Advice For Marketing With Instagram

marketing with instagramOver the last year, I’ve become very attached to using Instagram. Although I’ve had little training in photography, I consider myself an amateur photographer (or fauxtographer, as defined on Urban Dictionary). I don’t have a fancy camera, but I’ve been doing what I can to get pretty handy with my iPhone.

I started using Instagram last year in preparation for my family’s trip to London last fall because it’s easy to share pictures on Twitter and Facebook with just a few extra taps. When you’re relying on spotty wifi, the more you can automate your social media, the better. Once I started using the app, I was hooked.

Because I didn’t start using Instagram until after Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, I don’t have a lot of experience with the “early days” of Instagram. But from what I hear, there was very little advertising and spam on the app (other than #HashtagAbuse). As with any social network that rapidly gains popularity, savvy marketers will develop strategies to get their companies in front of as many eyes as possible. For businesses who have visually-appealing products, Instagram can be just as effective as Pinterest for driving traffic to your website.

InstaZebra.com created this infographic that gives great information on why it’s important to consider Instagram in your social media strategy. With 150 million monthly users, a clever Instagram strategy could build your audience in a meaningful way. Forget about the “hipster” stereotype of Instagram, and read these statistics:


Disclosure: I received compensation to share this infographic on behalf of InstaZebra. All other opinions on Instagram and social media marketing are my own.

Want to connect with me on Instagram? Find me here.

Wordless Wednesday: Sunset Over The Jordan River

sunset over the Jordan river

Wordless Wednesday: Somewhere Over Denver

flying over denver

Type-A Parent Conference 2013 Ticket Giveaway

type-a parent conferenceIn the past few years, there has been a proliferation of new blogging, social media, and digital marketing conferences. Some have a focus on people who work in agencies, some are for bloggers starting out, and others are for coding and analytics geeks. Although I’ve found value in all of the conferences I’ve attended, I’ve found my home with Type-A Parent Conference. I recently wrote about Why I Love Type-A Parent Conference, and I just returned from Type-A Advanced in Philadelphia with a lot of love in my heart (other than the jerk I sat by on the plane).

Those who have attended  Type-A events love them. And I love my readers. And this week, I’m giving away a free ticket to a conference I love.

Did you catch that? I’m giving away a FREE ticket to TYPE-A PARENT CONFERENCE in Atlanta.

 #typeaphilly closing partyType-A Parent Conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia at Westin Buckhead. The conference dates are Friday, September 27, 2013 to Sunday, September 29, 2013. For more information about the conference, visit the event page. The full-price ticket goes for $297, and does not include transportation, food, spending money, or lodging. But! If you win, I’ll take you out to dinner one of the nights of the conference (Atlanta is a foodie’s paradise, btw).

To enter, complete the entry options on the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Please only enter if you are personally able to attend the conference – the ticket is not for resale. If you are selected and unable to attend, I will choose another entrant. Giveaway ends April 28, 2013 at midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I personally purchased this ticket at an earlybird price for the purpose of a giveaway. I am not an employee of Type-A Parent, just a huge fan. No compensation was given to me for hosting this giveaway.

Mind My Personal Space!

sitting in the middle seat17B.

When you’re flying standby on a full flight, you’re happy to be assigned any seat, middle seat included. But if you’re in a middle seat, an exit row isn’t a bad way to go.

I arrived at the Philadelphia airport at 5:45 am for a 7:10 am flight. Because I’d been up late partying at #TypeAPhilly, I didn’t get to my hotel room until midnight-ish, and then I had to pack for an early flight. Winding down from the closing party wasn’t easy, and I didn’t fall asleep until after 1 am. This made my 4:40 am wake-up call brutal. What got me out of bed was knowing that I’d have a four-hour flight ahead of me, and I’d probably be able to sleep through a good portion of it.

As I boarded the plane, I scanned the aisles beyond first class to find my row. As I found it, I made eye contact with my aisle seatmate. He immediately gave me a look of horror. I gave him a smile and he grimaced. I glanced over to the man in the window seat, and he gave me a genuine smile.

I settled into my bulkhead seat, stuffed a book and bottled drink in the seat ahead of me, and pulled out my phone to pass time until the plane door closed. Mr. Window seat was asleep within 5 minutes of me sitting down, and he had overtaken the armrest to my left. My grouchy seatmate picked up his buzzing iPhone, tapped a button, and barked “This is Harry.” But it wasn’t just “Harry.” It was Harrrrrry, with a throaty growl to it. Like a parched dinosaur.

