Instagram: To grid or not to grid

If you’re wondering why other Instagram accounts look more polished than yours, here’s a secret: they’re probably gridding. Instagram grids are created by simply arranging your photos before publishing in an alternating light and dark pattern so your profile page has a checkerboard effect. If you grid, then no matter what the subject of each photo is, or the colors used, all looks neatly arranged. It’s the online equivalent of a tastefully decorated living room–but like such a room, living with it has its pros and cons.

Grid examples

An excellent example of an Instagram grid is from @goddessofoptix. She alternates beautifully staged white-background shots of her favorite frames with colorful photos of herself in all kinds of backgrounds. You may think this is restrictive, but she actually has a lot of freedom within the form; all she has to do is make sure every other shot has a white background.

@goddessofoptix's Instagram feed

The key background color for your Instagram grid doesn’t have to be white. At Be Seen Optics in San Diego, we use the owner’s favorite color, orange.

Instagram account for @beseenopticssd

The eyewear line Thierry Lasry makes another kind of Instagram grid, which I guess you could call “striping.” Instead of alternating backgrounds on each photo, they post 3 similar photos at a time, giving a unified effect for each row.

Instagram account for @thierrylasry

How to grid

There are many scheduling apps (Iconosquare, Hootsuite, Later) and photo filter apps (A Color Story) that will let you preview your posts in a grid as they’d appear on Instagram. Those usually come with a subscription cost.

The free, DIY way is to do some simple Instagram grid planning with Microsoft Word or whatever word processing software you have. Just create a table with 3 cells to each row, then add your images, starting from the bottom right for your earliest image and working right to left, and bottom to top. Once you’ve arranged your images how you like them, make a second document that has a row for each image, starting from the earliest one, and write your captions there. Load them into your scheduler app, or post them manually from this second document.

Advanced gridding

There’s a more advanced kind of gridding out there, and it definitely requires an app. Here are two examples from @womenwithvision:

Instagram account for @womenwithvision

In these examples, several Instagram posts act like puzzle pieces and form a full picture, which one can only see if you go to that account’s profile page.

To achieve this look, you need an app like Grids – Giant Square Maker. It lets you upload your photo, slice it into every conceivable square or rectangular shape, divide it among Instagram posts, then save the result. It then guides you as to which of the image pieces needs to be uploaded in what order for the picture to make sense.

The downside of gridding

There are some definite downsides to that grid life. For one thing, you can’t be spontaneous and post whatever you want whenever you want – if your Instagram grid wants a white square, it needs a white square.

Gridding also identifies your content as pre-planned. If you prefer your audience to think of you as freewheeling and impulsive, posting photos as soon as you’ve taken them, then gridding is not for you.

Advanced grids present even more problems. Individual posts that make sense in the grid often don’t make sense to the user when viewed individually in their feed. This can lead to low engagement, and your posts falling a little further away from the front of the line for your followers’ attention.

And if, for example, you posted a large photo in a grid of 9 posts, posting just one photo on its own afterward throws the whole thing off. Your Instagram profile page will look a little like a puzzle someone dropped. To maintain the balance, you have to post 2 or 3 photos at a time (whatever the width of your grid is).

Will you grid?

Like most things in social media, deciding to grid is an individual choice. But give gridding a try and see if it’s for you. It’s a great way to add polish to a business account, or any account where post planning is a given. And you can always decide to give up the grid and go back to your freewheeling ways.

Want more social media tips and inspiration? Read our other blog posts.

Need help with social media for your optical business? Contact us.

Why Prue Leith is our new eyewear idol

Prue Leith is our new eyewear idol

Since Netflix added The Great British Baking Show to its lineup, Americans have been gleefully binging on this sweet, flour-covered, and very English reality show.  Kinder and gentler than  Survivor, less temperamental than Hell’s Kitchen, the show is the opposite of the cutthroat competitions we’re used to.  And while we have to puzzle through a lot of Britishisms we may not understand (Chelsea buns, caster sugar, oven temps in Celsius), there’s one aspect of the show we understand instinctively: the fabulousness of baking judge Prue Leith’s eyewear.

Here are 4 reasons to look to Prue for eye style inspiration:

She loves color

She wears different eyewear for each show, coordinated to her outfit. Here’s Prue wearing Kirk & Kirk’s Victor frame in color Ocean. I defy you to find a bluer blue in the entire world. Even Paul Hollywood’s baby blues can’t compete.

She chooses independent frame lines

Her favorite eyewear is from Kirk & Kirk, a British frame line known for its saturated colors, and Ronit Furst, which handpaints each of its frames. Way to support the rebellion, Prue.

She adds statement necklaces

The necklaces are starting to attract their own fan club. One viewer collected them all in this article.

She’s bold AF

Listen, as our hair fades to white and our skin loses its smoothness, it’s easy to start avoiding the camera and fade back into ourselves. Prue is having none of that. She knows there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by standing out. And her fearless use of color in both her clothing, jewelry, and eyewear should be a lesson to anyone of any age.

So thank you, Prue! Now I’m off to give those bright orange Theos another try.

Want more eye style inspiration like Prue Leith’s eyewear? Read our other blog posts.

Need help with social media for your optical business? Contact us.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for you!

thank you

Gratitude is a core value here at The Social Eye, so I just wanted to take a moment to thank you. Yes, dear reader, you.

It’s now just six months since I took the very scary step of leaving my corporate job to start my own digital marketing company. Like jumping out of a plane, it was both exhilarating and terrifying. And it could have been a plummet straight to earth.

But it wasn’t. My parachute opened. I found friends, supporters, cheerleaders, mentors, and most importantly, customers. And now I get to live to the life I always envisioned – flexing my talents, bringing ideas to life, geeking out over great eyeglasses, and helping others in the optical business achieve their dreams.

So thank you. If you liked or commented on a @socialeyesonyou post, or you shared one to an Instagram Story, thank you. If you read one of my blog posts, or used one of my tips, thank you. If you found me at a conference and introduced yourself, double thank you, because I really love that. If you asked me to write for your magazine, thank you, and I’m really honored. If you recommended me to an eye doctor or optical shop owner that needs social media help, then I truly cannot thank you enough. And if you hired me to manage your social media – well, you’re my hero.

But really, thank you. Because whatever you did that helped me believe that a first-time solo woman business owner like me could succeed, it worked. And I am grateful.

Want to improve your business’s social media in 2019? Need help? Please contact me. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Instagram no-no: Don’t abuse photo tags

Instagram no-no: don't abuse photo tags

One of the more powerful tools for engagement that Instagram gives us is photo tags, or the ability to tag our Instagram images with the names of other Instagram users.¬†¬†The person (or brand) you’ve tagged is notified, and then it’s likely to generate likes and comments from them, increasing your relevance to each other in the Instagram algorithm, and reinforcing your relationship.

But like all powerful tools, this one can be abused. And you may be the one abusing it!

Don’t be that guy. Here’s how NOT to use Instagram photo tags:

Tagging people not in the photo


It’s really not a good idea to tag someone as being in a photo when they’re not, unless you think they would understand and agree with the tag. If, say, you photograph a gift basket that several people contributed to, and you tag all the contributors, that’s reasonable. But if you take a photo of your office, and tag a bunch of potential patients in the hopes that they’ll come in, that’s just weird. It signals that you don’t know how to be social or use Instagram.

Tagging people you don’t know as a means of introducing yourself


Tagging is sort of like saying “We’re besties!” So it feels presumptuous when someone you don’t know tags you (especially if you aren’t actually in the photo).¬† Start more politely with a like and comment on one of their Instagram posts instead. Then if you work up to actually being in the same room and taking a photo together, you can tag that.

Tagging people but having no other interaction with them

This is one of the more naked grabs for attention, and it absolutely does not work. If you post an image and tag a bunch of influential accounts just to yank their eyeballs over to you, how will they feel about it? Used, probably. And how will they feel about you? That you’re an opportunist who doesn’t care about them. Not a good start to any relationship.

