Today’s social media training session at SWU focussed on learning to take photos for blogging, and then building a blog site using WordPress. The aim is for the students to be running a social media promotion for an independent music festival that the university is co-sponsoring.
We started the day looking at some examples of street photography, and discussing what kind of images are used on different networks and platforms. For example, the perfectly posed group shot is well suited to Facebook, but it is probably less appealing when shared on Instagram.
Instagram works best when the images are creative and inventive, and when they offer a snapshot of a specific detail rather than a wide-shot of a general group or scene. We looked at some examples of Instagram street photos and how they often confirm to photography structures, such as using diagonal lines and intersections, symmetrical patters, or geometric shapes.
We were fortunate because there was a market at the entrance to the university, so it was possible to spend some time amongst people as they shopped and bought food. The first stage was for the students to look at the more general scene, and once they had captured some images just using their phones, they went back into the bustle and focussed on specific items, objects and people.
The results were instantly interesting, and as the Instagram account for the group project had already been set up, it wasn’t long before they were being shared online. The project is called Music on Da Moon, by the way.
After lunch we started work on putting the blog site together. Benz took the lead on this, as she literally threw herself into getting the site up and running. Before we could talk about adding features, she was already trying them out and exploring the capabilities of the WordPress site.
I’ve not used the hosted version of WordPress for a while, and I was glad to see that it has been improved massively over the last couple of years. The interface design is very simple, and the basic structure of the blog was very easy to establish.
It was a group effort to design the initial logos and banners for the site and the associated social media accounts. With the design work largely being done on apps on phones or tablets. There was a good DIY feel to the session, with everyone giving their input and generating ideas.
The primary aim of the site is to support original content that the students produce for themselves, which means taking images, adding video and writing comments and observations about topics related to music that the students are themselves interested in.
We discussed what makes a blog look and feel as if it is generic and aggregated from other people’s content, so the emphasis is going to be on capturing original images, sounds and videos, and then discussing them in a way that follows the voice of each of the students. The core topic is live music, but like anything, how we find and discover music and events is open to all sorts of experiences.
The next couple of sessions are going to explore how students can find their voices, and what media the can use to help them to reflect on the media they are using and sharing and the bands they are seeing. We will use a combination of vlogs and podcasts to get some thoughts down, and to explore ideas that are buried deep and need to be connected with other ideas in a conversation.
I’m glad we made progress today, and it was very rewarding to be able to wrap-up the session with an outline blog that is waiting to be developed and stuffed with content.