Instagram: Now everyone can post in Landscape

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In a highly anticipated move to allow you to advertise, Instagram goes live with Landscape pictures as of well today!

Weeks ago, the Facebook owned picture posting network decided to do away with the limited advertising potential via direct dealings and open the flood gates for just about anyone to advertise. Unfortunately at this stage, you can only do so using selected Instagram partners to do this. More on this on a later date.

Landscape isn’t new. Some apps on both Playstore and Appstore allowed you to crop photos which are in landscape to fit Instagram’s square frame. What you lose however is the extra spaces between the picture and the square frame and that wasn’t ideal. Even by all accounts, having the photos enlarged, the old square frame of 640 pixels square wasn’t going to yield a better picture up close. This was probably why they decided to ditch the lower resolution for mid resolution pictures recently.


Now that ads will appear on your home feed, Instagram feels that you should be able to dump the Square format pictures and post in landscape as well.

When Instagram was first launched on iOS, it was a homage of sorts to the Polaroid SX-70’s square format pictures that won the hearts of consumers in the 70s. Dr, Edwin Land, inventor of the polarising lens and instant picture camera thought that it would be easier for people to compose pictures in a square format instead of a landscape format. He had, at that time, other cameras that could capture pictures in landscape using a peel away instant film. So to discourage people from throwing away the peels, he decided to redesign the system by making the camera smaller which produced the square format pictures without the peel away layer.

Instagram experienced a mutiny of sorts during the last revision, that was to introduce an Android app. Stalwarts barked and left the network as they had perceived Instagram was diluting its user base to include unworthy Android users.

This elitist exodus was welcomed into other picture sharing communities that eventually failed. Needless to say Instagram won its day.

How Landscape Changes your Post

It does change the way you create a picture but that doesn’t mean it will kill your audience. Instagram’s last big change was from its 640 pixel square to a 1000 pixel square. It didn’t impact people much since it is after all still a square picture. What it gave was a better resolution picture and this incremental change in picture resolution paved the way for landscape pictures. This however does not in any way give you a bigger picture in Landscape mode. There is no way to pinch and zoom to admire the details in Instagram so you would do well to avoid having tiny details in your landscape pictures which have been seen up close to be admired.

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The change to landscape mode for picture taking will be off putting at first because of how you need to hold the camera. By tipping the camera on its side, you need to have a steady hold on your camera while using your thumb to hit the shutter button. Whereas in portrait mode, you can hold the device as you would normally do capture a square picture.

For smartphone photographers who already capture using landscape mode, this isn’t going to be a big deal.

For content creators who wish to stamp their mark on their photos, you could of course capture landscape photos and within it, put your own social message.

Landscape images are ideal for such scribblings as there is sufficient space to add your two cents worth to the image content. Done artistically, it has its merits. You can still post in square format if you so wish but landscape is far more interesting for content developers like myself.

At the present moment, there is no hidden algorithm to hide post from your friends or people you follow. This could be adjust in view of the potential of those adverts I was talking about earlier. If you follow a lot of people, there will be a lot of post on your timeline. Once this happens, there would be a deluge…a problem that is being observed in G+. Instagram will have to find its own way around this.

Twitter wants to sell you stuff thru Twitter Ad Pages

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So content marketing doesn’t matter anymore now that Twitter has dedicated itself to serving you ads.

The new service is aimed at grouping all the tweets and retweets into a cohesive page for everyone to see and click the buy button in the process. In other words, all the details of the product is there within Twitter and there is no need for hot linking that to a separate entity like a Facebook page or microsite.

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Retail Fatigue Personified

It is relatively easy to build this up but what I must warn you of these days is retail fatigue and User Experience (UX) issue. For me at least, Facebook adverts are getting more intrusive but for others, they can tolerate it. Tumblr has transitioned to this mode as well and so did Instagram. Paid advertising is the way to go when you got the eyeballs.

So what is your content worth these days?

Online retail fatigue is when you get tired of these adverts popping up on your newsfeed and with it, you get tired and give up on it altogether.

True. There are two groups of people, those who are out shopping and those who do not know what they want but are willing to buy something. But that generalization can’t be applied to everyone who surfs the Internet can you?

Where is the old fashion community building tools? Is that dead too now that Twitter has advertising pages which you can land on?

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Twitter Users can react in the most Unkind Way

Here is something brand PR has to prepare for. Your preferred hashtag can be hijacked just like what happened to NY Police Department.

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There are so many Twitter fail campaigns when it comes to using hashtags. Users will retweet and tweet your preferred hashtag and along with it comes the political and environmental messages. The same can be said for someone out to hijack ot sully your brand by associating it with fictional claims. Would you have time to fight the fire when it starts?

Makes me wonder if the PR agencies of the world are willing to vet the hashtag streams 24/7. I am sure they will….for a price.

So before you write that cheque for a Twitter only campaign, which promises to convert your tweets to direct sales, remember that your competitors can send out their own team to haunt you. In the book of dirty tactics, there is no such thing as fair play.

Any sort of direct promotional effort on Twitter will be out of your control when the negative viral impact becomes apparent.

How Twitter is following in the footsteps of Weibo

To avert any further disasters on its stock price, Twitter is following China’s Weibo to get ahead in the social network business.

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Weibo’s micropages has been hijacked by Twitter for adverts and buy conversions while rich media, from GIFs, short videos and live streaming are already in place to the next wave of content sharing. Copying these innovations is hardly new, after all, if the Chinese can steal design concepts from Apple, why can’t Twitter steal content concepts from Weibo?

Twitter has much to fear from its Chinese rivals if it doesn’t evolve. Stock price aside, Twitter has to garner much more active users who seem to be flock to other social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. In terms of real user growth, the rest of the world isn’t entirely sold on Twitter alone.

For me, the biggest let down is really the Twitter Mobile App.

The landing page when you land on is your newsfeed. I just want to see my profile page to know that I have landed in the right page but you don’t get that.. If Twitter copied the user interface for FB, it makes a whole better sense.

Twitter is more of a mobile platform than one that works on desktop PCs.

All they have to do is to make package the UX of the desktop web version into a mobile app. For example, trending stories don’t show up on your mobile newsfeed page unless you use the desktop browser version. Why can’t they have a left to right or right to left swiping gesture to implement these content feeds? Like swipe left to retweet…?

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The user experience matters and it’s not about having more promoted tweets or ads because as long as people are not actively tweeting on this network, they are definitely spending time post to some other social platform.

Social Media through Click Farms

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I don’t really care for likes but for some strange reason, that seems to be the social media metric that everyone uses these days to calculate a ROI on advertising investment. So the more people who like you or follow you, that is suppose to translate to some kind of online credibility, even fame possibly.

Social Media Celebrity-hood

When a celebrity goes social, they have thousands if not millions of followers. Often, these so called social media accounts are professionally crafted by PR spin doctors hired by the celebrity to manage his or her online persona. These Spin doctors have only one goal, that is to gain as many followers as possible for the client as a way to measure their success. No doubt it might be a shallow way to measure your popularity but hey, it’s the age of the Internet.

Since then it has been de rigueur for online entities to follow suit and have as many followers as possible. This created a black hat business for those who just wanted to show off and in time, allowed them to profit from such vanity exercises. Today, it has become a booming business in third world countries such as India and Indonesia which sells followers for as little as US$600 for 1 million likes.

Even today, we talk about Leo Messi having 76 million followers on Facebook, which makes you wonder if any of them were bogus in the first place. Even the US State Department has bought ‘likes’ from Click Farms so why not you?

Daze of the Click Farms

The last couple of months researching this topic has yielded much clues on how they work. You heard of people doing data entry work at home and getting paid for it? Well that’s actually one of the methods. These folks with a computer and internet access will sign up with one of these social media provocateurs who in turn get them to manage hundreds if not thousands of social media profiles on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram.

Each Click Farm may have up to a few hundred real people working for them and in these will control up to a million fake accounts.

The age of Online Celebrity Fame

Though illegal in the eyes of social media platforms, there are some benefits for would be businesses or professionals. Think for a moment about the benefits of showing a potential client your own FB or Twitter accounts with half a millions followers. Would the client accuse you of faking the numbers? Of course not. Then you throw up a low ball by showing your nearest competitor who provides a much smaller number of followers and likes on post and the client will be sold on you.

