10 Reasons Instagram Should be a Major Part of your Social Media Strategy

 

colmhanratty-tbex-guestpost-main-imageWith so many social networks out there these days (who’s already got an Ello profile?), it’s hard being active on all of them. Twitter and Facebook are the two obvious ones, but then there are many more to choose from between Vine, Pinterest, YouTube and others. But the one other channel that you should make sure you’re active on if you’re online and in the travel space is Instagram. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. It’s quick

I love Instagram for many reasons. One of them is that it’s quick. Once you’ve something to take a photo of, or if you have a bank of images you can upload, you can have a presence on the world’s number one mobile-specific social network by using just ten minutes a day of your time.

2. It’s engaging

Because Instagram is all about images, it’s rich, engaging content. This means users can really get a taste of your coffee, food, office, daily routine, current destination, past destination via a #latergram or more.

3. Your followers don’t need to devote too much time to engage with your photos

Do you know why the most talked about and increasingly popular social networks over the last two years have been Pinterest and Instagram? It’s because people don’t have the time to commit to reading a blog post, listening to a podcast or watching a video. But present a photo to them and they can spare those five seconds to engage with it or not. Instagram isn’t just quick for you – it’s quick for your audience too.

4. It makes your photos look cool

I’ve been a budding photographer for years, but I’ve never sat down at my computer and touched up my images using Lightroom or Photobox. Now, because of Instagram, I don’t have to. Adding a tilt shift effect here and a Lo-Fi filter there means it’s touched up within seconds, resulting in my photos looking that little bit sharper. Here’s an example:

colmhanratty-instagram-example

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5. Growing your following organically is easier than on other social networks

A phrase that has been doing the rounds in social media circles for a while now is ‘the free ride is over’. Anybody who has been using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter knows that growing your following and having wider reach organically is harder than ever before. Since Instagram hasn’t introduced an advertising model yet, this isn’t the case. Upload quality photos regularly, laden them with hashtags and you’ll see that follower count growing slowly but surely.

6. Instagram can generate content for other social networks

How many times have you come across posts like ‘Dublin, as seen by Instagram’ on travel blogs? Or Pinterest boards titled ‘My Instagram photos from around the world’? Without Instagram, this content wouldn’t exist. Regularly share photos on Instagram and you’ll regularly generate content for other social channels.

7. Instagram’s Hyperlapse app

This app caused a bit of controversy among videographers when it was first released because videos created on Hyperlapse might not really be hyperlapses – they’re simply timelapses. My answer to that is ‘so what?’ If there’s an app that makes my walk down a street of a city look cool, by way of a timelapse video or otherwise, I’m all for it. Here’s one I shot of my hometown recently:

8. It’s fun

Taking a photo of a landmark, colleague, new product or cup of coffee, adding a filter to it and coming up with a catchy narrative to go with it is a lot more fun that writing a thousand word post on anything. Instagram shouldn’t be seen as marketing your brand or your blog – it should be seen as a fun thing to do that happens to also be marketing your brand or blog.

9. It’s all about mobile

Once you have a smartphone with a half-decent camera and a sense of what type of imagery you want to share, and once your followers have a phone that has Instagram installed, you’ve got yourself presence on this platform. It’s that simple.

10. You can produce videos as well as photos

Almost exactly six months after Twitter released Vine, Instagram introduced video. Different to Hyperlapse, Instagram’s videos are free-flowing video footage that can last up to 15 seconds. Similar to Vine videos, they can be an amalgamation of a series of shots while still giving you functionality such as filters and auto enhance. One app; two types of content (three including Hyperlapse).

Author bio: Colm Hanratty has been in the online travel space for over 13 years. He first got involved when he made a personal website about backpacking around Australia in 2001 before working in Hostelworld.com for almost 11 years. Today he runs digital marketing consultancy sixtwo digital, continuing to work with travel brands that collaborate with travel bloggers. He’ll be speaking on Friday at 12 noon in the Commerce track on outlining a 12 month plan to building better blogger relationships.

Are You Taking Great Pictures with your iPhone?

 

You should be.

