Insta-Friday: Houston Insta-Quilters Meet Up

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Welcome to another edition of Insta-Friday, where I will share a little tidbit of (hopefully) helpful information about Instagram to make using it easier and more enjoyable! Or I just ramble on about how much I love Instagram.

As fun as it is to connect with people all over the world through Instagram, I still feel that quilting is a social activity that should be shared in person (my husband would disagree with that though).  Maybe it’s because when I have a friend to sew with, I don’t have to stop sewing to take a picture and share it on IG if they are sitting right next to me!

Through my posts on IG I have come to realize that there are A LOT of quilters in Houston who use Instagram! This is so exciting to me because it helps me feel connected to them, maybe because I know they are experiencing the same hot and humid weather or I know they feel my pain when I talk about the traffic in Houston. It’s just another way to connect to them.

When I posted the question to my IG friends to ask if anyone wanted to meet up, I had a really nice response! The only problem, Houston is super spread out and a lot of us have full time jobs and/or children and driving across town for a meet up is not really something we wanted to do (see previous comment about the traffic).  So now I’m trying to work out some of the logistics but I have a temporary solution.

In August I have a meeting planned for for the Savor Each Stitch Bee on Saturday August 1st from 1-3 pm at Panera Bread in Post Oak and I’d like to invite any and all Houston Insta-Quilters to come either to the bee meeting (we’re discussing the design concept of Scale from the 3rd or 4th chapter of the book) or come at 3 pm for the Insta-Quilter portion of the afternoon.

I guess the point of this post is that even though Instagram is technically a media where you may never expect to meet people you “know” online, there are still opportunities to meet them! In fact, it was an almost surreal experience when I got to meet a few people at the International Quilt Show in Houston last fall whom I only knew online (@capitolaquilter and @cauchycomplete to name two) and again at QuiltCon I made a new friend who actually lives in Houston (@sweetfeetstitches)! Social media is helping to make our large world feel smaller and more connected and that can never be a bad thing.

Insta-Quilters in Houston Meet Up

(not sewing, just sewcializing, but you’re welcome to bring sew and tell!)

Saturday August 1st

3pm -5pm(come from 1-3pm if you want to participate in the Savor Each Stitch Bee)

Panera Bread in Post Oak

Questions? Just drop me an e-mail and I’ll try to answer them

Happy Friday,

Anna

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Insta-Friday: Tag a Friend and the Fabric Black Market

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Welcome back to Insta-Friday! I took last week off because my son turned 3 last week and I spent Friday planning and preparing for his party on Saturday!

I hope you’ve had a chance to jump in to Instagram a little to see how fun it is. Thanks to those who have sent me DMs to test out my instructions in the last post. I’m glad to see that my instructions were helpful.

Today I want to cover a few more features of IG that I didn’t hit last time.

Tag a Friend

Maybe you just spent the absolute best day with your BFFs shopping and having lunch and you want to make sure that they know about the pictures you post on IG. Well, if your BFFs are on IG, then you can tag them in your picture, just like you probably already do on Facebook! There is a little trick to it (of course).

When you post the picture, you will need to tap on the tiny icon that looks like a person in order to tag them on the picture. That will only show up as a little call out near the person’s face (or where ever you put it) on the picture, but people who see your post and tap on the pic will see anyone you tagged.

You can also tag your friend in the description you post about the picture. Just put the @ symbol in front of your friend’s IG name and it will notify them that they’ve been tagged. The nifty part of IG is that if you can’t remember your friend’s IG name, which is CRE8TIVEGRL52, when you put the @ symbol and start to type your friend’s name (Sandy Smith) you will probably get a pop up box with names that are similar to Sandy’s name. That makes it easy to find her name and select it. I’ve noticed that this option doesn’t always work on my Galaxy S4 for some reason, I think it has to do with the predictive text on the keyboard when I am typing.

NOTE: When you comment on a picture your buddy posts, they will automatically get a notification that you replied on their post, you don’t HAVE to tag them in your reply. I notice a lot of people will do that, but it’s a little redundant since they are posting a reply to the original person who posted. It might save you about 3 seconds but those seconds really add up!

Example:

modquiltmom_anna: My boy turned 3 today!

IGGirl1: @modquiltmom_anna Aww, how cute!

