21 Days of My Instagram Habit: Week 4

by Felicia Lin


I've just gotten through the third and final week of this 21 Day Instagram Experiment. It is technically week 4 now. I'll be writing up a summary of what I've learned and of all the tips I've shared. 

So what have I learned so far and what did I try out in week three?

I've increased the number of followers on both of my Instagram accounts, mostly due to using the "guerilla following" tactic mentioned in last week's post. The number of followers on both of my Instagram accounts has remained pretty steady because I haven't kept up with doing the "guerilla following" tactic on each account. It can be a time consuming process and while this tactic can increase your number of followers, I'm not sure if it will get you engaged followers. More on that later in this post.

Here's a screenshot of my Instagram accounts at the time this blog was written. I started off with 531 followers on @felishalin and 200 followers on @ICarteverywhere

How did I do with the 7 tips shared in last week's post?

I didn't exactly plan my posts in advance (which was Tip #1 from last week), but I did manage to post almost every day on average, actually I posted 9 times since last week's post 21 Days of My Instagram Habit: Week 3!

As for Tip #5, I've noticed that for my personal Instagram account @felishalin, my followers are not online in the later hours of the day, i.e. 10pm or later. When I've posted past 9pm I didn't get that many likes out of the gate, but the likes did come in later (the next day or days later), especially for my posts related to the 21 Days of Instagram Habit. This is hugely encouraging to me. It tells me that people are really getting something out of those posts, especially since the graphic each week is essentially the same.

On the other hand, the followers of my other Instagram account @ICarteverywhere might be a bunch of night owls because I've posted past midnight and gotten a slew of likes. Actually, I've noticed that the followers of @ICarteverywhere are from all over the world, so I suppose the time that I post doesn't seem to matter. This past week my posts on this account have been getting tons of likes. Most of the posts done this past week have gotten 80 or more likes.  It's also not unusual for a post to get 30 likes or so in the first half hour it was posted. I'm thinking that since the @ICarteverywhere Instagram account is really purely visual, it is really easy for people to just browse it and like the photos I share there.

With @felishalin I've noticed that the posts with the most likes are the ones that are about my blog posts about social media tips for Facebook and 21 Days of My Instagram Habit. This tells me that the followers on this account like posts will quality content. 

What I've written above is solely based on my personal observation. I didn't try out any of the Instagram tools in Tip #6 like Agorapulse, Iconosquare, Social Bakers, or Social Rank to look at my Instagram analytics, but maybe I should. I'll have to try this out and maybe I'll blog about my findings when I write up a summary post about what I've learned throughout this experiment.

I did finally try out Tip #7: Ask a question in your post's caption, from 21 Days of My Instagram Habit: Week 2. And in fact, the photo that I decided to use on Instagram with the question: What Do You Need to Say Yes to?  in the caption inspired me a to write a blog post on that very topic

Here's that post:

Only one person wrote an answer to the question in the comments, which tells me that most of my followers on @felishalin are just not that engaged with me, or perhaps this question is not one people feel compelled to answer. Or maybe I need to ask a simpler question. Some more experimentation and tweaking is in order here. While I've been able to increase my followers, it doesn't seem like they are that engaged. But perhaps they are just not engaged yet and I need to work on engaging them.

I did try something new, namely Instagram's carousel post function which allows you to share a series of photos and videos in a sort of swipeable mini slide show. I tried this out on both of my Instagrams account. Below you'll see a carousel post that I did on @felishalin. The blue dots indicate indicate a carousel post. Here's the first photo I shared in a carousel post.

And here's the second photo of the carousel post:

I thought this carousel post was a perfect way to share these photos because the "Yes mural" was on one side of an underpass. Directly across from it was the same word yes represented as the arms of an octopus. Interestingly, the two posts above both have a caption with the question: What Do You Need to Say Yes to? Of the two, the carousel post got twice as many likes.

If you'd like to know how to do a carousel post on Instagram, I'd suggest reading this by the Social Media Examiner: How to Use Instagram Multiple Image Posts.

I have yet to do a Boomerang post on Instagram too. Need some tips on how to do a Boomerang post? Check out Refinery 29's article: 11 Tips For Taking An Awesome Boomerang.

I also came across this great list of daily hastags to use from The Social Ms: 

  • #MondayBlues
  • #MotivationMonday
  • #TravelTuesday
  • #TipTuesday
  • #WednesdayWisdom
  • #WonderfulWednesday
  • #ThrowbackThursday #TBT
  • #FlashbackFriday
  • #FridayFact
  • #FridayFun
  • #Caturday
  • #SelfieSunday
  • #SundayFunday

Time to summarize some of the tips shared in the post, plus a few more:

1. Use Instagram's photo carousel function. Learn how to do this and get some tips on how to use photo carousels in the Social Media Examiner's article: How to Use Instagram Multiple Image Posts

2. Use Instagram's Boomerang function. Refinery 29 has 11 Tips For Taking An Awesome Boomerang.

3. Use daily hashtags in your posts. The Social Ms has a great list of daily hashtags to use in thie article: 16 Inspiring Ideas to Spice Up Your Instagram Feed With Creative Posts by Susanna Gebauer.

4. Post a video. Videos get twice as much engagement on Instagram. They are a great way to tell a story, about yourself, your product/business/brand.

5. Geotag your posts. Here's a great post explaining geotags and how to use them on Jenn's Trends: How to Use Geotags on Instagram For Your Business.

6. Look at posts using the same geotag as your post to see what hashtags are being used and to see what else is being posted for a particular location.

7. Use user generated content. This works especially well if you have a brand with loyal customers or are a celebrity/public person with fans. Followers are asked to share their photos with a product or as part of a photo contest. If selected their post will be reposted and featured on your Instagram account.

BONUS Tip:

8. Try out some of these 9 Instagram Apps and Tools

I'll be back next week with a summary of  what I learned during the 21 Days of My Instagram Habit. 


What Do You Need to Say Yes to?

by Felicia Lin


Usually, I write my blog posts first and then look for a photo or visual image to accompany it, but this time it's the photo that's inspired this post- thanks to my "21 Day Instagram Habit." Each week of this "21 Day Instagram Experiment" I've tried out new things with my Instagram accounts and shared 7 new tips for using Instagram. One of the tips I've been wanting to try out from week 2 is Tip #7: Ask a question in your post's caption to invite discussion, comments and debate. That's where the idea to use this photo came from.  

What do you need to say yes to? What do you want more of in your life? What's been missing?

What do you need to say yes to? What do you want more of in your life? What's been missing?

This mural caught my eye a month ago but there was still snow on the ground, so I wasn't able to get a good shot of it. I had planned to return to get better shot of it for my Instagram account, @ICarteverywhere, which is dedicated to street art and art, but then I realized that it would be perfect to use on my personal Instagram account @felishalin with this question in the caption: What do you need to say yes to?

I figured that question would elicit some responses or reactions. I planned expand on it a bit more in the Instagram caption. The question of what you need to say yes to is not so much about a feeling of obligation, but about positivity, possibility and promise.

What would you like to have more of in your life? Maybe you're in need of some joy and laughter. So try to find the humor in things and lighten up.

Is there something new you'd like to try? Like learning a new language, or taking singing lessons. Maybe it's time to check something off your bucket list, or maybe you've never heard of a "bucket list," and now that you have, it's time to make one for yourself.

Is there something missing or something you've been neglecting? Perhaps you've lost touch with a friend or been too busy to work out regularly?

What would make you happy?

I'd like to know what your yes or yeses are! Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. 

As I mentally prepared to write about all this in an Instagram caption, I thought about my own answer to the question: What do you need to say yes to? And I realized that this could be the subject of a blog post.

I have three things that I'd say yes to.

I'd carve out time to write daily in my personal journal. Though I've been blogging more lately, I have so much on my plate these days that I don't always have time to write in my personal journal. For me, when I journal, I can just show up on the page and write through my thoughts, uncensored and without judgment. Writing can definitely be therapeutic and like a sort of meditation.

The two other things on my YES List are: 1) to spend more time outdoors connecting with nature and 2) to take walks. For me walks can be like a mini-adventure and full of discovery. But they needn't be because a boring walk is just the thing to let your mind wander and come up with insights and ideas. A 2014 Stanford study that found that walking (whether indoors or outdoors) boosts creative thinking.

