Things I’m Doing to Love Instagram Right Now

You know, it’s really starting to feel super cliche when I complain about Instagram; it’s just not what it used to be.

On the flip side though, I do have to think that back when our feeds were chronological and the dreaded algorithm didn’t really exist, I didn’t have the following that I do now, so truthfully I can never really compare engagement, and maybe even I wouldn’t have my 5000+ followers now if not for the changes. Who knows, right?

Despite all this, I honestly do still love Instagram. It’s my favourite social media platform because I feel it’s where I can be the most creative, and it’s gone from a place where I post occasional life and holiday photos and promote my blog, to all of this plus being the primary place where I promote my business and a place where I’ve made a lot of really good friends.

Over the last few weeks I’ve made a couple of changes in how I approach Instagram, and honestly they’ve all really boosted my positivity around the platform, and have also possibly contributed to an increase in engagement for me as well!

Getting chatty

I see so many rumours and theories flying around about what helps boost posts and I really don’t know where they come from or if they’re true, but supposedly comments really help. Whether this is urban legend or not, I’m actively making sure that if I scroll past a photo and have a thought about it eg ‘ooh I’d love to go to this place’ or ‘wow I need those shorts’, I put that thought into writing. If nothing else, I know how much I love getting comments so if all I’ve really done is given someone a little internal ‘yay’ then it’s a success in my eyes.

Now I don’t know if this is coincidental, or possibly that other people are having the same thoughts as me, but I have noticed since doing this that I am getting more comments and generally more likes, especially within the first few hours of posting, so I might be on to a winner. If nothing else though, I feel pretty good about it.

New editing software

I went from ‘what is this Lightroom thing that everyone’s banging on about?’ to ‘wow this is fantastic’ in approximately 2.5 seconds. Sure I still don’t fully understand it but I’m having fun winging my way through it! And yes, I guess it is just another additional step I’ve created for myself before being able to post to Instagram, but I really enjoy editing photos and I really love the results.

Planning ahead a little

I really take pride in my Instagram, so it does stress me out sometimes when I can’t find the perfect photo to post and sometimes that means I don’t post for days which makes me sad. I know this might sound ridiculous to a lot of people, but like I said earlier it’s one of my biggest creative outlets so while it may just be Instagram, it’s kinda like an artistic wanting to paint but not having any brushes. You get me?

Anyway, I’m tackling this head on with my handy sidekick, the app UNUM, which I’ve had for about a year now. I don’t religiously plan my posts, but I do like to know what I’m doing for the next day or two, with maybe a couple of blank spaces for ‘of the moment’ inspiration, just like I do with my blog posts, and it means I’ve always got something to fall back on if inspiration is lacking a little.

Staggering photos

I came back from my recent Disney trip with, no joke, THOUSANDS of photos. I posted maybe 2-3 photos a day while I was out there, but especially being on the cruise for a few days with no WiFi, I still have so many photos that haven’t seen the light of Instagram yet. Sure, I could post them all back to back, but I sometimes worry people will get sick of them and I also like to keep some content back to fill the gaps between trips (not that I’ve really got many gaps this year if all goes to plan!), so I spread them out between current photos for variety.

Not getting too hung up on numbers

No one likes not being liked, I get that, but Instagram is a weird and wonderful place full of bitchy politics and bots, and I’m just learning to accept that. Fact is, if you’ve seen your follower count drop overnight, it’s more likely to be courtesy of bots dropping out or accounts being deleted or deactivated that it is that many people making the conscious decision to take you off their feed. Hakuna matata.

As for people playing the follow/unfollow game, I just think that they must be having a really miserable time on Instagram if they feel the need to do that all the time, so they can do them and I’ll just be over here having a fabulous time because it’s so much easier than stressing over it.

At the end of the day, I know its just an app, but its also an app that is very important to me for a lot of reasons, so its so much easier to enjoy what I’m doing on there, don’t you think?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Hashtags I Am Loving Right Now

In a world where algorithms are trying their hardest to take the joy out of Instagram, I’m trying my hardest to keep finding the fun.

Hashtags are not only a way of giving your posts a helping hand at being seen, but they’re also a great way of exploring posts from other people who you might not otherwise see, or discovering new accounts to follow, and recently I’ve been making an effort to not only diversify the tags that I’m using, but also to explore said hashtags and find new posts and people to add to my feed.

Here are a bunch of my favourites right now:

#shinyhappybloggers

The latest hashtag brought out by the wonderful Jemma from Dorkface, #shinyhappybloggers has been one of my favourites to use since it was announced. As someone who tends to post bright and colourful content on my Instagram, sometimes the traditional #lbloggers or #bbloggers hashtags can be a little too full of carefully curated flatlays on white backgrounds and I feel like I’m sticking out like a sore thumb, so this hashtag feels way more me.