I sat back in my seat, put my elbow on the armrest, and he did this strange body wobble thing against my arm. I didn’t really understand the movement, but I tried to tuck in my arm as much as possible and ignore him.

I stretched out forward and crossed my legs, grateful for the extra legspace. The next thing I know, Harry barks at me “Mind my personal space!” Apparently, when I crossed my legs to get comfortable and avoid touching his arm, my foot had crossed some (invisible?) line in his mind. I had the toe of my sandal propped against the metal seat frame in front of me (separating the middle and aisle seat), but it definitely wasn’t in his “personal space.”

I was tired, so I decided to try to nap. I had a hoodie on, and brought a jacket with a hood. I put the hoodie hood over my head, then laid the jacket over me, with the hood covering my face. About 5 minutes later, I felt this awkward jab at my right thigh. Harry must not have liked my jacket touching the armrest, so he took the liberty of forcefully tucking my jacket next to my thigh. (Side note: I have a bit of a bruise today). I was a startled by his actions, but was tired and dozed off again.

Right as I was on the edge of dozing and sleep, there’s the big body wobble against my arm again. I know that bodies naturally relax as they sleep, but Harry wasn’t going to have it. He woke me up a few times like this, fully knowing I was TRYING to sleep, and after about a half hour I gave up, put my jacket under the seat, and pulled out my book onto the tray table. I was reading Stranger Here a book about weight loss surgery. A few seconds later, I heard Harry grunt “surgery” under his breath.

coke zero on delta flightI glanced over a Harry, who had his giant Beats by Dre headphones and watching “Django Unchained” on his iPad. His eyeglass frames were modern, and slightly more ornate than I’d expect on a middle-aged man. He looked unhappy, with deep frown lines and a clenched jaw. I could tell that he’d shaved, but not very well. His coarse salt and pepper hair bursted out underneath his dingy white Nike running hat. His Ed Hardy shirt was rumpled, and his jeans looked expensive, but dirty.

Harry looked very inconvenienced to be on the plane, and complained to a flight attendant about how he was unfairly denied a first class upgrade when she took our first drink order of the flight. I ordered a can of Coke Zero, he ordered Bloody Mary mix and extra peanuts. I reached down to my purse for some jerky, and he made a rude groaning noise as I was leaning down. I sat up and gave him a questioning look, and he snorted awkwardly and pulled out a hardcopy copy of Dante’s “Inferno.”

I attempted sleeping again, this time with my jacked tightly tucked around my legs. But I never really slept, because Harry kept doing this strange body wobble thing over and over. And over. And over. I counted EIGHTEEN times that he woke me up on this flight. WTF?

The second time the flight attendants took drink orders, I asked for water with ice and declined peanuts, pretzels, or Biscoff cookies. He curtly demanded “water with NO ice!” The flight attendant looked at me sympathetically. If there had been more open seats on the flight, I would have asked to be moved from my seat.

As soon as the flight touched down, he grabbed his iPhone and began madly punching out an email. I glanced at the screen, and the subject line was full of expletives. When the plane stopped at the gate, he unbuckled his seatbelt, sprung out of his seat, grabbed his carry-on bag, and went as far up the plane aisle as he could before other passengers boxed him in.

Nobody likes to be the middle seat passenger on a flight, but that doesn’t mean that anyone sitting in the aisle or window seat should treat them like a second class citizen. Or wake them up from a nap 18 times. Or forcefully tuck a jacket by their thigh. Or grunt about the things they are reading. If you want a seat in first class, pay for it – don’t punish your seatmate with your frustration.

Sure, it’s awkward to sit by a stranger on a plane. But don’t ruin the travel experience of the person next to you because you’re grumpy.

Social Media Marketing World 2013

social media marketing worldThis spring, I’ve been on a conference bender. I’ve attended three big conferences in the last 3 months, with 2 more in the next month. I can barely recover from one conference before heading out for another, and haven’t adequately blogged about my experiences.

