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April 14th, 2016

UC Davis Paid $175K to Bury Infamous Pepper Spray Incident

The University of California, Davis spent “at least $175,000 to scrub the internet of negative online postings following the November 2011 pepper spraying of students,” The Sacramento Bee has reported. University administrators hired a private reputation management firm to eradicate “references to the pepper spray incident in search results on Google,” according to the newspaper.

A campus police officer casually pepper sprayed the students on November 18, 2011 as they sat in a line across a university sidewalk. Video of the incident went viral, and turned into an internet meme. The university was subject to negative publicity for months, and some critics called for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.

The Sacramento Bee says in its report that the university hired Nevins & Associates, a Maryland company, in 2013 to bury references to the incident in order to counter “venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the Chancellor.”

The newspaper says it found out about the university’s contract with Nevins & Associates after submitting a request for the information under the California Public Records Act. The paper’s full report is available here.

March 29th, 2016

Instagram Videos Will Soon Be Longer


With a vocal segment of its user base still smarting over changes to its feed, Instagram announced a new feature update that should be a bit more welcome: longer videos.

Coming “soon” Instagram will support videos up to 60 seconds in length. For iOS users, Instagram is also restoring the ability to make videos out of multiple clips from your camera roll. (Here’s how.)

The iOS update with multi-clip functionality is available now. Longer videos are available for some accounts today and will be gradually rolled out to every user in the coming months.

Read More:

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram?

Using This Instagram App? Delete It

How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

This Is the Most Liked Photo on Instagram

The Colors Prized By Instagram’s Top Photographers

March 18th, 2016

“Make This Picture Invisible” – On the Consequences of Going Viral

Many photographers would like nothing more than for an image to go viral, spreading their work and name to the far corners of the Internet. For some, though, the experience is anything but thrilling.

Photojournalist Nina Berman recounts her own viral experience with an image she took while working for People Magazine that ultimately won first prize in the World Press Photo competition. That image of a badly-burnt Marine and his wife on their wedding day was originally intended to show the horrors of war. Once it won the World Press Award, Berman said she fought off numerous requests for people seeking to appropriate the image for ends that were, for her, off her central message. (One such caller was Donald Trump, who wanted the picture for a book he was writing.)

Eventually, Berman showed the image at a gallery, at which point she lost control and her worst fears–losing control of the message of the photo–were realized.

In this talk at the recently concluded TheBlowUp conference, Berman recounts the experience and what happened next.

Via The Feature Shoot

March 17th, 2016

Why Instagram Is Changing (Spoiler Alert: Money)

Photographers have reacted harshly to Instagram’s decision to uproot chronological posting in favor of an algorithmically sorted feed.

We don’t yet know how Instagram will look and feel in this new algorithmic era, but it’s pretty clear why Instagram is making the switch. It’s much less about giving you content you want to see (the stated reason) and much more about making Instagram the social network equivalent of a toll keeper. In short, it’s about money.

Take Facebook (please). The mammoth social network used to treat all content equally, serving up posts on a chronological basis without discrimination. If you followed an individual, media outlet or brand and they posted an update, it would populate into your feed, sorted by the time it was published.

Today, Facebook timelines are heavily managedeven manipulated–by the company. By deciding who sees what, when, Facebook can essentially hold status updates hostage, demanding ransom in the form of “boosting” a post for a fee or paying to take an ad. Brands and media outlets (not to mention non-profits) have seen their content hidden from followers, prompting them to either pay up or face declining visibility.

Given its ownership, we should expect Instagram to do the same. If you rely on Instagram to reach followers, especially for commercial purposes, you may need to add a line item to your marketing budget for Instagram advertising.

Of course, social media outlets aren’t obligated to serve as free mouth pieces for commercial enterprises or popular individuals. They need to make money just like the rest of us and while Instagram’s decision, like Facebook’s before it, reeks of a bait-and-switch, that’s life in the social networking age. (Although if you want a more pessimistic, downright worrying view of online manipulation, do read this.) Plus, there’s always Twitter. For now.

So what’s a photographer to do? Eric Kim suggests a return to blogging:

Eventually nobody will use Instagram (another social media app will come around. Or perhaps all Instagram users will flee to Snapchat). But once Snapchat becomes more like Facebook, people will flee to some other new service that doesn’t exist yet.

The only way to have any lasting impact as a photographer is the old school method: make prints, share them with friends, and print your own books (zines, print on demand books, or self publish yourself).

Take a hybrid approach: love both atoms and bytes. Don’t make it all one or another; shoot both film and digital, write emails and hand written letters, walk and drive your car, send your friends text messages but also meet them “in real life”…

The last point I want to make is the most interactive and flexible way to do “social media” is own your own blog….

I’m so grateful that I’ve had this blog for the last few years; it has helped open up so many possibilities, given me a voice, given me control over my content, and has given me a livelihood. I used to be suckered into thinking that Facebook was the future; now I realize it is just another social media app (just how MySpace was). I regret spending so much time on social media in general; I wish I spent more time blogging.

A world with more blogging? Yes please.


March 15th, 2016

Instagram Knows Best: Company Will Change the Way You See Posts

instagram-logoInstagram is making a move to be more like its owner, Facebook.

In a blog post today, the popular social network said it would begin algorithmically sorting posts to surface what it thinks you want to see, irrespective of when that content is posted.

According to Instagram, the “order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.

If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.”

Apparently, missing posts is endemic on the site–users miss about 70 percent of the content of their feed.

The changes won’t be rolled out immediately, but in the “coming months” and Instagram promises to listen to user feedback along the way.

