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Social Animal

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Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

I like to follow people on Social Media with whom I share common interests: food, Social Media itself, photography, music, local events, food, Public Relations, food, parenting, etc. I used to unfollow people who would constantly post images of something I was not interested in: their pets.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

This changed, a bit, with the new addition to our family, Hazel the Catahoula puppy. When we decided we were looking for a pup, I started a board on Pinterest called: Puppy Love with images of dogs that made me go, “Awwww”.  There were lots of Catahoulas and Corgis, and this new interest caused some curiosity and raised some suspicions among my close friends. Of course, once we got our Catahoula home, I instantly started sharing many adorable photos of our sweet puppy on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Realizing, that I was turning into someone that I would unfollow in a heartbeat, I vowed to vary my sharings and never do two puppy posts in a row.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Surprisingly, to me, I had many requests for more dog pictures and constant updates of what she was up to. Especially on Instagram, I had questions and comments from dog-focused posters. Catahoulas are not very commonly seen in Canada, they are a Southern hunting dog and the State Dog of Louisiana. So, we get stopped a lot on walks and people often think she is an Australian Blue Heeler, due to her colouring.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Through these new interactions, I even made a connection through Instagram with another Catahoula owner who adopted one of Hazel’s relatives! This was pretty exciting to me and now I actually look forward to other people’s pet posting.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Being a dog owner opened me up to a new interest group and automatically made me a member.

Relevant Articles:

Mystic the Catahoula (Dog Gone Funn)

Asher the Catahoula Leopard Dog (Clarke Studio Pet Photography)

Joey Lehrman and Keeping it Local (Joey Lehrman)

Do you like or dislike lots of personal pet photos on your Social feeds?

Social Vacation

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Calm Camellia

Calm Camellia

Sometimes it’s good to take a break. My family recently went to the opening of a brand new restaurant in Vancouver, Burdock & Co, at the beginning of the week and I had to set my phone down and pick up my fork. I was very excited to go to the restaurant and I had been tweeting about it on my food blog, Kitchenette Finds, Twitter account. After sharing a photo on Instagram and Twitter of the table setting and looking up to two pairs of blue eyes, I knew it was time to give it a rest. They tolerated me taking photos as the dishes were presented and I appreciated that. We had an amazing night with fantastic food and I’m glad that I was truly present to enjoy it.

First night @BurdockAndCo Looking forward to deliciousness. Beautiful space!

Don’t be afraid to unplug from the online world. It will always be there waiting for you. The real world should always take precedence over the virtual one. Twitter is not the only way that the world can reach you. If you are truly needed, you will be tracked down.

Pink Blossoms Blue Sky

Pink Blossoms Blue Sky

When your Twitter feed is suddenly filled with a tragic breaking news event, this is a good time to give your marketing messages a rest. The focus should be on the people affected and sharing information through your network. It’s not about shutting off and tuning out, it’s about respect and support. Your messages will not be given the attention you would like and there may be a negative association made with your brand.

When do you know it’s time to take a step back from your online communities?

Balcony View

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Path Less Taken

Path Less Taken

Roger Ebert, film lover, passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer. This news was shared all over the internet with people remembering his impact on their lives. I started watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s first show, Sneak Previews, on PBS and over the years I loved their dialogue and interaction even more than hearing the final thumbs up or thumbs down verdicts. A while ago I watched a TED video of Roger Ebert about losing the use of his voice and how he had a computerized voice created from the years of footage of his TV shows. His humour and positive attitude touched me deeply.

He had, as most of us do, taken for granted the ability to speak and easily communicate verbally with others. He remained active and prolific up to the very end and talked about all the projects that he was working on and looking forward to on his blog. It truly makes me appreciate the platforms that social networks provide us to speak our minds, share those thoughts and have people around the world respond to them.

Treeflection

Treeflection

Appreciate your voice and all the forms it takes.

Stay Social

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Spanish Banks

Spanish Banks

In order to get the most out of your online social networks and social media, just remember that the word social always comes first.Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are communities built on the principles of give and take, and if you expect people to take the time to view your content you need to do them the courtesy of giving them your attention as well. This is not necessarily a one to one ratio or an exactly even exchange, more of a way of operating. If you just blast your info and message out without considering or connecting with your audience, they will quickly tune out. The great thing about social media compared to traditional media is the ability to have immediate interaction with your audience, don’t let that go to waste!

Point Grey

Point Grey

If you want comments, likes and retweets, you need to be dishing them out as well. Plus, if you ARE getting all these wonderful things make sure you are showing your appreciation.  Sometimes I wait until Friday to thank a week’s worth of re-tweeters or new followers on Twitter with a Follow Friday tweet or two. Sending a thank you in a direct message may seem more personal, but getting a public shout out is usually considered more valuable.

Steps Away

Steps Away

Commenting on blogs that share a similar subject is a great way to bring traffic to your own blog and broaden your readership. Encourage more people to comment on your posts by replying to comments, even a quick “Thanks for the comment” will usually do. You may also have noticed the links to other related articles at the bottom of my posts, It’s simple to add these in WordPress, as recommendations are provided in a handy little box in the Edit Post screen. I’ve been introduced to some fantastic articles and incredible bloggers through this one little thing and I always appreciate (and comment) when other bloggers link back to one of my posts.

Sky framed by branches

Sky framed by branches

To increase viewership, when I post a new image on Instagram, I add several relevant hashtags so people who don’t follow me can find my pictures and maybe click the “follow” button. Then I will click on one of two of the hashtags in my comment, which goes to a search for other photos with that hashtag, and “like” or comment on the ones I admire. This generates many more likes and comments for my pics, it also causes more spammy comments, but those are easy to clean up.

It’s all about engagement and the best way to make people care about your message is to show that you’re listening to what they have to say as well.

How do you show appreciation to your followers and likers?

Hootsuite Hiring Hootenanny

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While I do worship at the altar of technology, I also know that nothing can replace good old-fashioned face to face interaction. Never has this been so clear to me since I started my search for my next challenging and exciting source of employment. When I last went on a full-out job search, postings could be found online, but it was still appropriate and acceptable to walk in and present a résumé or fill in a paper application. Now personal interaction and paperwork is pretty much shunned. Yesterday, I practically had to force front-line employees to accept a paper resume at places where I had already applied online. The managers at both locations were not available for me to shake hands with or present my cover letter and resume in person. Both times I was directed me to the online application, which I had already filled out.

Signing in at the Hootsuite Hiring Fair

Signing in at the Hootsuite Hiring Fair

So it was a sweet-scented breath of fresh air when I showed up at the open house hiring fair at Hootsuite that evening. It was an energetic crowd that lined up for a look at Hootsuite’s new headquarters in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. After an efficient sign in process, where my paper resume was cheerfully accepted, we waited in the lobby for a bit and then were released into the rest of the building. Our name tags were colour coded with the department (Marketing, Sales, etc) that we expressed the most interest in at the entrance, but we were encouraged to talk to anyone. The staff wore the same style of name tags, with just their department or position added.

Friendly Wanna-be Owls

Friendly Wanna-be Owls

Everyone was ridiculously friendly and approachable. There was a buzz in the air and lots of stickers scattered everywhere with Hootsuite’s feathered mascot Owly. I had some great conversations with Hootsuite staff as well as other interested applicants. It was a fun and fantastic opportunity to get a peek inside their new nest and see all the interesting open-work spaces and hang-out places. The best part was just being able to meet people I had been getting to know through Twitter and Instagram and to actually be acknowledged back as a real person. It’s ironic that a high-tech company comes across as more human than places that have store fronts and are built on customer service. Thanks Hootsuiters, for giving a hoot about meeting me and shaking my hand!

Facebook Feed Filler

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Focaccia Bread

Focaccia Bread

My mother would always tell us not to fill up on bread at the dinner table. She knew that the other dishes had more nutrients and therefore more value for our growing bodies. Just as we have only so much appetite for food, people have a limited appetite for information. While reading about how a share on Facebook is 6 times more valuable than a share on Twitter, it made me think about all those Facebook pages that are filling our feeds with junk.

Paul Croteau by Julia Austine

Paul Croteau by Julia Austine

I recently “liked” a local photography business, but then “unliked” them not long after as they were posting multiple photos each day and I was getting tired of seeing pictures of people I didn’t know. Those images were taking up a lot of valuable visual real estate in my newsfeed and it became annoying. I actually went to their studio to have a video transfer done last week, but I didn’t find out from Facebook that they offered this service. Nope, I read it in a paper brochure in a neighbouring business. They obviously put time and effort into their Facebook presence, but it definitely could be paying off more. All the photos they share are posted to their timeline, when it would be much more effective to create albums (Weddings, Children, Portraits, etc) for prospective clients to browse. While they sometimes shared information about specials and services, the majority of the images had no text at all.

