HOW TO MASTER INSTAGRAM POLLS

This past fall Instagram came out with a cool new feature to add to your Instagram Story. Along with the many fun stickers you can place on a picture or video, Instagram also lets you have the option to add a poll sticker. I’ve mostly seen this sticker used on personal profiles to ask followers “which ice cream flavor should I get”, but businesses can also take advantage of the poll feature to help gage a better read on the audience they are reaching.

What is the hype over Instagram Polls?

Instagram polls are strictly available on the Instagram app when you make an Instagram story. They encourage followers to be more interactive and can provide important feedback no matter what the question is. This direct feedback can help you learn specific things about your audience and can even assist in making future decisions.

How does it work?

Setting up a poll on Instagram is extremely easy and quick.

  1. First, you take a video or picture of something you would like to put onto your story.
  2. Once you are happy with your photo or video footage, you can tap the sticker button on the top of the screen (Photo 1, Above) and add any text, drawings or stickers, including the “Poll” sticker. (Photo 2, Above)
  3. Now you can type any question you’d like and edit the two different choices to vote on. You are unfortunately limited to only two choices but you have up to 26 characters per choice box to craft some witty answers. (Photo 3, Above)
  4. Once you have finished writing your question and answers you can drag the poll anywhere on the picture and resize it however you’d like, just like any other sticker.
  5. Then all you have to do is post it and wait for the results!

To look at your results simply tap the viewers listed at the bottom of the story and then swipe up to see the post analytics. The poll will be available for 24 hours along with your story so make sure you set a timer right before it expires so you can see all of the responses.

How can businesses take advantage of Instagram Polls?

Gain audience insight and feedback

Depositphotos_45107933_original

Although these polls do not provide the most in depth consumer analytics, they definitely can shed some light on important topics that you want to get a general consensus on. You also get the answers quickly (within 24 hours). About to i ntroduce a new product? Ask your followers which color they would prefer, or ask which feature from an old product they would change. You won’t know unless you ask!

Ask the right kinds of questions

To gain the best results, make sure your questions on the poll are clear and not biased towards one answer. The best kinds of questions to ask are “yes or no” questions, and “this or that” questions.

Check out how engaged your followers are

This feature is also a great way to see how engaged your followers actually are on social media. If you have 300 followers, but only 100 of them are watching your story and voting, then maybe you need to switch up your content or find a way to appeal to the other followers who might not be as engaged.

Youth culture. Four young people sitting close to each other and looking at their gadgets

Grow your mailing list

Another way to utilize this sticker is by adding people to your mailing list and seeing how many people are interested in learning more about your company. Try positing a Yes or No poll asking “Would you like to receive emails to learn more about our business?” For the people who vote yes, you can then direct message them on Instagram asking for their email.

Polls can help plan events

Polls work great for any event that you may be having including a major sale or an opening party for a new store location. Add some hype to the upcoming event by asking if people will attend or not. Clicking “yes” might give them a sense of accomplishment and clicking “no” might make them feel like they are missing an awesome event. Let your followers help plan your event by asking simple choices like color theme or what flavor cake to have at the event. When the event is over you can post a poll that gages feedback to make the next one even better.

Make it fun and personal

Your polls do not always have to be strictly business related. Adding polls every now and then that show a more personal and fun side of your business can make your audience feel like they have a sneak peek behind the scenes, which can strengthen your relationship. Ask them “Who in the office wore it better” or “Which team in the super bowl are you routing for”.

It is important to make sure your customers feel like they have a voice that gets heard. These Instagram polls are the perfect way to get to know your consumers and help improve future choices by incorporating their feedback.

If you feel like Instagram might be beyond your skill set, we’re here to help you! Contact us at www.maxexposuresocialmedia.com or email us at support@maxexpoemail.com 

FREE Analysis

Creating a Company Personality using Social Media

Social Media is a great way to reach consumers and inform them of new sales, products, and company involvement in the community. This day and age, it is extremely important to the success of your company that you are active and involved in social media. Social media allows for easy communication between company and consumer.

Consumers contact companies with complaints or comments and questions on products and so on, and the companies can directly respond to their concerns, improving their customer service. Responding to consumer comments and complaints on social media allows the customer to feel heard and valued by the company.

Some companies have also used social media to create personalities for their company, mostly through Twitter and Facebook. This has allowed not only for more contact between consumer and company but has also provided customer entertainment and has increased the social media following of many companies today. Wendys for example, has famous Twitter “roasts” where they respond to customers’ tweets with funny responses which gains them a lot of social media attention.

Wendy1

After posting their responses to customers, a lot of people retweet or favorite their tweets, expanding their Twitter network and encouraging more consumers to follow their Twitter because their Tweets are entertaining.