March 2nd, 2016

AppAction Promises to Boost Your Instagram Followers – No Ifs, Ands or Bots

Growing followers on Instagram can be something of a dark art. Photographers in our PhotoPlus Expo panel on the subject, for instance, were more apt to talk about authenticity and earnestness than about the ideal number of hashtags (it’s three) and optimal posting times.

Still, a new service from a former Facebook and Instagram employees dubbed AppAction promises to grow Instagram followers through a fairly straightforward approach: by driving eyeballs from Facebook and Twitter.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 9.31.56 AM

Here’s how it works: you sign up to AppAction via Instagram and link both your Twitter and Facebook account to the service. Then, when you post an image to Instagram, it will automatically be shared to those other platforms. The catch is that the image appearing in Facebook and Twitter also contains a customized “deep link” that, when clicked, drives users back to the original Instagram post. In this way, anyone following you on those other social platforms is exposed to your Instagram work. And, unlike Instagram sharing to Twitter, AppAction shares a full image, not just a link–the better to drive engagement.

Using this method, AppAction claims to have increased Instagram follower counts by 20 percent for its beta testers over a two month period–users that included huge brands like ESPN.

You’re not locked into auto-posting. You can configure AppAction to only cross post an Instagram image on Facebook and Twitter once it hits a certain number of likes. The app also slaps its own hashtag on everything you post with no (readily apparent) way to disable that.

Because it’s creating customized links, AppAction is able to provide a set of basic Instagram analytics to you on a daily basis via email or via a dashboard, including audience engagement (likes and comments), referrers, and more.

It has several pricing plans, depending on the volume of clicks and shares you generate. A free plan provides up to 1,000 post clicks and 100 shares per month.

Read More:

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram?

Using This Instagram App? Delete It

How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

This Is the Most Liked Photo on Instagram

The Colors Prized By Instagram’s Top Photographers

February 26th, 2016

The Colors Prized By Instagram’s Top Photographers

“Color is like dynamite…. dangerous, unless you know how to use it.” – Anonymous

There are many ways to parse Instagram data but the firm Mode Analytics has opted for a rather unique one. They’ve done a deep dive into color, exploring which colors figure prominently in the work of 72 of Instagram’s top photographers (a designation earned by being on Instagram’s suggested user list).

To unpack the data, the company restricted itself to images posted in 2015 and then used an algorithm to identify various colors and how often they were represented in photographers’ images. They plotted the results on a color wheel–the more prominently a color juts out from the wheel, the more frequently it’s found in the photographer’s Instagram work.


Graphic via Mode Analytics, used with permission.

As you can see from the graphic below, many photographers lean heavily on certain colors (whether consciously or not) while others spread the color love around more liberally.

You can view the color wheel break down from all 72 photographers in the graphic below. Click on the photo for the full-sized image.


Mode has made the underlying Instagram data available for all to explore. Pretty neat.


February 17th, 2016

Instagram Is About to Get Safer


Instagram is poised to roll out two-factor authentication across its network, according to a report in TechCrunch.

Instagram’s security will work a bit like Google’s implementation. You’ll verify a phone number and if someone logs into your account with your email and password, you’ll receive a text with a code that will also need to be entered to gain access to your account. This way, even if someone steals your email and password, they’d still need access to your phone to actually log into your account.

There’s no word yet on precisely when Instagram will release two-factor authentication, but suffice it to say that when they do, you should use it!

Read More:

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram?

Using This Instagram App? Delete It

How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

This Is the Most Liked Photo on Instagram


February 11th, 2016

VSCO Launches Original Content Push


VSCO is expanding its platform to include original content that it is commissioning. Dubbed VSCO Originals, the content includes photo essays, writing and art.

VSCO Originals will be segmented into several channels.  Venue will focus on music. All Kinds of Human will feature “the complexity and diversity of humanity, showcasing the moments that unite us.” Cyclopedia is devoted to “discovering and learning science, history, and culture through visually experimental presentations.” Finally, Manifattura will highlight artists and makers around the world working together on collaborative projects.

Other original channels will launch in the future, including one focused on photography education, “young women striving to express themselves” and a channel that will broadcast “the maniacal personas that exist in the recess of an everyday world.”

A VSCO spokesperson tells us that original content is being sourced from both the VSCO community and outside contributors. The company is still formalizing submission requirements and only one content channel, All Kinds of Human, has established submission guidelines as of now. VSCO pays “standard editorial” rates for all its original work, the spokesperson says.

Last month, VSCO announced that it had 30 million active users a month.

Read More:

New Service Helps You Automate Social Media Photo Posting

How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

This Is the Most Liked Photo on Instagram

Storehouse Leaves Storytelling Behind

February 8th, 2016

Instagram Now Supports Multiple Accounts from a Single Login


Managing multiple Instagram accounts is no longer a major hassle. The service announced today that it would allow users to access up to five different accounts from a single login.

To enable account switching, you’ll need to download the latest version of Instagram’s mobile app (v. 7.15), which is live in both the Android and Apple apps stores.

 To add multiple Instagram accounts:

  1. Go to your profile and tap or in the top right
  2. Scroll down and tap Add Account
  3. Enter the username and password of the account you’d like to add

To switch between accounts you’ve added:

  1. Go to your profile
  2. Tap your username at the top of the screen
  3. Tap the account you’d like to switch to

You will receive push notifications from any account that has the function enabled.

Read More:

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram?

Using This Instagram App? Delete It

How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

This Is the Most Liked Photo on Instagram