Instagram introducing new features – May 2018

Instagram introducing new features – May 2018

Instagram has been busy rolling out a number of new features lately – with plenty more in the pipeline which are currently being beta tested. Lets take a look at some of the new updates and a few that are expected to be coming soon.

Share feed posts to stories

Last week Instagram announced the news that they had finally rolled out the feature to allow users to share posts to stories.

Instagram say:

“When you come across something in feed that inspires you — like a post from a friend raising money for a cause or a photo of a new design from your favorite brand — you can now quickly share that post as a sticker to your story for your friends and followers to see.”

This feature was first seen being tested back in February and was considered a long time coming. Many users had already been sharing others posts on their feed and stories – either by screenshots or third party apps. This new share option streamlines the process of sharing to stories.

Sharing to stories is a simple process as explained by Instagram:

To share a feed post to your story, just tap the paper airplane button below the post, just as you would to send it via Direct. At the top, you’ll now see the option to create a story. Tap it to see the feed post as a sticker with a customized background ready to share to your story. You can rotate, scale and move the sticker — and tap it to explore other styles.

Mute: A new way to personalise your feed

This is an interesting feature as it allows users to stop seeing content from someone in their timeline – without having to unfollow them. This could be useful if you have accounts that you follow for whatever reason (such as family members or old friends) – but you don’t want to unfollow them. As it’s a measure that can be undone at any point it could prove a useful temporary fix when you want to streamline the content you see in your timeline feed (such as during holidays or busy periods).

Instagram explains:

To mute an account, tap the … menu in the corner of the post. From there, you can choose whether to mute posts, or mute posts and stories from an account. You can also mute posts and stories by pressing and holding on a story in your tray, or from a profile.

This feature will be rolling out to all accounts over the next few weeks.

Usage Insights – Time spent on Instagram

I’m not sure I want to know how long I spend on Instagram, because I already know it’s too long!

Tech Crunch have revealed that Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom confirmed that they are trialling a new ‘usage’ feature, which will offer user insights into how long is spent on Instagram. There is much acknowledgement from media and the social media platforms of the negative impact of time spent on social media, so hopefully this is a positive step towards encouraging users towards a more balanced approach to their time online.

Add music clips to Instagram stories using stickers

Code has been discovered within the Instagram Android app that suggests Instagram could be about to introduce a feature that will allow users to add music to their stories via ‘stickers’ – in the same way that they can now add GIF’s, Polls, Locations and Hashtags.

Video Chat for messaging

Instagram is looking to improve their messaging service by introducing an option for group video chats. A feature which they say is being tested at the moment and will be rolled out soon.

Instagram explain:

To start a video chat, simply tap the new camera icon at the top of a Direct thread. You can chat one-on-one or with a small group — and you can keep the conversation going for as long as you like. You can also minimize the video and continue the chat while doing other things on Instagram.

Slow Motion & Cinemagraphs for stories videos

You can already ‘boomerang’, go hands free or rewind! Instagram is currently working on a slow motion and cinemagraphs option for stories videos.

Focus mode for selfies!

Now you can instantly take portraits of yourself or friends that you’ll want to share — with the new “Focus” camera format.

Instagram continues to give Snapchat a run for a money with this new feature which is supposed to improve selfies by keeping the person in focus and blurring the background. Maybe not a feature for the the professional users, but something to have fun with I’m sure!

 

 

Instagram Engagement | Tips for optimising your content | Hashtags

Contrary to what many think, the most important factor on Instagram, is not the volume of followers you have but the level of engagement you have on your posts. Increasing engagement should be your primary focus. The more engagement you get on your posts, then the bigger impact this will have on the algorithm (which will determine the exposure you get for your content). An important part of this is developing a workflow and strategy If you have a plan.

In this post I am going to talk about how using a hashtag strategy can help you to optimise your engagement.

Hashtags for increased engagement

Hashtags - instagram engagement

Instagram is all about the hashtag, more than any of the other social media platforms. Using hashtags is one of the key factors to your content being discovered.