We all know that we have a better camera on our phone than most people ever owned even a few years ago. We all know that we are sharing those images, and we all know that images engage far better on Facebook, and are what make Pinterest and Instagram so insanely popular.

Most of us are very intentional with the stories our words and pictures are telling on our blogs, but sometimes we take our mobile photography a little less seriously. We shouldn’t.

Here’s why: all those images are part of your brand, part of the story you are telling as a travel blogger. Many people follow their favorite bloggers far more closely and consistently on social media; they are getting the minute-by-minute part of your story as it happens through your images.

And so, of course, you need to think about what story you are telling with those images that you are snapping with your iPhone. Is it the story you want to tell?

The good news is – it’s not hard to tell your story, with great images, right from your iPhone. Mostly what you need is to take just a little extra time and care. And, of course, the right tools are a huge help.

So let’s start with where you are. Take a minute right now to pull up your Instagram profile (or your Facebook or Google+ photo feed). Look at that grid of pictures. What does it say? Is there any sort of consistent theme – perhaps that you enjoy adventure, or that you’re the life of the party, or that you love selfies? Think about that as it relates to your brand – are you saying what you want to say?

TBEX insta SBJ

 

Now, think about your favorite people to follow for their images. Here are a few of my favorites with an emphasis on travel:

TBEX insta collage

 

Pull up any of these feeds and it’s clear what these bloggers are doing. The scenery may change, but the feel, the brand, the story, is consistent. The other thing they all have in common? They are telling their stories with beautiful, compelling images – taken with their iPhones.

Don’t you want to do that as well? Sure you do! Remember…it’s not even that difficult!

Now that it’s settled, make plans to join me to talk about iPhoneography at TBEX:Athens, where we will get into the nuts and bolts of advanced iPhone photography. We’ll learn helpful techniques and tools to make those images tell your story clearly and beautifully.

And to get us all thinking about and working on our iPhone photography skills before then, I’d love for you to join me in a week-long photo challenge during the first week of October. Post a picture taken with your iPhone along the theme each day with the hashtag #TBEXiPICS, in addition to the usual #TBEX hashtag. You might even see some of your images in my session!

 

TBEX photo challenge

 

Author Bio:  Sarabeth Jones is a creative at Fellowship North who enjoys all kinds of artistic work: writing, directing, acting, design, photography, and the occasional flash mob. Her personal stage is her blog thedramatic.com, where life is series of scenes: some with fabulous costumes, some with witty lines, and some that should probably be edited out. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and 3 kids and loves to write about they way they make her laugh, whether they are traveling the world or living the #DogtownLife at home.  At TBEX Athens, Sarabeth will be leading a session on iphonography and some of the advance techiques that you may not yet have discovered.

Utilizing Instagram Video to Enhance Your Culinary Content

 

Editor’s Note:  You may have spotted Andrew at TBEX in Toronto when he presented a talk entitled “A Taste of Place: Defining a Destination Through Its Food Culture.” Andrew follows up with his return to TBEX Athens via “How to Monetize Your Culinary Content.” 

When I spoke at TBEX in Toronto the last few slides of my presentation focused on highlighting brands I had worked with in the past to enhance my culinary content. What I found most interesting is that during the Q & A (as well as numerous private chats which took place throughout the conference) bloggers and PR pros were most keen to learn more about this facet of my work.

In many ways my presentation at TBEX Athens is a “Part 2” to my culinary tourism presentation in Toronto and specifically offers intermediate/advanced level bloggers a look into branded storytelling with a culinary twist. I’ll be using a case study approach to highlight four of my favourite collaborations, each brand representing a different industry: Canada Beef Inc (agriculture), Canon Cameras (tech), Pilsner Urquell (beverage) and Rough Guides (publishing).

Today I wanted to highlight an aspect of my work that I won’t have an opportunity to discuss during my session at Athens: utilizing instagram video to enhance your culinary content. I embed instagram video into all of my destination guides online and also use the online media platform for stories I write for Metro Newspaper Canada. These quick 15 second videos offer readers an audio visual glimpse into a particular event or experience which adds value to the copy and pictures you’ve provided, the heart of your story.