Fabric Black Market on IG

Are you ready for the best and worst secret on Instagram for Quilters? There is a black market that has more fabric than you could possibly imagine all available at the tap of a finger as quick as you can type your e-mail address! I’m not sure how long ago it happened but maybe a year or so ago, a popular IG person and a few of her friends decided they wanted to host a fabric DESTASH using Instagram as the platform for the sale. They created a hash tag #thegreatfabricdestash and started creating a buzz before the actual event occurred. It was meant to be a few days long, starting on a set day, anyone who wanted to sell some of their fabric stash (for whatever reason) would share pictures and the price of the items. The people who wanted them would post their paypal e-mail plus a zip code. Then the original seller would send the purchaser a paypal invoice and go from there. The FIRST person to comment with their e-mail is the one who “claims” the item.

Well, the buzz started to grow, as it often does in social media and when the actual even occurred it probably involved a few hundred posts from different people. As of today, maybe a year or so later, there have been more than 80,000 posts to that tag! Yes, you read that correctly eighty THOUSAND!

Granted, now some folks who have online shops have started listing their new items in the tag (personally, that bugs me) and there isn’t anyone who monitors or regulates the tag, I mean, how would that even be possible.

People who sell their items are SUPPOSED to delete the post once it’s sold to help clean up the feed, but people don’t follow that rule very much either.

I find it’s a fun tag to browse when I’m bored, or curious. Some fabrics become hard to find and then when they pop up on the feed, they go for outrageous prices, like $10 per fat quarter or something crazy like that. I’m not buying fabric at all this year, but I have used the tag to sell some of my fabric on occasion. I call it the black market of fabric because it’s not a known platform for selling items. It’s just a hash tag on Instagram. IG doesn’t get ANY revenue from these sales. The only outside source who might profit is PayPal or the postal carrier (gotta love flat rate shipping). That’s what I like about it, it’s completely organic.

There is also a tag called #thegreatfabricdestashISO for people who are searching for a specific out of print or hard to find fabric.

Some folks have tried to start a swapping tag or a trading tag, but none have been nearly as popular as #thegreatfabricdestash.

Oh, and it’s better than Etsy because even though there are thousands of listings and it’s not possible to search within the tag (I wish I could search for just Amy Butler prints in the Destash tag) it’s actually a lot smaller than Etsy and the listings are VERY specific (fabric, patterns, a few handmade items) and you KNOW the target audience is looking there for fabric.

Well, I think that’s it for now. If you have any other questions about IG or want me to explain something a little more, please leave me a comment so we can continue the conversation!

Happy Stitches,

Anna

Insta-Friday: So you want to share that post?

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Hi and welcome back to Insta-Friday! I hope you enjoyed last week’s post. I had a few people ask why they should bother with IG and I just wanted to say that the purpose of my post was just to share knowledge. That’s just who I am, when I find something I love, I want to share it, but if you have no desire to dive into a new social media format, that’s perfectly fine too. This week, I want to cover a few features and tips for IG that I wish I had known about when I first started using it.

Repost App

If you start to follow lots of people on IG, you may start to see that people will re-post or share a post that someone else in their feed has posted. Lots of people do giveaways and one of the criteria for entry (or to get a second entry) in the drawing, you are asked to repost or share the original post about the giveaway.  In the old days, bloggers would ask that you comment and repost on your blog about the giveaway, this is the same idea. I always thought that the only way to do that was to take a screenshot of the post and load it as an image to my feed to repost it. Well, that was NOT fun because as awesome as my Galaxy phones are (I’ve had an S2 and S4), in order to take a screen shot you have to have the perfect coordination of pressing the home button and the power button and it’s not overly easy (although you’ll get a lot of practice on IG if you decide you want to share screenshots). I eventually found an actual APP that allows me to immediate go to the feed of a person I’m following and hit a button and it will share the image and the text they originally posted to my feed! It’s called the Repost App (check Google Play or the Apple store to get it). It’s absolutely free and it works really well. You enter your Instagram information when you first join and then it can open your IG feed so you can repost anything you see in the feed.

A note here, of the almost 1000 people I follow, generally a good 10 or 20 will post the SAME giveaway (because we all LOVE free fabric and stuff) so I always try to go and find the ORIGINAL post about a giveaway so that the correct hash tag comes through and credit is given to the original post. Also, try not to get sucked into the giveaway world and only post giveaways. I always check the feeds of the people who follow me and if the majority of what they are posting is giveaways, I won’t follow them back. I want to follow people who share their stories on IG and are not just using it to try to win free stuff.

