Is it Too Late to become an Instagram Star?

Carl Thompson By Andrew Barber (OmniStyle)-8.jpg

Are you thinking now is the time to make a big push on your Instagram account? It's getting a lot of traction but now we need to monetise the traffic?

I think a lot of people have that leap of faith moment, but are unsure on whether they've missed the influencer boat. 

Is it too late to enter a saturated market with only a modicum of the following that some of the big boys have?

You might want to first ask yourself the following questions such as Why do you want to become an Influencer? 

  1. Is it to get freebies?

  2. Is it because your current job sucks and you need a way out that doesn't involve study or rebranding?

  3. Did you just catch your own reflection and think you're too good looking to be working as a cashier or flipping burgers?

Ok so you whatever the reason, let me just emphasise that I know very few influencers, even the big ones, that have given up the day jobs to leverage their social media accounts. Especially a lot of friends I have in the industry will often utilise other content related skills. Videography, podcasting, ghost writing etc. 

My short answer is, NOPE, never too late.

I like this article from Nicolas Cole who posed a similar question in INC magazine. Basically none of the monoliths in the tech industry today knew their terrain when they first started out. 

Even AMAZON started solely selling books. Facebook was exclusive to University students. Let's just say when you started your page you might have been posting pictures of your chicken dinner, now you want to focus on fashion or beauty products. 

Who cares, what you want to post about. So long as it's a genuine interest of yours. 

Carl Thompson.jpg

Here are 3 chunky facts for you to take away:

1 billion people use Instagram every month

I recommend you check out this article on Hootsuite that gives you the skinny on some Instagram facts for 2019. 500 million people use Instagram every day. That's a huge global resource and if you're telling me that your genre is saturated then perhaps you need to find the niche within a niche. 

OR just think logistically, that you have the potential to reach 500 million people. No matter if there's a bunch of you all focusing on the same thing, no one is doing it the way you're doing it. 

Instagram Posts That Include a Location Receive 79% More Engagement

Check out some more statistics about Instagram in an article on Influencer Marketing Hub. What does this tell you? That some people still don't know how to truly leverage their audience potential.

Imagine if you somehow did shed tonnes more research than the person who is competing for your campaign, on how to capitalise on a theme or product, then all of a sudden it's not such a saturated market after all. You can climb the ladder and get a bigger market share. 

Photos With Faces Get 38% More Likes

I pulled this one from Omnicore. So imagine what people are engaging with? People. The personal touch. The human element. No matter what your face looks like statistics show that it’s what people are more interested in engaging with. 

I hope this has helped. I hope you find what you're looking for on Instagram. Remember it is work, although not real work

Best London Street Style Photographers to Follow on Instagram

anete-lusina-387741-unsplash.jpg

Sadly it's an occupational hazard that means I have to be in 99% of the photos on my Instagram feed, ruining the view as some might say.

Trust me, I'm much more comfortable behind the camera, but pictures of sunsets minus yours truly, doesn't keep the lights on at the Thompson household.

That said I'm a huge advocate of street photography. I've highlighted some of my favourite London Street Photographers and recommend you give them a follow on Instagram and tell them I sent you.

OMNISTYLE

Fronted by my good pal Andrew Barber. Andrew is one of London's best street photographers and has accompanied me on many shoots. He really captures the essence of people when he looks their way.

Somehow he manages to distil every moment down to its finest millisecond. Always a pleasure and a privilege to be in this gentleman's company.

DAVID NYANZI                                             

London based photographer David has an uncanny knack of capturing the most ostentatious and elaborate outfits on the London streets today.

It holds a great balance between staged and street photography. I often go to David's page to get inspiration for poses, angles and... well I was going to say outfits but a lot of those are just a bit too bananas for me.

NIKON STREET STYLE

Ran by my good friend Pete Brooker over at Human Research. He takes pictures of strangers, without permission he adds. Apparently one of the first person he asked if it was ok to take their picture turned him down flat. Today he tells me he can't face that level of rejection so has never asked permission since.

GARCON JON

No London Street Photographer's list would be complete without the addition of Garcon Jon, AKA Jonathan Daniel Price.

I've always wanted to have a middle name. Makes you sound so much more dignified when people read it aloud.

Daniel is quite experimental with his lighting. Often seeking the less obvious angles. Such as car wing mirror reflections or interrupted spaces.

THE1HARRIS

AKA Richard Harris. Has a very unique sense for capturing disturbed beauty. Almost like a magnet for identifying ones solitude.

His captions are also enchanting, lyrical, thoughtful and I'm just in love with this guy. His feed is a joy to get lost in.

Let me know if you have any other recommendations in the comment box below. Even if it's your own Instagram handle I'm always on the lookout for London Street photographers for personal paid lifestyle shoots.

 

Top London Architecture Accounts to Follow on Instagram

simon-rae-313816-unsplash.jpg

I don't care what you say, this is the best City in the world. We have the bars, the cuisine, the architecture, the history, Savile Row, Carnaby, Soho, need I go on?

If you're not living in London you might follow these generic 'Top London Accounts' and get some beautiful airbrushed pictures that turn London into Disneyland.

Today we're going to zero in on the Top London Architecture accounts to follow on Instagram. It will be a very real authentic look at London, I recommend you follow these Instagram accounts from the people that truly love this city as much as I.

Hazem Aljarallah

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 07.49.31.png

Top of the tree. (See photos above). Every picture looks like it could be its own movie. There's not much to go in Hazem's bio, but his pictures tell many stories. 

Adam Sheath

Top London Architecture Accounts to Follow on Instagram.png

Adam has a distilled beauty to his work. Taking little less known pictures that others would miss. (See above). Such as the puddle reflections in the Soho lights as opposed to the lights themselves.

Adam is a London based graphic designer & photographer. Hit me up Adam, be great to do a shoot with you someday.

Brutal Architecture

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 08.02.08.png

Okay so not exclusive to London, but there are many London posts on this account. For those that have to take pictures of London landmarks like Centre Point and the Welbeck carpark, this is the account for you.

New London Architects

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 08.14.37.png

No one paints a better picture of London than these guys. They're bio reads 'Bringing people together to shape a better city'. Which is bunch of empty calories to be honest, but you can't argue that the pictures show you many sides of beautiful London.

David Bleeker

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 08.15.42.png

Oooh check out this fella. I once heard the art to taking a great picture is all in the framing. Well David certainly knows how to frame London in a stunning way. Geometrically my favourite of the bunch so far.

Derelict London

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 08.16.12.png

I don't know about you but there is something dirty/beautiful about forgotten parts of London. It has a serene sadness to it. Many parts of London have suffered due to several boom-bust social economic vicissitudes over the years.

Paul Tallin, author of Derelict London & London's Lost Rivers also does walking tours.

It's Time to Talk About Carl

Carl Thompson Blogger.jpg

I was made aware of the defamatory article anonymously and callously published on the medium.com website, which has named my e-commerce business Hawkins & Shepherd and myself personally amongst other businesses and influencers.

I'd like to take this opportunity to clear a few things that have circulated some social commentary since the article was published. It's been a very traumatic week for me personally having to be on the receiving end on what I consider to be a pernicious article, published on an open platform without approval or checks for authenticity.

It's been very tough keeping emotion out of this. Some of the scathing consistent attacks I would even categorise as cyber-bullying. I'll do a follow up article to this about that in due course.

Now I'm a 38 year old man. I've developed a thick skin and can rely on a certain muscle memory to get me through this kind of onslaught. I don't suffer from depression but I feel anxiety pangs like anyone else. 

When my phone pings, my heart races. I don't even want to look at my phone right now.

But some of the bloggers I've spoken to that are implicated in this article have only just turned 20. I've had private conversations with them who are on the verge of having a break down. 

Now I don't want to advocate for one second the flagrant use of ‘Insta fraud’ as it’s been labelled. I think the industry is on the mend. I think it's right to highlight where the regulations need to serve the industry better. I can speak about this because I have reformed. I used to follow and unfollow around two years ago but that's not my scene anymore. 

However, I think this article is more a personal attack, laden with spite, resentment, with a pernicious undercurrent and I want people to realise that we're still dealing with human beings.

People that share and retweet thinking they're throwing a spotlight on the issue of Instafraud, are actually sharing an article that was removed, with unfounded accusations from an anonymous source. It's cut deep into the people that are implicated, and is still having a profound effect. 

james-sutton-188586-unsplash.jpg

I've not risen to any of the comment threads on social media that are continuing a very aggressive media attack on my name and brand.

Instead I've been spending my time talking to the brands and management companies of whom I've had the pleasure of working for and alongside as an ambassador for many years, reassuring them of the inaccuracies in the article, of which I'll get into soon.

I have a very open and honest relationship with these brands (there names I will refrain from disclosing for now) I've been honoured to work for and I've been overwhelmed with the support I've received in return. You can see some of the messages of support I've received below. 

From one brand:

"A member of our team did see the article, but I’m aware that we’ve already spoken to you about your historical follower pattern. We were satisfied with the conversation we had with you and are happy to continue working with you on projects that we feel you are suited." 

From an agency: 

"Hey Carl. We were made aware of the article last week and having read it we agree it comes from a place of spite. The “facts” presented are heavily laden with opinion, conjecture and are overall slanderous to everybody mentioned.

We also realised it was quickly removed. I think your statement on the article is strong and unemotional which is more than can be said for the original author of the article itself. It’s a shame that you’ve been put in a position whereby you need to address it.

On a personal level it doesn’t change how we view you nor alter how we’d like to work with you moving forward.

If you need anything from us to help support you then just let us know."

mitch-lensink-220106-unsplash.jpg

Some of this might sound like lawyer talk, because I wanted to detach my emotions and just deal with the facts.

ADDRESSING COMMENTS IN THE ARTICLE

“Allegedly another one of the biggest cheats in the Men’s fashion space, Carl Thompson is one of the biggest frauds out there in terms of inorganically growing his account. His cheating goes as far back as records go, which is January 2016. From January 2016 until July 2017 he aggressively followed and unfollowed hundreds of people per day, cheating his Instagram and cheating his way to over 54,000 from practically nothing.”

Back in 2016 it wasn’t unusual to follow a lot of accounts. I personally followed thousands of people - every blogger, friend, fashion enthusiast etc, who I knew as part of the Instagram community and who helped to shape my own style.

From around April 2016 to April 2017, I used to follow some accounts and have engaged with them, later unfollowing.

I want to note here that despite what the article says, by that point, I have already amassed around 20-25,000 followers from my consistent men’s fashion Instagram posts, presenting and TV appearances.

