make sure you are always giving value to your followers with every post and keep it short and sweet (like a cupcake).

Have you ever “unliked” a business page for filling up your newsfeed?

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.

#blogherfood
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?

Instagram Comment Cleanup

@zenijaesmits on Instagram
Instagram post that had a spam comment

Usually, having a follower post a comment about your photo on Instagram is a desirable thing. But like everywhere else on the internet, there are bots, spammers and just your everyday jerks roaming around the Instagram network. So, what to do when an unwanted comment pops up beneath your latest and/or greatest image that you have decided to share with the world? It’s a simple fix, but maybe not so obvious to the casual user.

My friend and social media protegé, Zenija (who inspired this Meat of the Message post as well), had shared an image of her tongue firmly in cheek Valentine’s cards from her aptly named Say It With Sarcasm store on Etsy. It didn’t take long for comment to appear that was salacious as well as spammy. She didn’t know how to delete it and hadn’t invested the time to figure out how it could be done.

My Instagram post with unwanted comment
My Instagram post with unwanted comment

It’s a simple fix, but not immediately obvious, so I though I’d share a quick little tutorial using my own Instagram image. My photo didn’t get spammed but a user who had commented on my image had deleted his profile on Instagram, which resulted in all his comments disappearing as well. This made my reply seem out-of-place and I wanted to tidy it up.

Selecting Instagram comment for deletion
Selecting Instagram comment for deletion

Tutorial for Deleting an Instagram Comment:

Select the image that has the unwanted comment and then tap on the “Comment” button below (with the little speech bubble), as if you were going to add another comment. Once you are in the “COMMENTS” screen as shown above, swipe your finger  from left to right on top of the comment you wish to delete and a little garbage can and a reply arrow will appear. Tap the garbage can and two options will show up: “Delete” and “Cancel”. If  you want to go through with it, tap “Delete” and the comment will disappear, if you have grown attached to the comment and want to keep it, just hit “Cancel” and all will stay the same.

My Instagram image post comment cleanup
My Instagram image post comment cleanup

It’s a sweet little way to sweep away unwanted comments, whether it’s a comment you made on another user’s photo or one that was posted under your picture. So, now you can clean up your Instagram comments as easily as you turf the half eaten chocolates with dubious fillings after Valentines Day!

What tips or tricks have you discovered or find yourself still trying to figure out for Instagram?

Social Picture Progression

IMG_2172My last post was about Four Fab Photo Apps that I’ve been using on my iPhone 4S as well as my iPad. I find that I’m regularly using more than one app when editing and sharing photos, so I thought it would be interesting to share the journey of a photo from the lens to the internet.

I have a food blog at www.kitchenettefinds.com and food oriented Twitter account @kitchenettefind where I share recipes, reviews and food photos. I was about to sit down to enjoy  my lunch one day and I was taken by the mix of colours in my cilantro slaw with guacamole dressing. There was nobody around to share the beauty of the healthy rainbow I had created in my bowl, so I thought I’d share it with the world.

20121218-220319.jpg

1. iPhone 4S

Having my phone handy, as always, I snapped a pic of the bowl near the edge of the table with the fork adding a dash of asymmetry to add interest. But, it’s still just an image of a bowl of stuff, not share worthy… yet.

20121218-220411.jpg2. PicFX

The colours needed some punch, so I cropped and filtered the image in PicFX. The app now allows the option of keeping the original aspect ratio (rectangle instead of square).

20121218-220458.jpg

3.Bokehful

To add some flair to the photo, I used Bokehful to emphasize the gorgeous colours in the salad with a cascade of stars. Now it’s starting to look like an image fit for the internet!

20121218-220548.jpg

4. Instagram

Instagram is my mobile location-based image sharing network of choice, so I gave the image a final filter adjustment to add drama and a frame to finish it off. Then I shared it to my social networks on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

So that’s the story of how I shared my lunch with the world. I didn’t just do it to make people hungry, I hope that it encouraged at least one person to make a healthier food choice or try a new app.

Now, the sequel would be about how I used the PicFrame app to make the photo at the beginning of the post and how I’m sharing this tale with you through WordPress.

Would you rather that people share unedited photos, fancified or photos or just kept their lunches to themselves?

 

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:

Instagram

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).

Picfx

20121113-092701.jpg
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.

Bokehful

20121113-093135.jpg
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.

PicFrame

20121113-094053.jpg
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.

Hog Times at Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q

Last Wednesday I was allowed to go behind the scenes into the heat and hurry of the kitchen at Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q to record the their first-ever Hog Times dinner celebrating going whole hog and eating nose to tail. I set up my digital SLR on my tripod and tried to stay out of the way of the controlled chaos. With my iPad at hand, I clicked and tweeted and tried not to drool all over my equipment.

While I didn’t get a chance to taste the deliciousness, it was obvious that the crowd really enjoyed it. The best part was seeing the pig paraded around to the table while everyone took photos. There are more photos on Fat Dragon’s Facebook Page.

They’re already planning to do another Hog Times in January and this month they are doing a shellfish themed dinner called Shellfish Mania!

Here’s the menu:

Barbecued Sloping Hills Pork with Condiments

-Bean Sprout Kimchi

-Iceberg Lettuce

-Citrus

-Korean BBQ Bar-B-Q Sauce

-Scallion Sauce

Jalan Alor Chicken Wings

Papaya & Napa Cabbage Salad, Smoked Steelhead

Stir-fried Japanese Eggplant with Sambal & Crispy Onions

Pit Beans

Stir-Fried Noodles with Smoky Drippings

Steamed Jasmine Rice

Butter Lettuce Salads

Video: Lunch Lovers

An unofficial part of my position as Event Coordinator for Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q, Campagnolo and Campagnolo ROMA is being an on call photographer. Truly, there is little I like more than packing up my gear and heading off to snap images, especially if the subject is delicious food that will probably need to be eaten afterward! With nine new lunch specials being debuted at Fat Dragon it was the perfect opportunity to snap some images of the dishes and maybe pull together a video to show off some of the options.

With Youtube becoming the 2nd largest search engine on the web, if you want to be found you need to be in motion pictures. Now, you don’t need wind machines, sound stages or a Steadi-Cam to get the job done. You don’t even need to shoot video! That’s right, you can create a share a slide show of your still photos to give them the reach and dynamism of video.

While I was snapping away with my digital SLR, I supplemented the high quality images with short HD video clips shot with my iPad. This video was made on my iPad with iMovie using still images as well as the video.While it’s not going to be showing up on the silver screen anytime soon, it’s a great engaging way to share what’s going on at Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q in the lunch department!

Do you prefer watching quick videos to clicking through image after image?