Tag: instagram

Imgur’s Snacks is a Story-like collection of curated GIFs

Imgur began as a way for Redditors to share images quickly and easily, but has grown into a pretty robust site and accompanying mobile app. Last week, the company announced two new features that should help you find more time-wasting goodness: a tag-based content feed and a new Snacks feature, which echoes Snapchat (and Instagram, Facebook and YouTube) Stories.

Your new feed is accessible from its own tab on your Imgur home screen, right next to the "Most Viral" tab. You'll need to tap through a few tags of your own interests and your feed will fill up with images and GIFs from the people and tags you follow. You can up/down vote, comment and add favorites from the endless scroll of Imgur content. It's a nice way to just browse stuff you're interested in, instead of what's most viral on the service.

You can find Snacks in the search tab within the Imgur app. You'll see a bar at the top, just under the search field, with a curated list of GIFs that you can tap and just, well, watch. There doesn't appear to be a way to create your own list, unfortunately, which separates Snacks from the other social media story features.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Imgur

I tried (and failed) to become an Instagram guru

The life of a rock star social media celebrity may not be as worthwhile as building hospitals in war zones, but it looks a hell of a lot more fun. Imagine all of those trips behind the red velvet rope to a world where beautiful people like and respect you as you effortlessly acquire wealth and influence. Alas, it's not as simple as shoving your face on Instagram and waiting for the cash to roll in -- if you want to quaff champagne with the Jenners and Swifts, you'll need to put in plenty of effort.

So is it possible for any old schmo, like myself, lacking any sort of talent but plenty of enthusiasm, armed with little more than a smartphone, a DSLR and Photoshop, to become Insta-famous? All I'd need is an instruction manual to get me on my way and the time and space to build up my 'celebrity' status. Thankfully, there's a whole firmament of social media gurus, influencers and shamans willing to share their secrets to accruing a monster following. In fact, if you were to sift through all of their words of wisdom, who knows, maybe you could write the definitive social media bible.

Now, I'm not the first schlubby journalist to attempt to break into the upper echelon of D-list web celebrity. Hell, there are plenty of better-prepared and better-looking folks who've tried this without much success. Take Bloomberg's Max Chafkin, who even employed the social agency Socialyte to aid his quest toward Instagram stardom. My ascent to the social media stratosphere won't be aided by anyone because I've been tasked with doing this the hard way.

The rules are pretty simple: Set up an Instagram account and use whatever (legitimate) means to push my following as high as possible. I figure that, equipped with the knowledge that all of those star gurus can offer, it'll take me less than a month before I'm packing 100,000 followers. Along the way, I'll scour every how-to, every online guide, and learn from the master himself, Vaynerchuk, and it'll be a piece of cake.

Rule Number One: Use Hashtags

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and so does my quest to become a beloved Instagram influencer. I set up an entirely blank account -- serenecoops -- and wait for an army of fans to descend upon me.

It doesn't happen.

The first lesson I've learned is that building a following on Instagram can't be done passively, and it doesn't happen overnight. I'm pretty sore about this fact, since I'm very obviously an as-yet-unheralded genius and it's about damn time that I started getting some appreciation. Second, I should probably start posting some images to my feed to remind the internet that it should be hungry for what I give it. For my first submission, I share a picture of my face, explaining who I am, what I want to achieve, and get precisely zero likes for it. Bastards.

But I forgot to add any hashtags to my post, and as social media guru Garry Vaynerchuk would say, "Instagram's about hashtags." The advertising tycoon got his big break selling wine on social media and now has a reported worth somewhere north of $160 million. "Do not post anything on Instagram without your first comment being 15 to 20 hashtags," the businessman says in his widely circulated tutorials.

For my next post, I liberally spray hashtags into the comments in the hope of garnering some love. And, amazingly, it works -- with three people double tapping my shot of some books in quick succession. By the end of that day, six people (okay, five and myself) have liked the image, although no one felt motivated to click follow as a consequence.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

Instagrammers also need to have some sort of thing, especially if you're not a famous person already. You need to build a narrative whereby you become known for one or two things that people can come to you for. I figured that while technology would be an easy win, I didn't want my now-imminent Instagram fame to impinge upon my job. Not only are there plenty of folks doing that brilliantly already, I also didn't want to spend even more time taking pictures of smart watches.

But what else am I qualified to talk about, if not technology? I've got a small hankering for fashion, even if my build means that my clothes are more about masking my own inadequacies. I like watches but wondered if there'd be enough of an audience there for me to talk about them incessantly. I like reading, do DIY and perform comedy on the weekends, but none of those seemed like good enough causes either. Not to mention that anything adult or too naughty would be flagged by Instagram's highly-prudish filtering.

Rule Number Two: Leverage Fear

One of the trends I keep coming back to on Vaynerchuk's own account are his "inspirational" memes, delivered on a near-daily basis. The entrepreneur seems to specialize in images that end with some variation on the phrase "You've already lost." He also uses pictures of himself that wouldn't look out of place in a Nike catalog, overlaid with quasi-meaningful phrases.

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

One thing that I've spotted, however, is that they all seem to induce in me some sort of existential panic as I'm constantly being told to work harder. I should be maximizing my time, stop listening, start doing shit. I should stop caring about other people, but also care too much about everything. I should stop worrying about my own feelings but also be advised that my own fear of failure is holding me back from greatness. After a five-minute stroll through his feed, I'm gripped by a number of mid-life crises all at once.

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

The key lesson is that fear is a great selling tool, and if used correctly, can get people to pay attention to your Instagram. The trick is to leverage that subtle anxiety that, I'm sure many of us have, we're frittering away our time here on Earth. Deep down, I know I'm already giving one hundred percent working in a full-time job, raising a child and trying to renovate a house by myself. That's not enough, however, and I should also be working on my own startup, reading a book a week, training for an ultramarathon and making enough money to buy my own sports team.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

I set to work, finding pictures of myself doing things that I can overlay with useful phrases and lots of cool symbols. Another thing I learn, thanks to Fast Company, is that Instagram's most popular color is blue, so all of my images are tinted with the hue in Photoshop, and then I use the Clarendon filter to double up on the amount of blue on show in each image. And, actually, this combination of factors does prove effective, in its own weird way, often garnering me five or six likes within minutes of publishing.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

Rule Number Three: Maintain your energy

I'm reminded of Jessica Vasquez, a social media celebrity going by the name JessiSmiles. She quit the much-loved six-second comedy network Vine after finding the pressure to produce content too much. "You can say that it's six seconds, but six seconds -- putting it out there in front of millions of people to tell you what they think about it is hard." I'm feeling the same, putting all of this effort to craft an image and then email it to my phone so that it can be uploaded via Instagram's mobile app. In fact, the user interface itself forces everything to be slower than it could otherwise be done, be it adding comments with hashtags and editing images. It helps sap my already-ailing momentum.

On that subject, posting a list of hashtags in your comments is a nightmare because there are several opaque rules that enables Instagram to block your postings. After preparing a list of hashtags that I could paste in on the tail of every image, it would frequently be blocked, much to my dismay. All of this ensured that I began missing days, feeling lethargic and generally wanting to avoid spending time on Instagram.

But my efforts were, at least, noticed by David*, a social media marketer who got in touch to offer me his skills. David is a "social media marketer," who promises to essentially take the legwork out of building a following by doing it all for you. "You've got a LONG way to go," wrote David in an Instagram direct message, "it will pretty much be impossible to get there without any marketing help."

David's job is to log into his client's Instagram accounts and perform "outward engagement," industry speak for liking, commenting and following targeted users. These users are identified through niche influencers, locations and other variables, that are then intended to juice your own attention. The more attention you give, and the more you receive, the more prominent you're expected to become. Depending on how much cash you hand over each month, you can also get Dave to slide into other people's DMs on your behalf.

And, to be fair, David does look like he's at least capable of starting me on the ladder, having accrued 14,500 followers on his own account. He shares his other clients' profiles with me that all have similar counts -- and he promises to get around 1,000 new followers each month. Prices start from $49 a month and run all the way up to $199 if you want everything, including a weekly analytics call.

