Sunday, January 5, 2014

Instagram is the Ultimate Self-Publishing Tool

I'm addicted to Instagram. I admit it. Just like I was addicted to Twitter some years back. Just like I went through a Facebook-excitement phase when I discovered the ability to connect with old elementary and high school friends. Social media is savvy that knows how to hit you, and why.

Twitter was pretty innovative, and I had the honour of being able to personally share and connect with some of my biggest influencers (like Tyrese, and Sister Souljah, Omar Tyree, and Mara Brock Akil) and have just a simple response, retweet, or Direct Message completely rock my world and make me feel victorious over the platform.

That was before Instagram.

My BlackBerry had prevented me from accessing the social media program in its entirety for years. I knew it existed, but I was still a hardcore Twitter user and couldn't be bothered. Until I got that Samsung Galaxy 4 and hit the big time with app accessibility and new picture taking heights.

And now it's like I can't stop checking it. Why? Because it is the ultimate self-publishing tool, and the most personal and authentic source of personal branding and exposure out there right now. Forget about miscellaneous photos posted to Facebook pages, and quickly condensed thoughts typed through Twitter...Instagram is like a literal eye-view window into someone's life.

It's not for everyone. Just like some people refused to sign up for Facebook, and barely take is a movement that not everyone buys into. You have to really be invested in information and access to truly appreciate the doors that Instagram is opening up.

In my's the entertainment world that entices me (it always has) and the lifestyles of the creative and abundant. And I'm not following the "rich and famous" to see how the "rich and famous" live...but I'm following the exuberant and the adventurous, and the individuals who are living life to the fullest...and who aren't too proud to show us exactly what they're doing.

I have TMZ and E! News scheduled in my PVR, like I keep up-to-date on my entertainment news like the future of my country depended on it. While I appreciate the "hard" news and still try to keep abreast of world issues and political drama, my heart is connected to the entertainment world on a personal level. I seize my creative inspiration from the singers, the actors, and the other creative souls who make a living doing exactly what they love, and sharing this love openly.

I am whole-heartedly partial to Mr. Tyrese Gibson. Not on a groupie level (I keep telling myself that)...but on an inspiration level. Not only did his 2002 album "I Wanna Go There" almost single-handedly get me through a crazy time in life, just through his soothing tone and summery-vibes, but because he has this undeniable passion that is exciting to observe.

So he's in Dubai right now with Maxwell and Will Smith, right. So I've never been to Dubai, and even if I did, I definitely wouldn't have even a fraction of the rich experience he is having. But guess what? I can see it. And not because TMZ was hiding out in the dessert with a camera crew, or because Tyrese mentioned it on an E! red carpet...but because he chose to share this experience with millions, and he's doing it with a smile.

It's photos, it's videos, it's reflection, it's hilarious, it's's entertaining. Plain and simple. I "get it"...there are hundreds of real-life heros, and everyday folks doing important work, and not seeking attention or sharing their business. I get it...but I like this way better. I can respect the humble-and-rarely-seen worker, but I am moved by the openly abundant and energetic.

And Tyrese ain't the only one. Kevin Hart is taking Instagram by storm on a comedy level...he's not even trying too hard to tell a joke or hit a punchline. He's just posting his pictures, taking his 15-second videos like the rest of us...and it's automatically hilarious. It's automatically interesting. It's like being his bredren and being able to roll with him from vacation, to press junkets, to the club, to his home at Christmas, and in brief snippets of media sharing, you get a look at his life, at his personality, and his joy.

Isn't that what it's all about? It may seem like bragging to some, but to those of us who are inspired by greatness and success and entertained by the process and those who are able to live their dreams to the fullest...this is the perfect tool for sharing that.

I love to see Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon out on the slopes with their twin babies for the holidays. Jumping from the Lambo to the jet. Interesting shit. It's great to see Meek Mill, and Rick Ross out on the town. I enjoyed the Combs family holiday photos, and watching Diddy dress up as a King for his twin daughters' birthday party. It's great, it's inclusive, and it's done willingly. That's the difference.

That's why Twitter was such a hit, because the "celebrities" themselves were sending out their own messages. It was personal, it was honest, and there was no spin to it. The authenticity spoke volumes. I get that there's still a great deal of deliberate thought put into these posts, but I can also respect that intention and how effective it is when executed properly.

So I'm jumping on the Instagram bandwagon with everyone else right now, following the trend and totally enjoying it. Because it's real life from a celebrity level, to a personal level. I'm enjoying it while it's still fresh, and before it becomes an extreme promotional tool like the other forms of social media. It's just a matter of time...but for now, it's still genuine and enjoyable.

As someone who takes pride in the fact that I have published my own books, and have full creative control over my own messages and delivery and products...I can see how this is an empowering tool for the individuals who have to usually duck and hide from invasive lenses and dishonest storytellers. This is a great way for them to take control of their image and give their followers an unedited view of their life, their thoughts, and their passions.

For creative folks who don't mind exposing themselves, this is an awesome tool. Yet another way to tell a story. Another way to express yourself, and another way to interact with individuals you may not have face-to-face interaction with on a regular basis.

What's crazy to me is I can't even imagine what's next!! How much more intimate can social media get, then having a camera in your hand/pocket 24/7 that you can record and share images and messages from? What is the next step, other than a constant life feed (ala Truman Show) that you can tune into at any given time. Is it going to come to that?

So great to see social media evolving, and see the way the rest of the media industry has to shift and adjust to accommodate the varying level of access. I'm enjoying the technology ride to the fullest.
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog