The smell of chemicals, the sound of running water. The serenity emitting from the dim glow of the small light fixture hanging from the ceiling, coating the room in an amber ambiance. Mind and body follow a rhythm, movements become melody as the outside world dissolves into the darkness of the surrounding four walls. Magic becomes material as an image appears on the liquid-submerged paper, making ripples as it sways beneath the surface.
Photography is a centuries-old art form that continues to affect and contribute to how we view the world we live in. The concept of photography has been around since the early 1800s and is constantly developing and evolving into what we know it to be today and what we will know it to be in the future.
Darkroom photography was the original – and only – form of photography available in the world until somewhat recently. Only within the last few decades has digital photography taken over, and almost completely pushed film photography out of the picture.
However, there are still artists and community members who appreciate film photography and acknowledge its history as an art form. Here in Salt Lake City, Dave Azul Brewer co-owns Photo Collective Studios. The experienced photographer started that business in 2011.
In 2016, he and his business partner Jessica Jude bought the Clubhouse on South Temple. The Ladies Literary Club had owned that building for 100 years and wanted to find a new owner who would keep it open to the public for art and expression. Brewer and Jude remodeled the building and made it wheelchair accessible with a historic grant that they won in the spring of 2021.
Photo Collective Studios was operating at its original location and the Clubhouse until 2019, when Brewer relocated that business to the Clubhouse. Brewer explained that they are separate businesses. The Clubhouse functions as more of an event space and the studio is a place for photographers to work out of.
“There’s no other building like it in Salt Lake City,” Brewer said. Some of its main attractions include: a stage overlooking a ballroom floor, a front patio, a backstage barber shop and bride’s lounge used for hair and makeup, and a balcony upstairs that serves as a part of the photo studio. The building also includes the only functioning public dark room in the city, down in the basement.
The studio offers public access to professional photography equipment, backdrops, and lighting at an hourly rate. The studio even offers film developing classes that take place every Monday for those interested in learning how to work in the darkroom. It’s also open to those who are familiar with the art and just need a space to develop photos.
“My goal is to create an experience where people feel comfortable and encouraged to create on their own,” Brewer said. Photo Collective Studios not only offers the only public darkroom in the city – aside from the one at the University of Utah – but also provides a much-needed space for artists to pursue their creative goals.
Brewer said his favorite thing about Photo Collective Studios is “connecting with various photographers from various backgrounds and skill sets and recognizing that we can all learn something from each other.”
Brewer said it’s “more important now than ever to keep darkroom photography alive because it is such a timeless art form and with the introduction of digital photography it has quickly become almost obsolete.” He explained that in his career he went from knowing film photography as the standard to digital becoming the standard, “almost overnight.”
Yet the processes used in digital photography stem directly from techniques that are used in the darkroom. There are buttons in Photoshop that have been transferred over from steps of developing film. That alone shows just how important darkroom photography is, even in the digital world we live in.
Edward Bateman has been a professor of various photography classes – Art History of Photography and Digital Imaging for Visual Artists to name a few – at the University of Utah since 2008. He is very passionate about photography and how it impacts our world.
“Chemical has the ability for surprises to happen, things that you’d never imagine, things you couldn’t predict, it can be really exciting,” Bateman said.
Even though Bateman would say that he prefers digital photography – because that’s what he is known for – he likes darkroom photography because “it’s meditative, things go at its own speed, things have its own pace.”
Regarding the appeals of film photography, Bateman also said, “People like the tactile, the tangible quality of actually interacting with something as more and more things become virtual.”
John Moffitt, the president of the Photo Club at the U shares a similar view on photography.
“I genuinely enjoy both digital and darkroom photography. I use both for different things. I honestly couldn’t imagine photography without a darkroom and a computer,” Moffitt said in an email interview.
Moffitt is a senior at the U and is studying operations and supply chain management and photography. He became the president of the club in the summer of 2021 and says that the purpose of the club is to provide a community on campus for students who are interested in photography.
“There is nothing that will transform the way a photographer sees and works faster than a darkroom. Working in a darkroom used to be the ‘norm’ and I think photographers were better off because of it. Even for photographers that don’t plan on using film indefinitely, working in a darkroom for even just a few months can be a transformative process,” Moffitt said
Despite the impact that the art of the past – film photography – has had on the art of the present – digital photography – it’s undeniable that darkroom photography has fallen into the shadows of the art world.
As Brewer said, “There are enough film lovers and film enthusiasts that recognize its uniqueness that I believe as creatives, as artists, we have enough desire to keep it alive.”
A month before the 2020 election, roughly 8 in 10 registered voters on both sides of the aisle said their differences with the other side were about core American values such as the economy, racial justice and climate change, according to a 2020 study done by the Pew Research Center.
“I feel like we sort of lost that ability to have a conversation without feeling like we have to convince each other of our side,” Caitlin McDonald said in a Zoom call.
Utah Humanities, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit, created the Community Conversations as a space for respectful dialogue. But is it enough to help alleviate the political polarization plaguing Utahns across the state? McDonald, the program manager in charge of the Conversations, knows that bridging the gap is not a painless task for participants.
“It’s not an easy thing. It’s not all puppies and rainbows. It’s not all hugging each other. It’s hard, and it’s emotional, and we’ve had people cry,” McDonald said.
Utah Humanities has been hosting hard and uncomfortable conversations about relevant and polarizing topics such as racial justice, climate change and civic participation since its inception in 2015. Pre-pandemic, these conversations were held in person. Currently they reside within the virtual walls of Zoom. Regardless of the meeting space, McDonald said she believes the process of creating meaningful and productive dialogue is more successful than regular town halls or other forums where people come ready to argue and yell at one another.
Part of the Utah Humanities’ success can be attributed to its Conversation Agreements that serve as a code of conduct for these monthly meetings. The agreements outline expectations for how the conversations will be held and how participants are expected to conduct themselves. The guidelines include “respecting all participants, … thoughtfully considering perspectives which are contrary to their own and behaving courteously should a disagreement and/or non-closure occur.”
McDonald said all participants must sign the agreement before any dialogue can begin. This weeds out anyone who is looking to come with pitchforks in hand.
“Because as we’ve seen, people’s rules for behavior seem to have changed recently. What’s acceptable in public and what’s acceptable in how we treat each other? I’ve seen it change in the past few years,” McDonald said.
She also said that weeding out the agitators who are looking to throw gasoline onto the political fire has proven to be beneficial, as they have never kicked out a participant. The agreement also helps alleviate some concerns of first-time participants, while also providing them with a space to be vulnerable and listen openly to perspectives that they might disagree with.
