I Did What Every Instagram Expert Says Is Stupid and It’s Working Great

Excerpt from this article:

I’m not an Instagram expert.

But I do know how to grow an audience, create value on social media, and a few things about what’s interesting.

I’ve done some experimenting with my For The Interested Instagram account in the past few weeks and it’s led me to suggest you try out a strategy the Insta-experts will consider to be blasphemy.

It’s complicated, so get ready to concentrate. Ready? Here goes…

“Stop. Using. Hashtags.”

Ok, maybe it’s not THAT complicated.

But it’s the opposite of what every Instaguru out there tells you to do to grow or improve your account.

And they’re right. If you paste 20 hashtags into each of your posts, you will get more likes and followers.

Ties After Three Periods Send the Fans to Twitter

Excerpt from this article:

“I noticed there was real currency in being retweeted, and people used to get real mad at me when they’d guess right but I didn’t pick them as one of the random winners — I’m talking real mad — but then they started getting really creative and including funny GIFs with their disappointment tweet, so I started retweeting some of those, too,” Buccigross said.

Twelve days later, when Alex Ovechkin scored with 68 seconds left in regulation to tie Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and force the extra session, Buccigross gave the game a name and started using the hashtag #bucciovertimechallenge. (Tampa Bay won the game on Vincent Lecavalier’s overtime goal.)

Now, #bucciovertimechallenge becomes an instant trending topic across North America anytime a playoff game, or even a regular-season game, goes into overtime.

Demand was strong enough that he decided to sell them, with all profits to be donated to hockey-related charities at the end of the year. That first year, he had no website for his business, so buyers would send cash or checks with their orders in the mail. He raised enough money to donate $17,000 to charities like Defending the Blueline, the Mario Lemieux Foundation, You Can Play, the Travis Roy Foundation and Hockey in Harlem.

Sports Newsletter



China Shares Its Loneliness

A man sits alone holding a bunch of balloons

Excerpt from this article:

A popular hashtag in China #WhatIsYourLoneliestPhoto is raising that very question [of what loneliness looks like] on the popular social media platform Weibo. Thousands of people have responded by posting images which they think capture loneliness in everyday life.

Although it is unknown what exactly is happening, or has happened, in many of these photos, just by posting them alongside the hashtag #WhatIsYourLoneliestPhoto has reignited the debate about loneliness in China, and especially as experienced by older people.


Is Facebook the enemy of truth and civic unity?

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Those on the left who worry that Facebook and Twitter have been a breeding ground for climate-deniers and Tea Party fanatics should remember that #occupywallstreet and #blacklivesmatter both began as hashtags on Twitter.

The same holds true in the Presidential race. Historically, the most striking thing about the campaign so far is not Trump’s ascension, but the fact that a self-proclaimed socialist is running a close race with heir apparent Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders has three times as many Twitter followers as Republican establishment candidate Jeb Bush, despite the hundred million dollars Bush has raised for his campaign. Sanders, much more than Trump, is a pure-bred social media phenomenon. Trump has obviously used Twitter effectively, but his name recognition derives from network television and his real estate empire.

But until that time, I think we shouldn’t be too worried by the noise of the new public sphere. There are more dividers with a soapbox thanks to social networks, but so far it is the uniters that are actually getting things done. The price of politics in the social media age is that the crazies get a place on the playing field. The test is whether they win.

Tinder users are sharing what they really look like

On Tinder vs looking at Tinder

Excerpt from this article:

Surveys have suggested it takes us five attempts to style a selfie we are happy with sharing on social media, and that women can spend a staggering 48 minutes a day taking selfies. Men can take a while too, I’ve certainly seen a lot of men flexing in mirror selfies. Including this one, possibly the worst of all time.

Now, singletons have taken to social media to expose the discrepancy between their Tinder pictures and their more quotidian look – everyday shots of lounging around in bed, hanging with pets or grabbing a morning coffee; far from coiffed poses or club shots, a bottle of Cristal in each hand.

Using the hashtag #OnTinderAtTinder, Tinder daters, both men and women, posted their IRL vs Tinder pictures…

…Those joining in with the #OnTinderAtTinder hashtag expanded the theme to something similar to the “nailed it” meme, in which individuals mock their attempts at life hacks and cooking and fitness goals, posting pictures of their own subpar attempts.

#TraditionallySubmissive: How 30,000 British Muslim women like me took down David Cameron

The #TraditionallySubmissive hashtag mocked David Cameron

Nice article by Shelina Janmohamed at Ogilvy Noor, here’s an excerpt:

Last week, David Cameron made comments that Muslim women are ‘traditionally submissive’ and that giving us English lessons would help stop extremism.

Mr Cameron had cheerfully knitted together all sorts of stereotypes about Muslim women not speaking English, not integrating, being submissive – and all of this being related to extremism.

But hurrah! He also mansplained that a few English classes would solve all our problems, even though it was he who previously slashed funding for such lessons – those that had been provided for anyone of any background to assist in empowerment and civic participation.

It seems I wasn’t the only Muslim woman to feel incensed. The #TraditionallySubmissive hashtag was taken up by others who wanted to express their despair and anger at being stereotyped.

The result was a fast-paced humorous and passionate Twitter storm yesterday evening between 6pm and 9pm, which was still trending this morning.

It made a firm point: Muslim women have voices, they are diverse, their achievements are wide ranging and impressive, and they are taking charge of their lives and their political engagement.

The aim of the campaign was to establish a clear unequivocal response to Mr Cameron’s dangerous comments and to put an end to the lazy kind of thinking that defines Muslim women as just one thing: “submissive victims” who are just waiting to be saved and civilised.


The Summer of the #Squad

Photo: Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP

Excerpt from this article:

Welcome to the summer of the #squad… The one that finds Instagram users across the country tagging their friends, all arm-bent and hip-thrust and attractively filtered, as #squads, and Tumblr users, announcing their own #squadgoals, digging up pastelled pictures of the Golden Girls. The one that finds Taylor Swift touring the country, in a series of shows that are equal parts pop performance and religious revival, with her squad—or rather her #squad—in tow.

#Squad and #squadgoals… make a general assumption: that groups—be they composed of girls or boys or celebrities or musicians or Taylor Swift’s cats or a mixture of all of the above—are more than the sum of their parts. “Squad” is the logical outcome of a cultural moment that brought about selfie sticks and “giving face”: We are, collectively, fascinated by ourselves, as physical beings. And we are particularly fascinated by ourselves as members of groups.

… When a squad is presented as a #squad, it is transforming itself, via the logic of media, from a social circumstance into a social product. It’s transforming the generality of a group of friends—a collective that can expand or contract, organically—into a specific, and defined, thing. A branded thing. A #squad is a clique, commodified.

…The squad, in that sense, pays tacit homage to the logics of social networking—connections, nodes—that Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and other services have laid bare. It also, in its celebrity form, understands the power of the commodified friendship… For us laypeople, it’s fun, and illuminating, to see celebrities interacting as (basically) normals. It’s delightful to see them acting awkward and giddy and human together.

It’s also sort of soothing. Because there is also something reassuring about a squad, whether it consists of celebrities or normal people. The squad takes the logic of the sitcom—a small social universe, carefully curated and hermetically sealed—and makes it accessible to the rest of us. And there’s a certain appeal to that, on-screen and off. The squad is, ideally, a solid group of friends—friends who will be with you, season after season.

Which is also to say: The squad is a friend group that functions, in its way, as a family.

What’s it like to grow up black, white, Mexican, Nigerian, Bengali….

#GrowingUpBlack meme

Excerpt from this article:

It’s not everyday that a social media conversation goes truly global – but that’s what’s happened with the “growing up” hashtags currently spreading around the world

It all started in the United States, with some wry inside jokes about life in African-American families.

They were posted on social media networks with the hashtag Growing Up Black. It’s a phrase that has been around for at least six years, but it appears to have caught on again this week. The hashtag has now been mentioned more than 1.5 million times on Twitter and thousands more times on Instagram and elsewhere. For the most part it was African-Americans joking about their racial identity and culture. “We didn’t have dress shoes, we had church shoes,” actress Jackee Harry tweeted, while another tweet said: “My mom’s best friend was automatically my aunt.”

…But the trend didn’t end there. Since it started taking off, hundreds of thousands more from other backgrounds have sharing their own messages and jokes about their childhood experiences. Growing Up Hispanic, Growing Up Arab, Growing Up Nigerian and a least a dozen others have now trended.

…But it’s now spread far from the US and across the world. The Growing Up Bengali tag was most popular in the UK, home to a large population of Bangladeshi and Indian descent. Growing Up Nigerian was mainly used within Nigeria itself – and Growing Up Black was also used in various African countries.

A Linguist Explains How We Write Sarcasm on the Internet


Excerpt from this article:

Sarcasm. It’s an Essential Part of a Healthy Breakfast™, but it’s also “dangerous”, especially in writing. What if ~no one~ gets that u are being sarcastic.


The punctuation-mark-inventors may have been heading in the right general direction (#bless) but it turns out it’s clumsy to create an additional character — and you often want to put that ironic emphasis on a particular word or phrase. Enter sarcastic “quotation marks,” tildes (~so effective), and the elaborate variations which a colleague of mine refers to as ~*~sparkly unicorn punctuation~*~. True, it’s sometimes used for excitement or quoting song lyrics, but when I saw a friend reblog a tumblr post with the tag ~*misandry*~, I knew she was ironically distancing herself from the topic in true Toastean fashion…


… Capitalizing Unimportant Words imposes a certain sense of ironic detachment. Adding (TM) or periods between each word is optional but extra effective. …

Internet slang

Certain uses of internet slang can also add a note of sarcasm, especially the vowelless ones: srs bsns, for example, contains a contradiction — how srs can your bsns really be if you’ve disemvowelled it?

…Hashtags as a class are often add disambiguating meta-commentary… And of course, there’s the obvious internet sarcasm indicators which go right out and say it in a backchannel, such as and #sarcasm.

…Let’s put them all together. Here’s a real twitter conversation to analyze:

  • Gina Trapani: “Heterosexuality is SO WEIRD.”
  • “You’re watching the Bachelorette again, aren’t you.”
  • Anil Dash: @ginatrapani DON’T PIN THAT SHIT ON US
  • Gina Trapani: @anildash sorry, this has The Straights written all over it
  • Anil Dash: @ginatrapani #NotAllBreeders

How do we know Trapani and Dash are joking? We can see a couple marks of sarcasm: the period instead of question mark on “aren’t you”, and the first-letter-caps of “The Straights” plus minimalist caps and punctuation elsewhere in the tweet. #NotAllBreeders requires cultural knowledge to creates a mismatch — it’s a play on the #NotAllMen hashtag, but Dash distances himself from the people who use #NotAll hashtags unironically by using an uncomplimentary word for his own orientation.