Instagram at that time was mainly to promote my business Hawkins & Shepherd, where I invested over £100,000 of my own money, and for the love of the industry and the fashion.

During that time I did not know where the Influencer marketing would go and if I would be a part of it. It was a very new industry with no guidance.

In summary, with all due respect to the anonymous authors, I’m a massive part of this very much nascent industry and I have earned the respect from multiple fashion designers, business owners, journalists, PR’s and other Influencers.

“After the scandal of July 2017, he then appeared to have stopped, and his account has been in decline since, which is no coincidence. His Instagram name comes from the brand he owns (which also has manipulated Google reviews), but he uses this to promote himself as a blogger, and has a blog in his own name, carlthompson.co.uk.”

I have stopped following and unfollowing in April 2017 when I realised that this form of marketing had a serious influence on consumers and that it was something that I wanted to be a part of for the long-term.

In addition, I have been building trusted relationships with brands and wanted to offer a great ROI. My Instagram account did slowly decline for a while, however, I actually have perceived that trend as a good thing because real followers who may have just followed me because I followed them, decided to unfollow.

As the rate of decline was very slow and gradual, I have still been gaining followers and have been retaining ones that truly wanted to engage with my posts. What the article fails to mention is that my Instagram account is growing again and has never been more engaged. I would like to comment here that I have never bought fake followers.

Screenshot 2019-02-11 at 15.19.42.png

I would like to point out that the comment regarding my e-commerce business Hawkins & Shepherd being a “complete slander” is based on no evidence whatsoever, which again just highlights  the fact that this article is a personal attack.

Hawkins & Shepherd has 400 reviews, all 100% verified customers that have to be legally registered on the Yotpo review platform that I use. Below is a screenshot of this:

Screenshot 2019-02-11 at 15.12.09.png

The Google Reviews that the article has suggested were also manipulated in fact are genuine reviews, most are customers and some are from friends/family that I’ve gifted product to and they have kindly written a review.

“He is one of the most disingenuous and fake Influencers out there. The perfect example is working with several shaving brands, pretending to use their razors and products, then his beard magically stays on his face in the next photo, despite claiming that the razor is good and he’s apparently shaved it off.”

I regard the opening statement  as defamatory with the purported “supporting evidence” taken out of context.

My captions and images have been consistently well received, I have invested  a considerable amount of time and effort in creating these images and in ensuring that the content is exactly what the brands expect and is of an exceptional quality.

“This was comically seen when he posted about Harry’s and more recently Gillette and their razor blades, foaming up his face with razor in hand, and in the very next photo, his facial hair magically re-appeared a day later. Either the razor is not very good, he grows hair like a werewolf or he’s lying. We’ll let you be the judge.”

Whilst I applaud the anonymous author on his/her diligence in finding the one inconsistency from over 1,800 posts on my Instagram channel, posts on my Instagram grid rarely correlate to a physical date/time timeline.

When working with brands many posts have to be vetted and authenticated weeks, sometimes months in advance. The consistency of my beard between posts is arbitrary.

“He holds almost no authority, no influence and is disliked by many of the other men’s fashion bloggers and influencers, for cheating with his Instagram and being incredibly fake. His Instagram engagement is currently at 2.06%, and has been manipulated.”

I have no comment regarding this other than I have evidence to the contrary available to brands on request.

“FAKE INFLUENCER PARTY”

The Hard Rock Hotel invited me as an unpaid guest to create content on their behalf. After seeing the results of the engagement and the quality of the content provided, I was invited to promote their newly opened Hard Rock Hotel in London.

“He has now set up a new ego website, to showcase his arrogance and for people to believe that he’s kind of a big deal. “Who Is Carl Thompson .co.uk” is a website telling you who he actually is.”

The website https://www.whoiscarlthompson.co.uk/ serves as an online visual Media Pack/CV. It serves no other purpose other than to provide detailed information on my portfolio.

“According to it, he’s a TV presenter, model, influencer, photographer, YouTuber, business owner, blogger.”

Each of these are correct and accurate. I’m happy to forward on examples of each on request.

“It seems he craves the fame, being on First Dates along with Dinner Date.”

I make no apologies for appearing on these shows that are watched and adored by millions of viewers.

“According to his Instagram, he’s currently an ambassador for Haigclub, Jo Malone and Kobox. He has worked with Debenhams, House Of Fraser, Panasonic, ECCO Shoes, 360 Coffee, tk Maxx, Lab Series, Kronaby, Starbucks, Philips, Reiss, Burton, Mazda, and many more.”

That is correct and I’m extremely proud to have worked with each of these brands.


FURTHER READING

VOTED TOP 6 MEN’S LIFESTYLE BLOG IN THE UK 2018

https://www.vuelio.com/uk/blog-awards/shortlist/

TOP 10 UK MEN’S LIFESTYLE BLOG 2017, 2018, 2019.

https://www.vuelio.com/uk/social-media-index/mens-lifestyle-blogs-uk-top-10/

These are all based around official Google blog statistics, domain-authority, quality of writing and imagery. Voted by industry professionals.

MY OWN BLOG STATISTICS PUBLISHED

Earlier this year, I have published my Blog Statistics with screenshots of Google analytic data (I note the extremely low 1.03% bounce rate for the year of 2018).

https://www.carlthompson.co.uk/further-reading-blogs/2019/1/18/carl-thompson-all-the-stats-from-my-blog-revealed

YOUTUBE

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7saYubGIW4nDfajCS9Kkqw?view_as=subscriber

My channel has around 8,800 Subscribers with a very engaged following and has almost 1million views on the videos published.

 

 

 

Latest News, Tools and Social Media Tips

glen-carrie-773789-unsplash.jpg

In this article I want to give you some crucial updates on everything that is happening in the world of Facebook and Instagram. What's more, how you can utilise these changes into making them work for you. 

CROSS POST AND SWIPE UPS! 

You can now double up on the exposure of what you share across your social media platforms as Instagram has now launched the capability of sharing swipe up links from your stories over to Facebook. 

Although some people like to go native on their individual platforms, for businesses this is a great time saver. Also for people that are more dominant on one channel than the other. For example, I'll confess I don't do much on Facebook compared to Instagram, so having this feature to share across my audiences at least keeps my Facebook page active. The easiest way to get started is by following the instructions here.

FREE MUSIC! 

After I've done a Vlog it can be quite painful having to trawl the net for a song that will fit. Not only that it has to be royalty free otherwise YouTube will set the dogs on you. 

The clever folk at Facebook have sorted this out for us. The Facebook Sound Collection now has over 2,000+ songs and 1,700+ sound effects available for use.

All content from Sound Collection can be used freely on our platforms without any additional licensing. Check out Sound Collection in Creator Studio here.  

WHY THE MERGE? 

You may have heard the news that Facebook are going to merge the messaging services of Facebook, What's App and Instagram by the year 2020. What will this mean for us? More than likely more adverts. WHY? Because Zuckerberg needs to start making a return on Whatsapp since he bought it for $19 Billion. 

Facebook announced increases in revenue today despite all the noise around Cambridge Analytica. And now we have the introduction of a homogenised messaging service. Joy! It just goes to show if you get a product for free, you don’t own it, you are that product. For more information on the combined messaging services there is a great in depth article about that on The National

BACK TO FACEBOOK

You may be looking to boost your posts and services on Facebook, but you're weary on all the technical jargon. There are a dozen ways to improve your skill set on Facebook without having to hire an intern or tech guy. 

Firstly you may want to think about getting a blue certified tick, which can be done by taking an exam via Facebook Blueprint. This will school you on a variety of different subjects such as Ads ManagerBoostingBidding EffectivelyCarousel AdsGenerating Leads from Ads, and Pixel.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions regarding blogging, the latest CMA rules for Instagram or how to monetise your blog you can always comment me below. I know it can be a bit of a labyrinth, maybe daunting for some. So don't hesitate to get in touch. 

 

How to Take Amazing Smartphone Pictures & How I Edit my Instagram Images

Photo by  Yen Vu  on  Unsplash

Photo by Yen Vu on Unsplash

Have you ever been wowed by a picture on Instagram, and then feel stupefied to find it was taken on an Smartphone? A friend recently posted an exotic photo from his trip to Thailand and it was like a screensaver. I asked him what camera he was using these days and to my bemusement (and mild embarrassment) he said, 'on my phone'.

I've had plenty of friends tell that posting native shots on Instagram gets way more traction. I.E taking a picture of something on your phone, in the moment, rather than a professional image taken on a high-resolution camera that has been edited in Lightroom, cropped etc. 

Someone that is on top of her game when it comes to making the most of the smartphone is Katrina Frazer, a pro-photographer known as the ‘Queen of light’. (That's a good name, sounds like the next fragrance from Beyonce). 

Along with the Nokia 7 plus, Katrina brings you her top tips for pro-style pics all from the tech in the palm of your hand.

 

Top Tips for Smartphone Pictures

Play with the shutter speed. Taking great pictures at night is just a nightmare. Notice you don't see too many night time fashion shoots on the streets of London? Lighting a shot is a massive operation and isn’t as simple as just pointing and clicking. 

To capture more detail, you need more light. A slow shutter speed keeps the camera lens open longer to let in more light.

* If you don’t have a tripod, try spreading your feet shoulder width apart and lean your back against a wall to create a tripod with your body

* If you have a desk/table/counter to lean on, plant both elbows on the platform - elbows should be wider than your shoulders

* Another way to steady a shaky hand is to take the picture as you slowly breathing out

Playing with shutter speed and movement in low light can help you create artistic effects.

Photo by  Arthur Osipyan  on  Unsplash

 

ISO-what? While your smartphone camera auto-settings might work well enough, one simple way you can ensure pro shots is by playing with your camera’s ISO settings.

For the perfect portrait or selfie that brings out the contours and shading of a face it’s better to use a low ISO.

To make the most of the detail this setting allows, you should ideally try to position the subject in natural light, with the light focused on their face. In these circumstances, flash will kill the image so try to use the light available along with adjusted ISO settings to create pro-portraits.

Some smartphones allow you to manually change settings in your camera and play with ISO levels, shutter speeds and aperture – getting it right is sometimes a matter of trial and error!

Pro Mode on Nokia smartphones is the perfect interface to give you full manual control over all your camera settings. Available on its latest models including the photo-fab Nokia 7 plus, Pro Mode allows you to easily access manual settings in one swipe. Combining innovative optical hardware and imaging algorithms, the Nokia 7 plus captures moments into photos that are true to life. It’s optimised and integrated for maximum performance and battery life, even when you are broadcasting your #Bothie videos (videos taken using the front and back camera simultaneously to create a split screen image) live on Facebook or YouTube.

