How to Get a Million Instagram Followers for a Day

Are you a photographer trying to get more Instagram followers? One of the most common tips you hear for growing your tribe is to share your best work. As actor Steve Martin famously said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

It’s fantastic advice. Unfortunately, even if your pictures make the Mona Lisa look like a finger painting, it’s easier than ever to be ignored. Instagram now has over 500 million users posting more than 52 million pictures every day!

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Should Photographers Join Instagram?

When Instagram started out, it was meant to be a place where people shared basic moments of their daily life. As it grew in popularity and saw everyone from movie stars to presidents sign on, posts became more curated. Top names in the photography world from National Geographic to Magnum photographers joined too.

Although some argue this was the death knell of Instagram, an end to sharing our unfiltered selves through Gingham-filtered glasses, others saw an opportunity. Photographers found it inspiring to be part of a global social network, one where everyone speaks the same visual language. And companies found a new channel to market their goods.

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Some naysayers think Instagram, which is a mobile-first social network, is a second-class platform. What photographer wants their pictures to be viewed on a tiny mobile screen? The fact is that today almost 80% of social media time is spent on mobile devices.

Whether you are a pro trying to market your business or a hobby photographer wanting to interact with like-minded people, you need to be where your audience hangs out. Instagram is that place.

Something Terrible about Instagram

Steve Martin’s advice about getting discovered was great, but it doesn’t work as well in the Instagram Age. There are plenty of photographers who struggle to find an audience. P.T. Barnum gave some more pertinent advice when he once quipped, “Without promotion, something terrible happens…Nothing!”

On Instagram, you need to be proactive when trying to build your following. Unlike Facebook, there is no Share button to help new people discover you. Also, the Instagram algorithm doesn’t do much either to put your pictures in front of new people. The majority of engagement on your feed usually comes from your followers, not people who randomly stumble on your work.

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As a result, the best way to introduce your photos to a new audience is to get other Instagram accounts to share your work. There are two ways to go about this. You can ask other photographers to share your work. Or even better, you can get featured on hubs.

Leverage Hubs to Build your Tribe

Hubs are Instagram accounts that feature other people’s photographs. Think of them as a sort of variety show that shares what is happening in the world of Instagram. Each hub is like a channel. For instance, there are nature hubs, architecture hubs, street photography, and food photography hubs to name a few. A hub can be owned by an individual, a group of people, or a business.

This photo below I took in Malaysia was featured by the FreedomThinkers feed. According to their website, their mission is to inspire their viewers to travel the world. That aligns with mine so I was happy to share my image on their account.

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Some hubs are run just for fun as a way to create community. Other hubs are backed by a company and exist to market a product or service. Either way, they’re a great way to expose your work to a new audience.

To get a hub to share your photo, just include the relevant hashtag in the caption of your photo. You can usually find out which hashtags to use in their account bio. If the hub owner likes your photo, they will share it and credit you by sharing your name and IG feed address. The exposure you get can, in turn, drive traffic to your personal feed, resulting in an increase of followers.

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How to Go Viral on Instagram

Instagram is like the news, once one channel breaks a story, others quickly report on it as well. Many hubs copy their featured photo selections from other hubs. This creates a domino effect that can give you massive amounts of exposure.

For instance, my “Dark Towers” photo was featured on more than 20 hubs. One of those was on the Game of Tones feed which you can see below. I didn’t ask all of the hubs to share it, many featured my image because they saw it on another hub. Those hubs together had a combined follower count of over a million.

Having that many hubs share your picture doesn’t happen every day. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon to have at least a few different hubs share your photo at once.

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5 Killer Tips to Get Seen on Instagram

It doesn’t matter if you are a total newbie or seasoned pro, or if you have 100 followers or 100,000. There is a hub out there for all levels and types of photographers. Here are some tips for getting featured:

1. Know your hubs. To get featured you need to put the hashtag and/or tag your photo according to each hub’s request. Don’t just blindly tag a hub because it’s popular. Ask yourself if your work fits the style and quality of the hub.

