6 Ways to Use Instagram or Vine to Tell Your Story

Video from General Electric.

Two of the hottest new visual tools are taking over. Earlier this year Instagram reportedly reached 90 million users checking into the application at least once a month, while the newer vine reached 13 million users. Instagram recently launched videos capabilities on their platform on June 20, 2013 reaching 5 million videos uploaded just on the very first day.

Using visuals to tell your brand’s story can be a powerful marketing tool. It engages users online and also gets users excited to follow your brand. Try these six ways to use Instagram or Vine for telling your brand’s story.

1. Give a sneak peak. Are you gearing up for a new product? Or beginning a sketch for a new design? Giving a sneak peak at your work can encourage excitement online. Your community will want to support you and see what you’re working on next, so show them a teaser or two. Check out watch Kate Spade’s behind the scenes footage or Acura’s Insider posts.

2. Show how to use the product. How can you show ways to use the product? Fun, quirky videos like Gillet’s show their product in an interesting way on Vine. Below is an example of Lululemon showing how to use their product in a fun video that attracted over 23,000 likes.

3. Be the source. Next time you’re out at a conference, show your community what your brand is doing in real time. You can report information and highlights that they’ll want to know about. Think about using text carefully to enhance your visual through short descriptions. You want to be the source of information and entertainment for your following. General Electric is the creative source of science facts.

4. Show personality. What’s your brand’s personality? Are you always humorous and playful? Serious or personal? This should already be established before getting on a new social media site. Creating fun videos like Tyra Banks goofy posts or educational facts may be more suited for your brand. Kobe Bryant gets personal with his brand on Instagram video, showing special moments like recovering from an injury. Vine and Instagram should continue to present this personality, whether it’s a personal or corporate brand.

5. Ask for user input. Social media is for sharing, and users love to share their photos. Try asking for photos for a contest or an event. Make sure you assign one solid hashtag to help track metrics online and curate content afterwards. Try rewarding users throughout. If there’s a winner at the end, give users a sneak-peak at who’s in the lead. This can increase user participation. Nike has been applauded for their innovative Instagram campaign where users can snap a photo and apply color and design to their sneakers.

6. Never forget your style. You wouldn’t leave the house without grabbing the right bag or hat for the day, and you shouldn’t hit publish until your brand looks good too. You’ve already established a certain style: color tones, word choices, logos, and more. Make sure it comes through in your visual marketing. A solid, consistent style helps contribute to a recognizable identity online. Starbucks visuals all have a similar look to their images.

Both Instagram and Vine can help enhance your brand online. Vine can encourage more creativity with its short time span, but Instagram can have a wider range of uses for marketing.

Whatever outlet you use for social media, make sure you measure what your community loves the most. After all, at the end of the day it’s about sharing your story and growing your community online.

instagram and vine story

Detroit Files Bankruptcy: Time to Re-Build and Re-Brand the City!


On July 18, 2013 Detroit becomes the largest city in U.S. history to file bankruptcy with a $18 Billion debt. What does this mean for the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan? We can question whether the tactics of how we got here were ethical, but we are here now. For decades we have transferred the responsibly from one administration to the next and it couldn’t be pushed any further. So what is next?

Is Detroit the Blueprint for the Nation?

Five years ago during the financial crisis that started in 2008 (I am specifically referencing the bailouts between 2008-2009) in the United States when the unemployment rate reached 10% the highest it has been since 1982, people began to lose faith in big government and big corporations. Detroit was at the epicenter of this crisis with the automotive bailouts. People began looking to reduce their dependence on an industrial society that had outsourced everything except its spirit of innovation and creativity. But something more interesting took place. The media and the nation began to take notice at what was happening in Detroit. There has been plenty of conversation that Detroit could be the blueprint for ‘Re-Invention’ for other U.S. cities. This was prior to yesterday’s announcement about filing Chapter 9 bankruptcy which will only continue to fuel this conversation.

I believe that Detroit has set a precedent that some other cities will follow. This point in history reminds me when Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile in 1954 when he ran a 3:59.4 mile. It was a milestone that at the time was viewed as untouchable. After the reality that breaking the 4-minute was possible a flood of runners surpassed the milestone.

The New Detroit

Can Detroit return to being a viable city after filing chapter 9? Can Detroit become the Paris of the Midwest again?

I am optimist about the ‘New Detroit’…

We know that we have to create jobs.

We know we have to attract and retain young talent.

We know we have to create a safe environment that people what to live, work and play in.

As an entrepreneur in the City of Detroit (the Brand Camp University office is located in Corktown at Ponyride Detroit.) I play in the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and branding. Getting people, brands and organizations to embrace technology to drive their business in the new economy. I believe one of the aspects of creating this ‘New Detroit’ is addressing the following question….

Will the ‘New Detroit’ be an inclusive diverse Detroit that is attracting and retaining the brightest and best talent of ‘All’ ethnic backgrounds (including immigrants) and both genders?

Not only is it time to ‘Re-Build’ Detroit but it is time to ‘Re-Brand’ Detroit! Words from a Detroiter. It is time we tell the Detroit Story!


Introducing Brand Camp Blogger Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan bloggerHello brand camp fans and friends!

I’m looking forward to joining the Brand Camp blog. As a writer, I’ve always enjoyed the art of communication. I knew I wanted to write at the age of twelve, but it took me twelve more years to discover all of the possibilities with technology.

These possibilities are right here at the touch of your keyboard. Social media, blogging, and branding all require creative thinking and writing skills. These are the tools of our generation. This is how all writers and entrepreneurs can share their stories.

Brand Camp aims to expose others to these creative possibilities. When you attend a session you connect with some of biggest leaders in tech, marketing, and design. You’re able to see the possibilities for building your own brand, for taking up the tools technology gives us and creating something beautiful.

Right now, I’m currently the editor of Michipreneur.com, a blog for Michigan entrepreneurs.  In the six months we’ve been publishing we’ve reached almost 40,000 readers. I’m passionate about sharing the stories of entrepreneurs and building a community that can help others grow, in Michigan and beyond. I also share my fascination with technology and writing in my personal blog on Digital Storytelling. If you’d like to chat directly follow me on Twitter and tweet at me anytime.

We’re looking forward to publishing more stories from Brand Camp leaders, along with advice from innovators in the field.

What would you like to see featured in the blog? Comment below and we’ll make sure to include it in the future of Brand Camp’s blog.

amanda 1

How to Become a Thought Leader by Geoff Livingston

On May 20, 2013 Geoff Livingston, Marketing Strategist at Vocus, Inc. will be speaking at Brand Camp ’13 – NYC on the topic, ‘How to Become a Thought Leader

How to Become a Thought Leader Session Description

Link to Register:  http://brandcampunyc13.com

Your colleagues at the office recognize you as an expert, and your knowledge and credibility are beyond compare. They know you stay on the cutting edge and bring brilliant ideas, have impact on a daily basis, and acknowledge that you are a person who others gladly follow.
Now you need to let the rest of the PR world know about your capabilities. You need to get recognized as an influential person or thought leader who is known for innovative ideas, insightful expertise, and is a source of guidance in the industry. Getting known beyond your immediate circle helps advance both your personal brand and that of your company or organization. And you will become personally fulfilled by being recognized as an influential person who addresses and helps to solve the PR industry’s most pressing challenges.
But how do you make yourself stand out from the pack and get recognized as a leader so you can reach that level where clients, employers, and colleagues come to you? Established thought leaders know that being recognized takes a concentrated campaign to build their personal brand and position themselves as someone who is influential in the industry.
Speaker, author, and marketing pro Geoff Livingston will share how he successfully built his reputation with specific actions. He will help aspiring leaders by answering the following:
How are you leading by example?

  • What is the online and social media profile you need to be recognized? Is it your blog and website as well as your profiles and activity on communities online like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, or other platforms?
  • Should you write that book? Does writing a book still have impact and get you recognized as an authority or expert in the field?
  • What are the speaking engagements you should be seeking that will help you be recognized as an expert in the industry? And are speaking engagements worth the preparation and travel time?
  • What are the industry articles you should be writing that demonstrate your expertise and flair? Should you be focusing on writing your own blog or newsletter instead?
  • Where does traditional PR fit into the equation? Can earned media still help you advance your strategic objectives?
  • It’s time for you to join other senior professionals who want to elevate their personal profile and career to the next level. It will help you and your organization have greater impact and, perhaps more importantly, leave you more personally fulfilled.

For more information about Geoff Livingston

Twitter: @GeoffLiving
Website: http://geofflivingston.com/


The Brand Gap: @BrandCampU Focuses on the intersection of tech, design + branding

Brand Camp ’13 – NYC:  Branding, Entrepreneurship + Technology Conference is a high performance learning experience designed to bring together talented minds to spark the creation and acceleration of ideas that sit at the intersection of technology, design and branding. Through a series of conversations, panel discussions and keynotes lead by respected thought leaders, Brand Camp is part conference and part transformational training ground.

This Year’s Theme Build, Innovate + Grow is geared towards sparking conversations in Austin, Boston, Detroit, Las Vegas and New York City that will spread ideas that matter around the world.

Conference Website:  http://bit.ly/bcunyc13

Three Segments of the Conference

Build Sessions

These sessions were designed to provide you with the essential building blocks to structure ideas built for the new economy.

Innovate Sessions

These sessions were designed to challenge and disrupt conventional thinking and approaches to solving problems.

Grow Sessions

These sessions were designed to stimulate the way you nurture ideas, people and businesses.

The conference content will be segmented into three threads building, innovating and growing.   and lead by thought leaders like Geoff Livingston, Jessica Lawrence, and Lynne d. Johnson to name a few.  We will converge on on NYC during Internet ‘Week NY’ and We look forward to seeing you on Monday, May 20th at the Riverside Theatre.


Brand Camp University – Blogging Internship

Brand Camp University – Blogging Internship

Description Brand Camp University is seeking interns with strong knowledge and understanding of the digital media landscape. The internship positions require the individuals to be a great storytellers with strong critical thinking skills and creativity who are passionate about developing great content. This is an unpaid internship but would create opportunities to network and to build their portfolio.


  • Create blog post for the Brand Camp University website
  • Respond to comments on blog post that they create
  • Online outreach and promotion using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more
  • Conduct interviews for blog post they produce

Students applying for this internship ideally would be marketing/business/communications or Language majors but relevant experience trumps everything. The individuals would be required to have their own laptop and WI-FI connection and could work remotely. Location: Ideally the individuals work live in the metro Detroit area but this isn’t a requirement.

If your interested email Hajj Flemings at speak[at]hajjflemings[dot]com


The Build, Innovate + Grow NYC @BrandCampU Conf is Coming 05/20

The 2013 Build, Innovate and Grow Conference Series is launching in NYC on May 20th at the Riverside Theatre hosted by Brand Camp University. Branding, entrepreneurial thinking and technology are driving the ideas, companies and organizations that we are all building and growing. The Brand Camp experience is a collection of conversations, panels and keynotes lead by thought leaders. It has become a collision of corporations, entrepreneurs, creatives and technology that enables people to collaborate. The ‘Build, Innovate + Grow’ Conference Series was designed to spark conversations in Austin, Boston, Detroit, Las Vegas and New York City that will spread ideas that matter around the world.

Conference Content Focuses Around Three Topic Areas

Build Sessions These sessions will discuss how to build ideas that are scalable in a digital economy through collaboration, digital storytelling and technology. Innovate Sessions These sessions will focus on transforming ideas, companies and startups in the innovation economy.

Grow Sessions These sessions are designed to inspire individuals to grow ideas, people and organizations.