The reason why Wendy’s Twitter roasts has gained so much consumer attention is because they have an awareness of what people use their social media platforms for. Twitter for example is mainly used for comedic entertainment or political opinions and comments. Seeing as it is not a good idea to share a company’s political stance as it may cause a loss of consumer support and create backlash, comedic entertainment is a great way to connect with consumers.

Wendy2

Most funny company tweets are responses to customer complaints and questions. Turning customer complaints, which could potentially give the company a bad reputation, into something funny and entertaining for their followers actually gives the company positive attention in the end.

Wendy3

Tips for Joining the Trend

If you think your company would benefit from posting these comical tweets to its consumers, it is important that the company abide by these tips, especially if the company does not already have a reputation for posting funny tweets. You want your consumers to actually find your tweets funny and insure that you do not offend people with risky humor.

Twitter

To get a head-start on your funny tweeting, your company could create a false consumer account to tweet back at. This avoids risking offending an actual consumer seeing as they may think your company is not taking them seriously or making fun of them. Once you get a couple funny tweets out, consumers will recognize the trend and start coming up with tweets for your company to respond to.

Once you start responding to real consumer’s tweets, evaluate and think through the possible interpretation of your tweets prior to posting them. Having multiple people within your company look at your tweets prior to posting them and getting their opinion on them is a good way to double check and insure minimal backlash and maximum humor.

Creating a Personality

Creating a personality for your company and connecting with consumers on a more personal level will allow them to trust you and support you on a business level. Maintaining easy, efficient online communication with consumers is a great way to improve your customer service and show your customers how valued they are by your company.

Businessman holding cellphone with opened applications

Utilizing your company’s social media account not only for traditional customer service communication but finding innovative ways to provide customers with entertaining social media posts will not only build more positive relationships with you current consumer following, but will grow your consumer following on social media as well.

Every company is different and contains different types of consumers, challenge your company to not only maintain constant involvement on social media, but innovate how you use your social media. By focusing not only on responding to and communicating with your current customers, but attracting new customer attention on social media, your company will maximize the success of its social media involvement and improve its communication with current and future consumers.
Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/christinajhuynh/15-times-wendys-twitter-was-more-shameless-than-y-2tfa4?utm_term=.ugAMyD12a#.rgmwjgD2v 

The Camera has to Eat First!

Food3Out of all the things I take pictures of, food photos definitely take the cake. When it comes to social media, I am not a huge selfie girl, but one thing I do snap all the time is pictures of doughnuts, aćai bowls, and pizza. Whether I bake homemade cookies or go out to a restaurant, you can bet my phone camera will be eating first.

I usually will post the picture on my Snapchat story or on my Visco account, but most of the time I just save the photo for myself. Taking pictures of food for me is a way to remember a fun night out with my friends or a delicious homemade meal that my mom cooked for the family.

Food4

My food photo addiction started when I studied abroad in Europe for a semester. Everywhere I went I indulged in amazing food and I would have been crazy not to take a picture to remember it. I’m talking about cheese fondue in Switzerland that had your mouth watering, heart shaped pizzas in Italy that made you fall in love, and hot chocolate in London that brought tears to your eyes.

Some people are against this trend in social media and think it takes away from living in the moment. They also think people will only buy or order a certain food just for the picture. I however think that there are many more positives to this movement than negatives. Taking pictures of your food encourages people to live a little more outside of their comfort zone. For me personally it has inspired me to try different restaurants I have never been to, or order something that might seem a little crazy. It also has allowed me to show off my cooking skills, get a little artsy and creative, and really express how much of a foodie I am.

Food2

Since I am a trained professional (or so I’d like to think) at taking pictures of my food, here the top 5 tips and tricks I have learned along the way.

Find the perfect lighting

Natural lighting is usually the best way to go. Using the flash sometimes shows strange shadows and can make your meal look slightly less appetizing.

Food6

Play with your food

I know this goes against everything your mother taught you, but sometimes the bun will fall off your burger or a French fry will be astray. Before you get the best picture possible move around a few things to makes sure your plate is at perfection.

Get creative with angles

Just like us, food has their good side too. Depending on how you hold your camera can really impact your picture. My go-to trick is getting the camera eye level with your plate and tilting it slightly downwards so everyone can get a better look at all of the delicious ingredients.

FoodPic1

Work with the background

Whether you’re sitting at a cool wooden table or you’re outside at a barbecue, the background adds to the personality of the picture. Get your friend cheesing in the background or show off the freshly squeezed orange juice behind your omelet at brunch.

Tag the location

This is super important so you can remember where you enjoyed that delicious and picture worthy meal, and so your friends and followers can check it out too. If you’re posting on Instagram, tag the restaurant’s name so other followers can click it and see other people’s delicious meals they’ve tagged as well. On Snapchat swipe left until you get the geo filter that shows your location. Your followers will thank you later.