Frostings Cupcakes

Frosting’s Cupcakes

Another business that I “like” on Facebook (and that I’ve blogged about before), Frosting Cupcakery, shares their list of daily flavours, but since it is just text it doesn’t fill up the newsfeed and is easy to ignore if I’m not in the mood for cupcakes (yeah, right). They also share photos on their timeline as well,but the photos are relevant and timely (graduation cakes, pink cupcakes for Pink Shirt Day, etc) and include a description and often a call to action (eat cupcakes).

People want interaction, engagement and information from businesses that they follow on Facebook. Make sure you are always giving value to your followers with every post and keep it short and sweet (like a cupcake).

Have you ever “unliked” a business page for filling up your newsfeed?

Hashtag Hullabaloo

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Pacific Central edited with Picfx, Instagram & Wordphoto

Pacific Central edited with Picfx, Instagram & Wordphoto

If you are on Twitter and Instagram, you have probably noticed, and hopefully used, hashtags (#). On your phone it’s known as the pound key and looks like a mini Tic Tac Toe game, apparently it is now a baby name as well. Hashtags were first used in the late 80′s within Internet Relay Chat networks to label topics and groups, and the practice was adopted by Twitter users in 2007. Chris Messina (@chrismessina) claims to be the #godfather as it was his tweet that started it all and Wikipedia backs this up. In 2009 Twitter turned all hashtagged words into hyperlinks to search results for that keyword, making it even easier to find connected tweets.

#blogherfood

Aki & Alex of Ideas in Food at #blogherfood

Hashtags are used on Twitter to highlight keywords to group tweets so that discussions, events, groups and trending topics can be searched. When I attended Blog Her Food 2012 in Seattle, the organizers chose #blogherfood as the official hashtag and listed it in all their media. This was adopted by most of the Twitter users when tweeting about the conference, but some attendees still used #blogherfood12 or #blogherfood2012. By using these hashtags, it was much easier to find, follow and ReTweet or reply to our fellow conference goers and made for lots of interesting and hilarious interactions.

Bay Leaf Bonanza by Kitchenette Finds

Bay Leaf Bonanza by Kitchenette Finds

Instagram also uses hashtags as searchable keywords that users can use to tag their photos. When I started using Instagram I didn’t use hashtags and I only received likes or comments on my photos from people who already followed me. Once I started using hashtags in the comments my likes and followers increased. My number of spam comments increased as well, but it’s easy to do an Instagram Comment Cleanup. I recently posted the photo above on Instagram and one of the hashags I used was #herb, as bay leaf is a culinary herb used to season soups and sauces. When I checked out the profiles of some users who liked THIS photo, to see if I want to return the like or follow their images, I found a specific segment of Instagram users was liking it: pot smokers!

Spotted #SouthGranville "whimsies" only $22 #seriously #forreals #justwrong

Spotted #SouthGranville “whimsies” only $22 #seriously #forreals #justwrong

Hashtags can also be used to add a touch of humour, emotion or context to a tweet or a photo with no intention of categorization or search-ability. Yes, you can just make up your own!

So, don’t be afraid to use a hashtag or two, just try not to go overboard on Twitter unless it is for comedic effect. The accepted etiquette on Twitter is a maximum of two hashtags per tweet, these can be added to keywords already used in the message or tagged on at the end. On Instagram you can go crazy with the hashtags, but I suggest creating a second comment to load up, especially if you are sharing to Facebook and/or Twitter. Hashtags are not that useful on Facebook for categorizing, but the humour does translate, just not to your grandparents’ generation… at least not yet.

What are the best/worst hashtags you have seen/used?

Instagram Comment Cleanup

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@zenijaesmits on Instagram

Instagram post that had a spam comment

Usually, having a follower post a comment about your photo on Instagram is a desirable thing. But like everywhere else on the internet, there are bots, spammers and just your everyday jerks roaming around the Instagram network. So, what to do when an unwanted comment pops up beneath your latest and/or greatest image that you have decided to share with the world? It’s a simple fix, but maybe not so obvious to the casual user.

My friend and social media protegé, Zenija (who inspired this Meat of the Message post as well), had shared an image of her tongue firmly in cheek Valentine’s cards from her aptly named Say It With Sarcasm store on Etsy. It didn’t take long for comment to appear that was salacious as well as spammy. She didn’t know how to delete it and hadn’t invested the time to figure out how it could be done.

