November 20, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

Is 2013 the year of the selfie? Well according to the Oxford English Dictionary it is. Just yesterday, selfie was added to their Word of the Year list – joining such notable words as omnishambles, big society, and sudoku.

The Word of the Year isn’t always a new word but is instead something that has had a strong cultural impact  and quick rise in use. As Oxford English Dictionary Editorial Director Judy Pearsall told the Guardian:

“Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research programme, which collects around 150m words of current English in use each month, we can see a phenomenal upward trend in the use of selfie in 2013, and this helped to cement its selection.”

And the Oxford English Dictionary isn’t the only one to publish a word of the year – the American Dialect Society also selects one. They haven’t decided on 2013′s word yet, but last year’s? Hashtag.

Selfie may be a silly word, but it’s an important one. The amount of photos we’re taking is increasing, and with that the type of photos people take is changing – and brands are noticing. From Starbucks to Spin Media to Benefit – selfies have moved from a cultural joke to being powerful brand advocate content. A selfie with a product is now the new Amazon or Yelp review.

This year may have been the year the selfie became mainstream, but from what we’re seeing in both the content being shared by fans and leveraged by brands, 2014 will be the real Year of the Selfie.

 

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October 31, 2013 Add Comment Jay Park

Happy Halloween! Some of our favorite brands and publishers are getting into the spooky mood with their hashtags and promotional videos. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites, but warning: puns ahead!

1. #NBAHALLOWEEN by NBA

One of the most popular athletic brands on social media, the NBA is even taking part in the spooky fun with their NBA-themed pumpkin carving contest. Fans can submit their artistic creations with the #NBAHALLOWEEN hashtag.

2. Halloween Treats Gone Wrong by Crest & Oral-B

Now this one isn’t a hashtag, but it is a fine example of content marketing: teeth cleaning brands Crest and Oral-B released an outrageously funny and creative video that encourages giving children candy to appease their tantrums–just make sure to clean up afterwards!

3. #ScaredStainless by Tide

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The brand released seven creative Halloween-themed Vine videos and attached a very appropriate #ScaredStainless hashtag to make it more viral. Overall, the vines and tweets reached nearly a million people on Twitter and received several hundred retweets.

4. #NPRHalloweenNames

Started by the folks from Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me and later picked up (and encouraged) by NPR themselves, Twitter-users came up with clever and spooky editions of segment titles or news-related terms with the #NPRHalloweenNames hashtag. Favorites include “Mourning Edition,” “Tell Me Morgue,” and “Neda Boolaby.”

Do you have a favorite Halloween hashtag we missed? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!

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August 26, 2013 Add Comment Jay Park

With its 3-year anniversary quickly approaching this coming October, Instagram has grown tremendously with over 160 million monthly users and nearly 16 billion images created.

Over these few years, some notable trends, or “sins,” have risen to the forefront, from food to sunsets to #duckface selfies. Indulging in these Instagram sins is pretty common, and despite some of the mockery, users have created original and inspiring content.

Here’s your guide through these Instagram sins. Hopefully, we can help you transform them into Instagram virtues.

Sin #1: Gluttony, the Food Pornographer

Food photography has quickly risen to become a pillar of the Instagram community. From proud home cooks showing off their latest creations to foodies relishing in their new organic, vegan craze to Taco Bell’s creative #CantinaQuesadilla celebrations, the genre has completely taken on a life of it’s own. So amidst these millions of photos, how can you make your #foodporn stand out? Well, for one, don’t do this. Second, make sure the food looks as good as it tastes: mushy, watery eggs are still unappealing–no matter how many filters and edits you try to slap on it.

Sin #2: Lust, (or, rather, Love)

The #love hashtag has over 188 million photos on Instagram alone. People love love–it has its own holiday, movie genre, and almost every song on the radio is about it, so of course Instagram isn’t going to be any different. While it may be a wise choice to avoid #PDA posts, everyone enjoys those picturesque, “heart-string-tugging” couple or marriage photos. Renowned fine-art wedding photographer, Jose Villa is a great example; he takes shots from his gorgeous wedding photoshoots and displays them to a fan base of over 90k followers.

Sin #3: Pride, the Gratuitous Selfie

Selfies have attained a pretty bad reputation, but this Instagram “sin” can actually be pretty awesome when done right. The key is to have a purpose or meaning behind it–a new hairdo or outfit for example. Brands like Starbucks are doing cool campaigns around selfies with #SipFace  and Instagram’s own #WHPreplacemyface showing how this sin can turn out to be a virtue.

Sin #4: Sloth, the Repost

Out of the 160 billion photos created on Instagram so far, there are probably at least one or two images that you’ve fallen absolutely in love with. The lighting, the creativity, the angle–everything is just so spectacular that you can’t help but want to share it. After all, beautiful things were meant to be admired and appreciated. If you love it, ask the creator if they’d be alright with a #regram. If not, just use the photo as inspiration for creating your own stunning photos–you might end up liking the results of the latter anyways!

