Instagram-Ten Reasons to #Love

Final-Instagram-ProfileAhh…social media.  An absolute must for business owners, and an addiction for others.  My route to social media use was certainly business oriented, and after using different ones now for several years I definitely have my favorites.  I started with a Facebook business page, which seemed like a fairly easy transition from a personal Facebook page.  Twitter came next, although it is actually more difficult for me to write short tweets sometimes than blog posts.  After a friend suggested I try Pinterest I found myself hooked on this social media, although I think of it more as visual bookmarks and don’t find myself engaging in the social media part as much.  Then came Instagram.  My Instagram.  Why had I not explored it further at an earlier date?  I love photography, so this social media just seemed like a very natural fit for me.  It is definitely now ranked as my favorite social media.

Here are ten great reasons to love Instagram:

1.  It actually works as social media.  Meaning that you really can easily engage with other Instagram users.  The Instagram app allows you to quickly scroll through your feed and “heart” user photos you like and leave comments.  It is easy to make friends from around the world!

2.  As with Facebook, you are able to easily read through all comments so that interaction between users is encouraged.  Just type the @ symbol in front of a friend/users name in the comments section of any feed so they are pointed to a particular photo!

3.  Like Twitter, hashtags are used to quickly identify keywords for a photo, or to identify the photo with a particular group.  I have a hashtag that I assign to photos that I want to appear in my Instagram feed on my website.  Very easy to do!

4.  Like Pinterest, the photos are truly amazing – stunning in their beauty.  And while Pinterest boards typically contain photos from many different users/sources, Instagram allows you to focus more on an individual photographer’s work.

5.  Instagram is a photographer’s mecca.  While you may add photos to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, Instagram was really designed by photographers, for photographers.  So if photography is your thing, this is the social media for you!

6.  No writing required, other than the hashtags.  You can write a brief (or longer) description if you want, and some great Instagrammers do, but you certainly don’t have to.  Writing pressure off!

7.  This social media actually encourages you to LEARN a skill – how to be a better photographer.  With photo editing apps like Mextures, folks share their formulas for their photo filters on Instagram, thereby sharing their techniques.  And often they share a list of the photo editing apps they have used.

8.  How did they do it?  Look at different feeds and try to figure out how a particular photo was created.  Then download some new photo editing apps and try to recreate a photo you see.  I guarantee you will become a better photographer just by doing this!   Also sometimes photos are made available for others to submit their edits to.  Great interactions!!

9.  It is the perfect way to visually display your products for a business.  I use my feed for all my photography, but have seen some businesses beautifully display their goods using their Instagram accounts.

10.  Other services, like Printstagram work with your Instagram photos for printing purposes.  Create business cards, magnets, calendars, posters, t-shirts, and prints for yourself or your business.  Can’t do that with Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  The folks at Facebook took a look, and purchased Instagram in April 2012!  Smart move.

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WordPress-Twitterpated

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Part V-Twitterpated

This is the fifth of a five-part series for newbies to WordPress.

*See Definition of Technical Terms

SOCIAL MEDIA

Are you twitterpated, or smitten, with *social media?  If so you will really love the way your new blog or website will be able to incorporate all your social connections.  Actually my first suggestion before delving into adding social media resources and links to your site is to decide on which social media resources you want to add, and if they are new to get those set up separately first.  Facebook (pages for Facebook if your site is a business site) and Twitter are the most common social media applications.  I also use Pinterest and Flickr, and have a link for my Etsy site.  It did take some time to get each of those properly set up before the information from them could be added to my website, but it was well worth the effort, so have fun and enjoy the process! (Update 4/1/14-My site is now set up differently, still learning how to integrate various forms of social media into my site is crucial.)

*Social Media ~ refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Examples are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Once all your social media accounts are set up, you will want to do several things.  First, as mentioned in the last WordPress article, you will probably want to add links to some of your social media sites via your widgets.  Check your available widgets to see if what you need is already there, and if not add via a new plug-in.  Two of my favorites are “Pretty_Pinterest_Pins” and “Javascript Flickr Badge”.   These are great for displaying my photos from Pinterest and Flickr.  You even have options to set these up to only display pins from particular boards or photos from select folders.

You will also want to add a social widget (again if not already installed) that will allow you to display *icons that link to your social media sites.  The social widget allows you to select a category, establish/order/limit your icons, and show icon images.  You will see these in the top-right corner of my website.  There are so many great icons available, some free and some for purchase.  I purchased my custom chalkboard social media icons via Etsy seller ShinyMagic.  Be sure when making your choice to select icons that have several sizes available, in case after installation you realize that you really needed something larger/smaller.  The icons you choose will need to be added to your *media library via your site’s dashboard.  Open your media library, select “add new”, and drag your new icons into the “drop files here” box, or select  the “upload new media” choice.

*Icons-Picture, image or other representation
*Media Library – WordPress online library for stored images/photos

And, just so you know, this is a three-part process!  After you have both your social widget and social media icons installed, you will still need to establish your links to your social media sites.  This is done via the “links” menu in your dashboard.  Click “add new” and for each social media you want linked add the name, the category “social”, the rating or order you want them in, and the actual link to your social media site.  Now double-check your actual page to make sure your social media icons are linking correctly to your external social media sites.

The last social media item you will want to include on your site is a way for any readers of your posts or pages to easily share your information within their own social media, or via a bookmark, message or email.  This can be done via an “Add to Any Sharing” widget.  This widget by Lockerz is a great all-inclusive sharing platform, and makes it easy for visitors to share your content using any service.  This results in:

  • More traffic
  • Easy distribution
  • Better rankings
  • Extended reach

“Add to Any Sharing” will show up under your “settings” section via your dashboard once installed.  It can then be accessed and configured as you choose.  Looking for another way to share?  Check out this Smashing Magazine blog with suggestions.

MEDIA

When it comes to adding media to your site, WordPress has recently made that process easier.  To add photos, simple open your “media library” site and again select “add new”, where you can drop in photos from your desktop.  Photos must be kept to a maximum size of 2MB.  Once added to the library, you can enter the photo’s title, any text, and can save to a preferred size.  When creating a new post, you will see a box to “add media”.  Photos already in your media library will pop up, and you can choose a photo already saved, or upload new files.  Via the menu on the left, you can also set a featured image or create a gallery of photos.  Practice and play with these features to get just the look you are after!

WordPress-Be a Nerd

 

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Part III-Be A Nerd

This is the third of a five-part series for newbies to WordPress.  Be sure to join me each Monday for the next three weeks to learn how to set up a WordPress site.

*See Definition of Technical Terms

So now that you have chosen a domain name and host provider, and have selected a theme, it’s time to become a nerd and get that website or blog started! I don’t know about you, but for the most part I am a firm believer in reading instructions, particularly when stepping into unknown territory. That definitely being the case with WordPress, my best recommendation is to thoroughly read the WordPress.org site’s “Getting Started with WordPress” section for Beginners. Bookmark this site, create a new tab in your browser, and login to the “administration area” of your newly created WordPress site. You do this by adding “wp-admin” after your domain name (e.g. http://example.com/wp-admin). You can also place “login” after your domain name in more current versions of WordPress. Now you will be able to go back and forth between the two sites as you are learning. Be sure to also bookmark your WordPress login page for future use.

Once logged in, you will see your *dashboard; this is the place where all the creating happens! As the WordPress.org site says, this is where you will be spending a lot of time over the next few hours, weeks, months – so take the time to go through the sections and set your site up the way you want it. Take a sheet of plain paper and make notes of other websites that you admire when setting up the structure for your own site. What do you like about them? Not like? Do you like the look of the backgrounds used, how the footer sections look, how photography is presented, the types of information provided in the sidebar? How are links used for *social media on other sites? Think about the different names/types of pages you might like to have. Time invested now will mean fewer changes to your new site later.

*Dashboard ~ a collection of information and data about the activities and actions on your WordPress site.
*Social Media ~ refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Examples are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

While in your dashboard you will be able to quickly toggle back and forth to see the changes you are making to your site by clicking on your website name in the top left corner, directly above “dashboard”. Your main navigation menu runs along the left side of the dashboard, and will allow you to create posts, insert media (photos, videos), apply links for your social media, and set up your pages. Your chosen theme will also have an entire set of choices for you, allowing you to further customize your site. You will be working in “settings” a great deal as you begin. As you work through the WordPress.org instructions, be sure to open up suggested links as they appear to focus on setting up specific areas of your site.

One of the first *plug-ins you might want to install is Askimet, which helps protect your site from spam. This plug-in is available free for personal sites, with a low monthly subscription cost for business sites. There will be many types of free plug-ins that can be added once your basic site is set up.

*Plug-Ins ~ Plugins add function and sometimes fun to your site. There are hundreds of different plugins from adding custom links like related articles to your sidebar to adding weather reports.

If you run into issues with the way your pages or posts look, you can often find help in the WordPress forums, or in your chosen theme’s online forum pages. This is where your earlier selection of a theme with great customer support is invaluable. In the past they have helped me with specific code that needed to be placed either into my theme, or added to the page or post I was working on to make it look the way I wanted it to. Be sure, when creating your first post, to click on the “text” box tab next to the “visual” box default tab in the top-right corner of the post. You may not have any desire to learn *hyper-text markup language (html) coding, but it helps to see the language that web pages are written in. And after some time, you will want to know how to go into this “text” box tab on your posts to make specific alterations. Here are several sources that might help with your website terminology along the way:
Glossary of Blogging
Computer Technical Terms
HTML Quick Codes

*Hyper-Text Markup Language (html) ~ the language web pages are written in.

Just remember, this is a constant learning adventure. The solutions are out there if you are persistent, and lots of help is available online or perhaps through your more tech savvy friends. Next week I will discuss the importance of widgets to your site – much more fun than the basic setup – I promise!