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YouTube star and ‘Dance Moms’ alum JoJo Siwa, a hero to young girls, comes out as gay with her …

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She’s a little bit Pee-wee Herman, a little bit Disney-era Miley Cyrus and a little bit “Sesame Street.”

But the truth is there’s really no one like former child star JoJo Siwa at 17, with her oversize hair bows, her signature super-tight side ponytail, her big raspy voice and her wholesome, rainbow-bright music videos, one of which has more than 930 million views.

She’s the babysitter or summer camp counselor of a 7-year-old’s dreams, the big girl that little girls want to grow up to be.

And now she’s something else as well: a role model for LGBTQ youth.

In a few typically exuberant steps starting last week, Siwa announced to her 31.6 million TikTok followers and her 10.3 million Instagram followers that she is romantically interested in girls as well as boys.

First, she went on TikTok and danced to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” widely viewed as an LGBTQ anthem. Then on Friday she posted a photo on Twitter with the caption “My cousin gave me a new shirt.” The shirt says “Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever.” Finally, in an Instagram Live on Saturday, Siwa affirmed that she is part of the LGBTQ community, thanked fans for their support and said she was the happiest she had ever been.

She declined to put a specific label on her sexual orientation, but in what appeared to be a response to a fan’s question, she elaborated.

“I always believed that my person was just going to be my person,” she said. “If that person happened to be a boy — great! If that person happened to be a girl — great!”

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The reaction on social media was mainly very positive, with celebrities and everyday people declaring that this was a big moment, in part because of Siwa’s mainstream appeal, and in part because of the size and age of her fan base.

One of the themes among LGBTQ people and their allies was gleeful surprise.

Celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Paris Hilton signaled their support, and members of the gay community and their allies welcomed Siwa with open arms.

On Instagram, some parents were dismayed by the news, with at least one saying she would no longer allow her daughter to watch Siwa, whose YouTube channel draws 12 million subscribers.

But other parents responded with joy, including one who wrote, “This is HUGE, and such a profound statement for so many kiddos out there!! Our daughter loves you, and I rushed into her room last night when I heard, and had the longest talk with her about you coming out! What incredible representation she gets not just from her Moms, but from her idol as well!! How awesome is that?! Love your bravery, love your enthusiasm, and love that you have chosen YOU and your truth!! Thank you for being such an incredible example for so many! All the love, and welcome to the fam 🌈❤️”

On a private Chicago-area Facebook page for parents and allies of LGBTQ youth, all the responses were very positive.

Siwa, veteran of the reality show “Dance Moms,” has drawn snide remarks at times for her child-friendly fashion choices: the huge hair bows, the sequins and glitter, the bright aquas and shrill pinks. Some of the haters sniffed that she should act her age.

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But her remarkable consistency — she never seems to break character — as well as her stance against mean girls and her seemingly boundless enthusiasm for wholesome, G-rated fun, have won respect from mainstream critics, with Time Magazine naming her one of its 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

In an essay accompanying the announcement, Kim Kardashian wrote, “JoJo Siwa is a ray of sunshine in a world that seems scary right now … It’s no wonder my 7-year-old daughter North and millions of other children around the world adore her.”

Some observers speculated that Siwa’s coming out may signal a new stage in her career, in which she embraces a more mature image, perhaps a variation on Miley Cyrus’ transition from Disney sweetheart to outspoken pop star.

Others just wanted to throw the social media equivalent of kisses, bouquets and love notes.

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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How many hashtags should you use to get the most ‘Likes’ on Instagram?

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Hashtags are a key feature of Instagram posts. In fact, they have become an essential means of ensuring more ‘Likes’ on social media – so long as you choose them wisely.

But how many hashtags should you use to maximise your popularity on the social network? The answer might surprise you.

It’s a question that many Instagram users ask themselves: what’s the right number of hashtags to add to a post? To find out, the Later platform analysed 18 million Instagram posts, excluding videos, Reels and Stories.

Interestingly, Later’s results differ from Instagram’s own recommendations. According to Later’s analysis, using more hashtags helps get better results in terms of “reach”, or the percentage of users exposed to the post. By using 20 hashtags, Later observed an optimal average reach rate of just under 36%. Using 30 hashtags gets the next-best reach rate. With five hashtags, reach hits just under 24%.

And while a post’s reach is important, engagement is even more so. From “Likes” and comments to shares and follows – on average, 30 hashtags appears to result in better engagement rates: “When it comes to average engagement rate, using 30 Instagram hashtags per feed post results in the most likes and comments,” says Later’s research.

Yet, at the end of September 2021, Instagram advised its creators to use between three and five hashtags for their posts, while warning them against using too many. The social network advised that using 10 to 20 hashtags per post “will not help you get additional distribution”.

For Later, there could be other reasons behind Instagram’s recommendations: “As Instagram continues to expand their discoverability and SEO tools, it makes sense that they want users to experiment with fewer, more relevant hashtags – this could help them accurately categorise and recommend your posts in suggested content streams, like the Instagram Reels feed or the updated hashtag search tabs,” the website explains. – AFP Relaxnews

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