Last week I attended Social Media Marketing World 2013 in San Diego. I was sent by my company, and have already written a recap on the DegreeSearch blog, but there were a few more personal notes that I wanted to put into a blog post here. As soon as I heard about SMMW13, I knew this was THE social media conference for me to attend this year. I’ve been registering for a mix of blogging, search/SEO, and social media events this year, and knew I’d get the best social media information at SMMW13. The list of keynotes and speakers was intense: Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, Ric Dragon, Mark Schaefer, Lee Odden, Nichole Kelly, Sally Hogshead, Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, and many other social media practitioners that I’ve come to love and respect.

I knew that the conference would be intense, so I arrived a day before the official conference events began. I did a little shopping, sightseeing, and relaxing. I love going into a conference knowing as many attendees as possible, so I planned a dinner on Saturday night to start the mingling early. The 12 people who attended this dinner ended up being the people that I spent the most time with during the event.

degreesearch business cardsSocial Media Marketing World was the first conference that I’ve attended on behalf of a company. I’ve done some networking for clients before, but it was the first time where I set aside my personal interests (and the business cards with my blog on them) and planned my conference schedule around the sessions that will best help my company. Luckily, my coworker Joseph created these awesome DegreeSearch business cards, and I gained a nice amount of new followers for my company. There were a lot of representatives within higher education, and I loved talking strategy with others who interact in the same circles as I do.

There were some amazing keynotes and sessions that I attended. This is what my conference schedule looked like:

Monday:

  • Social Media Marketing in 2013: New Research and Its Implications by Michael Stelzner
  • Advanced Networking: How to Make Lasting Connections by Larry Benet
  • 10 Ways To Improve Your Facebook Reach by Mari Smith
  • Using Google+ To Build a Platform by Guy Kawasaki
  • The Science Of Community Building In The Age of Social Media by Ric Dragon
  • Social Media ROI: How to Finally Deliver Measurable Results  by Nichole Kelly
  • How To Fascinate With Your Social Media Messages by Sally Hogshead

Tuesday:

  • Are We Getting Better or Just Busier? Panel by Jay Baer, Mark Schaefer, Chris Brogan, and Mario Sundar
  • How to Build a Thriving Community With Blogs – Panel with Srinivas Rao, Marcus Sheridan, Michael Stelzner, and Joe Pulizzi
  • Community Building for Big Brands –  Panel with Sarah Robinson, Susan Wassel (Sharpie), Ekaterina Walter (Intel) and Kat Smith (Petco)
  • Google+ Marketing Success: It’s Much More Than a Social Network  by Jesse Stay
  • How to Implement and Optimize Your Social Strategy by Neal Schaffer
  • Why It Pays To Be Likeable by Dave Kerpen

taking notes at smmw13Every time I attend an event, I’m torn about the best ways to take notes. Do I use my laptop, iPad, or just tweet as I go?

This time around, I decided to take handwritten notes. I’ve read lots of studies that say that you retain information better when you take handwritten notes, and I believe this to be true. I feel like I retained a lot more information than the usual event, but I still kept Twitter open to share awesome quotes. I had a few people tell me that they wished that they took notes by hand. Maybe it will be the new trend. I’m going to do it again at Type-A Philly this weekend.

One of the sessions I really enjoyed was Sally Hogshead talking about How To Fascinate, a personality assessment based on how others view you (not how you view yourself). I took the test, and found out I am a catalyst (motivated by passion and rebellion, appealing to others with emotion and creativity). It’s a great test – I think you should do it!

kersten anderson nicole bullockFrom a social perspective, a social media conference is a great place to make new friends. I met people in the hotel lobby, hotel bar, hotel pool, and throughout the conference areas. Conference attendees were, on the whole, friendly, attentive, and fun to be around.

One of the key friends that I made was Kersten from Speakeasy Market Strategies in Tulsa. She gave me a lot of inspiration, we collaborated some ideas, and she gave me some confidence in the things I’m doing right in social media marketing. But we also became fast friends – we were swimsuit shopping within an hour of meeting each other Saturday, and the fun didn’t stop until we arrived at the airport Wednesday. Kersten and I did a trolley tour of San Diego on Sunday before the craziness of the conference began, hung out at the parties, and roomed together the last night.