Food5

If you really get the hang of it and don’t want to clutter your Instagram feed with only food pictures you can make your own food account. These accounts are an awesome way to check out cool places to try, and you can brag to your followers when you discovered the most beautiful piece of pizza in all of Boston.

One of my friends started her own food account that is strictly gluten free foods (@gffoodie_boston). She extremely allergic to gluten and wanted to provide a way for other GF foodies to find great places to eat without sacrificing taste. Her account has over one thousand followers and she even gets cool promotions and deals from restaurants to check out their menu and post about it.

Snapping a pic of your perfect Panini is always a good idea, but it is also important to put your phone down after the photo and actually enjoy the food and the conversation.

Whenever my friends and I go out to eat, we have a rule that we all stack our phones in a pile faced down in the middle of the table. If someone reaches for their phone out of habit, they are stuck with the bill at the end- unless of course it’s to take a quick picture.

It sounds a little silly but there is always a time a place for your phone, but checking twitter while you bite into a juicy burger definitely isn’t it.

Happy snapping!

FREE Analysis

Mastering the Perfect Selfie

Of all the social media trends out there, selfies has proved to be one of the most long-lasting trends of our time. The first selfie ever was believed to have been taken in October of 1839 by a man named Cornelius.

old selfie

This “selfie” is clearly very different from the selfies we see today on social media. Selfies today are taken much closer to the face, and, at least in my case, require a generous amount of makeup to be applied prior. Getting that perfect selfie can be much more difficult than it seems, so I have included several steps that are essential to mastering “selfie-taking.

Find a good background

Finding a good background can be pretty difficult. I always try to stand or sit against a white or nude wall. Using a plain wall brings more attention to you in the selfie and makes your picture look cleaner and more put together. Finding a plain background that also offers some natural light is even better. Natural light brightens your face and makes the picture appear clearer and less grainy.

Decide if you are taking a group selfie or individual selfie

selfie2

If you are taking a group selfie versus an individual selfie, how you actually take the picture is going to be different. In taking a group selfie, depending on how many people are in the selfie, you have to decide who is going to take the picture to get the best angle. For three people, the person in the middle should take the picture so everyone’s face is equally shown in the picture. For more than three people, a person on either end should take the picture by extending their arm and angling the camera so everyone is included in the shot. 

Get the perfect angle

selfie3

This definitely takes multiple tries. You need to test what angle makes your face look best which differs for everyone. Make sure you get your entire face in the picture, and take the picture from farther away from your face than you want it. You can always zoom in, but you can’t zoom out of the picture. Sometimes when posting on Instagram or Facebook the app may crop the picture weird so you want to make sure your entire face is still in the picture once it’s cropped.

Important tips

When taking your selfie, try to keep your chin parallel with the ground so you appear in your natural state and not stretching your neck upward or tilting your head downward.

IMG_0582

If you are taking group selfies, make sure everyone is close enough to one another so everyone is included in the picture and there are no awkward gaps in between people.

Lastly and most importantly, have fun with it and take a selfie that makes you feel good!! Be sure to post your selfie on your favorite social media site for the world to see!

Happy Selfie-ing!!  

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/worlds-first-selfie-1839-robert-cornelius_n_4392804.html

How Pets Play a Role in Social Media

 

From dressing pets in cozy sweaters, to letting them sit shotgun with you while you run errands and even featuring them in your Christmas card, people today see their pets as legitimate members of their family more than ever before. One way to show off these family members is by plastering their cuteness all over social media.

The Craze Behind Pet Pages

zAWvEMgbR2ixg92vSsJI5g

Looking through my Instagram page, I can tell right off that bat I follow at least 15 animal or pet accounts. I personally enjoy following these accounts because they provide a refreshing change to the countless selfies and meme posts I see all of the time. Once I scroll to a video of a French bulldog puppy wearing onesie pajamas I immediately like the video and watch it at least six times. My mood is instantly boosted and I tag all of my friends in the post to make sure they can witness the cuteness too.

For many people, their Instagram accounts are very structured, and platforms like Instagram provide a way to market their own personal brand identity. Some people love to share their perfect pooches on their personal account, but some feel it would be better to have an account separate from their own.

IMG_4011

This is why making an account for your dog or cat is so appealing. The purpose of these pet accounts is to be fun, light hearted, and adorable. It lets pet owners utilize social media in a comfortable way that shows off their fun side, and allows them to brag about how wonderful their pet is. Studies show that about 65% of people who own pets post about them on different social media platforms at least twice per week, and one in six of these pet owners have actually created a social media page specifically for their pet. The craziest thing is that some of these pet accounts receive more attention and gain more followers than their personal accounts.*

Why Make a Page for Your Pet?

fullsizeoutput_ad1

To get more insight I went to my friend who created an account for her three-legged rescue golden retriever, Koda (@kodathe_golden) a few years ago. Her account has over 1000 followers and features pictures and videos of Koda running around in the backyard, playing in the snow, and taking baths. The captions for her account are written from Koda’s perspective, which makes each post even more fun and personal. When I asked my friend why she created this account, she explained “I had a million pictures of Koda on my phone and I wanted to share them with my friends and family on Instagram so they could see exactly why I was so obsessed with her. Koda’s Instagram account also provide a way for me to promote adopting animals, especially ones that might need a little extra love.”

fullsizeoutput_ad2

Our Director of Client Services, here at MaxExposure, Aly, also has a instagram for her cats @the_siberian_squad, where she features their antics, captions from their perspective and the sibling rivalry between the brother & sister duo! When I asked her why she did it, she explained that her friends and family, mainly her own sisters, were getting annoyed ONLY seeing cat pics on her personal instagram, so she created another one just for them. She also mentioned that, “It allowed me to join a community, the cat community, on instagram which is full of fluffy fur-babies and helpful advice from their moms (& dads). I found the network particularly helpful when we got our second cat, and I needed advice on how to integrate them!” Her incredibly cute duo, Piper & Dash, have about 2500 followers and counting!

How it Helps Animal Shelters

fullsizeoutput_ad7

Social media has also played a huge role helping animals in shelters find their forever homes. Animal shelters and fosters all across the world are using social media pages to post pictures of their adoptable animals in hopes of finding these furry friends a family. By posting a cute picture of a dog on an animal shelter’s Instagram account it helps spread the word and increases the chance of adoption. Someone might see the post, tag their friends, and then encourage them to adopt. Social media is also extremely valuable to these shelters because it is a completely free method of advertising. Most animal shelters & fosters run on donations and volunteer work and advertising usually does not make the budget. By getting these pictures and stories of the animals out on different platforms, animals have a much higher chance of going home with a family.

How to Get Your Pet to be a Social Media Star:

If you want to jump on the social media pet account bandwagon, there are a few things you should know before you make your fur babies account.

  1. Make the account handle something unique and something that reflects your pet. You don’t want to get lost among all of the other generic pet accounts, so make sure your username is fun and stands out.
  2. Find your pet’s voice. The best accounts are the ones where you feel like the animals themselves picked up the phone with their own paws and made the post. Sharing their lives through their own perspectives will be sure to gain you more followers
  1. Post consistently. You want to be just as loyal to your followers as your dog is to you. Post a few times per week to keep your followers engaged, and make sure to switch up the content to keep the account interesting.
  2. Hashtags will help. Boost your following and get noticed by using fun and popular hashtags like #TongueOutTuesday or #WhiskerWednesday. These hashtags will help other pet loving accounts find you and make sure to follow them back! Also having a set group of hashtags that you use on each post will help for search-ability, but be sure to change them up every few months to continue to grow the page!

Very few things in the world make me happier than opening up Instagram or Facebook and seeing an abundance of adorable pet pictures and videos. Pet owners today are more obsessed than ever before with their furry friends, and what better way to show the love for them than through social media?

 

*https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-shows-pets-are-social-medias-top-dogs-and-cats-300256791.html

5 of the Biggest Trends of 2017 in Social Media

Social media trends are constantly changing and can come and go in a blink of an eye. As 2017 comes to a close, it is important to look back and see which ones dominated, and which ones fell behind. Below are some of the biggest trends that rocked the social media world in the past year.

Snap Map

This past June, Snapchat released a new feature that took stalking to a whole new level, Snap Map. This feature allows users to see their friends’ exact location whenever they open their app. The purpose of is to make it easier than ever before to connect and meet up with your friends. For those who may find this feature a little intrusive on their privacy, they can chose to go on “ghost mode” which hides your location indefinitely 

until switched back on.

Snap Chat Map

One of my favorite parts of this trend is how Snapchat can guess your actions based on your location using your Bitmoji, a personalized avatar. At the mall? Your Bitmoji is hauling several bags over her shoulder. Waiting to catch a flight at the airport? Your Bitmoji is sitting leaned up against a suitcase. At a beach? Your Bitmoji is building a sandcastle.

This feature is a great way to brag to your friends when you are on a cool vacation across the world, but it can be not so great when you tell your friends you’re already on your way to meet them for lunch and still haven’t left the house.

Facebook Live

Although Facebook Live was introduced to Facebook in 2016, this trend really took off in the past 12 months. This new feature on Facebook allows any user to live stream video footage to all of their followers and friends. The live stream can last for up to 30 minutes, and stays on the users timeline after the stream has ended. The feature allows the user to see all of the viewers who are currently watching, and there is even a live comment function as well. Facebook Live also alerts all of your followers that you are live streaming.

