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

I Went Viral

Guys, I have actually no idea what’s happened in the last 48 hours.

Whether you follow me on Twitter or not, there’s a good chance that you may have seen a tweet of mine that unexpectedly took the Twittersphere by storm.

It was Friday morning, and while I was stuck at work, I was waiting for the good news that my ASOS parcel had been delivered. My DPD driver Paul was due to deliver between 9:31 and 10:31, and I’ve never had any issues with DPD so I felt like my parcel was in safe hands. The text came, and I glanced at it quickly presuming it would read that it had been delivered safely, and most likely signed for by my mum, but what I actually read made me to a double-take.

I enjoy a bit of delivery humour, and I’m full of stories from experience with various delivery companies, and this text didn’t bother me in the slightest. I had a little giggle, then quickly shoved my phone back in my pocket before I was caught out by a manager, but I did think other people might get a kick out of the text, so on my lunch break I decided to post a screenshot of the text on Twitter and share the lols.

Since then, everything has felt like a whirlwind.

Within a few minutes of tweeting the image, responses were rolling in. There were a handful of retweets, some replies and a good number of likes, to which I didn’t think much, but by the end of Friday I had 2K likes, and as I’m writing this now on Saturday evening, the post has almost 4,000 retweets and 23,000 likes.

I am absolutely flabbergasted. Little old me with my 2,500 followers would have never expected this sort of response from a single tweet, and since it reached what I can only describe as viral status, there hasn’t been more than a minute when I haven’t received more notifications of likes, replies and retweets. For this very reason I have no idea if anyone has actually been talking to me on Twitter because I am just swamped!

This is crazy right? I know it’ll probably fizzle out over the next few days and I’m certainly not letting this go to my head, but I am just astonished at how entertaining the internet has found this text! Did it make you giggle?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Things I Don’t Understand on Twitter

Back in the day, Facebook was my staple social media site. No matter what I was doing, I’d always have a tab open so that I could keep up with everything that was going on with the people in my life. Now I can’t stand the thing, and Twitter has replaced it.

Considering how long its been around, I’ve only been on Twitter for about two and a half years, and while it was an absolute maze to me at first, its second nature now and I’m totally proficient in retweeting, hashtagging and chatting away until my little heart’s content – even though most of the time I’m probably just silently scrolling/stalking.

That said, however, there are a number of things I see cropping up across Twitter on a near-daily basis, and they’re a total mystery to me..

Rant accounts

Yes, I know everyone uses their Twitter as a way to vent feelings, or express unhappiness at certain companies/brands, but that’s not what I’m referring to. What I mean are those accounts that have clearly been set up with the sole purpose of talking smack about a particular company or issue. I once had to block someone (who didn’t even follow me) because every time I tweeted something about Redbubble (and I only have nice things to say about Redbubble), he would reply by trying to attack the brand. Upon clicking on his profile, I soon realised that this is all he does on Twitter, and his entire feed consisted of replying to people tweeting about Redbubble. Whatever your beef is, get over it mate.

The constant begging for an edit button

I know the pain of a typo or auto-correct malfunction, but I cannot stress enough how bad an edit button would be on Twitter. Let me put it this way:

Imagine you see a funny tweet. You innocently retweet it, as does a whole bunch of other people. The tweet has now gone viral, and the original writer now decides to use their famous moment to get a point across. They hit that edit button, and change the hilarious tweet you just had to share into something offensive. Now you, and all those other innocent retweeters have just shared something potentially awful, and you might not even notice..

Sure, the majority of people might just want to go back and correct a minor mistake, but it does have some serious repercussions if abused.

Copying viral tweets

You know when one of those tweets appears in that ‘things you missed’ or ‘things you might like’ section of your feed, just cos its got about 11K likes and retweets. You laugh, maybe you also RT, but then you forget all about it. Next thing you know, about 6 people on your feed have either written their own version of it, or print-screened the original to try and claim some fame of their own. Everyone sees what you’ve done, boo.

The classic follow/unfollow game

Now I don’t always remember to check my notifications to see who my new followers are, but I’ll normally have a little look to see if its someone I might want to follow back. Sure, sometimes the reason I don’t follow back is because I’ve forgotten, or skimmed over the notification, but it could also be because I’m not that interested. The thing with Twitter is that it doesn’t have to be a two-way street, and I’ve written about this before, but if I haven’t followed you back after your third attempt at following me, not only does it mean I’m not interested but it also means I’m not playing your game. Chances are you’ll unfollow me again anyway, so I’m not gonna make an effort to try and support you if you don’t actually care about supporting me.

Am I alone in my feelings?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

How To Take a Day Off Social Media

Taking a day off social media

As bloggers, our lives generally revolve around social media. Its not a bad thing – its how we drive traffic to our site, its the best way to communicate with other bloggers and its a great way to get exposure with brands. I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s been told things like ‘you spend too much time on your phone’ and ‘you’re being anti-social’, while all you’re doing is chatting to other people and promoting your latest post, right?

All the same, sometimes a break from the screen is a good thing, but how can you take a day away without letting your blog suffer? Try a few of these tips:

Schedule all your tweets

I normally only schedule 5 promotional tweets a day, and do the rest by myself, but if I know I’m gonna be busy and away from my laptop or phone, I’ll stick a few more in for good measure!

Take a camera, not your phone

Its easy to justify needing to take your phone out with you in case you need to snap some shots, go out with your camera instead – it might even get your creative juices flowing more!

Tell people what you’re doing

Whether you just text around to let your nearest and dearest know you’re gonna be off the radar for the day, or drop a tweet to announce you’ll be quiet – it means you can be disturbance free and also the accountability will make it easier to stick to your guns.

Go old school

Instead of putting all your thoughts into tweets, write them down instead! Carry a notebook and a pen, and every little thing that pops into your head can go down on paper for you to use another time.

Use it as material

If you’re worried about what a day away might do to your blog, why not your experience as a blog post? Write about what you did, how you did it and how it was for you, and share it with the world!

Don’t worry, its good for you!

There’s nothing wrong with spending all your time on social media. There’s also nothing wrong with taking time away. Whatever you wanna do, do it!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram