Optimizing Instagram with the Help of Statigram

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 9.51.45 AMIf you haven’t seen one of those “my Instagram year in review” videos that were blowing up {at least my} Instagram feed{s} during the first couple days of 2014, well…where you hiding under a rock or something?  Just search the #memostatigram hashtag on Instagram for many, many examples; the search turns up more than 50,000 posts as of this writing. Most of the videos in my feed were posted by fashion bloggers, some featuring photos which generated over 1Million likes, putting my sad 31-likes top post to utter shame. These “year in review” videos were my first exposure to Statigram.

Statigram is the first analytics and marketing suite for Instagram created in May 2011 by a small web agency called Tripnity based in France.  What started out as a 1-page service with about 10 stats has now turned into a vital tracking service that “works with your Instagram account to help you grow a social-rich media strategy, effectively interact with your community and measure your efforts with metrics.” Among its range of capabilities, Statigram helps you to:

  1. Promote your Instagram account across other social networks
  2. Manage your community and their comments
  3. Analyze your activity through professional statistics *
  4. Engage your community with photo contests, helping setup, promote, moderate, monitor, and publish results all within Statigram

Instagram is slowly becoming a strong and important outlet for marketers as they try to tap into the Generation C market – the always online, device-carrying consumers who are active participants that integrate digital into their lives everyday. In the last few years, really since 2011 when Statigram was born, Instagram has proven to be an extremely effective platform for marketers to reach a new audience in the way the audience wants to be marketed to: with visuals and short messages. 

One of the most important lessons I have learned through the past two years is that the most powerful marketing campaigns tell powerful stories. To capture an audience, marketers have to bring me as a consumer into the story of their brand, captivate me by its persona, and keep me coming back and desiring to reenter the world they created for me. Unlike any other form, images have the ability to immediately capture an audience with few to no words necessary.

Once brands can find out where their target audience is, the next piece of the puzzle is finding out when they are on that platform. It may even be argued that context, not platform, is the key to reaching consumers. But that’s a whole different argument for a different blog post. For now, reenter Statigram. You might have seen the * next to #3 above. As an avid advocate for consumer behavior research, I am always looking for the justification and insight that can be gained through hard statistics. To simply state the point, getting offers or products in front of customers at the right place and time, when their intent is to purchase a product or service, is becoming much more practical. For Instagram, the goal is to get your story in front of consumers at the time when they are looking for inspiration, whether they are looking to see if a brand or user posted a specific post or if they are simply bored with real life and head to Instagram for entertainment. Either way, posting when your viewers are searching for content is growing ever more important as the time in which marketers have to capture the attention of consumers shortens (for the average marketing campaign, it’s about 15 seconds).

Popular brand marketers are not the only ones using Statigram. Fashion and lifestyle bloggers have been using the tool to optimize their posts. I recently watched a Q&A with blogger Jacey Duprie of Damsel in Dior as she speaks at the Simply Stylist New York Fashion & Beauty Conference about Blogging 101 last month. After mentioning the best times to post on your blog (aka 8am, noon, and 3pm — in case you were wondering) she transitions into growing your Instagram following (8:30/14:23 in the video), citing Statigram  giving her the insight that her followers were most active at 12am on Monday…yeeesh. Since that’s when they are most engaged, that’s when she posts. Genius.

If you’re looking to use Instagram for marketing, in a way other than just posting a photo board of your personal life, Statigram should be your first stop before defining your Instagram strategy. To end, here are just some other quick stats Statigram gives you: most engaged followers, open Instagram contests, follower growth, etc (see below)

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Side Note: Shout out to Meghan Donovan and Kimberly Pesch for being my favorite IGers this month! FavoriteIGers

TIME Redesign is Simply {Magnetic}

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The newly redesigned TIME Magazine website is nothing short of beautiful. Just as mind-blowing and stunning as the new format is are the hard stats that go along with it: Traffic has more than doubled, to 23 million uniques, over the last year, a rise new Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs attributes to a hiring spree and smarter deployment of those resources. Video streams are up 860 percent in the last year, and in February the site did 4.4 million streams. (source: Peter Kafka)

TIME’s website began making progress in October of 2012 when it switched to a responsive design. According to the magazine, it was the first global news outlet to roll out a redesign completely optimized for mobile and tablet browsing – the same great award-winning news coverage presented in a streamlined design. Since responsive designs are now not only the norm but also expected of magazine websites, TIME upped its game once more with a complete and utter transformation.

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Eye catching without being overkill, the new site is able to display more content without feeling cluttered. The site is also designed with continuous scrolling, allowing easier discovery of articles instead of having to click individual menus on the icon bar (which FYI is now hidden — gotta love it). Another technical change comes with the popular blog platform, WordPress, now powering the site. What does being powered by WordPress do? For one, it allows fellow WordPress users (like myself) the ease of adding TIME to WordPress “Reader,” creating an easier way to follow and read TIME articles and features. Consequently, this feature will also unclog my email. Instead of subscribing to TIME via email, which opens up their opportunity to bombard me with off-brand promotions that I really don’t care for, I can now follow just their published content like any other blog, which, to me, is more convenient and user-friendly.

And of course, no publishers website is complete without – you guessed it – advertising. Before you go all ho-hum on me and begin to blast the unpopular native ads that tend to blow up the internet, wait just one moment until you see what I have to show you (or, more specifically, what Peter has to show you).

TIME ads have gone magnetic. What? That was my first reaction as well, but guys, this is super sweet. Just watch:

Developed in-house, these ad units are synced together, so you can click and scroll through them as you please, making them both slightly entertaining and potentially captivating. Citi was the first advertiser to jump on to the “magnetic” bandwagon, and Time Inc eventually aims at making such synced ad units an industry standard.

As the namesake magazine of its parent company, Time Inc., TIME Magazine’s digital upgrade may be more than just the one website getting a facelift. I desperately hope that this redesign forecasts the future of Time Inc. as it prepares to spin-off, a turn that can take the old-school publishing house into the digital age, embracing new technology while still sticking to the content that has helped it secure its spot as one of the largest branded media companies in the world.

Still unsure that website design plays a role in consumer interaction and reader retention? Think again. Especially in the age of the digital-savvy and technology-friendly reader, a awe-inspiring and powerful website can be everything.

My Rekindled Love Affair with Social

 Hi guys. I’ve missed ya & also really missed chatting social and digital marketing! After plugging away at my marketing career for almost a year now, I can thankfully admit that to some success thus far, getting to work for 2 large companies with solid marketing teams and leaders. The first year out of college is truly an eye-opening one. My days are spent applying the knowledge accrued in college, and while there no tests to prep for per se, a different type of “learning” constantly occurs, and each assignment “tests” my ability to convert head knowledge into an actual campaign.  I similarly conduct a whole lot of inwardly focused research as I try to decide where I want to go with my career. Yes, I am 100% grateful to have a job in my field AND one that pays me well. But let’s be real, who is really totally content with their job at 23 years old? I am thus looking for the next way to advance my knowledge and career. That all to say that while my day job may not be my “dream job,” it’s a great and wonderful jumping board into a path, one that includes 2 specific aspects of marketing that captured my heart.

Throughout my time in school and my year out in the marketing field, I have always come back to 2 general sectors that have, and probably forever will, interest me: social/digital media and consumer behavior. And honestly, don’t those two totally go hand-in-hand? Besides hard statistics and one-on-one interviews, where else can you go to truly understand a consumer? Well, how about his or her digital daily diary, plastered for the world to see on platforms such as – you guessed it – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, etc etc etc. I like people – a lot- but more than that, I really like trying to understand people and their buying behavior. We are curious consumers, aren’t we?

No matter where I work and what company I work for, I will forever try to pinpoint that company’s target consumer, the inherent job description of every aspiring and practicing marketer. Right now, I am not pledged with the task of interacting with buyers and readers, and yet I find myself constantly judging those that are, considering their “social media brand strategy” and then deciding that “I could do this way better!” Cocky? Definitely. Ambitious? Maybe. Proving that I have a God-given desire to learn and work in the digital sphere? Absolutely. Though far from the point in my marketing proficiency that I would be able to boast about my ability to understand and implement social media strategy, day after day I am ever more eager to learn and reach that pinnacle.

