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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).

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Learn:

  • 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!

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The Social Media Rundown: Facebook Adds Info Button to Articles; Reddit Gets a Redesign

It’s been another busy week for Facebook as the Cambridge Analytica saga carries on and it continues to fight ‘fake news.’ Meanwhile, Twitter has purged more terrorist-related accounts, and Hell has frozen over, er, Reddit gets a redesign (coming soon).

All this and more in this week’s Social Media Rundown. Plus, I bring you not one, but two worthwhile learnings. Check it all out below:

Social Media News:

  • Facebook: ‘Malicious actors’ used its tools to discover identities and collect data on a massive global scale (source). Facebook admits that Cambridge Analytica obtained user data from 87 million users and that most of its 2 billion users likely have had their personal information scraped and shared by third-party developers without their explicit permission. Meanwhile, Facebook has shared an update on its plans to restrict data access to its platform.
  • Facebook will give all US users helpful context about articles shared in News Feed (The Verge). In a bid to make it easier to determine if something is legitimate news, Facebook has added a little ‘about this article’ icon to shared links. Once clicked, users are presented with information about the publisher (pulled in from Wikipedia), a map of where the article is being shared, and which of your friends shared the article.
Example of Facebook's new 'About This Article' function.

Facebook recently added an ‘About This Article’ button to shared news stories so users can better tell the legitimacy of a source.

  • Twitter says it removed 274,000 terrorist-related accounts in the second half of 2017 (Fast Company). The company suspended over 1.2 million accounts for terrorist-related content in the last five years – including 274,460 that were removed in the last six months 2017.
  • The Inside Story of Reddit’s Redesign (Wired). This one’s for all the web designers out there. It’s the first visual refresh of Reddit in over a decade. A welcome update if you ask me.

Learn:

  • How to Ignite Your LinkedIn Marketing Strategy [Infographic] (Marketing Profs). This handy infographic has tips on writing attention-getting headlines, the ideal post length (keep it short), and a few ideas on running LinkedIn ads and sending InMails.
  • How to Optimize Facebook Ad Bidding: Clicks or Impressions? (Social Media Examiner). Here’s a nice article on how choosing bids for ads affects your Facebook ad campaigns. Choosing between link clicks or impressions is not always easy; this article has a list of the pros and cons of each.
  • 5 Reasons Why Nobody is Engaging With Your Social Posts (and How to Fix it) (Kissmetrics). If your social media strategy isn’t getting the kind of engagement you want, the author (Neil Patel) suggests you may be committing one of these five self-sabotaging social media sins:
    • Denying what people want
    • Forgetting to make room for new (older) users
    • Skipping movie day
    • Letting little errors cripple credibility
    • Talking without listening

The Social Media Rundown: Search Overtakes Social, Facebook Blocks Third-Party Data Ad Targeting

With a Facebook News Feed algorithm change and few other factors listed below, search is now driving more traffic than social. And in an apparent effort to make some positive changes at the company, Facebook announced it will no longer allow ad targeting based on relationship status. Plus, be sure to check out this week’s learning section for tips on beating Twitter’s algorithm and how you can better protect yourself online.

Social Media News:

  • The SEO versus Social Battle Has a New Winner (Convince & Convert). Takeaways from Jay Baer on why search is sending more traffic: Less use of social overall, social algorithms showing fewer posts from companies, fewer links in social posts, more social indexed in search engines. If you have an extra minute, definitely watch Jay’s LinkedIn video explaining this trend.
Search vs. Social: Share of Visits Chart

Shareaholic Data Report: Pinterest, Google, & Instagram big winners as Facebook share of visits falls 8% in 2017

  • Facebook Will No Longer Allow Third-Party Data for Targeting Ads (The Verge). The company is disabling a form of ad targeting called Partner Categories, which allowed prominent third-party data aggregators like Experian and Acxiom to provide clients with offline data like purchasing activity to inform ad targeting.
  • Facebook Quietly Removes Ad Filter to Target Users Based on Their Relationship Preferences (Marketing Land). The decision to remove the ‘interested in’ filter from its ad platform was based on feedback from outside experts. The decision could prevent malicious behavior targeting the LGBTQ community.