As for the benefits of the great outdoors, I recently read an article written by Amelia Urry about "The Nature Fix," which is the title of a book by Florence Williams. In the book Williams describes how she felt disoriented, overwhelmed and depressed and due to nature withdrawal. According to Williams, we don’t spend enough time in nature to let us know how good it makes us feel, and then because we don’t know how good it makes us feel we don’t spend enough time in nature.

I'm looking forward to getting my two yeses in with one stone as I make an effort to take more walks outdoors. That'll be easy now that spring is finally upon us. I'll also be working on getting back into the daily habit of journaling. 

Any day is a good day to "say yes" to bringing more positivity into your life. What's on your YES List? What will you be saying yes to?


21 Days of My Instagram Habit: Week 3

by Felicia Lin


I'm back a day late to report on the second week of this 21 day experiment with Instagram. I had intended to post every Wednesday evening, and it's Thursday morning now. It's been an exceptionally busy time for me. And it shows, as you'll discover in this post because I wasn't able to keep up with my Instagram posts as I'd hoped. I'm now entering the third week of this little experiment, but let's look back at what happened last week.

On Monday,  I discovered that the number of people following my personal Instagram account @felishalin had actually dropped from 608 followers to 596. What a surprise that was. I'm not quite sure what happened or why it happened. There could be any number of reasons. Perhaps it's because I didn't post daily. In that one week period (from April 3-10), I only posted three times. And two of those times were on the same day. Oops. So much for posting daily. Or perhaps it's because I didn't follow back some of the new followers that I'd acquired- this seems like a more plausible explanation for why I lost a couple of followers. I'll expand on the importance of following people on Instagram a bit later on in this post. 

Meanwhile, the number of followers on my other Instagram account @ICarteverywhere went up to 280+ followers. I didn't take a screenshot of @ICarteverywhere at the beginning of last week (April 3-10). But at the time this blog was written @icarteverywhere had 294 followers, which is definitely more than the 200 it had at the beginning of this 21 days of Instagram. I'll share how I was able to increase the number of followers for @ICarteverywhere later on.

Admittedly I don't always post daily on my personal Instagram account, @felishalin, because on a regular day-to-day basis, I might not always have a photo or something "Instagram worthy" to post. It's not like I plan out what I'm going to post ahead of time, but maybe I should, if I want to maintain a daily posting schedule at a minimum. I've read some articles on Instagram that recommend posting two to three times a day! But I'm having problems just trying to do the minimum of posting once a day.

Here's a tip to save an idea for a future post: if I have a photo or image that I want to use for a future post I'll set it up in Instagram save it as a draft. Sometimes I do that because I don't have time to write a caption for it, or I know that I want to share the photo/image later, on a specific date. 

Between my two Instagram accounts @felishalin and @ICarteverywhere, I'm more apt to post daily on @ICarteverywhere. The reason is that @ICarteverywhere is dedicated to art, especially street art. So it's not hard to decide what to post, as long as I have a library of photos to choose from. Fortunately there's lots of street art to be photographed in New York. I'm always on the lookout and constantly taking photos of murals or graffiti that I come across. Last summer I found myself taking so many photos of street art and graffiti that I figured I should create an Instagram account solely dedicated to sharing those photos. That lead to the creation of @ICarteverywhere.

With my personal Instagram account, @felishalin I mainly have photos, photos/ images related to my blog posts, and a couple of videos. I don't always have content to post on a daily basis and I'd like to add other created content such as a quote, but it takes time to create. I'll have to work on this, and try to post more than 2 out of 7 days a week, if not daily.

What happened when I implemented some of the tips that I shared in last week's post?

Tips #1, #2 & 3 are good strategies that need to be used over time to create and build engagement. I've tried them with my personal Instagram account @felishalin, but it's too soon to see what results it will yield me. Clearly, I need to do better with Tips #1, #2 & #3 since the number of followers I had on that account dropped in a week's time. It is going to take some sustained effort and attention to consistently implement these three strategies. 

Regarding Tip #5: Don't over hashtag your post's caption, I've tried clean up my captions by separating additional hashtags and posting them in the first comment of a post.

Cheeky Sandwiches cropped.png
Checky Sandwiches comment cropped.png

I've also tried another method of separating hashtags by putting blank lines in between the main caption and additional hashtags.

I didn't notice any difference in how many likes these two different posts got. So I think that keeping the caption clean by using either of these methods seems to work just fine. 

With Tip #6, I'm still trying to find popular targeted hashtags that are most appropriate for my posts.

And with Tip #7 from last week: Ask a question in your post's caption, I intended to try it out but I never got around to it. I'll definitely try this out this week. The response I get will be a good way to see how engaged my Instagram followers are.

I also never got around to trying out BONUS Tip #8: Share a borrowed or original quote. In the past I've taken photos of quotes or witty signage that I've come across, but those are not always that easy to come by. So I am thinking about using photos I've taken and combining them with quotes to create new Instagram posts. 

One thing that I did try was a tactic that I'll call "guerilla following." I learned this from the many Instagram articles and training videos I've read and watched. Here's what it entails: 1) Find an Instagram account similar to yours 2) Find their most popular posts (preferably a post that would be similar to something you'd post on your Instagram) 3) Look at who liked the most popular posts and follow everyone who liked the posts 4) Keep doing this over and over with other Instagram accounts and their most popular posts 5) Follow 80 Instagram accounts every hour for a couple of hours. With Instagram this is the quickest way to get followers. Follow someone first and it's likely that they will follow you back. If you follow these steps you will have a massive number of people following you back on Instagram.

I tried out this "guerilla following" technique with my @ICarteverywhere Instagram account and it worked! It was fairly easy to find other Instagram accounts focused on sharing photos of street art and art.

This behavior of following and people following back on Instagram is why it's important to follow back those who follow you, and because I didn't do that, that might be why I lost a couple of followers from my personal Instagram account @felishalin.

It's good to know: who your new followers are, who your most engaged followers are, who is not following you back, and to monitor when are the best times for you to post on Instagram. Monitor and take note of which posts get the most likes and what time of day they were posted. Experiment with posting at different times of the day. There's probably app that can help you will all of this. To find an app to give you Instagram analytics and to learn about several other great Instagram tools, I'd recommend reading 10 of the Best Instagram Tools by Lilach Bullock.

Another way to acquire new followers on your Instagram account is to cross promote your Instagram on other social media platforms. I tried this out on Facebook on Monday with @ICarteverywhere.

I've also done this on occasion with photos from Instagram that I've shared on Twitter. 

Time for a summary…

Here are the Lessons I’ve Learned From Week 2:

1. Post frequently if not daily

2. Consistently engage with others on Instagram

3. Follow back those who follow you

4. Plan posts ahead of time

Tips Shared In This Post:

1. Plan your posts in advance by creating a posting calendar. Select images to post on a daily basis. Plan the captions for each post and the order in which you are going to post them.

2. Save an idea in draft for a future post. If you have a photo or image that you don't have a caption for yet or want to use for a future post, simply set it up in Instagram save it as a draft. Come back to it later when you are ready to finish writing the caption and to post it. 

3. Keep your captions clean by adding blank lines between different sections and to separate out a series of hashtags.

4. Try the "guerilla following" tactic to get a massive number of new followers. Identify similar Instagram accounts and their most popular posts, then just follow all of the people who liked the post. 

5. Figure out the best times for you to post on Instagram. Experiment and observe which posts are most popular and what time of day they were posted. There are apps and tools that can help you monitor your Instagram posts, which brings me to the next tip...

6. Try out some of the 10 of the Best Instagram Tools by Lilach Bullock

7. Cross promote your Instagram account on other social media platforms. Share one of your Instagram posts on another social media platform and mention that the post originally came from your Instagram handle, or invite those who like the post to follow you on Instagram.

BONUS Tip:

8. Use Instagram Stories. While Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours. They get additional exposure in that 24 hour time frame since they are shown prominently at the top of one's Instagram feed. 