Unfortunately, my budget remains zero, so I'll never know if David could work his magic on my account, but the recognition does at least reinvigorate me. If I'm already worthy of attention from social media promoters, perhaps this is all something worth persisting with.

* Names have been changed.

Rule Number Four: Engage

There's something missing from my Instagram game, and that's the fact that I don't use the service to interact with others. I'm one of these folks who gets itchy about sending a Facebook friend request to people, even if I've known them for years. Consequently, the idea of copying Vaynerchuk's exhortations to slide into everyone's DMs in the hope of becoming a better marketer gives me hives.

But, as hard as it is, I begin doing it, responding in kind to every comment that pops up on my images and trying to reach out to others. The process is slow, mostly because I generally treat online interactions as meaningful, rather than simply process of shooting platitudes at everyone in my digital vicinity. I offer some very generic comments on the things that people have added and, again, see my likes spike. It seems that the more effort you put in, the more successful your account can be.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

depression for teenagers.

A post shared by Dan Cooper (@serenecoops) on

I've given up trying now, and I don't think that the hallowed world of earning $100,000 per promotional image is within my grasp. I won't be receiving a free outfit from my favorite tailors or get invited to New York's hottest new nightclub. After a month of work to try and cultivate my image into that of a hot young influencer taking the Instagram world by storm, I managed to accrue a total of 18 followers, although that number is now falling by the day.

  • Total Posts: 20
  • Total Follows: 18
  • Total Likes: 231
  • Number of Protein Powder retailers that followed me: 2
  • Digital Marketers that followed me: 6
  • Churches: 1

Instagram experiments with a standalone messaging app

It happened to Facebook, and now it's happening to Instagram. Today, the Zuckerberg empire is launching a standalone messaging app for Instagram called Direct. As The Verge reports, it's technically a test and will only be available in six markets — Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Uruguay. Like Messenger, the Direct app effectively cuts the Instagram experience in half; your Inbox lives in Direct, while the regular feed remains in the Instagram app. If you want to keep tabs on both, you'll have to shuffle back and forth. It sounds like both apps will have a built-in camera, however.

The idea, of course, is to get more people using Instagram's private messaging features. Direct first launched in 2013 as a way to selectively share photos and videos with friends. It was perfectly functional, but felt out of place alongside Instagram's traditional feed. The rise of Snapchat, of course, gave birth to Instagram Stories, which has expanded Direct's utility tremendously. If you comment on a friend's Story, for instance, it'll go straight to their inbox, rather than a public comment thread. You can, of course, still send a regular photo or text message privately, but Stories have given more people a reason to start a conversation through the app.

When Facebook broke off Messenger into a separate app, people were angry. These days, however, it's an accepted part of the Facebook ecosystem — Messenger sits near the top of the app charts on both iOS and Android. The move has also allowed Facebook to add increasingly complex features to Messenger, such as games and chatbots. If I was a betting man, I would guess that Instagram wants to do the same with Direct, adding Story-focused features to better compete with Snapchat (or at least, slow down any interest in its recent redesign). But do people want that? Instagram's simplicity, after all, is part of the reason why it's so popular.

Via: The Verge

Instagram can now automatically archive your Stories

Last week, The Next Web reported on a bunch of new features Instagram was reportedly testing out and today, the platform is giving users two new ways to manage Stories. The first is the rumored Story archive. Now, Instagram will automatically save your Stories after their 24 hours are up and they'll exist in a separate archive section of your profile. You'll be able to rewatch Stories, add them to posts or add them to a new Story. And if you decide you don't want those Stories sticking around, you can turn off auto-archiving whenever you want.

Your archived Stories can also be used in the second new addition to Instagram. Underneath the bio in your profile, there will now be a section called Stories Highlights. They're collections of previously shared Stories that will stay posted to your profile for as long as you want them there and you can have as many of them as you want. To make one, tap the "New" circle underneath your bio and select any stories you want to add from your new archive. You'll then pick a cover image and name the Highlight and then it's there for any of your followers to see at any time. To edit or delete them, just tap and hold.