The opening night party was at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. We loaded up tour buses at the Marriott, and drove about 10 minutes to the museum. There was a fun game to find people to fill out a “Twitter bingo card” that got people networking (for the chance to win fabulous prizes!). The party atmosphere continued back on the bus to the Marriott, and into the bar. Whether or not you were drinking, people were having fun. I like to be around happy people. I met people from all over the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Philippines, and many other countries.

friends at smmw13 collageMonday night, there was a harbor cruise on a yacht. Before the boat set sail, I went to dinner with a big group at Dick’s Last Resort, and it set the mood for a great time on the boat. I’ve never gone on a cruise before, so it was pretty impressive (to me) to be on a boat with over 1000 people. The bottom floor had dancing and a live band, the middle floor had karaoke, and the top floor was the boat deck with a gorgeous view of the bay. I spent most of my time on the top deck, but did get up on the karaoke stage to sing my go-to karaoke song: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips. If it’s not exhilarating to have a group of your peers cheering and singing along with you, I don’t know what is.

I made so many new friends, and I feel sad I didn’t get a picture of all of them. In this photo are some of the people I met at this conference: Amanda (@myofficebooks) from Australia, Kristin (@kristin_bush) from Orange County, Kris (@helloitsbutters) from Iowa, and EJ (@EJSchiller) from Chicago.

I can’t wait until registration for Social Media Marketing World 2014 opens up, because I’m going to be there!

 

Wordless Wednesday: Delaware and Maryland

delaware and maryland
Visited Maryland (42) and Delaware (43). Only 7 states left till I hit all 50.

Flashback Friday: “Black” by Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam-TenIn 1991, the realities of being an emotional adolescent were on the upswing. It was the beginning of the grunge era, and my musical tastes switched from New Kids on the Block and poppy Top 40 hits…to songs with deeper meaning, more angst, and lyrics that spoke to my soul. One of the albums that defined my 7th grade year was “Ten” by Pearl Jam. Although “Jeremy” and “Evenflow” got more radio airplay, “Black” was the Pearl Jam song that I couldn’t stop listening to.

Although I had little to be dark and angsty at that age, beyond an unrequited crush on a boy who played guitar in my grade, I felt like the darkness of “Black” was real. I could feel the pain. I would sing and wail along with the lyrics.

Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds
Of what was everything.
Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything…


The MTV Unplugged version is also awesome.

pearl jam black cd bookletEddie Vedder’s voice was haunting, and I was always trying to figure out the meaning of the song as I listened to my CD on repeat. The lyrics insert in the CD didn’t have all of the words on it, just a scratched out section of the most important words in black and white.

Since this was before the Internet was in every home, a search query to find the lyrics wasn’t available. You had to listen over and over to figure out what was being said. And with me, I scribbled it out on notebook paper and would compare it with my friends’ interpretations.

When Eddie Vedder was asked the meaning behind the song, he said:

The song is about letting go. It’s very rare for a relationship to withstand the Earth’s gravitational pull and where it’s going to take people, and how they’re going to grow. I’ve heard it said that you can’t really have a true love unless it was a love unrequited. It’s a harsh one, because then your truest one is the one you can’t have forever.”

No matter how much you want to be with somebody, sometimes it will never be. “Black” by Pearl Jam taught me this. Which is why I listened to this song during every boyfriend breakup period of my adolescence.

I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life,
I know you’ll be a sun in somebody else’s sky, but why
Why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine?

 

Wordless Wednesday: Taylor’s New Ride

2013 honda civic lx

Six Good Reasons To Kiss The Irish

kiss me im irishSt. Patrick’s Day is Sunday, and it’s a time that being Irish is celebrated. Although my ancestry includes a mix of Irish, English, Native American, and Scandinavian, if somebody asks me – I’ll say I’m Irish.

In November when our family went to England, we took an unexpected trip over to Dublin for a day. We couldn’t fly out of Manchester because flights were full, and the train rides and exit fees from Heathrow would have been pretty expensive. However, if we bought some ID-90 passes for Dublin, we had an almost certain shot at getting seats in business elite for our flight back to the US. So we got some tickets on Aer Lingus and enjoyed less than 15 hours in Ireland (half of which were spent asleep). We walked the streets, had some delicious Irish coddle, enjoyed little shops and did a fair amount of people-watching. Those hours in Dublin whet my desire to spend a significant time in Blea Cliath (the nickname for Dublin). Someday!
dublin collage

Last week we published this infographic at work, and it’s all about kissing the Irish. With stats like this, you can see why I’m proud to be Irish!

6 Good Reasons To Kiss The Irish [infographic]
Via: DegreeSearch.org

Are you Irish? Or do you just like to pretend to be at St. Patrick’s Day? Either way, Happy St. Patrick’s Day this weekend!