A new adventure

Things get silly when we do photo shoots for #brassmagazine. You can see some of these pics in the new issue!

A photo posted by brass Magazine (@brassgram) on


Today is my last day at brass Media. It’s been a wonderful few years here, and I’ve learned so much. The best marketing skills I’ve learned are in content marketing and marketing automation, which have sparked my passion to learn even more. Content marketing felt like a natural fit after so many years of blogging, and learning about leveraging content for marketing is fascinating.

Another real blessing from my time at brass is working with so many wonderful people. Collaboration has been an incredibly fun process with so many talented individuals–there are a lot of people that I’m going to miss seeing every day. But the wonderful thing about workplace friendships is that they often become real-life friendships.


The next step

The exciting thing is that I’m moving on to Central Willamette Community Credit Union! I’m incredibly excited to join the team there and put my marketing skills to work. There’s a lot more to learn about marketing, and I’m excited to do it with an institution committed my local community.

Watch this space in June to see what I get up to next!



Where can you find free Instagram analytics? [UPDATED]

Iconosquare shuts out users

Instagram nerds (and social media marketers) know and love Iconosquare (formerly Statigram). They offered detailed Instagram analytics for free, including stats on the best times to post and which filters performed the best.

Iconosquare rolled out their new pricing tiers at the end of April that included a free account without analytics, and the next tier up was $199/per month. The comments section has disappeared, but before it was removed, users were vocally unhappy with the pricing change.

I understand Iconosquare needs to monetize. Really, I get it. So I understand their tiers would be marketed towards marketing people (with marketing budgets). The problem is that I’m a casual Instagram user with a love for statistics. Personal power users aren’t shelling out money for a service they’ve gotten for free since Iconosquare was Statigram.

UPDATE 5/1/15: Iconosquare has rolled the pricing changes back:

I thought I had cancelled and removed my account, but I was able to log in again without a hitch. Good or bad, depending on your point of view.

Where can I find free Instagram analytics?

Where else can we find those sweet analytics we crave?

AgoraPulse CEO Emeric Ernault wrote a blog post with five handy alternatives. The problem is that these alternatives also seem better suited to marketers or marketing teams, not individuals. So I did a little work and found two three viable Iconosquare alternatives for power users (with no marketing budgets).


Websta is a great one that’s been around for awhile. Even though their dashboard is a bit cluttered with advertising, they offered the same stats that Iconosquare does. My personal necessity is the posting optimization, which Websta includes:

Websta Instagram stats

Websta offers literally every type of statistic that Iconosquare offered, and they’re free.


Ink361 is another free site that offers a range of stats. They’re colorful and very pretty, much like Iconosquare’s. The only catch is that they don’t have post optimization, which is why I’m not fully onboard.

Ink361 stats

But I like the look of what they do have, and it’s also pretty cool that you can order prints of your Instagram photos.

My Iconosquare replacement: squarelovin

I found out about squarelovin the morning after I wrote this post, and had to add it. It’s got a clean, beautiful interface. And not only does it have a wide range of stats–including the all-important post optimization–they’re arranged beautifully in fun colors. On top of that, they tell you when not to post!

I’m sold!

But make sure you’re aware: any picture can be downloaded from the viewer mode. That means you can download your pictures or other people’s, and they could download yours, too. Don’t be fooled, though: this doesn’t mean your pictures are safer with another Instagram viewer. Just because Iconosquare or Websta doesn’t have a download link doesn’t mean people can’t save the picture or take a screenshot of it.

Iconosquare replacement squarelovin

All three platforms allow you to like and comment on pictures in your feed from the program. There are plenty of similarities among squarelovin, Websta, and Ink361, so I created a matrix to compare an contrast them:

Yearly stats Overview Post history Filter usage Likes & comments received Best times & days to post Top tags on Instagram Follower & following analysis
     ✓       ✓      ✓    ✓       ✓     ✓      ✓      ✓
    ✓       ✓    ✓   ✓       ✓     ✓        ✓
   ✓     ✓    ✓   ✓      ✓        ✓

Update 5/1/15: Iconosquare’s back and so is my Iconosquare account. 

Ultimately, I’m not sure which service to stay with. Iconosquare is back, and that’s great. But their statistic updates are slow (mine was last updated April 25), so it seems like they only update when you log in, even if you’re supposed to get email alerts.

And squarelovin is completely overloaded because of the flood of people switching from Iconosquare, so all their servers are overloaded. This means my stats haven’t ever been accurate in the three days that I’ve used the service.