Facebook & Instagram Stories

This is a major advantage because it significantly increases user engagement and can benefit people who might live stream daily, or someone who has an announcement to make. I am the kind of person on social media who will re-read a post 35 times, or stare at a picture for 15 minutes before I click the “post” button. When I first heard about this feature, I thought it was somewhat strange and convinced myself I would never take part in it.

 

Sharing something on social media that could not be reviewed or edited did not appeal to me until I started seeing my friends streaming and I realized it was actually a really different and fun way to interact. This feature helps us all “live in the present” and we all could use a little more of that.

360 Photos

Another tech savvy trend that will get your head spinning, literally, is Facebook 360. This tool allows users to look at a picture from all different views. By simply moving your phone around you can view the photo as if you were there looking around yourself. To make your own 360 photo, you can either use the 360-camera feature on the Facebook app, or you can upload a photo that you have taken on your phone using the panorama camera. These photos are sure to leave you reminiscing on that beautiful beach vacation you took last month.

Facebook and Instagram Stories

Both Instagram and Facebook took a tip from Snapchat and introduced their own version of stories. These user-generated stories appear for 24 hours and are meant to encourage users to post more often. Although the concept is the same, the content people post to each platform is generally different. My friends use Snapchat Stories to post their constant activities throughout the day. Instagram and Facebook Stories are generally posted much less and are more artsy and formal. The two platforms, Facebook and Instagram (both being owned by Facebook) have since joined together on this trend. Now when users create a story on Instagram they can automatically post the same one to Facebook.

Millennials Aren’t the Only Ones Obsessing Over Social Media

Smiling teenager students

When thinking of social media we often times solely associate it with the millennial generation who is quite literally glued to their phones. However, in the past year social media has seen a major increase in the amount of people from older generations taking advantage of social networks. In the past 10 years there has been a 32% increase in adults over the age of 65 using social media*, and more than 56% of adults who are online u

se more than one social media platform.** Considering my mom and I currently have a 79 day Snapchat streak, and she texts me whenever she posts on Instagram to “like” her picture, I can definitely agree with these statistics. With the older generations starting to hop on the social media train, it opens up many different opportunities for businesses to market their products towards them. 

Happy people using mobile smart phone

Looking back on 2017, social media platforms have introduced some exciting and fun features that have successfully engaged all kinds of users in all different age groups. From helping to cure loneliness by constantly seeing what your friends are up to, to bringing your photos to life through the 360 Facebook feature, it looks like 2018 has a lot to live up to.

* https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics

** https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/01/05/social-media-marketing-statistics

 

Is “Un-Plugging” Really Possible?

Aly here! As the Director of Client Services and Communications, I usually don’t get the chance very often to contribute content on the MaxExposure Blog, however I recently took a short vacation and learned what a little relaxation can to for a person!

When it comes to relaxing, I don’t know too much about the word. I try to employ what I think the meaning of the word is, but I can never truly grasp the concept.

 

 

  • Watching TV with your Laptop, while answering emails or working on a project… NOT Relaxation
  • Adding a glass of wine to the mix, while watching TV and working on a project… NOT Relaxation
  • Checking your email while watching a movie with your family… NOT Relaxation
  • Going out to dinner with friends or family, but checking emails  & work texts and responding… NOT Relaxation

When you are an integral part of running a company, manage a staff, support customers, oversee Accounting & HR departments and manage the website, it can be difficult to un-plug and relax a little. Especially in todays world of instant & constant communication.

While I am permanently glued to my iPhone and thank the technology gods daily that I can pretty much do every job I have from it, it can be difficult to put it down especially when your goal is to provide the absolute highest customer service physically possible.

While on vacation, in Florida, this past week, I took some time to partially un-plug and even that little bit did absolute wonders. To help out my fellow Boss Babes (and Boss Dudes) out there who also want to keep up with work and be the best at their job but want to keep their sanity intact; I made note of the things I did, and will be repeating ONE day each month, to recharge that battery I too often use to the last drop before charging back up!

  1. I found my SMILE – Working non-stop, even doing something you love can wear you out. Its crucial to both your mental & physical health, as well as the health of your company, to take some time for yourself and find your smile if you feel you’ve lost it!
  2. I stayed connected but…One thing I’ve always struggled with is the need to get things done IMMEDIATELY which I know my clients are very grateful for that. However once in a while its important to remember that you can take an afternoon here and there to yourself. Still answer your phone, but let your customers know it will be taken care of ASAP, but might be tomorrow.
  3. I tried to NOT talk as much business – Working in a family business, like I do, this one is VERY tricky. As family vacations often double as business planing sessions and executive meeting time. Its important to make it clear to your family (& business partners) which times during the day you are “working” and which times you are “on vacation”. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is you can do BOTH in the same day!
  4. I enjoyed happy hour... Every day
  5. I Laughed… A LOT
  6. I shut down EVERY evening –not taking my work with me to watch TV with my family. I often find myself working most evenings as its a time when I can get other work done, that I didn’t have time to do during the day. But I’ve learned that working from your couch with a glass of wine, may LOOK like relaxing, but its still working!
  7. I was PRESENT – I often keep my phone on silent vibrate and have it on me at all times, but while on vacation I left it on ringer, inside the house and more often than not I lost track of it. This meant I wasn’t checking my email 85 times a minute, I wasn’t on Facebook or Instagram constantly refreshing or reading the news and I wasn’t texting with clients or friends. I was truly present, in the moment, and enjoyed EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE of it!

