Animate (Old) Still Images

Paris Plotagraph

Paris and the Seine

As a Social Media Manager I’m always on the lookout for new tools and software to create surprising graphics or videos that would get my followers hooked while scrolling through their social news feeds.

A relatively new tool I came across last week is Plotagraph, a software that can animate any single JPG and export the result as GIF or MP4. Naturally, I first signed up for the free membership to give it a try, which limits my tool set immensely (no brush, no feathering). Still, the results I can achieve just by setting a few animation and stabilizer points are rather convincing of the power of the tool.

Additionally, Plotagraph is very easy to use. I just had a look at a few edited stills in the software’s tutorial section and understood immediately how to use animation points. No need to watch complex videos or read endless tutorials before I was able to “breathe new life” into some of my old favorites.

Click on the photos below to see what kind of subtle movements you can create with this software.

Plotagraph is available for iPhone and iPad, as well as Mac, Windows and Linux. Waiting for Android!

The software developers also provide Plotagraph fans with a new social platform, which helps photographers exhibit and share their animation work. Now you might think that sharing on any other existing social network might do the trick — and it will — but Plotagraph’s developers were clever by gamifying their tool. The more followers a Plotagraph user gains, the more features they can unlock inside the program…

Did you try Plotagraph yet? Do you use the basic or paid version? Please share your image examples with me. I’m looking forward to getting inspired! :)

If you like this post, you might also like Prisma: Best Art Filters For Urban Shots

Breathe New Life Into Your Social Media Profile: GIFs As Storytelling Art Form

Visual micro content (VMC) is driving forces of engagement these days. Clips and GIFs in the social web are as popular as never before. And I am not talking about the creation of memes.

More and more brands are discovering GIFs, clips and cinemagraphs as fine art and a new way of storytelling. Movable imagery recently became a popular marketing format, which is easy to digest and really stands out in social media feeds.

“Yay” for being a photographer or visual engineer with tons of material on hand. Shame on you if you aren’t involved on social networks yet. Visual content marketing is the way to advertise your photo business, create leads and drive sales in 2016. Why? Gen Y! On a global scale, 64% of the web traffic are videos.

For the young audience, VMC is the digital answer to TV spots; small bites of information and entertainment. Instead of producing a 30 seconds spot try creating 30 spots lasting a few seconds to appeal to a number of buyer personas in your target market.

But beware of producing VMC just because you read it’s trendy and Facebook, Twitter or Google provide the technology. Each cinemagraph, clip or GIF needs to fit into your overall social media strategy: What is your communication goal? Whom do you want to reach? What can they learn from you?

Once you have the answers to all these questions, start planning VMC in your content calendar and make sure you optimize your visual material for each social network. Facebook’s algorithm will reward you with reach if you upload a video there instead of posting it as (YouTube) link. Twitter content has an ideal size of 506x253px.

For details, check out this always up-to-date social media image sizes cheat sheet (Google spreadsheet).

 

Useful resources — DIY:

Useful resources — Libraries:

Useful resources — Inspiration:

I gave it a try myself with GifMaker and a series of photos I took in Auckland a few years ago. You might want to go through your archive too to see if you can leverage some old photo series today.

auckland_harbour_gif

If you like this post you might also like Adobe Post: Create Beautiful Free Social Media Images In Minutes

Adobe Post: Create Beautiful Free Social Media Images In Minutes

free_social_media_images

I think I might have just stumbled upon one of the easiest to use photo apps since a long time to create eye-catching photography event invites, Pinterest album covers, newsletter graphics, text posters, Twitter cover images, Facebook ads…you name it.

With Adobe Post (currently available for iPhone) you are only a few taps away from professional looking designs with your own photos or photos from a huge library of creative commons pics. Within seconds, the mobile app allows you to change sizes, layouts, colour palettes, fonts and photo filters.

To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I took some of my favourite inspirational travel quotes to create a new edition of this old post within 50 minutes (including the research for creative commons images and playing around with my customization options = 10 minutes per image).

The easiest way to get started with Adobe Post is to make use of one of the suggested templates, which you can personalize to your liking.

adobe_post_templates

Once you get hooked, you will probably go ahead and see what Adobe Post can do with your own photos. You can upload them from your camera roll, Lightroom, the cloud or take a new shot with your mobile device’s camera.

After finishing your edit — and this is the cool marketer’s stuff — you can easily change the (social media) format of your creation and switch with one tap between Facebook cover image size, Twitter post size, YouTube thumbnail size, LinkedIn cover size, Instagram square format etc. Most of the time the app works really neat and crops your image or relocates your texts and shapes in a way that won’t require further adjustments.

adobe_post_social_media_marketing

Here are a few tips of app features I discovered by chance (no tutorial):

  • zoom in and out of an image with the pinch-to-zoom move
  • rotate an image with the two-finger-rotate move
  • the last item you create will be the foreground layer; previous items move in the background (creating with that in mind will save you time if you want to overlap text and shape layers)
  • tap several times on a single colour palette icon to try all its different looks
  • tap several times on the “text spacing” to resize shapes you may use
  • tap on “text align” to switch between all caps and big/small letters
  • you only need to share the app once on social media to unlock exclusive fonts and shapes
  • you only need to email the app once to a friend to remove the #AdobePost hashtag

I hope you find the app helpful for all your coming social media endeavours!