Learn:

  • Cracking The Twitter Algorithm: 11 Brilliant Ways to Outsmart the Timeline (Sprout Social). This thoughtful post from Sprout Social outlines several ways to increase your organic reach on Twitter, such as tweet consistently, run twitter ads, use twitter video, re-share your top tweets, engage when people mention you, make timely tweets, use emotional trigger words, and several more tips worth considering.
  • Facebook Isn’t the Only One Tracking You. Here Are 5 Ways to Protect Yourself (Digital Trends). With all the heat Facebook is taking for allegedly abusing data as part of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, now might be a good time to consider how you can keep your personal data private online. This article has five helpful tools.

By the way, I share most of the social media news articles and learnings that I come across throughout the week on my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. Feel free to follow me to keep up. And of course, if you see something interesting in the news, please share.


The Social Media Rundown: Southwest for the PR Win, Zuck Confesses

Southwest Airlines has made a big splash through stellar customer service once again. Recently, when a customer paid for Wi-Fi only to find out she couldn’t get her game to stream, Southwest made it up to her in a big way. Instead of the typical “Sorry to hear you’re frustrated. Please DM us with details,” tweet coming from most any other airline, a guy named Mike at Southwest live-tweeted the second half of the Xavier vs. Florida State tourney game. Now perhaps Mike was just trying to work in some March Madness viewing into his work day, but either way, this landed Southwest some fantastic PR.

Southwest Airlines recently live-tweeted an NCAA Men's Tournament game.

Social Media News:

  • Mark Zuckerberg says he’s ‘open’ to testifying to Congress, fixes will cost ‘many millions’ and he ‘feels really bad’ (Recode). Zuckerberg admits Facebook may have made mistakes in opening up its network so much a decade ago. Also, here’s a nice summary of the whole Cambridge Analytica debacle.
  • The Atlantic’s new family section is built for the post-news feed era (Digiday). Another publisher creates a Facebook group. This is an indication of The Atlantic’s recent push to connect directly with readers as it looks to grow revenue by boosting subscriptions.
  • Another Social Network is Here. What Exactly Is It? (Marketing & Growth Hacking). I don’t normally share news of a new social networking site or app on the market as they’re usually unable to compete with Facebook. But this one is interesting because it’s entirely audio-based. Can you imagine people walking around sending voice memos to their public profiles all day? I can’t, but this aligns with the recent boom in podcasts. People would rather listen then read.
  • Instagram will show more recent posts due to algorithm backlash (TechCrunch). This should be a welcome change to anyone using the platform.

Learn:

  • Twitter Timeline Algorithm Explained. This post not only has a thorough breakdown of the Twitter algorithm, it’s also full of solid tips for increasing your reach. From using hashtags strategically to how to promote tweets, this post has it all.
  • 5 Instagram Pro Tips You Probably Didn’t Know About. I use Instagram everyday, and almost all of these tips were new to me. You can hide Stories from people, delete sent direct messages, and add gradient text coloring in Stories. The one I knew about is probably the most important: You can turn on post notifications from people and business accounts.

What’s the big news to you this week? What have you learned?


Introducing: The Weekly Social Media Rundown

It’s been a long, unnecessary hiatus from writing in my blog. And well, I guess I got tired of seeing Puppymonkeybaby as my most recent blog post. So here I present you with a few social media news items worthy of your precious time.

I share the following as part of a weekly social media newsletter I send out internally at NEJM Group, as part of my role as Content Engagement Manager. My goal with the newsletter is to share a few of the most important news items of the past week (the ‘Social Media News’ section) and to also provide a few educational items (the ‘Learn’ section) so we can all be better social media marketers. If you have thoughts on the listed items or if you know of some big news I may have missed, please let me know in the comments.

Read the full blog post on Buffer.

A practical quote from the Buffer App blog post, “The New Facebook Algorithm: Secrets Behind How It Works and What You Can Do To Succeed.”