 


Talking Taiwan Episode " The Urban Nomad Film Festival"- Rebroadcast

by Felicia Lin


Now that the Talking Taiwan is out of hiatus, we'll be rebroadcasting some previous "lost" episodes and perhaps I'll even bring back some old guests. One of those "lost" episodes is an interview that I did in 2015 with David Frazier, co-founder and Festival Director of the Urban Nomad Film Festival. More than just a film festival, the Urban Nomad's music festival component will kick into high gear this weekend, April 15-16, and the film festival will run from May 11-21. So this seemed like the perfect time to rebroadcast my interview with David about the Urban Nomad Film Festival. The full episode of that interview is now up on TalkingTaiwan.com. Click here to listen to it. 

When Gus, the producer of Talking Taiwan suggested that I do an interview with David Frazier, co-founder and Festival Director of the Urban Nomad Film Festival, which first started in Taipei in 2002, I was intrigued. And after speaking with David about Urban Nomad, I found myself wishing that I’d be in Taipei at the time of the festival! We talked about how the Urban Nomad Film Festival is more than just a film festival. In the past it has featured poetry readings, live bands, exhibits, parties, and a host of other interactive events. At a glance, the Urban Nomad is part film festival, part music festival. But it is more than that. The goal of the festival’s organizers has been to create a community-oriented event. David explained that the festival was inspired by punk rock’s DIY ethic, and described the Urban Nomad Film Festival as participatory event and “a live art project.”

Learn where the name of the festival “Urban Nomad” came from, the fascinating evolution of the festival and what it takes to run a festival like this. The Urban Nomad Film Festival is definitely something worth checking out if you’re in Taipei in the spring. To learn more, visit their website: www.urbannomad.tw

Listen to the full episode of my interview with David Frazier about the Urban Nomad Film Festival by clicking here.


Talking Taiwan Interview With a Beer Brewing Entrepreneur

by Felicia Lin


You may recall that last month I announced I'd be bringing back the Talking Taiwan podcast. Well, wait no longer... We're back!

In our latest, long awaited episode, I spoke with Michael Forncrook about how he started his craft beer business, PB Craft, and a host of other topics. The full episode is now up on TalkingTaiwan.com. Click here to listen to it.

I love talking to entrepreneurs and small business owners. It’s always interesting to learn how they started and have continued to build their businesses. For this episode I had the pleasure of speaking to Michael Forncrook about how he started his craft beer business in Taiwan. We spoke at great length, and what a lot of listeners don’t know is that we do most of our podcasts long distance, via Skype. For this interview I was in New York, and Michael was in central Taiwan. It might not come as a surprise that we’ve the occasional technical glitch, but it happened a record number of times during my interview with Michael. We actually had to hang up and reconnect four times!

So I want to thank Michael for sticking it out with me and for supporting Talking Taiwan. We had such a fascinating conversation about a range of topics including what type of beer is healthier, the steps to brew beer at home, gypsy brewers, and advice for expats wanting to start a business in Taiwan.

Listen to the full episode on TalkingTaiwan.com by clicking here.

 


21 Days of My Instagram Habit: Week 2

by Felicia Lin


I'm now in the second week of this 21 day experiment with Instagram which officially started last Monday, March 27th. I first blogged about it last Wednesday, March 29th and every Wednesday evening (up until April 19th) I'll be back here blogging about this little experiment and sharing 7 new tips on using Instagram. By the fourth and final week, I will have shared a total of 21 tips. 

So here I am again. First things first, here's what happened after implementing some of the tips I shared in last week's post:

Last Friday I decided to try out Tip #6 and Tip #7 from last week's post, but found it hard to find specific hashtags that would apply to my personal Instagram account @felishalin. I looked up #author and #writersofinstagram and each only had about 2.7 million and 3.4 million posts on Instagram respectively. If you compare these two hashtags with the most popular hashtags on Instagram: #instagood, which had about 563 million posts and #photooftheday, which had about 400 million posts at the time this blog post was written, you'll see that writers are not really that big on Instagram. So I decided to give up on Tip #6.

On to Tip #7: Find influencers in your industry or area of expertise.

Based on what I discovered after trying out Tip #6, I decided to look beyond simply following other authors. However, it still might be useful to look through the feeds of successful authors at a later time, to see which of their posts have been the most popular and what hashtags they use. But I'm not sure if Instagram is the best social media platform for book authors so I'm taking a different tactic here. 

I've long been interested in entrepreneurship because I love ideas people who dream big and make things happen. I also "follow" a number of thought leaders and influencers, in the sense that I read their writings, watch their videos, listen to their podcasts, and am generally interested in what they are doing. As a writer and author, I can identify with some of the struggles that entrepreneurs face, and I'm inspired by their stories. The writing that I share on Instagram is from my blog, and while I've been writing more about social media lately, my blog posts could cover any number of topics depending on what direction I decide to take it. In a broader sense, I see my writing as a way to share ideas, inform and inspire. So I decided to follow the entrepreneurs, thought leaders and influencers on Instagram who I've actually been following in real life.

It turns out that many of these people are also influencers on Instagram with sizeable followings- we are talking anywhere from tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands to half million and into the millions. Here are some of the people/Instagram accounts that I decided to follow:

Next, I moved onto the second part of Tip #7, which was to see who was following these Instagram influencers. Doing that is as simple as clicking on an Instagram profile and clicking on that profile's followers.

Also, when looking at an Instagram profile, like Kim Garst's for example, there are a few more things you can do. If you click on the down arrow to the right of the Following button, this will give you a list of people people that Instagram suggests you follow based on the fact that you're looking at Kim's profile.

When I scrolled through the suggestions, I came across Guy Kawasaki. I've heard him speak and have read his book APE which stands for Author Publisher and Entrepreneur. The book is a great resource for people considering self-publishing, and so I decided to follow Guy Kawasaki on Instagram.

Another thing to do when looking at an Instagram profile, in this case Kim Garst's, is to look at the "Followed by" section at the bottom of the bio to see who you might know that is also following Kim.

By simply following some select entrepreneurs, thought leaders and influencers on Instagram, and then following the steps above to find others to follow, I saw the number of people following me on Instagram increase over the weekend!

In just a couple of days, from Friday to Monday my personal Instagram went from 531 followers to 608, so I'd say that Tip #7 definitely works! NOTE: I tried to do something similar for my other Instagram account @ICarteverywhere, but haven't had much success yet. I've mainly been focused with my personal Instagram account @felishalin. If there are any developments with @ICarteverywhere, I'll surely write about it in a follow up blog post.

There's definitely a lot more digging around that could be done- by looking at the most popular posts done by Instagram influencers and their followers, especially those related to your industry or area of expertise. In doing so you'd see what others are doing that works, and by looking at who's following the influencers in your industry, you can start to find your potential audience and get to know what they like.

Yes, there's plenty more that I could be doing to increase my following on Instagram and this 21 day experiment is giving me an excuse to try things out. In the past I've signed up for webinars on Instagram and have skimmed through articles by social media experts about Instagram only to save them for later reading and study. So now it's time dust all of that off and to finally put it all to work!

How to Increase Your Engagement on Instagram

The most obvious thing to do to increase my following would be to step up my engagement. That of course means liking and commenting on the posts of others. When commenting, it's important to say something specific or useful to the poster rather than generic comments like "cool" "great" or "beautiful." Here's an example of a very thoughtful comment by Maggie Cousins on one of my Instagram posts:

Because of Maggie's comment and feedback, I not only went to her Instagram feed to like some of her posts, but I also decided to share my blog posts about Facebook more widely on LinkedIn and Medium. I did get quite a bit of positive feedback from the comments made on the post above, but it was Maggie's comment specifically that made me realize that people were really getting some value out of what I'd written.

Another way to use comments in Instagram would be to ask your followers to tag a friend in the comments. For example, if you have a special offer or giveaway, ask people to comment or tag and friends interested in the giveaway, or if sharing something informational or cause-related, ask followers to share the post with a friend who might also find the post interesting or helpful. I've done this on my post from last week about my 21 Day Instagram Habit. And going forward I'll try doing this with future blog posts that I share on Instagram.

ask for share in comment- crop.png

It's also good to mention someone else's Instagram handle in a post or comment especially if you have quoted them, want to let them know about your post, to thank them or to otherwise communicate with them. Instagram users are highly engaged with the notifications that they receive on Instagram about comments, likes and mentions. In last week's post I mentioned Kim Garst:

On the subject of Instagram posts, while Instagram is all about the photo, it's also important to think about what you are writing in the caption that accompanies the photo. The length of what is written can be short or long since Instagram currently allows up to 2,200 characters in the caption.

