3 Easy Valentine Recipes

With Valentine's Day coming up around the corner, it's important to have a few recipes that you can easily make in order to impress and treat that special someone.

Check out these 3 fun recipes:

Photo by Javier Castro

Photo by Javier Castro

1. Heart Shaped Cookies 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
    Additional Ingredients: Desired Decorations (sprinkles, icing, etc)

Steps:

1. Use a large bowl to mix the butter, vanilla, and egg with either an electric mixer or spoon.  Next, stir in the flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Cover; refrigerate until chilled.

2. Heat oven to 375°F.  Divide dough in half and roll each half about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with heart-shaped cookie cutter and place cutout 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden and remove cookie sheet.  Place on cooling rack for about 30 minutes.

4.  Enjoy cookies with your loved one!

 

Photo by C L 1

Photo by C L 1

2. Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Ingredients:

  • Handful of Fresh Strawberries
  • 14-16 oz Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 2 tablespoons Shortening

 

 

Steps:

1.  In a small/medium pot, boil and melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth.

2.  Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries.

3. Turn the strawberries upside down and place them on aluminum foil to cool. 

 
Photo by Kelly Leeves

Photo by Kelly Leeves

3. Baked Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, sugar, black pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 fillets salmon

 

Steps:
 

1.  In a glass bowl, prepare marinade by mixing garlic, light olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley.  Place salmon in a medium baking dish and cover with marinade.  Marinate in the fridge for about 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

3. Place fillets in aluminum foil, cover with marinade and seal.  Place sealed salmon in the glass dish and bake 35-45 minutes.
 

Snapwire Updates: January

In an effort to keep the community informed about software and product updates to Snapwire we post once a month about any new or big changes. Here are some of this month's big updates:

Request Pricing: From now on you will only see pricing that is relevant to you! This is a feature that has been asked for for quite some time and we finally got around to updating Snapwire so that if you're a photographer you will see the actual price that you are getting paid out. No more guessing or surprises once your photo is purchased. What you see is what you get. 

FTP Upload: In an effort to make uploading quicker and easier for users who are level Expert and above we have introduced FTP upload. This will allow you to upload large amounts of images (up to 1,000 at a time) and have all the meta data with your images automatically get imported as well. If you are below Expert level and would like access to FTP upload then please contact us so we can review your portfolio to see if you're a fit. To see how to upload via FTP read this post.

2018 Content Marketing Predictions

The world of content marketing continues to evolve every year, in parallel with technological advancements. Each year, the Content Marketing Institute releases predictions for the upcoming year. 2017 was predicted to be the year of contextual and targeted content - driven by the Internet of Things, advanced segmenting abilities in ad channels like Facebook, and location tracking functionality.  The technological ground was laid in 2017 which gave way to some early adopters capitalizing on conversions by implementing hyper-targeted content to smaller segments. 

Think Airbnb, Uber, and Hotel Tonight, who have been leading the pack in integrating local content. Specifically, Hotel Tonight did a great job this year at integrating targeted display content based on a user's locations and interests. This ad, for example, was displayed to me on my Instagram feed while I was on a trip back home in Los Angeles. That specific hotel is the LINE hotel in Los Angeles - an easily recognizable and well regarded hotel that only real locals would know about. It's not only about getting the timing and location right but serving up visual content that resonates personally with the consumer. Hotel Tonight was able to compile visual images of popular local spots and feed ads to specific users based on simple location targeting. 

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2017 Was the Year of Targeted Local Content 

 

2017 was the year of technical location tracking advancements, and now segmentation and hyper targeting are, and should be, on most content marketer's radars.  As functionality gives rise to accessibility, it paves the way for a new way of thinking about content this year. Local content won't just be for the big brands but for brands of all sizes, and will be accelerated by solutions that make production cost decrease, and value increase.

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2018 Will Be The Year of Production Value 

Consumers are becoming increasingly saavy  about when they're being sold to, so ill-thought out efforts pale in comparison with the brands that are thoughtfully putting out content. This is a huge reason why we've seen a push for localized content. Although it takes some time to identify segments, produce targeted content, and roll it out, the proof is in the pudding. The extra effort to make your content personal to your audience will pay off in conversions. As smart segmentation continues to evolve, the "spray and prey" approach of content will cease to exist. Brands will start to invest in the production of a small number of highly targeted content campaigns rather than pumping out high volumes of meaningless, low targeted campaigns. Brands will start to invest more in the production of the assets, ensuring what's being produced is high quality and branded. 