As daily advancements in the art of successful digital marketing occur, the field begins to boast so many brilliant and talented men and women working diligently to modernize the way marketers diffuse, and infuse, messaging across platforms to their target consumers. It blows my mind, but also strikes a drive in me, one that ignited originally in my #MARK5000 class by the ever-sassy and ever-savvy Jen Osbon. What she introduced me to what not only lessons, but also real professionals. I got to sit in a room of 30 students and listen to Nick Ayres, the social business lead at IHG; David Favero, global account manager at Shoutlet; Derek Van Nostran, VP Digital Marketing at CNN (like..yeah) & Lila King, Products and Partnerships at HLN (!! shameless plug: best guest speakers ever and two of the smartest individuals I have ever listened to), and many more. These are some down to earth people doing some seriously incredible things in digital. To say this class and these speakers were inspiring would be the understatement of the decade.

Anyway, I am eager not only find home in forward-thinking company, one where I can grow in my career, but also one that already houses 1) those currently rocking the social marketing world that I can follow around like a little child, hoping to learn from them and also one that 2) can give me room to take what I learn from digi-savvy veterans and [try to] implement strategies.

So oh dear job market, be kind to me as I jump back into your waters in search of a mate of sorts, one that wants me to not only grow in my profession, but grow with it in this crazy changing world.

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Nobody puts Traditional in a Corner

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WSJ caption: Don Draper of ‘Mad Men’ never had to worry about digital upheaval.

I’ve wanted to write a post on this article since I first read it back in early August. However, after putting it off too long, it has seriously taken me a solid month of scouring Google, WSJ, and related blogs to finally re-find this piece. Thus, a month later, you are getting my response to:

“Old-School Ad Execs Sweat as Data Geeks Flex Muscle: Madison Avenue increasingly values digital savvy over conventional creative talent”

A quick synopsis if you haven’t read the article (which, of course, I highly recommend…but just in case): Authors Suzanne Vranica and Christopher Stewart argue that Madison Avenue is increasingly employing “computer programmers, data heads, and quantitative analysts” in favor of those with “traditional creative backgrounds.” Insert the first problem I have with this article: they never actually define what “traditional advertising” is. Hello 7th grade English Composition — define your terms; you write for the WSJ for Pete’s sake. Does Traditional mean print? Does it mean television? Or, does it simply refer to the means of introducing ourselves and saying something to many clients and prospects all at once? Unfortunately, I have no idea. What these authors do seem to define is “digital.” Apparently, “digital” means data-driven geeks focused solely on algorithms. They go on to, of course, point out the merger of Omnicom and Publicis, adding that it was driven by a rise of data and digital advertising resulting in “creative people…feel[ing] left out.”

STOP. Since when does Digital Savvy = not creative? That is just laughable. Case and point: 2013 Superbowl Blackout. Listen to these guys talk about real-time social conversation and social CRM. Genius.  I hate to beat this in even more, but the social media genius behind the Oreo tweet not only stole the whole Superbowl away from the teams actually playing, but he or she also married traditional marking with digital savvy to create an absolutely unheard of following.

There’s this funny phenomenon that happens as innovation and change take place in society. As soon as a life-changing product or service is introduced that has the potential to warp the way business is done – in this case, technology and the digital age – industries split automatically into Old-School and New-School. While not necessarily a bad split, inevitably you get articles like this one, touting the change as terrible for those that call themselves “traditional” marketers and advertisers. The old hates the new, the new hates the old, resulting in a giant chasm separating the two and forcing up-and-coming professionals to choose between them. The question I have is: Is it possible to have a traditional[ish] marketer who sees and grasps the incredible opportunity that digital is offering? I’d say yes, because who I just described is absolutely, 100%, me.