There are various opinions on how many hashtags you should use on a post. The most you can use is 30 – so it makes sense that you use all 30. Research has shown that posts with more than 11 hashtags perform best. There have been talks of using too many can compromise a posts performances…but if this was the case, surely Instagram wouldn’t let you use 30! If you use 30 hashtags – that’s 30 streams you can tap into. I believe the main reason social media commentators suggest not to use 30 is because aesthetically they don’t look great in a caption and seem a bit ‘spammy’. I overcome this by spacing them down at the bottom of my caption.

 

It doesn’t matter where you put the hashtags – caption or comments. I put them into my caption because it means I can edit them. If you put them in your comments, you only have the option to delete them.

 

Should I be using the most popular hashtags?

#instagood, #love, #photo, #summer, #nofilter.

 

Ideally you should be strategic about your hashtags. The hashtags you use should reflect your brand, your content and the audience you are trying to reach and should be considered – rather than just thrown in on a whim. This means that you are going to need to do some planning and research.

Hashtags - instagram engagement

Instagram sunset hashtag

There are few different types of hashtags you can use:

 

Generic / Keyword / Popular

There are certain hashtags which are significantly more popular than others (such as #sunset). It may seem logical to use the more popular hashtags…because… they’re more popular. Actually, the opposite is true. Since such a vast number of instagrammers include these tags with their posts, it means that the posts end up immersed deep within the hashtag feed of photos in a matter of seconds. Another good reason to avoid using the popular hashtags is because the seem to attract spam and bot accounts! Having said that, you could include two or three of these hashtags in your post because they are popular, there will actually be a lot of people watching them. They are likely to help generate likes and comments.

Product / Industry / Service

Product or industry hashtags are used by professionals and brands and are related to the industry they are in.  Consider which users you are targeting and the industry that relates to your account, then choose tags related to that!

Niche

These more specific hashtags, tend to target more engaged users, but usually have a smaller reach. It helps because you’re fishing from a smaller pond of views. Again, use only a couple of these on your posts.

The smaller the number of posts to a hashtag:

  • Less competition for your post
  • An increased chance of being featured in the Top 9 posts
  • The more likely your post will be seen in that hashtag feed.

BUT! Also the less people actually look at these hashtags.

 

Community / Hubs

If you want inspiration or more exposure for your post and to increase engagement with your feed, hubs are a great way to achieve this. ’Hubs’ or ‘community accounts’ are large accounts that will feature a selection of photos throughout the day, in return for you using their corresponding hashtag.

There are countless hubs on Instagram, which cover a broad spectrum of styles such as sunsets, nature, wildlife, portraits, beauty, fashion or locations. A lot of the hubs have a massive follower base between 20k – 100k+. This means that if your photo is chosen to be featured it can receive a lot of exposure (to any individual that follows that hub).

Location

If you’re a local business then it makes sense to use location-based hashtags in order to connect with your community. Using location hashtags will help put you on the radar for your area.

There tend to be some standard format for hashtags for locations such as #igersLondon #igersBirmingham, #LondonBlogger #BirminghamBlogger, #LondonPhotographer #BirminghamPhotographer

Brands

Many businesses and brands on Instagram also use their own hashtags and they often feature other Instagrammers. Canon is an example. They have several region specific pages such as @CanonUK or @CanonUSA. If you use a particular brand – or a brand features in your image it is definitely worth tagging them in it.
Brands also create specific hashtags for campaigns, so it’s important to check regularly to see if there are current ones to be using.

Hashtags in Instagram Stories

Hashtags - instagram engagement

Instagram sunset hashtag – stories

Don’t forget about the option to add a hashtag to your instagram stories too. This is a great way to get engagement as your post will feature in the stories feed for that hashtag (as shown at the top of the image to the left).

You can place the hashtag in a sticker for or within the text. Follow the principles above when you decide which hashtag to choose.

Avoid banned hashtags. You can find a list of banned hashtags here:

https://thepreviewapp.com/list-of-banned-instagram-hashtags-2018/

Don’t just post hashtags…Interact and engage with people in the hashtags you are using.

There you go – my tips on making the most of your hashtags for Instagram engagement. Still hungry to learn more? Check out my other posts:

 

 

 

 

Anxiety – retuning the radio stations | Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week – Cage fighting away anxiety

Approximately 15 years ago I was trapped in a toxic and turbulent marriage. Part of the reason that I was trapped was because of the consuming and paralysing grip of anxiety. With hindsight, if I was who I have become now, I would never have let it go on, so badly, for so long – if at all.