2. Focus on your location. Geographic hubs are a great place to start. Look for ones that focus on a region like your city, state, province, country, or the place where you are traveling. Some examples are @ig_nycity or @uk. An added benefit to local hubs is that you can actually meet people in your area.

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3. Search according to types of photography. Consider genre hubs like @nightphotography or @urbanromantix. They are great for discovering like-minded photographers.

4. Try for small hubs when you start. If you are new to photography and/or Instagram, start small. Aim for hubs with less than 10,000 followers at the beginning.

5. Share with brands. Don’t disregard business hubs. These are some of the largest out there. For instance, the magazine Travel + Leisure @travelandleisure has over 2 million followers and regularly features photos from other IG feeds, as does @travelchannel.

The Super Secret to Instagram Exposure

This is my final and most important tip. Follow the hub you’d like to be featured on along with the admin of the hub.

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Some hubs will even direct you to “follow [insert name of hub admin(s)] to be featured.” The hub admins want exposure just like everyone else as they want to increase their follower count too.

If the name of the admin is not stated in the bio, look at the last few photos posted in the feed. There is often a note saying which admin selected the featured photo.

The Golden Rule of Engagement

Once you know who the admin is, friend them, visit the admin’s feed (not the hub), like a few of their photos, and then comment on one or two of their pictures. Be sure to write something that proves you aren’t a robot. In other words, don’t just leave a thumbs up or “Great shot!” comment.

Most importantly, don’t be human spam. Do not ask the admin to view your feed. Do not ask them for feedback on your work. And never ask them to feature your photo.

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If you take the time to interact with the admin’s photos, it’s possible they will visit your feed. And if they like what they see, you just might get featured. Reciprocity is the Golden Rule.

In the end, the hub admins are like gatekeepers, the editors of social network magazines. You want your photos in front of their eyes. Get them to know who you are. Connecting with a hub admin is the single most important thing you can do to get featured, besides creating amazing work of course.

Are Instagram Hubs Worth the Effort?

Some might say social media is a waste of time. It’s undoubtedly better to be out with your camera than staring at your phone.

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In my case, that Busan roof topping photo that was shared on 21 hubs got me a few hundred followers. It doesn’t really matter, though. Life is not a popularity contest. Whether you have one fan or one million, the most important thing for any photographer is to create.

On the other hand, the act of creating is deeply bound with the act of sharing. There’s nothing wrong with photographing what you love and keeping it for yourself.

But if you want to share what you’re passionate about with the most people possible, then let the world know. Or as writer and producer Dan Harmon put it, “Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops, and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you.”

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http://digital-photography-school.com/million-instagram-followers/

Introduction to YouTube Marketing

Introduction to YouTube Marketing

YouTube is a video Social Networking site, and the 2nd most popular search site on the Internet after Google, who owns YouTube. YouTube video watching is a significant activity on the Internet, with over 1 billion visits to YourTube daily and over 100 million videos watched daily. And it’s easy for anyone who sees your video to rate it and share it with his Social Network.

How YouTube Works

YouTube’s theme is “Broadcast Yourself,” and as such encourages everyone to make and broadcast videos on everything imaginable. YouTube is owned and operated by Google, and leverages the search power of Google.

All YouTube videos are indexed by Google’s search and will appear in Google’s search results when you select Video in the search options on Google. Using YouTube is a great way to get listed in Google’s search results since Google gives YouTube videos priority in their search results.

YouTube videos can be viewed by anyone with access to the Web site. No user account or log-in is needed to search for or watch videos. Setting up a user account, on the other hand, allows you to upload videos, and also lets you customize your viewing with YouTube by subscribing to “channels” and giving feedback ratings on videos.

When you set up your own YouTube user account, many of the familiar functions of Social Networking are offered as options, such as sending a YouTube video link to a friend or contact, commenting on a video, and rating a video. You can also link to a YouTube video from your blog and include it in a post.

Using YouTube for Marketing

Videos on YouTube can be short and simple. For your marketing, decide on a goal for your YouTube activity. Some common themes include customer support, educational, product instructions, customer interviews, employee interviews, event videos, and professional produced videos.

