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The Web Never Forgets

I recently read an article called "Think Again Before You Post Online Those Pics Of Your Kids" that made me think. It made me think A LOT about what I have been posting about my family and friends on social media. How many of you have posted a funny video of your kids that might be slightly embarrassing for them, but it is just too good not to share? I know I have. But what I have failed to do is to think about how many will view and share that particular video, and for how long it will be available for anyone and everyone to see.  The carbon footprint, so to speak, that we leave behind of ourselves on social media is there for the public to view forever! That ‘fun’ video you posted of your kids will be on the internet for your kids’ friends to view forever, even when they are teenagers and most likely do not want anyone to see it.

In trying to keep my kids safe, I have always been very concerned with what my kids share on their preferred social media platforms (which, incidentally does NOT include Facebook). I often tell them that what they post will be there for an eternity. I have put down a long list of ‘rules’ of what is okay and what is not okay on their social media; there can be no indecent photos, no bad language, no mean comments, no bullying, no connecting with strangers, no rude comments about myself or their dad, and he and I both have to be a ‘friend’ of theirs, so we can keep tabs on their social media activities. But in all honesty, I haven’t given much thought to the longevity and potential reach of what I post on social media. Of course, I don’t post anything about my kids maliciously, but rather to share what is going on in my life, which includes not only my activities but also those of my kids. My family lives in Europe and it is an easy way for me to connect with them and vice versa for them to see what is going on in my life here. But here is the thing: How do my kids feel about what I post about them on social media? I am embarrassed to say that I have never asked them…

Social media hasn’t been around that long (Facebook started in 2004, about the time when most current middle school students were born,) so it is hard to say how growing up on social media can affect your kids’ privacy and security. However, it’s time to consider the issue seriously. What we as parents post on social media about our kids shape their online image, which is there to stay forever. My daughter turned thirteen in the fall. As any other young teenager, she is concerned with her image and wants to be portrayed in a positive light whether it is on my social media or at school.

After reading that article, we decided that it’s time we sit down with our kids and draw up guidelines for what they are comfortable with being posted on social media. Working together on deciding what to post and what to avoid will create a mutual respect and appreciation, and at the same time teach great social media etiquette. In my household, we have set up a family meeting for this Saturday to make sure we are all on the same page when it comes to posting on our social media.

With that said – Good luck and happy posting!

Crush That Writer’s Block

As we now have a couple of weeks of the new year under our belt, we wanted to take a look back at one of our most popular blogs posts from 2017.  Sarah talks about how to deal with Writer's Block; perfect to start your year off strong!

At some point, it happens to all of us. You sit down to write, but the words just aren’t there. It happens because writers aren’t machines - even machines need an oil change and tune up once in a while. When you have a million items on your to-do list, creative time can easily fall by the wayside. It’s one of the most important aspects of a social media manager’s job.  Anyone with a deadline for journalistic or other forms of writing has likely experienced writer’s block.

Here are some handy tips and tricks to help you stay focused and keep creating awesome content daily.

1.     Write at different times. If you usually write in the afternoon, try writing in the morning or evening. The change in time may be enough to create a fresh outlook. For me, evenings are great for getting some uninterrupted work done. Tasks from the day are behind me and I can focus on jotting down content ideas, catching up on some reading or to research new trends. For the early-bird, the hours before starting your work day might be most productive. Break your habit and experiment to see what works best for you.

2.     Change of scenery. Moving around in your office can get you out of a stale mindset and allow you to gain a fresh perspective in new surroundings. Try changing up locations twice a day. When the weather cooperates, try bringing your computer or notebook outdoors. Fresh air has a way of changing your mood and outlook, which is good news for your next project!

3.     Try something different. Sometimes it’s possible to be too familiar with a topic. Agency life can mean working in the same industry, with the same clients for years. After awhile, it becomes easy to get stuck in a rut. Try looking at your topic from a different perspective and research new ideas or trends to keep it fresh and interesting to read AND write.

4.     Take a break. Short breaks are a great way to stay motivated. As research has shown, we’re actually more productive when we break up our work routine throughout the day. Barring an immediate deadline, there is usually some time to step away from your assignment and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes.

5.     Crank up the tunes. Sometimes office chatter can be too much to bear. Music can provide some much-needed relief to those little conversations and “quick” meetings that can easily break your focus and concentration. If you find you have difficulty listening to music as you write, try queuing up a playlist that doesn’t have lyrics.

6.     Do the dishes. Your brain needs to relax before coming up with creative insight. Staring at your computer screen might end up being counterproductive. Try stimulating those creative muscles with routine tasks. Tidy your work space. Fold the laundry. Wash the dishes. Above all, relax.

7.     Talk it out. In order to beat your writer's block, try seeking inspiration from others around you. Bounce your ideas off friends and colleagues, or ask someone to brainstorm with you. Just having someone to talk to can often lead to creating ideas you never thought possible, helping ending your writer's block-induced creative drought.

There’s no doubt about it - writing is hard work. Don’t become a tortured genius. Experiment. Find out what works for you. Write where and when you like. Be as crazy as you like to be. Just have with it fun!

2016 Social Media in a Nutshell:
A Marketers Love Notes to Each Platform

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2016 has been yet another growing and evolving year in the world of social media. Not surprising since the field is still emerging, especially in the marketing world. While it can be exhausting to keep up with all the platforms, changes, and ideas, it’s also highly rewarding, exciting, and challenging. We have an amazing team at Thin Pig Media, and while we’re excited to see what changes come in 2017 on the business side, I wanted to do a fun year in review for the top platforms from a personal perspective.

Oh, Facebook. I think many of my marketer friends can agree, we have a love/hate relationship with you. Your constant algorithm changes and never-ending updates without notification keep us on our toes, and your glitches abound, but with your endless possibilities for reaching people, you are often a marketers dream. In 2016 you added various advertising options, new page layouts, algorithm updates, and made an obvious emphasis on live video. I’m looking forward to what 2017 brings, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a lot more live video.

Twitter, you lost yourself a bit this year. My once active and engaging stream just felt cluttered and empty at the same time. Cluttered with the links, self-promotion, and inspirational quotes, but empty of any meaningful conversations. Yes, you haven’t always been the most personal of social networks, but I remember being able to have a real conversation (albeit, under 140 characters) back in the day. Now, it actually seems rare to see two people tweeting back and forth to one another. You remained great for breaking news and brand customer service, which is where I have always turned for these types of updates. I hope you make an awesome comeback in 2017 because you were once my favorite social platform.

Man oh man, Instagram. You kept kicking butt and taking names in 2016. More and more people and brands turned to you for sharing memories, in both photo and now video format. You even opened up advertising, which has been very high quality thus far. Even though I wasn’t a fan of you “borrowing” Snapchat’s idea of 24-hour disappearing stories within the app, I appreciate the changes you made in 2016 like multiple account management, interest-based feed optimizations, and the save-as-draft option. Looking forward to working with you in 2017 and the changes you’ll make.

Snapchat. You became more than just a fad in 2016. Congrats. In a way, you became the Facebook of the year because not only did I start using you more and more, but so did my mom (and, we’re both not millennials.) I really hope Instagram does not knock you out because I’ll truly miss your private video message feature and your constantly changing lenses and filters. You helped keep my kids busy for many minutes when I was in a pinch, and I thank you. Cheers to 2017, and not disappearing forever.

And then there is LinkedIn. My old professional friend. At least you used to seem like a place for professionals to hang out. Now you just seem filled with click bait and men lurking on women. Okay, that doesn’t really sum up 2016 on LinkedIn, but those were the first two things that came to mind, and I’m kind of scared those might actually be spot-on in summing up LinkedIn in 2016. Am I the only one? 

And lastly, Pinterest. Well, you continued being Pinterest: full of amazing ideas that I rarely do myself. Perhaps in 2017 I’ll make a resolution to actually do 25 ideas from one of my 1.2K pins.

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While the above is just a fun (although that’s subjective!) rundown of my thoughts from 2016, I’m really looking forward to 2017 on the social media and technology fronts. My quick predictions for 2017 (because hey, if you don’t write them down, they doesn’t exist!) are:

- Live video (especially on Facebook) and video in general will grow in use.

- Virtual reality will be focused on and highly improved upon.

- Social advertising dollars will continue to skyrocket and take over traditional advertising method ad dollars

- Myspace will make a comeback (Just kidding. Wanted to make sure you’re paying attention.)

- We’ll see more influencer marketing on more platforms. Brands will turn to “gurus” and YouTube and Instagram personalities to help push their products instead of traditional celebs.

I’d love to hear your summation of each of the platforms from 2016 and you predictions for 2017. Leave a comment or tweet us @ThinPigMedia!

We hope everyone has a wonderful time ringing in 2017, and we look forward to connecting with you. Happy New Year!

A Holiday Win-Win-Win!

As the holidays come into full swing, it becomes increasingly important to find the best possible ways to get your brand booming on the social media market. In our experience, "giveaways" tend to have much success in reaching and engaging a targeted audience while providing meaningful feedback for the brand -- resulting in a "win-win-win" scenario for the fans, the brand, and the social media manager. 

The Fans

Fans are the building blocks for a brand, and in a world where resources and information are limitless, it's important to keep them interested. Winning something creates an excitement that is unique to that specific fan base. It makes people feel special, and further endorses their loyalty to a brand

The Brand

Through giveaways, brands receive a surplus of free exposure through user generated content. Excited by the potential of winning something, fans will go the extra mile to provide valuable information and share the brand's social content with other people. Kurt Sutter, creator of the hit TV series Son's of Anarchy, recently released a comic book series called Lucas Stand. We wanted to give away vol. 1 of the series, but in a creative way that would embody Sutter's voice, and exemplify what it meant to be a true fan. Taking a panel from a Lucas Stand issue, we asked fans to caption the scene for a chance to win an autographed copy. The result? An influx of comments, shares, debates, and information about Sutter's past and future projects. 

The Social Media Manager

The process of a giveaway is one of the most rewarding tasks a social media manager can have. Fans are incredibly grateful to win something and being responsible for someone else's happiness is a very positive experience. For example, Fox News Channel television personality and author, Brian Kilmeade, recently had a book signing event in Jacksonville, FL. To promote the event, we offered a ticket giveaway for the event via Facebook. Fans were asked to subscribe to Kilmeade's mailing list and one lucky contestant would have the chance to meet him. Once announcement day arrived and the winner was notified of her prize, she was beyond excited and grateful for her unexpected win. Being on the giving end of this transaction was very fulfilling. Put simply: making other people feel good, feels great!

So the next time you create a holiday promotion, consider a giveaway, because then everybody wins! Have you ever won a giveaway? Tweet us @ThinPigMedia and tell us what you won!

Cropping Correctly: Instagram's Vertical Aspect Ratio

When Instagram allowed for more posting options beyond the standard square, photographers rejoiced. If a photographer knows the environment in which their photograph will live, proper planning can be taken to ensure the picture fits well within that boundary; but, forcing photos to fit into certain areas for which they were not intended, can completely ruin the integrity of a photo. Yet, despite this new vertical aspect ratio, there are still some interesting limitations to Instagram’s non-square format. 

When posting a horizontal photo, Instagram will take the photo, and force the width to match that of Instagram’s dimension, which means that all of the photo is present. The exceptions are panoramas, or exceptionally wide photos. The same isn’t true of vertical photos. For vertical photos, rather than showing all of the photo, the photo is instead cropped. This is for an aesthetic reason on Instagram’s end. Instagram wants all photos to fully fill the space between the two sides of the screen for consistency without taking up an enormous amount of scrolling space. What does that mean for the photo?

The most common aspect ratio for cameras is 3:2, and the ratio for a vertical photo on Instagram is 4:5, which means that most photos will be cropped. Luckily to a certain extent, you can choose where the cropping occurs - all on top, all on bottom, or a little on both.

As mentioned before, if the photographer, or designer knows that there will be cropping, then this can be accounted for, but sometimes important details can be lost in a post if it was created without the proper planning. This is especially true of portraiture. Many photographers like to experiment with how a person fits into a photo to make it more interesting. Take for example, many companies wanting to put a human element into their social media by featuring stories of their employees or sometimes customers. This is a great way to showcase the people involved, and is usually shown with a portrait of some kind.

Here is a quick example from my personal account of a time when the photo wasn’t planned out as well as it could’ve been in regard to Instagram’s aspect ratio.

I wanted to celebrate the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on my personal fashion account. I created an outfit to wear and photographed it. I also included various fan paraphernalia to accentuate it, and help re-enforce the relationship that the outfit wasn’t just an outfit, but related to my Harry Potter fandom. However, when posting it, I had to choose between cropping part of the outfit out, or making the novel I was holding barely noticeable at the bottom. If I had been more aware of the 4:5 aspect ratio, I would’ve known to frame it all slightly differently and lift the book slightly higher.

What’s the moral here? Vertical photos are a great way to take up more space and show more to your followers, so be sure to utilize them. But, when creating the post, be sure to be aware of how you will crop the photo.