Both features are rolling out now.

Image: Instagram

Source: Instagram

Instagram warns you if posts show harm to animals or nature

Protecting wildlife and sensitive natural areas is hard enough as it is, and it's not helping that every brain-dead tourist wants to post a selfie with a koala bear or dolphin. Starting today, Instagram is making it harder to find such content. If you search hashtags associated with images that could harm wildlife or the environment, it will post a warning before letting you proceed.

"I think it's important for the community right now to be more aware," Instagram's Emily Cain told National Geographic. "We're trying to do our part to educate them."

At the same time, selfies taken in newly Instagram-popular spots, like Bonneville Salt Flats and Yellowstone National Park, can ravage their sensitive environments. That forces officials to either shut down the spots or make them more tourist-friendly, destroying their original character.

Now, if you search on several hundred terms, the app will throw a flag saying "Protect Wildlife on Instagram," adding that "you are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment." Only then can you see posts, learn more or cancel the operation.

The decision followed an investigation by National Geographic and World Animal Protection into wildlife tourism. The investigators discovered that animals were being captured illegally from rain forests and kept in cages, then trotted out for selfies with tourists ignorant of their plight.

If someone's behavior is interrupted, hopefully they'll think, maybe there's something more here, or maybe I shouldn't just automatically like something or forward something or repost something if Instagram is saying to me there's a problem with this photo.

The warning will pop up for hundreds of hashtags, both in English and the languages of Thailand, Indonesia and other nations where selfie wildlife tourism is rampant. Instagram isn't saying which terms will trigger the flags, though, as it wants users to discover them on their own.

World Animal Protection's Cassandra Koenen points out that the animals people most want to pet or hold, like koala's and sloths, really don't like being handled. And the problem is made worse because tourists are terrible at determining which attractions treat animals poorly.

Though Instagram's gesture doesn't seem like it'll be much of a deterrent, Koenen believes that it will stop folks that don't mean harm and just don't know better. "If someone's behavior is interrupted, hopefully they'll think, maybe there's something more here, or maybe I shouldn't just automatically like something or forward something or repost something if Instagram is saying to me there's a problem with this photo," she said.

Source: Instagram

Import your Instagram contacts to Facebook Messenger

Facebook started testing a way to cross-post Instagram Stories to your Facebook timeline this past September, and finally released the feature to everyone in early October. You can also launch Instagram directly from the Facebook app, making for an even more integrated experience across the two apps. As initially reported by TechCrunch, Facebook is now testing a feature to import and sync your Instagram contacts with Messenger.

As confirmed in an email from an Instagram spokesperson, it's super easy to connect your two accounts, and completely opt-in. Simply launch Facebook Messenger, tap on the People tab and then hit "Connect to Instagram." You'll then tap a button to connect to your Instagram account, which will find all your mutual Messenger contacts from the photo-sharing service. The app will offer the option to start conversations with those people, or you can skip it and just get back into Messenger proper.

Allowing the more than 700 million people who use Instagram (as of last April) easy access to Messenger is a no brainer for Facebook, as it continues to bring it's two hot social properties together on your phone.

Via: TechCrunch

Toyota’s FT-AC concept is an Instagram-ready offroader

If you've ever thought, "I'd really like to be able to record all my drives both on-road and off," the Toyota FT-AC (Future Toyota Adventure Concept)crossover is the vehicle for you. With detachable infrared cameras on the side mirrors that record your jaunts, it's the Instagram-ready car of your active-lifestyle dreams.

While the current Toyota C-HR crossover is clearly more of an urban vehicle, the concept FT-AC is directed towards folks that spend their weekends in the great outdoors. For those adventures, the footage shot via those detachable cameras is uploaded to Toyota's cloud via the car's Wi-Fi hotspot. There it can be edited and shared with a companion app. The footage can also be live streamed directly from the road for those moments when you really need the world to know exactly what you're doing at that moment.