Your YouTube videos need to have tags and descriptions associated with them for search in YouTube, so use your keywords and be sure to include them when you pload your video. Google’s search bots cannot index the media, only the text associated with the media, so adding tags is critical to your video being indexed.

Just like any Social Media, creating an account and only posting once (one Video) won’t have a great impact. Creating a series of videos, however, will result in increased search optimization and followers of your YouTube channel. Find a way to implement regular video production into your marketing effort to build an audience on YouTube and increase your ranking.

Video Production

For production, you can use a hand-held video camera. My favorite is the Kodak series, since they have an option for an accessory microphone, but any major brand that has a microphone input will produce good video. Good sound quality is important for video production and making your YouTube video easy to understand. If you have a story to tell, make some notes and rehearse them several times to make it sound more natural when you are reading from them.

If you find you’re better at ad-hoc video, keep a video camera with you for part to capture some of your daily activities. If you have a smartphone, use the built-in video camera to capture some short videos. Simple YouTube uploading from a YouTube app is usually a feature included with most smartphones.

Microsoft Windows Live Movie Maker and the Apple iMovie applications allow basic video editing and are a good place to start for editing your own video productions. Consider getting a professional video made if you decide to expand your marketing and want more complex stories told in your videos. The production quality on YouTube is improving and a good video production can be created for $1,000-$4,000 as a starting point. The higher the budget, the more you’ll get in scripting, production preparation, and concept development by a professional. But don’t let that stop you from doing something on your own, good audio quality and a steady camera can result in an excellent video.

Remember, it’s the message and content that’s important to viewers.

http://www.bobology.com/members/Introduction-to-YouTube-Marketing.cfm

Improve Your Website’s Performance With These Photo Optimization Tips

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Much has been written lately about slow page loading times on news websites. People are increasingly consuming news on mobile devices, often with limited bandwidth.

Earlier this year, Google announced that they now use “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal in mobile search results and even adding an extra second or two of load time has been shown to increase abandonment rates on websites.

Sites that aren’t optimizing for performance on all devices and connection speeds are limiting their own audience growth. Every time someone can’t find your site or they’re too impatient to wait for a page to load, you’re losing a potential reader.

Fortunately, the INN Nerds aren’t content to just complain about it, we’re here to help fix it!

Let’s Start with Photos

The average web page now weighs in at just under 2 MB, and images are the main culprit. Photos on the web are essential elements of storytelling and connecting with your audience. But if your photos aren’t optimized, they can also weigh down your web pages and make them slow to load. To improve the overall performance of your website, photo optimization is a great place to start.

What is Photo Optimization

Photo optimization involves compressing the file size of photo using a tool like Adobe Photoshop. We want the highest quality photo with the smallest possible file size. Too much compression can impair the quality of the image. Too little compression can result in a large photo file size which slows the performance of our web page. Optimization is finding the right balance between quality and file size.

Consider these two images:

Photo of Delicate Arch

Not Optimized. Width: 1200px, Height: 800px, File Size: 939 Kilobytes

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Optimized. Width: 1200px, Height: 800px, File Size: 107 Kilobytes

The second photo has a file size of less than 12 percent of the first. You can probably see a slight degradation in the photo quality. But most people would not notice the difference between these two on a web page.

On the web we should never use any photo with a file size like 939 Kilobytes. This will slow the loading of the page, especially on slower connections and mobile devices. We want to keep website photos under 100 KB if we can, and much lower for smaller images. For example, here’s the same photo reduced in dimensions:

Delicate Archive in Arches National Park

Not Optimized. Width: 300px, Height: 200px, File Size: 192 Kilobytes

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Optimized. Width: 300px, Height: 200px, File Size: 14 Kilobytes

The file size of the second photo is less that 10 percent of the first image, yet most people would see no difference in photo quality. If you have a web page displaying a number of similar-sized images, for example a gallery page or a series of stories with thumbnail images, smaller photo file sizes can add up a huge reduction in page loading time.

How to Optimize Photos in Photoshop

Best practice for optimization is to start with the highest-quality source photo, then resize and compress it for the web. Start by cropping and resizing the photo for the space it will fill on your web page. If the photo will be displayed in a sidebar widget that’s 300px wide, there’s no reason to upload a photo wider than 300px for that space. Reducing the size of the photo by itself will reduce its file size.

After the photo is cropped and sized, in the File menu go to Export -> Save for Web:

Save for Web dialogue box in Photoshop

Here you can select which photo format to export (always use JPEG for photos), and how much compression to apply. Medium is often the optimum setting, but this is a judgement call. If you don’t see a preview of both the Original photo and the JPEG export, click the 2-Up tab at the top. Now you can try different compression settings and see a preview of the results, including the file size:

Optimized image in Save for Web dialogue in Photoshop

Once you’re happy with the image quality and file size reduction, click Save to create your web-optimized photo. This will not affect your original image, which should be archived for possible use in the future..

Tip: If you like keyboard shortcuts, in Photoshop you can launch Save for Web like this:

  • Command + Shift + Option + s (Mac)
  • Control + Shift + Alt + s (Windows)

Optimizing Photos without Photoshop

If you don’t use Photoshop, there are any number of other tools for optimizing website images.

Compressor.io is a free online tool. You can drag and drop a source photo into it, and download a compressed version of the image. Compressor.io doesn’t have any cropping or resizing tools, and you can’t adjust the amount of compression. In our tests, Photoshop does a better job of balancing photo quality and file size. But if you have a photo sized correctly for your website, it’ll do in a pinch.

If you’re comfortable using the command line, there are a number of tools available to you for optimizing different image types.

Your Photo Workflow

If you’ve produced photos for print, you know it’s important to maintain the highest quality photo throughout the process. But with today’s cameras, the highest quality photo is likely to be 5000 pixels wide, and more than 20 Megabytes in file size. Such a photo is great for print, but a problem on the web.

Best practice is to safely store the original photo files in their highest resolution, for the day when you need to resize or reuse them in another context. Use the original photos to crop, size, and export for the web, then keep the originals safe for future use.

https://nerds.inn.org/2015/11/23/improving-website-performance-optimizing-photos/

10 Types of Visual Content Your Brand Should Be Creating Right Now

Visual_Content_TypesOver the past few years, we’ve seen content become more visual. Marketers have experimented with infographics, videos, and more — and they’ve made plans to keep it up this year.

In fact, 73% of content creators plan to prioritize creating more engaging content in 2016, and 55% plan to prioritize creating visual content.

While this certainly gives us a lot to look forward to, it also creates a bit of a challenge for marketers looking to stand out. To avoid your content getting lost, you’ve got to find a way to create something worthy of your audience’s time and attention. But how?

To help narrow your focus, check on the infographic from Canva below. From quote cards to infographics, this helpful list is designed to inspire your next visual project. 

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 http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-types

The Anatomy of a Winning Website Design

Eye-catching, on-brand color schemes. Big, bold images. Striking headlines.

These are all important parts of great website design. After all, they’re what can make or break a new site visitor’s first impression of your site. But what about the more nitty-gritty parts of great website design — like helpful navigation menus, strong calls-to-action, and indicators of website security and trust?

There are a lot of moving pieces that go into the web design process, and it’s important to make sure you’re not overlooking any of them.

Don’t want to leave anything out during your next website redesign? Check out the infographic below by AddPeople for a comprehensive list of the basics of designing and building a great website. 
 



http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/anatomy-web-design

11 Quick Food Photography Tips to Make Mouth Watering Images

One of my first jobs in photography involved shooting food, including doing shots for a cookbook. I learned a lot about food styling and choosing the right props. If you’ve ever needed to take some food photographs or think this is something you might want to try, here’s a few quick tips for you to get started.  Feel free to add your own tips or ask questions.

Food Photography Tips

 

#1 – PICK THE FRESHEST INGREDIENTS



If the skin looks wrinkled, scarred or damaged take it out and get a new one – or angle it in a such way so as not to see the bad side. This seem obvious but sometimes it’s easy to miss. You’re often photographing these things really close up so even the tiniest flaws will show up. Check them over closely and be ruthless when you buy our vegetables.

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#2 -LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING!


Backlight is key to texture and making it appetizing looking. This will also allow any steam to show up in the image.  Steam or smoke will show up prominently when lit from behind. Notice how much more appetizing the corn and bean salad looks in the second image, and the only difference is the angle of light. The one that has the light skimming across it from behind makes the salad look crisp and fresh, the other one just seems flat and unappealing.

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Lighting from the front and to camera right, notice how flat it seems?

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Lighting from behind makes the salad glisten and look more appealing to the eye.

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Dramatic lighting doesn’t have to be fancy, this was shot on my kitchen floor using light from the patio window.

#3 – KEEP IT SIMPLE


Take out stuff you don’t need. Take out things on the table that are distracting and pair down to just one plate of food.  If the food once cooked is unattractive only show a portion of it. Brown soup doesn’t really seem visually stimulating but if you have to do something with it, get creative with props and cropping and when in doubt follow the “more is less” rule of thumb.

QuinoaKaleSoup

#4 – USE SIMPLE PROPS INCLUDING RAW INGREDIENTS


Simple plates, cutlery, etc. and raw ingredients make great extra props. When I did a lot of food photography I had a cupboard full of different plates, placements and bowls, but only one of each!  Stick to non-patterned plates and bowls so the food stands out more.

If you don't have props use raw food bits
If you don’t have props use raw food bits.

#5 – SHOW A BEFORE AND AFTER SHOT


Showing steps in the cooking process including chopping, in the pot or in process helps people understand the final image. Show one shot before, and one after it’s cooked or step by step images. This works well for things that just don’t look all that great cooked.

Super green soup in the pot before blending shows the ingredients well.
Super green soup in the pot before blending shows the ingredients well.

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After blending it doesn’t look like much so use the before and after, and prop with raw ingredients to help its appeal.

#6 – SHOW IT COOKING


Along the lines of #5 showing it cooking is sometimes better than showing the finished product.

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In the pot and human element added. This was actually photographed on my deck in mid-winter. Can you guess what the background is?

#7 – ADD A HUMAN ELEMENT


Adding a hand stirring a pot or holding a plate allows you to show scale and adds a human element which is often more appealing and real to viewers.  (see photo above)

#8 – DON’T COOK IT COMPLETELY


When meats and vegetables are fully cooked they keep cooking after you remove them from the heat. So to keep them looking plump and juicy remove them from the stove or oven a bit early – take your photos, then put it back it to finish cooking before you eat it. This will keep things from looking shrivelled.

#9 – KEEP THE PLATES CLEAN


This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. The plates and props holding the food must be absolutely 100% pristine, clean, flaw free. When you shoot close up, like most food requires, any imperfections will show up and look like the dish is messy or incomplete.  Like this one.

Oops!  I should have cleaned the pot better.
Oops! I should have cleaned the pot better. Notice how messy it looks?

#10 – VARY YOUR CAMERA ANGLE


Try different angles of view when shooting your food items from directly overhead, tilted, shooting into the edge of the plate or table, and so on.  Get creative and try to show it in a different way than most people would see it.

A little tilt and diagonal lines just adds interest. Notice the back lighting again?
A little tilt and diagonal lines just adds interest. Notice the back lighting again?

#11 – ADD A BIT OF OIL


To make vegetables glisten brush them with a bit of olive oil, or mist a salad with water. It will make them look fresher.

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These veggies were marinated in oil and herbs so notice how they glisten so nicely?

#12 – BONUS TIP FOOD SHOTS EATING OUT


Yup I’m one of those people that takes a photo of my food before I eat it, especially if it’s particularly nicely presented. I feel I owe it to the chef who took such great care in preparing it. Perhaps it my food photography background and I just can’t help myself!  I often just use my iPhone but when I do have my camera I will usually set it up before I eat it and take a few shots.  Here’s a couple of mine.

Okay let’s see how you put this to use!

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French toast at the Byway Diner in Portland, Oregon.

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Cafe latte and beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans

10 Essential Features of a Successful Small Business Website

How successful is your small business website? Are you looking for areas in which you can improve usability and results?

