An Unlikely Work-From-Home Savior: Vinyl Records

When nationwide lockdowns began in March of 2020 and we were told to work from home ‘indefinitely,’ I naively thought the global pandemic would blow over in a couple of weeks. I barely cleared out my desk, only taking the main items I needed to work remotely (laptop, power cord, headphones… actually, that was about it).

As you may have guessed, I wasn’t fully prepared for working from home full time. Though I already had an office with a beautiful mid-century teak desk, the accompanying chair is made of wood and wicker. That got uncomfortable real fast. So, one of the first upgrades I made was a new, more comfortable office chair.

Regardless of how comfy my office chair is, it doesn’t compare to my standing desk I had at the office. I’d work for hours at a time from a standing position – sometimes only sitting when at a meeting. So, I resorted to re-downloading the Stand Up! app that I used before I had a standing desk at work. Every 30 minutes, the app pings my phone and tells me to stand up. It’s a great app and I highly recommend it, but I admit it’s annoying to get those notifications throughout the day.

One thing I enjoy about working from home is listening to music without headphones. My Bose computer speakers produce decent sound for streaming Spotify and for virtual meetings. But eventually, I moved my turntable and Klipsch speakers into the office. Once I upgraded the speakers to include a 240-watt subwoofer, my work-from-home situation was forever changed!

Ask any audiophile why they prefer vinyl records over their streaming service of choice and they’ll go on and on about how vinyl records sound better. But it’s true! A good turntable set up will produce a near-perfect listening experience; allowing you to hear every note and every instrument on the album, exactly as the artist meant for it to be heard. Vinyl records produce a warmer, richer sound that you simply can’t get with digital audio files – streamed or not.

A good turntable set up will produce a near-perfect listening experience; allowing you to hear every note and every instrument on the album, exactly as the artist meant for it to be heard.

Besides the overall superior listening experience one can get from vinyl records over any other format, I also just love the active nature of selecting an album and getting it cued up on the turntable. I have a ritual I go through after choosing which album to spin. I pull out the album, remove the dust cover, gently place it on the slip mat, use the little velvet brush to remove any dust on the record, and then ease the stylus onto the disc. I even take a moment to admire the album cover before displaying it on a little shelf above my turntable.

All these actions make me appreciate the music more and I feel better connected to the listening experience than when I’m just mindlessly playing something on Spotify.

Now, back to the point of this post… one thing I noticed soon after I started working from home full time was how much less I moved throughout the day. No traversing the building for a meeting or taking a quick lap during a bathroom break. But now that I listen to my records every day, I’ve been easing off my Stand Up! app. I still use it, but I’ll often shut it off for the day if I plan to keep the vinyl spinning. Why? Because every 20 minutes, I need to get up, walk across the room and either flip the record over or throw something else on.

If you want to instantly improve your work-from-home situation, get a turntable. You’ll be listening to higher-quality music and you’ll be more active throughout the day as you get up to flip over the record. Of course, that last part is assuming you keep your turntable on the other side of the room and not within arm’s reach of your desk. Ask anyone new to working from home what they miss most from being away from the office and they’ll likely tell you they miss seeing their coworkers and all the little things that happen throughout the day. And I couldn’t agree more. I look forward to face-to-face meetings and chatting about life outside the office, but for now, I’ll keep enjoying my incredibly short commute, spending more time with my dog, and spinning vinyl records all day long.


Social Media Rundown: Facebook Relaunches Search Ads; Government User Data Requests; Instagram ‘Creator Accounts’; Google+ to Officially Die

A relatively quite week in the world of social media. But two news items stick out. The first is the potential launch of Instagram ‘creator accounts’ for supporting social media influencers on the platform. The news isn’t Earth-shattering, but it goes to show just how important influencer marketing has become — it’s now fully part of Instagram’s business model.

The second big story is the end of Google+ after the search giant disclosed its second major bug in just three months. Again, not huge news as most anyone who’s used Google+ can attest that the social networking site was not only a social media ghost town, but also was riddled with spam, NSFW content, and was just generally difficult to use and understand. The bigger story is the data leak; if you still have a Google+ account, it’d be wise to shut it down immediately.

Be sure to check out the lean section for some simple live video tips and an interesting experiment with Twitter threads.

Social Media News:

  • Facebook Relaunches Search Ads to Offset Slowing Revenue (TechCrunch). Facebook is testing ads in its search results and Marketplace, directly competing with Google’s AdWords. The ads will be “repurposed News Feed ads featuring a headline, image, copy text and a link in the static image or carousel format that can point users to external websites.”
  • Twitter Says Governments Are Ramping up Their Demands for User Data (TechCrunch). According to Twitter, the company received 6,904 government requests for information on 16,882 accounts. Twitter turned over at least some data in 56 percent of cases. Most demands came from Russia and Turkey.
  • Instagram Will Offer Special Features to Influencers with New ‘Creator Accounts’ (Mashable). The app is testing “creator accounts,” which would add new analytics and messaging features geared toward influencers and other power users of the photo-sharing app.
  • Google to Close Google+ Social Network After Disclosing Second Bug in 3 Months (The Washington Times). After years of failure, Google is finally pulling the plug on its social networking site. A recent bug leaked the private information of 52.5 million Google+ users to developers, including their names, birth dates and email addresses, among other data. Time to make sure your Google+ account is closed; if you ever had one in the first place.


  • 13 Live Video Marketing Strategies, Hacks and Tips (The Social Shake-Up). If you’ve ever considered doing a Facebook Live or other live stream event, this post is for you. From strategy and how to keep your broadcasts engaging to logistics and what gear you need, this post has it all.
  • Can Twitter Threads Increase Reach, Engagement, and Referral Traffic? An Experiment (Buffer). This is an interesting experiment that showed Twitter threads (a series of connected Tweets sent from one account) do in fact increase reach and engagement, but do not improve referral traffic. My takeaway is that it is worth trying if you just want to create awareness or drum up enthusiasm for a particular cause, event, or hashtag. For example, a Twitter thread could be used to remind your followers about the start of an online event by sharing the name and time of the event followed by what participants can expect and maybe a quote or two from the first couple speakers.

Chart of the Week:

Instagram’s Rise to 1 Billion Monthly Active Users (QuickSprout). I think this chart speaks for itself. Click the image for “10 Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2019.”

Instagram reached 1 billion monthly active users in June of 2018.
Instagram has grown steadily since 2010 and shows no sign of slowing down.

Did I miss some major social media news this week? Be sure to let me know in the comments. 

Three Fitness Apps to Keep You in Shape

That's me, hitting it hard at a local track.
I’m mostly a marathon runner these days, but cross training is definitely important no matter your discipline. Photo by Kathryn Salvatore.

As you may or may not know, I’m a bit of a health and fitness nut. For the past few years, I’ve mainly been into running, cycling, and bouldering. But regardless of what activity I might be into, I try to maintain a certain level of overall fitness with a focus on core strength and flexibility. For that, I generally turn to a host of exercises from planks and crunches to yoga and pilates. Most of these exercises are stored in my head and used almost daily while others (namely yoga and pilates) are part of routines I do from Wellbeats, an on-demand fitness provider that my apartment complex subscribes to.  

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another workout I do at least weekly (usually on my rest or easy running days). I find HIIT to be incredibly difficult to get through without the help of a coach to push me along and shout out the exercises. 

I’ve used many of different exercise apps over the years and have settled on three free apps I think are great for coaching you through the workouts. I’m sure there are 1,000s of fitness apps available, but these are the best for getting in a quick workout. These are different than fitness-tracking apps such as MapMyRun, Strava, and Runkeeper (Strava is my personal fave among this crowd, by the way). 

A few years ago, a study came up that claimed it had found the perfect 7-minute body workout that was enough to get your blood pumping and make you break out into a light sweat. The study was published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal and was popularized largely from an article in the New York Times. Dozens (100s?) of 7-minute workout apps soon surfaced on the App Store and on Google Play. To be honest, they’re all sort of the same, but I found these first two listed below ideal for their intuitive design, workout tracking, and no-frills approach to fitness. 

  1. J&J Official 7-Minute Workout. I hate to promote a branded app, but this really is fantastic. What makes it so great, is it has the 7-minute workout, but you also have the option to add a two-minute warm up and cool down. The audio cues are sufficient to learn the exercises without having to watch the video example and it doesn’t interrupt your music. What’s more, this app has a “smart workout” feature that allows you to select your fitness level and follow along to a HIIT circuit. I have it set to the max fitness level (level 5) for a mix of moderate and hard exercises. The smart workout is usually about 26 minutes in length before adding the short warm up and cool down. Finally, this app includes a library of all the exercises that you can easily browse to either learn the movements or create your own workout. 
  1. Quick Fit. Again, this features the 7-minute workout with video and verbal instruction. The iPhone-only app also features an intense abdominal workout (Quick Abs), 15-minute yoga routine (Quick Yoga), and a fat-burning workout (Quick 4).  
  2. Mammoth Hunters. Mammoth Hunters is more of a lifestyle app based on circuit training and the paleo diet. I’m mostly vegetarian so I’m not quite sold on the idea, but I do admit the workouts are tough and the exercises are unique (have you ever done reptile pushups?). Like the J&J app, this also has an extensive library of exercises to peruse so you can create your own workouts. 

Bonus: Not in the same category as the above-mentioned apps, but if you work a desk job like me, then you may want to download the Stand Up! app, which sends you alerts throughout the day to tell you to, you guessed it, stand up. I have reminders set for every 20 minutes. Although I usually just stand up and sit back down, I’ve found that’s just enough to give my eyes a break and keep my joints, back, and feet from getting stiff. It’s only available on iTunes, but I’m sure Google Play has plenty of similar apps. 

Do you use any free fitness apps I should check out? Please let me know.

Social Media Rundown: Zuck Apologies, LinkedIn Adds GIFs to Messages

Things got real for Mr. Zuckerberg this week when he testified before Congress during two grueling days. Barely making headlines in Facebook news was the CNN report that the largest Black Lives Matter page on the social networking site was a total fraud.

In non-Facebook news, Instagram and LinkedIn have either tested or added new features to their platforms. Check out the best social media news of the week, plus a few learnings worthy of your time below:

Social Media News:

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized — again (The Washington Post). Quote of the week: “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry.” -Mark Zuckerberg.
  • The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is fake (CNN). The Facebook page had almost 700,000 likes and was tied to online fundraisers that brought in at least $100,000; at least some of that money was transferred to Australian bank accounts.
  • Instagram tests scannable Nametags, taking another page from Snapchat’s playbook (Marketing Land). Similar to Snapchat’s Snapcodes, Nametags will allow users to create a scannable image that makes it easier to gain followers. Could be handy for promoting an Instagram account.
  • LinkedIn Adds New GIF Access Within its On-Platform Messaging (Social Media Today). I don’t know about you, but I’ll definitely be using GIFs in LinkedIn messages for the next person I congratulate on a new promotion. (Actually, I’ve already been using GIFs in LinkedIn messages).



  • How does social media impact SEO? (Redwhale via Medium). Short answer: Website rankings and social media indexing.
  • How to Use Instagram for Social Media Marketing [Infographic] (Social Media Today). Where was this handy infographic when I was presenting Instagram strategy at work a few weeks back?
  • 21 Simple Ways to Get More Instagram Followers (Hootsuite). Speaking of Instagram marketing, this post is loaded with ideas to make sure your Instagram feed is engaging. Many of the ideas are applicable to other social media sites.

Did I miss an important piece of news or a cool ‘how to’ article? Please let me know!

#Instafamous: 3 ways to grow your following and engagement on Instagram

If you’re on Instagram, you have likely come across someone who has a huge following and gets an incredible amount of engagement with every photo or video they post. I have maintained an Instagram account for about five years now and, while I’ve always sought high engagement, I’ve only just now started to really focus on gaining a larger following and on increasing engagement on every photo or video I post.

The number of blog posts about increasing engagement and growing a larger following are abundant to say the least. A recent example from Margot da Cunha gives “5 Free Tips to Increase Your Instagram Followers,” which speaks from a marketing point-of-view.

Most of her tips are specifically geared toward companies looking to use Instagram as a social marketing tool. In one such example, the author suggests sending out “a company-wide reminder to add a link to your company Instagram in employee email signatures.”

Image via

In an article by Ross Simmonds on, the suggestions speak from a more general perspective with tips on building community through engaging content, using relevant hashtags and establishing relationship with influencers.