Virality and reach will become less important, and marketers will instead focus on better segmenting and targeting capabilities, enhanced with the help of AI. This will finally lead to the downfall of the recent trend of snake-oil salespeople who promise to hack your way into millions of meaningless views, comments, and likes. Content marketing will no longer be a game of volume and bloated numbers but will instead promote empathy, relevance, and exclusivity. – Jason Miller, global content marketing leader, LinkedIn (quote from Content Marketing Institute)

As brands begin to realize the power of creating targeted experiences, they will begin to explore how to produce unique forms of content - especially at scale. They'll experiment with new forms of content, more budget will be allocated to the actual production of the assets, and emerging Content-as-a-Service platforms will make it affordable for brands of all sizes to begin experimenting with local content.

In 2018, I expect to see more diversification of content formats. More live streaming on social. More audio/podcasts. Alexa skills. Content will continue to expand beyond the traditional web and print approaches. Brands will continue to invest in content, as they have been over the last few years; but that investment will shift from mostly writing services and paid distribution/promotion to a whole host of services – production, more animation and video-related graphics, voice talent, etc. It’s no longer just about words – content is about creating experiences. – Amanda Todorovich, content marketing director, Cleveland Clinic (quote from Content Marketing Institute)

Content-as-a-Service platforms claim to be the technological solution to producing good content at scale. They combine technology with a massive creator community to roll out content quickly without losing on quality. Outsourcing content production will be the economical solution to producing this kind of high quality content at scale, and will make it affordable for SMBs to take a crack at local content. We're already seeing this trend emerging at Snapwire, where we've helped over a thousand brands of all sizes scale production of branded content. The biggest emerging trend we've seen to date is the need for scalable content across locations. Our technological solution is able to take the localized needs of a brand and broadcast them out to proven creators to shoot and deliver custom-tailored images. Our solution makes it affordable for a marketing manager to implement localized and branded content and we predict that these needs will only increase in 2018. 

In conclusion, it's an exciting time for content as consumers start to become more saavy. Cluttered low quality content will begin to decrease as high quality, thought out campaigns take their place. 

You can read more 2018 marketing trends here

Introducing FTP Upload

It's now easier and faster to upload photos to your portfolio with FTP Upload.

 

* NOTE: FTP Upload works automatically for Expert level and above on Snapwire. For all other levels, please email ervinna@snapwi.re to ask for FTP capabilities to be turned on. 

Table of Contents

  • How to Use FTP Upload
  • Step 1: Download an FTP Client
  • Step 2: Set Up FTP Credentials in your Snapwire account
  • Step 3: Connect the FTP Client to the Snapwire Database
  • Step 4: Navigate to Snapwire Portfolio to Batch Upload
  • Step 5: Repeat!

How to Use FTP Upload

FTP upload utilizes your local computer environment and our remote database server to quickly and efficiently transfer bulk amounts of data and images. FTP upload is a very straightforward method to quickly get your images to our database. After a few times of using FTP you should find the process very user friendly. If you have any metadata associated with your images (keywords, descriptions, releases, etc.) those will all be imported with your images as well. This guide will help you setup your first FTP upload as well as answer some common concerns or questions.

Step 1: Download an FTP Client

First you’ll need an FTP client. We recommend FileZilla as it is one of the most widely used FTP clients, it’s free, safe, and extremely user friendly, so this guide will focus on using FileZilla as your FTP client. If you do not have FileZilla Downloaded you can do so here: https://filezilla-project.org/

Step 2: Set Up FTP Credentials in your Snapwire account

To do so click on your name in the top right hand corner of your profile and navigate to settings. Once there, scroll to the section near the bottom titled “Use FTP to download and upload large amounts of photos.” Click the checkbox that says enable FTP and then click save changes. Once you’ve done so you need to navigate back to the same box to set your password.

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Once you type your desired password in click save changes once again. The password will need to contain 1 upper-case character and at least 1 number. This is just a temporary password and this step will need to be repeated every time you wish to upload via FTP. The information displayed in the blue bar is what you will use inside FileZilla to establish your connection. Labeled in the picture above is the information you need to input into FileZilla

Step 3: Connect the FTP Client to the Snapwire Database

Now enter the information that appears in your connection info (the blue box inside your settings), into the proper spaces within FileZilla. Once your information is entered in, click “Quickconnect” to establish a database connection. You should see messaging appear in the top bar saying connection established or successful. If you have trouble connecting be sure you entered all your connection information in correctly (remember you need 1 uppercase character and 1 number for your password).

