I have two sisters (and two brothers) and we share funny memes and accounts through a group chat on Instagram on a daily basis. We sometimes talk about how we spend too much time on our phones and this week we chatted about how we should unfollow accounts that make us feel anxious or unhappy. At that moment, I realized I had hardly looked through my personal social media accounts because I was so focused on building my ‘Callie, the sweet and friendly Golden Retriever” empire. Why is this relevant? Through my major project experiential journey of Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Flipgrid, I am quickly learning how time consuming these apps can be when you have specific goals in mind. Here is a little mini compilation of my top TikTok videos/Instagram experience this week (complete with a muted section at 1:00-1:21, due to a copyright claim):
And the nitty-gritty details of my progress this week:
In my first major project post, I discussed my hesitation with using my personal life in a public account on both Instagram and TikTok. So, I decided to use my dog, Callie as a prop and subject of my account. I followed these steps:
- Choose a username and make an account.
- Apparently there are a lot of Golden Retrievers named Callie on Instagram, so I had to use some creative punctuation with the name
- Choose a profile picture and create a short bio
- I briefly looked at different pet accounts, and lots of accounts included the date of birth of their animal and sometimes a flag for the country. I decided to against giving away my location and only added the D.O.B.
- I chose a nice close up photo of Callie for the profile picture
- Make your first post
- I made the first post before following any accounts – that way potential accounts would see my content if they decide to follow back. This is not based on any research, just my own idea
- Use relevant hashtags and format post in a particular style
- I Googled: “top golden retriever hashtags instagram” and copied the list to my Notes app on my iPhone. **You can only use 30 hashtags per post
- To create a post with multiple lines, I remember learning from my niece that if you write the caption in the Notes app and format it with dots and lines, the formatting will stay when you copy the caption to Instagram. Why? I have no idea. Maybe something to look into!
- Start following accounts and liking photos (I looked at a few of the different hashtags for inspiration).
- Continuing posting more content (at least daily), like a variety of posts and follow relevant (dog related) accounts.
- Choose a username and make an account.
Within the first week, I have 145 followers (and counting) and lots of weird interactions with other dog accounts. (Did you know there is a certain “dog” way to write on the Internet? ‘DoggoLingo‘- using words like ‘hooman’ instead of human and ‘doggo’ instead of dog. And some accounts ask if I want to be their ‘fwend’. Weird). With my early success of gaining followers, I read an article “How to make your dog Instagram famous” and learned about some of the ins and outs of the pet Instagram world.
Here are some interesting revelations and interactions on the Instagram with @callie.the.golden.pup.
- Direct messages to be “fwends”
- Requests to be brand ambassadors from pet companies
- Direct messages to join “follow loops” to help other pet accounts gain more followers
- ‘Suggested accounts’ to follow – as a result, some people from my personal life are following my pet account – which is a little awkward (especially when my siblings start making fun of me for having too much time on my hands).
As I continue my experiential assignment, I am starting to make a list of questions for my research overhaul of Instagram in a few weeks:
- Privacy – what are the implications of becoming a ‘brand ambassador’? Do I really want to give my home address to a random company in exchange for free merchandise?
- Direct messages – why? Do you need to be concerned about catfishing or luring?
- What is the correlation between liking posts, following accounts and receiving more likes and follows?
- How many posts per day for maximum engagement?
- Best hashtags?
TikTok is a bit of uncharted territory for me, as I only started to use the app at the end of November 2019 as part of EC&I 831. Since then I have watched a lot of videos, and continued to follow trends through my nieces’ accounts.
- Choose a username and create an account
- I used the same name as Instagram for continuity and to help with cross-promotion (if that is even a thing with Instagram and TikTok – something to explore)
- Profile picture and short bio
- Again, same as Instagram to keep it simple
- Upload your first video
- Watch the views, likes and follows come in
- 500 views in the first two days! 35 likes and a few new follows
- Different than Instagram, but it appears that views are more important than likes. I think.
- Watch lots and lots of videos
- Part of your success on TikTok depends on staying on top of trends, which you can accomplish by watching hours of videos and adding certain audio clips to a “favourites” tab
- Choose a username and create an account
Pretty easy! Until I uploaded my next few videos and received less than 100 views per video, sometimes less than 10 views! How is this even possible? I read a lot of articles trying to understand the TikTok algorithm , but it doesn’t make any sense to me or the Internet world. Then I uploaded a video that received almost 1300 views and over 230 likes! What made this video special? Is the content better? I am also noticing a lot of my new followers appear to be young girls (definitely under the recommended age to use the app).
A few questions to consider when I complete my TikTok overhaul:
- Likes, follows, views – how does this affect engagement? Do I need to follow/like other accounts to receive more attention?
- Safety/privacy concerns with a young follower base (it looks like a lot of young girls are following my dog account on TikTok – but what if I was actually an online predator? These are the kind of questions running through my head on a daily basis).
- How often do you need to post to maintain engagement? Do captions matter (I get a bigger response when I ask a question in my caption)?
I decided to use Flipgrid with two Grade 7/8 classes at my school. Part of the reason I chose these classes is that one class used Flipgrid two years ago, so I thought they would be able to give me a few tips and tricks.
- Read the “Getting Started” post and Educator’s Guide to Flipgrid
- Create an educator profile (using my school division Google account)
- Create a “grid” – one for each Grade 7/8 class.
- Give students some time to explore the functions of Flipgrid before creating a topic.
- I wanted students to be creative with filters, stickers, text, etc when creating their videos. This also gave me a chance to learn about possible issues with the app.
A few things I learned/questions about Flipgrid this week:
- Some students showed me how to “add a sticky”, so that you can write out what you want to say when recording. This way you aren’t looking away from the camera while recording. The sticky disappears when you post the video.
- How do you delete a video that you posted? It is not as intuitive as you think and requires a few steps.
- Each video shows the number of views – does this make students feel uncomfortable? Is there a way to remove this setting?
- Privacy/safety – the grid is only available to someone with the link, but how do you guarantee privacy? We talked about use stickers or emojis to cover student faces if they feel uncomfortable.
- My division policy using Flipgrid – something I will discuss in more detail this week during my app overhaul.
After the first week of daily TikTok, Instagram and Flipgrid use, I realize that I need to adjust my goals for the major project. I don’t feel that Snapchat fits into an ‘experiential’ piece, as I have already used the app daily for over four years. That being said, I am still very curious about the safety, privacy and terms of service guidelines of Snapchat and will complete a research overhaul as planned. I will continue to use the app daily, although will not report on my use in the same way as TikTok, Instagram and Flipgrid. I also feel like there are not enough hours in the day to use all this social media effectively!
Plan for next week:
- Complete the Flipgrid overhaul
- Do some research on how to receive more engagement on Instagram – better hashtags? Posting at certain times of day?
- Participate in trending challenges/hashtags – does this increase views/likes?
- Try some of the tips from this article to get on the ‘For You Page’
- Participate in educator professional development
- Download the Flipgrid mobile app
- Continue my typical daily use (sending baby snaps and maintaining snapstreaks)
If you read this far, thank you! I have a lot of work I would like to complete with this project, especially when it comes to data privacy and safety. My ultimate goal:
Guide students and children through the safe use of
Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Flipgrid
Until next time,