Both articles include a list of actionable steps you can make right now to start building up your Instagram community and tricks to begin increasing engagement on each post you send out. The articles are definitely worth the read, but I would like to argue that building up a following and increasing engagement starts with the content itself.

Here are three steps you can take to build a larger following and increase engagement:

  1. Post high-quality content. This is easier said than done, but it really is important to post only your best images and videos. Lately, I have been focusing on posting high-quality images, which means I shoot in RAW format using a DSLR camera so I can edit the photos in post using Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop before I ever upload it to Instagram—even then, not all images make the cut.
  2. Post consistently. I typically try to post once or twice per day, but only if I have a high-quality image to share with my followers. If you’re a marketer using Instagram, it would be wise to put together a content calendar specifically for Instagram to ensure that you always have high-quality images and videos to share. From a personal standpoint, this means I’ll often take several shots of the same subject so I’m sure to have plenty of content for the coming days, weeks and months.
  3. Tell a story. I couldn’t agree more with the first tip from Ross Simmonds, which is to use emotion in your content. Some of my more well-received Instagram posts tell a story both in the image itself and in the caption. For example, I recently participated in a compensated social media campaign for Mazda. I was hesitant to post an advertisement in my feed, but by uploading a high-quality image that matched my style and by including a short narrative in the caption, the photo was well-received.

Again, there are myriad articles about increasing your Instagram follower count and boosting engagement, but I feel high-quality content is your best arsenal. Only share your best images, be consistent and tell a story. Below are several additional resources for tips on increasing engagement and growing your Instagram following:

Eric Wheeler is a social media specialist based in Massachusetts. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and his Master of Science degree in Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University. He is currently taking Northwestern University’s Social Marketing Specialization MOOC offered by Coursera. Follow Eric on Twitter and Instagram.

Union Depot Station

Union Depot - St. Paul, MNUnion Depot - St. Paul, MNUnion Depot - St. Paul, MNUnion Depot - St. Paul, MNUnion Depot - St. Paul, MN

Union Depot Station, a set on Flickr.

Take a look at the main entrance to Union Depot in St. Paul, Minn. These photos were taken with a newly issued Nikon D610 and 35mm lens while on assignment for Metro Transit just before the press conference announcing the METRO Green Line opening date.

Lots of excitement gearing up for June 14, 2014 when the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis will, once again, be connected via light rail. Learn more about the METRO Green Line and see the countdown at It’s a great time to work at Metro Transit!

Site Stats for Wheeler Blogs: 2012 in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 36,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

#Infographic: What Your Life Might Look Like Without the Internet

Another infographic filled with amazing facts about the Internet is making the rounds. I was contacted by one of the creators from a couple days ago and I have started to see it posted on other sites since then (PR Daily for one).

This is an interesting infographic as it attempts to paint a picture of what life would be like without the Internet oppose to simply pointing out some key stats. Alas, there are plenty of stats that jump out at me such as the Internet directly and indirectly employing over three million people in the U.S. alone and the Internet reducing the degrees of separation down to only 3.74 people. The infographic ends with the fact that most modern day revolutions are not only aided by the Internet, but are actually started with simple Twitter hashtags such as #occupy.

Take a look below. What jumps out at you?

World without Internet

And remember, sharing makes you smarter!

My Thoughts on Steve Jobs and a Couple of his Best Quotes

Instagram users react to the passing of Steve Jobs.
Instagram users react to the passing of Steve Jobs.

After having a few days to digest, I feel prepared to write a short piece on the death of Steve Jobs. I learned of his passing via a push notification from the AP news app on my iPhone. At first, I thought it was a tasteless joke. There had been a number of Twitter hacks before, including CBS mistakenly reporting the death of Steve Jobs on Sept. 9, 2011. There was actually not a story in my AP app about the passing of Steve Jobs, so I went to Twitter to see what was going on. Sure enough, several other news sites and trusted followers were tweeting the sad news.

It always seems strange to be upset about the death of someone I never knew, but Steve Jobs was truly a visionary who changed the world for the better. Always modest of his life accomplishments, Steve Jobs made products that were easy to use and visually appealing. He had a way of looking into the future to deliver technologies that would change how people communicate and function in the world. But as I said, he maintained his modesty and focused on the important things in life:

“The problem is I’m older now, I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t.