This is a case where a hashtag would be a better choice than a photo tag. Many Instagram users, especially brands, have official hashtags they encourage you to use. For instance, I tell people to tag their photos with #thesocialeye if they want me to feature them. See if your potential tag-ee has a hashtag, and if you’re not sure if you should use it, ask them via DM.

Tagging too many people in a day

Instagram limits tags to 20 per image. But if you’ve gone really crazy with tags, at a certain point it will not let you tag anyone else for a few days. And “Instagram jail” can sometimes mean not being able to do¬†anything on Instagram for a while. That’s a pretty good reason to chill on the tagging.

Tagging people as an insult

Even if you’re kidding, don’t do this. There’s a fine line between comedy and abuse, and Instagram takes a hard line against the latter.

Photo tags: Remember the goal

Now you might be saying…

But know this. Incorrect use of photo tags can actually lead to the opposite of what you want on Instagram. You want people to trust, identify with, and vote for you and your business with their dollars. Treat their photo tag with respect, and you’ll be on the road to getting that. Treat it with disrespect, and they’ll be much more likely to unfollow you, block you, or even report you to Instagram for abuse or spam.

Want to know what Instagram says about tags? We got you.

Need more advice about social media? Contact us.

4 reasons you should make Instagram Stories

Do Instagram Stories Scare You?

Are you feeling a little intimidated by Instagram Stories? You’re not alone.

Earlier this year, I managed an influencer campaign for an eyeglass lens manufacturer. We’d had glasses made for several fashion and beauty influencers which featured a new lens we were launching. We looked forward to them sharing what they thought of the lenses on Instagram.

But as the Instagram mentions started to appear, I was surprised to see that they weren’t showing up in regular posts as we expected, but in Instagram Stories. I panicked! Those Stories were going to disappear in 24 hours. How could I capture them to show my boss? Had I missed some already? Would their fleeting nature mean that few people would see them? And would the sponsorship dollars we’d paid the influencers have no return on investment?

You might be feeling similar discomfort with Instagram Stories. It can be exasperating to learn how to run a business account on Instagram, only to have them add a new publishing format that has its own rules. And why should you even bother?

Well, you really¬†should bother, and here’s why.

  1. Instagram Stories are hugely popular

    Snapchat first debuted Stories in 2013, and this function helped differentiate the platform from others.¬† Then Instagram and Facebook cleverly figured “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” and added Stories to their capabilities in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

    Now use of Stories is growing 15x that of feeds, according to Techcrunch, and has over 300 million daily users. It probably helps that Stories are featured at the very top of the Instagram interface, and you can see that you have waiting Story content from 4 of your most relevant friends without scrolling.

    Instagram Stories position

     

  2. Stories do disappear, but not for you

    If you have an Instagram business account, your Stories are saved to an Archive, complete with stats and insights. So you can see exactly what impact your Story had, and the actions users took with it.

    Instagram Stories insights

     

    If you hired an influencer, and the Story is on their account and not yours, they can save it and send it to you, and take a snapshot of its stats. Specify this in every influencer agreement so you can track ROI effectively.

  3. You can reshare any post to your Stories

    Instagram is sometimes maddeningly simple. Every other social media platform has a way to reshare posts built into it (Retweet on Twitter, and Share on Facebook). But resharing on Instagram has always required a separate app, or crude screenshotting and cropping. There was no easy way to reshare a post and credit the original poster – until now.

    Now any public post can be reshared to your Stories, with attribution intact, and you can add GIFs, stickers, and your own comments. This is a great way to react to posts you find relevant, or reshare mentions of your account.

    Add post to Instagram Stories - step 1
    Add post to Instagram Stories - step 2

  4. You can reshare Stories you’re tagged in to your own Stories

Speaking of mentions, when your account is tagged in a Story, you’re notified and offered a way to add that Story to your Stories in one click. This is a great way for two accounts to bring attention to each other – say, you and your best customer, for example.

All these factors make Instagram Stories a publishing format you really can’t ignore. Have you tried it yet? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

Are you an optical business that needs help navigating the ever-changing social media landscape? We can help. Contact us.