If you’re wondering why there is such a boom in digital, go back to the quite “Traditional” marketing/advertising question of, “Where is the audience?” I mean, people, that’s Marketing 101. I’ll go ahead and tell you what every metric that these “data geeks” analyze will tell you: the audience is online, on mobile, and on social media.  That just comes with the changing of the times. Where these consumers are may not be traditional at all, but audience awareness, conversation, and story telling are still at the core of successful marketing and advertising no matter which channel is used.

Social Media Marketing is, at its core, the bridge over the earlier-mentioned chasm separating old-school and new-school. It has literally revolutionized the way that brands and consumers communicate and understand one another by embracing word of mouth, the oldest, most effective form of integrated marketing. Like it or not, traditionalists, but new-school, digital savvy, social media adept professionals are incredibly needed and useful in today’s marketing world. But does that mean that the “Creative traditionalist” marketer is becoming extinct? By no means. Data-backed campaigns are only as strong as the creative mind that orchestrates them.

There is this popular blurb of advice floating around the vast majority of business classes that goes something like: “surround yourself with those whose strengths are your weaknesses.” I’d like to argue that, when balancing traditional and digital marketing, this should be the mantra. This is no “OR” situation. Traditional marketing and advertising isn’t, and really cannot, go anywhere, for it is engrained in the fiber of digital marketing and analytics.

 

#DigitalWannabe

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One too-dressed-up May grad worming her way back into the classroom in search of the inspiration and connections needed to jump-start a career in digital marketing {yep…that’s me}. One crazy-awesome professor with impeccable style and first-hand social [media] knowledge and experience. Two Social Media Marketing sections composed of frocketed-tee-wearing, fresh-off-the-weekend college seniors. Oh hello, deja vu. That college senior was me 4 months ago. Little did I know that I would enter that classroom again, let alone on a day when another individual was making his return to the classroom as well.

Enter the guest speaker for the day, David Favero (@MDFavero), the Southeast Sales Director for a company called Shoutlet. Don’t know Shoutlet? Yeah don’t worry….I forgot about it, too. But this isn’t a post about the company so much as about the digital world it caters to. Oddly enough, I gleaned more from David’s talk the second time around since, when he came to speak to my class last spring, I had no intention of pursuing a career in digital marketing. Maybe I owe my intent interest to my current unemployed status, or maybe hopefully the digital marketing geek inside me was just bursting to hear more about experiences in an industry I one day hope to be in {read: master}. As David talked, and students asked questions, I couldn’t help but smile and think to myself: Oh good gracious. This space is SO.FLIPPIN.AWESOME. No, it is not only the appeal of said beer cart Fridays or the [more] casual workwear, but the potential impact of and through digital marketing is so grand that I would honestly be a fool to not yearn to be a part of and add value to it.

So how do I go about this? Well, I’ll David will tell ya:

Getting Started {totally stealing this from AiMA, but whatevs…it’s brilliant}

Network: In today’s business world, a resume submitted online that ends up in a stack of identical pieces of paper will pretty much get *me* no where. And you know what, there are worse things in life. As tiring, intense, awkward, and stuffy as networking can potentially be, it’s honestly the best possible way to find that [perfect] job fit. I can’t really think of a better way to judge not only the personality, culture, and work of potential companies but also employers/co-workers than chatting (as casually as possible) with those in the industry and positions that I one day would like to be in.

Share: Maybe “share” is not the best word to use for what I am trying to get at. Maybe it’s ENGAGE. Instead of judging how smart her students were, Jen (my Social Media Marketing teacher…I feel like it’s okay to be on a first-name basis now that I’m a graduate…), I think, was providing us with a way to engage with social, not just on social channels, but by reading the goings-on in the world of digital marketing. I easily could have deleted this space after the class was over; I don’t need that weekly grade anymore, so why continue? This is why: I like to talk, I like to read, I like to think, and I like to blog about digital marketing. This blog is a way to keep me “in-the-know” and on my toes. And hey, keeping up with digital news also gives me some great talking points when it comes to networking. See how I made that connection?