No Crop App

I think it was back around the time I was at Quilt Market in October and I had JUST gotten my new (to me) S4 that I realized that the camera on my phone was funky. Two things were happening, first, when I took a picture from within IG (using the camera function) the picture would look bright when I took it but when it went into the editor part of IG, the picture automatically darkened. I couldn’t figure out what was going on with that! The second thing was that when I took a picture with my regular old camera app on the phone and tried to import it into IG, I had to crop the picture to the SQUARE format that IG uses, thus losing a lot of the awesomeness of the picture! (The iPhone has an option within the camera to take a square picture, which I think is so clever.)  Somehow, and it might have been something someone mentioned to me at Quilt Market, I found out about the No Crop App. This app has several great features, but mostly it allows you to take a picture and then pull it into the square format before directly posting to IG! That allows you to crop it and fill in some space around or zoom in on the picture which are features that IG doesn’t have. This app also has the option to add text or cute “stickers” like smiley faces with heart eyes or cute call outs.  I also love that some of the background fillers look like quilts to me, so I will fill in white space with a “quilt” pattern. I almost always take pictures within the No Crop app now instead of using the camera and I really never use the camera option in IG. If you like the filters that IG has, you can apply those after you pull the picture over from No Crop App.

Instanote App

One more app that I find useful is called Instanote. Sometimes, I just want to post something to ask a question of my IG friends and I don’t have a picture to go along with it, or I want the text to be center stage. The Instanote app allows you to select a background and then use the text option to add text to the image and, of course, post directly to Instagram. This is great for asking questions and I use it on occasion. I usually try to use a picture as the background for more impact but if I don’t have one that applies to the question, I’ll just use Instanote.

Direct Messaging in IG

The final thing I want to talk about is the Direct Messaging (DM) option in IG. I’ve only seen this option available on my phone through the app, so I don’t think it’s available on the web version.  The DM option is a way for people to send each other private messages. Similar to the the messaging option in Facebook. It’s sort of like getting an e-mail within IG. This is great if you won a giveaway and someone wants you to send them your address but you don’t want it to be public. The catch is that you have to attach an image to your message, usually not a problem but it is a requirement. I recently offered a giveaway to celebrate 700 followers and asked the winners to DM me their address. I thought it very clever that one of the winners had an image with their address on it as the DM image. It was easy to find and reference later when I was prepping the package to send out.  To access the direct message box, you need to tap on the Home icon, then find the icon that looks like an old fashioned inbox letter tray, on my phone it’s in the top right of the screen. You’ll see any messages that have come through and have the option to create and send a message. You can also send one message to more than one person if you’d like. The TRICKY thing about DM is that the notification on IG is sort of sporadic. There isn’t much in the way of a visual notification that there is a message, so if you’re expecting something from someone, you might check that to see if you had something come in.

I hope that this glut of information has provided you with some helpful tools to make using IG even more fun and easy! I do appreciate your comments and feedback, even if you are still wondering why you should bother with IG. I promise I won’t take it personally if you don’t join in the IG craze.

On a final note:

I just realized that 99% of the listings in my Etsy shop are going to expire in TWO DAYS!! That means, they fall off and I do NOT plan to re-list them  on Etsy. (I’ll talk more about #thegreatfabricdestash in next week’s Insta-Friday post) So if you are looking for some fabric that only $5 per yard and is fun and bright and maybe even completely random, it would be so awesome if you’d go look at my shop. There is a link in the sidebar or you can click in the gallery below. I will of course combine shipping and refund any over charge. Just TWO days left to get some awesome deals on pretty 100% cotton fabrics that will be great for backings, even for charity quilts! The honest truth is that I want to use any money I make selling that fabric to load my Starbucks app so I can keep buying coffee in the morning! It’s like my little treat to myself and hopefully this fabric will be a little treat to you too!

Happy Stitches,

Anna

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Insta-Friday: What is Instagram?

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I know I talk A LOT about Instagram and I use hash tags in my posts, A LOT. I thought I’d try to do a weekly post (short and sweet hopefully) to provide my perspective on Instagram and hopefully share some of my excitement about it with you. I’m a teacher at heart and if I find a tool I love I just want to share it with EVERYONE! (Check out the podcast called Compulsory, I think it’s episode 3 or 4 which talks about the compulsion to share something exciting with everyone you know). I thought I’d frame these posts as a question/answer sort of format. This is only from my perspective, and I’m not an expert, I just obsessively use Instagram almost every day for at least an hour so I feel like I can easily answer questions about the program.

What the heck is Instagram?

