We are a world of storytellers.
Those stories used to be housed in photo albums and stacks of VHS tapes. Now we store those images and clips on clouds and social media, to share with followers almost immediately after a big (or small) event.
Like some of you, I go to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share stories. And like some of you, I only want to share the highlights. But most of our followers have very short attention spans, so we need to keep the videos short and sweet.
To make these moments more palatable, I started using Flipagram.
Flipagram helps you create short stories, with videos and photos, set to music.
Create Your First Flip
Flipagram (on iOS, Android) is easy to use. After you install the app, click on the “plus” icon in the bottom right-hand corner to begin. You can pull in images and videos, or you can pull content directly from other social networking sites (i.e., Facebook, Instagram).
Your content will appear in “Add Moments.” When you find the content you want to share, Flipagram automatically launches it in an easy-to-use clip editor.
You can edit out the junk, and when you’re done, tap the clips to include in your story.
Don’t expect to make the next “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy with Flipagram. No one wants to see an hour of my kids dancing to Silent ≥’s “Watch Me [Whip/Nae Nae].”
Thankfully, Flipagram limits us to 30 seconds.
If you want to use a bunch of images, you’re in luck. Flipagram can encode up to 30FPS (frames per second). This means that you could theoretically include up to 900 photos for a 30-second video.
I’m sure some avant-garde movie director out there is thinking, “Challenge accepted.”
Adding Your Soundtrack
Flipagram includes access to a fairly robust music library. With a few quick searches, I found more than enough music. Flipagram has licensing agreements with most major music labels, so users have legal access to thousands of songs, from today’s top hits to your favorite throwback tunes.
If you can’t find the right music in Flipagram’s library, upload your own.
Share Your First Flip
Once your Flip is created, post it to your Flipagram profile. You can easily share your new creations right from Flipagram to many other social media sites, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many more. Or you can send your Flips to friends and family via email and text messaging.
If you’re still not sure what to do with your first Flip, download the app or go to flipagram.com and click on “Explore” to watch some of the cool Flips other people are posting.
You’ll get to see stories from people all over the world, and maybe share a few of your own.
The kickoff to “Star Wars” weekend actually started a long time ago, in a social media galaxy far, far away.
In 1977, when “Episode IV: A New Hope” was released, I was 6 years old. I didn’t see it until several months later. By that time, the hype had hit fever pitch.
Of course, fever pitch meant that traditional media were abuzz with news about the movie.
And of course, in 1977, social media did not exist.
Our version of “social media” was watching the movie in the theater, followed by reenactments of favorite scenes which almost always included lightsaber duels.
Every kid at school talked about Princess Leia, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, imitating the whirling and tweeting of R2D2, breathing like Darth Vadar.
I wanted to be Luke Skywalker.
Fast-forward almost 40 years, and I’m more Chewbacca than Luke. But in many ways, I’m still that 6-year-old kid.
So are many of my friends, now in their 40s and 50s.
Sharing the magic of “Star Wars” with our kids has become a right of passage. Over the last few months, my kids and I have gone to social media to watch the movie trailers, to watch clips from the earlier movies, all in anticipation of this weekend.
Like many of you, the lead up to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (that’s Episode VII to my fellow Jedi Knights and Sith Lords) has been building for a long time.
For some fans, the social media kickoff to the “Star Wars” hype began with the launch of the first trailer over a year ago (November 2014). According to Lucasfilm, that first trailer was watched more than 112 million times in the first 24 hours.
We’ve gone to social media to share our love of all things “Star Wars,” with images, links to cool merchandise, and more. My favorite came last week when Facebook provided a filter for adding a lightsaber to my profile image.
Some went to the “dark side” over the last few days, sharing plot spoilers before the official release of the film. Privileged fans viewed it last Monday in Hollywood in what will go down as the largest, most extravagant premiere ever (at least, until Episode VIII).
After the premiere, several major plot points have appeared on Facebook and other major platforms. This prompted major backlash among social media users who had yet to see the film.
For example, social media news-sharing site Reddit promised to ban all users who posted spoilers. Chrome, Google’s free Web browser, offered fans a “Force Blocker” extension designed to block all “Star Wars” spoilers.
The best prevention for spoilers likely came from a fear of public shaming. No one wants to be “that fan,” unfriended, unfollowed, unliked, unloved by the millions of “Star Wars” fans on social media.
Regardless of when or if you see it, may the force be with you while you connect and celebrate with “Star Wars” fans around the world.
In the coming weeks, we will be inundated with a laundry list of stories about the “best of” everything from 2015. Add to that list the best of social media.