I currently use an iPhone 5S to shoot, and typically film anywhere from 10-15 video clips during a particular event. Once home I edit my video together using Cute CUT App, exporting to my Camera Roll as one file. I then upload to instagram and share via Twitter, Facebook and my blog. Here are three recent examples of how I’ve worked with beverage brands to highlight a food and drink experience.

Stoli Vodka at World Pride

This past June Toronto was the host of World Pride. I was thrilled to act as the Latvian-based vodka producers ambassador at the festival and produced a sponsored story for the brand, Rainbow High at World Pride Toronto. Stoli hosted an opening night party for the festival at Pravda Vodka Bar featuring a VIP Stoli cocktail party featuring table-top dancing and live Russian band.

Grolsch at the Toronto International Film Festival

Each September I acted as Metro Newspaper Canada’s reporter at the Toronto International Film Festival. Grolsch is the official beer sponsor of the festival and each year the beer brand hosts a fabulous al fresco concert series in the heart of TIFF-town. Beer fans gather for a string of free concerts while mix and mingling through art installations. The brands iconic green bottles with spring cap are served up ice cold at the bar.

Pilsner Urquell at Taste of Toronto

Pilsner Urquell was the official beer sponsor for this summers inaugural Taste of Toronto, which was hosted at historic Fort York in July. I traveled with the beer brand last Fall to Czech Republic and wrote a story for the Vancouver Sun, “Beer Tour: From Pilsen to Prague.”

Pilsner Urquell hosted a special Keepers of the Craft session for VIPs on the Saturday of the festival. Chef Grant Van Gameren at Bar Isabel was recently awarded Canada’s Best New Restaurant by Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine and spent the afternoon inspiring his eager audience to produce the perfect Spanish pintxo.

 

Author bio:  Andrew Dobson is a full time travel writer who has visited over 60 countries. He regularly finds himself on the road visiting two to three destinations a month. Based in Toronto, he manages his blog dobbernationLOVES full time while also regularly contributing to Metro Newspaper Canada, XTRA Newspaper, The Vancouver Sun and Eat In Eat Out Magazine. 
Andrew is known as an expert in branded storytelling working as an ambassador for brands such as Canada Beef, Canon, Rough Guides, DK Eyewitness Travel, Stoli Vodka, Pilsner Urquell and Ford. His blog was acquired by Metro Newspaper in February 2014.

 

More Than Social Media: Costa Brava’s Instagram Plans

 

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Instagram is the perfect platform for sharing holiday photos – and you won’t miss home if your stay is punctuated with Insta-lovehearts. But one tourist board has bigger plans for this visual social media platform than a few holiday snaps. Instagram is fast becoming part of Costa Brava’s worldwide marketing strategy, with the aim of changing outdated perceptions of the region.

If I say Costa Brava, what would you say? Sun, sea, or sand? If, like me, you missed last year’s TBEX Conference Girona you might call to mind a beach strip studded with white high rise blocks, and restaurants offering menus with pictures instead of words. I did. And what did I base that opinion on? Pre-social media memories of orange BBC TV travel presenters sipping on sangria, 70s news reports of a boom in Spanish resorts that my parents couldn’t afford to take me to, and glossy brochures on travel agent shelves in the days when a ‘Trip Advisor’ was someone who sat at a desk in the shopping mall.

A region that has moved on

Perhaps that’s what the Costa Brava was then. But I know from a recent visit that’s not what it is now. Sure, you have your Lloret de Mar resorts filled with Brits that have turned an off-putting shade of tomato. But nowadays the region delivers cosmopolitan cities like Girona, cultural experiences like the Dali Museum, artist enclaves like Cadaques, and world class sailing and diving marinas like L’Estartit. And apart from one blip when all the food critics went to Copenhagen, it has continuously held the title of ‘best restaurant in the world.’

Held back by the past

Yet when I returned from Costa Brava, people only asked if I’d enjoyed my beach holiday. The region may have embraced the future, but the old image remains, hanging round like yesterday’s paella. For the Costa Brava Tourist Board this might be seen as something of a problem. But Jaume Marin, Marketing Director at Costa Brava Girona is upbeat. He believes most tourist boards have an outdated image or legacy to change.