By implementing these 7 things into my vacation, for the first time in YEARS, I was actually able to relax while on vacation. I hope these tips can help you too find some relaxation this holiday season and let you begin the New Year fully recharged and focused on your company goals!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year FULL of RELAXING vacations!

Aly Grushkin

Director of Client Services & Communications

 

The Quest for the Perfect Family Photo

There are a lot of traditions that come with the holidays; opening Christmas Eve gifts, smashing the Peppermint Pig, Secret Santa, and baking Christmas cookies for Santa. Of all the holiday traditions, taking a decent family picture has definitely proved to be the most difficult one. Every year my mom tries to get a good picture of my brothers, my sister, and me for the Christmas card. If we don’t get a good picture on Thanksgiving, we take one on Christmas instead and our “Merry Christmas!” card turns into a “Happy New Years!” card. So for those of you who struggle with getting the perfect family picture during the holidays, here are steps you can follow:

How to Take the Perfect Family Picture During the Holidays

Use the highest quality camera you have

This doesn’t mean you have to have one of those big digital cameras. Your highest quality camera could even just be on the iPhone 7. With all your relatives over you’ll have plenty of cameras to choose from, and the higher quality the camera the better the picture will look on a Christmas card!

Make sure everyone’s outfits are coordinated (somewhat)

My siblings and I always try to wear red and green for Christmas but if we don’t match colors, just making sure everyone’s outfits look good next to each other will make your pictures look better. Try to avoid wearing graphic shirts or sweaters as this will take away from the picture itself. Solid color sweaters or button down shirts for guys always looks good. Flannels are also a good way to go, but avoid overdoing it; if you have four people in the picture, two people at most can wear flannels.

Find the perfect background

Finding the perfect background can seem pretty difficult depending on what backgrounds your house has to offer. By using the right angles and cropping your pictures, you can make a mediocre background look 10 times better. Fireplaces, couches, in front of the Christmas tree, or even on the front steps of your house can provide good backgrounds for your picture. Whichever background you choose, just make sure to get rid of any clutter that might appear in the background, or crop out the clutter after taking the picture. If you can’t seem to find a good background, make your own background! Hang snowflake cutouts, or hang a sheet over a wall to make a solid color background. Get creative!

Develop a pose for the picture

Depending on how many people are in the picture, getting a pose that gets everyone in the picture can get pretty difficult. Play around with it! It helps to have someone stand in front of everyone and shift people around depending on height, age, and so on. You want the picture to be as symmetrical as you can so balancing each side out with tall and short people is essential to getting that perfect picture.

Have fun with it!!!

The most important part of course is to have fun with your picture-taking! If you still have young kids in the family a photobooth can be a great idea to have some fun and encourage picture-taking. Print some holiday pictures and sayings and glue them to popsicle sticks and have people hold them up in the pictures. This makes picture-taking fun and you can get some cute pictures out of it too!

Check your picture on a computer

This might be the most important part, especially if you are planning on putting your pictures on a holiday card. Always check your pictures on a bigger screen such as a computer. My sister and I are especially picky about our pictures and almost always disagree on the best picture. Checking your picture on a computer immediately after picture-taking allows everyone to make sure they like it, and allows you to retake the picture if needed and still have good lighting. My family had a bit of a mishap with our picture this Thanksgiving because we didn’t check the picture on a computer until nighttime. We attempted to retake it but at this point the daylight was gone and the picture came out terrible, so it’s looking like this year we will be sending out a New Years card.

Use editing apps if needed to fix lighting, flaws, etc.

There may be small things you want to get rid of in the picture, acne, red eye, or maybe even a stain on your clothes.These things can be easily edited out of the picture. If you’re an adult and don’t have those editing apps on your phone, I would suggest handing your picture over to one of the kids and having them edit out anything you need. I personally use “YouCam Makeup” to edit any flaws in our pictures. This app can be downloaded in the Apple AppStore and I guarantee it will get rid of any flaws your picture has.

Once all the finishing touches are in your picture is ready to be sent out to all the relatives!! I guarantee if you follow these 7 steps your holiday card will surpass all others this year! Hopefully this will ease the stress of getting that perfect holiday picture this year.

Finally, be sure to post the family pictures to your social media, to share with your friends and family alike!