Confirmed Speakers

Kathleen D. Warner – COO of Startup America Partnership
Hajj Flemings – Founder of Brand Camp University Mario Armstrong – CNN Contributor/Digital Lifestyle
Jessica H. Lawrence – Managing Director of NY Tech Meetup (NYTM)
Lynne d. Johnson – Digital + Social Media Strategist at Waggeneredstrom
Andrea Harrison – Director of Digital Engagement at Pepsi
Anneke Jong – VP of Business Development at Bread
Jesse Middleton – Co-Founder of We Works Lab
Eric Hamilton – Co-Founder of Around the Way App

Registration: http://bcu13nyc.eventbrite.com

Past Attendees

Startup America Partnership, Ford Motor Company, GM, IBM, Google, Dell, ABC News, O’Reilly Media, TechStars, Ogilvy, Coca Cola, Absopure, Chrysler, U.S. Paralympics, McDonalds, Boston University School of Journalism, Boston College College of Law, Syracuse University iSchool, Northeastern University, Detroit Venture Partners, Union Square Ventures, Foley Hoag LLP, and Boston Startup School. The Brand Camp University – Build Innovate + Grow Conference is an official ‘Internet Week NY’ Event. We look forward to seeing you at Brand Camp!


Announcing EarlyBird Special $75: @BrandCampU ’13 – NYC: Branding, Entrepreneurship + Tech Conf 05/20!

We are happy to announce ‘Early Bird’ pricing for the Brand Camp: Branding, Entrepreneurship + Technology Conference in New York on Monday, May 20th.

Brand Camp University ’13 – NYC
Branding, Entrepreneurship + Technology Conference
The Riverside Theatre – NYC
May 20, 2013

Register: http://bcu13nyc.eventbrite.com
Cost: $75 (Early Bird Ends 04/20/13)
$150 (Full Price)

Conference Theme: Build, Innovate & Grow NYC.

The conference focuses on creating a transformational learning experience around 5-core areas called BETAs:

BETAs [Branding + Entrepreneurship + Technology + Aspiration + Startups]
Brand Camp is a gathering of thought leaders, technologist, geeks, and creative’s around a discussion on branding, entrepreneurial thinking, social media and the use of technology. The purpose of Brand Camp is to change how people build, launch, and grow ideas and use technology as personal brands, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs (employees), small businesses and corporations.

Confirmed Speakers
Hajj Flemings – Founder of Brand Camp University
Kathleen D. Warner – COO of Startup America Partnership
Jesse Middleton – Co-Founder of WeWork Labs
Mario Armstrong – CNN Contributor/Digital Lifestyle Expert
Andrea Harrison – Director of Digital Engagement at Pepsi
Jessica H. Lawrence – Managing Director – NYC Tech Meetup
Anneke Jong – VP of Business Development at Bread
Eric Hamilton – Co-Founder Around the Way App
Lynne d. Johnson – Digital + Social Media Strategy at Waggeneredstrom
Trevor Owens – Co-Founder of the Lean Startup Machine


Keynote sessions, panels, startup pitches and more.

Follow Online
Twitter: @BrandCampU
Facebook: http://facebook.com/brandcamp
Hashtag: #IWNYbcu13

We look forward to seeing you in New York.

Fans Can Never be Peers: How to Connect with People of Influence!

Black In America 4: Soledad O'Brien + Hajj Flemings

I thought it would be interesting to write an article about interacting with people of influence and what makes them tick.  I am sharing from my own experiences, thoughts and missteps and here is what I have learned so far.  The Main Lesson: Less is better!!!!

At some point we will all have that moment when we are meeting a person of influence, a celebrity or an individual who is extremely significant.  Will you be prepared?  More importantly what will you in that brief moment you have because you probably won’t get a second chance.

You have to remember people are reaching out to them on the time and everybody wants something from them.  Most Joe Schmo walk up to them and ask them the same crazy, boring stuff so how do you Stand out?  I try to center my opening statement around something they can make an emotional connection to.   For example when I met MC Hammer our conversation centered around his musical connection to Detroit.  This allowed him to invest in our conversation, connect me with Detroit and my specific call to action.

