How to Tell a Brand Story on Instagram

Originally published on LeonardDavidRaymundo.com

Marketing and advertising tactics on Instagram range from utilizing the most used hashtags to running actual advertising campaigns to reach a wider audience. But, there’s no denying that simply taking an awesome photo is one of the best ways to boost engagement, and your audience.

We live in an incredibly visual world today where consumers want to be shown what a given product looks like rather than having to read about it (our attention spans are not what they once were). Because of this, Instagram has become one of the most popular platforms for both business and leisure today, with the number of users topping 800 million this past year. Companies would be wise to take advantage of this plethora of potential customers.

Successful advertising campaigns are those that tell stories and engage with the consumer. Remember that your brand story should be about the customer, not the brand or product. Try to evoke an emotional response. Say you are trying to boost sales for a car, for example. Posting high-quality, beautiful pictures of the car from its most flattering angles, as well as one with a driver that looks to be happy are requirements of course, but what’s the deeper story associated with your brand? If you’re a brand like Harley Davidson for example, you don’t just want pictures of your motorcycle, but what a typical day for a rider might look like on his or her day off.

Take a look at what Subway has done as another example. Their #SubYAY campaign was aimed at millennials and Gen-Z audiences by promoting their new stands that would be present at summer music festivals; events that have become wildly popular among these generations in recent years. They posted pictures of younger audience members at these events wearing Subway gear, but kept the focus on sharing their experience as a festival goer.

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Their “Green Rooms” popped up at Bonnaroo, Firefly, and Governors Ball just to name a few, where they advertised photos of their target demographic, effectively showing how Subway sandwiches fit into the lives of young adults. The food giants almost immediately boosted their number of Instagram followers and amount of engagement by posting engaging photos in addition to Instagram Stories.

Never forget the basics. Instagram is a photo-sharing social media profile, meaning that the quality and content of your photos is absolutely vital. A clothing store would obviously want to post images of certain articles of clothing for sale, but should also keep in mind how these photos are shot. A good contrast of colors, lighting, and positioning can make an average photo look like a professional’s work.

Broaden your horizons. Though Instagram is a visual platform, some users will respond better to different types of ads than others. Because of that, try and encapsulate a few strategies in one post. Don’t shy away from video content or posting to your Instagram Story for added engagement, know how to take a beautiful picture, and get creative with your captions. Once you master the basics and know your targeted audience, you’ll be one step closer to creating an Insta-empire.

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How Technology is Forcing Writers to Adapt

Originally published on Medium here!

I started out my writing career by writing those how-to, knowledge base type articles that you might find when you’re looking up how fix that pesky internet connection. It worked for where I was at the time, but ultimately that line of work left me bored and restless.

I started to move to where most writers aspire to and dipped my toes into the creative, storytelling field- writing short stories/novel, then moving to ad copywriting, UX writing, and eventually transitioning to UX design.

Often times I wonder if other writers go through the same process, or if it’s just me(turns out, it’s not just me). Was I cursed with a never-ending, bottomless pit of unsatisfied work fulfillment, or am I simply a product of the broader writers dilemma of always searching for lofty ideals of perfection?

I’m starting to realize that it’s neither.


Writers must go through what the rest of the world has already known, which is that to stay relevant and make a living, we need to adapt. Our skill is as high in demand as ever, but unless we’re working on the next Harry Potter series, our focus needs to remain focused, yet as fluid as possible.

And for a lot of us that means we need to be able to write copy to meet business demands, and often times, extending ourselves beyond writing itself. Fields like UX writing…

The Craft of UX Writing

Speaking of, UX writing is a relatively new term that’s being picked up by a lot of new tech companies to describe the words use to guide users through their journey map. In the olden days, we used to just throw a bunch of salesy type words like “buy today” and “act now” while supplies last (spoiler alert: supplies always last).

But those days are gone, and now companies are looking for UX writers to turn prospects into customers.

It’s almost like they’re realizing that UX copy is much more complex and nuanced that simply writing “click here” on their website. Duh.

As the UX Collective points out in their state of UX:

“The cross-pollination between UX and copy tends to grow in 2018, as the term ‘UX writing’ starts to be used to describe not only a technique, but also job titles within design companies.”

(If you’re a writer that’s new to the field, I highly, highly recommend learning how the masters write UX copy over at UX Hub)


Writing Disciplines Aside from UX Writing

Aside from UX writing there’s a multitude of high paying, well respected jobs that seek writing talents to address their needs.

For example, in my hometown of Seattle, Copywriters can still make a decent wage in Seattle and I consider it to be an industry full of challenge, fun, and sometimes booze-at least in the agency world.

Content writers can also make a decent sum, provided that you’re comfortable with SEO focused work like blog writing.

Content strategists can make quite a lot for a writing profession, but require a set of organization and strategic implementation of content than the more individualized content writing roles require.

As for me, I’m just happy to be here. I look at my work and:

  1. Feel lucky that I’m even making money writing for a living.
  2. Feel well-versed in a myriad of writing disciplines, rather than looking at it like I’m constantly changing my mind (who knows, Mad Men could come back and copywriting could be the hot thing again).

Study your craft with diligence, but be on the lookout for awesome new opportunities to keep the writing profession relevant.

A Philippines Travel Guide for First-Timers

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As a Filipino-American, it took me some time to warm up to my ancestral homeland of the Philippines. But once I experienced it for the first time myself, I fell in love and haven’t looked back since. As one of the most scenic locations in all of Asia, the Philippines has become a vacation hotspot in recent decades, drawing in a whole new wave of tourists from all over the world. It’s not hard to see why-pristine, remote island beaches accompanied with friendly locals and stunning wildlife make for a once in a lifetime trip. For those who have never been, the following are just a few key aspects of this country that may sway you in visiting sooner than later.

Hospitality

As mentioned, Filipinos have a reputation as being very kind and generous, being warm and welcoming to tourists and encouraging them to explore their native country. Many Filipino’s take pride in their country, showcasing the best parts of the Philippines for visiting tourists. Singing and dancing is an enormous part of the culture here, so don’t be surprised if you’re pulled into one of the many celebratory events going on throughout the summer.

Rarely is a tourist’s naivety or unfamiliarity taken advantage of in the Philippines. The locals are happy to lend a helping hand and ensure that your time spent in their country is enjoyable, memorable, and leaving you wanting to come back again.

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Having said that, it’s also highly important to remember that as a visitor in their country, you should be respectful and humble at any place you find yourself. There are many things you might find odd or strange in their culture that might conflict with your own, but it’s always a good idea to respect the differences and focus on just enjoying your time.

Beaches

Being one of the largest collections of islands with 7,107 total, the Philippines has some of the most flawless beaches in the world. White sand, crystal blue waters, and incredible rock formations make up hundreds of these somewhat private locations, which are not always flooded with tourists so long as you know where to look.

Perhaps one of the most iconic beaches and best one for your Instagram feed is White Beach in Boracay. This beach consistently finds a spot on the list of top 10 beaches in the world, and is one of the most famous. That being said, the crowds here may be a little larger than what you’re looking for, but the aesthetic is absolutely worth the trip.

Nature

If part of your vacation plans involves seeing exotic wildlife, the Philippines then becomes that much more appealing. Home to some of the most diverse animals and plant life on Earth, this country includes nearly 200 species of mammals, over 600 species of birds, hundreds of reptiles, amphibious creatures, and coral species. One of the most popular attractions here is swimming with the native whale sharks.

In terms of geography, there are a total of 37 volcanoes found throughout the Philippines, all of which are accessible via hiking tours in addition to the country’s many caves, lakes, and waterfalls. To add to its beauty, temperatures here rarely ever reach levels of extreme heat or cold, making a trip here ideal in nearly any month of the year. However, experienced visitors typically recommend anytime between the months of November and May.

Food

As the late Anthony Bourdain once famously said, “Filipino’s love feeding people”. While Filipino cuisine may not be as well known around the world as their Asian counterparts, you might be more than impressed with some of the food you may encounter here. A traditional Filipino meal will have tourists experiencing a mix of Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, and even American-style cuisine, with foods like pancit, sinigang, barbecued chicken intestines, halo-halo, and much, much more.

The fruits found growing around the Philippines are among the freshest you will most likely ever try. From fresh mangos, pineapples, to coconuts, to papayas, Filipino fruit grows within an incredibly nurturing environment that adds to its flavor.

And good news for the avid seafood enthusiasts, the plethora of sea creatures found around the Philippines’ many coasts including lobster, crab, tiger prawns, and octopus among many others. Chefs around the country are highly skilled in preparing some of the most delicious seafood meals in Asia. However, if you are less inclined to try something adventurous, there are still plenty of options for those that are more accustomed to the Western ideals of flavor.

And did I mention how inexpensive eating out in the Philippines can be? More often than not, you’ll pay a fraction of what you might pay for a similar meal in North America or Europe.

Relaxation

While all of the aforementioned aspects certainly fall under this category, the Philippines is also a perfect getaway for travelers who would prefer to do nothing other than relax, unwind, and fully embrace a week of well deserved laziness. For starters, prices for alcoholic beverages, just like the food, are significantly cheaper than most other countries. Rum is actually cheaper than most of the juices served throughout the restaurant scene seeing as these juices come from the highly sought after fruits around the islands. Their Red Horse beer cost just 20 pesos, and is a little stronger than the average beer with 6.8% alcohol; a cheap, delicious way to take the edge off.

Once you’ve settled in and grabbed a drink, add even more to your spiritual pampering with a massage on the beach, or at one of the many spas around the country. From Swedish, to Shiatsu, to manicures and pedicures, Filipino spas and masseuses offer several different types of massages and are usually more dedicated and experienced than the types of massages you’d find elsewhere. Additionally, over 75% of the country speaks English, so language barriers are hardly ever a problem.

For more info on the Philippines and how to book your first trip, check out this site here and do some research of your own. The experiences mentioned above are just scratching the surface of what you can do in this beautiful country, and if you’re still thinking about it, take my word that you won’t ever regret making the trip.

Travel Books That Will Inspire You to See the World

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During one’s downtime in which they are not traveling, what better way to keep their exploratory passion alive than to read some of the most intriguing books on the subject? The following are just some of many travel books to read that will keep your travel bug alive and have you yearning to visit every possible corner of the world.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

In the years following World War II, Jack Kerouac and his friends traveled across the United States in search of all that life has to offer. Narrated by “Sal Paradise,” who serves as Kerouac himself, readers follow these men from New York to Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles where they encounter various forms of art and some of life’s troubles. You begin to notice the characters, particularly Sal, grow and gain more confidence. This piece of literature is sure to inspire even the most introverted individual to travel cross-country.

Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Don’t let the fact that this is somewhat of a romance novel deter you from reading. As a well known travel blogger, DeRoche details her fear of the ocean and and the incredible feat of overcoming that fear to sail across the Pacific with her boyfriend. Her vivid writing paints a picture in readers’ minds and evokes a moving feeling; something that, again, is sure to get even the laziest person up off the couch and out in the world.

The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto

For individuals especially keen on New York City, Russell Shorto’s book details the history of its foundation through Dutch settlers and their conflicts with the British and eventual losing of the city. These settlers have left such an impact that most of the city’s culture still emanates that today, in addition to many street and neighborhood names. After reading this story, it will be difficult not to have a newfound appreciation for New York City culture.

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

A book on vagabonding by none other than the king of vagabonding himself, Rolf Potts has spent over 10 years hitchhiking and exploring areas all over the world. His book contains some of the best insight imaginable, crucial travel tips and information, and several inspiring encounters; a work that should be considered an absolute must-read for those new to the world of traveling. Potts delves deeper into the philosophy of traveling as well, explaining why traveling for extended periods of time is an enriching experience.