“These conversations just give them a chance to come somewhere where you don’t have to come with your guard up,” McDonald said. “You can come knowing that you’re in a space where you can express yourself, but also hear somebody else express themselves without fear of being yelled at.”
One participant is openly looking for this challenge of ideas and values. Steven Olsen is a senior history curator for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He said he embraces aspects of the humanities such as diverse thinking and the civil interchange of sharing ideas. Olsen said he is especially interested in the perspectives that differ from those around him.
“I really am interested in sharing that perspective with others in a kind of an academic setting or from an academic perspective, but also gaining other insights that I might not get from my own tribe, as it were,” Olsen said in a Zoom interview.
It might seem as if Olsen has found his happy place within the virtual walls of the Zoom Conversations, but the problem is, he has had a hard time garnering a new perspective from these sessions.
“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been the kind of diversity of perspectives that I had kind of hoped [for] going forward, I would say it’s mostly centered left of center,” Olsen said.
The lack of contrasting opinions interests Kevin Coe, a professor with an emphasis in political communication at the University of Utah. But he believes the problem is bigger than a conversation.
“It’s useful to think in terms of some of those interpersonal solutions [Community Conversations] as small-scale acts of goodness, that are useful. They won’t ultimately be enough to solve the problem, right? Because the problem is structural,” Coe said in a Zoom interview.
The structural problem Coe is referring to involves the amount of information and misinformation that can be found on social media, and how that changing information environment is shaped and influenced by political structures and those in power. Social media and news outlets could be to blame due to the number of opinions that are now in the marketplace of ideas. But Coe said he thinks the real problem lies within the curators who are controlling the release of questionable content being cultivated for public consumption.
“The deeper problem is that people are toxic because people are creating that information environment, and particularly people in power, who often have an incentive to put out misinformation, for example,” Coe said.
Power isn’t the only incentive to deceive the public.
“To get that misinformation to circulate and that might be a monetary incentive as a way for them to just increase their own personal wealth, say, unscrupulous journalists … an unscrupulous participant in the media environment who benefits financially from having their message, which … they know is factually inaccurate, circulate widely, because it builds attention for them,” Coe said.
This could be applied as well to politicians who use misinformation or inflammatory remarks to influence their following and maintain power. Coe also said it would take a broader reform of the political and information system to reach the overarching goal that those interpersonal acts of communication like the Conversations are seeking.
It might seem like the deck has been stacked against the participants of the Conversations like Steven Olsen, who look through the lens of the humanities to navigate these uncomfortable conversations and polarizing topics. But there is consensus and hope among those who attend, that the Conversations will continue to provide participants with the opportunity to not see a political enemy on the other side of the aisle, but a vulnerable person who also wants what is best for the country.
“Those conversations can rise above the particulars of our contention, you know, the differences of our points of view,” Olsen said. “To see the human underpinnings of even the necessity of having differences of opinion, in other words, it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, but it’s about the meaning of the truth that we’re seeking from the conversation.”
Kevin Thole was in St. Louis in April 2019, about to get onto the plane that would bring him to Salt Lake City. From Salt Lake, he was then supposed to go to Cirque Lodge, an exclusive drug and alcohol recovery retreat in Sundance, Utah.
As he walked down the aisle to his seat, he saw a woman, most likely in her 20s or early 30s, sitting in the seat next to his.
Thole sat down, sweating and shaking uncontrollably, and looked over at the woman who was opening up what appeared to be a bible of sorts. “I’m like, oh my god, I don’t want to hear any of this crap, here I am going to Utah, she’s probably Mormon, God knows what she’s going to try and tell me,” Thole said in a phone interview.
Thole said his thoughts were interrupted as the young woman looked over at him and said, “Are you OK?” Thole said he told the woman, “No, I’m not. I ruined my entire life and I am about to lose everything.” The woman simply responded by asking, “Can I pray for you real quick?”
The woman prayed for him, and then Thole said she did something pretty incredible. “There was a 50-50 chance that I was actually going to go to treatment. There was still very much the possibility that I would get off of that plane, go somewhere else, and ruin my life completely,” he said.
At this point, the flight attendant was making her way down the aisle with the refreshment cart, which Thole said he was aware had alcohol. “All I needed was three drinks to feel better,” he said. The flight attendant stopped and asked, “What can I get for you?” Before Thole could respond, the young woman said, “He doesn’t need anything, just water.” That was the story Thole told about the woman who saved his life.
Thole started abusing drugs and alcohol at a relatively young age. “It started as medicine to numb my anxiety and uncomfortable feelings I had,” Thole said. However, it quickly escalated to a point where he was gambling, drinking and using drugs every day.
Thole said it finally got to a point where one day three people who loved him — his wife, a business partner and a former pastor — had an intervention for him. In short, they gave him an ultimatum: Get sober or risk losing these people who loved him forever. He chose to get sober.
James Pehkonen works as a life architect in Salt Lake City for his primary income. This job requires him to talk to his clients as a therapist would and act as their coach through life. He said he is a life architect in the way he helps people rebuild their lives after experiencing trauma or hardship.
Pehkonen has dealt with trauma as well. “Life happens to everybody,” he said. He has experienced the deaths of loved ones and sexual assault, which led to his own struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. “I have lived a life that has not always been easy,” Pehkonen said. However, he said it is this trauma that has best prepared him to coach others through difficult times now.
Pehkonen also works for Cirque Lodge, where he does workshops and meditations in group and one-on-one sessions.
Thole had a roommate at Cirque Lodge for a short time, who told him, “Hey, you’re really going to like this Jim guy. He’s kind of new age and has an unusual approach, but give him a chance.”
With that in mind, Thole said he went to a couple of workshops with Jim Pehkonen and then decided he wanted to do some one-on-one sessions with him. “I had some pretty major trauma in my childhood, sexual trauma, that I had never dealt with, but when I met with him, I threw it all out there, telling Jim things I had never told anyone in my life,” Thole said.
Thole pretty quickly had what he called a “radical acceptance moment.” He didn’t know if it was the things Pehkonen was saying to him, but he said there was a moment where he was able to accept his life for where and what it was. “At that moment I realized this is not God’s fault, not my fault, it just is. It happened and now I have the choice to feel relief and accept my life for what it is,” Thole said.
Since Thole and Pehkonen met through the recovery retreat, there were very strict rules about when they could be in contact afterward.
It wasn’t until leaving the recovery retreat that Thole said he decided to look up Pehkonen and reach out. Once the time was appropriate, they began working with each other. Pehkonen acted as Thole’s life coach and friend, which led them to start their podcast, “Sobriety Elevated.”
Pehkonen initially proposed the idea of a podcast. However, Thole said at first he felt that people wouldn’t want to hear what he had to say because he isn’t an expert. However, he said he quickly realized it would be a waste of his recovery to stay silent. Both he and Pehkonen said the most significant goal behind this podcast is to give people hope and empower them in their sobriety.