Learn: During the good ole “Q&A” time in class, one girl asked me {emphasis on ME! eek feeling special} how I went about strategically choosing who to follow on Twitter (aka what social/digital participants or leaders were worth following). Let me just put it out there that I don’t feel accomplished enough to answer that question…but I answered anyway: I research. Meaning what, exactly? In any industry you want to get into, especially in social media, follow those who know more than you, who are industry thinkers and leaders, and who have strengths that you don’t. AND: don’t just learn from the information they provide on Twitter/blogs/Facebook/etc, learn how they USE it – how they post, how often they post, what information is relevant, is it engaging, does it create conversation? Some Suggestions:

  • Avinash Kaushik (@avinash), Google’s chief digital evangelist and one of the most influential bloggers on analytics
  • Michael Stelzner (@Mike_Stelzner), Creator of the Social Media Examiner properties — perhaps the most successful and influential social media blog, podcast and conference in the world
  • Nick Ayres (@nickjayres), manager of social media marketing at IHG
  • Sean Gardner (@2morrowknight) Consultant and a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Influencers… and his blog

and finally…

Hashtag: Meaning what? JOIN THE CONVERSATION, FOOL!

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A little B&B: Beer and Branding

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This post really has nothing to do with “social media” marketing, but we’ll see if I can’t find some way to tie it in somewhere in my stream of thoughts.

About 20 minute ago, I was sitting in a meeting with my boss and our team up in NYC. The topic of the meeting centered around a competitive sales analysis of some of the company’s magazines. When they started talking about the poor financial position of some of our long-time titles, my ears perked up. After the phone call, I asked more about one particular magazine that has been around since the company’s beginning. Not only are newsstand sales down for it, but no company wants to pay to advertise in it nor does any publisher want to buy the magazine title from us. While this was all a little shocking to me, I didn’t rest on the shock but rather jumped straight to: “Well why doesn’t the company just  rebrand the magazine?”

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Quick little bit about my 22-year-old self as it relates to my career aspirations: I want to be a marketer. Well, duh, Sarah…hence the blog. Ok a little bit more detailed: As a hope-to-be future marketer, who is also one heck of a brand-loyalist, I dream of branding. I want to get my hands into the creating and positioning  of a brand and its subsequent voice so that consumers don’t have a choice but to remain loyal to it.

One company and brand(s) that you know from this post that I am completely loyal to is Anheuser-Busch. And yet again, as much as I love them, their branding and strategists have been stupid (in my opinion) as of late. Here’s the headline that caught my attention:

Bud Light Moves to BBDO: Shifted to Translation last August

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I read this article right after my little rebranding idea in my meeting earlier, so naturally my mind just has way too many ideas and opinions not to write down.

As the article notes, “BBDO becomes Bud Light’s fourth creative agency partner in the past 18 months.” I am not in any position to comment on the capabilities of BBDO, because until this article, I had never heard of them. Obviously, it must be one great creative agency if it scored the account of America’s largest beer brand, but couldn’t that have been said about Bud Light’s past 3 creative agency partners? Dear Bud Light and Paul Chibe: what gives?

Of course, I couldn’t help but comment on the article right away:

There is just no way that switching creative agencies this many times is healthy for the Bud Light brand. Brands need a consistent voice to be successful. These types of big moves will only confuse consumers and possibly even Anheuser-Busch InBev as a whole when it comes down to asking core brand questions such as, “What IS Bud Light (besides a beer, of course)? Who does it cater to, and who is it directed towards?” I don’t care how great this new agency is — when it comes down to branding strategy, this is one terrible move.

Does AB have a good reason for switching agency partners this much? Most likely. But that doesn’t mean that I agree with its decisions.  That point, though, is what makes me want to work for Anheuser-Busch so badly: I see places in which I could add of value. I see problems that have potential solutions, and I want to be the one to bring those solutions about. This company was once (and still is…)a powerhouse, but now it seems that the beer market has shifted to one in which cheap isn’t everything. Despite this falling (or recovering?) economy, craft beers have simply EXPLODED, putting pressure on big names such as AB and MillerCoors to keep up and fashion their products in a way that competes with the uniqueness of each craft brew and its equally unique appeal to consumers.