Here are a Few Helpful Tips

Face-to-Face Tips

  • Save Your Boring Story for your Mother: They don’t care about your life story so get to the point.  You Have 30-Seconds:  Think about what you are going to say that will make an emotional connection.
  • Know Your Environment: Understand the protocol of the events or location.
  • Quick Pictures:  If you take a pictures make it ‘QUICK’.  When you post it online link their social media handle so that you can create a digital footprint.
  • Embrace the Gatekeepers:  Everyone wants contact with the celebrity or influencer.  They don’t have time, they don’t manage their own schedules and you probably won’t have a lot of direct contact with them.  Work to build a relationship with their assistants better known as the gatekeepers.  I also ask the celebrity for the contact person’s name, phone number and email address if I believe there is a ‘REAL’ opportunity.
  • Evaluate if it is a Real Opportunity:  Everytime I meet a person of influence it doesn’t mean it is a good fit for a business opportunity.   Evaluate whether you feel there is a real opportunity to extend the interaction and take it to the next level.
  • Don’t Jock: Once you get what you came for ‘LEAVE’ them alone! Don’t try to close deals when you are meeting them for the first time this is a turn off.

Email Tips

  • Keep It Short: If you are emailing keep it short or it won’t get answered (even if it short it still might not get answered).  Please save the 5-paragraph emails with 3-attachments and 6-links to the four different businesses that you run.  Can you say information overload?
  • No Assignments:  Don’t give them an assignment because they don’t have time and they won’t do it.
  • Have a Clear Call to Action:  Make it easy for them to provide a ‘Yes’ in a way that makes them look good and it sounds like it was their idea.

Cameron Diaz Case Study:  I had the opportunity to meet Cameron Diaz at TED ‘12 in Long Beach, CA.  I wasn’t a huge fan but I follow her work and I said hey nobody I know is probably ever going to meet her so I went up to her and ask to take a picture with her.  Her response was, I just came to TED to be normal and not take pictures.  She said it in a very nice way, but inside I felt like a total idiot because she was right!  I didn’t take time to understand the environment at TED.  In building business relationships I believe you need at least three touch points to build trust.  It isn’t always about closing the deal when you are meeting people for the first time.  This is the most important point I learned from that experience…‘FANS’ can never be  ‘PEERS.’

Calling all Startups: Brand Camp Boston: Startup Pitch Competition Sponsored by Dell – 11/16 #bcu12

Brand Camp ’12 Boston: Startup Pitch Competition  Sponsored by Dell

Calling all Boston startups.  Brand Camp is hosting its first Brand Camp Boston startup pitch competition. Six startups will pitch for 5-minutes for 1-prize.

Date:              Friday, November 16th 1:10pm – 2:10pm

Location:             Foley Hoag, LLP.



  • Kathleen D. Warner (COO of Startup America Partnership)
  • Peter Shankman (VP/Small Business Evangelist for Vocus, Inc./Angel Investor)
  • Bob Lentz (Chairman of Northeastern University IDEAS Ventures Accelerator)
  • LaToya Collins-Jones (Small Business Sales Advisor at Dell)

Pitch Format:

  • 5-minute pitch
  • 1-minute feedback per judge per pitch
  • [Note: 6-Startup Companies (Max) will be competing]

Pitch Competition Judging Criteria:

1. What is the problem?
2. Who is your target audience?
3. What is your solution?  Why is it better than other solutions?
4. Who are your competitors?
5. How will you monetize it?
6. Why are you the entrepreneur/team to launch this startup?

Prize:  Dell XPS 12 Tablet/PC (Pic:pic.twitter.com/XBHKM4QU)


If your interested contact Hajj Flemings via email: speak@hajjflemings.com







Brand Camp Boston Branding Conference Workshops Announced #bcu12


Brand Camp ’12 Boston:  Branding, Entrepreneurship and Technology Conference 

Theme:  Build, Innovate + Grow Boston

Coming to Boston:  Friday, November 16, 2012

Register at:  http://bcu12bos.eventbrite.com

The 2012 Brand Camp University- Branding, Entrepreneurship and Technology Conference will be hosted at Foley Hoag, LLP Law Office in Boston, MA in the Innovation District.