The podcast is a way for Pehkonen and Thole to tackle different topics related to sobriety and the recovery process in a way that is easily accessible for people. This podcast was ultimately created in the hopes that it could act as a support system for others going through the same thing, Pehkonen said.
In October 2021, the podcast had 802 downloads, averaging 200 downloads a week. The men said they hope the podcast will only continue to grow and reach the people who need it. The podcast can be found on a multitude of platforms, including Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic and Reason.
Both Pehkonen and Thole said they feel empowered due to their own recovery and sobriety. Their recovery from past trauma has freed them from any shame or guilt they once felt.
They have both found ways to move on with their lives. Pehkonen has created his own business centered around helping others and Thole is a successful businessman who owns five Servpro franchises, a company that cleans up after disasters. Now they said they hope to help others feel this same empowerment in their lives. This is what “Sobriety Elevated” is all about.
Just as the woman on the plane saved Thole, he and Pehkonen hope to save many other people as well.
Authoritarian governments are sinking their claws into every corner of the globe. Creeping command of complete control in Orban’s Hungary, Erdogan’s Turkey, Maduro’s Venezuela, is ripping their populations asunder. Upending citizens stable lives for pursuit of fleeting power via relentless institutional dismemberment. In the United States, citizens grip to a belief that its institutions are infallible. That its system of governance upholds the bulwark between freedom and tyranny.
Yet tyranny is only ever one generation away from usurping power. In the U.S. many believe that the nation is slowly careening toward this disaster. That a government will be elected that will ignore, or even tear down our safeguards. To prevent this from becoming a reality it is imperative we identify these forces before they overwhelm our governing institutions.
Many point to populism as the root cause of this decline. Populism — an obscure term, one too often applied to disparate concepts in the mind of the American citizenry. Until Jan. 6, 2021, when the concept crashed to the center of American politics during The Capitol Hill Siege. The actions perpetrated that day are often attributed to former President Donald Trump’s speech prior to the riots. This would be an oversimplification, a fundamental confusion of addressing symptoms rather than the underlying disease.
In his speech, Trump highlighted the uncertainty of the election, the political uncertainty of a volatile democratic process, and the uncertainty of a globalized society. Uncertainty makes people susceptible to populism. Politicians who claim they can manifest certainty in an uncertain world apply appeals to the most basic senses of human stability – shelter, food, money.
“Psychologically none of us like the experience of uncertainty,” said Ethan Busby, an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University. During a Zoom interview, he emphatically motions toward his head with rolling wrists in an act to mimic the chaos one can feel via these forces in one’s mind.
Yet, the United States possesses some of the highest rates of uncertainty in the western world according to FRED Economic Data. This is concerning, especially when one looks at the cultural uncertainty currently facing the U.S. People cite concerns over immigration, high rates of job loss due to globalization, and wealth gaps.
But Busby noted people yearn for certainty in their lives and will pursue it in any way they see fit. The use of populist rhetoric clearly defines and separates the world into tangible right and wrong. Strategic political actors can then exploit this perceived certainty, and through the use of their rhetoric provide their supporters with a feeling of moral righteousness, Busby said.
“I don’t fundamentally believe that extremists are a different kind of people than the rest of us,” Busby said. As a specialist in political psychology, he focuses on the forces that cause individuals to become susceptible to populist rhetoric. The same people you stand in line with at groceries stores, wait behind in traffic, and pass by on the street every day. These are not enigmatic boogeymen, they are our fellow citizens — fathers, aunts, cousins, and neighbors.
Everyone can be susceptible to this form of rhetoric. Populism isn’t an ideology that is reserved for a select group of people, it is an ideology built from the supposed “common people”. Attempting to project an individual — or movement — as the legitimate voice of all the people. Asserting that one person, or a particular group of people, can save the country from the elites and those who wish to dispossess them of the American Dream. Populists point to supposed oppressive forces that keep the American public subjugated, claiming the country can shed these chains and rise into prominence once again by following their vision, Busby said.
In American governance one of the bulwarks to curb this rise of deceptive rhetoric that cements populist power is through freedom of the press. Our Constitution enshrines the right to criticize the government and share ideas openly in the marketplace of ideas. Thus, our media structure has taken the form of being a crucial institution within our democratic society.
For a populist, institutions are synonymous with the ruling elite. This places a large red bullseye on the back of our media establishment for populist politicians. By discrediting the media structure, the populist politician not only scores points with their base by attacking the elites, they can begin to structure the narrative around themselves. With the rise of the digital age the threat of these institutions being worn away rises every day.
The speed at which information and misinformation flows in the digital age is unlike anything that we have seen before in human history. The proliferation and broad acceptance of social media and fake news are fracturing society, increasing uncertainty. For RonNell Anderson Jones, a law professor at S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, “It is one of the most significant challenges facing American democracy today.”
Jones specializes in media law, and particularly the newly emergent space of social media law. The rise of fake news within American society is nothing new. We have combatted its rise multiple times throughout the nation’s history, she said in a Zoom interview. However, the nation is not just seeing the rise of another wave of yellow journalism, in which salacious stories were spun by specious salesmen. We are facing something altogether new.
The fake news that proliferates today typically has a severely specific partisan point of view, purposely intended to maximize the interactions that these stories will receive via social media. Intended to inflame passions and prejudices for a precise outcome dictated by those who benefit, and even profit, from these outcomes. Jones said this resurgence of fake news in an online environment is exceedingly dangerous. Through these new avenues Americans are receiving a hyperinflated sense of reality, truly fixed within their echo chambers.
Heightened partisan tensions can only spell inevitable disaster for the United States. Through this degenerative process Americans are beginning to lose the shared common ground between themselves. “All good democracies throughout history have had some shared baseline of objective truth in their society,” Jones said. Sitting up from her chair she leaned toward the camera, emphasizing with her raised eyebrows and meticulous diction the point that we may be straying too far from this ideal.
So, with the degradation of our shared baseline, citizens are more likely to believe charismatic leaders who are professing to be telling their truth, the truth of the average citizen. This places enormous power within the hands of populist politicians since many see them as the arbiters of truth. With instant communication, Jones reiterated, this raises even more concern and speculation from followers about what truth really is. Is truth what your community tells you, what leadership tells you, what you believe, is it objective?
A populist will capitalize on this uncertainty, presenting a truth that appeals to a broad base of people. Yet, lies told big enough and loud enough, with enough uncertainty present, begin to chip away at the foundational tenets of objective truth, Jones said. Dismantling our shared common grounds, destroying our trust in each other, and devouring our relationships. This is where power for the populist snowballs.