This low ball technique works. The only way you get discovered is when you stop paying the click farms to like your post and follow you and you’d see 100K followers disappear within a night.

Online fame can be bought. So let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that such marketing technique has karmic consequences. Like any scheming adulteress, your aim is not to get caught in the act and as long as you cover your tracks well, you will never be found out.

Click farming is a US$260 million Industry

Click farms are evolving fast. Today, it might only be clicks through third world countries but tomorrow, these same clicks can be performed via a VPN to show it originating from a developed country. Clicks farms are now targeting all social media platforms as they become magnets for entities seeking online fame. They cost less than what you’d pay FB or Twitter to boost your post and these folks can also be paid to like your post as well…something which FB, Twitter or Instagram can’t do.

Once you have a million likes, you are in the mile high club. Selling yourself as a professional will be so much easier this way. What’s more, click farms can also like your video post on YouTube, click on banner advertisements on your video and earn you money.

Abusing the System

Sometimes you have to ask yourself why social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter don’t do nearly as enough to wipe out the click farm business. Well, they are all part of the eco-system and Facebook knows this only too well. Wiping out these so called fake accounts is going to be difficult because they are active. Even when they can be traced to a single IP address, Facebook just cannot wipe out a chunk of their daily active user base overnight. That would cause a stock market crash. Imagine if Facebook closed down 100 million accounts overnight. You can already see Wall Street junking the stock.

Abusing the social media system will continue. There is no overnight hang over cure. They can periodically close social media accounts that are not active or are seemingly ‘spammy’ but to close an active account from a click farm is to cut one’s nose to spite the face.

Benefits of using Click Farms

This is a tricky issue but first let’s look at the issues rationally.

Building your Online Clout

 The black hat technique to gain huge number of followers is still the only way outsiders measure your fame and popularity, without it, you’re dead in the water. You cannot trust FB alone to do this for you as they have gotten so massively expensive over the years that it would be so much cheaper to pay a click farm to both follow you and like your post. This gives the impression of having a genuine number of followers even though it’s only 10 guys working out of a cyber cafe in Dhaka who happen to be your 10000 followers. Having a large following has its benefits. You look more presentable when approaching brands for endorsement and if you happen to produce good content, freebies will start arriving on your doorstep. This could be the crucial step towards building your online fame and fortune.

Cheaper and more effective than Legal methods

Frankly, you could pay a thousand bucks to Facebook to have people like your page but the results are far from satisfactory. Part of the problem is that once you have a targeted a specific audience profile, FB can never promise you 10,000 likes or followers for a thousand bucks. FB, Twitter or even Instagram can never guarantee that sort of metrics even if you kept throwing money at them. This also means you can’t have the thousands of followers based on a specific amount of money spent, say US$.50 cents per Like. It is these sort of guarantee that a click farm can give you that keeps you going back to them. If you loosen the band for target audiences to like your page, then why bother going legit? It’s far cheaper to hire a Click farm to give you that amount of followers in the shortest amount of time possible than to rely on Facebook ads.

Remember your cost of investment in the two before embarking on a ROI cost evaluation. Click farming is only for building online reputation and has nothing to do with generating quality leads or business leads.

For example, you have 10,000 fake followers on your Page, and with it, you want to gain 100 real followers from a targeted locality or which maybe only 10 will translate into real customers, then you have to do the maths for this to see the cost of it all. Your real gain is based on those 10 customers and not 10,000 Click farmers that are plowing your site. If the means justifies the end then you should continue doing it. However if that doesn’t work. I think it is time you cut your losses and invest that in something else.

Wear your Facebook page like a vanity license plate. It can do wonders to your ego but you still need to milk those dollars from a paying customer. That said, no one said this was going to be cheap.

 

 

The Dark Art of Gaining Followers

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How do you gain followers on Social Media? I mean I need this to show off my site and, how the heck does it work? Do I need to put up a Selfie?

Ever heard of a vanity license plate for a car? Well in the Internet World, gaining busloads of followers does the same thing for you. It is a magnet of sorts to tell people that you have arrived.

That said, social media license plates are really not that difficult to get, at least not legally. Now, gaining followers is not that difficult. There are millions if not thousands of accounts in social media that are positively fake. They exist only for one reason, to be your follower.

Why is it difficult to find Genuine Followers

Social apathy or plain laziness is probably the answer you are looking for and you’re spot on. People who think that the Internet world is full of would be social activist are so wrong footed that it would even be fatal to take up line dancing.

Surfers are often very indolent people. They sit back, give their two cents worth if they really have the time for a comment and flip to the nearest porn or Internet channel for a daily dose of Entertainment.

Content Creation for Baiting Followers

I have said before in my earlier post, you need to create engaging content to win over followers and the content should fall into TWO categories.

  • It has to be useful to the follower. This can be useful bits of information on how to reuse cat litter for garden decoration to ways to tune your car into a Porsche for as little as $1.95.
  • Content must be entertaining. Yes, smart, funny, witty stuff are tops…even beautiful naked women or men can be entertaining if you posed correctly.

Once you have this, just rinse and repeat. You are bound to find followers who appreciate your nuggets of wisdom or entertainment.

How Not to gain Followers

The first rule is not to promise people things you can’t deliver. Like a snake oil sales man trying to sell a broken record, do not offer freebies and stuff when you sincerely can’t even get your own paws on.

Nor should you promise them home remedies or DIY tips that don’t work, like how to tune their car into a Porsche for as little as $1.95.

But I need a Vanity License Plate!

If you sincerely must have that busload of followers, you can do this. Buy those followers. A thousand followers on Instagram will cost you roughly US$13. For twitter, it cost only US$40 for 2,000 followers. Now, that sound like a steal but remember that this is temporary. Some stick around for a month, others for a full year. It really depends on the people who run the business.

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Followers are only worth their weight in salt. And that’s might cheap to have if all you need is a vanity license plate. You could buy hundreds of thousands of followers if you could afford it but seriously, who the damn cares if all you sell online are geriatric diapers? Would Barack Obama or Sarah Palin be jealous of you if you did have more followers than they did?

How the HELL did it all disappear?

If you care to check your followers, some are real, some are not. Most of the time, you’d find how the hell did those ‘bought’ followers ended up following you for a brief time and in the process, had unfollowed you as graciously as they followed you. There is a distinction between a fake and a real one based on the fact that one is a living person with that account, the other is a virtual doppelgänger of an online creation.

The fake followers are easy to spot. They have no activity except may one picture posted in the last century. I am pretty sure it is easy to register fake followers by the hundreds or thousands if you care to use a unique username that has yet to be used.

The real followers are a dumb found. How could they sign up to follow you? Well in case you didn’t know. There are sites out there that promise you free followers with one caveat, they get to use your login and password credentials.

You see, some web sites that SELL followers also have a weapon, they call it a ” running train” where people hop on board to get free followers. The onus is on you who join for free. They get to control your Instagram or Twitter password and login. Once they have this, they start messing up the system by using your profile to follow a paying customer and they to follow you back. It works a little bit like incest. You join a big family to have social media copulations.

The sites that charge you money to gain followers are in fact, running a sister or brother site that gains the passwords and logins for free in return for more followers. The sign up server runs automatically with dedicated APIs that run scripts to follow and unfollow people at the opportune time.

This is also why all the free-follow sites ask you for your password and login the moment they join. It’s their way of making money off you while you gain just more followers. Imagine if they had a thousand people sign up every day, and another thousand who buys followers from them, you’d have 1,998 free followers a day.

Worst Kept Secrets ?

To get found out that you are using fake or paid followers is nothing new. Mitt Romney was judged to have done it during his campaign but I seriously don’t really care.

Paid followers do not necessarily translate to your bottom line even if you only sell quality online Eskimo porn. It might give you some credibility at some point but if all you ever post are ugly selfies of yourself, well then, there is going to be trouble later down the line.

In a virtual world, everyone is entitled to mask their real intentions. Creating good content can take too much effort if all you need to boost your public image is a load of would be followers. Buying them seems like a nice option. That, is entirely up to you.