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If you’re curious: according to the Boston brewer, the shape of this can actually enhances the flavor of the brew

We’ve seen Budweiser already trying to compete with the King of craft beer. Soon after Samuel Adams announced its departure from a bottle-only stance with its introduction of the “Sam Can,” the innovations team at AB rolled out the Budweiser “Bowtie Can”, a shape that mirrors the brand’s longtime logo.

It would take a-whole-nother post for me to dive into the new “Sam Can” and the marketing genius behind that. So for now, I’ll stick to branding. Here is my takeaway these two introductions: it’s innovations, not new creative agencies, that make a brand and keep that brand on top. Agency partners are incredibly important, I know, but continually flip-flopping in between them will do nothing but to harm the consistent brand voice that consumers look for.

Welp. No social media flowed into that. I’m sure there is some implications, but for now, just enjoy my rant.

Cheers!

Sarah

Silence is Golden

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For the first time in my life, I was actually immensely frustrated on Monday with almost all of the companies and  bloggers that I follow on Twitter. Normally, I jump on every clothing sale, outfit post, collaboration announcement, and new product update that rule my tweet deck, but after a tragedy like the Boston Bombing, I found each “NEW OUTFIT POST” update extremely offensive.

One of the best comments I read on Monday came to my attention via a retweet from Nick Ayers, social media guru behind IHG.

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Listen…I get it. Most companies automate tweets and posts, and marketers and bloggers don’t exactly plan for a tragedy like a terrorist attack. In the midst of disasters, not only are those active on social media using it as their means of instant updates and news breaks, but far-flung family members and friends frantically use social media to check on the safety of loved ones, in this case of runners and spectators. To be completely honest, after a bombing, I don’t care at all that you got a haircut or that your favorite pair of shoes just went on sale or that your company just won an award.

Social Media has become such a thoughtless part of our lives that we sometimes forget what made it so special in the first place. At its core, the technology behind social media was not meant for marketers to exploit or for brands to strategically position themselves above competition. Social media was, and certainly is, a means of connection. That core purpose is one that social media managers need remember in dealing with tragedies such as the Boston Marathon bombing.

Despite my frustration {and subsequent unfollowing of a dozen twitter accounts}, a few initiatives were taken that I actually respected during the aftermath of Monday’s events:

1. Social Media Today

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well…they didn’t actually go silent. They did something BETTER: Social Media Today used their feed to transmit information being passed through social media concerning where to donate blood, how to get in touch with loved ones, phone numbers to call in order to give information or contact authorities, and general news about the bombing. The company also highlighted an effort by my next respected company as well

2. Google

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Google reacted admirably quickly to the Boston Marathon attack, aptly creating a Boston Marathon segment of their Person Finder. Google’s Person Finder  is a web application”helps people reconnect with friends and loved ones in the aftermath of natural and humanitarian disasters,” and since cell phone usage was cut out of the picture, Google become the go-to device people used to make sure that those they knew running or in Boston were alright.

The question remains, though: to go dark or not to go dark? I am completely split.

On one side, there is support for going dark. I’ll put it this way: be human. Disable messages unrelated to the matters at hand and, for heaven’s sake, turn off automated tweets and posts and email marketing promos.

On the other side, there is the argument for staying active. Like Google and Social Media Today, platforms can use their presence to disseminate news and help use the very nature of social media – a connective tissue – to reconnect those who are separated. Another backing to this argument is that  going silent gives a paralyzing power to tragedy. Going digitally silent cuts out commerce – an important vein of the global body – while making “doing business” seem like a luxury only to be continued in times of prosperity. Bringing business to a halt in times such as Monday’s bombing is the exact opposite of “keep calm and carry on.”

At this point, I recognize that no one is perfect in the way they deal with tragedy. But brands and social media directors should continue to strive for a better way to process such senseless acts through the public experience. General rule of thumb: if you do manage social media for a brand, a blogger, or are just a tweet-a-holic, manage your social media like you would manage your own mouth in social situations — know when to speak, and know when it’s best that you keep your mouth shut.

Image via Vogue