Instagram without the filter: a growing community on and offline

11 Apr

Here is another post I wrote for Morrissey & Company’s blog! You can find the original post here.

Emily Wienberg is currently Morrissey & Company’s PR intern. She is a senior studying public relations at Boston University.

As an Android mobile device user, I haven’t had the pleasure of personally using Instagram (yet) but have enjoyed following the company and its staggering growth through other users and its activity on social media. At the beginning of March, Instagram hit 25 million users while only employing nine team members, so that theoretically, each employee manages 2.8 million users. To give you some perspective, 2.8 million people live in Jamaica. For a start-up that hasn’t even celebrated its second birthday, that’s impressive. It’s worth noting that Pinterest, another fast growing start-up focusing on visuals, boasts almost 11 million users, and only has 21 employees on the team.

However, since early March, Instagram has hired three more employees and has most likely collected a few more million users. Of those three employees, two are cited as joining the Community department at Instagram. A few years ago, a community manager or associate position was a rarity in business, but today these jobs are much more popular and require a certain type of person, according to a description by BostonInno. Especially for start-ups, it can pay to have someone that loves your company to convince other people to love it too. Instagram’s early investment in hiring people to build community and to keep the social aspect a priority speaks volumes about the kind of company Instagram is.

And that’s just it. That’s why Instagram is succeeding and growing – they get what it means to build and foster a community. Here are some communities that have spawned from the photo sharing application:

  • In October 2011, the East Gallery at Brick Lane in London hosted the first ever exhibit of Instagram photos in the UK. The event was organized by London Instagrammers, a community of people who work to connect users in real life, and have communities all over the world.
  • Tiffany & Co. asked its community to use Instagram to take pictures that exemplified love and use the hashtag “trueloveinpictures” and then created a microsite to display users’ photos.
  • Musician Jason Mraz asked fans to snap pictures using Instagram that described visually his new song “I Won’t Give Up.” Mraz then chose 25 of his favorites and put them on display at the Animazing Gallery in New York City.

Photo by sarzola1 for Jason Mraz's Instagram contest

  • Another high-end brand, Burberry was one of the first brands to jump on the Instagram bandwagon. It posts behind-the-scene pictures of models at photo shoots, historic moments in the company’s history, shots from fashion events, and images of London.

Burberry model Cara Delevingne on set

These are just a few of the many ways people are using Instagram to connect, share, and build community. And take it from Instagram’s new community team member Dan Toffey who gets the importance of building a community to see a product succeed: “Seeing intimate glimpses of everyday life through the lens of someone not just on the other side of town, but on the other side of the world, is really exciting.”

Instagram is connecting people around the globe through photos that are constantly being shared on social networks. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Instagram to Android devices, and am looking forward to joining an already established and successful online community.

Zipping along on Facebook

31 Mar

I’m a big fan of ZipCar mainly for their great customer service. (Previous post) However, I’ve been engaging more with their social media efforts recently, and wanted to commend them for their creative use of Facebook’s new feature: timeline for branded pages. A few pages have already gained some attention like the Manchester United and Livestrong pages, and ZipCar has followed suite by creating an engaging and humorous page.

For example, ZipCar claims it was founded in the year 1000 “with only one vehicle and a dream. The ZipHorse.” Additionally, in 1254, Shakespeare’s editor supposedly cut his piece “A Zipster in Venice” and changed the name. In 1492, Columbus used a ZipCar to sail the ocean blue, and after getting lost, he discovered America.

After a few hundred years of more jokes, ZipCar added when the company was founded to the timeline. And since joining Facebook in 2009, they’ve posted pictures and videos of cars and from users, and have consistently created conversations on their page. Recently, they’ve been running the Ziptrip of the Week contest where users can vote on the best picture submitted by a driver using a ZipCar.

Good job, ZipCar. You not only keep me a satisfied customer, you also encourage me to engage with your brand both on and offline. Keep up the good work and can’t wait to see what you do next. (Pinterest? We’ll see.)

One tweet, free snacks: Pretzel Crisps delivers

10 Feb

Here’s a recent post I wrote for Morrissey & Company’s blog! You can find the original post here.

Emily Wienberg is currently Morrissey & Company’s PR intern. She is a senior studying public relations at Boston University.

When a company uses Twitter to give away free stuff, I’m instantly intrigued. Being a college student on a budget, I’m always looking for deals and steals online. However, what’s even better is when you don’t have to go searching and instead, the company comes to you.

My boss Jim Barbagallo tweeted that Monday, January 23 was the most depressing day of the year (studies show that this day falls on the last Monday of the last full week in January) and he received an interesting response from Pretzel Crisps:

Jim proceeded to send them Morrissey’s address and Pretzel Crisps said we would expect a delivery the next day. And they sure did deliver. Bringing about 12 bags of Pretzel Crisps, they certainly brightened our days. However, we weren’t just part of a lucky few who received hand-delivered pretzels. If you look that their Twitter feed, they’ve been responding to people’s tweets about a variety of subjects, and finding ways to give out loads of Pretzel Crisps.

Pretzel Crisps is doing two things right. First, they are generating a ton of buzz through word of mouth marketing around their brand (born in 2004, according to their website). With over 4,500 followers on Twitter and 115,000 likes on Facebook, a lot of people are talking about the yummy snacks they’ve either bought in the grocery store or sent free of charge. They even have a Pinterest board! Second, the company is making people happy. I was overly excited to hear we would be getting a special delivery of snacks, and decided to share my excitement on Twitter. And since we had so many leftover bags, I brought some home to my friends who also thoroughly enjoyed the snacks. Pretzel Crisps should keep up the great work by encouraging conversation about their treats, engaging with anyone who’d be open to free snack deliveries, and satisfying hunger needs to keep people happy.

BU Dining Services sends care package abroad

6 Dec

I don’t think I need to say again that I’m a fan of BU Dining Services and what they do. But I’m going to. I received a tweet from Brian DeVito who is currently studying abroad in London, England. His tweet said that he had just received a package from BU Dining Services filled with cookies and other treats. Cue pictures for proof.


Really BU Dining Services? Who are you? Why are you one of the best organizations/brand/departments/offices/I don’t know what to call you in the world? Things like this are what make BU special. People need to stop worrying about the extra-long wait at Charles River Bread Co. (me included) or the fact that the salad bar has been out of cucumbers for a week.  Does it really matter? No. Because Dining Services has it covered. They will fix it. And they will go above and beyond fixing the problem, too. They will make someone’s day, thousands of miles away from home. Why? Because they care.

Using Twitter as a interview platform

2 Dec

During the summer of 2010, I had my first PR/social media internship with Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications. Since the internship, I’ve continued to work with Savoir Faire but was unable to do so this fall. So instead, Steph of Savoir Faire asked me to help her find a new intern. Steph had an idea of interviewing a potential candidate via Twitter and I of course said I would help.

I can’t say I’ve ever been on the other side of the interview process, so this was an interesting process! It was nontraditional so I can’t totally compare it to a regular interview, but it was a great opportunity to use a newer platform for an older process.

Here are some tweets from our conversation:

During this tweeterview, I remembered it can be challenging to say everything you want to say in 140 characters. But I also feel that some sort of interview through a social media platform should be incorporated into application processes. Employers today do look for involvement on social networks (mainly looking for red flags), but if a company is hiring someone for their social media skills, then why not see them really in action? Maybe tweeterviews will soon start popping up in the near future!

Loco for Boloco: How a burrito can affect your repuation

30 Nov

Here’s my recent post from Morrissey & Company’s blog The Fosbury Flop!

Emily Wienberg is currently Morrissey & Company’s PR intern. She is a senior studying public relations at Boston University.

This week celebrated its 16th birthday by hosting pop-up parties around the city, including one at the Boloco Commons location. Boloco tweeted to its followers on Monday that the Boston Globe was paying for lunch from 12 to 1, and after I saw the announcement, I decided it was time for lunch. Luckily, the Boloco Commons location is only a five minute walk from Morrissey & Company, but once I arrived, there was already a line of hungry Emerson students out the door. I declared it a sunk cost and stayed put, anxiously waiting to order my teriyaki steak burrito. The wait for the burrito was short, but it was the added Nutella milkshake that made me wait a bit longer.

But I’m not writing this post to complain about the wait. This post is meant to celebrate’s birth as well as praise Boloco for putting their reputation on the line and enduring probably one of the most hectic hours they’ve had in a while. As I stood waiting for my milkshake, I observed the employees as they made burrito after burrito, milkshake after milkshake, while trying to deal with the crowd of people waiting for their free lunch. One employee in particular, Eric the area manager, was coordinating much of the burrito distribution efforts with ease, politeness, and humor. He told everyone to have a wonderful day, thanked them for stopping by, and ensured that no one forgot their side of chips and guac. After I promptly received my burrito, I said that I was just waiting on my milkshake. Eric said it was going to be a little while longer, and I replied saying I didn’t mind because this lunch was free. Their response? “I like that mentality.”

Boloco – I like your mentality. Why did think you’d be a great place to host a pop up party? Because they knew your reputation would make the party a success. They predicted no matter how many people showed up or how many people were jammed into your store, you would live up to your reputation and still provide everyone with an enjoyable experience and lunch. I watched Boloco’s employees interact with each other as I waited in line. They were smiling and not stressing over the massive amount of people watching them scoop mango salsa onto tortillas. Even the milkshake guys were laughing as they worked extremely fast and under pressure. (I even saw them remake three milkshakes that didn’t fill the cup all the way to the top.) That’s the first sign Boloco is doing something right – their employees are happy.

The second sign was how the employees interacted with the customers. Eric was the MC of the show. He didn’t skip a beat. If you wanted a side of salsa, he got it. Needed a straw? He already put on in your bag. It’s hard to tell someone they are going to have to wait ten minutes for a milkshake, but Eric did it well.

Boloco’s reputation around Boston and online is one to replicate. They are attentive and responsive in the stores as well as in responding to comments and concerns on Twitter and Facebook. Because of these efforts, Boloco was the perfect place to host a lunch party. And hopefully anyone who visited Boloco for the first time during the free lunch frenzy will return on a quieter day to see the burrito pros in action. I hope had a fun time at their Sweet 16 at Boloco because I sure did!


Episode 1: Interning 101 Podcast

29 Nov

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Don’t worry, it’s only two minutes.

Thanks for listening to Episode 1! Please comment and let me know what you think!

Also, here’s the link I referred to in the podcast. Meet Tony Dell. He worked in a different department at my internship at The Rabbit Agency in London. He would announce “Good morning everyone!” every time he strolled in at 11 in the morning. You could hear his laugh throughout the entire first floor. The one thing I regret not doing in London was introducing myself to Mr. Dell. Here is a link to his blog, even though it hasn’t been updated since June. That makes me sad. Sorry to depress you, but I hope this inspires you to introduce yourself to someone new!

Interning 101 Podcast Introduction

28 Nov

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Check out my Introduction to Interning 101! It’s just a disclaimer for the first time around. Episode 1 is up next!

BU Dining responds on Tumblr

28 Nov

I know I’ve already talked enough about BU Dining Services, but remember in my last post from my whitepaper about them using Tumblr? Remember how I talked about there being a question box right at the top of the page? Well I decided to ask a question and see what happened.

I asked BU Dining Services “What dining hall is better: West or Warren?” This is a tough question and often raises debates among members of the BU community. I was born in West and grew up dining at the Fresh Food Company, enjoying the legendary West Campus burger on a far too frequent basis. However, after working on campus this summer and visiting the dining hall in Warren Towers, I had the chance to meet one of BU’s most outstanding employees, John the sandwich guy. I will refrain from another post dedicated to John (you can check out one here), and instead admit that I think I now have an allegiance with Warren because of his sandwiches.

Either way, I digress. The point of this post is to show that BU Dining Services immediately responded to my question and posted it on their Tumblr page. Here’s their answer:


I don’t think I even have to say it, but bravo BU Dining Services. It was a holiday weekend and you still responded to my question on Tumblr. Don’t stop what you’re doing, BU Dining. Keep the social media juices and sandwiches flowing.

@bdevit answers my questions

28 Nov

I like asking people questions so that’s why I decided to interview another one of my Twitter followers. This time it’s Brian DeVito, a fellow BU student and partner in sass. Check out Brian’s site and his Flickr page for some amazing photos from his semester abroad in London.

Emily: What did you think of Twitter when you first heard of it?

Brian: Initially I was a little put off by it just because of its immediate and constantly updating nature. I think even to most social media minds it was a little bit ahead of its time. High school me didn’t really see it as a business tool or way to connect, but rather what many people first said “just a lot of Facebook statuses.”

E: Why did you join Twitter?

B: After it started to pick up I realized there was content out there I wasn’t getting access to [easily]

E: Why are you following me?

B: Besides knowing you IRL, I appreciate your commentary on all things BU and ad/marketing/pr. A good dose of humor as well doesn’t hurt.

E: Do I provide you with interesting/entertaining content?

B: All day, baby.

E: Who is your favorite person/company/brand on Twitter?

B: Wicked hard question. Depends on a whole lot of things. Love the tech/sm accounts (TechCrunch, NextGreatGen, BostonInno) and high-powered people in the industry (@stevequigley, @edwardboches, @DaveKerpen, @EricLeist, @schneidermike)

E: When you wake up in the morning, is Twitter the first thing you check? Why or why not?

B: Not first, but definitely one of. Gmail is the first spot. Then to Twitter messages/dms.

E: Twitter or Facebook – which one could you live without.

B: Facebook to be honest. It’s still the basis of all social media. What is done on Twitter could (conceivably) be carried out on FB with a little delay, however the opposite is not possible. While Twitter is popular, it’s still not widespread, especially in markets outside our immediate industry and sector.

E: Why do you tweet?

B: Why not? Why talk? It’s the same thing.

@bdevit's commentary on British culture


E: Favorite hashtag?

B: Currently its #photography as I’m trying to grow my freelance photo business.

E: Do you find it’s difficult to say everything you want to in 140 characters?

B: Often times, yes. I actually try to keep it below about 110-115, just so as someone can RT with thoughts beforehand without having to modify. Helps keep that social thing going.

E: Do you use Twitter lingo in everyday speech?

B: No. I hate it. Don’t say hashtag + _________. Ever.

E: Do your parents understand Twitter? Have you convinced any member of your family to start tweeting?

B: Unfortunately not. My mother has created an account though, to follow me, and only me. I think that in itself explains it all.

E: If you could give one piece of advice to your Twitter following, what would it be?

B: If it looks like spam, it is. Keep it clean and don’t pass STDs (Socially Transmitted Diseases).


Thanks, Brian!