Holiday Traditions

One of my favorite traditions around the holidays is smashing the peppermint pig after Christmas dinner. For those of you unfamiliar with the peppermint pig, it’s pretty straightforward; the peppermint pig is a pig made of pink peppermint that comes in a little red velvet bag and a small hammer to smash it with. Everyone gets a piece of the peppermint pig in hopes of receiving good fortune the next year. The peppermint pig can be purchased on Amazon through this link if you would like to share in the tradition this holiday season!

For those of you who are not big peppermint fans, here’s a delicious sangria recipe you can make this holiday! (another personal favorite of our holiday traditions). I hope you have a wonderful time indulging in all of your holiday traditions this year, and maybe even make some new holiday traditions!

Happy Holidays!

How do you Connect?

Lets Connect!

There are currently over 2.46 billion people that use some kind of social media platform, and of that 2.46 billion, over 2.06 billion use Facebook, 700 million use Instagram, 328 million use Twitter, and 255 million use SnapChat as of 2017*. Most people do not use all four of these social media platforms, so how do people choose which social media platforms they want to use? In an attempt to formulate an answer to this question, I looked at my family’s current social media usage.

My parents, who are both 53 years old, are hardly involved in social media at all. My dad had a Facebook for about four months that he made solely for the purpose of stalking my sister and I to make sure we weren’t posting anything inappropriate or talking to any ‘sketchy’ boys online (we still don’t bring our boyfriends home to this day). His Facebook only lasted four months on account of the fact that we refused to friend him back. My mom on the other hand, just got a Facebook three months ago because she claimed she was feeling “out of the loop.” Just last week I taught her how to write a post AND include an image so she’s making some definite progress.

My mom does have a SnapChat I made for her that she never uses because all she can manage to learn how to do on it is take the picture. She does not understand filters, nor how to add text to the image. When I first downloaded it for her I would snapchat her and all I would get back was a blurry selfie and no caption. She’s the kind of mom who still turns her iPhone sideways to text so I suppose trying to teach her how to use SnapChat may have been expecting a bit too much from her.

My two older brothers, 24 and 27 years old, mainly use Facebook and SnapChat. One of my brothers hardly ever posts on Facebook, and the other one only posts pictures to his albums. My little sister, 17, uses Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter. She’s pretty active on all of these platforms. If I had a penny for every time my dad has told her to put her phone down in the last three years I could buy Snapchat.

Youth culture. Four young people sitting close to each other and looking at their gadgets


I on the other hand, use Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat, but currently do not, nor have I ever  used Twitter. Although I don’t use Twitter, I have had a Twitter since freshman year of high school that I was never actually active on. I didn’t know it even existed until one of my college friends showed me an empty profile with just my name and a profile picture of me from high school. After finding it I was encouraged by another friend to start it up again and actually use the account. She wanted me to use it so she could send me memes. For those of you who don’t know what a “meme” is, I have included the Urban Dictionary definition below:

Meme: It’s not a word, it’s a lifestyle.**

Although I am personally a huge fan of this definition, it is not very telling so here is a more descriptive definition:

Meme: An image, video, or set of of text that becomes popular and spreads   rapidly via the Internet.**

Anyways, although many people have shown me funny memes from Twitter, I can find funny memes on both Facebook and Instagram so I didn’t have much motivation to go on Twitter for memes too. Needless to say I used my account again for two days before forgetting about it again.

Are you a Mac & a PC?

So maybe this is the answer to our question: why do we use certain social media platforms and not others? Brings me back to the Apple commercials from 2007, are you a Mac or PC? Why do I like going on Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat, but can’t bring myself to go on Twitter? It’s as simple as what you desire to get out of social media. For example I use Instagram because Instagram has gone from just posting pictures of people and places, to posting artsy and creative images using filters and photo editing apps. I also like using it for following my favorite celebrities and even looking at new clothes stores are selling, or food options at restaurants. I follow celebrities and clothing brands I like on Instagram and get ideas for shopping and even just for creative pictures I want to post of myself on my account.

Facebook I use for an entirely different purpose. I hardly ever actually post to Facebook unless I’m sharing a cute video of a puppy, a funny Ellen clip, or posting pictures to an album. I could, and have, spent over an hour on end just scrolling through Facebook watching X Factor auditions, funny videos of babies falling over, or Jimmy Fallon interview clips. Aside from entertainment from videos and memes, I also use Facebook to read news, get information on local businesses, as well as view posts from my friends on what they are currently up to. And of course the occasional upload of a new quality selfie for my profile picture is always fun too.

SnapChat is probably the platform I use most throughout the day. This is because it’s the easiest and fastest way to keep in touch with people. If I want to know what someone’s up to, or tell someone what I’m up to without texting or calling, I can simply snap them. Facebook or Instagram would require me to direct message them, which at that point, it would make more sense to just text them. In this way, SnapChat has almost become a replacement for texting, aside from urgent messages that I need a quick response to.