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In the middle section of FileZilla you’ll see on the left hand side of the screen is your local computer, it’s folders and it’s files. This is where you’ll want to locate the images within your computer (or external hard drive) that you’re wanting to upload. On the right hand side is the remote server for Snapwire and where you’ll need to drag your files into. You’ll want to locate the folder called “upload” and double click on it to navigate inside of it. Once inside this is where you’ll want to drag and drop photos from your local drive.

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Your images will immediately begin to process two at a time. Depending on how many files you’re uploading and your internet connection this process may take some time so be patient. You can only upload 1,000 images at a time so do not attempt more. If you navigate away from FileZilla and come back with some files having stopped loading just click Quickconnect to re-establish your FTP connection. It will ask you to abort your previous session if this happens and just click yes. Your previously stopped images should begin to load again. This may happen a few times depending how many files you’re trying to upload and is normal as FileZilla will occasionally time-out.

Step 4: Navigate to Snapwire Portfolio to Batch Upload

NOTE: If your images contained Keywords/Descriptions in the metadata they will upload automatically to your portfolio and you can skip the next steps.

Once your images have finished uploading navigate back to your profile on Snapwire.

If your images did not contain keywords and descriptions in the metadata, click the button that says “upload photos from Snapwire-ftp”.

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A modal will pop up that will allow you to select the images you’d like to upload. Hold COMMAND if you’d like to select more than one. If you’d like to upload all the shots in the folder, click “upload all images from FTP”.

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Next, go through the regular upload flow. You’ll need to fill in keywords, a photo description, and licensing information in order to upload your shots.

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Done! Feel free to upload as many shots as you’d like to your portfolio using FTP. Email hello@snapwi.re for any questions or troubleshooting information.

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3 Steps to Increase your Instagram Following

How can you increase your Instagram following? Whether you are an established or aspiring brand/social influencer, these three tips will help you to optimize your time on Instagram. They will help you build and retain a stronger Instagram following, increase content quality, and engagement levels. Lets get into it!

#1 - Post Consistently

Posting consistently is absolutely essential because it increases your social presence. What is social presence? It is, "The degree of interaction and visibility between oneself and others in a social network." When you are posting consistently, you are sending the message to your following that you are a active, reliable, and trustworthy member of the social community. This is the first and most important tip because reliability and trustworthiness are paramount and attractive characteristics when building any brand or profile. 

Recent studies show that top brand accounts that post consistently have the highest following growth rates. Currently, the fastest growing top brands are @chanelofficial and @zara

@chanelofficial and @zara grow their Instagram following by an average of 1.17% per. week. This may not sound very impressive, but 1.17% for them is hundreds of thousands of followers. 

Interestingly, the number of times you post a day is not as important as maintaining that frequency. The key to the locked door of building your following being reliability, make sure your post frequency is steady. Although they are still a top brand, @nike does not post consistently and has a dramatically lower average growth rate of only .3% per. week.

As far as numbers go, posting consistently could mean posting one, five, or ten photos everyday but be sure to hold to that number. If your post rate drops, your Instagram following will likely also. Even though the number of times you post a day is not as important as sustaining that post rate, the general rule of thumb from many different studies is posting 1.5 times per. day. 

#2 - Fully Optimize your Content

The first step to fully optimizing your content to is exclusively posting high quality photos/ videos to your feed. The quality of  your post reflects the quality of your brand. What makes content high quality? High resolution captures, well framed shots, and human elements are all key pieces to quality content. High resolution content is clearer and more life-like. This sends a message to your audience that your profile or brand is professional. Well framed shots are another important factor to high quality content. Make sure the main subject of your photo/video fits into or is the cover photo for your post. Lastly, human elements in your content make them more authentic and relatable. Here are a few examples of high quality and well framed images with human elements: 

Photos in order by: @oliviariddering, @graydenpapers, @jameslano, @alexeydulin

The second step for optimizing your content is being trendy. Track trending hashtags, well performing content on other top brand/profile accounts, and other viral themes/challenges. Keeping up with trends is one of the fastest ways to increasing your Instagram following because  it increases your account exposure. Using trending hashtags and creating trending posts expands you audience beyond your normal following to the entire world following that trend.

Lastly, create comments that encourage engagement. Comments directly asking your following for a response or opinion perform the best. Open questions and asking for comments increases engagement by 300% on average.

#3 - Utilize Instagram Stories

The Instagram story has become extremely popular making it an important  tool to take advantage of. According to a CNBC article, only ten months after Instagram released their story feature in august of 2016, it had an average of 250 million active daily users.  Six years after it was founded, Snapchat still has less than 180 million active daily users. Utilizing Instagram stories is another great way to reinforce social presence too!

Here are a few tips for creating an engaging Instagram story:

A. Use Stickers and Polls 

Stickers and Polls are fun ways to engage and have fun or get real feedback from your following.

 

B. Add Hyper-links to your stories 

Hyper-links increase website and promotional page traffic.

 

C. Be friendly!

Spur engagement in multiple places on the platform (DM's, post comment section, and story comment section)

 

D. Highlight New Posts

Highlighting new posts drives traffic to your main feed.

 

In Conclusion...

So remember to post consistently, optimize your content, and utilize Instagram Stories. Be patient, Increasing your Instagram Following will take time. Commit to these steps and you will be great!

Follow Snapwire on Instagram: @snapwire

Check out  Snapwire's authentic photo library for high quality content you can source from. 

 

 

 

 

 

Successful Snapwire Photographers

A handful of successful Snapwire photographers have recently won five of our Snapwire challenges. All Snapwire challenges are accessible to all Snapwire photographers. They are great ways to exhibit your work, enter some friendly competition, grow your skills, and get paid!

What set these Snapwire challenge winners apart were high quality shots, photos directly related to challenge briefs, and originality. 

Congratulations to Photographers: Paloma Herbstein, Sasha Alperin, Maile Marie, Jo Millington, Vitaly Solomatin

Going to the Movies

Photo by: Paloma Herbstein

Photo by: Paloma Herbstein

Paloma's photo stole the show with a unique perspective of a captivated audience in a movie theatre. Our favorite parts of this shot are the bright sheet of light projecting and all of the different faces enjoying a good film. 

In the City

Photo by: Sasha Alperin

Photo by: Sasha Alperin

Alperin's photo was picked as the winner for the "In the City" challenge because of it's wonderful composition. The image balances wonderful subject matter in all fields of the photo pretaining perfectly to the challenge brief. 

Family at Home

Photo by: Maile Marie

Photo by: Maile Marie

For the "Family at Home" challenge, we were looking for a at-home image of a family together, and this shot by Marie captures it perfectly. 

Travel Preparation

Photo by: Jo Millington

Photo by: Jo Millington

This was a clear standout photo from Millington in our "Travel Preparation" challenge. The composition is very simple, but neat details are mixed in like the henna on the hand. The finger pointing in the image sends a clear message of travel plans, and the surrounding items are travel essentials!

Pinktober

Photo by: Vitaly Solomatin

Photo by: Vitaly Solomatin

Solomatin nailed this shot for "Pinktober"! The quality image combined with multiple shades of pink and boxing gloves fully embodied the "Pinktober" challenge. 

How to Make Your Content Stand Out

This story was originally published on Medium here

Producing Effective Scalable Content in a Competitive Digital Landscape

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The Current State of Content

Content marketing is extremely powerful and can lead to meaningful revenue for businesses. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as

“a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.

However, as the digital universe continues to expand, brands are being forced to produce more and more content in order to keep up. 20 years ago, brands could focus their time, energy and budgets on producing 4 high-quality content campaigns a year — one going out each quarter. Most of these campaigns had 1 key channel in mind: television. In today’s competitive landscape, those same companies are now producing more content pieces than ever before and on more channels, with Fortune 500 Companies producing, on average, over 4,000 content pieces a month (2017 Forrester Wave). With social media and ever-expanding content sharing platforms, that number only continues to grow.

What does this mean for the consumers that brands are trying to target? Being constantly bombarded with content, consumers have been forced to adapt — with ever decreasing attention spans and quicker than lightning decisions. In a matter of seconds, consumers know whether a piece of content is relevant and important to them and if they don’t deem it so, they’re quickly scrolling on to the next thing. Marketers need to be producing a higher volume of content a month, but in order for it to convert to meaningful ROI the content being produced needs to be high quality and personal. It’s important for marketers to realize this when planning out their content marketing campaigns. They need to look at the specific channels they will be using, what local markets those include, and how to tailor their messaging and visuals for each channel to capture their target audience effectively. The key is producing custom content rather than generic content. There are tons of specific strategies for doing this (too many to dig into here), but one that I find especially effective is using location specific visuals in targeted location-based campaigns. The important thing here is making sure the location is well recognized by the locals that you’re trying to target. For example, rather than choosing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, choose a hip local bar that only your target audience frequents.

The most adaptive marketers are realizing that they can use custom visual content in tandem with bigger advertising campaigns to create more cohesive and stronger results. This is because the consumer of the digital age now expects content to be hyper-personalized and are more likely to respond well to content that is custom and tailored to their interests. In fact, it pays off to be on top of the content marketing curve. The Content Marketing Institute claims that:

  • 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after viewing custom content
  • Website conversion rate is nearly 6X higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters

How to Scale Content Efficiently

So, we know that custom content is important, and because of social media brands need more and more of it. But how do brands go about scaling their content needs? Let’s talk about budgets for a second. 50% of content marketing budgets are allocated to the creation of the content, with 25% equally going to distribution/management and promotion (Content Marketing Institute). Creating custom assets is difficult, which is why marketers are spending half their budget on it. When talking about visual custom content alone, the options for sourcing are limited, and marketers are wasting even more money on the time it takes to source good content than the actual assets themselves.

Currently, when sourcing visual assets, marketers have two subpar options: stock photography or commissioned photographers (a third option is in-house, but since most marketers don’t have access to this option, we won’t discuss it here). Stock photography tends to be generic, overused, and often a non-option for product based brands (like Starbucks, or Beat’s headphones). In addition, it’s close to impossible to find shots that match your brand’s aesthetic which leads to tons of time wasted scrolling through pages and pages of content. If you do opt for stock, the good thing about it is that it is relatively affordable at scale and you can get it instantly. There’s no turnaround time because it’s already shot and produced, and most traditional stock sites offer competitive subscription pricing so that you can download the volume you need on a small budget.

The better option is hiring a pro freelance photographer to complete and deliver results because it leads to higher quality custom content. You’re able check out the freelancer’s portfolio in advance to ensure they’re right for the job, and give them clear directions about what you’re looking for. Although producing better quality results, the downside of this option is that it’s not scalable and requires coordination and turnaround time. When attempting to tackle certain regional markets, it’s essential to include visual content from those specific regions but finding freelancers in every geographical area you need shot becomes a logistical nightmare. Not to mention licensing rights might be difficult to negotiate with a freelancer.

The truth of the matter is that the current options are not addressing the scalability problem of current content needs, and it is economically impossible to attempt to make them work. Thus, newer Content-as-a-Service models are beginning to emerge to offer a scalable solution to the problem. They combine things like technology, machine learning, and crowdsourcing to deliver content in a smarter way. One of those platforms is called Snapwire, whose hybrid approach makes them unique. They have a community of 430K creators worldwide that are curated and sorted into photographer levels. Image buyers fill out a creative brief and send over brand guidelines to Snapwire’s dedicated creative team who handles logistical aspects. Then, their robust technological solution delivers incredible results, quickly and affordably. All photos that are not purchased from a custom photo request migrate over to their growing marketplace library of photos.

Snapwire removes the pain of discovery and negotiating price, saving time and logistical headaches. Brands get high-quality, on-brand content produced faster than any other method and get to download everything with a Royalty Free license. The most impressive factor is the scalability aspect when it comes to getting geographical locations shot. Because of their global community, brands are able to get on-brand content shot all across the globe. Snapwire has completed several extensive location-based shoots for Google, delivering shots of over 2,000 individual locations worldwide and 430 neighborhoods. Google continues to use Snapwire because of their ability to produce beautiful results at scale.

For more info about how Snapwire works, and how they can help you scale your content needs, email alexis@snapwi.re

Photography Technique Isn't Everything

As photographers, we've all gone through the bombardment of basic composition techniques when we first pick up the camera: rule of thirds, leading lines, filling the frame...the list goes on and on.  But it's important to remember that these rules simply build a foundation, and are not meant for you to follow for every single shot you take.   

These rules are definitely a good start, but keep in mind that in the long run, it is possible that these rules may restrict you from reaching your true creative potential.   At the end of the day, creativity has no boundaries or rules that govern it. So next time you go out with your camera, try to forget the generic photography rules, and just shoot Surely, it'll take A LOT of trial and error, but you'll be surprised with what your own creative vision can create. 

Photo by: Ajanta Bhuyan

Photo by: Ajanta Bhuyan

Photo by: Yakashi Yasui

Photo by: Yakashi Yasui

Photo by: Marin Stefani

Photo by: Marin Stefani

Photo by: Sue Harper

Photo by: Sue Harper