#chattycaptioncommunity

I used to feel like I had to keep my captions short and sweet, but I actually love reading (and writing) long captions on some of my posts, and now I’ve got a whole hashtag of likeminded people!

#candyminimal

As a lot of my posts fit the bright/pastel template, this is one of the latest hashtags I’ve been adding to some of my posts, but I’ve also been loving scrolling through this to discover other bright and beautiful posts and accounts!

#discoverunder5k and #discoverunder10k

Descriptions kinda speak for themselves, but this is my favourite for scrolling through at the moment to find new pages and help boost the followings of smaller accounts, and as I technically fit into both brackets I’ve been using both of them quite regularly on my posts

#myyellowlife

At the start of this year I kept a pretty good yellow theme going on my page, and while this hashtag already existed but with relatively few posts, I sorta decided to champion it a little. I’ve not got the yellow theme so much now, but I love keeping yellow, my favourite colour, alive in as many posts as I can because it makes me so happy, and all of those posts get this tag.

#styledbymagic

As most of my outfit posts are at least 50% Disney related, this is the perfect hashtag for them, plus a great tag to scroll when I’m looking for outfit inspiration!

Do you have any favourite hashtags right now?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Can We Stop Pretending That We Don’t Care About Exposure?

As a blogger, there’s nothing worse than opening a PR email and thinking it all sounds pretty fab, only to find the classic excuse of having no budget but offering exposure on social media. We read it, we sigh, we tweet something about exposure not paying the bills and we either kindly (or not so kindly) decline the offer, or just ignore the email altogether.

Now I fully agree with this stance on exposure being considered a form of payment, especially when I think about the amount of time that goes into writing, editing and taking photos for a blog post, but I’ve been thinking a little bit about exposure, and how despite bloggers as a whole complaining about it when brands offer it, we also crave the exposure that brands can give us.

I mean, if you’ve put together a killer outfit, nailed your hairstyle and spent half a day trying to get that perfect Instagram shot, are you trying to tell me that you’re not gonna be tagging every single thing you’re wearing down to your setting spray? Sure, we do this a little to avoid the inevitable ‘ooh where’s this from?’ (even though at least half of the comments will still be asking that exact question), but I know that I for one would be lying if I wasn’t hoping that said photo will be spotted by at least one of the tagged brands. I also have no shame in saying that there’s a little part of me praying that I might get a regram, not only for the great feeling of knowing that they loved my post so much, but also because hey I might gain a bunch of followers from it.

So why do we pretend that we don’t care about social media sharing? We all need exposure – I mean, it literally means to be put in the light – but it seems to have become a dirty word in the blogging dictionary. Yes it’s an unacceptable form of payment for hours of work, but it does still offer a lot to a bunch of people who make their side hustle (or even full time hustle) from putting ourselves online to be seen..

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Are Instagram Pods Really The Answer?

Just to prefix this post, I have absolutely no qualms with Instagram pods or people who use them, these are just my musings!

The humble Instagram pod; a supposed way of boosting engagement on the platform that we all want to love and love to hate at the same time.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the term, an Instagram pod is simply a group chat within Instagram DMs, where friends/fellow bloggers/like-minded people chat and share their latest posts, with the idea being that other members of the group will then head on over to the post to like and comment to give the image a better engagement than it might of done otherwise, for example if thanks to Instagram’s notorious algorithm meant that it wouldn’t have otherwise shown up on their feed. Sometimes people in these pods will also do shout-outs for the other accounts in the group on their Stories in order to help each other out with followers.

When it first became a thing, there wasn’t a day when I didn’t scroll through Twitter without seeing a good few weeks of people asking if anyone wanted to join their pod, or people asking if anyone had room in their pod for them, and of course naturally it led to a little bit of drama as well, with some people being told they couldn’t join certain pods, or people complaining about pods etc. Twitter loves a bit of drama.

I myself have never been part of an Instagram pod, so I can’t really vouch for their effectiveness, but as an outside-grammer, it can become quite easy to spot a pod if you pay attention. Sure, you’ll always see friends supporting each other as much as they can, but you start to notice the same people cropping up in the comment section of every post by the same group of people. Now I love my friends and will always try to like every single one of their posts, but I wouldn’t comment on everything and I certainly wouldn’t expect them to do the same for me.

Yes, statistically the posts seem to have a higher engagement, but as a person who likes to look a little beyond just the photo, it all looks a little inorganic, especially when the comments just say things like ‘oh this is a great photo’ or ‘you look fab’. The same goes for story shout-outs. Sure, I do shout-outs for my favourite accounts, and often I might feature the same people, but I do try to mix it up every time, however when the same group of people only seem to share each other on a weekly basis, it just screams pod to me and I can’t help but feel like its a bit forced, plus if I didn’t follow those accounts the first 10 times you mentioned them, chances are I won’t follow them after the next 10..