How to Write a Great Caption

Here are some tips for writing a great Instagram caption, whether short or long: provide context, show personality, write something that speaks to your audience, and inspire someone to take an action (whether it is to do something make a change or to click on a weblink). If keeping your Instagram caption brief, use popular targeted hashtags rather than general hashtags. This requires doing some research of course. By looking at what hashtags are being used by your audience, influencers, experts, peers or competitors, you'll be able to find targeted hashtags for a specific industry, community, cause, or topic. 

And speaking of hashtags, while Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post, it's best not to hit that limit since it can make your caption look spammy. Also, all those hashtags can be distracting and detract from the message of your caption. I know I have been guilty of putting tons of hashtags in my captions. My thinking was, Why not? The more the better. If you take a look at my first post on Instagram about the 21 Days of My Instagram Habit and count up all the hashtags, you'll see that there are 12 hashtags in it! 

How to Use Hashtags in Your Instagram Posts

One useful tip about hashtags that I picked up from Later.com is to only use the one most relevant to your photo in the caption and to then to include all the rest of the hashtags in the first comment on the post. Going forward I'm going to keep my captions cleaner by limiting the number of hashtags used to a maximum of 5 and using more targeted hashtags. If there are any additional hashtags that I want to use, I'll post them as a comment on the post.  

Other suggestions to engage people on Instagram include sharing content that invites comments,  discussion, and debate, such as asking a question. Another idea would be to share a quote related to your area of expertise or one that connects with your audience. The quote could be original or borrowed. With quotes you can get creative by placing text over an image, using hand lettering, or making an eye catching image that consists only of text. If the quote is borrowed from somewhere else, it's a good idea to give credit by mentioning the source, especially if the source is on Instagram. Time for a summary of the tips shared in this post...

Tips Shared in this Post:

1. Write useful, meaningful comments on the posts of others on Instagram. These types of comments are more likely to get you noticed. Liking and commenting is a good start to increase your engagement, but writing one word comments don't do much.

2. Mention someone's Instagram handle in a post's caption where relevant- to give credit, thank, or notify someone about your post.

3. Invite people to share your post by mentioning others in the comments if they think someone else might be interested in your post.

4. Craft your caption. Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters in the caption. Whether long or short, make sure your caption does the following:  provides context, shows personality, speaks to your audience, and inspires action.

5. Don't over hashtag your post's caption even though Instagram allows you to put up to 30 hashtags in a caption. Put additional hashtags in the comments of your post.

6. Use popular targeted hashtags in your captions rather than general hashtags. Do your research to find them.

7. Ask a question in your post's caption to invite discussion, comments and debate.

BONUS Tip:

8. Share a borrowed or original quote related to your area or expertise, or that connects with your audience and get creative with how you present the quote on Instagram. 

 


21 Days of My Instagram Habit: Week 1

by Felicia Lin


It's time for me to step up my game on Instagram. Admittedly, I got into Instagram kind of late in the game. It took me awhile because I'm not really a snap happy type of person, but now I have two Instagram accounts- my personal one (@felishalin) and another that is focused on art and street art (@icarteverywhere)! 

Since it's been said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, I've decided to spend 21 days on my "Instagram habit," during which time I'll focus on trying out some new strategies to get more followers, and to see where it takes me. I'll report back here on my progress weekly. 

For some time, I've been reading and hearing that while Instagram may not have as many users as Facebook, their users are the most engaged users of all the social media platforms. So I don't think I'm taking full advantage of all the opportunities and possibilities on Instagram.

Until recently, I'd have to say that I've been kind of passive on Instagram. Sure I post daily, or at least try to, I hashtag my posts with relevant hashtags so that it gets discovered by others, I comment back to anyone who comments on my posts, and I follow back people who follow me on Instagram. But I know that there's probably more that I should be doing to interact with others on Instagram and to grow my following.

I've noticed that my posts on Instagram are often liked by people I don't know, which means that my posts are getting discovered by people beyond my personal social circles. Instagram users are more likely to go beyond their personal circles to search for interesting content, unlike Facebook, where people mostly stick to interacting with their personal connections or acquaintances. This presents a great opportunity to get your content discovered by others. 

When I decided to step up my Instagram game on Monday, one of the things I tried out is something that I've seen others doing on Instagram, namely using the words "click link in bio" in a post. This is done because the only clickable web link on Instagram is in the bio section. Web links mentioned in posts are not clickable, so if you'd like to direct someone to take action (e.g. read a blog post, watch a video, get on your mailing list, visit your website, etc.) directing people to click the link in your bio is the way to do it. Here's what I did on Monday, when I posted about my latest blog entry on my personal Instagram account (@felishalin):

Like how I put the words "click link in bio" on a separate line and used the pointing finger emojis to draw attention to the phrase? Instagram is a highly visual platform so using emojis is highly encouraged and very effective. Think of emojis like a universal language that transcends what we traditionally consider language.

If you're wondering how I got the words "click link in bio" on a separate line- I picked up this tip on this from social media guru Kim Garst. Type the text for an Instagram bio or post in Notes (on an iPhone) first. In Notes you'll be able to control the placement of each line of text. Then copy and paste it from Notes onto Instagram.

Let's not forget that you'll have to make sure that you update the link in your bio accordingly. The link in the bio of my personal Instagram account (@felishalin) used to simply be www.felicialin.com, but I realized that for the most part if I'd be directing people anywhere, it would be to my blog, so I changed the link to www.felicialin.com/blog. With my other Instagram account, @icarteverywhere, I didn't have a link in the bio before so I simply added in: www.felicialin.com so that people could find out more about me if they were curious to know who's behind the Instagram account @icarteverywhere. That may change later depending on what I decide to do with this Instagram account. I might change the link if I have a specific call to action for people following that account.

As of Monday I had 531 followers on my @felishalin Instagram account and 200 followers on my @icarteverywhere Instagram account. Let's see if I'm able to increase the number of followers I have on these accounts by the end of 21 days. To gain more followers on Instagram it's a good idea to follow people first and see if they will follow you back. Two strategies that Kim Garst has shared to gain more followers include: 1) Search a specific hashtag, see what's posted there, which posts are most popular and who posted it, then see who their followers are, and follow their followers, and 2) Find influencers in your industry or area of expertise, look at something they recently posted, see who liked the post, then follow the people who liked the post. I'm going to test out these two strategies over the next week, and let's see what happens. 

Tips shared in this post:

1. Use relevant hashtags in your posts to get discovered by others on Instagram.

2. Use emojis in your bio and in your posts on Instagram as another way of communicating your thoughts and ideas. Go crazy, have fun with them!

3. Use the words "click link in bio" if you'd like to direct people to a specific web link in your Instagram post.

4. Use Notes (on an iPhone) to type out text and emojis for your Instagram bio or post. in Notes you'll be able to control the spacing of text on your Instagram bio or posts, then copy and paste it into your Instagram bio or post.

5. Include a web link in your bio that is relevant to your posts if you are directing people there, or use a web link that lets people know more about you in general.

6. Search a specific hashtag to find new people to follow. See what's posted there, which posts are most popular and who posted it, then see who their followers are, and follow their followers.

7. Find influencers in your industry or area of expertise. See who their followers are and look at something they recently posted. See who likes their posts, then follow the people who liked the post.


Facebook Page or Group? That is the Question.

by Felicia Lin


If you already have a profile on Facebook and are thinking about creating a presence for your business on Facebook, you may be wondering: Which is best for your business- a Facebook Page or Group, or both?

But before we get into the nuances of Facebook groups...

What is the main difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group?

Facebook Pages are typically set up to represent a business, organization, brand or public person. Pages are always public, meaning that anyone on or off of Facebook can search for, and view the Page's posts. In order to see a page's posts in a Facebook newsfeed, the page must be liked.

A Facebook Group could also be set up to represent a business, organization, brand or public person, but the Group could simply be an online community of people. Facebook Groups may or may not be public depending on which of the 3 privacy settings is used: public, closed or secret. 

