Brand Presence On Instagram: A Lesson From Starbucks

Starbucks Gets Artsy With Photos

Brands On Instagram: Lessons From StarbucksEvery brand has a story, and every social media platform is different. So how do you tell that story and tailor it to a channel like Instagram?

To find the answer, Ebyline turned to the one of the most successful brands on Instagram, Starbucks. With 2.5 million followers, they’re the second most popular brand on Instagram, and Starbucks has a true knack for telling its story on the visually appealing social media site (for those wondering who’s in first, Nike holds the top spot, according to Nitrogram, a company that tracks the top 150 brands on the Instagram).

We asked Starbucks to share a few of its storytelling tips to help us navigate the Instagram landscape.

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TIME Social Media Editor Kelly Conniff talks Sandy, election coverage

Time Magazine Twitter

Time Magazine TwitterWhen news breaks, readers turn to social media to read and post updates, presenting opportunities for news outlets to engage with them and challenges in keeping up with multiple platforms and a 24/7 news cycle.

Ebyline recently discussed these challenges and opportunities with Kelly Conniff, who started as social media editor at TIME in September after working as social media manager at the National Geographic Society since 2009. Excerpts from that interview follow.

What social media platforms does TIME focus on?

Really the number one platform we’re on is definitely Twitter. We actually just hit four million followers today, which was amazing. Beyond that we also are on Facebook, and we just actually hit 600,000 [Facebook likes]. We’re one of the biggest news brands on Google +, and we should be in the neighborhood of hitting two million next week, which is just amazing.

We’re also on Pinterest and Instagram. We actually have two Tumblr’s. One is TIME magazine proper, and it’s very much kind of our behind-the-scenes look at how the magazine is made, how we put together our amazing covers, and basically how we do what we do. We also have one for LightBox, which is our photography blog that is very popular in the industry. That one focuses a little bit more on the photo projects that we feature every day as well as kind of promoting what’s happening in the photography community.

Tell us about the social media strategies you used during Sandy.

With Sandy, we had people without power and without heat, and it was an interesting situation in trying to wrangle people together to work out ideas. We realized that what people were looking for in this scenario were stories from people on the ground. People wanted to know what it was like to be in Staten Island, Coney Island, or in the Rockaways, or in Connecticut, or anywhere in New Jersey where they were hit really bad.

We decided to just go with a very low-fi hashtag campaign of asking people to submit their Sandy reports. I was so surprised at what we got, not in terms of the volume but the depth that people went into when it came to telling us about their stories. We aggregated up some of the best, most poignant, funniest, responses on our newsfeed blog. That was also a really great way to say, “Hey look, we asked you guys for something, and we definitely heard what you had to say and here’s what happened.”

Time Magazine CoverWhat about that amazing cover image from Sandy? Tell us about that.

We have a great photography department here. They worked with us to come up with the idea to hire five photographers who were covering different areas of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and areas that were really affected. These people are professional photographers who have shot for TIME in various capacities, including Ben Lowy who is well-known as very much an iPhone photographer.
We actually used one of the photos that was taken by Ben Lowy on the cover of TIME magazine, which is pretty amazing. I was so impressed that we did it because that week was such a huge week for politics and just everything that was happening in the world. We actually closed three issues that week. We had one with a Romney cover, one with an Obama cover, and then easterners in the Northeast got the Sandy cover.

There’s a lot of pressure to be the first on social media, especially around the election. How do you balance that with the need for accuracy?

For us, we were really more interested in what people were feeling and thinking and doing about voting instead of making sure that we were first. We had a hashtag campaign that was just #TIMEVote, and we asked a series of questions that were kind of the day before and the day of. It was a little different from what everybody else was doing, but we’re there for that analysis and thoughtfulness.

The night of the election when Twitter was going crazy and Facebook was going crazy, we focused on having a live blog that pulled in tweets from all of our correspondents. They sat there and looked at the projections and the results and gave their commentary in a way that not many other brands can. I think we really focused on being thoughtful instead of just predicting and trying to be first. I think at the end of the day that’s really what TIME is about.

Does TIME have a social media policy for staffers?

We do. It’s mostly informal and that’s actually something we’re working on kind of updating. One great thing about most people who work at TIME is that they’re very proactive in having their own accounts and being very thoughtful when they tweet.

TIMES has some impressive social media stats, but are there other ways that you measure ROI?

Yes, I think that’s something that all brands are struggling with right now because there is no hard and fast rule of how to do it. For me, I sit solely on the edit side, so I’m always looking for new ways to engage. When you sit there every day and you’re looking at your followers and you’re seeing what they say when they comment on a Facebook post or re-tweet you or comment back, it’s really all about making sure that people are not just pushing our ‘Retweet’ button or the ‘Like’ button and then just moving on to the next post.


4 Online Tools to Watch in 2012

websites to watch

Twitter and Facebook spent much of 2011 battling for social media supremacy, while Google introduced its own social network, Google +, last summer.

Experts have a range of predictions for 2012, among them that social media will get boring (perhaps the focus will shift towards using the tools instead of reporting on them as news) and that businesses will increasingly outsource content (good news for you, freelancers!). Content curation, image-sharing, and video also appear on most social media predictions.

As we welcome the new year, here are four of the websites and apps we’ll be watching.

  1. Pinterest: Design bloggers, brides-to-be, and photo junkies have been using this image-sharing site for awhile, but it’s recently gone more mainstream with a fluffy of new users. In fact, Mashable reports that Pinterest grew from 1.2 million users last August to 4 million as of December. Users “pin” images they like to one of their themed “boards” and other users can “repin” images (similar to retweets on Twitter). Book-lovers might use Pinterest as a visual representation of books they read or want to read, while novelists might create boards for each character or setting to use as virtual inspiration boards. And some bloggers and website copywriting services are already using the site to boost their traffic by pinning an eye-catching image from each post.
  2. Storify: This is social media curation tool went live in April 2011, allowing users to tell stories by collecting tweets, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, and other types of multimedia content in one spot. Recent stories include the Italian Economic Dilemma and New Year’s Eve at Occupy Wall Street. Users in other languages and media outlets like The Weather Channel and The Vancouver Sun are already using it, and we’ll be interested to see if it gains momentum this year.
  3. Instagram: This photo-sharing iPhone app is already wildly popular, and an Android app is in the works. We predict that similar services like PicplzPath, and Color (for 30-second videos) will continue driving interest in real-time photos as 2012 unfolds. MediaBistro’s 10,000 Words blog offered tips on how new organizations can use Instagram (or any of these photo-sharing tools, really) to crowdsource information or share breaking news while following to the principles of ethical journalism.
  4. Flipboard: This iPhone and iPad app for customized news reading was downloaded more than a million times within a week of its December launch. As mobile content heats up, apps that give readers greater control over the media they consume and how it’s displayed could help news organizations stay relevant. It’s also a way for journalists to cut through the clutter online and current in their beat. One of Flipboard’s competitors, Zite for iPhone, was described as the Pandora of News.
Writers, have you used any of these website or apps for reporting or consuming news? What would you add to this list?

Image courtesy of Ambro /