Available in Black/Copper, the Nokia 7 plus is available to buy for a RRP of £349.99.

 

Other smartphone tips for Instagram

Whilst I don't post many pictures from the smartphone (I would say that only 5% of my Instagram images are smartphone taken). I do post vids and snaps on the stories. Here are a couple of tips:

  1. When taking a photo, always try and leave space in the picture for some text, arrows and emoji’s. 
  2. Always Geo-tag your location and tag someone that might enjoy the photo. 
  3. If you're in London hashtag #VisitLondon. I find that the best tag for outreach on stories. 

 

 

How I edit my photos for Instagram

I often get asked this and in all honesty I don't have a particular Lightroom preset or any template to use. What I tend to do is edit each photo individually but in a similar way to achieve my desired look and feel.

The first stage of a good Instagram image is an exceptional photographer who knows you and your style. My Instagram tends to be quite dark, shadowed, sharp, high contrast, simple colours and cool tones. So the first stage is to make sure your photographer knows your style, for me there is no point in getting professional images that have warm, pink, earthy tones to them because 1. It doesn't fit my feed and .2. If I then re-edit the image, I'll be pissing off the photographer and the quality of the image will deteriorate. 

If I have time on my hands, I tend to use the RAW files and edit in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Although this isn't always possible, so more often than not, I just use mobile apps to edit my images. 

So if I only have 5 minutes to edit and post a photo to Instagram, this is what I'll do:

1. Transfer the photo to your smartphone. Make sure the transfer doesn't affect the resolution of the image.

2. Open the photo in the Facetune App. I ONLY use this app for the Details and Whiten features. I do not and will never ever edit my face, spots, greys, wrinkles etc. If there are any green trees or bushes, I'll use the whiten feature to grey them out slightly. I'll then use the same feature to whiten any tungsten, amber light or features. If there are any details in the image that I would like to sharpen and highlight, I use the 'details' feature to go over, such as a watch face or pocket square. Export the image.

3. Use the above exported image to post to Instagram. Use the custom editing tool and never a preset filter, to create your own style. Again, it depends on the image but here is roughly what settings I use to edit in Instagram:

- Brightness 0
- Contrast 0
- Structure +2
- Warmth -30
- Saturation 0
- Colour 0
- Fade 0
- Highlights 0
- Shadows -100
- Vignette +80
- Tilt Shift 0
- Sharpen +35

Trial it out and let me know what you think.

 

Are Facebook or Instagram Reading my WhatsApp Messages?

rodion-kutsaev-184298-unsplash.jpg

Have you ever googled a product or a brand, then seconds later found that same product or brand advertising on your Facebook feed? Ever thought it a wild coincidence that you've just googled 'How to wear Chelsea Boots' then to find endless pictures of Chelsea boots on your Instagram feed?

The critical mass finds this somewhat invasive, creepy but are still willing to waiver the targeted adverts as the price you pay for free social media. But I have to tell you about an experience that happened to me the other day.

I was discussing with a friend the benefits of sugar free Ice Cream over WhatsApp. My friend had never heard of the brand, never googled it, it was not on my friend’s radar whatsoever. Then as if by magic, said Ice Cream was all over her social media banners.

A coincidence? Pull the other one Zuckerburg, it's got bells on it. Facebook own both Instagram and WhatsApp, so it's not surprising that adverts are interlinked and cross pollinate through different platforms, but aren't WhatsApp conversations encrypted?

I had no idea that Facebook are listening in. This was not only creepy as heck, but the first real wave of targeted advertisement that made me sit up in my chair and look around.

warren-wong-238678-unsplash.jpg

 

So are Facebook listening in and if so how are they doing it? 

I pulled this from an article from Lifehackers written by Nick Douglas, a very interesting read.

"Facebook’s mobile app theoretically could listen in on you, at least while you have it open. It even has a public feature that will try to recognize any audio in the background, like music or TV—but only while you’re entering a status update, and only if you’ve opted in. Facebook says this feature is never used for advertising."

I should state as thorough and insightful as this article is, it is dated a year ago and the author is convinced that Facebook is not listening in due to its credibility and Douglas is quoted as saying in the article:

"Facebook is cagey, but they don’t tend to openly lie about huge data-collection schemes."

But the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal which rocked the Facebook community has changed people’s perception of that. 

To counter this argument, it could also be said that there have been a million Facebook advertisements that I don't identify with? I'm admittedly very susceptible to confirmation bias. That's when your brain notices positive examples of what you were conditioned to believe, but doesn’t notice negative examples.

rawpixel-236143-unsplash.jpg

 

But what about WhatsApp? What about the Ice Cream convo? 

Again there is another decent blog by Natasha Lomas for TechCrunch.com that offers the following advice. 

“When your messages are end-to-end encrypted, only the people you are messaging with can read them — not WhatsApp, Facebook, or anyone else.”

How interesting! This encrypted messaging service only works by the way if both parties agree. So make sure your text buddy is onboard. 

 

So what does Facebook want from my WhatsApp number? 

Facebook has your number, in a lot of ways! They use your mobile number for Custom Audiences ad offering. So any WhatsApp users that have given a business the same mobile phone number they use for the app can be served targeted ads by that same business via Facebook. And let’s face it, we all just use the same number for everything right? 

