Everything I needed to know about Social Media, I learned from Instagram

I ❤ Instagram: an iPhone-based Social Media service for Photo-Lovers

Lessons learned from my favorite Social Media service, Instagram – a social photo app for iPhone.

Obviously, there isn’t an all-knowing source for what works and what doesn’t when it comes to Social Media, but through observation and the use of several services, I have gleaned a better understanding of the Social pulse and what drives users to get so involved.

My favorite example of a Social community explosion is Instagram. Not only do I love and use the Instagram service, but I can honestly say that my experience with this app has made quite a difference in my approach to working with Social Media on a professional level as well.

A few of the lessons I’ve learned from Instagram:

Be in the moment. – It’s not about perfection, it’s not about being cool… It’s about being real and right there in the moment, and it’s about expressing a notion, an idea, or a personal style.  Some of my favorite Instagramers, or IGers as regular users say, share a moment here and there throughout their day, even if it’s something that is as common as a view of the sky, gazing down at blades of grass, or what they’ve made for dinner.

The power of making even common moments magical is where Instagram really shines.  Using the app’s filters and effects, a very personalized approach to everyday moments is possible.  Plus, if you’re an app nerd like myself (I’ll share my favorite photo editing apps in another post.), you can edit a photo with a wide assortment of filter/editing apps and post it to reflect any given mood or artistic whim.

Get involved. – One aspect of Instagram I’ve enjoyed from the moment I began using the iPhone app (late 2010) is participating in “forums” or “challenges.”  Some IGers such as @joshjohnson, @jaywintermeyer, and @kewiki – to name just a few – often post challenges to get their followers engaged in the IG community.  These challenges can be based upon anything from a color theme to editing a specific photo using any combination of photo editing apps.

My Word of the Day Challenge@joshjohnson is an Atlanta, GA based photographer who has probably been the most prolific Instagram challenge maker/influencer as he posts daily AND weekly forums/challenges, plus “Instatips” – daily photography tips on everything from capturing the perfect light with your iPhone to SLR gear.  If you’re an Instagram user, I highly recommend checking him (and the other two users mentioned above) out!

I was even inspired to create my own challenge about a month ago – check Instagram’s #WOTDProject hashtag for my Word of the Day project feed.  Basically, this consists of a group of a few folks posting shots based around Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day.

It’s less ME than it is EVERYONE. – The sooner you stop soap-boxing, or in this case, focusing on only receiving feedback on your own photographs, and stop for a moment to HEAR – and SEE – what others are doing, the faster you will improve your Social Media skills.

I really dislike artificial ploys to grow your ‘follower’ or ‘friends’ lists when it comes to any Social Media service as they seem counterintuitive.  So, what to do?  Look at what others are posting, give honest and thoughtful feedback, follow people you are genuinely interested in… and pretty soon, you will develop real connections.  You will find yourself part of a conversation.

Charleston, SC Instameet on May 7, 2011 at 12pmAnd, like Twitter, Instagram has given way to in-person Instameetups – In fact, there’s a Worldwide Instameet happening this Saturday May 7th.  I’m attending one locally here in Charleston, SC.  Is there one in your town?  Click here to find out.

As with a lot of what was considered “web 2.0” (Wow, that sounds antiquated.), I had to come around to Social Media in my own time… and find something that appealed to me before I could wholeheartedly say I loved it.  Instagram really pushed the needle, which is something that Facebook and Twitter just couldn’t quite do for me.  I can now say, “I LOVE IT!”

I’m pleased that the takeaway from a passionate personal experience with a service such as Instagram has been a greater appreciation and understanding of the fundamentals of Social Media as a channel for connecting to an audience, sharing common interests, and building relationships.

Do you use Instagram?  If so, find me: @mockturtle!

Any other Instagram users our there?  I’d love your comments.


New! Recipes – Spicy Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry


Spicy Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry, originally uploaded by mockturtle.

Let me preface this post with this:
I do not intend to turn my professional blog into a food blog. But, I thought it couldn’t hurt to share a bit of a twist on a common subject in my photography, cooking and food!

I enjoy the “behind the scenes” aspect of recipes that accompany food-ography, so here I’ll try to share my experience with flavors that go well together plus any tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

I by no means claim to be a culinary expert, but I know what tastes good to me and like getting feedback from others. So, if you like, read on for one of latest culinary experiments.


I’m a bit of a noob when it comes to cooking with tofu, so I could not believe how tasty this randomly tossed together recipe turned out. The spice, the texture, everything… yum!


Step 1) Marinate Tofu

1 pkg, cubed, super firm tofu
Sesame oil
Low sodium, dark soy sauce
Ground ginger
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Drain tofu on paper towels and transfer to a sealable container, drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle liberally with ground ginger and cayenne pepper (careful with the cayenne if you don’t want it super spicy), then sprinkle very lightly with a dusting of garlic powder and onion powder. Add several splashes of soy sauce (not enough so the soy sauce pools at the bottom of the container, just enough to give a good coating). Stir to coat tofu, cover, and set aside

Step 2) Prep Stir Fry Veggies

1lb. cut, frozen broccoli, thawed (or fresh)
4-5 celery stalks, cut into pieces proportional to the broccoli pieces
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained (or fresh)
1-2 thinly sliced green onions
2 cloves minced garlic

Step 3) Sear Tofu

In a large skillet, heat sesame oil (about 1 tbsp) over medium-high heat until hot and add marinated tofu. Stir fry for about 4 minutes stirring periodically until sides of tofu cubes begin to sear. Add in green onions and minced garlic. Continue to stir fry a few more minutes, keeping an eye on the garlic to be sure it doesn’t turn brown. Remove tofu, onions, and garlic from pan, set aside (I just tossed it back into the container I’d used for marinating.)

Step 4) Stir Fry Veggies

Add more sesame oil (a couple of tablespoons this time) to the hot skillet and let it heat up. Add broccoli and celery and stir to coat with oil. Then sprinkle with a little sea salt and ground black pepper. Stir fry just the broccoli and celery until they get slightly tender, then add mushrooms and a splash or two of soy sauce.

Step 5) Reassemble!

After a minute or two, add the seared tofu, garlic, and onions back to the pan with the other veggies and heat through.

Serve hot with or without rice.

Any suggestions for alterations to this recipe are welcome.

Cabbages and Kings

Cabbages, originally uploaded by mockturtle.

Not that this explains my lapse in blog posts, or has anything to do with anything really, but I enjoy this image and wanted to share.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

The Walrus and the Carpenter – Lewis Carroll

Oh, and if anyone wants to share a yummy cabbage recipe, comment away! ❤

It’s Almost Here… Fall


paper starlight, originally uploaded by mockturtle.

While rummaging through my photo files last night, I came across this image of a paper star light. It made me think of fall and the harvest moon. I can’t wait to enjoy my first fall season in Charleston on the South Carolina coast – the heat and humidity being replaced with cool, crisp, salty air… ahhh.