Social Media News:

  • Twitter Is Experimenting With A Way To Show You Even More Breaking News Tweets (Buzzfeed News). A new, algorithmically curated timeline of news tweets may soon be shown at the top of your feed.
  • Snapchat Launches ‘True Crime/Uncovered’ Series From Condé Nast Entertainment (Variety). As much as I love Snapchat, I have my doubts that a five-minute long TV show in a vertical, mobile-only presentation will be successful. But then again, Snapchat’s numbers continue to surprise me. For example, NBC News’ “Stay Tuned” is apparently getting 33 million viewers per month.
  • After Facebook news-feed changes, publishers look hopefully to Pinterest (Digiday). The online scrapbooking platform represented nearly 8 percent of publishers’ social traffic in the second half of 2017, up from 4.5 percent in the first half of 2016.

Learn:

  • The New Facebook Algorithm: Secrets Behind How It Works and What You Can Do To Succeed (Buffer App). This blog post breaks down the recent news feed changes as explained in a recent webinar hosted by Facebook. The news feed algorithm is broken down into four main components: inventory, signals, predictions, and overall score.
  • How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Better Visibility (Social Media Examiner). If you need to spruce up your personal LinkedIn profile, this is a great rundown of everything you need to know to make it happen.

My Top 5 Super Bowl Ads of 2016

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#puppymonkeybaby by Mtn Dew Kickstart. Image via Mashable.

Last year’s Super Bowl ad lineup was so poor, I felt completely uncompelled to watch any of the spots a second time, let alone actually write about them. The year before—the 2014 Super Bowl—wasn’t much better, the only truly memorable ad was “Puppy Love” from Budweiser—good enough for the No. 3 spot on my annual list (I hated the song, but loved the story).

Super Bowl 50 was loaded with hilarious ads selling for as much as $5 million for a :30 second spot. The main players—Budweiser, Volkswagen, Bridgestone—were either absent from the lineup or just didn’t deliver. Here are the top five spots that made the cut:

#5. Audi R8: Commander

Starting out in the No. 5 position on my list is also the only ad that took a dramatic approach. Audi’s Super Bowl commercial features a retired astronaut getting a taste of his old days of blasting off into space upon getting behind the wheel of his son’s Audi R8 V10 plus. Bonus points for featuring David Bowie’s “Starman.” Ah, who am I kidding? David Bowie made this commercial.

#4. Hyundai Genesis: First Date

Coming in at No. 3 on the list is a brilliantly executed ad featuring Kevin Hart as an over-protected father sending his daughter off on her first date. Hart offers the suitor the keys to his Hyundai Genesis, equipped with “Car Finder.” Little did they know, the Car Finder option allowed Hart to keep tabs on their date with his over-protective face popping up at all the wrong moments. The ad uses celebrity endorsement and humor while also showing off the car’s features and hitting a soft spot most of us are familiar with.

#3. Doritos: Doritos Dogs

It wouldn’t be a top Super Bowl ads list without a Doritos ad or two. One of two winners of the annual Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest features dogs attempting to enter a supermarket to buy Doritos, but continually getting kicked out by the manager because dogs are not allowed. The dogs ended up using some old-fashioned trickery to sneak their way in. After a glorious 10-year run, this is apparently the last Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest we’ll see.

#2. Heinz Ketchup: Wiener Stampede

Not much to say here. Stampeding wiener dogs meet their Heinz Ketchup family. Not much to it, but man, watching those cute little dachshunds dressed up in little hotdog costumes slow-motion-running through a field is both funny and adorable. It’s a good ad because of the product reinforcement played by the humans dressed in condiment bottle costumes.

 

#1. Mountain Dew: Puppymonkeybaby

I can only assume most viewers found this ad to be completely stupid, annoying and even creepy—I certainly did. However, once I watched it again (and again and again), I realized I couldn’t turn my eyes away as soon as the odd ‘puppymonkeybaby’ creature enters the room. Chubby baby legs, a hairy monkey body and tail, and an ugly little pug face. This ad is ranked lower on most lists, but it earned the top spot for me because it was memorable and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Also, this is a brilliant use of hashtag integration—go ahead, search #puppymonkeybaby on your social networking site of choice. This is not only the ad you most likely talked about at the water cooler the next morning, but also undoubtedly saw a gif or two show up on your Facebook News Feed. Well done, Mtn Dew, welcome to the big time.

Another great year for Super Bowl advertising. I was happy to see a nice return to slapstick comedy that we’ve come to expect from ads during the only sporting event capable of pulling in 100 million or so worldwide viewers. It was tough to narrow this list down to only five and even harder to pick a favorite—I even did some last-minute reshuffling. Which Super Bowl 50 ad was your favorite?

 

Honorable mentions:

Hyundai: The Chase – Who doesn’t love cute talking bears?
Hyundai: Ryanville – If you’re a Ryan Reynolds fan, this ad is for you.
Honda Ridgeline: A New Truck to Love – A little long and over-produced, but again, talking animals is always a safe bet. Oh, and Freddy Mercury.
Doritos: Ultra Sound – Here’s a familiar spot from Doritos (Remember “Sling Baby” from the 2012 Super Bowl?)


Is Peach the next big social networking app? Or is it already seeing a slow, painful death?

 

peach-app

“Peach is a refreshingly fun and simple way to keep up with friends and be yourself.” -Apple Store description.

 

Peach, the private social networking app loaded with innovative features, but lacking in usability and a large user base, may already be a thing of the past, according to recent headlines.

Peach officially launched eight days ago.

You read that right. Peach launched a mere eight days ago and its potential is already in question. Is the online world really that consumed (and satisfied) with only a handful of social networking mainstays (namely Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) that an innovative, exciting new app can’t penetrate the market? Sadly, it’s getting increasingly difficult for a new social networking service to compete with the big guys. Peach has my attention, and the potential contend with the heavy hitters, but can it rise to the challenge?

It’s been awhile since a new social networking site or app has really caught my eye. Draw Something was more of a mobile game than a social networking app, but it definitely roped me in due to its incredibly addictive attributes.

Path, the social networking app that set a limit of only 50 friends you could connect with, came and went before I even had a chance to write about it.

Pinterest definitely won me over, even triggering a blog post about the visual bookmarking tool being a ‘game changer.’

Ello was apparently all the rave for a few short months about a year ago. I was an early adopter of Ello, but never really saw its benefits. With nothing particularly innovative or unique about it, I stopped using Ello just about as soon as I signed up. It’s still in service, but is anyone talking about it? Have you Ello’d lately?

I never wrote about Snapchat, but we all know the success the disappearing messaging app has seen. Snapchat is so popular that it’s now entering its “mom moment” of social networking sites—when an app or service becomes so popular that even your mom starts using it.

Maybe I’m not too good at this whole trend-spotting thing. Of the services mentioned above, Pinterest is the only social networking site that has had real lasting power. Pinterest is growing, and I still find myself browsing through hundreds of pins nearly every day.

Starting a new online social networking service is a difficult task. Just barely into its second week of operation, Peach is already seeing a flood of naysayers. A recent blog post on Social Media Today suggests Peach won’t stick, but that existing social networking power houses should adopt some of its features. A Mashable article suggests the ‘week-old social network named Peach may already be over,’ and that Facebook should buy it up.

One thing most who have used Peach love is how innovative it is. Its ‘magic words’ feature allows you to type in certain words or phrases that prompts a special action to include in your post. It’s a fun addition and one that most people would love to see integrated with Facebook and Twitter. Magic words include typing things such as “gif” to search for an animated gif within the app to easily and seamlessly include in your post. Typing “draw” gives you the ability to make a quick sketch to include with your post. Typing “weather” brings up current conditions, “here” adds your location, “goodmorning” prompts the time of day along with a couple emojis, and so on.

Peach is getting a ton of coverage for such a young start up, but unless it finds a way to dramatically grow its user base and greatly improve its ease of use, it’ll end up as a mere footnote in social media history (or a social media ghost town of sorts). Lastly, Peach must continue to innovate. It’s what helped Peach make a splash in the first place and it will need to keep giving users more in order to stay alive and relevant.

What are your thoughts? Will Peach last? Are you on Peach? Add me! Peach username: @eric_wheeler

Further reading:

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.


#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.”

instagram-iphone-app-1920-970x600

Image via dailytekk.com

In an article by Ross Simmonds on convinceandconvert.com, 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.


How to: Use an Event Hashtag Before, During and After an Event

Schmidt says

If used effectively, a hashtag can bring added excitement leading up to and during your event.

By now we should all be familiar with hashtags and how they can be either annoying or helpful depending on how they’re used. At their core, hashtags are meant to categorize online content, emphasize keywords or phrases and aid in connecting with others through common interests. Once exclusive to Twitter, hashtags are now widely used across most online social networks. When used sparingly and appropriately, hashtags can enhance communication. But when used out of context or without creative thought, they become distracting. Using hashtags in verbal communication can make you the butt of a joke. And nobody wants to be the butt of a joke.

One effective use of hashtags is for events. If you’ve attended a networking event or large conference in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed or even used an event-specific hashtag. When used at events, hashtags can be a great way for attendees to actively participate, allow for social networking and make it easy for people to find event highlights with just a quick Twitter search. Event hashtags can even allow for people to follow the event virtually if they’re unable to attend in person.

Unfortunately, many events do a poor job of execution when it comes to maximizing event hashtag usage. The list below should give you some good ideas to effectively promote the event hashtag in the days and months leading up to the event, increase hashtag usage during the event and in using the hashtag to recap the event.

When looking through this list, keep in mind that these are merely ways to get the most out of an event hashtag. Remember that the event hashtag also needs to be unique, short, descriptive and memorable. Check out this article in AdWeek for more on how to choose and effective hashtag.

Hashtag promotion leading up to event:

  • Include event hashtag on any main graphics produced for the event
  • Make sure to include the hashtag on all communications leading up to event
    • Save the date email/mailer
    • Newsletters
    • Registration email
    • Reminder emails
    • PDF flyer
    • Tweets leading up to and during event
  • Include on website(s)
    • Main event landing page
    • Registration page
    • Confirmation page/event ticket
    • Website homepage banner
    • News section
    • Blog post promoting event and what to expect
  • Include the hashtag on event printed materials
    • All signage (posters, large print banners or tabletop items)
    • Name tags and lanyards (also include company Twitter handle and attendee’s Twitter handle or leave space to fill in)
    • Table cards
    • Agenda print outs
    • Presentation decks
    • Event specific SWAG (lanyards, T-shirts, pens, note pads, etc.)
    • Place on food items (on coffee cups, printed on napkins, written on desserts, stickers on chip bags, etc.)

Encourage using the hashtag during event:

  • Have speakers mention the hashtag prior to their presentation or during their introduction by the emcee
  • Encourage audience participation by giving out prizes (signed book from one of the speakers, free registration to next year’s event, gift cards, etc.)
  • Project the branded hashtag at a main area where attendees will convene or just off stage from presenters
  • Have someone live-tweet the event from event Twitter handle
    • Monitor the hashtag and favorite/retweet the best ones
    • Have pre-planned tweets ready to go out during the event
    • Share photos/videos during the event
  • Project event hashtag conversation on a wall or monitor using a tool like HootSuite’s HootFeed (more services here)

Post-event hashtag use:

  • Thank attendees and everyone who participated
  • Share notes or speaker presentation decks
  • Post a recap video (embed on event page, post to YouTube, share on other sites)
  • Share photos from the event (make a Flickr slideshow)
  • Share a Storify event recap focusing on the best tweets and moments shared

Do you have ideas on how to get the most out of an event hashtag? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me: @eric_wheeler.

Schmidt gif via metro.co.uk.


PHOTOS: Apostle Islands Ice Caves

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Apostle Islands Ice Caves, a set on Flickr.

I had the fortunate opportunity to visit the Apostle Ice Caves along the shores of Lake Superior in Wisconsin last weekend. Here’s some of my best photos.

Via Flickr:

Photos from the Apostle Islands Ice Caves on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. www.facebook.com/photographybywheeler


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