Eye accessory we love: Clearlens custom lens cloths

Clearlens photo lens cloths

A crucial part of keeping patients happy with their eyewear is teaching them how to take care of it. No one likes to have the “Oops, I scratched the lens with my shirt button” conversation. So don’t let them leave your shop without a good microfiber lens cloth, and make sure it’s branded!¬†The company we recommend for custom-printed lens cloths is Clearlens.

We’re really impressed with the quality of Clearlens’s lens cloths, and with the printing on them. They also have great ideas for making your custom lens cloth memorable.

A photo on your lens cloths?

It’s pretty amazing what Clearlens is able to print on a lens cloth. There are many textures, colors, and sizes to choose from. You can go simple, with just a one-color print of your logo and business info on a silky, 6″ x 7″ cloth. Or you can get really stunning with a full-color photo printed onto a thicker, even softer 7″ x 9″ cloth. I’ll never know how they’re able to reproduce those colors while leaving the cloth soft and glasses-safe!

Clearlens lens cloth samples

Sample some yourself

You can see what I mean by getting a set of their sample cloths. Drop Clearlens an email at info@clearlens.com and they’ll send you one of each of their cloths, printed so you can spark an idea of how you’d like to do yours.

I sent their CMO, Christina Kim, an image that I’d been thinking of putting on a cloth. She sent me back a sample that looked so great, I am definitely having some made up for my next event.

Clearlens custom image lens cloth

 

Clearlens also makes optical accessories like nosepads, nuts, and washers. Check them out at clearlens.com and consider them for your next lens cloth order.

Need more ideas for marketing your optical business? Want to up your business’s social media game?¬†Contact us.

 

 

Eyewear After Party: Independent eyewear at a bar near you

The Eyewear After Party LA

If you sell eyewear for an eye care practice or optical shop in Southern California, then there’s an event October 9 that you should not miss: Eyewear After Party. It’s a regional independent eyewear gathering that will bring 42 independent frame lines under one roof, along with complementary food and cocktails. Even better, it’s free to attend!

Date: Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Time:  Noon Р10PM
Address: Idle Hour, 4824 Vineland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 91601

"Just

Eyewear After Party: A brief history

The event has been gaining in popularity since two previous shows this year in Portland and Sacramento. This one looks to be the biggest one yet, with great lines showing like WOOW, Article One, Thierry Lasry, Andy Wolf, FEB 31st, Garrett Leight, RAEN, Matsuda, and many more.

For those of you not in Southern California, the After Party organizers are planning future events in other cities. A Seattle event is being scheduled for early 2019.

  • Eyewear After Party Portland
    Eyewear After Party Portland
  • Eyewear After Party Portland
    Eyewear After Party Portland
  • Eyewear After Party Portland
    Eyewear After Party Portland
  • Eyewear After Party Sacramento
    Eyewear After Party Sacramento
  • Seen at Eyewear After Party Sacramento
    Seen at Eyewear After Party Sacramento

The easiest research trip ever

Almost certainly, some of these lines will be new to you. This is an opportunity to check out a wide range of great independent eyewear in person, and in a relaxed atmosphere.

The location

Idle Hour is a historic, barrel-shaped bar and restaurant that they are completely taking over for the event. You may remember the Bulldog Cafe in its courtyard as the set for some scenes in the movie The Rocketeer.

The Idle Hour
The Idle Hour

How can I attend?

RSVP at the website below. Each RSVP will get a $50 Lyft code so you don’t have to worry about driving or parking.

eyewearafterparty.com

The Social Eye will be there! Contact us if you’d like to meet up and talk social media.

See you at the Party!

 

Eye accessory we love: ANY DI Suncover

ANY DI SunCovers

We’re just back from Vision Expo West 2018, where we found a great eye accessory we want to share: the SunCover from ANY DI. This could be the perfect merchandise to offer at your front desk.

I mean, is this not¬†the cutest? It’s cuter than a corgi’s butt!

Eye accessory ANY DI SunCover in Cowhide, Blue Eye
Blue Eye ANY DI SunCover in Cowhide

This genius new eye accessory protects your eyeglasses or sunnies and keeps them handy. It comes from a luxury bag maker in Munich, Germany. The “eyes” snap over your lenses, and your temples fold along the back.¬†Then you can hook the SunCover to your belt or purse.