“I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much — if at all.” (Steve Jobs, Wired, 1996)

Silvia using her iPod touch.
Silvia using her mom's iPod Touch. The success of Steve Jobs is in the simplicity of Apple's products.

Whether or not Steve Jobs single-handily changed the world is up for debate. However, I don’t think too many people will argue Apple products are easy to use. Some may think of me as a bit of a tech geek, but if my aunt asks me to help her install a new app on her Android-based phone, I get lost in the process. Anything I do on my iPhone is easy. Apple’s products are so simple, my girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter can easily use her iPod Touch.

Probably the most profound technological developments of Apple came from the company’s ability to think of products in a new light and to keep things simple. While keeping something simple can often times be much more complicated, the simple designs of Apple products are clearly what sets them apart. Before I over-complicate this blog post, I will simply leave you with a quote from Steve Jobs:

“For something this complicated, it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” (Steve Jobs, BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998)

Apple products have had a major impact on my life and many others. May Steve Jobs rest in peace.

Do Something Profound: Attend Grad School

In full academic regalia...
In full Master of Science academic regalia...

This past weekend saw the close of yet another chapter in my life: I have completed graduate school. Yes, I am now the proud recipient of a Master of Science degree with emphasis in PR & Advertising from St. Cloud State University. It was not long ago when I walked across stage at Northwestern Oklahoma State University after completing a bachelor’s degree in the same field.

As an undergrad, I had little desire to pursue post-graduate education and only got the notion shortly before graduating in December 2007. However, I remember hearing inspiring words a few months prior from the (then) president of the Oklahoma Student Government Association that I just never shook out of my mind. While attending an OSGA conference, several of us were talking about our plans after graduation when John Stephen Bobb-Semple looked at me and said “Eric, why don’t you do something profound and attend graduate school?” I’m not sure how profound it is to attend graduate school, but his words did play a huge role in my decision to pursue a higher degree.

The story of how I got to Minnesota is a little longer and I have had many ask me how I got here and why I chose St. Cloud State University. Allow me to expand. During my final semester at NWOSU, I had a wonderful girlfriend and a job at a radio station that I thought would keep me in Northwest Oklahoma for a long time, and I was happy about that. However, once that relationship ended and I decided the radio station I was working at was not the best place for me, things changed.

St. Cloud State University logo
The great mass communications program and an assistantship made St. Cloud State hard to turn down.

As I was turning in my senior portfolio, I noticed a poster on the wall for a SCSU’s Master of Science in Mass Communications program. Triggering John’s words of wisdom, I became curious and tore off the reply card and mailed in my info. At this point I was already set to begin working for Acacia Fraternity headquarters in Indianapolis and thought it would be a great opportuinity to study for the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) and hopefully check out a few programs while traveling around North America as a leadership consultant. As it would turn out, I had the opportunity to visit St. Cloud State in the fall of 2008 and found the campus to be rather quaint and the mass communications department quite impressive. I applied.

I ended up applying to several other schools, but it all came down money. Though it would have been great to attend grad school in Hawaii, spending $50,000 a year to make it happen wasn’t really feasible. Indeed, it came down to SCSU, and a couple affordable schools in Kentucky and Oklahoma. Choosing SCSU, however, was contingent upon obtaining a graduate assistantship. After applying for several positions, I had no such luck. In May of 2009, I would embark on my lifetime dream of traveling through Europe by myself with no idea what the future had in store when I returned. I would most likely wind up at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla. as it was the most affordable, quality program I could find close to home.

KVSC 88.1FM St Cloud, MN
I learned a lot through my assistantship at KVSC.

I was stranded in Munich after losing my passport and rail pass when I finally secured a position at KVSC-FM, the campus radio station at SCSU. Apparently Loren Boone, director of university communications liked me enough during my interview for a position in his department that he thought of me when Station Manager Jo McMullen was still looking for someone at KVSC. In the end, it all worked out and my position as Director of PR & Social Media at KVSC has proved to be the most valuable experience I could possibly ask for.  I have learned so much at KVSC and in the classroom, I’m not even sure where to begin. That’s really what I wanted this blog to be about, but I couldn’t seem to sort through all the knowledge learned. I hope this story gives you inspiration as you look to further your education or your career. For me, it all comes down to one mantra: Do something profound.