If your a cyclist, the FT-AC features a retractable bike rack and detachable fog lights you can attach to your bike. Considering how much brighter vehicles lamps are than bike lamps, this will alleviate any issues you've had on night rides of not being able to see the terrain. The lights can also be used as a camping lamp.

This joins the company's FT-AX concept crossover as the automaker's way of making sure it keeps up with the growing SUV market. Toyota might have the best selling car in the United States (Camry), but it knows that larger cars are what most customers want. "We have to admit that the exterior is aggressive. But you like it right?" Said Toyota Jack Hollis group vice president.

In addition to an all-wheel-drive pure gas engine, Toyota expects the FT-AC to also have a hybrid version. So you can be greener while you head outside.

Like all concept cars, if this does come to market some of the more outlandish features will probably never make it to the showroom. But considering how much our lives revolve around documenting our events, it's not too much of a stretch to think that at least some elements of the video capturing system will end up in our garages.

YouTube is testing its own version of Stories

YouTube announced today that it's rolling out the Community tab -- a social feature released among a few select creators last year -- to all creators with more than 10,000 subscribers. However, it noted that a new video function is in the works as well. They're called "Reels" and much like Instagram or Snapchat Stories, they allow creators to stitch together short videos shot from their mobile devices and add things like filters, music and text.

Though it's like other platforms' versions of Stories, there are some key differences with Reels. First, as TechCrunch reports, the videos won't sit on top of the home page of the app but will instead be included in a separate, new tab on the creator's YouTube channel. Also, Reels won't expire like Snapchat and Instagram Stories. They'll stick around for as long as the creator wants and each creator can have multiple Reels that they can add to as they see fit.

YouTube says that, like Community, it will experiment with beta versions of the feature with a select group of creators first, though there's no word yet on when the beta version will be released or to which creators.

Image: YouTube

Via: TechCrunch

Source: YouTube

Instagram is testing a lot of new features, including a repost button

The Next Web reports today that Instagram is testing a slew of new features, many of which could be quite welcome among users. Maybe the most exciting feature is a native Regram button, which would let users repost others' photos and videos without having to turn to a third-party app. Another potentially popular addition is the ability to archive your Stories and it appears you'll be able to set Instagram to do that automatically. And it looks like iOS users might soon be able to share Instagram posts and profiles to WhatsApp with just a click of a button.

Some other tests include a GIF search for stories, a Closest Friends list that lets users share select posts with just a core group of people, a top emoji and top hashtag search option, the ability to pin a thread in direct messages and an option to program emoji shortcuts for words. Additionally, while Instagram already has an Android beta app, it looks like it might be offering an iOS beta app as well, so select iPhone users would be able try out upcoming versions of the app ahead of time and provide feedback. Lastly, one final, and rather intriguing, test is an unexplained "Add Coffee" option.

Instagram recently added a photo "remix" feature to its direct message function and the ability to add older photos and videos to a Story from a phone's camera roll. It has also started testing out an option to follow hashtags.

Because these are just tests, there's no guarantee that Instagram will actually implement them. But TNW says it's confident that some will roll out in the near future.

Images: The Next Web

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: The Next Web

Instagram’s new feature lets you draw on your friends’ photos

Instagram released a new feature today that lets you edit pictures friends send you via direct message. Here's how it works. Once someone sends you a photo directly, tap the camera icon in the bottom of that message to reply. Then snap a picture to send back. The original picture sent to you will be included within the photo you reply with and you can then change that original photo by moving it, resizing it, drawing on it, adding stickers or adding text.

Some other recent additions to Instagram's offerings include the ability to add older pictures and videos to your Story, to follow hashtags and to post Stories via your phone's web browser. The platform also recently began allowing users to invite others to join or request to be added to a live video. Many of these recent additions have been very Story-focused while today's update seems to be geared towards ramping up use of Instagram's direct message feature.

Along with the editing feature, which Instagram is calling "remixing," Instagram has also given users the option of sending a photo or video that can be viewed just once or on loop. Instagram says both additions are available today.

Image: Instagram

Via: The Verge

Source: Instagram