So many brands are chasing the next big thing in social media. Fact is, they’re all different. They’re all unique. They all require a different skill set. You don’t need to be a jack of all trades, you need to be a master of one.
Maybe you’re a superstar Viner, are huge on YouTube, or popular on Pinterest. Maybe you rock Slideshare, are a Twitter ninja, or beat the Facebook algorithm every time. Or maybe you have developed a strong tribe on Instagram.
For Jeffrey Spackman, (aka @Namkcaps) that world is Instagram. Yes, he’s on Twitter, and Facebook and Tumblr, but for the past he has been using Instagram to blog. You might just use it as a place to share pics of your lunch, practice your duckface, but Spackman takes Instagram seriously.
And this week he blogged. A story about survival that had as many cliffhanging moments as Serial, Homeland, or a Dan Brown book. Spackman’s story was about a night he spent on Waterton Lake in October. It was told with beautiful photos, his feed is always filled with beautiful photos, and long descriptions that told the story of what happened to him after he got caught in a windstorm and his kayak flipped.
Here’s how it played out. It’s a perfect lesson in story telling, respecting your medium and audience, and just finding your sweet spot and working it. You can blog with Instagram. Here’s how @Namkcaps did it:
This is Upper Waterton Lake. A month ago I had a brush with death out on that lake. I promised I would tell you guys the story, so here it is. It's long, so bear with me. This weekend I'll be posting it one photo at a time. Part 1 I kayaked up the lake that afternoon to hike the Crypt trail by myself. It's a world renowned hike that I have done many times. 17.4km (10.8 miles) round trip from the trailhead, with 700m (2300ft) elevation gain. It's not usually a good plan to hike alone, but it's never easy to find a hiking partner on a Thursday. I had bear spray though and I reluctantly packed my bulky survival kit. I got the kit from my brother @kcaps last year for Christmas but have never had to use it. It's no small sacrifice to add extra weight to a backpack filled with heavy camera gear, but I will forever be glad I did. After the hike, I got back to my kayak on the shore of the lake after dark. It was completely pitch black at about 9:30pm or so and I still had to get home. I took a couple night shots, packed my things in the kayak and set off from the calm, protected bay. My head lamp my only source of light. Remembering what happened after that still shakes me up and makes me get real quiet.
PART 2 I started out on the lake in my kayak. As soon as I left the protection of the bay, I realized I was going to be in trouble. Waterton is known for its incredibly high winds. They are actually so strong that the old seven story hotel was blown off its foundation back when it was being built. The water was pitch black. I couldn't understand why my head lamp would not even light it up. Massive waves were soon breaking on me and I couldn't tell where they were coming from. A couple times I found myself surfing waves, unaware of which direction they were pushing me or how to control myself. To the east I could make out the shore with my light, nothing but rocky cliffs being pounded by waves. I had to keep my distance from the shore and continue north on the lake as opposed to north-west towards town. Although actually not a huge distance, it felt like an eternity before I rounded the bend of the next bay. I hadn't realized I was actually going to find anything. You can imagine my relief, both physically and mentally to be in calm water. I had reception. I called my friends who had been expecting me back. I told them I was stranded. I spoke with the warden. Apparently the wind and waves were so bad that they couldn't risk sending out a motorboat in those condition to pick me up. He asked if I was ok physically and if I was prepared to stay the night. Now if that was the end of the story I'd have had a good laugh and never told it again. That part was scary, sure, but not a big deal. The rest of the story is what I was scared to tell my mother later.