The Star of Snapchat

When I’m home my mom is basically the star of my SnapChat. Even friends she has never met before know her personality very well (probably too well) and refer to her as “Wendy.” My mom definitely does not enjoy my constant videos and pictures of her, but she has built up a bit of a fan group for herself over the years so she really shouldn’t complain. I think I use SnapChat the most because it requires the least amount of effort to interact on it as it just is a picture and a caption. Going on Instagram means I have to scroll through posts, and like all of my friends posts, and attempt to stop long enough to actually read the captions. Facebook is sometimes not too entertaining depending on what’s trending, but it is now where I go to find out information on local businesses as I depend on it to show me reviews, basic information and more!

I suppose there are a lot of variables that determine which social media platforms we use such as our interests and what social media platforms our friends use. Regardless of what social media platforms we choose to use, social media as a whole has become a major aspect of people’s lives today.

Sites Sourced:

*https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/

**https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meme

The Do’s & Don’ts of the Hashtag

Each social media platform has its unique purposes and vary in terms of consumer usage, but they all share one common aspect that helps brand awareness and key searching.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google & Linkedin, all share the use of the hashtag to help connect users to products or followers to other followers with like interests.

For those who are not familiar with hashtags, a “hashtag” is the number symbol “#” followed by a phrase or single word. When you post an image (on instagram), or written post on social media (on Facebook or Twitter), you can follow or caption the post with a “#” followed by something relevant to the post’s content.

In evaluating how the use of hashtags can help your business, hashtags are a super easy and efficient way to grow your company’s network on social media platforms. Although “hashtagging” itself is not very complex, there are many ways people can use hashtags to connect with new businesses or people on social media.

For example if you are a restaurant owner posting a picture of a new menu item on Instagram, you can follow the caption with “#yum #foodie #newmenu” and so on. This connects your post with every other post on that social media platform that used the same hashtag. If a user is looking at a post from another restaurant, or even just a post from a friend, they can click on the hashtag and your post will show up on their screen. If they simply search “#yum” in the search bar on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter the same thing will occur and your post will again reach their screen.

Depositphotos_54645519_original

Even when a user is not familiar with your company and is not directly searching for your business’ social media account, the hashtag greatly increases their ability to find your company’s account, increasing the size of your company’s network and online following.

Hashtags are also extremely helpful to your business even if it is not your business that is posting the hashtag. If you own a clothing or home furniture store and one of your customers posts a picture on social media of a product they purchased from you with “#lovethis #yourcompanyname,” their followers can then search for your company with the name provided in the hashtag. Even without necessarily clicking on the hashtag, it can still indirectly lead potential followers to your company’s social media account.

Hashtags are relatively straightforward, however there are many things that can go wrong with hashtags.To be sure you maximize the effectiveness and success of the hashtags in your company’s posts, it is important to always perform the three tasks below when posting hashtags.

Depositphotos_73331111_original

Find What’s Trending

Although you can add as many hashtags as you wish to your company’s social media posts, it can also be extremely helpful to research what specific hashtags are trending each day. If “#love” is trending today, as long as you find it somewhat relevant to your company’s post, you should include it. If the hashtag is trending, more people are searching for it on social media platforms and therefore your post is likely to be viewed by more users.

Research your Hashtags

Just like with anything else your company posts on social media, always be sure what you are posting cannot be found offensive to consumers. Although the word or phrase you are posting may mean one thing to you and your company, it could mean something entirely different in context to social media trends. If you are unsure of a certain word or phrase you wish to include in a hashtag on your post, it can be extremely helpful to search the hashtag first and see what other posts have used the hashtag. This is very effective in helping avoid any scrutiny or offense taken by your company’s social media posts.

cropped-Depositphotos_40285497_original.jpg

Manage how much you Hashtag

Although you can potentially post as many hashtags as you wish, it is important you learn how to manage your hashtagging and not overcrowd your post. Including too many hashtags in one post can take away from the meaning and purpose of the post itself, as well as cause consumers to think your company is trying too hard to gain followers. I would recommend including anywhere from 1-3 hashtags, 4 hashtags at most, to insure you maintain a high quality image for your company’s social media. It is also important to list your hashtags from top trending to least trending so more users will be familiar with the first hashtag they see.

When used correctly, hashtags have proved extremely effective with the expansion of social media today, in expanding every user’s network. Hashtags allow users to reach businesses and people they otherwise never would have encountered. Hashtags are extremely simple to implement in social media posts, and yet very effective in reaching your company’s large audience.

With the billions of users on social media platforms today, it can seem near impossible to reach a large majority of your potential consumers, but hashtags are making that possible, enabling companies and people everywhere to maximize their outreach to the larger population.