However, Anxiety made me do it. Anxiety made me believe that I was not worthy, that I was to blame. That I was not OK. Whispering in my ear constantly, Anxiety decided I was not enough – telling me I couldn’t cope on my own and reminding me how inadequate I was.

Anxiety arrived in my life early on – following childhood trauma, but was compounded throughout my life and totally embedded by an ex who was happy to feed it what it wanted to hear. In my darkest days, my ex reminded me that “I was f*cked up”, “not right in the head”, “I was crap at maths”, “I was mental”. I can look back now with a wry, self depreciating sense of humour and say that to a certain extent he was right on all counts – but when you’re supposed to love someone you don’t speak about them – especially to them, like that. When you love someone and they’re struggling – and reaching out (albeit it in despair) you nurture, love, support and encourage them.

If you could see Anxiety – Mental Health Awareness Week

So, my ‘friend’ Anxiety was fed for a good few years – it was fantastic and adept at consuming ripe and tasty morsels from those around me. Anxiety could hone it on everything and anything that fed it’s recipe and formula for ‘KIM IS SHIT’.

It became known to me during my recovery and afterwards as my ‘radio stations’. It would be like having Radio 1, Capital, Heart, Talksport and Planet Rock playing in my head, all at once, all at different volumes and all playing different tunes. It was exhausting and draining having to listen in on this going in my head the whole time.

The road to recovery

My ex was abusive, mostly emotionally and mentally, but also occasionally physically. What lingers and resonates with me still, is not the punches he threw (those bruises healed quickly) but the cutting, snide, condescending and degrading words. Recovery was a long, fatiguing and intense process. It probably began about a year before I actually found the courage to finish with my ex. The better and stronger I got, the worse our relationship got – because I began to recognise the untruths he spouted at me and I would challenge and confront them (him). This is probably about the time the physical abuse happened…because his words were no longer enough to silence me. It was at this point that neighbours got involved (calling the police when they heard the turmoil next door) and I began to recognise that this life for me and my children was NOT OK. I found the courage to speak to my doctor – who referred me to an adult social worker. I began to talk. I started to see what was going on…but even at this point I still thought, he would change… if I fixed my ‘f*cked up brain’ then “we” would be OK.

Lightbulb moment!

The day I ended my relationship with my ex, was like an epiphany in my journey to recovery. He began another unprovoked tirade of abuse at me and seemingly from nowhere, this new radio station came on loudly in my head and said “Kim, you don’t deserve this”. I guess the therapy work I had been doing was retuning my ‘radio stations’. It didn’t feel like a conscious or obvious process – because all I thought I was doing during the sessions, was going to the adult social worker and talking about what was happening. I now know, talking about it is often all it takes. That’s why it’s so important to remove the stigma and to get people to talk about how they are feeling – the impact that talking and opening up can have is massive. Last year (2017), I completed a Level 2 counselling skills course which highlighted the importance in my growth/recovery, of just having someone who will listen.

 

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.

Carl Rogers.

Scars and wounds still exist – even now 12 years later. Fortunately, now I know how to nurse and heal these when they do emerge. I love who I am now – warts and all. I am a warrior. I am a survivor. For anyone who has encountered me in recent years, I hope that they would see me as a confident, extrovert and contented person – THIS IS ME.

I still have insecurities surrounding relationships – but they’re not overbearing anxieties and I am able to nurse them. Only when I enter into a wholesome, nurturing and loving relationship again, will I be able to heal these fully.

 

Get Help:

Look around you. That colleague, that friend, your family. Be brave and talk.

If you are struggling to talk to those close to you then you can visit your GP or one of these organisations can help:

Mind

Provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday)
Email: info@mind.org.uk
Web site: www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines

Mind provides confidential mental health information services.

With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental distress, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind has around 140 local Minds providing local mental health services.

NHS

A range of resources and signposting to other services local to you.

Samaritans

Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
Email: jo@samaritans.org
Website: www.samaritans.org

Provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.

Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line

Telephone: 0300 5000 927   (9.30am – 4pm Monday to Friday)
Email: info@rethink.org
Website: http://www.rethink.org/about-us/our-mental-health-advice

Provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. Rethink also runs Rethink services and groups across England and Northern Ireland.

Saneline

Telephone: 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm-10:30pm)
Website: www.sane.org.uk/what_we_do/support/helpline

Saneline is a national mental health helpline providing information and support to people with mental health problems and those who support them.

Women’s Aid

The 24hr freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) is available on 0808 2000 247 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The helpline is answered by fully trained female support workers and volunteers, who will answer your call in confidence. All calls to the domestic violence helpline are free from mobiles and landlines. We can support survivors of domestic abuse, friends and families, and professionals who are in contact with domestic violence survivors.

10 of the best locations for landscape photography in North Devon

10 of the best locations for landscape photography in North Devon

Grab your camera and head to one of these North Devon landscape photography locations!

If you are a lover of landscape photography, then North Devon has so many picturesque and photogenic locations. However, if you don’t know the area it can often be overwhelming to know where to visit for the best photo opportunities.  As someone who lives in the area, and is passionate about many of the locations I’ve come up with my top ten North Devon photography spots to visit for landscape photography.

1. Westward Ho!

Did you know that Westward Ho! is the only town in Britain to have an exclamation mark in its name?! It has a vast sandy beach that extends for two miles north of the village of Westward Ho! and is backed by a pebble ridge. The pebble ridge leads onto the grassy plains and salt marshes of Northam Burrows.
Westward Ho! has numerous beach features which make excellent subjects for landscape photography including wooden groynes, rock formations, a sea pool, remains of a Victorian pier, rock pools, beach huts as well as the vast sandy beach.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

2. Instow

Instow is on the estuary where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet, between the villages of Westleigh and Yelland and on the opposite bank of Appledore. The beach is perfect for landscape photography as it enjoys few waves because of the sandbanks at the mouth of the estuary cancelling out most of the ocean swell. There are also a large number of boats anchored on the sand which make great subjects. Further down the beach towards Yelland, there is a very photogenic wreck and old jetty.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

3. Hartland Peninsular

The magnificent cliffs at Hartland Quay with their incredibly contorted rock layers are always worth a visit and at low tide, there is plenty of sand, rock pools and rocks to scramble over. This wildly beautiful bay offers an ancient quay as well as some of the most spectacular geology in Northern Europe,

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

If you drive to Brownsham National Trust car park on the Hartland Peninsula, near Clovelly, you can enjoy a lovely walk which encompasses both woodland and sea and takes you to the spectacular Blackchurch Rock.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

4. Clovelly

Clovelly is well recognised for its steep cobbled streets and quaint cottages but it also has a pretty harbour. This is such a quaint and picturesque location.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

5. Woolacombe

Woolacombe has a long expanse of sandy beach or venture half a mile down to Barricane which is a small picturesque location with rocky outcrops and rock pools.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on


6. Croyde

Croyde is a village with old world charm, based on the west-facing coastline of North Devon. It’s sheltered bay makes it a fabulous location for various water-based sports. There are three fantastic sandy beaches to choose from and some pleasant walks along the cliff top footpaths.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

7. Great Torrington

Great Torrington is a small market town in the north of Devon, England. Parts of it are sited on high ground with steep drops down to the River Torridge below. Torrington is surrounded by 365 acres of common land surrounding the town on all but the eastern side.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

8. Bideford

Bideford is a historic port town on the estuary of the River Torridge. Bideford has an old arched stone bridge which was built in 1535 and spans the River Torridge. The tree-lined quay still bustles with fishing vessels, cargo and pleasure boats.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

9. Barnstaple

Barnstaple is the main town of North Devon, England and possibly the oldest borough in the United Kingdom. The River Taw flows through the centre of Barnstaple. It has a traditional pannier market as well as fine buildings and attractive narrow streets and alleys.

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10. Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe is a seaside resort and civil parish on the North Devon coast, England, with a small harbour surrounded by cliffs. The seaside town is home to renowned artist Damien Hirst’s famous 20m high sculpture, Verity. This picturesque harbour town is steeped in maritime history and remains one of the key working fishing ports in North Devon

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

Which of these North Devon locations is your favourite landscape photography location?

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