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Liz Truss hires Instagram guru to battle Sunak in Tory beauty contest | Zoe Williams | The Guardian

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When Liz Truss sought permission from No 10 to hire a “digital media special adviser” – in other words, an Instagram guru – she became only the second cabinet minister to indulge the idea.

The first, of course, was Rishi Sunak, who engaged the services of social media specialist Cass Horowitz over a year ago.

The services are subtler and more strategic than those of a photographer or stylist – not so much “Can we lose the shine on that nose?” as “Should the nose be angled upwards toward the future? Or backwards towards Britain’s glorious heritage? How’s about some Doric columns in the background? Can anyone lend us a hawk?”

The famous portraiture of the Reformation, when each prop – the lute, the ruff, the pet – was heavy with significance, is the template, but the update is a bit less cryptic and the message rather blunter: not so much “How to suffer omnipresent death when the path to salvation is so unclear” as “Who wants to be prime minister? I do!”

To which end, Truss’s social media feed is like a Richard Scarry book: what jobs could a lady do? Here she is on an aircraft carrier, unaccountably dressed for a dogfight; here in a hard hat, building a ship. She may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but she has more than adequate head protection. She can prepare for a speech or hug a calf, harvest grapes or negotiate; in short, she can do all the jobs. If a picture customarily speaks a thousand words, here we have a thousand pictures, speaking two: choose me.

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Rishi Sunak has a similar grandiosity in his baseline assumption that everything he does is inherently interesting. He could be sitting on a sofa or pointing a pen, icing a cake or taking a train, patting a dog or sitting near a dog. The mood is different – not so much “I can turn my hand to anything” as “I can be all things to all people.” The message is the same, however. Choose me.

If the battle for the next leader of the Conservative party, and therefore the nation, is played out on Instagram, are there any clues as to what kind of leader each might be? Truss’s styling is very two-bit populist – she looks like a cross between Emma Thompson in Years and Years (the Russell T Davies fascist dystopia drama) and Marine Le Pen (in fascist dystopian real life).

The similarity is not that they are all blonde and highly coiffed – rather, the primary colours and the dynamic hand gestures. This kind of portrait asks itself a question: if a nation worshipped a leader, and longed for her guidance and stewardship, what picture would it choose as its screensaver?

Sunak, meanwhile, is labouring full time to build an image as “regular guy, but better”; imagine a totally normal man, just like yourself, sir, but now give him 10 fairy godmothers, so his wife is richer than the Queen and he has the physical discipline of Achilles, or at the very least, can go all day on the Peloton.

It’s quite a subtle calculation that he’s made: there’s no point pretending not to be rich (although his recent statement that he and his wife are “not struggling” suggests that this would be his preferred route), so why not sell himself instead as an aspirational figure, a man gilded by his own consumer choices?

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He carefully scales down his luxuries to a price point that a mortal could afford – a coffee cup for 180 quid, or some £95 plastic shoes – and the question shifts, from “Who is this remote and shallow person, and what could they possibly have to say about politics?” to “Where can I get a pair of those sliders?”

Narratives take time to cohere, and it’s too early to say whether Liz Truss’s message has landed, let alone been approved by a wider public. At the moment, she benefits from an endemic media sexism that dictates that any woman is fine, so long as she’s smiling and thin.

Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, has been met with unprecedented approbation; the BBC featured him, apparently without irony, as a cartoon Superman. Sunak has been called the “Disney prince”, “dishy Rishi”, his style choices pored over in the Times as if he were a Kardashian. The phrase “client journalism” is bandied about, but isn’t quite right; that means “to be so heavily dependent on one or two sources that you lose your impartiality”.

The visual trove provided by Sunak and Truss is in no way restricted or exclusive, and cannot constitute a “source”. This is more like “completely crazy journalism”.

There are those who say the rot starts at the top; Downing Street is obsessed with creating a pictorial record and employs three photographers. Their salaries are controversial – David Cameron had to move Andrew Parsons on to the Conservative party payroll after he was accused of wasting taxpayers’ money – and opaque, but rumoured to be accelerating fast enough that the only explanation is, they know where the bodies are buried. Word to the wise: if you were going to bury anything, you definitely shouldn’t have taken a snapper.

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The result is that national and world events are visually represented by flattering and pre-approved images. So there is a new sleekness that they hope will remind us of American politics, rather than, say, North Korea.

Rishi and Liz are running a tight race. She pulls ahead by saying something more substantial about who she is; he then edges forward by having a nice scarf.

The stubborn fact remains that their real contest will be fought in the field of the party membership, who would prefer to see a chap with his shirt untucked, accidentally asleep in an armchair, or ideally, no photos at all.

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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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