The only statistics that seem accurate are Websta’s. They’ve been around long enough to have enough server capacity and regular updates, which is great. But I sure hate their ad-filled interface.

So we’re really getting what we pay for.

Which brings us back to paying for a service that provides reliable updates. Iconosquare’s mistake was not to start charging for its services. It was to start charging without soliciting the input of its users and fans. Plenty of people tweeted that they’d be happy to pay, but the base price of $199/month was too much.

Do you plan on going back to Iconosquare? How much would you be willing to pay for a reliable Instagram analytics service, as a regular user? 

Social media education is important in high school

Fatemeh Fakhraie teaching students about social media

Photo by Devin Simpson.

Last week, I had the pleasure of talking to about 300 sophomores at West Albany High School about how their use of social media would change after they left high school.

We use social media to communicate and stay in touch with friends and family, and to express ourselves online. But many high schoolers aren’t aware that after they leave high school, social media will take on a new facet. Universities and employers will begin using social media to investigate prospective students and hires to ensure they’ll represent the school or company well.

When it comes to universities, scholarship committees and team recruiters will also be on the lookout. There are countless stories of student athletes losing scholarships over social media gaffes, but the most eloquent comes from Marymount University’s Coach Brandon Chambers:

Anyone born after the 1980s is often described as a “digital native,” especially the kids who have grown up with iPhones and Twitter. But being digitally fluent isn’t the same as being digitally literate: just because young adults know how to use these social platforms doesn’t mean they’re fully aware of potential consequences, both online and off.

This is one reason why social media education is important. When I talked with WAHS students, I asked which platforms they were using. Almost every student in the room was using one social channel (or more). Social media education can help students start to understand how their social use reflects their offline lives and can potentially avoid mistakes that cause them to lose their jobs or become the subject of an online smear campaign.

The other reason social media education is important is to make sure that students who may not have access to social channels can learn about them. Not every job in the workforce will require employees to have a Twitter handle or an Instagram account. But these tools are increasingly being used in businesses, and they’re important skills for the next workforce to learn.

But it’s important that social media education isn’t just about the fire-and-brimstone side of social use. Attempting to scare teenagers doesn’t get them to stop doing something; it’s more productive to illustrate positive uses for social channels they may not have considered.

When speaking with WAHS students, I showed them ways to harness social media positively when looking for a job or showcasing their creativity. Though landing a gig with Instagram isn’t guaranteed, it’s not outside the realm of possibility: success stories like Michelle Phan and J. Clark Walker exist for a reason.

Teaching students early about how social media works, how to keep themselves safe on it, and how to use it to put their best foot forward when transitioning into adulthood are important lessons. Teens who don’t understand social media consequences grow into adults that don’t understand social media consequences–an ounce of prevention in high school is worth a pound of cure after you’ve been doxxed or lost your job.

What’s a haft seen?

Persian new year haft seen

Happy 1394! Nowruz (نوروذ), also known as Persian New Year, is the beginning of the Iranian calendar year. It’s also a religious holiday for the Baha’i and Zoroastrian faiths, both of which originated in Iran. Nowruz is the same day as the Spring Equinox and marks the beginning of 1394.

This year, I’m documenting my haft seen table to give you all a little history behind the celebration, which is a huge deal to Iranians, Kurds, Afghans, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and those in the Zoroastrian and Baha’i faiths. (more…)

The ultimate guide to custom Instagram locations

I’m sure you’ve seen grayed out location links before. A lot of fashion bloggers and brands use these to promote their websites or to instruct readers on how to enter contests and such. They’re pretty handy.

I’m going to show you how to do one so that you can promote your website, give instructions, or just let everyone know your frame of mind.

Create custom Instagram locations (more…)

Is there a shortage of content marketers? Yes and no.

Marketers just need content marketing skills.

I’ve been flexing my content marketing muscle for a few years now at brass Media, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the job. Content marketing has so much strategy, planning, and creation that there’s always something different to do.

And because I’m enjoying the content marketing part of my job, I’m so excited to be interviewed about it! I spoke with B2B News Network about the recent survey by Provoke Insights that shows 34% of companies are having a hard time finding suitable content marketers:


‘Tis the season

Happy 2015!

What I love most about the holidays are the infused warmth emanating from friends, coworkers, and family: beautiful Hanukkah displays at the store, cozily decorated houses, and lots of extra goodies in the office break room.

One of my favorite holiday surprises is getting greeting cards! It’s such a beautiful way to let people know you’re thinking of them, and who doesn’t like getting mail (that isn’t a bill)? This has really inspired me to think about how I can get in on the action.