The centralization of power within the hands of powerful charismatic leaders is dangerous, since it will perpetuate the forces of populism. A positive feedback loop is obtained through the cycle of certainty constantly being just on the horizon. The populist will strive to maintain this loop. Populism must be addressed prior to gaining any form of traction with our system of governance, for once a populist politician has obtained enough power to begin influencing a democratic process, it may already be too late.
“The populist sees an election not as an exercise of fair competition, but as an expression of the will of the people,” said Kirk Hawkins, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University. He furrowed his brow, eyes closed, accentuating each word so that it hung in the air for just a moment longer.
If a populist has already accumulated enough power to be democratically elected to government, it is hard to oust them from that position. They emphatically believe themselves to be the personification of the will of the people, and thus anything that contradicts this belief cannot be true, Hawkins said. With a degraded perception of the truth already in place this narrative begins to propagate.
The effective implementation of misinformation was witnessed in full by the American public in the final days of Trump’s presidency. Neither Trump, nor fanatical sections of his base, could accept the electoral loss since it violated this perception of the supposed will of the people. The will of the people — or at least a specific segment of the people — was on full display in the form of mob mentality. This was seen in stark reality the day of the riots on Capitol Hill. As Hawkins put it, “Populism is a response to the very things the rhetoric invokes.”
Hawkins is a director of Team Populism — a global project intended to bring together scholars from across the world to share their research on the causes and consequences of populism — of which Busby is also a member. Hawkins’ research focuses on populism’s effect on large systems, such as a democratic society. Through the knowledge he has gained from research Hawkins said assuredly, “Americans are not real cool with populist rhetoric; they think it’s strange and unnecessarily provocative.”
Major news agencies, polling sites, and Americans themselves repeat this sentiment. According to Reuters, The Hill, and Forbes — in addition to others — more than half of Americans believed Trump should not have completed his term following the events that transpired.
This is undoubtedly a hopeful sign for the present, but what about the future? We are only at the beginning of the age of social media, the American people are still fumbling their way through this new medium of interaction. There are a few things that can be done at the governmental and individual level to combat the rise of populist rhetoric in the future, Hawkins said.
Education is the future. Through reinvigorating the spirit of the Enlightenment, whose ideals our government was founded upon, we can combat not only the rise of extremist rhetoric but the proliferation of misinformation. The American public needs to find its passion once again for critical thought and critical literacy, Busby said.
As a society we must repair our degrading shared baseline of ideals, facts, and direction, said Jones, the law professor. By holding each other accountable for the preservation of our way of life we eliminate the driving force of us versus them, and we reenter into a community minded future.
Through the restoration of our shared common ground, we will begin to drive out misinformation, thus eliminating another force that drives populist rhetoric. However, Jones said, none of this manages to address the problem of uncertainty in American society. Arguably the basal source of this issue in the first place.
Life may never be free of uncertainty. But if the American public can begin listening to each other again we can begin taking the first steps in the right direction. The American people need to once again recognize that people who think differently are not inherently bad or immoral people, Busby said. This sentiment destroys the bonds that hold us together.
The American public ought to stop believing that we must dominate each other to profess our particular viewpoint. To value other voices and opinions is the only way to create a more perfect solution to any given problem. No one person can be the will of the people. No individual has every answer to every problem. For Kirk Hawkins, the professor at BYU, “The way you correct prejudice is by helping people get better informed about things they don’t like.”
The development of tech start-ups within Utah over the last decade has accelerated both innovation and the creation of high-paying technical jobs. The growth of the tech sector has been so impressive that the area, which houses a long stretch of companies ranging between Salt Lake City, and Provo, Utah, has been dubbed Silicon Slopes, with the epicenter being located in Lehi.
The term “Silicon Slopes” was coined by Josh James of DOMO, who also founded a widely successful company called Omniture that was acquired by Adobe Systems in 2009 for $1.8 billion. James created this term as a reference to the original Silicon Valley located in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is legendary for its creation of some of the first high-tech companies dating back to the 1970s.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have reached a point of stagnation in which they are no longer growing, largely due to a halt in economic expansion. E-commerce, however, has exploded and continues to build and innovate due to an influx of business as citizens have turned to online shopping.
Route App Inc., the foremost e-commerce company in Utah, more than doubled in size in 2020. Starting with only eight employees upon opening in 2018, Route now has upward of 350 employees, and the mobile application is number 35 on the list of most downloaded apps in the App Store.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many businesses to close their doors to the public, Route is helping customers stay connected and maintain a positive shopping experience. As the name suggests, Route allows users to accurately track all of their packages in a single application, as well as provides its customers shipping insurance to ensure the safe delivery of packages. Route not only enables single users to track their packages, but provides a format for businesses to provide streamlined tracking for customers with this platform.
Steph Black, head of talent and culture at Route, said in a Zoom interview that she was one of the first 50 employees at the company. Route has now outgrown several office spaces as the company continues to expand, currently occupying a very large office space at Innovation Pointe in Lehi.
Route plans to create more than 3,000 high-paying technical jobs in Utah in the next 10 years. This expansion will greatly stimulate the local economy, and is also an exciting opportunity for local graduating university students.
This rapid expansion and success is in large part due to the unique customer experience that Route aims for, and there are no other competing e-commerce companies in Silicon Slopes. The other part, Black explained, is Route’s value of unique, creative, and innovative employees. “Culture at Route is incredibly organic,” Black said. “We focus on hiring the right people.”
Black also stated, “E-commerce has been on a steady growth path for 10-plus years. What happened during the pandemic kind of catapulted e-commerce forward at least an additional five to eight years. Demand for individuals to purchase what they need online, and also for businesses to transform their offerings to this growing space. A lot of businesses had to pivot very quickly in order to offer and meet their e-commerce demands.”
Route is revolutionizing and changing how consumers view e-commerce. Route has recently released a unique feature, the Discover page, on the app. This feature allows brands to directly communicate with consumers using targeted advertising.
University of Utah alumnus Nick Lloyd is one of five software engineering managers at Route. He said about the development of the Discovery feature, “Our latest large scale initiative was around a feature set that we call ‘Discover,’ allowing people to see new things in the app from different merchants.”
After exploring the Discover product, a Route customer will find that Discover is helping unearth interesting brands some may not ordinarily purchase from. There is very engaging content to showcase the brands, and customers can even shop directly within the app.
Over time, Lloyd said in a Zoom interview, the aim of the Discover product is to analyze the purchasing behaviors of customers and connect them with unique and relevant brands, both local and international. Both the shopping and purchasing will remain in Route’s app, essentially creating a new e-commerce marketplace.
It is this kind of innovation from this local e-commerce company that has led to Route’s rapid growth and exciting expansion.
Lloyd said Route has created many student internships since expanding, and has interacted with the University of Utah to get students involved in the company. Though Lloyd was hired on directly as an engineer, he has participated in recruiting events targeted toward U students, specifically in the engineering field. Route is also very active in reaching out to students at the U through the Handshake portal.
Lloyd personally reflects on his University of Utah experience as having been full of passionate people like himself when he was in the Computer Science program. “One of the things I really felt like I got from the University of Utah was a strong sense of community,” Lloyd said. At Route, he feels that there is the same kind of important community.
Since the U puts such huge emphasis on innovation and helping to build creative minds, employment at Route is a great opportunity to capitalize and build on that innovation and creativity.
“It’s really interesting to be a part of e-commerce in a time like this,” Black said. “So many companies closed their doors unfortunately during these times, and e-commerce has only opened theirs wider.”
A Salt Lake City-based company is combating gender inequalities with empowering social media posts. Nicole Wawro, Alba Fonseca, and Sinclaire Pierce are the three women behind the social media platform known as Fluence.
In a technologically driven world, Fluence is discovering innovative approaches for practical solutions geared toward women.
The idea of women being at a disadvantage in society is a concept that many consider to be antiquated. But for Wawro, Fonseca, and Pierce, this was one of their founding principles — to educate and advocate for women who always felt as though they were falling behind, but couldn’t figure out why. So, after sitting down together and coming to the same realization, they decided to start a company designed specifically for women.
The three shared similar experiences of gender-based workplace discrimination. This was a huge factor in what drove them into their research. “They fired all the women in my firm who were eligible to take maternity leave because they didn’t want to pay it out,” Wawro said in a FaceTime interview. This was what ignited her desire to stand up for women in the workplace.
Fonseca shared instances in which she would bring up good ideas that were instantly dismissed. In later meetings a man would bring up the same idea and it would be labeled as “genius” and “perfect.”
Pierce had always struggled with being interrupted, and it wasn’t until their research was conducted that she realized maybe there was a gender piece to it. “I always thought people interrupted because they were mean, not because the person talking was a woman,” Pierce said in a FaceTime interview.
These new realizations led to a shared understanding — that until they made people recognize there is a problem, they couldn’t begin to solve it.
The company experienced immediate growth, quickly gaining the attention of thousands of people. “Part of it was timing, and part of it was strategic,” Pierce said. “We saw an opportunity with TikTok and we jumped on it.” They attribute a large majority of the growth to the fact that the stories they were sharing resonated with so many women, and TikTok was becoming an incredibly popular app for young women.
The inequalities women face tend to remain swept under the rug, and for Fluence this seemed controversial. The entire purpose of the brand is to achieve more influence and affluence for women, which is why these inequalities are publicly recognized. “We believe that when women have more influence the world becomes a better place,” Wawro said.
Upon obtaining more recognition, Fluence received an overwhelming amount of responses from women who didn’t even understand that these were real issues. And since they didn’t understand they were real issues, they didn’t understand there were real solutions.
Emma Watson, the actor and feminist advocate, said in her 2014 speech to the United Nations that what many young women fail to realize is that they are living in a society that for hundreds of years has been working against them.
This ideology has become a huge focal point for Fluence. “A lot of people don’t even know where to find information. Being a platform that challenges a perspective to see things differently is something so powerful,” Fonseca said.
The company produces content across Instagram, TikTok, and even music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. A recent video addressed a hand signal used to signify domestic violence in the home.
A main goal of the company is to create refreshing and accessible content that can reach a diverse group of people. Its success is based upon how many people Fluence is able to reach in terms of followers and views.
“Our audience is global — the U.S., Canada, Germany, the UK, Australia,” Pierce said when asked about its demographic. It strives to appeal and market itself toward young women. “If you can catch a 13-year-old before she experiences these horrible things … before she decides, ‘I’m not going into STEM’ — that’s so powerful,” Pierce said.
Ultimately, the goal for this company is to change the world, and these three founders believe it has the power to do so. When women are lifted, when women become more active in their homes, communities, and businesses, the result is better for everyone, Pierce said.
Fluence understands that to reach a global market, it has to keep in mind how differently women live in different parts of the globe. But the first step begins with education in order to help women feel more independent, valuable, and capable, no matter their situation.
“I want to empower women to do something about these issues. I want to enable them with very specific tools and resources and practical solutions to then make changes,” Pierce said. Fluence is a community, and the more people it is able to reach, the stronger this community can become.
The company does not define itself as the stereotypical feminists people most often picture. The image the owners want to portray does not include feelings of anger or distaste, but rather optimism. The brand intends to be fun, sarcastic, and lighthearted but based on high quality information.
“This company helps people feel validated and understood,” Fonseca said. Fluence centers around being a positive light for women everywhere, no matter what inequalities they might have experienced. So whether it be an informative Instagram story based on well-detailed research, or a goofy TikTok video mocking sexism in the workplace, Fluence is changing the lives of women everywhere.
The Sundance Institute has been a prominent organization for independent filmmakers and Utah culture since its creation. However, the Institute has significantly evolved. While filmmaking and collaboration remain at its core, the Institute continues to expand its reach by encouraging diversity and inclusion through its programs.
According to the Institute’s website, the Sundance Film Festival was first established in 1978 by Sterling Van Wagenen in Salt Lake City. Yet the Institute wasn’t founded until 1981 by Robert Redford.
Having initially started as an organization aimed at promoting American-made films and Utah filmmakers, the Institute now extends past its local reach, offering opportunities for upcoming filmmakers from national and international backgrounds.
Among the plethora of programs the Institute provides, its fellowships for young filmmakers stand out.
The Ignite Fellowship, as detailed on the Institute’s website, is a collaboration between the Institute and Adobe that is open to filmmakers between the ages of 18-24. Out of thousands of applicants, only 15 are selected for the year-long fellowship. The experience includes an all-expenses-paid trip to the Sundance Film Festival, as well as mentorship from Institute alumni professionals and access to workshops, labs and other associated programs.
“The Sundance Ignite Fellowship is a great opportunity to learn more about the ins and outs of the industry and also be connected with other emerging filmmakers,” stated Maya Cueva, a 2019 Ignite Fellow, during an email interview.
Ignite Fellows are selected based on their submission of their one-to-eight-minute short films as well as “their original voice, diverse storytelling and rigor in their filmmaking pursuits,” according to a 2018 news release posted on the Institute’s website.
Cueva detailed her experience attending the 2019 Sundance Film Festival: “It was an amazing experience going to films and events, being able to discuss and pitch my first feature documentary, and being able to connect with the other fellows in the program.”
