Instagram – if you haven’t heard this name before then you are in a similar situation as most people were 3 or 4 years ago when only few of us heard the name Twitter. Yet, Instagram marked the one million users milestone today! A fairly amazing accomplishment, showing a massive growth in record time, consider that the app debut date was October 6th this year.
This social network may not become the next Facebook killer, but it is definitely as viral as Twitter and may even threaten the later.
So what is Instagram? It is an iPhone app for sharing photos. The application consists of 5 tabs. Share, Popular, Feed, News and yours.
Share – you can choose either to take a new photo or to pick one from your photo library. The kick is that you can select from several built-in filters to process your photo giving it a little more color, ambient, anachronism touch, and more. You can also add short text to go along with the picture.
Popular – people can Like your picture (vote for it) or add comments. If enough people likes it your picture can appear in the popular tab. This is also a way to find people to follow and to vote on more pictures.
Feed – this is a feed stream of pictures from the people that you chose to follow.
Yours – your picture stream along with the likes and comments.
News – a trace of recent information about who liked or commented on your picture
Sounds simple? Well yes, very, exactly as simple as Twitter. If on Twitter people with interesting feed stream (links, celeb, insights – thought leader) attract lots of followers, Instagram users attract lost of followers in similar ways.
Means of communication on Instagram:
- Like and comments – Like is both a signal of appreciation to one of the the pictures and a call for attention to your newly posted picture.
- Screen shot – see here how to take a screenshot using your Iphone. People write a short message in Notes, the built-in iPhone app for writing text, take a screen-shot of the note, and post it as a picture.
- @instagram-user-name – you can reference other users using the @ symbol in the same way as you do on Twitter. Doing so will generate a small pop-up message on his/her phone and will add an entry to the News tab.
So how Instagram users lure new followers?
Method #1 – after few hours using the application you’ll notice that beautiful girls has a lot of followers. Some, significantly more than others. I will allow you to come up with your own explanation for this phenomenon.
Method #2 – artistic creativity. In Instagram I found many users with great picture streams. Some due to the places that they travel to, other due to great digital photography skills, and others thanks to the numerous iPhone photography applications that comes with photo enhancing techniques and creative filters. Some due to all of these elements.
Method #3 – teaching. There are few highly skilled photographers out there that are willing to share from their knowledge explaining about different techniques and tips to their avid followers.
Method #4 – challenges. People declares different challenges like the “Sexy Photo Challenge” (check @markpalmer)challenge that resulted with more than 500 pictures of men and women in different erotic poses (no porn). People then are encouraged to vote for their favorite picture and those are reposted on the challenge organizer stream. Can you see the business opportunity here? “Nike challenge – picture your most creative shot of your most worn-down Nike pare and win a …”.
Method #5 – increasing web presence – my friend Kathryn Jones (@unsaidtv) who is producing live streamed video plays on Better Left Unsaid TV is using Instagram to share pictures from the back scene or “the making of” the play.
Side note – one of the direct impact of Instagram is the growing demands for new photography iPhone applications. People are increasingly looking for more and more interesting filters and digital enhancement features to create new stunning images. I found myself buying more and more of those. Some of the users I follow on Instagram were willing to share (via screen-shot) about their most frequently used applications. Some has lots of them. I guess that this is very good for the mobile applications development market (and Apple).
Summary – it is too early to tell what direction the Instagram team will choose to take the application at, but it is already apparent that there is a new and exiting platform that brings people to participate and communicate. It is also one of the few communities that exist outside the web and only in the mobile world (I know that implicitly there is a heavy use of the the web and data but there is no Instagram website – yet?!). Whenever there is a new communication platform (in this case Mobile social network) and avid participation, there is a room for influence, branding, and promotion. Bottom line, there is another marketing channel. However, above all, the Instagram team has provided us with a great new way to create, share, and interact with other people, i.e. to have fun!! If you decide to give it a try please stop by my Inst-stream @kerendg (same as my Twitter user name).
I wish us many focused hours, days, weeks, and months.
For me, at work, there is nothing that feels better than leaving the office after having a focused day or week. I enjoy having this sense of accomplishment seeing the tasks lists dwindling down or after solving a tough problem that was risking the current project schedule or customer success. The opposite, having an unfocused day, takes away so much energy thinking about what that is still left hanging.
As soon as we login to the laptop or any other smart device we are at beginning of a constant struggle. An endless cross roads expends from that point on. Even while waiting, watching the task bar expends from left to right while the OS loads application after application to memory, already new communication channels opens up and start streaming bytes charged with high potential energy for driving your next few minutes, or hours away from the original purpose that motivated you to turn the device on in the first place. Outlook, IM, Twitter desktop client, Firefox with open Gmail, Google Wave, Facebook and WordPress tabs to name a few. There is a race for your attention and every program pushes itself in front of the other.
It is so easy to notice, and so hard to resist not to react to, the recent Facebook notification, new Google wave, email from SlideShare or YouTube channel with a bunch of links, follow the current Trending Topic, @reply or IM @friend, reply immediately to that email you were just CCed on with a question that you so know the answer to, but others can handled that as well (and maybe this is their job).
Multi-tasking, enabled by the operating system, along with social media, enabled by the digital multi-media, can create this constant notion of not being on the right thread at any time. And that’s not even includes doing your work. Sometimes participating in the real-time search race feels more like “what am I’m missing now?” instead of “what is happening right now?”. The truth is that “now” happens all the time.
We sometimes have this tendency to follow the Shortest job next scheduling algorithm at work. Although this algorithm is great at “minimizing the average amount of time each task has to wait until its execution is complete” it could also lead to tasks starvation (i.e. never getting to address it). It could also lead to developing the habit of replacing short with easy or fun.
Focused does not mean a single goal
When I say that I’m wishing all of you to have a focused year I don’t mean to focus necessarily on one goal only . It could be ideal to be laser focused on a single goal but it could almost be too ambitious of an objective or even an out of balance way of living, it could kill your health and relationships. You may choose to focus on multiple goals this year, and it is a big miss not to participate in the social media party, the key is to be focused at the current task at hand. So, when you work on that paper, problem, long email, and etc, it is OK to be fully present with your eyes, ears, mind and mouse cursor on the current thread. It is OK to tune out for a bit.
Some ideas for keeping your focus on a single task at the time
- Go to Services in Windows and set any application’s with disruption potential “Start-up Type” option to disable.
- Define priority policy attribute and categorize emails by it – immediate response, can wait, to do, follow-up. Keep it simple so it will not take a lot of your time implementing it. There are lots of email handling tips out there just Google “email management tips” and you’ll find a ton of info – just don’t spend too much time reading about it:)
- Break large tasks to manageable goals – this helps with both motivation and focus.
- Treat yourself to some social media action after the task is completed.
- More suggestions here via Delicious
Before leaving this blog post
And before leaving, I would like to share with you this very insightful phrase that I heard somewhere and it stuck deeply in my mind:
“What you focus on expands”
Happy Holidays and have a great focused year.
Picture credit emmaphotos
Social media may sounds too simple: sharing, caring, and link love. It is tempting to jump right in, getting on-board without planing. Although that might work well for the individual, I don’t recommend it to the business. The company should think about goals, content, expectations, and strategy, before making the leap in. Here are 10 questions that the company may start with.
10 practical questions about Social Media
- What should an established company blog about?
- What should a start-up company blog about?
- What should both company types avoid writing about?
- Should you be on Twitter (a question for the CEO/Founder)?
- Should you have a personal Twitter account in addition to the venture account? Should you use both in conjunction (a question for the CEO/Founder)?
- Whom should the corporate invite to write on its blog ( from within and the outside)?
- How does a thought leader looks like?
- How do you project an Executive Presence on social media channels?
- Assuming value using Social Media, how long do you expect till it materialized (a question for the venture leaders)?
- What do you expect to drive using social media tools: leads generation/traffic, brand marketing/monitoring/web presence, relationship building/corporate development, else?
Is this how a thought leader looks like?
In order to come up with the right strategy for an effective use of social media, these questions, among others, should be discussed. Participation in Social digital media is an on-going effort, one that requires an investment of company time and resources. It is a cross-functional effort with multiple stakeholders. Having clear expectations for the effort level required from each organizational function, is crucial.
I think that it is possible to come up with good answers to most of the questions above (and I don’t claim to be a Social Media expert).
Other questions are still open and will require more research:
Are social media values quantifiable? How? What are the measures?
Large corporation should invest time searching for social media measures and ROI. A large corporate, with Marketing budget that could be allocated across multiple channels, will have to identify and monitor different indicators in order to justify an investment in social media. Even prior to adding social media channels and tools, the company must evaluates its commitment level for participation in social media.
For a small start-up company where Social Media is, by large, the cheapest way around for building presence in the market (for both targeting investments and market penetration) the ROI question is almost irrelevant. The investment is small in compare to other means of branding and the results are potentially dramatic. A single lead can make a critical difference to the start-up survival chances. Being reviewed by an influencing blogger can drive traffic and product adoption. Getting feedback or advice from fans and followers may get the company/product on the right track.
Prior to adding social media to the mix, no matter what type of organization you run, think about the 10 questions above (and some more). There are great resources out there that can help you to start on the right foot. The best advice I should give you is to start reading blogs.
What other questions about social media should be asked?
Btw, the picture above was taken by me while visiting the Sidney Zoo in Australia (2005).