Follow Us

Subscribe to the InkHouse Newsletter

Sign Up!

Category Archives: Social Media

Tag Archives: Social Media


Four Twitter Updates That Matter

Did you know that in 2010 the Library of Congress tried to archive every single Tweet? Guess what? In 2016, they determined it was a pretty hard thing to do. And while the Library of Congress struggles to archive the Tweets, Twitter is keeping them on their toes by continuing to look for new approaches to make it easier for users to engage followers and of course, tweet. Twitter kicked off the summer by announcing new features - Twitter Dashboard, Twitter Engage and Stickers. Since then, their team has been hard at work and have delivered expanded features designed for users, including:

1. Twitter Verified: initially launched in 2009, Verified was created to let people know if a public figure’s account was, indeed, authentic. Now, it is available for all users. This is a great opportunity and tool for communications professionals who are responsible for communicating messages from thought leaders or brands to confirm that the source is indeed authentic. Twitter is interested in verifying accounts that belong to a person or a company and recommends that their Twitter handle reflects the real name of that individual or company. If you are submitting a request, Twitter will ask that you detail the impact that person has had on their industry while corporations need to share their mission. You can start the process of applying for this “elite” status by completing and sharing this form with Twitter to make your case for why they should verify your account. Once verified a badge will appear next to the account name.

2. Animated GIF sizes have been expanded from 5MB to 15MB (this is massive – three times the original size!) This move supports Twitter’s trend to make it easier to post media from various platforms – and we all know that visual content boosts social engagement. Specifics can be found here. Note that the photo limit remains the same, along with the GIF limit for mobile uploads.

3. Twitter Moments: designed to curate tweets that follow a specific news story or conversation as they develop, will soon be open to brands and influencers. When it was initially launched in 2015, only a select few had access to it, mainly publishers and media companies. So get thinking about how you might incorporate Twitter Moments into your brand’s PR and social programs because it’ll be available soon.

4. Just in time for the Rio Olympics, Twitter introduced over 207 team emojis so that users around the globe can cheer on their favorite teams through text simply by tweeting the three-letter country code hashtag. But if you are a marketer thinking about linking your campaign to the Olympics, you might want to read up on the International Olympic Committee guidelines on intellectual property.

Happy tweeting, fellow communicators.

Read more from Christina Klaubert

Is the Email Newsletter Dead? Lena Dunham Proves Everyone Wrong

We’ve all heard it – email marketing is dead. Well, it’s still around, but is it effective? Every day, we are inundated with marketing emails and newsletters, many of which we never proactively signed up for. We wake up to our inbox full of them, receive them throughout the day and get one last desperate cry before bed. Last year alone, over 205 billion emails were sent and received each day, emphasizing how hard it can be for an email to cut through the noise.

With newsletters often falling into the retro marketing category, it could be considered risky that Girls creator (and designated voice of the millennial generation) Lena Dunham invested time and money into Lenny Letter, a weekly email newsletter that she launched last year. From an interview with Hillary Clinton and a thought piece by Alicia Keys, to details on the Zika virus and reviews of the latest good reads, its content has achieved a loyal and captive audience.

Created along with Girls producer Jenni Konner, the newsletter, which covers politics, culture and style in a feminist light, defied the odds when it achieved over 400,000 subscribers in less than six months. That’s pretty impressive considering that subscribers are voluntarily opting in (and staying in).

Furthermore, the newsletter boasts a 65 percent open rate – which is, to put it lightly, insanely good for an email newsletter. To put that number into perspective, open rates typically hover around 20 percent, give or take 5 percent. With 68 percent of people deciding to read an email solely based on the sender’s name, it definitely helps that the newsletter comes from Lenny AKA Lena Dunham, who has essentially become a household name. But to keep readers coming back, Lena and Jenni are clearly doing something right. So what is Lenny Letter’s secret?

  • Consistent scheduling – without overdoing it: Lenny Letter is released at the same time every Tuesday, with an additional interview every Friday. This means they are only sending eight to ten emails per month – compared to some companies that send three or four emails a day or a daily newsletter. Though there are some situations where a daily newsletter can be helpful, they can frequently become noise, especially with people receiving an average of 122 business emails alone per day. The somewhat limited nature of the newsletter, along with the consistency in scheduling, helps readers know what to expect.
  • Exclusive newsletter content: Unlike most newsletters, Lenny Letter publishes exclusive content that readers can only get from subscribing to the newsletter. They do post the content to their website around 24 hours later but, by delaying the public posting, they have been able to establish their newsletter as a destination. Lenny Letter editor Jessica Grose recently explained the thinking behind this: “Newsletters are such an intimate medium, and they hold your attention in a way that I think websites deliberately don’t. Websites are always trying to get you to click on this and reroute you to some other article.” Instead of directing readers elsewhere, Lenny Letter is the main event.
  • Strong social promotion: Lenny Letter also has an established social presence. Even though its contents aren’t posted until after it is released, Lenny Letter teases the upcoming content during the days leading up to the newsletter to spark interest and then posts the content across social channels after the fact. I mean, we don’t all have the luxury of Kerry Washington and Khloe Kardashian voluntarily promoting our newsletters on social, but we shouldn’t let newsletters fall by the wayside on social in exchange for more static content.

Mostly importantly, Lenny Letter has unique, meaty and interesting content – similar to the other hot and trending email newsletter, the Skimm. A lot of newsletters end up becoming purely promotional with links upon links to lead readers away from the email. It can be valuable to link elsewhere, but it is also important to have fresh, substantial content that captures readers’ interest. As Lenny Letter’s social pages put it, “there’s no such thing as too much information.” Lenny Letter reminds us that the email newsletter is very much alive and a valid way to share stories and news, as long as we take the time and use creativity to breathe some life into it.

Read more from Linnea DiPillo

Happy Birthday to Twitter! A Decade in Review…

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey wrote the first-ever tweet. Ten years later, the social platform has around 320 million monthly users. Today, Twitter is an amazing tool for breaking news, content sharing, following friends, and even your favorite celebrities and the hashtag – previously known as the “pound” sign – is now simply part of the way many of us communicate. Over the past decade, Twitter has proven to be an invaluable platform for marketers and brands, a means of connecting with audiences, a new form of promotion and an essential element of customer service. Today, to celebrate Twitter’s 10th birthday, I wanted to step back in time and review ten powerful campaigns and hashtags that showcase the power of reach of the platform. (Thanks to InkHouse client, Brandwatch, for the social data below.)

1 – #YesWeCan Obama Election Campaign 2008
After eight years, and nearing a November 2016 election, #YesWeCan is still a widely recognizable hashtag that was used in President Obama’s 2008 election campaign. Interestingly, while the hashtag is very well known, Brandwatch found that less than 3,000 people actually used it in the few months prior to the election. This is pretty indicative of the fact that Twitter was still just a baby back in ’08. Nonetheless – it was the beginning of something big.

2 – #BeatCancer 2010 by Livestrong
This hashtag, which was backed by tremendous celebrity power on Twitter (@KimKardashian, @ArianaGrande), actually beat the Guinness Book of World Records in ’09 for its most widespread social network mentions — it reached 459k during the 2010 campaign.

3 – #WantAnR8 by Audi 2011
Back in 2011, a woman tweeted at Audi that she wanted Audi’s R8 V10 model after watching the Super Bowl ad for it. She used the hashtag #WantAnR8. As a result, the company actually delivered an R8 V10 to this women for a day and developed an entire Twitter campaign contest around the hashtag. The idea was to tweet the hashtag #WantAnR8 for a chance to win access to the car for a day. Brandwatch found that 483,175,059 impressions were created with 27,000 total mentions of the hashtag. Pretty impressive.

4 – #40Dollars by The White House 2011-2012
The White House launched this Twitter campaign in reference to its fight over extending payroll tax cuts. The $40.00 represents the amount every American would save if the payroll tax cut was extended. People used the hashtag in answer to the question: “What does #40Dollars mean to you?” Brandwatch found that 62,000 Americans responded with this hashtag on Twitter.

5 – #ShareACoke by Coca-Cola 2013
This campaign was started by Coca-Cola to encourage consumers to share a Coke with others and share Coca-Cola stories. Each bottle was labeled with a different name and the hashtag #ShareACoke. To date, the campaign has proven to spike sales. Brandwatch found that for the first summer of the campaign, it received 160,000 mentions on Twitter and made 740,484,018 impressions.

