social media

Month of Memories: Social Media Tech with Helen Pitlick & Dawn Quinn

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social media dawn quinn helen pitlick vida vegan tech
OK, so maybe “cat ladies” goes without saying.

Maybe you were there—or maybe you followed along as we live-blogged it—and we don’t need to tell you how great Helen Pitlick and Dawn Quinn were at our Fall 2012 one-day tech intensive in Seattle.

After such a long day of getting schooled on CSS and HTML basics, responsive design, and audio and video recording, we could have started glossing over and zoning out. But these ladies are so smart and charming that they kept us sharp and taking loads of notes. They laid out about a gazillion ways most folks are doing it wrong could improve when it comes to the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

One of my favorite tips of the day was about replying to a social-media mention: Always reply, at least briefly. In real life, if someone compliments you on your shirt, you say “thank you,” right? Same rules apply online. Seems obvious, but it’s an easy one to forget.

Dawn & Helen’s Very-Vegan Instagram Musts (Cat Ladies ‘R’ Us)

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One of @jdfunks’ roommates being such a cat.
A few months ago, our friends at VegNews issued a list of vegan Instagrammers they simply “can’t get enough of”, which naturally, inspired us to contemplate our own. Your friendly VVC organizers quickly scrolled through our own feeds and so many eye-catching, appetizing, adorable and quirky photos popped out at us. It’s no surprise that Instagram may undeniably be the social media medium of the moment, and that encouraged us to hand this notion over to our own social media mavens, Seattle vegan bloggers Helen Pitlick and Dawn Quinn, to get the list even more relevant. Trust us, they know what’s up.
social media dawn quinn helen pitlick vida vegan tech
Best.

Dawn and Helen are seriously super and super serious Vida Vegan alumnae, with a joint presentation on “Effective Social Media” already under their belt from this past fall’s first-ever  VVC Tech Seminar in Seattle. The lovely power duo is back again this upcoming weekend (!!) with “How to Use Social Media to Win (Vegan) Friends & Influence People”  on Sunday afternoon. From the sound of it, you’re in store for a lot of discussion – and time for questions – about social media tips, photography, relevancy, community, practices, promotional disclosure, popularity, balance, and more – so, stay tuned, listen up and ask those question!

Case in point: darling Eva VonSassipants of the @VidaVeganHQ household

We picked all of these people because they’re all real people (minus the cat, and not professional photogs) who take photos of their food, adorable pets, travels and vegan lifestyle in a way that’s relatable, sometimes funny and always super delicious-looking. We also have representation from raw-friendly and gluten-free pals. They’ve got good followings for good reason and are all super down to earth and cool. They make you want to be their friend with their pictures. - Dawn & Helen

Without further adieu, here are six vegan folks that Dawn and Helen dig on Instagram, and think you may, too:

@RyanPatey: Ryan frequently shares what he’s eating, from wraps to soups to restaurant experiences, which makes veganism seem really easy. Everything he eats looks delicious, but he’s certainly not a professional chef (in the best possible way!). He balances this out with his cat, shows, and other randomness. @food_and_cats: You just want to be Michelle’s friend. Her profile description says, g”uess what I mostly post about,” and while it’s true that her feed is largely devoted to the delicious meals she cooks up and the adorable Pekoe and Tetley, Michelle also gives insight into her life outside of veganism by posting pics of her partner, adventures, and the occasional PBR. @Amanda_eats_slc: Dog owner and feral cat whisperer of Salt Lake City, Amanda makes being vegan look easy. In addition to adorable animal pics, you’ll find healthy vegan lunches, highlights of veg-friendly SLC restaurants along with travels, friends and her vegan lifestyle. Her profile tagline of “will write for cat food and vodka” seems it up in the most endearing way. @Pjrvs: Paul is a vegan who makes things happen. A vegan cookbook author and designer, he’s made a name for himself in terms of being a successful guy. You want to follow him everywhere just to see what makes him tick. In addition to being awesome, Paul uncooks a lot of amazing raw (sometimes cooked) meals, adventures in the great outdoors and hangs with two adorable pet rats. Seriously, come for the gorgeous outdoor scenery and mouthwatering meals, and stay for the sweet rats. @Albert_Weskie: Move over, Maru — if you’re a fan of fluffy orange cats with sweet faces and a penchant for naps and mischief, follow Albert. (If not, you’re probably a horrible person — JK!). Albert may not be vegan, but we have it on good authority that his parents are. JL of @jlgoesvegan: JL is as lovely in real life as she is online, and her Instagram account showcases bits and pieces of her very vegan life: her speaking engagements, cooking for clients, exercising and of course the delicious, healthy meals she has dining out and at home. Expect a plethora of smoothies, colorful salads and some wine and treats thrown in for good measure.

What they like about Instagram:
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  • Makes anyone a better photographer
  • Hashtags are great potential for discovery and community

Their habitual hates:

  • Accounts that are all or predominantly selfies
  • People who share their Instagram photos on every social media account (!!)
To follow along with our two mavens, check out @hpilick and @veganmoxie

While we’re here, the ladies of Vida Vegan Headquarters (meaning @VidaVeganHQ, @janessapk and @jdfunks) would like to throw even more love to some of our favorite Instagram accounts (which comes with a bunch of duh’s, no doubt): @IsaChandra, @Lechousauvage, @Prfctpineapples@Lazysmurf, @animalkind@vegankitten, @lagusta@redhotvegan, @jayastafa and @inmypiesClearly, we’re enamored with vegan Austin!

Jess would also like to throw out a little public plea about her own Instagram pet peeve numero uno - Please, please, stop with the blatant screen-caps of your own blog posts and facebook updates  – it’s so not necessary (and frankly, an obnoxious overstep into marketing land on a casual medium)….We come for the vegan tacos and cats, pls!

Let’s spread the vegan inspiration!

Want to share your own Instragram account or a favorite? Leave a comment – and of course, hashtag ‘con happenings with #VVC2013 and #VidaVeganCon.

VVC 2013 Expert Corner

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expert

By now you’ve all seen the agenda, but we figured we might as well pack as much as possible into this weekend. To that end, in addition to all the classes and workshops and discussions, we netted some really fantastic talent together for an Expert Corner. They’ll be in the Kridel Ballroom, our home base for the conference. Stuff your brains with all their know-how!

Photography • Marika Collins & Kate Lewis
Two of the most exciting vegan photographers out there, Kate and Marika can school you on composition, lighting, editing, and even what all those buttons on your camera actually do.
Friday, 1:45-3:45 • Saturday, 3:15-5:00 • Sunday, 9:45-11:00

Nutrition • Ginny Messina
Ginny Messina’s been studying and writing about nutrition since you were in short pants. You can’t get more thorough, reliable advice.
Friday, 4:00-4:45

Marketing & Social Media • Helen Pitlick & Dawn Quinn
Dawn and Helen live and work in social media. These savvy ladies will get your online peripherals (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, whatever else was invented last night) in order.
Saturday, 9:30-10:45

Business • Nicole Sopko
As Vice President of Upton’s Naturals, Nicole Sopko is pivotal in its growth. She knows how a vegan company can succeed ethically. It’s possible!
Saturday, 11:00-12:00

Tech • Jason Das
Got a question about your blog or website? Ask web developer and designer Jason Das, founder and publisher of Super Vegan.
Saturday, 2:15-3:00

Business & Culinary Arts • Julie Hasson
Julie Hasson has decades in the food industry and has run her own food cart, written more than a handful of books, and is starting a line of baking mixes—pick her brain!
Sunday, 11:15-12:15

Vegan Pregnancy & Raising Vegan Kids • Sayward Rebhal
Having a kid? Thinking of maybe having a kid? Don’t miss this chance to sit down and chat with Sayward Reghal, an intelligent, open woman who’s been there and studied that.
Sunday, 1:45-2:30

Live-blogging from the Vida Vegan Tech Seminar

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Hey guys!

We’re coming to you live from our Tech Seminar at the snazzy Seattle Public Library. We’ll be taking turns updating this throughout the day, so stay tuned!

Our first class is up RIGHT NOW, and the Nuts ‘N’ Bolts of a Webpage are being explained by Colin Barringer.

 

Mighty-O Doughnuts: breakfast of technical champions.

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We’re may not be live-streaming, but we’ve got plenty of appropriate social media action to follow along with.

Check out:

@Vidavegancon on twitter
Hashtag #vidavegantech (for everything)

and

@VidaveganHQ on Instagram for up to the date peaks from our attendees, speakers and the organizers. 

Live learning & official seminar notebook

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First class: The Nuts ‘n’ Bolts of a Webpage with Colin Barringer

Next up: Blog Design in an Ever-changing Landscape.

Have a big question about one of our class topics? Tweet at us and we’ll try and throw it into a Q&A round.

See you guys on the flip-side!

SESSION TWO: BLOG DESIGN IN AN EVER-CHANGING DIGITAL LANDSCAPE, with Tim Maudlin…and Liz Miller via satellite!

Michele here, taking over for Jess. How do I feel after the first class? Well, when I see HTML and CSS code I’ll know much better what I’m looking at. Colin gave us a link to a page he put together with lots of great references for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Thanks for being smarter than us, Colin!

Our blog design team together in Seattle — thanks, technology!

So…as technology gets better, so must we. Back in the day, when the Internet was a baby, a boring-as-hell Website was still pretty awesome. Now we have to think about pissing people off if our site doesn’t look good on their iPad, phone, laptop, and giant televisions. This is where responsive design comes in. Check out Responsinator to see how yours (re)sizes up!

And now you’re back to thinking about how long it takes for your page to load. Sure, everyone’s browsers and machines at home are pretty fast now, but phones are still struggling to keep up with our demands. They’re moving fast, but don’t take the chance of using elements that aren’t supported or just take forever to load. If your page takes more than a couple of seconds—seriously, like TWO seconds—you’re gonna lose some people.

A word on choosing a hosting provider: Use free trials and cheap no-contract services to try stuff out. If you spend $5 for a month and can back out, then you really haven’t lost too much. And beware reviews. Read ‘em, sure, but a lot of them aren’t genuinely from customers. It’s often bought ink.

If you’re doing a lot of coding, check out YSlow for tips on how to speed up your loading.

Favorite sources for fonts? Font Squirrel and Google Web Fonts.

Annnd, Veggie Grill has started bringing in food, so that’s lunch!

SESSION THREE: PODCASTING ON A BUDGET, with Barb Troyer

Back from lunch, which Janessa selflessly volunteered to cover.

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Jess here, a formerly semi-regular podcaster, and it has been far too long since I’ve known what I’m doing.  Here’s what we’re learning from Barb Troyer with Podcasting on a Budget.  Barb hosts All Things Vegan, a community radio show based out of Bend, Oregon, and calls it her “labor of love”:

Ask me good questions, and I will throw you vegan candy – Barb Troyer

“If you have a community radio station, take advantage of it….that’s why I started the show…some unique content you won’t find at other stations” – Barb (who all the following quotes will be from).

Here’s the directory for public broadcasting organizations to find what’s available in your area. You can receive support from experts and local DJs who want to be involved, get involved with your community, hear yourself on the radio and be involved in a learning experience.

Pros:

  • Get information directly your local community and beyond (through syndication).
  • Support from an eclectic bunch of local DJs

When you’re on your own, with zero to no budget, pick up or find a cheap headset/mic combo, such as one you might use for gaming, or put together two separate pieces. Make a DIY pop screen with a nylon stocking to help your audio. Skype is free, and most people use it for radio interviews. Get to know audio editing software, like Audacity and Garage Band.

Sources & tools for little to modest budgets of DIY audio recording:

If you’re looking to save money, check out older versions of software.

Barb recently upgraded to a Blue Yeti microphone and is raving about it, but there are cheaper alternatives she’s spent time with – it’s all about reliability, and trial and error.

Similar to graphics, make sure you always save an uncompressed version of your audio file. You’ll lose quality, if not. With a PC, save it as a wave file and then save it as an MP3.

You want to hear if there’s feedback in the room. Are there other sounds? You do not want any other sound being picked up in the room.

“It’s like garbage in, garbage out”.

Check out student discounts on software, if applicable.

“Getting organized if half the battle….you have no idea how much time I spend on this show”.

You will spend time…..gathering content, being up to date with the news, and any scripts you can prepare in advance on top of ad-libbing.

Fun fact: As for her own notes, Barb now finds Evernote easier to utilize than Google docs.

More folks and the labor of love: “We have a common goal of educating the public….you want to get the information out there….talk to those people [other vegan podcasters]“.

Favorite vegan podcasts:

Get Prepared: What type of format do you want to have? What do you want to listen to?

An hour is a fairly standard length of time for a podcast. You will find out what your station requirements are if you’re on a station, if not, you can really do whatever you like. Consider breaking up the podcast into segments, if it’s super long.

Edit out the lip smacks!

“Remind yourself, this is supposed to be fun.”

“You’ll be amazed that you are not as articulate as you thought you were.”

You don’t need to write your RSS Feed from scratch. Itunes will tell you exactly what you need to submit your feed there. If you use WordPress, it creates one automatically.

Find out who’s downloading with Feedburner. Get to know your audience and community.

So inspiring! Get talking.

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SESSION FOUR: SHOOTING, EDITING & INTEGRATING VIDEO, with Angel Barclay

Tag-teamin’, liveblogstreamin’. (That’s a thing, right?) Michele here again, for what is the most intimidating subject for me: video. But Angel’s gonna show us how easy it is.

Angel Barclay making video easy

So, yeah, it’s not has hard or expensive as you’d think it would be.

A point-n-shoot camera can do the job. Your phone can do the job. Don’t have a tripod? A nice, sturdy pile of books can do the job. There are free editing programs and hosting sites that can help you get the job done.

A drawback of some cameras: crap microphones. You can supplement with a separate microphone.

Angel’s first tip: “Resist the urge to pan.” Unless you’re super sure of your sturdy hand it can just make people sick. If you are panning, shoot a little longer than you’d like to use; the first and last bits are gonna be extra wobbly.

Camera quality: “Quality versus quantity issue.” Since memory cards are getting so cheap, just go for it and get the biggest ones you can so you can use the best/highest settings. Delete the bad clips—it can be tough if you get attached to pieces, but you’ve just got to do it or you end up with a giant collection of memory cards.

Transitions? Like so many things, less is more. Not only will transitions cost you editing time, but they are also taxing to the viewer. You might be really excited, if you’re starting out, about all the cool stuff you can do. “Pace yourself.”

Templates are a neat cheat for an easily polished look. Angel uses iMovie; file types are not an issue, and everything is easily customized. She showed us a video she made with a photo album theme—it could be cool for a little montage in the middle of a longer video.

Time for a quick break, then Next-Level Social Media time!

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SESSION FIVE: NEXT-LEVEL SOCIAL MEDIA, with Helen Pitlick & Dawn Quinn

Step One: Figure out your goal—why do you blog? Why do you want to expand your readership? As with any project, starting with a goal is going to give you focus.

And be genuine. If you’re just trying to get more followers on <insert network here>, it’s going to be suuuuper obvious.

Connecting with others: As Helen says, if you tell someone you like their shirt and they say nothing, walking away, that’s pretty rude, right? Reply always. Also, share others’ stuff. If you think it’s relevant information, your followers are going to want to know it. Dawn says a good ratio is 1:7; for every post about your own stuff, share seven others’.

Steer clear of autofeeds. Sure, you can share Instagram on Twitter, or tweet the same subjects on Facebook, but use the social networks the best way for each one. There’s a reason they’re separate networks; why would someone want to follow you on all of them if you’re posting the exact same post everywhere?

Brand v. Person: If you want to stay sort of private, using your blog title as your handle on the social networks is the way to go. If you’re trying to really sell yourself, like to get a cookbook deal, you might want to use your name. (Also, personal can give you a little more wiggle room as far as politics/other interests.) There’s no “right” way, but it’s something you should put some thought into. Try to keep consistent with your handles across networks, for simplicity and repetition/familiarity.

Tagging #veganfoodshare on Instagram is a great way to get noticed; they pick out users who’ve tagged them to highlight on their feed. Looking for new folks to follow? Check out their feed.

Pinterest is just so dern popular. Not necessarily a social network like Twitter or Facebook, but you can still build relationships/community through repinning. Having a Pinterest button on your blog posts is helpful because you can get a huge spike in views if the right person pins it. If you have a Pinterest account, share a board on one of your other social networks every now and then. (Again, not all the time!) Note: This is highly visual. The better your photos the more you’ll get pinned!

Just because a new network pops up, you do not have to join it. Think about your audience and your content. Focus on the ones that fit what you do. Remember, you’re coming up with original content for all of them, so best to be really good at a few of them than half-ass all of them. Stay current, though, so you know when the next big thing is coming and can figure out early on what would work for you.

What’s growing? Not just Pinterest and Instagram, but <surprise!> LinkedIn. Especially if you’re looking to work on projects or guest-blog for others, it’s becoming a more relevant network.

What to take away: There’s no one perfect strategy for all. You just need to do some research, try out some stuff, and find your groove.