When asked how this experience has impacted her perspective on filmmaking, Cueva said, “This experience has definitely given me an opportunity to challenge the way I make documentaries and my style of filmmaking, particularly because the group of fellows do both narrative and documentaries.”
Opportunities like the Ignite Fellowship allow young filmmakers to network and learn from professionals in the field. This has the potential to jump-start careers while providing the professional environment to further foster individual voice and style.
Rooted in Utah
While expanding its home offices, broadening its reach and diversifying its stories, the Institute remains grounded by its Utah roots. It aims to encourage the participation of audiences of all ages through its community screening programs.
The Filmmakers in the Classroom program began in 2000 but is now an annual opportunity for local high school students to view and later discuss a short film with the creators themselves.
“We’re definitely doing those to bring those middle, junior high and high school students in and kind of expose them to independent films but also giving them the opportunity to meet filmmakers as well,” said Laralee Ownby, assistant director of Utah Community Programs, during a phone interview.
Year-long programs like the Summer Film Seriesserve as an option for Utah locals across the state to experience independent films without having to trudge through the grueling festival traffic and crowds.“All of our year-long Utah programs are free and open to the public. That’s one thing that we want to make sure of. That we’re reaching everyone in Utah.”
The effectiveness of these programs speaks for itself. Through an email interview, Jenny Diersen, Park City special events and economic development manager, shared statistics from previous years’ programs.
During the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, the Institute’s Utah Community and Student programming reached a total of 11,387 people. This includes Filmmakers in the Classroom, free screenings for high school and college students and various other community screenings. The 2018 Summer Film Series reached a total of 4,113 people over the course of eight screenings.
Elevating Art and Culture Locally
Even outside of its own programs, the Institute continues to contribute to community programs that support the development of art and culture in Park City. Project ABC is one of these outreach efforts.
According to the Project ABC: Arts, Beauty, Culture website, Project ABC is a Summit County initiative that focuses on the promotion, expansion and implementation of artistic and cultural opportunities for local emerging artists and individuals interested in the arts.
“This project includes recommendations for City, County, Businesses and individuals to help grow many areas of arts and culture,” Diersen said. “As arts and culture grows in our community I think it will be important to make sure we continue [to] represent our unique community, history and environment.”
Collaborative community efforts like Project ABC ensure artistic sustainability throughout the city. Although Sundance focuses primarily on filmmaking and film production, its outreach encompass a variety of expressional styles.
While the Sundance Institute continues to grow and develop new opportunities for upcoming filmmakers, it doesn’t lose track of its background. With its community programs reaching thousands of individuals each year and support for local artistic cultivation, the Institute keeps inspiring new generations of artists and filmmakers.
SALT LAKE CITY — Many people feel attachments to celebrities or fictional characters. They treat them as if they knew them in real life. This is known as a parasocial relationship. The term was first used in 1956 by Donald Horton and Richard Wohl in their paper “Mass Communication and Para-Social Interaction: Observations on Intimacy at a Distance.” It originally referred to television figures, but has since been expanded to include celebrities, fictional characters, athletes, and other media figures.
Originally thought to mbe mostly formed only by lonely and isolated people, studies have since shown that everyone experiences parasocial relationships, regardless of how lonely they may be. In extreme cases, parasocial relationships can result in stalking or other problematic behavior, however most people treat them as they would a normal interpersonal relationship.
University of Utah freshman Lily Chidester thinks that parasocial relationships are more common today due to how prevalent social media is. Social media allows people to interact with others who have a parasocial relationship with the same figure, which then can help develop real friendships with those people.
“Networking among people with a common interest is greatly amplified by social media because it increases the fanbase of the thing in question, whether that’s a fictional character, like in a book or a TV show, or a celebrity, who’s a real person, but is just one person,” Chidester said. “They can’t interact with everyone that knows them.”
Social media also increases the access people have to celebrities. People have the chance to interact with public figures, which can increase the likelihood of forming a parasocial relationship.
“It seems that liking, sharing, and commenting on social media increases perceived intimacy between the person and the celebrity or character, increasing the person’s perception of their bond,” said Dr. Julia Moore, a Communication professor at the University of Utah.
Parasocial relationships offer many benefits to the person engaging in them. They provide a sense of companionship and can supplement real interactions with people. They also provide a sense of connection and community. People are able to bond with others who have a parasocial relationship with the same media figure. This gives them a group of people they can relate to.
Parasocial relationships are still relationships even though there is no reciprocation involved. People tend to get attached to celebrities they view as similar to themselves. These relationships can give people an emotional outlet. They can be themselves because there’s no expectation to meet a certain standard or act a certain way.
“The greater the intensity of the parasocial relationships, the more likely it is to have a significant impact on one’s life in terms of time spent, goals, and emotions or feelings of attachment,” Dr. Bert Uchino, the Department Chair of Psychology at the University of Utah, said.
A study done in 2017 looked at what kinds of public figures adolescents formed parasocial relationships with. It also looked at how they classified those relationships. Subjects were asked to name one celebrity they’re attached to and explain why. Their responses were then categorized into Actor, Singer/Musician, Athlete, Other, and Writer. The Other category included figures like talk show hosts and comedians. For girls and boys, actors were by far the most popular public figures to be attached to.
According to Dr. Uchino, access to actors and other public figures via social media can increase the likelihood of forming parasocial relationships.
“It gives them yet another platform to interact with fans and often involves disclosure of personal information, which we know deepens relationship development,” he said. “It is likely that celebrities know this and are trying to foster a more devoted fanbase.”
While celebrities can’t form relationships with each individual fan, their actions on social media can encourage the fans to do so with them. Appearing to be relatable can increase a sense of connection and devotion. This can also increase how many people are part of the fanbase.
Social media may not play as big of a role in the formation of parasocial relationships with fictional characters. As they aren’t real, the characters can’t make posts or interact with fans in any way, shape, or form. The development of a parasocial relationship would then have to come from the source material and original content generated by fans.
“I have these fictional characters that I have built relations with, and particularly Harry Potter is super interesting because it’s something that was from my childhood. I’ve read the series an insane amount and basically have it memorized. It’s a huge part of me and how I define myself,” Chidester said. “It’s taught me ways to better myself as a person and the characters have taught me things about myself that definitely still could have come about in relationships with people where it was reciprocated, where they’re not fictional characters in a book.”
College students can receive companionship and support from parasocial relationships. This can be very beneficial, especially when trying to balance school and having a social life.
“Parasocial relationships can be especially beneficial for college students with low self-esteem. Parasocial relationships with fictional characters or real celebrities can make people feel a sense of belonging,” Dr. Moore said. “So even though parasocial relationships are not ‘real’ in that the two people don’t actually know one another or interpersonally interact, these relationships have real effects on people, and many of these effects are positive.”
