How to Make Instagram Instantly Better

By: Jeanne Reynolds

I am not a social media maven. No, let’s be honest: I don’t even like social media. I just don’t see the fascination of wasting hours trolling through tweets or tracking someone’s every movement on Facebook. (Fair disclosure: I have Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, but only because I need them in my work.)

This blog and an Instagram account are as adventurous as I get in social media, and the Instagram account only came about more or less by accident. A conference I went to offered a drawing prize for attendees who posted throughout the event using its hashtag. I’d heard of Instagram but didn’t know much about it or why anyone would want to use it. But with that prize dangling in front of me — and a long trip with time to kill — I downloaded the app and taught myself how to use it.

Well, guess what? It was a ton o’ fun, and so simple even I could get the hang of it quickly. Just take a picture, type a short phrase about it, toss in a few hashtags and click share. I don’t have a lot of followers (you can be one: search for @jeannedreynolds) nor do I follow many people, but I have been able to connect with one or two long-lost friends and gained some insight into the personal lives of some of the creative, caring and really cool people I work with.

But — you knew there was a but coming, right? — the more experience I have with Instagram, the more posts I see that are, well, kind of annoying. Here, then, are my gentle suggestions for making the most of your Instagram posts:

  1. Post a picture of someone besides yourself. Of course I like you or I wouldn’t be following you, but your constant stream of selfies comes across a bit self-centered.
  2. Less is more. If you need to write a paragraph to explain your pix, try another social media platform. Don’t make me hit the “more” button and scroll, scroll, scroll to read your entire thought.
  3. Less is more, part B: Enough with the hashtags. I’ve read that posts with multiple hashtags are more widely viewed, but viewed by whom? Do you really care if you reach a tattoo artist in Alaska with your personal views? Two or three is plenty.
  4. Let’s see some variety. There’s one co-worker who I like and admire deeply, but 90% of her posts involve her drinking champagne, or her and her friends drinking champagne, or just two glasses of champagne by themselves. Two family members post mostly photos or videos of each other making puppy eyes or looking soulfully into the distance. OK, they’re somewhat newlyweds, but still.
  5. Save the sap. Related to #4, please save the long, heartfelt confessions of true love for your Valentine’s Day card. This person is a lot of fun to be around and has changed your life for the better, check. Ooey-gooey hearts and doves, check out.

If you haven’t tried Instagram yet, take a look at it. It’s a fast and simple way to vicariously share travel, meals, holidays and everyday adventures with your family and friends. Like me, you’ll probably gain new insights into how they think and feel and a new appreciation for how multifaceted each of us is.

It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words. Just be sure you’re only using a fraction of that on Instagram.

Social Media Soapbox

By: Chaunte McClure

social mediaI know the Christmas season is upon us and I should be spreading, or at least blogging about, holiday cheer, but bah humbug! Recent observations on Facebook have urged me to sit a spell on my social media soapbox. (It’s more comfortable than standing.)

Please indulge me for a moment while I attempt to address distasteful social media “reporting.”

I’m not sure whether to point the finger at our culture or those who simply love online sharing, even when it’s not their business to share.

With the popularity of social media and the Internet, information can reach millions of people in seconds. What great outlets to share news fast! Journalists and other communication professionals utilize these resources to inform their respective audiences about breaking news, inclement weather, school closings, events, and deals. But that’s a part of their profession! However, there are too many amateurs who love breaking “news” and want to be the first to report it.

Consider this: Is it your business to tell?

When someone passes, are you the next of kin who has the right to share that information with whomever and however you choose? If someone is involved in a car accident, should you report it on Facebook just because you passed the scene? Were you actually on location or did you hear the news from someone else?

A few thumb strokes on your cell phone or tablet can lead to heartache, shock, and/or confusion if someone learns via social media that a relative is ill, injured, or deceased before their immediate family or proper authority has contacted them.

No one taught us social media etiquette – at least not during my school days. There is a thing called common courtesy, which seems to have diminished in this digital age. On the other hand, the need for likes, comments, and shares has increased. We’ve essentially downgraded moral values to feed our desire for popularity and a few minutes of fame among a few hundred social media friends.

‘Tis the season to (always) be considerate of others. Fa la la la la, la la la la!