Brand Camp is a gathering of thought leaders, technologist, geeks, and creative’s around a discussion on branding, entrepreneurial thinking, social media and the use of technology. The purpose of Brand Camp is to change how people build, launch, and grow ideas and use technology as personal brands, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs (employees), startups and corporations.


8:00am-9:00am Coffee, Registration + Networking 

9:00am-9:15am Kick-off

9:15am-9:45am The Startup You Economy:  How to Develop a Personal Brand that Matters in a Digital WorldHajj Flemings (Founder of Brand Camp)

9:45am-10:15am What is GOOD self-promotion, and when did it become not “icky?”: Peter Shankman (VP/Small Business Evangelist at Vocus)

10:30am-11:00am Lions, Tigers, and Bears: The Evolution of a 35-Year Old Startup: Laurel Ruma (Director of Talent at O’Reilly Media)

11:05am-11:35am Moving Boulders: Obstacles and Opportunities for Women and Minority Entrepreneurs: Kathleen D. Warner (COO of Startup America Partnership)

12:35pm-1:05pm IP Mistakes from the Start-Up’s Perspective, and How to Avoid Them (Prithvi Tanwar and Matthew Eckert (Associates at Foley Hoag, LLP.)

1:10pm-2:10pm Startup Pitches (Boston Startups – Pitch Competition) – Sponsored by Dell

Judges: Kathleen Warner (Startup America), Peter Shankman (H.A.R.O.), LaToya Collins-Jones (Dell), and Bob Lentz (Northeastern University)

2:15pm-2:45pm Content Growth Startegy: Tell Your Story & Be Amazing: C.C. Chapman (Author of Content Rules)

3:00pm-3:40pm How to Become a Player in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Boston
Speakers:  Tracy DeForge (Burst)- Moderator,  LaToya Collins-Jones (Dell), Bob Lentz (Northeastern University), Shaun Johnson (Boston Startup School), and Josline Mane (BostonTweetup)

3:45pm-4:15pm Using Marketing to Fail FasterMike Schnieder (SVP, Director of Digital Incubator for Allen & Gerritsen

4:20pm-5:00pm The Minefield – Navigating Value Creation an an Entrepreneur
Bryant McBride (CEO of Burst)

Conference Speakers

Hajj FlemingsFounder of Brand Camp University

Peter Shankman – VP/Small Business Evangelist at Vocus, Inc.

C.C. ChapmanAuthor of Content Rules

Kathleen WarnerCOO of Startup America Partnership

Prithvi TanwasAssociate at Foley Hoag, LLP.

Matthew EckertAssociate at Foley Hoag, LLP.

Mike SchneiderSVP, Director of Digital Incubator for Allen & Gerritsen

Laurel RumaDirector of Talent  O’Reilly Media

Bryant McBride  - CEO/Founder Burst

Tracy DeforgeCo-Founder at Burst

Bob LentzChairman of Northeastern University IDEA Venture Accelerator

Shaun JohnsonCo-Founder of Boston Startup School

LaToya Collins-JonesDeveloper at Dell

Joselin ManeCo-Founder of BostonTweetup

Follow Us on Twitter:  @BrandCampu

Facebook Fan Page: Brand Camp University

Hashtag: #bcu12

Social Ventures and Entrepreneurship: Balancing Profit and Purpose


L to R: Amy Kaheri (Detroit Soup), Veronika Scott (The Empowerment Plan), Hajj Flemings (Brand Camp U), Mark E. Gilman (Decus).


The New Content Strategy: Tell Your Story & Be Amazing


CC Chapman, telling awesome stories and becoming a new fan of Detroit culture.


Live Streaming

Just a reminder, we are live streaming at LiveStream.

Hajj Flemings Interviewed


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