Facebook Group Settings Explained

A Public Group and its posts can be viewed by people who are not on Facebook. Anyone on Facebook can see the Group's posts and members, and anyone on Facebook can be added to a Public Group by a member of the Group.

A Closed Group cannot be seen by people who are not on Facebook. Anyone on Facebook can find a Closed Group and see its members, but only members of the Closed Group can see the Group's posts. Anyone on Facebook can ask to join a Closed Group or be added by a member of the Group

A Secret Group is basically invisible. This type of Group cannot be seen by people whether or not they are logged onto Facebook, except for members of the Secret Group of course. Anyone on Facebook can join but they must be invited or added by a Group member. Only members of the Secret Group can find the Group on Facebook and see the Group's posts. 

Facebook Page Visitor Post Settings Explained

With Facebook Pages, the Page's posts are usually done by the Page's admins or other team members. These posts will appear as posts by the Facebook Page onto the Page's timeline. Other Facebook users may also be able to post on a Page, depending on the Page's settings: 

  • Visitors are allowed to post on the Page without any restrictions
  • Visitors can post, but the posts will be subject to review and approval by a Page admin
  • Posting is disabled, i.e. no posts by others is allowed on the Page.  

Facebook Group Posts

On the other hand, posts in a Facebook Group, even those by the Group's administrator, will show up as a post by that individual person's Profile. This is unlike Pages which can post content as if it is coming from the Page and not a personal Profile. Therefore the content posted in a Facebook Group comes directly from the members of the group. Essentially the content is crowdsourced from the Group, but how much of the content comes from the Group vs. the Group administrator depends on how much control the Group's administrator exercises over what is posted in the Group. Similar to a Facebook Page, posts in a Group might require review or approval by the Group's administrator or moderators before being posted in the Group. Members of a Facebook Group can comment freely on what is posted in the Group. And members of a Facebook Group will automatically receive notifications of all activities that happen within the Facebook Group. Because of this, Group posts are much more visible in Facebook feeds than Page posts.

Features Unique to Pages and Groups

Facebook Pages have built-in analytics, so you can get feedback on your posts- e.g. which are the most popular, most liked, shared, or viewed and what type of engagement posts have received. You'll also be able to garner some statistics and demographics about your audience, and see when they are online. Pages can also be advertised, in other words, you can advertise your Facebook Page to new audiences and potential customers on Facebook. Pages also allow the installation of apps that do things like help collect email addresses and leads, or run contests.

Facebook does not provide any analytics for Facebook Groups and technically Groups can't be advertized. But Facebook Groups do have some functionality that Pages do not. Group members can upload a document to be shared with the Group, or create a shared note that other Group members can view and/or edit. Groups can also store files and allow members to search through posts.

So why create a Facebook Group?

While having a Facebook Page seems like a requirement for anyone who wants to do business on Facebook, whether or not to create and run a Facebook Group is another matter. First you will need to decide if it is necessary for your business and what, if any benefit there will be. In order to decide, it requires a bit more understanding of how Facebook Groups work. The simplest way to describe a Facebook Group is as an online community, a discussion forum, or a support group organized around a common interest or goal. Groups are great for organizing people and facilitating interaction between people. That is the lifeblood of a Group- the interaction and engagement. Active participation with and amongst Group members is what keeps a Group alive and growing. A Group could be a great a place to share or get resources, advice, and support. So the main thing to consider is if you can be committed enough to manage your Group and to be responsive to your Group. If you have some expertise that you'd like to share, a Facebook Group could be a great place to do so. However, you'll need to strike a balance between promoting yourself and serving the Group. After all, a Group is a sort of community which should be focused on what interests its members. Things should not be one-sided.

I am in a number of Facebook Groups and I've noticed that the best Facebook groups have couple of things in common: 1) a clear purpose/topic of interest- so that Group members know what to expect and what they can post in the Group, 2) clear rules/standards/code of conduct e.g. no spamming or self-promotion is allowed, and 3) a lot of interaction and engagement with its members- members are invited to comment, ask questions, and to share information and resources with others.

So don't make your Group all about you, encourage everyone to participate and contribute, let the Group run itself, but do police things if members break the rules or disputes arise within the Group, and always make sure that the Group delivers value to its members. And one last thing, bigger is not necessarily better. While many of the most successful Groups on Facebook have 5000-15,000 members, I've also been in very small, secret FB groups with less than 10 people that were very effective. Everyone in the Group was super committed to the Group, supportive and collaborative. The right size for your Facebook Group will really depend on what the purpose of your Group is- whether it's to serve a team, a neighborhood, networking group, social group, community group, or a common interest group.

 


What's the Difference Between a Facebook Like and Follow?

by Felicia Lin


I've been thinking about writing more regularly about social media, so I thought I'd start with a series of blog posts that answer common questions that people have about Facebook.

The question: What's the difference between a Facebook Like and Follow? has come up in one of my social media workshops, so I thought I'd start with it. Thinking about this question leads to other questions such as: Can you like a page but not follow it? Or vice versa? Can you follow a page but not like it? And What does it mean to follow a personal profile? 

First, here's a refresher on a couple of terms: Facebook Profile aka Profile, and Facebook page aka Page. When someone first signs up to join Facebook, a Facebook Profile is the default account created. Once a Profile has been created, that account can be used to create a Facebook Page. A Page cannot be created without a Profile. Pages are created for a variety of reasons, for example, to represent a business, organization, brand or public person. Pages are different from Profiles; they have additional features, like Ads and Insights.

One thing to note is that Facebook has an algorithm called EdgeRank which determines how often a Profile sees other Profiles' or Pages' post. In other words this algorithm determines what you see in your Newsfeed, supposedly showing you what you are more likely to be interested in seeing. Some of the factors considered by EdgeRank include: how old a post is, how engaged a Profile is with another Profile or Page.

 

Liking and Following a Page vs. Liking but not Following

When someone likes a Page they are by default also following it. In other words, a person has to have first liked a page in order to follow it. If you take a look at a Page that you've liked, you'll see a Following button. If you click on the Following button you'll see a dropdown menu with the options See First and Unfollow.

Did you know about See First Following? This is when a Profile has visited a Page, clicks on the Following button and selects and changes their Follow status to See First. In doing so, this will prioritize the Page's posts above the posts of other Pages and Profiles. Selecting See First overrides EdgeRank and makes sure that a Profile sees a particular Page's posts. This is the most valuable type of like for a Page to have.

Someone who likes a Page can choose to unfollow the Page. In that case the person is still shown as liking the Page, but they will not see all of the Page's posts. 

 

Following a Profile

A Profile can friend another Profile or follow it, but not like it. Profiles that are friends can see each other's posts. A Profile can follow another Profile without friending it. If your Profile follows another Profile you will see all of their posts, but they will not see yours. This is different from the "friend" relationship, which is a two-way relationship. Reasons for following a Profile could include the following: the Profile has reached its maximum number of friends, the Profile has disabled the ability to accept friends, or the Profile has not accepted your friend request. 

So now when you like a Page, know that you also have the option of selecting 1) See First if you want to make sure you see all of the Pages posts in your Facebook feed or 2) Unfollow if you don't want to see all of the Page's posts in your feed.

 


Bringing Back the Talking Taiwan Podcast

by Felicia Lin


One of the things I'm working on is bringing back the Talking Taiwan podcast. It's been five years since I started doing the podcast in 2012. In the beginning we didn't even have a dedicated website. All of the podcast episodes were simply available on SoundCloud. When I was at my busiest with the podcast (in 2013 and 2014), I'd be doing an interview a week. I've really missed doing the podcast! It was a great excuse for me to interview and chat with some really interesting individuals over the years. I've spoken with entrepreneurs, innovators, community leaders, authors, activists, actors, musicians and journalists, just to name a few.

But before all this, Talking Taiwan was the brainchild of award-winning radio DJ Rick Monday (2009 Golden Bell for his Morning Show on ICRT once upon a time). The show's producer, Gus Adapon had been working with Rick on the podcast for some time before I had ever heard about it. 