Instagram is a form of social media where people can connect through images and words. We use our phones to take pictures all the time right? With Instagram, the focus is on the image, with a short description (which is actually optional). So you can take a picture (either within IG or with your camera on your phone) and then immediately share it on Instagram. People who see the picture (or post) can instantly provide feedback by leaving a comment or liking the picture (tapping the Heart icon). It’s a lot like Facebook, but without the “noise” on the sidebars. The one drawback of IG is that it is primarily APP based, meaning you’d need to download the app to your phone (iOS, Android and I think Microsoft has one now). There is a web based option but it doesn’t function the same way that the app does so you don’t have the same options and functionality.

Why should I use Instagram when I finally just figured out Facebook?

There isn’t any rule that says you can’t use both. I think of Instagram as a fast way to see lots of pictures and see what people are saying and doing right now. It’s a feed based on the people you follow, so if you have IG friends in Australia who post when you are sleeping, you might not see what they post, unless you search for them and view their feed specifically. (Facebook is the same way, if you aren’t checking your feed when someone posts, you might not see their update)

You can actually post a picture and whatever description from Instagram over to Facebook in a couple of taps. I think of IG as a super micro blog, just post a picture or 20 second video and a few words and you’ll get almost immediate feedback from the people who follow you. In fact, I think a lot of bloggers have moved away from blogging because IG is so easy to use and the feedback is almost always instant.

How do I find people to follow?

Just ask your friends! Or find one friend you know on IG (You can follow me modquiltmom_anna) and you can look at who that person follows. OR when you follow a new friend, IG will give you three recommended people to follow based on similar posts! Once you start to follow people, you will start to see the pictures they post in your feed (that’s the House looking icon on the bottom left side of your phone inside the app).

What is the purpose of those annoying hash tags?

Hash tags, when used correctly, make it easy for people who aren’t directly connected to post about similar things and share those posts with others who are looking for that similar subject. The hash tag (#) symbol preceding a word tells Instagram that you want to let people search for that term and see all posts with that same hash tag. For example, the big Modern Quilt Conference called QuiltCon just wrapped up last weekend. Folks who attended used the tag #QuiltCon2015 or #QuiltCon at the end of or in the middle of their description of the image.

You can search for that tag by clicking/tapping the magnifying glass icon in your menu at the bottom and searching for the tag QuiltCon2015 or QuiltCon (I don’t think the words are actually case sensitive but you do have to spell it correctly) and all the posts that anyone tagged with that word will appear in one long feed. The last time I checked, the tag QuiltCon had more than 7000 posts (but that was including 2013 as well).

If you want to try this out, and you ARE NOT on a fabric buying diet like I am, check out the tag #thegreatfabricdestash which has more than 60000 posts of people who are SELLING their own fabric stash for whatever reason.

If someone you follow adds a tag on their post, you can also tap the tag and it will take you to the same feed that you would get if you searched it.

I like to use tags for things that I think I will be posting about multiple times so I can keep track of them in one place. For example, I used #5kby35 when I was working on finishing the Couch to 5K app before my 35th birthday. I just started one called #findthejoy2015 so I can look at the posts I created that I consider inspiring. I also used #quilt15February and several other people have joined in that one to share what they were doing every day in February to quilt or create something for 15 minutes a day! I think hash tags are a good way to connect with others on another level because you know they specifically share your same interest.

There is a trick to using hash tags that I sort of learned the hard way. If you are going to tag one of your posts, try to make it very specific. Instead of using #accountability because you want to keep track of your projects try changing it to #quilteraccountability I used #accountability on a post and because my account is public, people were liking my post who I thought had no “reason” to like it in the first place. I always check the profiles of the people who like my posts (out of curiosity) and these people were fitness people and were not quilters and not people that I knew. I realized that I needed to be more specific in my tags from that point on.

Because IG has oh a few million users at least, there are always going to be people who use it as a marketing tool which ends up becoming SPAM. You can make your account private, but then if you use a hash tag, your posts in that tag will only be visible to people who are your IG friends/followers. I opened my account up to be public probably around  a year ago and if I notice that people are following my account who don’t seem appropriate, I will block and report them.

OK, well, I guess I could keep rambling about IG but now I just want to hear from YOU! Do you have any other questions about IG? If so, please comment here and I’ll answer them in next week’s post.

Next week I’ll talk about using Direct Messaging, how to Repost something you want to share and a great app to help crop your pictures.

Happy Stitches,

Anna