“The most important thing about marketing is the perception. More than the reality. And every destination has problems with perception. Even places like New York have a mountain to climb,” says Jaume. “I think Barcelona has one of the strongest images for a destination in the world. Yet tourism is focussed on one part of the town, overloading the capacity of that part of town.”

A marketing man with a plan

Jaume is putting his belief in social media into action – or, more specifically, into a catchy little hashtag. In the time it has taken me to write this post someone will have probably looked at an image tagged #incostabrava. By the time you’ve read this article someone else is likely to have used that hashtag on a new image. Many of these pictures have sun, sea, and sand woven into the mix, but many others do not. There are pictures of spires and statues. Of alleyways and arches. Of markets and museums. Of forests and farmhouses. Of tall towers and top tables.

When I last checked there were 76,640 images on just that one hashtag. Jaume Marin believes that over time, hearts and minds can be changed through these single snaps that, together, make an almighty holiday album. But why would Instagram be more effective than leaflets and brochures? He argues that new generations are being influenced by social rather than traditional media and publicity.

“It’s no good if I say ‘The Costa Brava is more than beaches.’ Somebody else has to say it,” Jaume tells me. “If someone local says it, then it’s not the tourist board creating brand, but our own community creating it.”

Another part of his strategy is to bring expert bloggers and travellers out on a regular basis. “They have a big number of followers and people rely on them and believe them. In the past the tour operators were important and there were millions of brochures produced. But that is the past. Who creates the perceptions now? A campaign like Instagram is real and it’s authentic. Local people are part of it. And they are proud of it. This is a growing community.”

jaume_instagram_quote

Instadays filled with instalikes

The tourist board has been facilitating the growth of the hashtag by organising free Instagram days – free guided photo walks with Instagram experts on hand to offer tips – across the region. I attended one in Cadaques. It was a sunshine fiesta of 200 snappers and I was still looking at pictures of it on my phone several weeks later. And this free Instagram day was then repeated somewhere else. By the time I met Jaume in England in June, he had clocked up 14 of them, with another 18 in the pipeline.

But I was curious. Did he put so much faith in social media platforms that they were becoming central to his marketing strategy?

“Yes. We are switching,” he said, nodding. “We are a public administration and we don’t switch from one day to another, but in the end it depends on the people who are involved, and if I’m still there, we are going to switch.”

A measurable marketing expense

One of the advantages, he explains, is that social media is measurable, unlike other channels where he could put his marketing budget.

“The circulation of a newspaper might be 100,000. But how many people read it? I don’t know. And my advert might be on the 38th page. I don’t know how many people read the 38th page. With a blog I know how many people read it and for how many minutes.”

But he’s also aware that figures aren’t everything, even in tourism, and that sometimes accountability is taken a bit far.

“Are we going to measure how much people enjoy an exhibition? Is a hotel going to ask what the return is on changing the chairs? Or how many people benefited from changing a light bulb?” he asks with a shrug.

Expanding the network

Before he left England, Jaume was keen to track down UK Instagrammers.

“I would like to set up an Instagram day with the igersLondon and igersCostaBrava communities. If we met for a day and it was a failure then we would still have a great weekend. And if we met for a day and it was a success then Instagram days could be expanded all over Europe. And we would be the pioneers.”

Author Bio: Kirstie Pelling is one fifth of The Family Adventure Project, a website all about families getting active and having fun together. Along with husband and co-founder Stuart Wickes and their three children, the family have cycled more than 12,000 miles, across more than 20 countries. And with 20 years of journalism and travel experience under her belt, Kirstie is an expert in inspirational adventure writing. You can follow her and the family on Twitter @familyonabike, Facebook, G+, Instagram and YouTube.

The Instagram Exodus: Photo-Sharing Alternatives (and a Warning)

 

As soon as the details of Instagram‘s new Terms of Service were announced, users started jumping ship. I can’t recall how many people I’ve seen in my own Twitter and Facebook streams saying they had already deleted all of their photos and their entire account, but even if I’m extrapolating from that small sample size it’s pretty clear that plenty of people were irritated enough to instantly take action.

There were several changes made to the Terms of Service, but the one that seems to have angered most users says that while you own all the photos you post via your Instagram account, “you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service’s Privacy Policy.” In other words, some interpreted, Instagram could use and sell any of your photos for any purpose they wanted.

To their credit, Instagram responded pretty quickly with a blog post entitled, “Thank you, and we’re listening” in order to clarify some of the (admittedly confusing) legalese in the updated Terms of Service – including this (emphasis added):

“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”

The good news here is that the new Terms of Service don’t officially take effect immediately (they kick in on January 16), which gives Instagram users a chance to voice their opinions and the service a chance to respond. (This makes me wonder whether, in this age of instantaneous reaction-and-response, immediately deleting one’s account might be a wee bit rash. I mean, give ’em a chance to respond, right? But I digress…)

Alternatives to Instagram

Okay, so if you’re dead set on never using Instagram again, but you’re hooked on sharing photos you snap on your mobile phone, what are your non-Instagram options? Here’s a rundown of some of the apps/services currently out there – note that I haven’t tested all of these, and you’ll probably need to play with a few until you find the one you like best. And if your favorite part of Instagram was the community you found there, then you’ll probably need to wait to find out which app your community gravitates toward the most.

  • Twitter – You can add filters to photos you upload directly to Twitter now, although you can’t share with multiple social media accounts at once.
  • Flickr – Flickr recently overhauled its mobile app to include filters (to almost equal amounts of praise and derision), and you can share photos easily across platforms.
  • Camera Awesome – This is a great camera app in general, allowing for all sorts of photo editing and then sharing across multiple platforms.
  • Pixlr-O-Matic – This is a photo editing app with a plethora of photo editing overlays and effects, including a “randomizer,” plus sharing features.
  • EyeEm – The EyeEm mobile app boasts a simple design for users to snap, edit, and share photos quickly and easily.
  • Snapseed – Snapseed’s app offers lots of photo editing options, plus the ability to share across multiple platforms. (Note that Snapseed is now part of Google.)
  • Starmatic – Starmatic allows for shooting, editing, and then sharing (but only on Facebook and Twitter).
  • PicYou – With the PicYou app, you upload photos, add a filter, and then you can share it with multiple platforms.
  • TaDaa – TaDaa lets you take photos, edit them with several editing features, and then share across your networks.

Choose Another App at Your Own Risk

But y’know what? No matter what service you’re using, you may eventually run into the same issue Instagram fans are facing right now – because you’re using someone else’s service, and they can (and will) change the rules on you. No matter how benevolent your overlords of choice may seem at the moment, there’s no telling when they’ll turn to the dark side (AKA get bought by Facebook or Google or something). After all, these companies exist to make money, right?

If this Instagram incident has served as a wake-up call for you and you’d rather keep your photos on a platform over which you have more control, then consider setting up your own mobile photoblog. This post explains how to set up a mobile photoblog on WordPress.com, but tech-savvy bloggers may want to futz with doing something similar on their own domains.

And if you’re still eager to ditch Instagram for something else – whatever that “something else” is – then here’s some information about exporting and downloading your whole Instagram photo backlog before you pull the plug.

UPDATE: I just this article about a new site that will migrate all your Instagram photos over to your Flickr account with a few clicks. Quite handy.

What do you think?
Have you already deleted your Instagram account? Does the company’s response do anything to change your opinion of them? And if you use a different photo sharing app/service than Instagram or our list above, please let us know what it is!

Join TBEX on Instagram

A picture, as we all have heard, is worth a thousand words. In today’s web world, it often seems like a picture is worth even more – which is why we’re excited to announce that TBEX is now on Instagram.

We just started the account, and so far we’re posting photos from the last TBEX conference at Keystone, but we look forward to using Instagram to share photos of upcoming events with you – in Costa Brava, Toronto, and beyond. We will also be keeping track of the #TBEX hashtag on Instagram so we can re-share photos conference attendees take, either at TBEX or elsewhere, so tag your Instagram shots with #TBEX if you’d like to share them with us.

You’ll find us on Instagram as TBEXevents, and you can also check out our profile (including all our photos) on the TBEX Statigram page – handy for those of you who don’t use Instagram. Please connect with us on Instagram – we look forward to seeing TBEX through your eyes (and, naturally, those funky Instagram filters).