I first met Gus when I was living in Taiwan from 2001-2006. At the time he was working on ORIENTED.org which was the forerunner to Forumosa.com. Gus is a serial entrepreneur with a list of impressive accomplishments (amongst them is producing a film called Pinoy Sunday). He is also the founder of Forumosa.com, which is the sponsor of Talking Taiwan

Years later, after I had left Taiwan and returned to live in New York City, I received a message on LinkedIn from Gus telling me about a podcast he was working on called Talking Taiwan. He was looking for a female host for the podcast. It seemed like a golden opportunity so I pitched myself for the job. That was July of 2012. I didn't hear back from Gus for several months. At one point I reached out to Christine, Gus's ORIENTED.org co-founder for advice on the situation. ORIENTED.org had spun off into ORIENTED.com with Christine spearheading the global ORIENTED Happy Hours. For several years I organized the ORIENTED Happy Hours in both Kaohsiung and New York. Christine told me to be patient and something to the effect of "Gus would get back to me, when he'd get back to me." When I had practically given up on the whole thing, Gus reached out to me. It was October and Hurricane Sandy had hit New York. But finally, we were on. It was a go! 

There are many people responsible for making this podcast happen including our sound engineer Luis, who edits and "cleans up" all my interviews, literally making me and my guests sound better; he also edits my interviews into shorter episodes and adds on a fancy intro to the beginning of every episode. We've also recently added a web person to the Talking Taiwan team- Louie. She will be putting all of the materials related to each podcast episode up on the website. Louie is also a tuberculosis and disability advocate and speaker. You can learn more about her and her work by reading her Huffington Post article here. You can also follow her on twitter @LouieZepeda1 With such an amazing team of talented individuals, I'm looking forward to seeing where we are able to take Talking Taiwan next.

Stay tuned as we get ready to relaunch the Talking Taiwan podcast and website!


How I’m Getting Out of My Blogging Hiatus

by Felicia Lin


I'll admit it. I was in a bit of a funk at the beginning of the year. With my birthday at the end of October, Turkey Day, Christmas and New Year's I had plenty of distractions, I mean "reasons" for getting sidetracked. I'd lost momentum on a lot of things, like this blog. My enthusiasm and motivation for many of my projects had waned. And I wondered about my goals, why I have them, and if I even still wanted to attain them.

When I looked at the last time I'd written a post for this blog, writing a new post became this huge "to do." There were many stops and starts, writes and rewrites and "other work" behind the scenes- before I was finally able to get this blog post out. 

As I seriously questioned what I'm doing and where I'm going, I realized that this is the year of recommitting to many of my long term goals and projects. Because it's taken much longer than expected to achieve these particular goals and projects, it's been hard to stay excited about them. But I knew that I had to do something to get out of my funk. In the past, I have gone through periods like this.

So what do I do at times like this?

I let myself play.

I allowed myself to do things that I enjoy doing without worrying about getting back to work. I socialized and did things for fun. And I think that there must really be something to this because recently I read that social engagement can boost brain function.

I look for inspiration.

I listened to TED talks and podcasts. Many lists of the best TED talks and podcasts have been compiled. Here's a good one that I've come across: The Books, Podcasts and TED Talks You Need to Stay Committed to You Goals. Learning something new or hearing the stories of others can really be inspiring.

I do at least one thing a day.

I tried to do something, however small, every day to reach one of my goals or to complete a project. It is important to pick yourself up again, and to continue working on something that has fallen by the wayside. I like this idea of resuming work instead of "starting over again," which seems so much more daunting. Think of it as picking up where you left off and just keep going. Gradually I will build on this by adding one more thing each day, one thing that will help me to get closer to reaching my goals or completing my projects.

I learn from others.

One of the things that I definitely wanted to do to was to start blogging again, so I read the blogs of other well-known bloggers and individuals who are doing some of the things that I want to do. I like to see what these people are doing, what they saying, and how they are saying it. It is a good reminder to me that I have my own unique voice and that I just need to be me, to write from the heart, and to share my thoughts. For me writing is very much about having a voice, expressing myself and hopefully raising some thought provoking questions and/or sharing useful information. 

I start my day off right.

This has to do with having a morning practice. A morning practice is more than just a morning routine. It can consist of anything from meditating, to setting your goals for the day, reading inspirational text, journaling, or simply expressing gratitude. It is different for each person. I am still tweaking what works for me and I sometimes find that it can be a challenge to stick with this depending on what my daily obligations are. But in general when I've started my day off with some sort of morning practice the day seems to go more smoothly.

I re-establish past routines.

It's important to keep or to go back to healthy routines that have worked in the past. For me this includes daily journaling and regular exercise. 

Creativity can't always be manufactured and motivation can't be forced. Sometimes you need space or distance from things, different experiences, and certain routines to stimulate creativity and motivation.

I'm still working on doing all of the above. 


5 Tips For Doing a Facebook Live Video

by Felicia Lin


Most of the major social media platforms are now focusing on video sharing. Earlier this year, Instagram increased the length of video that users could post from 15 to 60 seconds. Twitter allowed its users to tweet longer videos (the length was increased from 30 seconds to 140). And Facebook launched Facebook Live. Then Instagram introduced Instagram stories, a feature similar to SnapChat, which allows its users to post video and/or a series of photos. which will disappear in 24 hours.

Twitter and Instagram currently only allow videos to be a minute or so long, but Facebook users can now stream via Facebook Live for up to four hours at a time! If you are planning to do a Facebook Live video, there’s a lot more you can do in the time allotted, and there are five things you should consider in order to make sure that your Facebook Live video goes off without a hitch.


1. Plan and Don’t Plan

What do I mean by this?

If you have something specific to share or say, it’s best to announce it beforehand so that your friends and fans can tune in for it. That way you know that you won’t be completely alone during your broadcast. Tell people when you’ll be on Facebook Live, and why, or at the very least say something to peak their curiosity. This is especially important if your Facebook Live broadcast will be at an event or coincide with some news or announcement. However, don’t script what you are planning to say during your Facebook Live broadcast. It’s important to go with the flow during the broadcast; make sure that you interact with and acknowledge all of the people you see tuning in.


2. Get Back to Basics

Make sure you introduce yourself. Don’t underestimate the importance of doing that because you never know who will end up watching your video. Think elevator pitch. And make sure that you clearly tell people what you want to say, or explain what it is that you want to share. 


3. Get Techie

Avoid running into any technical issues during your broadcast. Make sure that you have a selfie stick, a tripod or some sort of stable setup for your phone, unless you are trying to do something a la “Blair Witch Project.” Shaky video is not fun to watch. It might seem obvious to point this out but make sure that your phone is fully charged beforehand. It’s also a good idea to put your phone in “airplane mode” (that’s for iPhone users, for Android phone users, there should be an equivalent setting) because if you get any phone calls during your Facebook Live broadcast the phone call might supersede the broadcast and end it abruptly.  And finally, turn off any notifications because it could be embarrassing if a text message notification flashes across your screen during the broadcast. 


4. Location, Location, Location

This too may seem obvious, but make sure that you are recording in a place with sufficient lighting and that there is not too much background noise, unless your are doing a live broadcast of performance or event.


5. Prepare for the Aftermath

Now that you’ve recorded a Facebook Live video, you can share it directly with others on Facebook, onto a Facebook page, or onto a Facebook event page. But even more importantly, you can save the video onto your phone or download it. It’s a good idea to do this so that you can repurpose the video elsewhere- whether you upload it directly on YouTube, or decide to edit it for other purposes. Facebook doesn’t exactly make it easy to figure out how to download a Facebook Live video. When I finally figured it out I thought to myself, someone should make a “How To” YouTube video for this and so I did. You can watch my video “How to Download a Facebook Live Video" below.


Finally, you can get some insights into who’s watched your videos. Facebook provides users with two metrics: peak concurrent viewers, which is the highest number of viewers who were watching the video while it was live, and viewers during a live broadcast, which is a visual representation of the number of viewers during each moment of the live broadcast. Looking at the audience retention metrics could help you plan for future videos. Now you can practice and experiment with future Facebook Live videos to see what works or not.  


Social Media: Good or Bad?

by Felicia Lin


With every new invention or technological advancement, there's always an upside and a downside. All too often, it seems like people focus on the negatives or potential dangers of new inventions and gadgets.