Sin #5: Wrath, the Spam

Hackers love to target accounts with easy, low-security passwords – something many in the Instagram community learned with the now infamous fruit spam. Passwords with interspersed numbers and unexpected letter combinations are more secure.  Second, if the hacker left any sketchy-looking links on  your profile description or caption on photos, delete it so there’s no trace back. A little time-consuming, but the most effective way to get rid of the spam on your account.

Sin #6: Envy, the Hashtagger

The hashtag is an incredibly useful tool for brands and marketers, being able to centralize relevant content in one streamlined feed. This makes it possible for companies to create successful hashtag campaigns like #VFBestDressed and #ShowUsYourTips while avoiding generic overdone posts that look like “#follow #photooftheday #fun #love #me #cute #babies #puppies.” So let us #ShowYouOurTips on making great hashtags here.

Sin #7: Greed, the Rich Kids

Tackling the Instagram world with their wads of cash, Porche 911s, and private jets flying 17,000 feet above London, the rich kids have arrived, even earning their own dedicated tumblr. However, don’t stress yourself out just because a 16-year-old owns a diamond-studded private jet. It’s important to note that despite this group’s notoriety, they’re an extremely small demographic of the Instagram community. Their goal is to gain attention (surprise–rich kids wanting attention), but luckily for all of us, it’s pretty easy to avoid and ignore the bunch.

How guilty are you of these “sins”? Tell us about your favorite in the comments below or on Twitter at @getchute!

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Instagram Highlight: Capturing Beauty with @5ftinf

"A perfect way of capturing small moments of beauty which quickly disappear"

August 21, 2013 Add Comment Jay Park

Philippa Stanton, the contemporary artist by the sea, is all about soaking in the beauty surrounding her life–and preserving those moments forever.

“I like sitting, listening and looking hard at what’s constantly around me,” she tells us, “mostly whilst drinking tea.”

Philippa began her Instagram journey like many others–with no particular goal in mind. But she soon found the aesthetic with which she wanted to share and inspire the world.

“I realized it was a perfect way of capturing small moments of beauty which quickly disappear,” she says. “I don’t plan; I just see what the weather is like, which flowers haven’t been eaten by snails and what colors I’m in the mood for.”

Her focus is on the ever-fleeting, simple yet beautiful things in life. From picturesque flowers growing in her garden to a cup of jasmine tea, Philippa has gained recognition for her impeccable eye for object placement and tasteful color palette.

“When I realized I had developed my own style–table still life–I created my own hashtag so people could enjoy a gallery of tables,” she explains. “They could watch the seasons changing with the flowers and light.”

Her project, #5ftinftable, features table arrangements–including anything from tea kettles to books to flowers. However, the biggest impact that the visual app has made on Philippa is the motivation that the incredibly tight-knit and supportive Instagram community gives her everyday.

“Being an artist is solitary,” she says. “You can lose track of how you view your own work. [...] The   community out there is always so reassuring and always encourages me to keep working creatively.”

So continue supporting artists everywhere and check out some of Philippa’s immortalized moments of beauty in the gallery below as well as her Instagram at @5ftinf and website.

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Instagram offers brands the unique opportunity to create a more personal experience with their audience. Just like the platform allows you to share and see moments from everyday life, companies on Instagram get to humanize and shape their brand personality in a more authentic community-focused manner.

While the platform provides the opportunity for a more casual look into a company, there are still some practices to avoid. Below we’ve listed 3 of the most common mistakes brands make on Instagram.

1. #Tagging #Every #Single #Thing

The hashtag is a powerful tool in our social society, and it’s only going to continue growing. However, creating whole paragraphs of hashtags isn’t an effective use-case. When your #sentences #begin #to #look #like #this, you may want to reevaluate your social strategy. Instagram is a place for you to shape your brand’s image, and using too many hashtags can look a little desperate or like spam. Nobody wants that.

toomanyhashtags

The remedy? Some simple research. Before launching a product or campaign, you’d do some market research, right? Your social accounts are no different. Create a list of competitors and similar businesses along with top brand accounts on Instagram to see how and what they choose to tag. Take note of which tags generate the most interest and what tags don’t perform as well.

Now, create a list of hashtags you think your brand could use – from orignal branded tags to popular tags you want your brand associated with – and do a quick search of each. You don’t want to accidentally be using another company’s branded phrasing or a tag that generates content you don’t want your brand associated with.

This list of curated, researched, and active tags will prove infinitely more beneficial than random phrases and words that are loosely related to your photo.

2. Not Planning

One other mistake is not planning out posts, which leads to missing a great moment or opportunity to grow your audience. While much of what you post to Instagram is going to be real-time moments, think about upcoming events you want to document or types of content you can make anytime in-house that you know your fans will like. Create a growing list of the kinds of regular content around your products and audience’s interest. For example, online fashion retailer Asos posts nail art and outfits as part of their regular content and the Today Show always features lots of behind-the-scenes photos.