My Instagram post with unwanted comment

My Instagram post with unwanted comment

It’s a simple fix, but not immediately obvious, so I though I’d share a quick little tutorial using my own Instagram image. My photo didn’t get spammed but a user who had commented on my image had deleted his profile on Instagram, which resulted in all his comments disappearing as well. This made my reply seem out-of-place and I wanted to tidy it up.

Selecting Instagram comment for deletion

Selecting Instagram comment for deletion

Tutorial for Deleting an Instagram Comment:

Select the image that has the unwanted comment and then tap on the “Comment” button below (with the little speech bubble), as if you were going to add another comment. Once you are in the “COMMENTS” screen as shown above, swipe your finger  from left to right on top of the comment you wish to delete and a little garbage can and a reply arrow will appear. Tap the garbage can and two options will show up: “Delete” and “Cancel”. If  you want to go through with it, tap “Delete” and the comment will disappear, if you have grown attached to the comment and want to keep it, just hit “Cancel” and all will stay the same.

My Instagram image post comment cleanup

My Instagram image post comment cleanup

It’s a sweet little way to sweep away unwanted comments, whether it’s a comment you made on another user’s photo or one that was posted under your picture. So, now you can clean up your Instagram comments as easily as you turf the half eaten chocolates with dubious fillings after Valentines Day!

What tips or tricks have you discovered or find yourself still trying to figure out for Instagram?

Social Picture Progression

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IMG_2172My last post was about Four Fab Photo Apps that I’ve been using on my iPhone 4S as well as my iPad. I find that I’m regularly using more than one app when editing and sharing photos, so I thought it would be interesting to share the journey of a photo from the lens to the internet.

I have a food blog at www.kitchenettefinds.com and food oriented Twitter account @kitchenettefind where I share recipes, reviews and food photos. I was about to sit down to enjoy  my lunch one day and I was taken by the mix of colours in my cilantro slaw with guacamole dressing. There was nobody around to share the beauty of the healthy rainbow I had created in my bowl, so I thought I’d share it with the world.

20121218-220319.jpg

1. iPhone 4S

Having my phone handy, as always, I snapped a pic of the bowl near the edge of the table with the fork adding a dash of asymmetry to add interest. But, it’s still just an image of a bowl of stuff, not share worthy… yet.

20121218-220411.jpg2. PicFX

The colours needed some punch, so I cropped and filtered the image in PicFX. The app now allows the option of keeping the original aspect ratio (rectangle instead of square).

20121218-220458.jpg

3.Bokehful

To add some flair to the photo, I used Bokehful to emphasize the gorgeous colours in the salad with a cascade of stars. Now it’s starting to look like an image fit for the internet!

20121218-220548.jpg

4. Instagram

Instagram is my mobile location-based image sharing network of choice, so I gave the image a final filter adjustment to add drama and a frame to finish it off. Then I shared it to my social networks on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

So that’s the story of how I shared my lunch with the world. I didn’t just do it to make people hungry, I hope that it encouraged at least one person to make a healthier food choice or try a new app.

Now, the sequel would be about how I used the PicFrame app to make the photo at the beginning of the post and how I’m sharing this tale with you through WordPress.

Would you rather that people share unedited photos, fancified or photos or just kept their lunches to themselves?

 

Hog Times at Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q

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Last Wednesday I was allowed to go behind the scenes into the heat and hurry of the kitchen at Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q to record the their first-ever Hog Times dinner celebrating going whole hog and eating nose to tail. I set up my digital SLR on my tripod and tried to stay out of the way of the controlled chaos. With my iPad at hand, I clicked and tweeted and tried not to drool all over my equipment.

While I didn’t get a chance to taste the deliciousness, it was obvious that the crowd really enjoyed it. The best part was seeing the pig paraded around to the table while everyone took photos. There are more photos on Fat Dragon’s Facebook Page.

They’re already planning to do another Hog Times in January and this month they are doing a shellfish themed dinner called Shellfish Mania!

Here’s the menu:

Barbecued Sloping Hills Pork with Condiments

-Bean Sprout Kimchi

-Iceberg Lettuce

-Citrus

-Korean BBQ Bar-B-Q Sauce

-Scallion Sauce

Jalan Alor Chicken Wings

Papaya & Napa Cabbage Salad, Smoked Steelhead

Stir-fried Japanese Eggplant with Sambal & Crispy Onions

Pit Beans

Stir-Fried Noodles with Smoky Drippings

Steamed Jasmine Rice

Butter Lettuce Salads

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