Take television for example, I'm sure that most would agree that television (or more specifically, the television set) has revolutionized the world. Much has been said, written and researched on the negative effects of watching too much television, and especially on the impact of watching violent television shows. [As a side note, I think it's pretty incredible how the original concept of television is currently undergoing a revolution. Many of today's most popular "television shows"- courtesy of Netflix and Amazon- are probably not even watched on an actual television set.] 

When it comes to social media and the Internet, I'm sure that you could rattle off a laundry list of negative things that could be attributed to both- there's cyber stalking, cyberbullying, pedophiles preying on children, trolls, catfishing, revenge porn, and the dark web, just to name a few.

As someone who generally tries to see the upside of things, I try to focus on the good that social media contributes to our lives. We are social creatures after all and crave social interaction. I think that most people want to feel that they matter in some way- that there is someone else out there who cares about them. Social media can help people feel less isolated by giving them an outlet through which to express their joys and frustrations, and then to feel validated and connected when they receive responses and engage with others. I've seen people make what seems to be a public cry for help on social media, and then receive supportive comments in response. Also on the list of good things about social media, is how we now find out about our friends engagements, weddings and birth announcements through Facebook. Going back to the person who's made a cry for help, presumably it's comforting to be getting responses from friends and acquaintances, and maybe also surprising to see who has reached out or come out of the woodwork to express their concern. Hopefully an outpouring like this would make a person feel less despondent. I've also seen people complain and rant about something over social media, using it as an outlet to simply vent, probably not expecting any particular outcome. In response, I've seen people share their opinions, words of support and encouragement, and how they've also experienced something similar. Some even shared some solid advice, real resources and solutions- which is certainly most helpful and probably another unexpected reaction to the poster's initial rant. A lot of the exchanges described above probably wouldn't have happened at all were it not for the person who initially shared what they were going through on social media.  

There are also many ways in which social media and related technologies have and are bringing about more good in the world:

Social media has facilitated social movements and revolutions (most notably the Arab Spring).

Organizations like DoSomethingGood.org and The Crisis Text Line use social media and technology to make the world a better place.

Charitable giving campaigns (Movember for prostate cancer, #NoMakeupSelfie campaign for cancer research, and The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS) have gone viral thanks to social media.

Authorities and police now use social media to investigate and crack cases. Twitter users have used Twitter to tip off the police.

Response to disasters have also been improved (by Facebook Safety Check and the CrisisMappers Network).

There are indeed a lot of ways that social media is making the world a better place! I remember the first time I discovered Facebook Safety Check. It was earlier this year when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked southern Taiwan.

When I saw several of my friends in Taiwan marking themselves safe on Facebook in the wake of the earthquake, I thought, what a really great feature. Now this is social media for good! 

When the explosion on 23rd Street and 6th Avenue happened in New York on Saturday around 8:30 pm, I initially tweeted a photo from the scene for my friends and family to see. I was on my way uptown from the Chelsea/Flatiron district.

I also posted this photo to Facebook with a message that I was safe. When I finally got through all of the blocked streets and made it to my destination, I was finally able to sit down and tell my friend who had been waiting for me what had happened. Later on, close to 11:00 pm, I thought that it might be a good idea to use the Facebook Safety Check to mark myself safe. But when I opened up the Facebook app on my phone and searched for the Facebook Safety Check, I was disappointed. I couldn't find a safety check for the New York explosion. So I wrote another post on my Facebook wall to let friends and family know that I was safe.

I later read an article, which stated that Facebook belatedly activated it's safety feature for the New York explosion, and that it was criticized for not doing so sooner. I'm not sure what Facebook's criteria for activating the safety check is, but I think that they should have acted sooner because New York is a major city. In these situations timing is everything. It was a huge opportunity for some major engagement on their platform, but they didn't get to capitalize on it.

Time and time again, social media has been used for good. I think that it's really changed the world, especially the news and media. It has broken down walls and made news and information more readily accessible. Of course that also means that there is more "news" being shared and circulated, so people have to be much more discerning about the sources of their news and the truth and reliability of what they are reading. 

When I was in Taiwan in 2014, during the Sunflower Movement I saw firsthand how social media helped to mobilize a social movement. On the night of March 18th, activists and students broke into the Legislative Yuan building in Taipei in protest of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement between China and Taiwan. This was the birth of the Sunflower Movement. The Legislative Yuan was subsequently occupied until April 10th, for over 20 days.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media in the U.S. tends to underreport on Taiwan. To prove my point, let's take the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan and the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. Have you heard of either one? It's my guess that more people have heard about the Umbrella Movement than the Sunflower Movement. 

Knowing that there wouldn't be much coverage on the situation in Taiwan and that my friends and family on the other side of the world would be wondering what's going on, I was constantly sharing what I could about the situation on Facebook and my other website AboutSuBeng.com.  

Later on the Sunflower Movement went global after one of the student leaders of the movement, Lin Fei-Fan called on the people of Taiwan to take to the streets on March 30th in a show of support for the movement and to call on the President to negotiate on the terms of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement. Overseas communities began organizing rallies and on March 29th and March 30th, there was a strong show of international support for the Sunflower Movement, with rallies in 49 cities and 21 countries around the world. Social media played a huge role in mobilizing people globally on March 30th and throughout the Sunflower Movement. 

And even more recently, there continue to be unexpected ways in which social media can be used for social good. Researchers from Harvard and University of Vermont have come up with a way to use Instagram to check on a person's mental health. They've come up with an algorithm, based on a person's Instagram feed that can detect if someone is showing signs of being clinically depressed. Snapchat is getting into the act too, but in a very different way. A journalist who was doing a piece on sexual abuse used Snapchat filters to conceal the identities of sexual assault survivors as he filmed their interviews.

I love hearing stories like about how social media is doing good. So I think I'll keep my rose-colored glasses on when it comes to looking at social media.


Since when did love get so complicated?

by Felicia Lin


I live in a city which is notoriously perceived to be a hard place to date. But actually, I beg to differ on this. It is not that hard to get a date or to meet people at all. The real problem is getting into a relationship and finding love. There's so much choice or at least the perception of choice. And in an environment like this, all too often people want what they can't have or look to trade up.

Sometimes we think that "the heart wants what the heart wants" and if we want it enough we should just go for it. And if the other person is not exactly on the same page we'll wait for them to come around, and even make excuses for them when they don't.

Why do we do this? And why should love be so complicated?

What really got me thinking about this was spending a couple days with my adorable niece and nephew- aged 4 and 5 going on 6. I don't get to see them nearly enough since we live on opposite coasts. They are really getting to be so expressive! I hope I'm not getting to be a jaded New Yorker, but I have to say that I was struck by how easily these children expressed their affection by telling me and their grandparents, several times a day, that they loved us- pure and simple. It was so sweet and I had this feeling of "I love you and you love me, we all love each other." What open-heartedness! It was so wonderful being around these kids who are so lovable, carefree, direct and unincumbered. Children are amazing that way! Being around these children made me really think about love.  

Whatever happened to that easy feeling of loving someone just because you love them? And not thinking about whether or not they love you back? I'm not saying that love- especially when it comes to relationships or potential relationships- should be one-sided. What I am saying is why can't we be open-hearted enough to just say and feel that we love someone without expectations? You love someone, and if you love them and they don't love you back so be it. There needn't be any drama over that. If it is, it is. If it isn't move on. We cannot make someone love us, or love us back the same way even though we love them. And you don't need to beat yourself up over why that person doesn't love you back or in the same way.

At the same time it's important to remember and know that you do deserve love. Love should be easy and when it's right, it will be returned. Love is a two-way street. It really shouldn't be a struggle, at least not in the very beginning. 

 


Dear Facebook, I'm just not that into you anymore

by Felicia Lin


It's me, not you. You were my first, the first place I'd go whenever I had something to say or share, but now there's someone else. 

I've fallen down the rabbit hole of Twitter and now I'm hooked. I find myself consumed by the tremendous volume of information that's being shared at breakneck speed there. And it's pretty amazing the things I've learned and discovered through Twitter. I see Twitter as a community of informed people who want to share and pursue knowledge, which appeals to me. I'm really enjoying all the exchanges that are happening in the Twitterverse. I try to do my part to participate and to share informative, inspiring content with others. Now that this Pandora's box has been opened it's not going to be closed! 

