The Great Insta Debate: Loop Giveaways

The Great Insta Debate: Loop Giveaways

When it comes to growing my Instagram following, I’ve always prided myself on letting it happen authentically and naturally. By taking this route, it takes a lot of time and patience. I’ve been at it for over a year and a half. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a few giveaways here and there, but generally stick to small ones that only attract a handful of followers. I also do a lot of independent giveaways vs. large group ones. Disclosure: I’m actually doing a small giveaway in the coming weeks.

However, I want to state that this is a no judgment zone. I’m writing this post because I’m genuinely curious what fellow consumers (followers), influencers and Brand’s think of the recent trend of “loop giveaways” on Instagram. For those of you that are not familiar, this is when a group of influencers team up to give away a prize and prompt you to follow them and the next influencer tagged in their post in order to be entered to win. This prompt keeps going until you’re looped back to the original influencer’s post you started on.

The thing is, by doing these types of giveaways, bloggers often gain a lot of followers. I’ve seen people gain anywhere from 300 followers to 50,000 followers (I know, crazy!) in just a few days. As a publicist, I always think about things from an industry perspective, but as an influencer, I totally see the appeal. So below are some of my conflicting thoughts/questions. Comment on my post or send me a DM to let me know which side you’re on or what you think! Again, genuinely curious.

  • I feel like loop giveaways are a great marketing tactic for influencers to use to appeal consumers they might not otherwise reach (especially if you’re doing an international giveaway). With the new algorithm, it’s hard to get your photos to pop up on people’s feed, so giveaways allow you that chance to be seen.
  • A concern is that if you get an abundance of followers from a loop giveaway, your engagement rate may be low. For example, just because you have a lot of followers doesn’t mean that they’re actually taking the time to comment/like your photos. PRO TIP: For those of you that don’t know, the industry benchmark for engagement is .3% (to calculate, add up the numbers of likes + comments on your last 5 photos and divide by the number of followers you have). If you have a .3% engagement rate or higher it means you’re doing really well. As someone that works in PR, I know that Brands are getting smarter and this is really important to them. So my question is – is having a lot of followers worth sacrificing your engagement rate? Brands, would love your input.
  • The other thing that upsets me is when new influencers do a ton of giveaways and have 10x more followers than me, yet just started on this journey. It seems a bit unfair, no? It also kind of feels like their cheating the system.
  • Consumers aka Followers – I wonder what you think? Do you like the opportunity to win a really cool prize? Or do you just feel like loop giveaways are a great way for you to discover new influencers?
  • I’ve also heard from select influencers and publicists that partaking in loop giveaways is inauthentic and means your “buying your followers.” While I do think they can be a bit unfair, I have to disagree with this. Just because you’re partaking in a giveaway doesn’t mean you’re purchasing followers. These consumers are CHOOSING to engage and follow you. Plus, they’re real people, not bots.

What are your thoughts? Obviously I’m not against loop giveaways completely (for the reasons listed above), plus like I said, I’m doing a small one in the coming weeks. However, I  do wonder what other’s think. When you’re running your own business, a lot of it is trial and error, so it’s interesting to hear what other people think. Comment below or slide into my DMs!

Sippin’ My Way Through Summer – One Dunkin’ Flavored Iced Coffee at a Time

Sippin’ My Way Through Summer – One Dunkin’ Flavored Iced Coffee at a Time

If you follow me, you know the below to be true.

  1. I’m always on the go
  2. I’m always drinking iced coffee
  3. My blogger BFF is @LaurenMazzei

So you may be wondering – how do all of these items connect? Well for starters, Lauren and I are both devoted Dunkin’ Donuts fans. So much so that during our photo shoots we often have our photographer hold our coffees (so it’s always on standby). Oh and that’s not to mention the fact that Lauren only gets an *understated* Large Iced Coffee every single time she orders. There’s also that one time after Fashion Week when we were both in dire need of a pick-me-up so we went out of our way on our route home to stop at Dunkin’ Donuts (in our heels and absurd outfits) just to get our fix.

Anyway, enough about our not-so-hidden passion for iced coffee….

I’m telling you all of this to explain why we are both super excited to be partnering with Dunkin’ Donuts this summer. From New York City to the Jersey Shore to the beaches of the Hamptons and Stamford, we’re constantly on-the-go and sippin’ our way through summer every pit stop along the way. Fun fact: we both actually drink iced coffee year-round.