6 – @TweetACoffee: Starbucks 2013
Starbucks came up with a campaign in 2013 that let people give a $5.00 gift cards to friends if they included “@tweetacoffee” and the friend’s handle in a tweet. Brandwatch found that 936,526,852 impressions were created for the initial campaign – with a gender spilt of 54 percent female and 46 percent men.

7 – #nomakeupselfie by Cancer Research UK 2014
#nomakeupselfie raised more than £8m in just six days (that’s over $11 million USD). Brandwatch data shows the biggest spike in mentions occurred on March 20 at 5:00 pm. The total number of #nomakeupselfie mentions was 160,000 with 814,128,154 impressions.

8 – #ALSIceBucketChallenge: ALS Association 2014
We all are familiar with this one, and many of us have probably thrown a bucket of ice over our heads and challenged others to do so as well. The campaign really blew up by 2014 and had a number of celebrity backers on Twitter. Brandwatch found that there were 9,578,772 mentions during the 2014 campaign.

9 – #LikeAGirl by Always (P&G) 2014

Always launched a campaign that was intended to spark a conversation around women’s hygiene products. The hashtag got 169k mentions and 97 percent of them were positive in sentiment.

10 – #ThisGirlCan by Sport England 2015
With 180,000 mentions, and carried out in Q1 of 2015, this campaign was an effort by Sport England to get women moving no matter their abilities or body type. The top associated hashtags for this campaign were: #fitness #liveyourambition #womeninsport. Brandwatch also found that the second largest spike in hashtag use occurred on International Women’s Day.

There’s no doubt that Twitter has changed our lives. It’s clear that Twitter also provides opportunity to affect positive change – even if it’s as simple as getting your friend a $5.00 gift card at Starbucks – providing brands and marketers a powerful platform for creativity and connection.

So happy 10th birthday Twitter and welcome to your second decade!

Read more from Kit Rodophele

Publishers Flock to Messaging Apps (What It Means for PR)

Like PR professionals, publishers are constantly looking at the trends, wondering what’s next and how they can better reach their target audiences. Publishers need to look at where their readers are digesting news and, with the growing, ever changing landscape of social media and mobile, it may be hard to keep up sometimes.

At the end of 2015, it was reported that 2.1 billion people use a messaging app, according to Portio Research. The rise of messaging apps – WhatsApp, Kik, Viber, Facebook Messenger to note a few – present a new way to get in front of readers – 2.1 billion of them. For publishers, the challenge is how to crack into this huge untapped channel that’s often seen as secretive and private (for example, Kik is an anonymous messaging app).

Messaging apps are different than social media platforms: there’s no news feed so there’s no central, obvious place to push content to users. So publishers have had to get creative. Take, for example, the Washington Post which has used Kik’s Promoted Chats to attract readers through quizzes and game-like experiences hoping that its light-hearted content would drive brand awareness among Kik’s younger user base.

The BBC News, on the other hand, largely uses Facebook-owned WhatsApp for user-generated content and information gathering. For example, during the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, BBC News used its WhatsApp account to gather reader photos, videos, and first-hand accounts that it later repurposed on its live news blog.

Another example is The Huffington Post which just joined Viber’s Public Chats — a feature that allows publishers to publicly share real-time conversations between their journalists — in an attempt to reach the messaging app’s over 250 million monthly active users (MAUs) that are located in Russia, India, and the Middle East. The Huffington Post claims that it now has almost 18 thousand followers for its Viber Public Chats.

Messaging apps are growing by the day and users are not only active, but also spend considerable time in these apps. On average, chat apps keep users engaged for over 30 minutes per session, according to a 2015 study commissioned by Kik. And it’s looking really good for publishers on these apps. According to a 2015 MEC survey cited by Digiday, 79 percent of messaging app users claim they are likely to engage with brands during their chat app experience. If they’re interested in brands on the apps, there’s a good chance they’ll be receptive to publishers doing the same.