For most small businesses your website will act as your salesman (except it works 24/7 and won’t ask for commission). It’s where customers will find out about the services you offer and effectively decide if they want to buy from you, so it needs to be right in order to make you a success.

For some guidance making your website work better for you take a look at this infographic from Add People.

10 Essential Features of a Successful Small Business Website

8 Social Media Tricks to Make People Crave Your Products

Are you wondering how to make a real impact on social media? Social media is a great way of selling your products or services, especially if you know how to get people engaged and excited. It takes a lot of hard work, but the results are spectacular if you go about it the right way. The good news is that it isn’t rocket science – there are lots of social media tricks that make people really want to buy from you. Here are eight of the best to get you started.

 

 

Use Great Graphics


Most people think visually – they respond much better to pictures than they do to words. If your product looks great, then show it off with bright, high-quality photos and even videos. Make sure that your images are interesting – don’t just use boring product shots. Instead, use images of people using your products. For example, if you’re selling lifejackets, show high-energy shots of the world’s greatest white-water rafting locations. You can even try a little visual humor. Even if your product isn’t something you can photograph, you can still generate lots of visual interest by using infographics – for instance, come up with some fascinating facts and then use a site such as Easel.ly to build an infographic around these.

 

Build Excitement Early


If you’re going to launch a new product online, don’t wait until the last minute to start building excitement. Instead, start talking about your product on social media long before you’re ready to take orders. Create buzz by releasing teaser videos, set up waiting lists, give people a behind-the-scenes look as you develop your product – there are lots of ways to build anticipation. Don’t give away all your secrets, though – people love a mystery and will keep coming back to find out more. If you do this, you’ll have them lining up to buy your product when you do launch.

 

Create Relationships


It’s called social media for a reason. One of the fastest ways to annoy people on social media is to start out with a hard product pitch. With social media, selling comes later. Start out by building relationships with your audience, so that you get positive engagement. Give them useful information, help them solve problems, entertain them – but don’t start selling until they’re ready. Once you see that you have a social media following that’s actively interested in your products, this is the time to start to promote. But don’t just switch from relationship building to an outright sales campaign – think about how you can leverage your relationship and keep your audience onside.

 

Get Bloggers to Review Your Products


Ask yourself this. When you buy something, who do you trust for recommendations? If you’re like most people, you ask family or friends what they think. It’s similar on social media – people pay attention to what bloggers say. This is because bloggers are independent and don’t have a vested interest in selling your product. Not only that, good bloggers have a huge following, so they give you a ready-made audience. You can reach out to bloggers yourself or, to make the process simple, you can connect with bloggers on sites such as Tomoson.

 

Get A Little Crazy


On social media, people want to be entertained, not bored. Don’t be afraid to get inventive, even a little insane. Don’t offend anyone – but it’s okay to be a bit nutty. This doesn’t work for everything – for instance, stay serious if you’re selling security systems – but more times than not you’ll generate much more engagement if you do something truly memorable. If you’re selling pizzas, for example, run a social media campaign that shows how pizzas have inspired great people throughout history – such as Galileo dropping a cannonball and a pizza off the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Or, was it the Leaning Tower of Pizza? The possibilities are endless – just use your imagination.

 

Special Offers


One of the great tricks of selling on social media is to make people feel special. You’ll build real loyalty if you give exclusive offers that people can only get when they follow you online. Try giving away limited-time discount coupons available only on your social media channels, or run contests where people get a free entry for sharing their ideas and stories. Just make sure that your offers are truly exclusive, not something you offer to everyone.

 

Share Customer Reviews


We’ve already talked about getting bloggers to review your product. But some of the most powerful reviews come from customers themselves – after all, they’ve actually bought the product and used it. Customers love when they can give their feedback, and will often write much more personal reviews that resonate with other potential buyers. If you share customer reviews on your social channels – for example, tweet out links or send Facebook updates – then you’ll encourage other customers to review your product as well. Don’t worry if you get some negative customer reviews – everyone does. As long as the majority are positive, you’ll still see huge benefits.

7 Tips for Better Food Photography

For the past couple of years, many of my monthly photography assignments have been food related. This type of assignment has its benefits! Aside from eating really well, and discovering a ton of great new restaurants, I’ve been able to gradually raise my food photography game with the best possible coach- experience.
 
Here are seven basic tips to help elevate your food photography game.
 
 

1. Fill the Frame


Beautiful, sweeping table scapes a la Pottery Barn are always cool, but often times restaurants and environments where you would shoot food commercially just don’t have the beautiful, highly styled environment to make a zoomed out shot work. Closeups are usually more appetizing and get your idea across more quickly and effectively. How to shoot an effective closeup?
 
Choose a featured item (in this case the beautiful slice of fresh apple), lock focus on it, and build your shot around that. Use a shallow depth of field to de-emphasize the little bit of background that you will see. Side note: a red linen was used because green and red are a classic complimentary color paring and help balance the green and red in the overall image.
 
 

2. Go Vertical


One thing I see beginning photographers doing a lot is shooting only about 10% of their shots in the vertical camera orientation. Do something different and shoot vertically! Some subjects like these “goat cheese popsicles” dictate a vertical composition by their shape.
 
Other times, it may not be as obvious. Magazines and cookbooks like vertical compositions because they can easily be a full page print or if you’re lucky, a cover shot which often times pays the photographer a usage bonus.
 
When in doubt, try to capture a horizontal and vertical version of the same dish and have both in your library. (Another common color wheel combination, is blue and orange).
 
 

3. Use the Foreground and Background for Depth


In many cases, food photographers show background items out of focus (salt and pepper in this photo), to give a sense of place and context to the image. You can expand on that by adding the hint of an object like this glass in the foreground. This will help give your images a three dimensional quality and anchor the edges of the image visually.
 
Similar to landscape photography, think “foreground, middle ground, background”. If you have all three, you’ll have an enhanced sense of space and depth.
 
 

4. Backlight It


This eggs benedict photo was made with a very simple lighting setup- a shoot through umbrella from behind the food and a large handheld reflector in front. If you can use daylight through a window and a reflector in front, all the better. Soft backlight (light coming toward the camera) is probably the most common way to light food. Look at your favorite magazines and cookbooks and note the direction of the shadows. Backlight helps define the texture and edges of garnishes while not looking too flat or boring on the front of the dish.
 
Use a white or silver reflector to kick some light back in from the front (camera side) of the plate.
 
 

5. Experiment with Focal Length


There’s a big difference between moving in with your camera and zooming in with a telephoto lens. When we zoom out or use a wide angle lens and move physically closer, it’s easier to show more of the environment. This Thai restaurant had an environment that went along with the dish nicely and gave an editorial feeling.
 
If your goal is to isolate the dish and make a more compressed photo, move physically farther from your subject and let the telephoto lens do the zooming.
 
 

6. Act Fast


If you don’t have the benefit of a professional food stylist helping with the photo shoot, time is of the essence. Hot dishes make herbs and garnishes wilt quickly. Sauces can run away from you in a hurry and oils can separate out of them.  Have a simple, reliable setup that you can execute quickly and without letting the food sit for too long.
 
Alternatively, you can shoot a “stand in” dish before bringing in the “hero” plate. Use a simple, repeatable lighting setup or daylight to speed things up. (see #4).
 
 
 

7. Include Some Action


When shooting static subjects, a bit of action can always add some interest and dynamism. Flames burning, liquid pouring, hands lifting something etc, can all add a spark of motion or interest to a still photo. Some off-camera flash mixed with a slow shutter made the above image an easy one to produce in a limited time frame.
 

The Science Behind Brand Success on Instagram

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Instagram has been slow to open up the network to advertising. It was only in March that the company allowed select brands to include links to additional content in its ads. 

Now, the platform is moving into the ecommerce realm with its recently announced “Shop Now” buttons, more sophisticated targeting, and an API for automated advertising.
 
There is still a lot of opportunity for brands that wish to bootstrap it and build an audience without a paid budget. Kissmetrics created this infographic to highlight the best times to post, the most engaging filters and colors, and how to increase your following on the platform. 
 
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