Five Instagram Tips Part 9

The weekly tips are turning into monthly tips huh? Some people might think I’m running out of tips and tricks, which could be true to a certain degree, but with the evolution of social media almost daily there is always new stuff coming up.

Here’s another batch of 5 tips that could be helpful for your personal and business use of Instagram.

1. Promote your (social media) existence on Instagram
This is something that applies for all social media. I often get asked what I can do to help grow the followers/fans of the various platforms. My question in return is always what they currently do to promote their social media platforms. Almost every time the answer is (close to) nothing.
It blows my mind that people still don’t see the value of building a following on any/all the platforms. We are all so used to putting the website URL on all forms of advertising/promotions but with the smart phones taking over it’s the worst thing to promote. How often do you surf the web on a smart phone? And how often do you check Instagram (or Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc) on a smart phone? Exactly!
Not only that, but what is a (first time) website visit really worth? What is the chance that person is coming back tomorrow, next week, next month, next year?
Once someone starts to follow your brand on Instagram (or Twitter, Facebook, etc.) he/she will get an update about your brand “every single day for the rest of his/her life”. Plus they get to see way more different things in a week on social media than they can on your site in 5 minutes. And who spends 5 minutes on a (non-social network) website these days? Even on a computer….


LRG (skate) does it right in their new ads. Show the logo and spell out the username (or URL). And have the same username on Twitter and Instagram!

2. Make a hashtag for your project, not a separate account.
Been seeing this one more and more lately, both in skateboarding and outside of it. I get it, your new project is the main focus for the next few weeks/months, but what’s gonna happen when the project is done? I think it’s way better to make a hashtag for your project, and promote that on your regular account. This way your regular account is growing and once the project is done you’ll keep the followers. Make it easy on yourself!
Besides that Instagram still won’t allow you to run multiple accounts (like Twitter), so you will have to log out of one account and log in to the other one….

3. A good username does not have the word INSTA in it!
This might not apply to personal accounts as much as it does for brands, but I laugh every time I see a username with the word “insta” in it. Instadude, instachick, really? Or even worse, “brandinsta”. I’m sure you can think of a few more….
It reminds me of brands using the word “video” in their YouTube URL/username. Like YouTube can be used for anything else besides videos? Social media has become the front of every business, so having the right branding, across all social media platforms, is very important. And your username/URL is a big part of that!


Corey Duffel is all synched up, with his real name. Winning!

4. Your followers can see what photos you like and comment on
Most social media is out in the open, so what you do on there is public too. On Instagram your followers can see what photos you like or leave a comment on. So if you follow a bunch of questionable accounts and you talk back and forth with them after the sun sets just be aware. Instagram might showcase the part of you that you want to keep private….

5. You can’t follow everyone (that follows you)
Currently I follow close to 350 people/brands on Instagram and if I don’t check Instagram a few times during the day it’s hard to catch up on everyone’s photos. It’s partly because I’m that anal that I want to make sure I catch up, and partly because too many people/brands still post way too much stuff. The number one reason people unfollow you/your brand is still because you’re clogging the feed.
Lately I’ve been trying to post one photo a day, instead of 3-5. Some days are an exemption but if the photos are good/rad I think I can get away with it. This “less is more” tactic is working for more, and I’m sure it will work for everyone else. I get more likes/comments now on the photos I do post.
For Twitter I always advice brands to only follow 10% of the amount of followers. This might be a little higher on Instagram in certain cases, but I think you should follow the people that are close to you. Some of your employees, your teamriders, some media and some good friends. That amount can’t really be more than a 100 I think….

*How many people do you follow on Instagram? And is that too many?
Curios to hear your opinion. Drop a comment here or tag me (@fredvanschie) on Instagram (or Twitter).  Or shoot me an email at fred@fredvanschie.com. Also if you have any questions for me.

For more Instagram tips see part 8 from a few weeks ago.
Thank you and till next time!

Monday Funday

I had a couple of things in my had today, but when I found out through some friends’ social media platforms that today is Kurt Cobain’s birthday, there was only one thing to post.

This song was released In September 1991, right as I started high school. It couldn’t have been better timing. I was living in a small town in Holland at the time, and even though starting high school was a pretty big deal to me at the time, music became my escape thanks to Nirvana.
A breath of fresh air in the always so bad music that dominates the mainstream radio stations (in Holland). My family hated the music, chicks didn’t like it, and that made it even better. Nevermind was the ultimate fuck you for the rebellious teenager that I was becoming. Back when Mtv was still cool. Thank you Kurt, for showing me that being different wasn’t that bad.

Thanks to Nirvana and Oor (Dutch Music Magazine) I got introduced to Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, in my eyes the coolest Dutch guy to ever live. I had a few photos in my room, and the one of Kurt Cobain hung next to the Henry Rollins one. It all started with Nirvana and it only got better from there.

The skateboard industry could use some more teen spirit these days. Less boring and more action. Just like Nirvana.

Monday Funday

This time I’m not posting a video part (in a skateboard video) or a song, but a rad video from Thunder trucks with Bryan Herman and Erik Ellington. Some/most of you might have seen it as it went live last week.

I did saw a tweet about it on Friday morning, and I emailed that to myself (part of my morning iPhone routine),  but I didn’t watch the video it till this afternoon.

Besides the fact that the video is edited well and both guys talk about their own trucks (as in cars), it’s really the simplicity of skateboarding that makes it so cool. Both Herman and Ellington have had numerous great video parts, but seeing them play a game of skate on flatground is so sick. The basics of skateboarding. If you don’t skate you’ll probably don’t understand that, and that’s fine.

At the end of the video there is a Facebook link, facebook.thundertrucks.com, where you can go to win the pro trucks from both riders. The link forwards you to the Thunder Trucks facebook page. Once you’re on the wall you can read that all you have to do to enter is upload a photo of your Thunder trucks to your own Facebook and tag Thunder in it. Only bummer is that it’s for US residents only. I was born and raised in Holland and lived there for 30 years. I always felt left out with the US only contests/giveaways, but it’s understandable if you know how expensive it can get for international shipping and taxes….

These days I’m living in sunny SoCal so I’m able to enter. I’m not trying to win, the good people at DLX have always taken care of me, but I wanted to show you how it would work.

How to tag (Thunder Trucks) on Facebook?
To tag Thunder Trucks on your personal profile make sure you like the fan page. If you are a fan page add the Thunder fan page to your page’s favorites. When typing the status update type “@thun” and you’ll see Thunder Trucks pop up. Click on it and the text (Thunder Trucks) will become blue, as seen in the screen shot above. Now your photo will show up on the Thunder Truck wall. Please note that Facebook has errors every once in a while so this doesn’t work every time unfortunately.

Thunder also changed the Facebook profile picture to this Herman and Ellington truck theme, and also made a landing tab for it. Yes, you can decide where new fans will land when they visit your page for the first time (wall, info, photos, custom, etc).

Because of the Facebook URL at the end of the video Thunder will get a bunch of new fans that will be getting to know the brand better in the next few days/weeks. The (new) fans even have a chance to win some new trucks so they’ll be paying close attention to the page in the near future.

In the long run this type of interaction will pay off. Not just in number of fans, but in actual skateboarders buying Thunder Trucks. Interacting with your fans (=consumers) is showing them that you care. Who would return to at a shop where the employees don’t give a fuck about you? I won’t, and I know you will go somewhere else too. If brands start to care about their consumers, on social media, they will win in the long run. Thunder is winning. And who wouldn’t want to ride the same trucks as Bryan Herman and Erik Ellington?

Monday Funday

When I started skateboarding in early 1996 the World/Blind/101 Trilogy video was one of the first videos I really got into. Pretty sure I had a copy of the video, and I played it at least once a day. Good memories of how skateboarding opened up this whole new world for me. Daewon Song’s part remains one of my favorite ones in that video. Skateboarding is all about balance, and Daewon is the king of balance.

Five Instagram Tips Part 3

In the last week some people mentioned some issues they had with the first Instagram tips post I did. In one of the 5 tips I mentioned some people that “clog the feed”, purely as an example. The social media nerd in me looks at some things a little more in depth as others, and all I wanted to do is share that with all of you so you can learn something from it.

I have a lot of respect for everyone in skateboarding that is working their ass off and trying to contribute in a positive way to this industry, and most of these people have inspired me for more that a decade. Besides that I want to be a part of this industry (I might be already) and contribute something positive that inspires others, so why would I try to burn my bridges?

In the last few days I’ve spoken with all 3 parties “involved”, and things weren’t half as bad as I thought (for a bit), but if I offended you or anyone of your close friends, I apologize for that. I had no intention to do that in any way. If you know me well enough I hope you can vouch for me on this. Overall I think I’m a pretty positive person, who is down to help out others at any time.

I did delete the people involved from the post but I still don’t regret writing it, since I wasn’t trying to make people look bad. My straight forward Dutch-ness, mixed with a lot of Henry Rollins spoken word and a ton of Gary Vaynerchuk social media videos might have triggered me a little bit more, but all of the words were my own.

In the future I might either use myself as an example more often, or try to mention some cases “in general”, to avoid further drama. After all, I’m only here to help you….

OK, back to business. Here are 5 more instagram tips to help your personal and business account on the Insta.


1. No need to tag someone when you leave a comment on their photo

If you leave a comment on an Instagram photo, there is no need to tag the person (or brand) that posted that photo. For instance, if you leave a comment on one of my instagram photos, you don’t have to write “@fredvanschie” in your comment. If you want to mention me just write Fred in the comment. Don’t double up!

2. Write sentences with usernames and hashtags
Use the usernames and hashtags within the sentence you write. Let’s say you post a photo of me doing a trick (!) in a skatepark, I suggest writing something like “this is @fredvanschie sucking at #skateboarding”.
Don’t write “Fred grinding his life away @fredvanschie #skateboarding”. Again, this is pretty much a double too, and it makes it harder to read. People are smarter than you think.

3. Stop asking to get followed
Any big name skateboarder (or anyone with a lot of followers) that I follow, will get a lot of comments and likes on any photo they post. And of course it would be so rad if they would start following me and start leaving comments or likes on my photos. But the worst thing you can do is to write a comment on every photo that person post, asking him to follow you. Want to look desperate? You really think begging for a follow is making you look serious?
Good content will get you somewhere, so post cool photos, write something rad/funny/honest about it and maybe add a hashtag or 2 that makes sense, and you’ll get somewhere. And don’t forget to think long term. It’s hard work and things won’t come overnight.

4. Don’t post the whole URL
As of right now, you can’t click on a URL you post on Instagram, so try and keep it as simple as you can. When I post a link to this blog post on my instagram, I just tell people to go to “fredvanschie.com”. Doesn’t make sense to post “http://fredvanschie.com/2012/02/05/five-instagram-tips-part-3”. A waste of space and it makes it harder for people to type it in.
Really hope Instagram will add this feature sometime soon, as it will help a lot!

5. Tag someone in a photo if you want them to see it
This one has to be explained with an example. Let’s say one of you friends bought a pair of shoes from brand X. After a few days the shoes start to fall apart and he posts a photo of it. He is obviously disappointed in the quality of the shoes. He doesn’t tag the brand in the post, nor is he following the brand. (The brand didn’t promote they had an Instagram, so how should he know?).
You are following brand X on Instagram, and one of your friends works there too. You can go to the photo that your friend posted of the shoes that are falling apart and tag the brand and your friend in the photo. Now both the brand and your friend get a message that they were tagged in the photo. They read that the shoes fell apart and are probably gonna reach out to your friend.
If they are smart they”ll be sending your friend a brand new pair of shoes, and include a t-shirt, some stickers and a note (with a mention of the instagram of the brand) for his inconvenience. Once your friend receives the shoes, plus the extra’s, he is probably gonna post a photo of the box with all the goodies in it. And he will tag your brand and say thank you.

Now not only did brand X take care of bad branding (with great costumer service), you also made the consumer,  and all of his friends, aware that you care about him/them. If you didn’t know about this, the person who bought the shoes in the first place would probably never buy your shoes again. And the same goes for his followers. People listen to the advice of their close friends, that’s a fact.
So you can thank the person who tagged your brand in the first place, since stuff like this will save, and grow, your business!

Questions or comments? Drop ‘em below!
Or shoot me an email at fred@fredvanschie.com.

For more Instagram tips see part 2 from last week.

Monday Funday

When I first thought of something to post on Monday’s I was thinking about music that I like. Later I thought I should post a (skateboard) video part that I like. Music Mondays would be just music, and Movie Monday would not really describe a video part. So I thought of Monday Funday. Most people in the USA always refer to Sunday Funday, but that’s more or less related to watching jock sports and drinking a ton of booze. I’d rather skate.

Anyway, I wanted to kick this off with the Cairo Foster part from The Reason. Since the 411 SF part Cairo has been one of my favorite skateboarders. The song, “Carry The Zero” by Built to Spill fits the part perfect. The Reason is probably my favorite Transworld movie of all time, and definitely the one I watched the most.

Five Instagram Tips Part 1

Instagram came and conquered 2011. If you haven’t heard of it by now, it’s basicly a mix between Twitter and Hipstamatic. Snap a photo, add a filter (optional), add some text (optional) and upload it to the feed.

While the app only works on the iPhone (and iPad & iPod touch) it went from 1 million to 15 million users in 2011. Can’t thank the homie Steve Clare enough for the skype call in February of last year and telling me I needed to join in. My first insta photo was a photo of that skype call….

A lot of people in the skateboard industry (riders, employees, shops) joined the madness in 2011 and surely but slowly brands are seeing the value too. Along with Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is the social media platform where your brand needs to be present.

Here are some tips and tricks for using Instagram, both on a personal and on a brand level.

1. Sync your username to Twitter (and all other social media)
I’m all about syncing all your usernames, but since a lot of people feed their Instagram into Twitter it’s very important for you, and your brand, to make sure both usernames are the same. This also allows people to respond to an instagram post on your twitter. Even though I’m all about the iPhone there is a huge amount of people on Twitter that use a different mobile device. And ‘currently’ Twitter has 100 million active users, Instagram has 15 million (Jan 1, 2012).

2. Use your hashtags wisely
The world famous pound (#) key is slowly loosing it’s meaning to the hashtag. When you post a photo about skateboarding, just write (hashtag) “#skateboarding” instead. Once you post the insta photo you can click on the hashtag and see all the photos that people have posted with the same hashtag. It’s a great way to find people with similar interests. And others can find you too.
I’m all about using the hashtag, and the “at symbol” (@) in the actual caption, so it reads like a normal sentence. E.g. “Loving my new @zeroskateboards deck, #skateboarding rules!”
And please don’t use more than 3 hashtags that make sense in the caption. Using 10 lame hashtags to gain more followers is making you look very desperate! (#iphoneography, #instagram, #popularpage, #follow, #followback, #swag, etc)

3. Don’t clog the feed
One of the main themes for social media in 2012 is LESS IS MORE, and Instagram is no exception to that trend. I recently tried to post no more than 3-4 photos a day. Your life, or brand, is no doubt way cooler than mine, and I’m not being sarcastic here. Even though I keep unfollowing (and follow) people that clog my feed (“cloggers”), less is more. Good content will attract people, but too much of anything…. You know the rest.

4. Size your photo right
When taking a photo on your iPhone hold the phone up straight, no landscape photos for instagram please. (It’s pretty much the same for every blog out there.) The black bar on the top and bottom doesn’t help the look of the photo. One out of 5, or maybe even 10, can be a product shot (plug), but just have your designer size it up right. I normally size the product images to 900×900, then email the photo to myself, save it on my iPhone, and then upload it to Instagram. A minimal effort that makes it look that much better. And I’m an amateur!

5. Promote your Instagram
After I got on Instagram in February 2011, and saw that most of the Altamont teamriders where on it too, it was time to start an Altamont Instagram and start promoting it. While most not so social media people in the office asked me if “Instagram was gonna be the new Facebook”, I went ahead and worked with Altamont designer Tristan Ellis on a flyer. Right before I was gonna post it on various Altamont social platforms Patrick O’Dell walked into the office. I asked him if he wanted to start an Instagram account, so we could include him on the flyer, and he did….
I remember running into Figgy a few days later and he was all hyped that he gained a couple hundred followers in a few days. Yup, it’s really that easy.

* I ran the Altamont Instagram from April 2011 til early December 2011
** DGK took it to another level with their Instagram ad in the Transworld Skateboarding (Dec 2011)

Questions or comments? Drop a comment below!

A New Chapter

Welcome to my brand new website. After years of working for various distributors and brands I thought it was time to start my own gig.
They say that if you can survive in a bad economy you are doing something right. So here we go!

2012 is the year I started for myself….

* Huge thanks to Rob White for helping me get this show on the road.