Now these are just my own observations, and I really don’t mean any shade to anyone who does use pods, especially if they’ve worked really well for you (if they have, I’d love to hear your experiences so do drop me a comment!), I’m just curious to know if anyone else feels similarly, and given that they seem to be talked about a whole lot less than they used to, are Instagram pods fading out again?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Things I’ve Learned While Trying To Beat The Algorithm

Instagram; it makes us all sigh just a little bit, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram. It was the first social media platform I used to promote my blog, and you know what they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words, so its an amazing place to express yourself, but since the introduction of the infamous ‘algorithm’, interaction and growth has been pretty sucky, and everyone and their mums have been theorising various ways in which to take back the platform for the greater good.

I am, of course, one of these people. Having failed to reach my end of the year goal for 2017, I’m determined to do it this year, and I’ve already written about my plan to make this my year on Instagram, now we’re a few months in, I’ve already learned a few things along the way.

People actually like seeing me in photos

I used to avoid photos of myself like the plague – they never seemed to get even a fraction of the likes that any of my other photos did – opting instead for photos of clothes hanging up or as flatlays, but it turns out that people actually like little old me in photos! My outfit photos lately have been super popular, so I guess you’ll be seeing more of me on the ‘gram.

Timing isn’t always everything

I use UNUM to plan my Instagram feed, and even on the free version of the app you do get some insights, one of which being you’re supposed best time to post based on previous likes and comments. Well, I gave it a go, and I can quite safely say that its totally hit and miss. Sure, certain times of day are always going to be better than others – I tend to post on my lunch break at work, and that seems to work for me, probably cos that’s when most people are checking their phone anyway, but even when I followed what the stats told me to a tee, it didn’t guarantee the post would be super successful.

Posting what I love makes me so much happier with my feed

Since the new year kicked off, I’ve been concentrating more on making my feed something that I love to look at, even if no one else did. Yellow is my favourite colour, and integrating it into my feed has made me super happy. I’ve also been using a cute textured throw blanket as a backdrop for product photos to mix things up a little and not shying away from my Disney side so that every aspect of my personality and life shine through in my photos.

Support and shoutouts are super important

If I’m being totally honest, I think the biggest factor in the growth of my following so far this year is thanks to supporting other accounts and other people doing shoutouts for me. I did a Twitter request for people to send me their Instagram links so I could go on a follow spree, and I followed about 100 accounts, most of which returned the favour (although I didn’t expect or ask them to), and I’ve also gained a lot of followers when other bloggers and accounts have included me in shoutouts on their stories, which I am so grateful for. Asking for help, especially when you’re about to hit a milestone, is nothing to be frightened of, and people who support you are always happy to help!

Quality over quantity

I’ve been working so hard on improving the quality of my photos this year. Rather than just taking photos on my phone, I’ve been utilising the 50mm macro lens on my Sony a5000 to take most of my photos and I’ve been so happy with the photos I’ve been taking, and I think I’ve definitely been seeing an increase in likes on *most* of my photos since then. I say most because, y’know, the algorithm is still against us all..

So I’m quite proud to say I’ve gained about 300 followers this year, give or take a bunch of follow/unfollowers (ugh), and I’m really hoping I’ll reach my 2018 goal fairly soon, but we’ll see! If you want to join me over on the gram, you can follow me @lottiedoesdisney!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

‘Stop Being So Anti-Social’

The world we live in today is very different from the one I remember as a child, and that is for a number of reasons. I am, although I hate the connotations that have been linked to the term, a millennial; 90s born, 90s-00s child, and well on my way to adulthood when the 2010s came around. In my lifetime I saw cassette tapes replaced with CDs, CDs replaced with mp3s and now we just stream everything. If you showed my younger cousins a VHS tape or a floppy disc they probably couldn’t tell you what either of them were, yet I still remember the pain of waiting for my Disney films to rewind to the start before I could watch them, and my dad’s office being full of these weird little plastic and metal squares.

I remember my parent’s mobile phones going from big to small to tiny – all Nokias because that was basically the only phone company in those days. I remember my mum getting her first colour screen mobile, and then the first camera phone which took the grainiest photos you could imagine but it was still just the coolest thing. I remember when mobile data became a thing, and my sister accidentally racked up a big bill because we had no idea that this super cool new internet function cost the earth to run, even though it took 4 hours to load a page. Fast forward to today, and I’ve seen every cool new development in technology, and I just know that even the tech we use today will be old news before the next few decades are out.