While we both have our go-to iced orders, this summer we vowed to break out of our everyday routine by trying some new flavors. Check out the flavors we tried below:

  • S’mores Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee : Combination of graham cracker, toasted marshmallow and chocolate flavors
  • Coconut Crème Pie Cold Brew: Flavored iced coffee offers a creamy combo of vanilla, coconut and sweet pie crust flavors
  • Butter Pecan Iced Coffee: Flavored iced coffee features indulgent butter roasted pecan and sweet cream flavors

(*All are available in Dunkin’ Donuts’ hot and iced coffees, lattes, macchiatos and Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee through summer)

Of all of the flavors we tried, I have to say that the Coconut Crème Pie Cold Brew was my favorite. It’s a fresh flavor reminiscent of the tropics, making it the perfect beverage to sip on during the warmer weather.

So I urge you to also break out of your routine, by trying one of the new flavors this summer. All Dunkin’ Summer coffee beverages can be enjoyed in hot and iced coffees, lattes, macchiatos and Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee all summer long! Be sure to leave me a comment to let me know which your favorite is!

Ps. Thank you to Dunkin’ Donuts for sponsoring this post and providing my with delicious sips all summer long! 

How to Master Early Morning Photo Shoots

How to Master Early Morning Photo Shoots

When I tell people I shoot all of my blog/Instagram photos in the morning before work, they generally say something along the lines of, “What?! I can’t wake up that early! HOW DO YOU DO THAT?!”

Guess what? I’m here to tell you HOW.

Waking up early isn’t fun. I’m not really a late sleeper to begin with, but something about waking up to the sound of an alarm is just dreadful. However, I’m committed to my blog and dedicated to featuring new, fresh content as often as I can. Since I do work full time in PR, I have no choice but to shoot before work (or after now that the sun sets later in the summer). However, after work, I generally want to go home, workout or attend an event, so that really only leaves the morning open to shoot most weeks.

But how do I pick a location? And how do I determine leaving myself enough time to get to work at 9am? I’ve kind of got it mastered at this point… so below, find my tips for mastering early AM photo-shoots.

1. Pick a location: I try to pick somewhere that is convenient for not only me, but my photographer as well (shout out to @photosbytifff). Since we both have to be at work by 9am, we generally stick to lower-midtown locations like Madison Square Park/Flatiron, Washington Square Park or Bryant Park. Are you wondering why I shoot in so many parks? Here’s why. Parks generally have public restrooms, so you can run in to change between looks. Parks also have greenery and character. Sometimes just doing street style photos can get monotonous, especially in the summer when there are so many natural beautiful colors from trees and flowers.

2. Plan your outfits the night before: This may sound intuitive, but make sure you lay out everything the night before, so in the morning you just need to apply your makeup/fix your hair and go. I lay out everything from my outfit, to shoes, to accessories (purse, jewelry, sunglasses).

  • Pro tip: If you really want your shoot to move seamlessly, pack each outfit with all of the matching accessories into individual baggies. This way, when you’re looking through your main bag, you can easily locate everything you need for that one look vs. digging through your suitcase or tote to find everything.
  • Pro tip #2: Since winter clothing items are bulkier, I sometimes bring a wheelie suitcase with me. To me, it’s easier to roll something around the city than having to carry it over my shoulder (it gets heavy).

(I recently bought this clothing rack so I could lay out all of my outfits the night before a shoot. Buy it HERE

3. Changing in Public: If you’re not in a park and there are no nearby restrooms, you need to get creative when it comes to changing. I’m not shy, so I generally change on the street. If this is the route you’re going to take – there’s an art to it. Follow the below steps:

  • Strategically plan your outfits so that you can easily change. For example, if you have one dress and one pant outfit, wear the dress first. When you’re done with that look, slip the pants on under the dress and wiggle your way into the top without exposing yourself.
  • Make sure the last outfit you shoot in is the one you want to wear that day. Knowing I need to go to work after my shoot, I generally save my most work appropriate outfit for last. This way, when I’m done shooting, I just run to work in whatever I’m in.
  • Too risky for you? Get a changing tent or bring a sheet. Some photographers (shout out to @LaurelCreative) bring changing tents with them, which makes for easy changing, anywhere, any time. If they don’t have one, you can either purchase your own OR just bring a sheet and have your photographer hold it up for you as you hide behind it to swap outfits.

4. Timing: Knowing I need to be at work at 9am, I generally make sure I’m shooting by 7:30am. This way, I have from around 7:30-8:30 or 8:45ish (depending on the location) to shoot. Within this time, I can generally shoot 3 looks and even sneak in a flatlay.

Any additional questions that I didn’t cover? Comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

A Tribute to my “Gay Bestie” During Pride Week

A Tribute to my “Gay Bestie” During Pride Week

I’ll be the first to admit it. I grew up as a privileged white female in an equally as white and privileged community. It wasn’t until college and life in New York City that I really started to befriend people of diverse backgrounds. I’ve always considered myself accepting and open, but my surroundings never allowed for certain situations until later in life.

However, like most girls, I always joked that I wanted a “gay bestie” because the thought of having one sounded fun and glamorous. All the girls in the movies that had a gay BFF always had the best time bonding over their likes of boys and lattes. Yet, when I was least expecting it, my wish actually came true in a way that I wasn’t anticipating.

Enter, Nick Gilyard.

About two years out of college I was working in Public Relations in New York City (still am) when I was introduced to my new coworker, Nick. Instantly I noticed that he was the most impeccably dressed, beautiful black man with a grin that lit up the room. You see, the thing is that on the outside Nick isn’t your stereotypical gay male that you would find in a chick flick. He’s often clothed in a pristine fitting suit or a head-to-toe Zara look. He’s well spoken, charismatic, smart as hell and opinionated, but in the best ways possible.

Pretty instantly we started to bond (along with some other amazing coworkers). What started as lunch dates in the communal kitchen area quickly turned to nights out to deep and meaningful conversations about love/relationships, family, life, politics and much more. With time, I finally started to know what it truly meant to have a “gay bestie.”

Nick is much more than someone who I can bond over fashion and Beyoncé with (don’t get me wrong, we still do that), but he’s someone who has opened my eyes to another side of the world. A side that can often be hateful, judgmental and cruel. He’s educated me on the pressures that black men, especially homosexual black men in America face from society. He’s answered all of my weird and sometimes even inappropriate questions with a smile. He’s slept on my couch when he was between apartments (but that’s another story).

On the surface, you’d never know the struggles that Nick has endured because he always takes the high road. I personally have witnessed a cruel comment he received on Facebook and immediately felt my blood boiling and fingers typing something snarky back. Unlike me (whoops), Nick refuses to engage with negativity. If he receives a hateful comment on one of his posts, he believes responding will only set a poor example for others whom might fall victim to cyberbullying. Instead, he stay quiet and lives by the rule of “fighting love with love.” And we can all learn something from him.

Now that’s the gay bestie I always wanted.

In two weeks, I’ll be in Miami to celebrate his marriage and beautiful relationship with his partner Dominic (who is equally as amazing). I couldn’t be more proud to be friends with such inspiring people who are the definition of LOVE. It’s no wonder their love story recently went viral. I promise you, this isn’t the last you’ll be seeing or hearing of these two.

True Life: I’m Addicted to Podcasts and Here’s Why

True Life: I’m Addicted to Podcasts and Here’s Why

In recent months I started noticing that some of my favorite celebrities and reality stars began promoting their podcasts on social media. To me, the thought of a podcast always seemed boring. Why waste your timing listening to someone, when you can’t actually see them? TV was always the more appealing route to take, until I caved and finally decided to give in and see what the fuss was all about.

Within minutes of subscribing to a few of my favorites, I was hooked! Since I’m not a big “TV before bed” type of gal, I started quietly listening to podcasts while I drifted to sleep. Something about the soothing tone of someone talking really does the trick. Once I was accustomed to the “podcast life” (as I like to call it), I was ready to try something new. Finally, I started to up my game and go from just listening to celebrity interviews to listening to audio fiction podcasts, which is much more interesting to be completely honest.

My favorite is Jules & James, which is a just half hour podcast (perfect for a before-bed listen). The story is a narrative fiction between two artists whom are connected by fate when a “wrong number” situation introduces the two. After deciding to continue conversation, both Jules and James end up talking weekly about their lives, dreams for the future, the world around them and everything else that the comfort of speaking to a stranger allows you to reveal. I don’t want to give too much away, but Jules & James captures the charm of falling in love with the unknown.

To learn more, visit meetjulesandjames.com and be sure to subscribe via iTunes, Android, Stitcher, Tunein.com or Google Play.