 

Final Verdict. 

The tools are there. Sure you have encryption on the messages, but your iOS has no added security for archive chat. The database that stores your chats on your iPhone does not benefit from an extra layer of encryption. 

That said I don't want to start sounding like a conspiracy theorist and we should state that there has been no evidence of proven case studies of Facebook reading or using data from encrypted WhatsApp messages.

Although how can Instagram serve both myself and said 'friend' with the same Ice Cream Sponsored Post on our feeds the day after discussing it on Whatsapp? I'm sceptical. 

In April 2018 Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress and directly implied that WhatsApp chats are inaccessible to Facebook because of end-to-end encryption.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCES, COMMENT BELOW.

 

Your Ultimate IGTV Guide | How to Upload Videos to IGTV on Instagram

IGTV.jpg

It's been getting a bit crazy on Instagram of late. The IGTV platform feels like it's been talked to death already and it's barely a week old. Now the proverbial dust has settled what is it all about and is it truly the game-changer everyone is making it out to be? How can you monitise it and how do you edit you videos for the IGTV vertical format?

 

I'm still unsure, what is IGTV? 

IGTV is a standalone app and one that can have integrated into your Instagram account. You can upload videos up to an hour long if you have a verified account. Although I believe there are some hacks or ways to get around this limitation for non-verified accounts.

For those minnows like you and I we will be restricted to 10 minutes. Which is plenty of time for a vertical video. (We'll talk about the vertical video problem/solution later). 

It will certainly enhance the sales of Gimbals as the jittery homemade videos will soon get tiresome, much like all the found footage movies did after The Blair Witch Project.

It will certainly separate the men from the marines when it comes to video content because you'll need to be a bit more clued in with editing, creating ideas that doesn't just involve 15 seconds of you filming yourself blowing out a birthday cake. 

Ten minutes might be a very long time for people with so few ideas. 

 

Will using IGTV benefit my business? 

You bet your ass it will. Imagine having an hour long video platform where you can demonstrate your products to your audience, of course there is also LIVE for that but let's be honest, what brands really use that? It also helps brands or Influencers who do not currently have a presence on YouTube target their audience on Instagram with more engaging video content. 

There are insights available for your IGTV video. So far IGTV insights include: Views, Likes, Comments, and Average percentage watched.

There's even a handy chart to show you the points at which video viewership increases and drops.

IGTV 3.jpg

How do I edit IGTV videos for a ten-minute format? 

Well this is where you need to get that big brain a'cookin’. Firstly, lets talk about the editing. As IGTV presents videos ONLY in vertical format then any new videos you shoot for IGTV should be filmed in portrait but make sure there is enough resolution left after the cropping. 

It would be great for a horizontal format to be introduced but for now make sure every time you film something with your cameras you need to keep the object in the middle of the frame. As we're the guinea pig generation for this new format then I wouldn't start hiring out film crews or studios just yet. 

I'm going to film everything on my Sony A7Sii, then import the videos to my iMAC and edit them in iMovie or FinalCut. For this demo I'll use iMovie, so this is how to create a video for IGTV from scratch:

1. Film your subject in portrait NOT landscape. Copy from your SD card to your iMac. Open iMovie, create a new project "IGTV Test" and import the video into the project. Even if you've filmed in portrait, iMovie will rotate the content to display in landscape...don't panic.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 15.51.34.png

2. On the top right-hand side in iMovie, click the "Cropping" icon, then "Rotate the clip clockwise" until your movie displays in portrait as below.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 15.54.48.png

3. Edit your video as you would normally and save to file. If you are using Airdrop to transfer the video from your iMAC to your iPhone then save in 1080p although I do believe that IGTV supports 4K resolution.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 16.09.03.png

4. Then simply open IGTV and upload your movie. Remember that on IGTV you can add URLs in the description and they become clickable links --> use this format https://www.hawkinsandshepherd.com/

I haven't had the chance to experiment with including music on the videos. Currently IG stories can be uploaded with music, (royalty and non-royalty) but posts on the home feed that contain music that require royalty fees, get taken down almost instantly. 

According to Digitial Music News it looks like Instagram is also working on layering music into Stories. This is still at the rumour stage, though monetization would likely include both background music and intentionally added clips.

IGTV 2.jpg

I'm a blogger/instagrammer, what are the best videos to upload to IGTV? 

I already uploaded one of me working out in KOBOX. I can imagine fitness vids and instructors making huge use out of this. 

 

FITNESS TUTORIALS

What will this do for all those fitness apps out there like Tabatas that you need to subscribe and pay for to see this kind of content? They'll need to rethink their model that's for sure. 

 

UNBOXING

We mentioned product demos but I think Unboxing videos will be great for this. Unboxing vids on the stories is tricky, and boring because it takes 15 seconds just to get the damn sellotape off. 

 

EXCLUSIVES

How about doing content that no one can get on any of your other platforms? Imagine a news release or a giveaway code for a product? 

 

Recently I thought David Haye missed a massive trick. He announced his retirement on his website with a very thorough and well thought out blog post. 

Then he just reeled it all off on an Instagram vid for those that he said 'can't be arsed to read'. I mean there's repurposing content and there's just killing all the emancipation. 

 

Why should I move over to IGTV? 

When a new platform is started, there is an opportunity for content creators to get noticed. New platforms lack content so there is a greater chance of your content getting noticed.

When it comes to bright and shiny new things people are in “exploring mode” looking for people and content to enjoy and follow. Which makes it much more likely for your content to become popular.

Also we're migrating more and more to our phones. The IG blog highlights that “by 2021, mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic" and that they’ve “learned that younger audiences are spending more time with amateur content creators and less time with professionals”.

 

The Evolution of my Instagram Feed @HawkinsAndShepherd

I started Instagram and blogging about 2 years ago this month (no I'm not going to buy a big number 2 balloon and make a big deal of it!). The journey and growth has been better than I can ever had imagined but most importantly I've enjoyed every minute of it. Actually thats a lie, sometimes when you are doing a photoshoot hungover in the rain with passers by laughing at you, isn't ideal! So why did I start Instagram and why the name HawkinsAndShepherd?

Instagram was a way to get free promotion for my own business called Hawkins & Shepherd hence the name. Hawkins & Shepherd is my own brand where I sell men's formalwear such as shirts, suits, coats and ties online through our store. After a good few months of wearing my own shirts and suits and posting on Instagram, I realised that this would soon dry up and content would become pretty one-sided, boring and stagnant. That was when I decided to start buying and wearing other menswear brands and use my knowledge of the fashion industry and styling to help men dress better. My style is incredibly varied mixing smart formal attire and casual everyday wear, I like to appeal to a large variety of guys whether they are dressing for an interview, first date or just going to the shops. As you can see from a few of my early posts on Instagram, it was very much about the Hawkins & Shepherd shirts, some of my celebrity friends wearing them and of course Charlie, my French Bulldog.

 

THE EARLY DAYS

Looking back at the middle era of my blog, I didn't really have anything different about me, my style and imagery and felt like it wasn't really going anywhere. If I'm honest with myself, I didn't care enough, I just brought cheap clothing for the sake of photographing something and just posted it regardless. Now I'm much more picking with what brands I wear and who I promote - it has to be in my style and I truly have to love what I'm wearing. Back to this grey period of my Instagram evolution, I didn't care much about the locations in which I shot my outfits, even a dirty brown brick wall would do. This showed in my feed, I was also totally over editing my photos, especially with contrast which I look back now - what was I thinking!

THE MIDDLE GREY ERA

Late in 2015 was when I started to realise the potential of what could be achieved with Instagram.  By both promoting my own clothing through Hawkins & Shepherd and also creating a new influencing business promoting other brands for a fee. I started to find my style and was much more confident with everything from working with PR companies, directly with brands and was even starting to feel pretty comfortable behind the camera and a videocamera. 

FINDING MY UNIQUE STYLE

Early in 2016 was a time where I sat down and said to myself 'I need to up my game' and from that moment on, I never looked back. I spent time critiquing my work and tried to work out how I could be different and why would brands want to work with me, what can I offer to show real value? My basic conclusion was to just be myself and don't try to emulate someone else who is deemed to be successful in the Instragam world - whats the point in doing Instagram if you are just copying style, astetics and ideas from others. 

THE LIGHTBULB MOMENT

It still took me a while to find exactly what my uniqueness was, it was a major period of trial and error. The biggest game-changer was working with some incredible photographers BeckyElla and Kylie and speaking to them to find my perfect balance of style and showcasing London's hidden corners. I've started to use my dog Charlie in more photos, as he is an absolutely gorgeous dog but the main difference is that both myself and the photographers I use spend hours trying to find the best locations around London - fashion meets London archeteture is what I like to be known for. I've worked out a unique editing to my photos which took a very long time to perfect, using a mixture of Photoshop and Instagram's own editing options. It's kind of like a recipe...a splash of contract, a cup of shadow and a teaspoon on saturation!

I just want to finish off this post by saying thank you all for your support and advice during this incredible 2 years of mine. What's in store for the next 2 years? Maybe a bit more travel but certainly a lot more fashion, style and interiors...oh and of course Charlie!

Thanks for reading, Carl xx

FOLLOW MY INSTAGRAM

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FASHION BLOGGERS BOYFRIEND!

Sophie Milner aka Fashion Slave

Meet Sophie. Sophie is a fashion blogger, writer and journalist who studied Journalism at Cardiff university before furthering her resume by taking a MA in Fashion Journalism at Central Saint Martins. She is also my girlfriend, best-friend, my inspiration and everything in between. I still remember the first day she let me loose with her camera, taking photos of her latest outfit, little did I know at the time, she was just sizing me up for a promotion into being her full-time #instagramhusband later down the line. She looks normal, right? Pretty, smiley, cute, butter wouldn't melt...(insert a vinyl scratch sound here)...wrong. To get that one shot, takes a hell of a lot of blood, sweet and tears and probably the odd "I'm not doing this anymore" tantrum!! Saying that I actually wouldn't change her for anyone, but it is hard dating a fashion blogger and here are my tips for guys out there who are in a similar relationship.

It's a freezing cold, misty, rainy winter Sunday morning at 7am, not proper rain but that fine rain that a girls hate, especially ones like Sophie who have long flowing, perfectly curled hair that she has been up since 6am perfecting. I'm hungover and Sophie and I have a photoshoot planned somewhere in Chelsea. We are leaving at 7am, so I get to hers for then because the night before she has all the outfits that she wants to photograph planned. Then in the morning all she has to do is get ready and go. A less seasoned #instagramhusband might actually believe her, not me, nope, never...yet I'm also savvy enough to know that I must be on time (regardless if she is running late), I don't want anything to 'ruin her vibe' and plus I have my morning boyfriend chores to do. A typical photo shoot morning will go something like this:

First is the 'approval of her outfits' stage and probably the simplest to get right, as deep down she knows she looks great and is just after reassurance. So when the questions come in, like "Does this go with this"? Just agree and never deviate from a solid "Yes babe, you look amazing" answer.

My next 'job' is to choose between a nude or red lipstick for each outfit. Why? God knows. What do I know...again she already knows the correct answer so be aware of these loaded questions! Here you need to have a few pre-configured answers and boy have I got this shit on lock-down. So here goes "Go for the red babe as it brings out the earthy autumnal tones in your skirt" 1-0 me. Do not give a choice, don't say "they both look great" or "I'm not sure you decide" as both of these comments will lead to further delays and a mood killing atmosphere, which has to be avoided at all costs.

Feed her, as she bites when not fed and get a coffee down her neck because it will speed shit up!

Now for the checklist.

  1. Camera?
  2. Memory Cards? 
  3. Enough space on the memory cards?
  4. Camera batteries charged?
  5. Spare camera battery?
  6. Correct lens on camera fitted?
  7. Accessories for all outfits?
  8. Lipsticks?
  9. Umbrella?
  10. Money for coffee? (check your own pockets for this!).
  11. Your magic wand? (because you may have to use it to magic up the perfect lighting and weather scenario)

You are now ready to leave. Be prepared to head back to hers at least once for forgotten items, don't stress, this is normal.

When travelling to the spot where we are taking the photos, what I find best is to keep chat as upbeat and minimal as possible and avoid discussing traffic, weather and especially not that amazing other fashion blogger that always posts fantastic, fun photos.

We arrive at Chelsea embankment and it's cold, wet and cloudy...basically a fashion bloggers nightmare. Finding a calming response to this situation is where I struggle slightly and I'm still playing around with what works best in this scenario because "well it isn't my fault the English weather sucks" or "lets just get on with it and get home" doesn't get a great reaction. *Note to self, next time use the magic wand. 

You also NEED to know your girlfriends facial expressions so you can avoid an Alicia Silverstone in Clueless sized strop. If you see the below, its okay, she is just disappointed as we haven't got the perfect photo yet, keep shooting and this will pass.

Level 2 Pissed...nothing of concern!

Level 2 Pissed...nothing of concern!

When taking the photos, be observant. No street lights sprouting from her head, parked cars are the devil unless vintage and pastel coloured and railings are a must! Get the angles wrong and you might find yourself on the receiving end of one of these looks below. This look is deceiving, its seems harmless enough but thats the issue...its the look where she is on the way to a level 10 strop but is holding it back (for the sake of the photos!).  

Err What is this awful red car doing in the shot? Level 5 Pissed...this can go either way!

Err What is this awful red car doing in the shot? Level 5 Pissed...this can go either way!

Taking the photos is actually the least stressful part of the mornings roller coaster ride. However it's when Sophie comes over to assess my work that things can go horribly wrong, if there was a digital red pen, she would be all over it. Just take the criticism in your stride, bite your tongue, put your hand in your pocket and squeeze your balls....whatever works for you! Just don't bite back and argue (like I normally do, I just cant help myself!), but if you do you'll be on a one way ticket to a level 10 stare (see image below).

Let me share a little translation for you, as it took me quite a while to figure it out as google translate doesn't have BLOGGER > ENGLISH in its list unfortunately. 

When Sophie says "Hey babe, I don't really like any of the photos you just took. Yeah the angle is all wrong, the background isn't blurred enough, the ISO needs changing and what is that piece of chewing gum doing on the floor. It's not your fault though hun, its totally mine".

TRANSLATE

Sophie actually means "You fucking moron how can you not take 5 good photos of me out of all the ones you just took? Get your arse the the nearest photography course and learn, don't come back until you know what you are doing. It's completely your fault and I hate you right now."

Level 10 Pissed...get the hell out of there!

Level 10 Pissed...get the hell out of there!

When back home in the warmth, things may have calmed down a bit. I normally get Sophie up around the level 2-6 of pissed off ness' which is manageable. At this point it might be best to leave her and give her some 'me time' for a few hours whilst she can go through the photos we just took. After critiquing our work, most of the time I'll get a text saying "Thanks babe, there are some really good ones from today, you are the best. Some are blurred though and remember angles angles angles. Next time we (she means you) should be more imaginative. x".

She likes to keep me on my toes and for Sophie perfection is everything. I just hope she likes this article and finds the funny side to it, otherwise I might be out of a job #ExInstagramHusband.

A FEW MORE OBSERVATIONS FROM A FASHION BLOGGERS BOYFRIEND

- Holidays are no longer allowed to be called holidays because frankly they are not. They now have to be referred to 'Blogging Trips Abroad'.

- I'm fully responsible for the number of likes her photos get on Instagram because I took it. 

- When in a restaurant, food can not be eaten until all the food, plates, cutlery etc have been placed neatly on the table and a birds-eye photo taken.

- Speaking of restaurants, this is what happens when you are at a restaurant during Instagram posting hours.

Watch our first trip away to Thailand over New Year...check out this VLOG below:

Thanks for reading, please share.