3. Lacking Agility

Then, there are the accounts that only ever plan. When a story breaks, people flock to social media to get the latest developments. In these moments, your audience potential grows exponentially. After the Superbowl, was any ad discussed more than Oreo’s Instagram photo during the blackout? Is any ad still discussed as much as the Oreo Twitter photo is? No. And it wasn’t even an ad! Nobody paid millions of dollars to put that ad in front of millions of people. Instead, Oreo knew that people would be flocking to Twitter to discuss the power outage, and decided to leverage that new audience.

What are some Instagram mistakes of tips? Share them with us in the comments or on Twitter.

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Hashtags have quickly become the way to navigate online social spheres. Tracking conversations and breaking news on Twitter, finding relevant photos on Instagram, and participating in a community on Tumblr are all powered through hashtags. But they’re more than a navigation tool now. Hashtags have evolved into one of the most important engagement tools for brands and publishers.

The question is, how do you create a hashtag for one-time campaigns and for rolling evergreen content? We’ve got some tips for you below.

1. List

Think about the purpose of your hashtag campaign. What kind of content are you looking for? Let’s say you’re running a nail art campaign. Some buzzwords you might come up with: nailart, mani, pedi, polish, manicure, etc. Come up with as many as you can.

2. Brand & Differentiate

Now that you have your buzzwords, think of ways to use them in different ways. Obviously, tags like #nailart or #mani are already extremely popular, and wont do you much good. Two great companies that have done this well are Sephora and Celebuzz. Sephora’s #nailspotting and Celebuzz’s #ManiMondays are clear enough that anyone would know they were for nailart photos, but also different enough that lets the two companies really own the conversation around the tag.

Another approach is to brand your hashtag. For example, Vanity Fair’s Chute-powered Best Dressed Challenge hashtag is #vfbestdressed. In today’s digital world, branding your hashtag is akin to putting your logo on a product.

3. Research

Once you have a couple potential hashtags, do a quick Instagram search of each. You don’t want to discover down the line that your hashtag was already in use. Remember, you want to really own your promoted hashtags, so any time someone searches it it leads back to you.

4. Launch & Engage

So you have your hashtag, and you’re ready to launch it into the wild? Not just yet. If you want people to interact with you, you need to interact with them. Share your favorite submissions on your own social media accounts, and be sure to like, comment, and @reply in an authentic manner. People, your audience included, like to know they’re being listened to. Never ignore the people who choose to engage with you.

Vanity Fair’s approach towards the entrants to the Best Dressed Challenge is a prime example. Editors and guest judges create monthly lists of their favorite looks along with critiques by the fashion experts. They’ve even made a whole new Twitter account devoted to interacting with users.

Your hashtag, whether used for a one-off campaign or indefinitely, can help you grow the conversation between your company and your audience – creating a sense of loyalty and friendship that is vital in an age where a brand’s online personality has a lot to do with its offline success.

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Repix leverages the hashtag to reach 1.5m downloads

Recently launched Repix is a freemium app that gives users creative photo editing tools. The app comes preloaded with abilities that allow you to paint in a variety of effects like one that cartoonizes parts of the image, and the store features sets that give users the ability to paint on color filters and even add some pretty light effects. The overall effect of the tools can range from cheesy to stunning, depending on how they’re used.

When images that have been created in Repix are opened in apps like Instagram, they automatically include “#repix” – leveraging the friends and followers of its users and also creating a hashtag that people can go through to see other Repixed images. While Repix is definitely not the first app to feature automatic hashtags, it is an interesting trend – and a powerful one with Repix already reaching 1.5 million downloads in its first week.

The hashtag itself has become this highly powerful tool to not only be the hub of conversation but to also generate interest and hype. With purchasing through the use of Twitter and hashtags growing, the hashtag is becoming even more powerful. So automatic hashtags are something more app developers will probably be looking into, especially after the success of Repix.

What are your thoughts on apps automatically adding hashtags? Tweet @GetChute with your thoughts, and check out some highlighted images from the Repix hashtag below.

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Visual Sites Get More Social

This week’s Front Lines of the Visual Revolution features two already-visual sites building on top of their products to increase engagement and social activity.

1. Flickr

Hashtag support and usage is growing with rumors that even Facebook will be adopting it soon. Now Flickr is rolling out official support for their iOS app, improving the search function and helping Flickr users join the online conversations happening around a specific hashtag. The photography-based social network has even started their own hashtag-powered image campaign, #FlickrFriday, which asks users to take and share photos based on a different theme every weekend.

2. Pinterest

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Pinterest has been successful in developing a design that encourages e-commerce and engagement, and websites like Ebay are redesigning to match the Pinboard style. Now the site has rolled out a redesign that makes images larger and increases the number by including other pins by the user, pins from people who also pinned that item, and other pins from that source.

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