Yes, my dear Facebook, I feel like I need to meet some new people. I've never been really big on sharing every aspect of my daily personal life in my Facebook status- like what I'm eating for breakfast. But I do want to share and connect with others. I'm not leaving you, I'm just diversifying.

Don't be jealous but I'm really into Instagram now- a platform which is all about how "a picture is worth a thousand words." In the past it seemed like such a chore have to post a photo every single day. I just didn't take that many photos. But now I sometimes post two or more photos a day!

How did that happen?

I started taking more photos without even realizing it. Lately I've been taking long walks around different parts of the city. I'll just wander around and see where it takes me. If something strikes my fancy along the way I'll photograph it. I've also really gotten into photographing street art. Earlier this month, I did a self-guided tour of the 100 Gates Project, and in the process, I came across a lot of the street art that's around the Lower Eastside. By the end of the day I had a ton of interesting photos, which I figured I'd post one by one on a daily basis. I had a "bank" of photos to choose from for my daily post. If you have a very clear message or subject matter, I think it's a great idea to have a collection of photos on hand to pick and choose from for your daily Instagram post. By the way it's not a hard fast rule, that you can only post one photo a day. I've experimented with posting several photos in one day, which makes sense if all of the photos are related e.g. they are all from a specific event. 

These days I'm always looking around and noticing what I might want to photograph. And now that I've started focusing on photographing street art, it seems like I see street art everywhere! The thing about posting photos on Instagram that is so gratifying, is seeing complete strangers liking and commenting on them. Now I'm thinking of starting an Instagram account specifically for my street art-related photographs.

Here are a few of the photos I've posted to Instagram recently:

My favorite time of day- before the sun begins to set

My favorite time of day- before the sun begins to set

Graffiti is everywhere (Lower Eastside, New York)

Graffiti is everywhere (Lower Eastside, New York)

A tribute mural of Keith Haring 

A tribute mural of Keith Haring 

One of gates of the 100 Gates Project

One of gates of the 100 Gates Project

I literally saw this artist at work while I was walking through the Flatiron district.

I literally saw this artist at work while I was walking through the Flatiron district.

Flowers are one of my favorite things to photograph.

Flowers are one of my favorite things to photograph.

Like what you see? Then follow me on Instagram @felishalin

Don't worry Facebook, I'm not leaving you. I'm just taking a break. You might not be number one anymore, but I will be back. And I'll even share some of the things I've posted on Twitter and Instagram with you. 


Happy July 4th Fireworks or Not

by Felicia Lin


I'm not really one for fireworks. I feel like if you've seen them once, you've pretty much seen them all. So I'm also really not one to make plans to go out and see fireworks on the 4th. 

But for some reason, every year, I always seem to have a bunch of friends who want to get together to see fireworks on July 4th. And more often than not, this always seems to come up at the last minute. I guess that's what happens when you're a single, busy New Yorker. Holidays like this have a way of creeping up on you. 

Looking back on it, my friends and I have always managed to figure out a way to spend the 4th together somewhere with a view. Being able to find a place to go with a view at the last minute in New York City is quite an accomplishment. It is only rivaled by finding a place to see the ball drop live in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Finding a place to be able to watch fireworks on July 4th is the whole point, isn't it? Otherwise we could just stay in and watch it on TV. 

One year a bunch of us ended up picnicking in the park space alongside the Hudson River; later we watched the fireworks launch over the Hudson. On another occasion, a friend of mine shared access to the rooftop of his apartment building so that I could invite my friends over for a barbecue with a view. More than a few times, I've been invited to backyard barbecues of friends who live in New Jersey, and into the homes of strangers who were my friends' friends. Each time one of us was invited to a gathering, there would be a group of us in tow. Time and time again my friends and friends' friends have generously opened up their homes to celebrate and share the view of the fireworks from their balcony or roof.

What I've come to realize is that, July 4th is not really about the fireworks.

Holidays like this are about friendship and celebration. In a way, without even realizing it, I think that July 4th has been the holiday that brings me and my friends together even more than Thanksgiving. And for that I am grateful.

Here's to a Happy July 4th- fireworks or not! 

 


What's worse ghosting or benching?

by Felicia Lin


Last week we shared an article on the Metropolicks Facebook page and Twitter account called "Benching Is the New Ghosting." What is "benching?" It's a sports metaphor for the bizarre textual limbo that single people in the dating scene sometimes find themselves in. These days, it seems like a lot of people prefer texting to picking up the phone and making a call. Benching is about more than text messages vs. phone calls though. Here's a definition of the word based on the "Benching Is the New Ghosting" article.

I've both been ghosted and benched- quite recently in fact. And I can tell you that as I read the article, I thought to myself that benching was much worse, but only because I cared and was holding out hope that maybe there was a chance with this guy. That is what makes benching so painful- the cycle of hope and disappointment.

When I thought about it much later, I realized that there have actually been numerous occasions in which I've been "benched" but the difference was that in those cases I didn't care a rat's ass if I ever saw or heard from the guy again. It was all a huge joke to me- the random text messages and feeble attempts that they made to reconnect with me. I never seriously considered these guys. One of them I had met once. He stood me up the day we were supposed to meet again in person. For up to a year afterward he would randomly text message me. The other had made an awkward, inappropriate pass at me. After I rejected his advances, he continued to text me for months afterward. It was hard for me to believe that these guys actually thought that they 1) had a chance with me and 2) that they could resurrect things after their behavior. So in those cases it was more of an annoyance than a frustration.

But perhaps the two cases mentioned were not actually cases of being benched because as the article explained: 

In a romantic scenario, you’re not going to go along with this unless you want to actually date the bencher. If I were to pull this on someone who’s over the idea, he just wouldn’t respond. The benchee is complicit because he wants it.

The one who benched me recently- we had seen each other a handful of times before the benching started happening and I thought we had a connection. But whatever was going on, on his end, it got to the point that I had to put an end to it. How did I do that? By text of course. 


Why I'm blogging again

by Felicia Lin


The ironic thing about now being a published author is that I have not been doing very much writing for quite some time, and I miss it. 

That is why I am back here. To just write.

It has been AGES since I've blogged on a regular basis. I do write and post things for AboutSuBeng.com and Metropolicks.com, but that is not really the same as keeping a personal blog.

I first started blogging in 2002 while living in Taiwan. And I still remember what a big deal it was deciding to set up a blog because it was basically going to be a very public online journal of my life in Taiwan. It really look a lot of courage* for me take that first step. I felt really exposed and vulnerable, knowing that my words and inner most thoughts were going to be published on the Internet where anyone could come across them. I kept my identity on that blog relatively anonymous; my full name was never revealed as the author of the blog, and I only shared my blog with friends and family. 

To put things in perspective, this was in the days WAY before social media. In those days, when Blogger was all the rage, blogs were quite revealing, some were diary-like, others were a daily documentation of the blogger's life through words and/or photographs posted; basically blogs were windows into another person's world. Sound familiar? Having a blog was the closest thing to what social media today is. A blog was a place where you could share things about yourself, your life, your opinions, and anything at all. Back then, most people didn't blog. It is really incredible to see how much things have changed with the prevalence of social media today. Now people can share every little moment of their life with a press of a button.

Going back to those pre-social media days, my first blog really allowed me to put my words and in essence, a piece of myself out there publicly. It is something that I definitely needed to do as an aspiring author- to get comfortable with my fear, and to open myself up to the possibility of public scrutiny. At the time, I had just learned about something called the "inner critic," which I discovered had been holding me back from seeing myself as a creative person and pursuing my dream of one day writing a book.

Fear and the inner critic are still things that I contend with when I write or prepare to write. In fact, they came up after I decided to start writing a personal blog again, and in the midst of writing this blog post. I need to remind myself that I must write simply because I want to. I have to. And that while I have a standard that I'd like to adhere to when I write, sometimes I just need to write, despite the judgment and criticism of myself and of others.

I think that when I first started blogging in 2002, that's when my life as a writer and author began, so that's why I'm blogging again.

*As a side note I love the definition of the word courage that Brené Brown gave in her TED talk: The power of vulnerability: cour is the Latin word for heart, so the word courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.