So what does it mean for PR? We’ve become accustomed to tweaking our messages and content for the social age and weaving messaging apps into our strategies, campaigns and content will be a new frontier for us. Ultimately the challenge is how to take advantage of the opportunity to either influence the content that publishers are sharing or how to insert our own content into the messaging app stream. Another challenge will be measurement figuring out, for example, how to determine the volume of eyeballs our stories and content achieve on, say, WhatsApp and the impact of that “coverage.” Perhaps publishers will add share buttons so users can share stories directly to their favorite messaging apps, or maybe the apps will come up with a measurement method. That’s what’s so exciting about new technologies like these breaking into the mainstream, you never know what’s coming next — and it keeps PR people like us on our toes.

Read more from Kristen Zemeitus

Brands & Publishers Tap Snapchat as the Go-To Platform For Millennials & Mobile Engagement

What first started out as a “view and delete” app between young high schoolers, Snapchat Discover has quickly become the go-to source for quick, efficient news updates with over 100 million daily users. With more than 20 top-tier publishers like The Wall Street Journal and CNN joining the innovative platform, we’re being captivated and caught asking for more from these news providers. Vanity Fair is even releasing its special Hollywood issue on SnapChat Discover today; the cover will be available to view on SnapChat exclusively for the first hour and will even provide access to the Vanity Fair Oscars Party photo booth – special content that is only being shown on this platform. The Wall Street Journal has a five-person team dedicated to creating Snapchat content that publishes eight items a day, Monday through Friday, so not only is this changing the way PR professionals are telling stories, it’s also changing the way editors and publishers are working too.

Re/code recently referred to Snapchat Discover as the “Hunger Games” since publishers are fighting for the eyes of these millennials on the app – it’s a constant competition for time. Snapchat claims to be “the best way to reach 13-34 year-olds” and dramatically changing the way we digest media. After all 13-34 year-olds are not the ones buying a physical newspaper at Starbucks or waiting until they get into their office to click open Google News. They’re on-the-go mobile users who want stories now. They go to Snapchat for that visual, storytelling appeal – Snapchat Discover puts narrative and storytelling first, not shares and click throughs. For example, publishers like Cosmopolitan and CNN are repurposing the most-read content from their websites and sharing it on Snapchat to create a dynamic viewing experience for viewers throughout the day. Some publishers are also exploring exclusive, new content created specifically for Snapchat.

With storytelling at our core as PR professionals, it is crucial to think of out-of-the-box platforms like Snapchat when telling stories – whether that’s to your customers, reporter or influencers. Quick, 15-second sound bites that are digestible and action-oriented are what will get the attention of millennials and the mobile users who are glued to their phones.

Casey Neistat spoke at a networking event I attended last week at Medium’s headquarters in San Francisco and mentioned how some of his favorite brands like Taco Bell are doing their best advertising and engagement with fans on Snapchat. The important piece Neistat mentioned is to tell your story, not just show your product alone. 

While of course brands ultimately want to promote products with the goal of driving purchases, making it a story that’s easy to follow and is attractive to the consumer is what will engage your audience. Be sure to consider Snapchat when telling your next story so you can ensure it’s reaching your preferred audience, at the right time on the right platform. 

Read more from Jillian Gerig
Instagram application on Apple iPhone 5S

Are Instagram Captions the New Blog?

You can spend hours putting together the perfect company blog post – researching, writing, editing and navigating through all those review cycles. But what good is any of that if no one is reading it? While there are company blogs that have become go-to sources for industry news and analysis, and we’d like to think InkHouse falls into that category, it’s no secret that most companies struggle to drive traffic to their blog.

So why not put your content where your audience already is? On average, Instagram users share 70 million photos per day and its per-follower engagement is 58 times higher than Facebook and 120 times higher than Twitter. And I’m not just talking about pictures, I’m talking about converting your blog content into long-form Instagram captions.

In November, New York Magazine wrote a piece about lifestyle bloggers and celebrities like Dwayne Johnson who use Instagram as a blogging platform, taking advantage of the app’s personal and artistic feel to express themselves through captions. Traditional media outlets are jumping on the bandwagon too. WIRED Magazine recently posted an 11-part feature story exclusively on Instagram – becoming the first major publication to do so.

This opens an opportunity for brands to share the content they care about and in a place where people will actually read it. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Keep ‘em coming back for more: Creating engaging content is a priority for every blog, but it becomes even more important when you’re competing on Instagram. A long-form Instagram caption poses a unique challenge because it has to make sense on its own, while leaving followers curious for what happens next in the story. With 4.4 million followers, the Humans of New York Instagram handle knows how to do just that. Its current series shares multi-post stories about Syrian refugees, and it has captivated an audience around the world.

Make it visual (duh!): Once you have a story to tell, you need a picture to match. Instagram is a lifestyle platform built to celebrate great photography, not stock photos or stylized quotes. This can be a challenge, especially for B2B or deep tech companies, but General Electric is a great example of a company that has mastered the use of Instagram. This holiday season, it even created a winter wonderland photo collage that sprinkles in some of its technology in the images.

Be neutral: Ultimately, your Instagram content should tie back to your business goals, whether that be education, maintaining a certain brand image, or driving web traffic. But no one wants to see a salesman on their personal social media feeds. What they want is a story, and if done correctly that story will inspire action that impacts your bottom line. For example, Expedia sells airline tickets, but it doesn’t post photos of an airline seat. It posts pictures of the destinations where that airplane ticket will take you, and I’d wager that Expedia would be even more successful if it used photo captions to share a story, not just a description.

This isn’t something you can just dive into tomorrow. An effective Instagram strategy requires time, strategy and talented photographers and storytellers. But given Instagram’s resounding user engagement rates, it’s worth the investment in 2016.

Read more from Darah Patton
Santa Holiday Shopping

Three Tips for Bringing Holiday Magic to your Social Campaigns

‘Tis the season where people everywhere are decking the halls and hitting the malls for all things holiday-related. For marketers, it’s the season to drive products and services into the spotlight to capitalize on the busiest shopping season of the year. Your company most likely already has social campaigns in place to promote your holiday offerings, but you may be feeling like your messages are getting lost in the seasonal shuffle. This is understandable, with last year’s e-Commerce orders from social media growing a staggering 202 percent and two-thirds of marketers hiking their spending in social media this Q4. Even though the countdown is on, there is still time to tweak your campaigns to optimize your investment across social media and propel your messages forward. Below are three tips to help bring some holiday magic to your social campaigns to stand out from the rest.

1. Personalize your offers.
A recent trend report reveals that 78 percent of shoppers are more likely to buy products if a retailer provides targeted and personalized offers. With the overwhelming gifts offers of all types during the holidays, a thoughtful promotion tailored to a specific audience’s interests goes a long way. Scrolling through social media news feeds in December can put a consumer on auto-pilot, but a personalized message is sure to catch their eye. Not only do niche messages and tailored audiences please consumers amidst the chaos, it can also benefit your company to avoid major holiday keywords in promotions. Major retailers are investing millions of dollars across social paid promotions and have general holiday keywords in their back pockets to guarantee their promotions are front and center as consumers search Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for gifts. Unless you have the bucks to bid against the Targets and Best Buys of the world, your promotions will most likely fall flat in the general “Happy Holidays” keywords arena. Take advantage of these social channels and their advanced advertising platforms to tailor your audience and keywords to the most valuable, niche market that will truly resonate with what you’re offering.

2. Make it easy to shop anywhere.
Online shopping is shaping up to surpass brick-and-mortar stores in the coming years during the holiday season. Even more notably, mobile commerce sales this season are expected to account for 32 percent of all holiday retail sales. Regardless of where folks are shopping, 78 percent will consult resources online to research gifts before purchasing. What does this mean for marketers? Shopping needs to be accessible anywhere. Social media promotions, whether organic or paid content, should drive shoppers to your products or services that can be purchased easily and efficiently regardless of device. While some companies are still struggling to make their shopping experience mobile-friendly, you can make your remaining social content stand out by highlighting just how shoppers can purchase your gifts this season – from store to desktop, to tablet, to mobile – and call out how easy it is to check off another gift from their lists. Shoppers will appreciate your attention to detail that helps ease their holiday stress during crunch time.

3. Promote giving back.
In the clutter of “buy now” messages, promoting how to give back this season is refreshing for consumers looking to take a step back and remember what the holidays are all about. Is your company supporting a cause this season? Enlist your customers in your charitable efforts! Shoppers may have every intention of making a holiday donation, but in the hustle and bustle they may not know where to begin. Supporting a cause through a brand they love is an easy way for consumers to give back among the rest of their holiday to-dos. Macy’s “Believe” campaign is a great example that encourages shoppers to write a letter to Santa to help raise $1 million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Your letter can be written through their website or their complementary app that lets you spruce up your note with stickers and fancy lettering. If your social content could use a refresher in the final weeks before the holidays, showcasing how to give back is a great way to boost brand advocacy and more inviting content to combat consumer burnout.