Eye accessory ANY DI SunCover Blue Eye back view
Blue Eye ANY DI SunCover, back view

Speaking of purses, if you want one that has its own SunCover incorporated, they’ve got that, too.

Eye accessory ANY DI SunCover Bag in Daisy
ANY DI SunCover bag in Daisy

The ANY DI SunCover comes in 38 different designs and colors, including leopard, rose gold, camo, pastels, neutrals, primary colors, and traditional leather colors.

Eye accessory ANY DI SunCovers

All are high-quality cowhide, except for a few options in black made of recycled PET.

This is obviously a luxury item, and is priced accordingly. They retail for¬†‚ā¨74-84, or about $85-95 US.¬† But we think this is a standout eye accessory that will fly off your shelves despite the price. (I, for one, would buy one in a heartbeat.)

Think about whether SunCovers would appeal to your patients and customers. Then, if they would, contact ANY DI directly.

Want more strategies for bringing eyeglass customers running to your shop? We can help. Take a look at our services. Then contact us for a free social media analysis, and to see how we can help you.

Instagram Stories tools you should use at VEW

Instagram Stories are perfect for VEW

Vision Expo West starts this week, and a lot of people will be following along on Instagram Stories. If you’re attending and want to capture all the excitement, consider using Instagram Stories and some of its new built-in capabilities. These encourage a give-and-take with your audience that you’ll both enjoy.

Instagram Stories: A little background

Instagram Stories are brief snippets of video, photo, or typed content that are available to followers for just 24 hours. They are found in the circles at the top of the Instagram screen, and are offered to you in order of each account’s relevance to you (in other words, you’ll see your best friends and most popular accounts first). Instagram Stories are great for sharing glimpses of live events, because producing them is quick and mobile-friendly.

Instagram Stories

New to Stories?

My advice: play around with making some Instagram Stories before you head to Expo. That way you’re comfortable with how they work before you try to use them on the loud, busy exhibit floor. There are all kinds of fun things you can do with Boomerang (looping video), Face Filter (bunny ears, anyone?), and Superzoom (zooming in with mood music). To make it fun for your audience too, try them on your kids or pets.

Ready to level up?

Awesome! Here are the new capabilities Instagram has added to Stories that are a ton of fun and will engage your audience.

Polls

Ask a question of your audience with the regular Text feature, then offer them two choices in response. It can be Yes/No, or you can change the response text to whatever two answers you desire.

Instagram Stories tool - poll

Q&A

Ask your audience a question, and let them type back an answer. The beauty of this is no one sees the answer but you, so you can share responses selectively.

Instagram tools - Q&A

 

Instagram tools - Answers

Share Posts to Stories

Instagram is brilliant in its simplicity, but it’s always irritated me that you can’t share other people’s posts natively like you can on Twitter. While you still can’t share a post right into the post feed, you can share a post to your Stories. This is wonderful, because you can add your commentary, and the original poster gets credited and notified.

Instagram tools - share a post

Share Mentions

Another new feature I really appreciate is that when someone mentions your Instagram handle in their post, you are notified and offered the ability to add it to your Stories in one click. Instagram even adds a background in a coordinating color (though you don’t have the ability to change that color – yet).

Instagram tools - share a mention

Emoji slider

Want to get an idea of how your audience feels? Ask them a question, then let them answer with an emoji slider. Not every emoji is available, but most of the basic emotions are covered: mad, sad, happy, on fire, crying laughing, etc. You can have text right above the slider, or not.

Instagram tools - emojis

Instagram tools - emoji slider

Where to find them

You’ll find each of these tools in the Stickers menu of the Instagram Stories creation wizard. Click that, and you’ll get a menu of these tools and many others.

Instagram tools - where to find them

 

Instagram tools - menu

Need more help?

Here are the Stories FAQs straight from Instagram. You’ll find detailed help for these tools and a lot more.

Want expert help for your social media? That’s what we do. Contact us.

Have fun at VEW! And if you’re not going, watch for our Instagram Stories at @socialeyesonyou.