Utah and social media. How are these two big entities related?
For the past four years, social media has become less of a memory sharing platform, and more of a business. Almost anywhere you look, there are people trying to make a brand off of themselves or otherwise enhance their growing businesses.
This phenomenon is especially apparent in Utah. Many Utahns have strong social media followings in the hundreds of thousands.
While social media might be newer and has helped more people gain success and more exposure, many top social media people in Utah started with their own blogs. Themes of such profiles and blogs range from health and wellness to fashion, art, and lifestyle.
Social media platforms are the new hub of bloggers, specifically Instagram. Instagram first came on the market in October 2010, its original purpose being a streamlined photo sharing and editing site.
Nowadays, Instagram is a balance of real-life content and advertisements, which has proved to be the secret to success. Mixing the right amount of business and personal attributes bode well with internet communities.
One San Diego State University student, Karis Bailey, 19, who is very outwardly vocal about the Utah social media scene, says, “Many accounts I follow of Utahns are inspiring and they make me want to go and experience what they are experiencing.”
Bailey has been active on social media, specifically Instagram, for close to seven years. Around two years ago she noticed that some of the people she follows, whom she didn’t know personally, were mostly from Utah.
“These people make their followers feel almost like family members,” Bailey says. “They are all very humble and grounded individuals.”
Bailey explains that she feels as though most of the Utah-based people that she follows create authentic content that engages followers into their lives.
Some of the Instagram accounts she shared are Cara Loren (@caraloren), The Bucket List Family (@thebucketlistfamily), and The Devines (@haileydevine, @bradleydevine, @somewheredevine).
For businesses, is it wise to utilize Instagram? Even newer than the concept of social media personalities is that of making your social media profile into a business. Now, posting and reviewing products on a profile can turn a profit.
The balance of original and personal content with ads and promotions is a tricky one.
“It is all right when they genuinely like the product they are advertising but I think there is a limit to what and how much you advertise something,” Bailey says. “Pushing things on to followers is unethical but I see nothing wrong with suggesting.”
Social media in Utah serves as a large community for people to connect and share ideas with each other. A popular social media Utahn who can attest to this is Renata Stone.
Although she is a newer Utah resident, her Instagram and company success is constantly influenced and inspired by her surroundings. With over 21,000 followers, her Instagram (@renatastone) is the connection between her business, her personal images, and her followers.
After Stone and her husband bought a house together, she started making macramé pieces to decorate their house.
To transform her creative hobby into a business, Stone utilizes her website and Instagram to share her inspiration, existing creations, and allow for commission requests.
In an email interview, Stone says, “Being authentic and real is the only thing that matters.”
Providing an accurate visual representation of one’s life is an essential way to gain favor with followers and promoting loyalty.
Stone says she does not consider herself a typical Utah social media personality, but recognizes that her Instagram very much follows a theme, something very common in not only successful Instagram pages in general, but Utahn Instagram pages especially.
“I think my Instagram account is as much about me as a human (or at least what I choose to expose to the outside world) as it is about my work. I think as an artist the personal and professional go hand-in-hand —it’s almost like you are your brand,” Stone writes.
Social media platforms are not only central to personal profiles but also to enhance businesses, as Stone noted. Normal Ice Cream is a food truck that is standing its ground among retail storefronts at Trolley Square, using Instagram to do so.
The Normal Ice Cream website and Instagram profile (@normal.club) give a comprehensive overview of the products as well as the story behind it all.
Owner Alexa Norlin, who has been a pastry chef for eight years, decided the ice cream business was more her speed after working in popular Salt Lake restaurants such as The Rose Establishment, Current Fish & Oyster, Fresco Italian Cafe, Cafe Trio Downtown, Cafe Trio Cottonwood, and Faustina and Niche.
She opened the Normal Ice Cream truck and became operational in June 2017. Later the truck took up residence in Trolley Square starting in January 2018 and has been there ever since.
Norlin praises Instagram saying, “I truly think that I would be out of business without Instagram.”
The Normal Ice Cream truck is an example of good social media marketing. The Normal team utilizes its profile to promote the business by posting photos of products, updating hours, sharing, and serving as a place to allow customers to connect with the business.
Norlin says that, “Instagram has allowed a really natural way to engage with customers on a seemingly one-to-one basis.”
She has noticed the social media Utah phenomenon, but her social media involvement is mostly consumed by being a business profile only, not a personal journal. Still, Norlin credits her business’ success largely thanks to a clear and consistent social media presence.
Utah will continue to be the house a substantial amount of popular social media figures. For those who have a business and those who wish to share their lives online, Instagram seems to be the desired platform.
Looking into the future, there is no limit to how influential social media platforms can be to people’s personal brands and the business they create.
Better Buzz Coffee, a popular San Diego coffee shop, where Karis Bailey finds time to do school work or scroll through social media.
Renata Stone previously lived in Southern California. The ocean still serves as one of her inspirations for her crafting and social media.
Stone now lives in the Salt Lake Valley and is inspired by the many sights and seasons of Utah.
The menu board that is posted on the Normal Ice Cream bus. The board is a good reference point for customers because the flavors change monthly.
Salted Vanilla Bean soft serve in a cup, one of the many options from the Normal Ice Cream menu.
The chrome bus that Normal Ice Cream operates out of. It is located inside the east entrance of Trolley Square.
It’s Wednesday and for those in the know, that means new editions of their favorite comic books are hitting the shelves at Black Cat Comics, located at 2261 Highland Drive in Salt Lake City.
The walls of Black Cat Comics are brightly colored, seeming to come from the comics that line its shelves. Customers walk in and out throughout the day and Greg Gage — the man behind the operation — greets many of them by name, often with a prearranged stack of new arrivals set aside for the customer to purchase.
up reading comic books, but gradually stopped as he got older.
“I kind of
got back into them on a whim,” he said. “I picked up a couple of books I used
to read and was like ‘God, this is cool,’ and after that, it was over.”
himself to comics as a young adult and he saw that the stories being told were
not just the shallow, fun superhero romps he remembers from his childhood.
some real, honest-to-God literature in here,” he said. “It’s not just people
jumping around like idiots punching people. There’s more to this than I
decided to open his own comic book store in 2004, he knew that creating a
welcoming environment for his customers and hiring employees who understood
that were both key ingredients for this business, which celebrated 15 years in
business in May 2019.
a wide selection to choose from, there are many reasons why fans like Kyle
Jackson keep reading comic books.
reading a lot of different titles that show characters who are something to
aspire to,” he said. “Not that I think I can learn to have superpowers, but the
people underneath the masks are what is great to me.”
Hoffman used to shop at a different comic book store. But, after feeling like
her reading choices were being judged by some of the employees, she started
shopping at Black Cat Comics. She said she found the sense of community she was
immediately felt so much better, like I had a place to go,” she said. “After I
graduated college, I kept coming by until Greg hired me and started paying me
to stick around and talk about comics.”
employee at Black Cat Comics for more than five years, Hoffman tries to make
sure that even younger readers feel like equal members of the community.
“I just love picking out things for little kids,” she said. “Especially younger girls because I wish I had that when I was a kid.”
years, Hoffman has seen some of the store’s regular customers come in with
their newborn babies and as those babies grow up she starts to recommend comics
for them as well as their parents.
all-ages section of Black Cat Comics is home to books featuring characters from
Saturday morning cartoons as well as child-friendly versions of heroes who
might otherwise be considered too violent.
my baby,” she said, motioning to the all-ages section of the store. “I try to
read all of these so I know how to talk to the kids who come in.”
hard to see why a child would enjoy a weekly trip to the comic book store and
Hoffman thinks comics can be an educational tool for them as well.
are such a great medium for younger kids to get into the habit of reading because
there’s the picture books without as many words and then they graduate into [books
with] more speech bubbles,” she said.
comic books are not just a children’s medium any more. A wide variety of heroes
means there is a character for everyone, especially with the bigger publishers
like Marvel Comics, who are pushing for more diversity in their mainstream lineup
is a young woman of color taking over the mantel of Ironman, now Ironheart, or
a revelation that the X-Men team member known as Iceman has come out of the
closet as a gay man, diversity plays an increasingly important role in today’s
comic book landscape.
Grace, who wrote the now concluded Iceman series for Marvel said on a public Instagram
story post about writing inclusive stories, “To my knowledge, no publisher puts
something out simply cuz it’s LGBTQ friendly,” he wrote. “Even Iceman, the
reasoning was: there’s a story to be told about a man dealing with a secret
he’s kept for 10+ years, not THAT he’s gay.”
When Gage first
opened his store, he wanted to create a place where everyone can feel welcomed,
regardless of their identity or background.
“Inclusivity makes more people feel more welcome in this space,” Gage said, “and that’s what I want, both from a business standpoint and a community standpoint.”
Instagram is the largest social media and advertising platform in the world and it continues to grow its users daily by the thousands. Organizations and businesses have taken advantage of the Instagram platform to advertise their products, target their audiences and create awareness for their cause, all for free.
Salt Lake City is a hub for startup companies that don’t have the funds in their marketing departments to pay for advertisements.
Individuals from three local companies, The Hut Group, Beauty Industry, and STEM, have worked closely with Instagram, and have accepted the large role it plays in their marketing techniques.
Beauty Industry specializes in hair, lashes and fashion. Paige Johnson is a member of the social media team who works with Instagram to promote a product.
She uses Instagram analytics to track following, and gauge when good times are to post in order receive the most engagement.
“Marketing is always changing, and shifting. With present digital age, social media is most of what marketing entails,” Johnson said.
Beauty Industry mainly targets young women because they are the majority of the company’s customers, which is ideal for Instagram because according to OMNICORE 59 percent of its users are individuals in the age groups of 19-29.
Johnson said Beauty Industry’s main objective through the Instagram account is to make customers feel as if they are a part of their community. Beauty Industry sticks to its content and theme to best emphasize its products in the market.
“Working in this industry I have become aware of others’ marketing techniques, whether it be competitors or my own time on Instagram. I often find myself taking bits of other techniques, and forming it to ours,” Johnson said.
Beauty Industry has tried to focus on what the big marketing brands are doing, and then tailor it to the company’s own theme. The social media world is extremely competitive, and it’s crucial to notice the likes, comments and following ratio in order to receive the most positive feedback and response.
Beauty Industry is a company that is familiar with the positive impacts Instagram can make. There are very few restrictions, no wrong outlook and is more about finding a strategy that works well with your company.
“Customer service is a big thing specifically on Instagram, because a lot of people currently if they have a complaint or question, it is a lot easier to do this through messages. We try to really be interactive with our following, and our customers who reach out to us on these platforms,” Johnson said.
Instagram is Beauty Industry’s main tool to advertise because it has the highest success rate in selling their products.
Instagram has the ability to capture so many eyes, and create global awareness. STEM, a program that targets schools in the Salt Lake City district, does just this.
Molly Vroom helps run, and plan their social media campaigns in order to educate, and promote STEM research.
“There isn’t much competition in this field of work. It’s more about receiving attention that could possibly lead to funding,” Vroom said.
In order to achieve this STEM uses demonstration videos giving a more hands on approach to the followers. “Instagram gives the ability to educate, and give knowledge, and that is another one of our main goals,” Vroom said.
STEM uses several social media platforms, but targets millennials through Instagram because they are the individuals who use it the most.
The world is constantly changing and growing, adapting to new trends of life. In order to be impactful on Instagram it’s crucial to put out content that ignites your target audience.
The Hut Group, a global company centered around health, beauty and fitness, sometimes can spend up to a month planning a post. This organization opened a small office in Salt Lake City and will grow in the years come.
Jasmyne Reynolds, a manager for their acquisition companies’ social accounts, works daily with Instagram.
Her days are spent brainstorming concepts, working with photographers and videographers in their creative studio, and collaborating with the content director and Search Engine Optimization managers.
Every one of The Hut Group’s Instagram posts is extremely evaluated, and calculated before posting. “Working with Instagram helps us achieve our goal of reaching consumers and getting them to click over to our online platform and ultimately drive purchases,” Reynolds said.
As the social media account manager, Reynolds also spends hours working with other brands doing Q and A’s, giveaways and questionnaires in order to bring in more followers, and gain positive feedback.
Reynolds believes Instagram is a platform that has allowed businesses to create a personal connection with consumers.
“It’s important now more than ever to showcase products as a part of a consumer’s life,” Reynolds said.
Instagram marketing is used in an assortment of aspects, whether it is to bring awareness of a cause, or to advertise and sell products. It has drastically changed the game from billboards and TV commercials to a free platform being used by billions. Instagram is the new outlet for inspiration.
Reynolds spends hours on the computer, so she tries to use some of her days outside the office and at a coffee shop.
Reynolds working with The Hut Group creative director on selecting color preference for future projects.
Example of a post Beauty Industry would put on the company Instagram. It promotes their product, while also maintaining an aesthetic.
Beauty Industry’s best selling product through Instagram.
Preview of STEM Instagram video taking a trip to Freemont Elementary teaching renewable energy.
Beauty Industry will do a giveaway of these Serloom mascaras in order to receive attention from followers, gain new followers and promote a brand.