As we round the corner into the final shopping week before the holidays, we hope these tips can bring a little cheer to your content and campaigns. A tweak in your messaging can help put a twinkle back into the tired eyes of shoppers across your social media channels and generate last-minute sales around promotions that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.

Read more from Jill Jankowski
mobile branding businessman smartphone

How (and Why) Brands Should Jump on the Snapchat Bandwagon

Snapchat claims to be “the best way to reach 13-34 year-olds.” A bold statement, but if this stands true, this means Snapchat could be one of the most impactful avenues for brands to reach the coveted teen and Millennial audiences. Especially as more Millennial-oriented platforms come onto the scene, like YouNow and CNN’s Great Big Story, the question arises: how can brands best benefit from these different apps? I recently attended PR News’ webinar How to Use Snapchat to Enhance Your Brand’s Messaging and thought I’d share the key insights I took away on how brands can use Snapchat to their advantage.

When considering using Snapchat for your brand, it is important to keep in mind the audience and the platform’s unique capabilities. According to Snapchat, more than 60 percent of 13-34 year olds with a smartphone use the app, with 37 percent of users being 18-24 years old (and only 2 percent being 55+). Also, just FYI, posts in Snapchat cannot be pre-loaded, they must be live which calls for time and resources. So if your brand is targeting an older generation, it may not be worth the effort to invest in Snapchat.

Aside from being one of “the best” ways to reach Millennials and teens, why is Snapchat worth it for brands?

  • Constant content: You can push content out constantly to your Story without worrying about overloading feeds. Users select when to view your content, so they aren’t involuntarily inundated. And all of your content is found when someone clicks on your cover image (until they disappear 24 hours later!).
  • Live feeds: Since it is a purely live-based platform, Snapchat is especially effective for events, news and anything else your brand wants to communicate at that moment. For example, multiple publishers like Mashable and Buzzfeed used Snapchat to “live blog” this fall’s Apple event – immediately breaking news and creating a full feed in one spot that covered highlights from the whole event.
  • Creativity: Snapchat has a lot of unique features like doodling and geofilters (overlays that are only available in certain locations) that make it fun to show the personality and behind-the-scenes of a brand. And if you really want to, you can even take a selfie that shows you barfing rainbows (if, you know, that aligns with your brand’s messaging and all).

So maybe I’ve convinced you why your brand should consider jumping on the Snapchat bandwagon, but it’s also important to know that engagement is a whole different beast on Snapchat, especially since it is completely app-based. Here are some tactics to help drive engagement:

  • Cross promotion: To add users on Snapchat, you have to search directly in the app. This means you can’t link directly to your name in the way we are familiar with for other social media. By making your Twitter or Facebook avatars your Snapchat QR code (aka your name on Snapchat), this tells your followers how to find you.
  • Follow back: Adding some of your key followers back can make them more inclined to view your Stories and stay loyal to your brand.
  • Post close together, but not too often: Posting to your Story a couple times of week, rather than every day, can actually drive more opens. However, when you are creating a Story, try to post all your snaps in the same hour so your followers are able to watch the story unfold at once.
  • Storytelling: Snapchat may be a whole new world, but it still calls for a beginning, middle and end to your Story. A strong Story will drive followers to continue to engage with your brand.

Snapchat is a young platform, literally and audience-wise, and is still new territory for many brands. It has a lot to offer, ranging from its live Stories to its news section Discover. If you have a youthful audience, Snapchat is worth the effort and can be a fun way to present your brand.

Read more from Linnea DiPillo
Camera icon flat style with long shadow

It’s not a GIF or a Photo. It’s Instagram’s New Boomerang Feature

Boomerang, not to be confused with the hunting stick used by Australian Aboriginals, is a new video app from Instagram. The standalone app that rolled out on iOS and Android devices last Thursday lets you shoot one-second videos made from a burst of five photos. The video loop plays backwards and forwards for a “Boomerang” effect (Get it??) Boomerang joins in on the moving photo craze with other apps like Vine, Apple “Live Photos” and Phhhoto.

