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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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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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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