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Kit Critic: Why social shopping is the best shopping

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Kit Critic is a column on cycling style by Aliya Barnwell, the founder of Ride Up Grades, a cycling instructor, and a longtime rider. Follow her on Instagram at kitaddiction.

Have you heard of this little platform called Instagram? No? How about an antique called Pinterest? It allows people to search for ideas or inspiration and pin them to a board for later reference. I believe I left some relics there. In fact, my first social media purchase was through Pinterest. It was a bike tool roll that has since been redesigned. I hate it.

Who cares, and what does this have to do with cycling kit? We cyclists should care, because now there’s a social network dedicated specifically to kit. With a little help from our friends we can find kit that fits without having to play the returns game, and without having to study fit charts like we’re interpreting the prophesies of Nostradamus. If Pinterest had been set up the same way I might have avoided that poorly-designed tool roll, which opened up while on the bike and scattered my roadside repair supplies across Houston street.

Kit.Fit is the company behind the Kitfit – Cycling Kit Obsessed account on Instagram, and a new social shopping app by the same name. Kit.Fit allows users to create an online closet complete with their unique measurements and their preferred fit (snug/race or comfy/club).

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They started in 2015 as an account that shared photos of kit and the local Aussie cycling scene. Built under the guidance of tech executives who are friends, the app was already in the works. As cyclists themselves thrust irrevocably into the era of online shopping with the rest of us, they wanted to offer more than pictures of the best-looking kits. The app offers a way new way to find the fit that works best for each individual and their unique shape. Because two people can be the same height and weight and still not fit the same size item.

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On Kit.Fit, riders upload pictures of themselves and their sizes to help others get a sense of fit.

Instagram is great as an advertising platform, and if you’ve been on it long enough, you remember when they built in the direct purchasing feature. That is an example of social shopping: selling directly through a social media platform is social commerce. The difference between Instagram or Pinterest and the Kit.Fit app is Kit.Fit’s account profiles are designed to share more than just what users think is cool; as users build their profile and add items to their closest, they can share what sizes they wear.

In my last piece, I mentioned the differences in fit that result from different fabrics: the high-elastic jersey is going to fit differently than a low-elastic variant from the same company. In addition, cuts are different (all race cuts are not created equal). The Kit.Fit app helps people find cycling gear by connecting them to other riders of similar size, shape, and fit preference. Posts also include the weather conditions favorable for a given kit. It takes the educated-guessing out of ordering online.

My most expensive kit mistakes are all ordering kit from overseas only to find it doesn’t fit. Returns take time, are expensive, and there’s a chance the size needed will not be available by the time the item is returned. We are not all lucky enough to live in areas where we can simply go try on gear. I try to do that now, but I live in a major metropolitan area where bike shops stock unique cycling gear; not everyone is so lucky.

Social media shopping may have saved me from the Pinterest tool roll debacle; people can comment on items, and in this case someone else may have pointed out it was missing a Velcro or closure band needed to function properly. I would have saved my money and the company would have gotten the necessary feedback to make those adjustments earlier in the products lifecycle.

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‘How will this look on me?’ Having a rider’s height, weight, and sizes listed helps the shopping process.

The catch with Kit.Fit is adding your own closet takes time if you’re a kit hoarder like myself. If the item hasn’t already been created on the platform users add it themselves, complete with a picture. Of course, all this info can be pulled from brands’ existing online listings, so if a rider’s kit collection is smallish or includes brands or items already on the platform, it only takes a moment.

That said, brands are in the space and adding their own gear. While it does offer brands space to share, its main focus is not on brand voices – the whole purpose is to see and get feedback from regular cyclists. As of now, however, it seems a gathering of the cutting edge technophiles and the elit. Content creators interested in sharing images that hook fellow cyclists are already building their profiles. Since it’s more specific in its purpose than other social media, it’s easier to find content that is relevant to a particular aesthetic, as opposed to searching the cycling kit hashtags on the Gram.

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The app is still growing, and the developers are actively responding to feedback from users. I’m keeping an eye on it, and will build out my online closet, no matter how daunting the task. If nothing else, it has made me measure my girth and reflect how large my kit collection has grown as I sought the perfect fit from every brand in existence. I’ll keep an eye on Kit.Fit, and give my wallet and the returns departments a much deserved break.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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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.

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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.

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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.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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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.

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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.

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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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