Our phones have gone from being our life-lines to just being our lives. Its not just keeping important numbers saved, its how we do pretty much everything these days shopping to banking, but ultimately it does tend to always come back to communication, which is strange because its considered so ‘anti-social’ to be on your phone nowadays.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely not for people being glued to their phones 24/7, or kids preferring to play on their parents phones instead of going outside and playing, but there’s a real element of hypocrisy when people make those comments like ‘why don’t you get off your phone and have an actual conversation?’

Here’s the thing, the majority of the time that I am on my phone, I am probably talking to someone, or a group of people, or my Twitter followers, or someone on Instagram. The fact is, socialising is so much more than just having a conversation with someone these days. I mean, if someone was in the middle of a phone call, would you tell them to get off the phone and ‘be more sociable’? No, you wouldn’t, because talking to someone on the phone is being sociable and having a conversation, yet if I’m 20 mins into an hour long Twitter chat and haven’t put my phone down the entire time, its eye rolls and tutting.

What bothers me especially, and this is probably gonna sound super tragic, is that I don’t actually have any friends in my hometown. To be honest, this doesn’t bother me as much as it probably should because I have so many friends that I talk to all the time either through Whatsapp or Twitter or Instagram, and I’m totally blessed to have incredible online friends. I am closer to some of the people that I’ve only ever met once or twice than the people I grew up with and don’t talk to anymore, and my three closest friends are scattered across the country and I’m lucky if I see them every few months.

And all these amazing friends that I do have that are a mere text or tweet away? I met them online. I met them through blogging or through Disney trips or through following each other on Instagram. I would not have met these wonderful people without being online, and the only way I can keep up with them when they are not only all over the country but all over the world, is by, you guessed it, being on my phone a lot.

So the next time you see someone glued to their phone screen, maybe instead of jumping to judgement you should think about what they might actually be doing, who they might actually be speaking to. Just because there are words coming out of their mouths, doesn’t mean conversation isn’t flowing through their fingertips.

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

My Plan of Attack for Instagram

The algorithm might be screwing us all right now, but this year I’m determined to hit some goals when it comes to Instagram. Its always been my favourite social media app, and although engagement is a bit sucky right now, bots are a nightmare and the follow/unfollow game drives me a little crazy, I do still love it.

What I do not love is that little number at the top of my profile that just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Even when I get that little notification to say I’ve gained followers, the number never seems to change, and its a little disheartening, but I refuse to let this setback, albeit fairly major, bring me down, and I’ve been spending a lot of time so far this month coming up with things I’m going to try to get back in the game.

Plan plan plan

I’ve always liked pre-editing my photos and saving them into the handy drafts function that Instagram has, but I’ve never actually had a proper planning tool for what to post when. Well I did a little research and took a few recommendations and downloaded Unum, which is an app specifically for planning out your Instagram feed. You link your account and it imports your current feed, then gives you a whole bunch of blank squares that you can put photos into to decide exactly where you want them to go in your feed. You can even edit photos and upload them to Instagram directly from the app and I am loving it.

Get engaging

I’m ashamed to say that recently my activity with other people on Instagram has taken a dip, but I’m getting back on track by double-tapping and dropping comments whenever I can. I’m not sure if this will actually help my own account at all but if it puts a smile on the face of another user looking for some engagement then my work is done.

Celebrate others

Again, whether this actually helps my own follower count or not I don’t know or care, but recently I did my first ever Instagram story shout-out to some of my favourite accounts, and it made me so happy! I’m gonna try and make this at least a monthly thing going forward and continue spreading the love.

Spend more time looking for new accounts

I’m very much the person that follows people I know, then people who appear in the suggestions tab, and people I see sharing their links on Twitter, but I rarely just go hunting for new accounts to follow, so I’m gonna hit the explore tab a bit more and brighten other people’s days by hitting that follow button.

Get regular and utilise stats

My aim for 2018 is to try and post every day wherever possible because its rumoured that being more regular generally sees an increase in engagement. Well I’ll have to wait and see with that one, but what I am curious to test is looking at some of the analytics from my posts. As well as planning posts, Unum also has an analytics tab which shows all sorts of data from my most popular posts, best hashtags and even the best times for me to post on each day of the week based on previous engagement – apparently Thursdays seem to be my best day! PS. This is all included under the free version of Unum, but you can pay a subscription for more insights.

Have fun with it

More importantly than anything else, I just want to continue loving Instagram. Towards the end of last year I found myself falling out of love with it a little as I felt some posts were forced, or didn’t fit my style and I just didn’t like feeling that way. I’ve currently got a bit of a yellow theme going on, and with yellow being my favourite colour and also a happy colour, I’m smiling every time I look at my feed which is exactly what I want.

If you wanna help a girl out, my link is below, or you can search for me @lottiedoesdisney!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram