Have you been wondering of late just how Prince William’s bald patch is going? Well, lucky you, because over the weekend our future King’s increasingly obvious tonsure enjoyed, if that is the right word here, a moment in the social media spotlight.
To mark Anzac Day, William and wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge’s Kensington Palace social media accounts shared a truly delightful video showing the prince, with his balding noggin on prominent display, writing letters to the Australian and Kiwi high commissioners before an unseen flunkie zipped across London to deliver the missives along with homemade Anzac biscuits.
Reader, it was totally charming.
And it was also indisputable proof of something that has become increasingly apparent of late: Kate is simply nailing the social media game right now.
Sure, her look might be relentlessly stuck somewhere between 1976 and 2014 (how can one person spend so much money to look so inoffensive?) but the duchess has proven she knows a thing about wielding power 2021-style.
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See, while royal news over the last year has nearly been wholly consumed by the ongoing Sussex melodrama, all TV tears, pouting, posturing and eye-popping business deals, something very interesting has been going on back in the UK. That is, while the eyes of the world were by and large glued to the Harry and Meghan Show, Kate has been revolutionising the royal social media game.
Case in point, their Easter post. Rather than sharing some pretty shot of daffodils or something suitably pastoral like a playful lamb, the @KensingtonRoyal account instead featured a homespun video showing a chocolate egg being smashed with a rolling pin in reverse. Cheeky.
RELATED: Kate’s very public power play
Or how about last year’s Father’s Day images, which also happened to fall on William’s 38th birthday. In one lot, he was shown with his three children gloriously piled on top of him in their Norfolk garden in a fit of giggles; in another all three grinned while perched on a swing.
Elsewhere, there was a totally mold-breaking image of William with his arm around his father Prince Charles’ shoulder. It is not hyperbolic to say that this was a truly extraordinary shot: Never before have two future Kings been photographed with such intimacy and warmth; never before have two future Kings been portrayed with such cockle-warming realness.
And all of these pics? Taken by Kate. In the guise of self-appointed in-palace photographer, she has been quietly moving the dial in front of our very faces.
Then there was Prince Louis’ second birthday shots last year. While initially an image was released of the tiny prince with hands covered in rainbow paint in support of the NHS, Kate later shared a shot of his face also smeared in paint, titled ‘Instagram Versus Reality.’
Consider too in July last year when William teased a mystery outing with the palace Instagram account sharing a shot showing a half drunk pint of beer and Indian takeaway on silver platters.
Later it was revealed that he had appeared on footballer Peter Crouch’s podcast which was recorded at the palace, during which the men enjoyed a curry, a few ales and talked about mental health. (The royal, after serving up the dishes, joked: “There’s an Uber driver out there on the floor being frisked.” Let’s just hope he tipped the poor bloke well).
One of my absolute favourites was in October last year when Prince George, Princess Charlotte and little Louis were filmed via shaky iPhone in the Kensington Palace garden asking clearly rehearsed but nonetheless heart melting questions for David Attenborough.
I’d wager that Charlotte adorably asking the conservation legend “I like spiders, do you like spiders too?” did more for the royal family’s brand than if Princess Anne industriously opened recycling centuries the length and breadth of the UK.
Essentially, over the last 12 months, William and Kate’s former regimen of stiff posed pictures, generally pulled from Getty Images and which were all rictus grins and waving Union Jacks, has been supplanted by something far more subversive and quietly radical.
Don’t be fooled here. This isn’t an accident or some clumsy, grasping ploy to appeal to a more youthful demographic in the wake of the Sussexes’ climactic exit from royal life. (Quick! Nothing gets the kids in like a well-placed hashtag! Anyone know what this TikTok caper is?)
William and Kate’s social media transformation is emblematic of a far more significant intellectual shift in their journey towards the throne. Basically, this is them positioning themselves to rule – and rule in a way that will change the crown forever.
In essence, what we are witnessing via the Cambridges’ social media accounts is an acknowledgment that for the monarchy to survive, it will require a new royal modus operandi predicated on a common humanity.
That is, imperious and enigmatic is out; openness and realness are in.
To understand why this is such a dramatic step we need to rewind to 1968 when Prince Philip masterminded the PR misfire that was the royal family’s foray into reality TV. For a year, cameras followed the family for a behind-the-scenes documentary however within days of it being aired in 1969, the Queen is reported to have come to the hasty conclusion that its rendering of the royal house as a banal, inherently bourgeois bunch dramatically undermined the grandeur and mystery of the monarchy. (Aside from about 24 hours when it was mysteriously leaked onto YouTube earlier this year, the footage has been locked away in the royal archives and has never been broadcast again).
Henceforth, after the doco fiasco, being seen as too normal was viewed as intrinsically dangerous to the crown thus forcing them to walk a ridiculous tightrope between projecting a certain magical, magisterial otherness while still seeming vaguely human.
The results have been mixed to say the least.
What William and Kate (and their communications team) seem to have realised, as evidenced by this social media shift, is that it doesn’t have to be an either/or; that monarchy and relatability don’t have to be such uncomfortable bedfellows.
Rather, to keep public support buoyant and keep the entire gilded enterprise afloat they need the royal house to be viewed equally with both admiration and with affection and to do that, they need to open themselves up to the public.
What Kate has seemingly worked out is that to be real isn’t to render the whole enterprise into appalling mundanity; that vignettes of heartwarming normality woven into the social media fabric are a fundamental part of setting themselves apart from the rest of the titled Windsor flock.
Underpinning all of this is authenticity. There is a certain charming naffness to much of what they now post which is … William and Kate in a guile-free nutshell.
That project goes beyond sending out a smattering of charming family snapshots every so often. One of the most marked changes in terms of the KensingtonRoyal social media presence is the injection of humour, personality and even at times tongue-in-cheek tone.
All of this stands in stark contrast to the Harry and Meghan who lost their hugely successful @SussexRoyal Instagram account when they quit official palace life last year and have not subsequently debuted any sort of social media presence.
The Sussexes have railed against the toxicity of social media. In a piece for Fast Company last year, Harry charged “online platforms” with having “stoked, and created the conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth”. But what the Cambridges’ new-found digital prowess has proven is just how much of a potent marketing tool they have sacrificed right as they are working to establish their Stateside brand.
It is no coincidence that all of this is coming to a head as William and Kate prepare to mark their ten-year wedding anniversary this week. The bigger picture here is that this social media metamorphosis reflects their increasing willingness to experiment and forge their own path. So too are we finally seeing the duchess, a naturally shy woman, enjoy growing confidence and assuredness in her role.
(While it would be nice to chalk all of this social media manoeuvring down to Kate’s savvy, the Cambridges have had some expert help of late. In April last year it was confirmed that they had hired the Sussexes’ former social media manager, David Watkins).
While hierarchy underpins royal life at all times, what we are seeing via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook is William and Kate taking the lead. Yes, Her Majesty the Queen might still sit on the throne and Charles is patiently twiddling his thumbs in the wings but when it comes to proactively preparing to rule a modern society, the Cambridges are already positioning themselves.
And thank god for that.
So, godspeed you crazy kids and David Watkins. You just might save the monarchy yet.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …
Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.
Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.
Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.
Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.
Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.
Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.
— Yash Joshi (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021
5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android
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.
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.
Credit: 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.
Credit: 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.
Credit: 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.
Credit: 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.
Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters
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.”