If you like this post you might also like RollWorld: Spin It, Warp It, Scroll It, Zoom It — Create Tiny Planets And Abstract Art On Your Mobile Device

Instagram Acronyms Were A Thing In 2015

As the end of 2015 is approaching with rapid strides I digged into my blog statistics to find my most read post this year. Believe it or not, the winner is “Acronym Galore: #jj, #gf, #gotd, #wu, #rsa, #whp, #ic & #tv on #ig”, a text I wrote back in 2013!

The numbers speak for themselves: My Instagram acronym collection attracted well over 5,000 readers in the past 12 months. That’s what I call ‘a good score for a small non-commercial travel & photo blog’, and what content creators call ‘evergreen content’.

Due to the post’s popularity I just updated it with a few new links for extra information and I made sure the content is still correct. Turns out Gang Family is now Global Family, but the handle name and hashtags stay the same and #owu (aka One World United) is no longer active. As bonus, I added a new interesting acronym I discovered in 2015: TV (Transfer Visions).

If you are looking for additional exposure on Instagram to get a name in your photo niche, please read my original article.

If you like travel, nature and urban photography please consider following me on Instagram. Apropos popular: Here is my most liked IG photo of 2015:

My 5 most popular blog posts this year:
1.  Acronym Galore: #jj, #gf, #gotd, #wu, #rsa, #whp, #ic & #tv on #ig
2. Auckland Skyline: Photo Locations
3. New Free Tools To Analyze Your Instagram Followers And Engagement Rate (And Why Iconosquare Is Still Best)
4. New Zealand Communities On Instagram
5. Auckland Sky Tower Colours

French Communities On Instagram

Louvre, Paris, France

Louvre, Paris

After announcing that I moved to France, it seemed like a no-brainer to list worthwhile Instagram accounts that focus on “la joie de vivre” in this part of the world. Please see this post as a sequel to “New Zealand Communities on Instagram” and “Australian Communities on Instagram”. As done before, I recommend checking out the following accounts to learn about stunning travel locations, ideal photo spots, or to connect with the locals.

The hashtag behind each linked Instagram account is the official hashtag you should use if you aim to get featured and grow your audience.

Tip: Don’t forget about the emoji hashtag with the French Tricolore

france-emoji

France in general

@ig_france #ig_france
@exclusive_france #exclusive_france
@france.vacations #france_vacations
@loves.france #loves_france
@loves_france_ #loves_france_
@gf_france_ #gf_france

Also try:
#igers_france
#igersfrance
#visitfrance

Paris

@igersparis #igersparis #igers_paris
@paris_jetaime #parisjetaime
@paris_maville #parismaville

Also try:
#ig_paris
#igersparis
#parisfrance
#parisphoto

Big cities

@objectiftoulouse #objectiftoulouse
@igersmarseille #igersmarseille
@bnw_marseille #bnw_marseille
@lillemaville #lillemaville

Also try:
#igerslille
#igerslyon
#bordeaux
#strasbourg

Regions

@provenceguide #provenceguide

Also try:
#etretat
#cotedazur

Bonus: Europe

@wueurope_ #wu_europe
@europe.vacations #europe_vacations

Do you know of any popular French account or hashtag that I missed? Please leave a comment below!

Make sure to follow me (ae_i) on Instagram for “France through my lens”. Thank you!

View this post on Instagram

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New Free Tools To Analyze Your Instagram Followers And Engagement Rate

UPDATE — 18th of January 2016: Iconosquare switched once more back to paid plans (there is only a free trial). Good news though: Compared to the last switch (in April 2015) the new plans are much more affordable. If you don’t care about exports of your reports you can get started with $28.80/year already. I am still convinced that Iconosquare is doing a great analytics job; if you are looking for a completely free tool however, please continue reading…

At the beginning of 2014 I published the blog post Track The Success Of Your Instagram Content Strategy, in which I strongly recommend the usage of Iconosquare, an easy to set up, complete and free analytics tool. Over a year later, my opinion hasn’t changed. Iconosquare is still the king of free Instagram analytics.

However, they shocked their huge and active followerbase a few days ago, when they announced that they had switched their analytics services to paid only. They shortly introduced 3 new plans for different budgets, which I personally considered as way too costly for private users. Their basic analytics pack started at $199 a month. Sniff!

But all is good (for) now. The team behind Iconosquare admitted they “blew things up”, and they rolled back to the version I fell in love with. They have all my respect for that decision; it surely isn’t easy to sacrifice months of work ‘for the mob’. One word only: Crowdsourcing.

iconosquare-instagram

Iconosquare’s email from May 2, 2015

Just to be on the safe side in case Iconosquare switches back to paid only in the future, I’ve been doing some research, trying to find free alternatives for all shutterbugs and ambitious photographers, who depend on some basic Instagram analytics to understand what their followers like or don’t like, and who their followers are.

I filtered all tools I found by the following criteria:

  • does not require additional private data to actually get your hands on the report, but offers a direct connect with existing Instagram login data
  • does not charge anything for at least the very basic data I’m after (all tools below will actually offer more analytics for money too)
  • does work through a web browser or on the two major smartphone / tablet platforms (iOS, Android) to guarantee unlimited access from several administrators (if needed)

3 tools to consider:

1. Besides follower growth and overall engagement, the free Locowise Instagram Analyser compares your post interactions (likes, comments, response time; for both image and video posts) with those of similar Instagram profiles (based on the amount of account followers).

This tool runs in any web browser and will give you a basic understanding if your Instagram growth and engagement rates are healthy, or need to be worked on.

locowise-instagram-analytic

Locowise Instagram Analyser

2. SocialRank does not focus on growth and engagement rate (yet). However, their filters allow you to drill deeper into knowing who your followers are and whom to follow back. You can not only filter by “most valuable”, “most engaged” and “best followers”, but also by bio keyword (for example “photography”, “Canon 5D”, “travel addict” etc.) as well as location (city, state or country) and hashtags they used in the past. With only 1 click you can sort out all those accounts who are inactive or never posted on Instagram.

3. InsTrack (aka InstaFollow, by INNOVATTY) is a mobile App, running on both iOS and Android devices. Free App features include a list of gained and lost followers, a list of Igers that you personally follow, but who do not follow you back, as well as a free “fans” list; followers you don’t follow back. All accounts in these lists can be directly followed or unfollowed from within InsTrack.

Under “Media Insights” you will find a short summary of your Total Likes and Total Comments, as well as Average Likes / Comments Per Post. To see your most popular (liked or commented) media, gain better user insights, or learn more about your most and least engaged followers you will have to do some in-app purchases. You can currently unlock all premium features for a total of $7.76 (one time payment). Sounds fair.

instrack-instagram-stats

INNOVATTY’s InsTrack (InstaFollow)

Iconosquare statistics, which these 3 tools won’t deliver (for free):

  • best time of the day to publish something new on your Instagram profile
  • average lifespan of a post
  • hashtag trends / search / impact
  • filter impact
  • list of all unread comments (plus possibility to reply or delete them)

If you are after the most complete AND free reporting, Iconosquare is still the best choice. Though for various reasons, you might still want to try one of the above mentioned tools; for example if you need to check your Instagram growth and engagement on the go thanks to a mobile App (something Iconosquare does not offer).

If you want to look into further free tools that didn’t match my filters mentioned above, please check:

Did you find another free Instagram analytics tool I didn’t mention here?
Which of the paid Instagram analytics tools mentioned in this Agorapulse article would you recommend for smaller budgets?

Make sure to connect with me on Instagram!

If you like this post you might also like Acronym Galore: #jj, #gf, #gotd, #wu, #rsa, #whp, #ic & #owu on #ig

The Social Media Image Frenzy – Panel Discussion

If you are in Auckland on October 22 and interested in either photography, or social media, or social marketing, don’t miss the following event. I’m sure you won’t regret it — I attented almost all Social Media Club Auckland (#smcakl) meetups during the past 1.5 years and I can truly recommend their monthly panel discussions.


When? 
22 October, 6 pm to 8 pm (check your timezone for the live stream)
Where? Vodafone, 20 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Auckland City (New Zealand)

What? Every minute of every day, we share millions of images online. The image is the new visual language of the moment. But by doing so, has privacy become an old-fashioned concept as we become our own gossip columnists, and celebrities bypass the traditional media to become their own press agents?

And with so much noise how do professionals source and sell images when you are one among billions? While we are busy instagramming, pinning, facebooking, and tweeting our daily lives, are we simply creating a commodity for the companies that use facial recognition tech to scan our streets and social media posts to fill big data tanks on how we eat, live, look and think?

Join us as our panel discusses the new distribution models, how to break through the noise, how the social media image frenzy is changing the way we use and share images, and the implications of tracking technology.

Who? 

  • Arran Birchenough – Senior Account Manager, Getty Images
  • Bradley Ambrose – Professional news and adventurer photographer
  • Associate Professor Mark Sagar – Director, the Laboratory for Animate Technologies, University of Auckland
  • Ricardo Simich – Editor of Spy the Herald on Sunday

How? Reserve your free ticket! Then join the social media savvy crowd at 6 pm for hot pizza, cold drinks and inspiring discussions! Can’t make it there? Join their live stream online (which puts you in charge of pizza and drinks)!

If you like this post you might also like Track The Success Of Your Instagram Content Strategy