When compiling my list of 2015’s best social media, a peculiar theme emerged. Many more people are sharing their daily routines, experiences, opinions and expertise through live-streaming media.
Live streaming is the equivalent of watching a live sporting event. You never know for sure what’s going to happen next. Think of live streaming as a super hyper version of Facebook, but with video and sound, and with posts, pictures and videos appearing in real time.
If you watched a live stream in the early 2000s, chances are your computer wasn’t fast enough, or the Internet connection was too slow. Streamed video was often pixelated and fraught with long pauses for content buffering.
As technology improved, so did our access to streaming content. And as access improved, so did our ability to stream our own live content.
Many of the best social media platforms for 2015 have something to do with live streaming. Although we will surely read reviews of other great apps, this year requires a quick look back at the new live-streaming services and apps. Some of these apps and platforms have been in development for a long time, but it was only in 2015 that they gained mass adoption.
Here are the apps that set the tone of the live-streaming phenomena:
Periscope. Launched in January 2015, Periscope gives smartphone users the ability to broadcast from just about anywhere in the world. So after its launch, Twitter acquired it, giving the platform social media legitimacy. Users can tweet out links to their videos, also called “Scopes,” and make those streams available for everyone, or limit the view to select users.
Periscope added additional features over the year, and my favorite is the ability to (finally) stream in landscape mode. One of my first Scopes was of a closing ceremony, and streaming in the portrait mode (my only option) looked terrible. Periscope will roll out additional features in the coming months.
Meerkat. Every great app needs competition, and although Periscope made a relatively bigger splash in 2015, rival platform Meerkat had its moments. Meerkat and Periscope have the same basic function, allowing users to stream video from a mobile device.
But in recent months, Meerkat has added many new features, such as integration with GoPro cameras. Imagine a bike ride through Mill Creek Park, a GoPro camera strapped to your helmet, streaming the entire ride to your Meerkat followers. Meerkat also provides options for polling viewers and publishing streaming links to Facebook.
Blab.im. Having the ability to stream your daily life is interesting, but when you can simultaneously stream with other people all over the world, the possibilities are endless. Blab.im allows other users to add their video to your stream, creating real live conversations for the world to see, while other users can join in the conversation via a chat feature or Twitter. Additionally, users can capture “Blab sessions” for playback.
Other options similar to Periscope, Meerkat and Blab.Im include apps such as Stre.am and YouNow. Both apps are free and provide even more possibilities for live streaming.
Managing your romantic relationships online can be hard.
Facebook just made it easier.
If you recently dumped a longtime lover but still want to be “Facebook” friends, you can manage how much content your old flame can see.
“When a relationship ends, we’ve heard from people that they sometimes have questions about the options available to them on Facebook,” said Kelly Winters, Facebook product manager.
The fact is we’ve had most of these tools for regulating what ex-partners can see and limiting how they communicate with us on Facebook (without “unfriending” them).
These tools are now a little easier to access. Once a relationship status changes, Facebook automatically triggers options for users to manage the change.
“When people change their relationship status to indicate they are no longer in a relationship, they will be prompted to try these tools,” Winters said.
Facebook started testing these new these tools in November on the mobile app. All of the tools are optional, and information about how to use them is accessible through the Facebook help center.
Note: There’s still no tool to stop an ex from dumping you via Facebook Messenger. But if your boyfriend ends the relationship on social media (or text message), he probably wasn’t the right guy for you (or anyone), anyway.
Here’s how the new relationship management options work:
1. Limit what you want to see. The first option you’ll have is to limit what you want to see from a former partner. For example, let’s say your ex is posting images of her new dates, and you’re just not ready to see (or accept) that she’s moved on. No problem. Choose to see less of her pictures and posts without having to unfriend her. Her posts won’t appear in your News Feed, and her name won’t appear as a suggestion when you tag friends in photos or post new messages.
2. Limit what your ex can see. Maybe it’s you who has moved on, and you’d like to share the news of a new love with other friends. Consider limiting access to photos, videos or status updates, and eliminate the temptation for the ex to communicate with you through Facebook Messenger.
3. Change history. Aside from amnesia, there’s really no way to forget a longtime love, but Facebook helps you manage some of the permanency of those old posts. You can alter status updates, limit who can see those posts, and “untag” yourself from posts and pictures with the ex.
4. Prepare for the future. As always, you should consider checking your privacy settings. Consider what you post before you post it, and always think about who can see your information. When you post a new image, there’s a chance your ex will still see it, especially if you set the post to public.
Of course, what Facebook doesn’t offer is a therapy tool for your big breakup.
Maybe that option will come with the next Facebook update.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.