As explained on the Instagram blog, “Capture a friend jumping off a diving board, defying physics as she flies back and forth through the air. Transform an ordinary selfie with your friends into a funny video. Get that exact moment your friend blows out his birthday candles, then watch them come back to life again and again.”

How does it work?

Boomerang is fast and incredibly simple to use. The app takes a burst of five photos and stitches them together into a mini video that plays forward and backward. Shooting in normal or selfie mode, all you have to do is tap the shutter button and Boomerang captures five quick shots over the span of a second. Although the app doesn’t have its own feed, each video is automatically saved to your camera roll and can be easily shared on Facebook, Instagram, or elsewhere. As an added bonus the app doesn’t require users to have an Instagram account or a login.

So what?

Boomerang joins Instagram’s growing list of standalone apps that complement the main Instagram app. In March, Instagram rolled out Layout, an app that lets you create photo collages and last August it released Hyperlapse, an app for making time lapse videos. Like with Layout and Hyperlapse, the idea is to bring something new to Instagram and add variety to the existing platform. By allowing users to create and share their own instant GIF-videos, Boomerang not only diversifies the Instagram platform, but also provides an alternative to other GIF and video sharing apps, like Snapchat and Vine.

In the hyper-competitive social media landscape, Boomerang is another example of the shift in messaging and explosion of visual communication taking place through videos and GIFs. The app provides another opportunity for brands to liven up and create unique content to drive brand awareness. While it only launched just last week, some brands are already using it. It will be interesting to see if other brands will integrate GIF-video apps like Boomerang into their existing social media plans and how they will use it to create content and tell their story. In the meantime, don’t forget about these unwritten rules for using Instagram.

Read more from Ashley Genest
3D white people. Latest news concept. Paperboy

Distributed Content: The Evolution of the Paper Route

As a PR person, it’s really important to keep up with the news of the day. In fact, being in the know is equally as important as all other facets of the role, almost on an as-it-happens basis. The truth is, with the frenetic pace of the day, keeping current with speed of breaking news while also being productive is a constant juggling act. As a news junkie, I was thrilled when news outlets took to Facebook and Twitter and began posting links to stories in the places I visit a few times a day anyhow.

This is the new era of news consumption. Gone are the days of the paper boy delivering the news to our door in the wee hours of the morning; instead, mobile has changed the way we consume news, a cycle that is 24/7 – no breaks. There is no such thing as the morning news or the evening news – news follows us via different mediums all day and all night. Twitter and Facebook have led the charge in recent years – according to recent Pew Research, news hounds are getting their fix on either Twitter or Facebook (63 percent respectively) up significantly from 2013 (52 percent/Twitter; 47 percent/Facebook).

Recently news consumption has evolved so it’s delivered to where readers already are, versus having readers come to get the news. It’s a huge shift known as “distributed content” that PR people need to understand.

How are social platforms adapting?

Everyone is getting in on the game, figuring out how best to entice publishers and content producers to get their news “into the stream” and in front of the huge mobile audiences. It all started with Facebook Instant Articles. Then came Apple News, an aggregation of the day’s top stories designed to bring news stories to you; eliminating the need to have to go to a blog or the New York Times or BuzzFeed to get your news. Twitter has taken it to a new level with its launch of Moments, a new feature that allows users to flip through trending news, all nicely edited and aggregated by humans who provide users with a simple way to engage with current events. It’s quick and dirty, not in-depth, and is great for steering readers toward the news they’d like to explore further. Similarly, Facebook’s “Trending” feature gives users a look at what’s happening now – serving up full-length news stories from major sources (think WSJ, NYT, etc.). The best part about Trending is that it’s smart – showing news relative to popularity, geography, and interest. Then came Google AMP, designed to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile Web to deliver rich content instantly regardless of device.

For Millennials who think Facebook and Twitter are for their parents (I beg to differ…), super popular Snapchat has been in on this action for some time now, too. Snapchat’s Discover offers Stories, just like our personal Snaps – but sponsored by major news outlets and delivered in brief editorial packages. Short and sweet. Just like our attention spans.

As the “on-demand” generation, this is about as on-demand as it gets.

Publishers get on board

The major shift taking place is that many major media outlets are no longer publishing exclusively to their own properties (which is crazy if you think about it). The Washington Post, Business Insider and The Huffington Post all publish to Facebook Instant Articles. CNN, Vox Media, TIME and Wired were among the first wave of publishers on Apple News, while U.S. News, New York Times and Buzzfeed got on board with Google AMP.

The proverbial paperboy is still delivering to your doorstep – only the doorstep is your computer or mobile device or tablet. And even then, the news is following you, not the other way around. Clearly this means media outlets have had to adapt the way they publish (and monetize) news if they want to remain competitive and relevant.

So what does this mean for PR? Smart PR people understand that securing media coverage with publications who are distributing their content into this new stream is the way to get vast amounts of more eyeballs on their stories. In parallel, there are also clever ways to feed our owned content into the stream via Apple News and LinkedIn Pulse.

Is this the end of conventional media output as we know it? Not quite. Publishers still have to maintain their sites both for readers and advertisers, but the pressure to dive into the evolved media stream is on, and publishers who stay on dry land will definitely be left behind.

And yes, you’ll be able to see this blog post in your LinkedIn feed.

Read more from Jill Rosenthal

Staying Sharp: 3 Tips for Getting Ahead (and Staying Ahead) in PR

How many times have you been buried in work, only to find that a crucial tweet from a targeted reporter went unnoticed? While it may seem obvious to any communications professional, staying up-to-date in various industries is paramount to conducting a productive PR program. No matter what field you’re focusing on, trends are changing rapidly and PR people need to keep their finger on the pulse  — which is a challenge when the news cycle is 24/7, reporters change beats frequently and what’s new on social media is old just minutes later.

So, how can you stay up-to-date on everything — from media changes and new social channels to industry trends — when you’re also balancing your regular workload? It all comes down to taking advantage of the right tools and resources. By keeping tabs on the need-to-know topics and building relationships with the well-informed, you’ll walk away with some fresh ideas to bring to the table.

If you’re new to PR or just looking for fresh ideas on staying in the loop, consider these tips:

1. Read everything. Obvious, right? But it happens all too often that an article or a reporter’s tweet slips through the cracks during a busy day. To hone in on the topics you’re most interested in, consider checking out Apple News for your daily article intake if you have an iPhone. The new app allows for easy topic and publication filtering, meaning you’ll be recommended stories on specific industries and topics you’re interested in without having to scroll through unrelated news. Alternatively, or if you don’t have an iPhone, you can head over to Twitter’s ‘Moments’ page to get the quick recap of the day’s top headlines. It gathers a handful of trending stories with a brief summary, saving you time from your usual scrolling through hundreds of tweets. And, for those reporter conversations you don’t want to miss on Twitter, check out social media monitoring tools like Brandwatch to keep an eye on your feed while you’re working.

2. Talk with the pros. Don’t knock in-person meetings — they’re still incredibly valuable. It’s always a good idea to reach out to the people within your network who know more about the industry and pick their brains. For example, sales and customer service teams are on the front lines of business, interacting with the audiences you want to influence every day. Take advantage of your connections — touch base with those teams and listen to what they experience and see as important trends in the industry. Also leverage your friendly reporter and analyst relationships. Grab coffee with the reporter and ask him or her questions. Or hop on the phone with the analyst that just covered a competitor to gain some insight on which topics interest them most. If you need some inspiration, our Journalist Corner has some great examples of interviews with leading reporters.

3. Make it all a habit. If you’re like me (or just human in general), forming a habit is never easy, but taking it step by step can help. It all starts with the right mindset — you can’t assume you always have it all figured out, because things are always changing. The way readers consume news changes all the time (podcasts are hot), and new social media apps are popping up like crazy. You can’t be everywhere at once, so make a habit of setting aside time to ensure you keep caught up. Set reminders on your phone if you have to. Skim through your news app while you wait in line for coffee, keep a recurring meeting with a reporter on your calendar every quarter, or set aside 30 minutes one Friday afternoon to touch base with an analyst or catch up on your research. Heard about a new social media app that everyone’s raving about? Check it out for yourself.

You don’t have to stretch yourself thin to stay up to date or spend all day scrolling through Twitter. You just have to learn how to make the tools and resources you have work for you – and then make them second nature.

Read more from Kelsey Miller