PART 3 It was becoming a long night. Every hour I checked the waves and wind to see if they had died down. By 3:50am I had grown sick of waiting. I should mention here that I've always thought that there is one thing which has the potential to kill anyone in Waterton regardless of who you are. It's not wildlife. I've bumped into bears on the trail and had no problems, cougars are quite shy and seldom attack. It's the water that kills. It's cold, really really cold. I'm sure that many of you will never be in water that cold. In October it is particularly cold. Some of you know what I'm talking about right? You jump in on a dare and your body wants out. Instantly, your heart rate spikes and your body forgets how to breathe. If you spend any amount of time in it, your fingers and toes don't just go numb, so do your arms. Your body begins moving frantically and a sharp pain sets in. Yup, it's the water that would kill anyone and there's probably nothing you could do. So I left the calm bay, confident I would be fine. Maybe it was a lack of sleep that made me think I'd be ok, who knows. I mean, I had a skirt on the kayak to stop water from getting in and the moon had now risen so I could see the waves better to properly move through them. Within a short time, I was back in the same waves and wind. Then the kayak flipped and I was attached to it. I was alone and upside down in an icy black lake.
PART 4 It surprised me how calm I was considering the fact I had just been plunged into icy water and was still attached to my seat. The situation was screaming for frantic behavior, but somehow I didn't even lose my paddle. I reached up and detached my skirt from the kayak and pulled my long legs out. I swam up for a welcomed breath. Instead of panic, I began to think. What had a decade of Boy Scouts taught me? What was I supposed to do now? I had to get out of the water fast and I had to stay with the kayak. So I flipped it back over, only to realize it was 90% full of water. I struggled to get on it, the waves still hitting me. Between waves, I balanced my body above it and plunged both legs deep inside. Within seconds, it flipped again. Underneath the kayak a second time, I awkwardly pulled my long legs out and came to the surface. With the kayak so low in the water, it was free to roll with the slightest push. My weight on top didn't help. Third time is not a charm. This attempt, I got one leg in and one boot tangled in the front ropes of the kayak as it rolled. I now found myself under the water with my boot tangled above me. I got out and realized that staying low and holding onto the boat was my only option. I got my upper body out of the water at least. So I floated, with my legs still in the water to brace against the waves. Miraculously my head lamp was still working. Thank you @energizer. I turned it on and flashed it at the shore as my only hope to be rescued. With so much time floating on the lake, slowly pushed along by waves and wind, I remember the thought crossing my mind, "Is this what people think before they die?" (This is a shot of the massive Waterton Lake. I was somewhere there in the middle).
PART 5 With my new iPhone waterlogged (wish I had Apple care), and no watch, I have no idea how long I was floating on the lake. Wet, tired and shaking, my mind was beginning to wrap itself around what was happening. The only way I can sum it up is that I felt utterly and completely…alone. In a world of connection, I needed some NOW and I didn't have it. When I think back, the part that gets me quiet, the part that I don't like to relive was that feeling. Maybe it's odd, but I didn't fear dying, not fear for myself. I wondered about what it would do to my Mom though, and I wondered about my 12 nephews and nieces and how it would be for them. In such a dark and hopeless moment, my faith and my prayers took on a whole new meaning thinking about the people I loved. I drifted north with the wind and eventually came to a rocky beach, on the wrong side of the lake from town, where the upper lake connects to the middle lake. Pulling the kayak out made me realize how uncontrollably I was shaking. I needed a fire immediately and fearfully turned to the dry compartment of my kayak. If it had been wet, I'm not sure I'd have made it. The dry compartment had taken the abuse well and my survival gear and equipment were dry! I got out of the wind as quickly as I could. I didn't know if I had the time or energy to build a fire, but as I rounded the rock outcropping I had landed on, I immediately discovered the most perfect pile of leaves, needles and tiny twigs I could have asked for, and it was right next to a log. Within arms reach was all the drift wood I needed. I had to use two hands to get my lighter going because my thumbs didn't want to move. Soon a blazing fire brought me hope. The rest of the morning I dried my clothes and boots. Sometime around 7:30am I got back in my kayak and took the rest of the paddle home. I learned a lot. A rich life is not one of comfort. It is in struggle that we are taught the strongest lessons. It is in the threat of loss that we remember. When it comes down to it, our relationships are the most important thing in our lives.