Technology: The Instagram Algorithm Change and the Importance of Hashtags

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Instagram Algorithm

In this digital age, it has become apparent that using social media is a societal norm nowadays, with people in the UK spending around 1 hour and 40 minutes online daily.

Saying this, when it comes to a select few social media platforms some users find themselves rather perplexed by the use of hashtags (#) and their ultimate purpose.

Hashtags are extremely important to attract engagement to your posts, building both your traffic and audience. It is imperative to utilise hashtags in your posts as part of your social media strategy.

Instagram are about to make some serious changes to their algorithm so the need for engagement on your posts is now more important than ever. With over 400 million users and a massive looming change due to occur, what tactical changes do you need to make to the way you post to Instagram?

The algorithm change will place precedence on posts that Instagram deem you to be most interested in, bumping them up your news feed. It is all centered around engagement and is causing many to worry.

This is similar to that of its parent-company Facebook, which cleverly analyses its users behavior and presents its users with a curated and specifically targeted experience, providing tailored content in which they are most interested in.

This targeted and tailored content has been proven to enhance user experience by driving further engagement. Hence, subsidiary Instagram will face the same looming changes to their current operation, wave goodbye to the traditional chronological ordering.

In simple terms, continue to engage and then engage some more, with other users. This way, you are far more likely to appear at the top of the non-linear feed when the algorithm updates come to surface. The order of content will inevitably be affected, but the relevance will be drastically improved.  Be savvy and remain relevant, and your blog, brand and marketing should not be affected.

Engagement on social media comes in many forms, be it liking other users posts, commenting on pictures you adore, mentioning your friends via tags or following other quirky and fun users. It is determined by how you interact with your followers and the audience you draw to your posts via carefully crafted use of hashtags (among other things).

In using hashtags, you will always encourage further engagement by directing potential users to your profile. Therefore, it is imperative that you utilise them, in order to expand and grow your audience, otherwise your followers will remain pretty stagnant when the change does occur.

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So, what hashtags do you use? What are the most popular? It is pretty easy to check this on social media platforms, just a quick type in the Instagram search box will reveal the numbers.

However, going for the obvious ones may actually hinder you, there is far too much competition and your posts may in fact be overlooked. Do note that on Instagram particularly, you are limited to a maximum of thirty hashtags per post.

You have to find the hashtags that work with your content and note them down as you go along. For example, if you are a blogger in the UK, #ukbloggers (around 60,000 hits) may be of great use to you. It is a little more niche than the generic and heavily-used #fblogger, #bbloggers and #lblogger tags (although I am guilty of using those myself, oops).

If you are really dedicated to your research, then take a look at followers of your own with similar interests and posts, and replicate their hashtags. Utilise the correct hashtags and you will soon see your following across a variety of social media platforms grow. By categorising your posts, you make them far easier to find and people will soon recognise you for those types of posts.

Take a peek at the AdNews guide by James Towers to surviving ‘Instageddon’. He states that quality and not quantity should take preference. In reducing the frequency and being vigilant of your posts when necessary (predicted to be particularly important to brands with the upcoming change) you will learn to quickly adapt, focusing on fantastic and relevant posts, remember some consistency will be key.

To sum things up, use hashtags cleverly, understand those most relevant to your niche, present them with content they will inevitable engage with, and you should remain successful and on top with the new ranking-based Instagram algorithm change, deserving to rank higher in Instagram feeds. It works for Facebook, let’s hope it does for Instagram also.

What do you think of the Instagram algorithm change? What is your favoured social media platform?

Stephanie xox

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Looking after a pug puppy

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As a kid, everyone wants a pet. Be it a hamster, cat, dog or reluctantly accepting the utterly shoddy compromise of a goldfish (we have all been there).

Growing up, I managed the hamster, I convinced my mother with the cats (shout out to Jachibo, Princess and Rogue) and I even got the goldfish (goodbye to my sickly fairground win).

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Looking after a pug puppy

My years of begging did not work when it came to a dog though. Oh, and I begged relentlessly. However, only when I secured full freedom, as a fully-fledged adult and graduate, did I get my little pug puppy.

Rudy (known frequently as little bork – he borks, not barks) came bouncing into my life with a bump. Make that numerous bumps, he is a floppy little thing for something so sturdy looking.

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As he has settled these last few months I have convinced myself that he is half whippet (or half something). Pugs are hyper, whatever may be said about the breed being lazy, I object wholly. My little munchkin has boundless energy and he needs long walks each day.

Pugs require a lot of time, love and affection. For all intents and purposes, they are lap dogs, and very needy of those closest to them. As I type, Rudy is leaping all over me with his toys and will continue to do so for the rest of the evening. It’s kind of like having a toddler.

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Temperament of a pug puppy

On that note, be aware. They can be stroppy and manipulative little things, proving to be rather smart indeed. They will try and catch you out if you give them the slightest opportunity and you will give them it often, no doubt about it.

True manipulation is seen whenever food is in the vicinity. Pugs need good quality food. The main reason for this? Other than the fact that you love them unconditionally? Well, it is certainly not pretty or pleasant fact, but, they fart. A lot. It isn’t nice, but it is the truth.

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Therefore, good food is a must, it maintains their weight, keeps them healthy and ensures the result of their bowel movements remains ‘consistent’ and a little nicer to deal with. You will thank me for the heads up.

Be wary that pugs are also greedy. This little fella has ravenously gobbled through my cat’s food more than once now (much to the distress of my boyfriend, I find it all pretty hilarious). Rudy has a special affinity for eating moss too. Maybe it is the pug version of kale, perhaps he is simply trying to remain trim.

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Aside from the minor annoyances (like eating through our PS4 and laptop wires), pugs are quite possibly the best breed of dog in existence and head tilts will forever remain the cutest thing ever.

If you dream of having your own snorting, snoring and snuggly friend, then remain cautious that they are a lot of effort. You get out exactly what you put in when you choose to love something right. Check out further pug care information and guidance.

What is your pet like? Have you ever considered getting a pug?

Stephanie xox

The Balmain x H&M collaboration launches tomorrow

The Balmain x H&M collaboration launches tomorrow

Introducing the Balmain x H&M collaboration

When a beloved high-street and designer fashion duo meet something beautiful is destined and the Balmain x H&M collaboration does not fail to impress.

Fashionista’s across Europe have obsessed over the collaboration for months now.  Without a doubt, individuals will be eagerly at H&M’s doors tomorrow morning.

Although an absolute steal in comparison to Balmain’s usual prices, many items are not exactly high street affordable.

Beaded jacket | The Balmain x H&M collaboration launches tomorrow

By and large, personal favourites include longline beaded jacket, emerald green dress and Balmain tee.

The beaded jacket

Firstly, the beaded jacket. This was first seen on Kendall Jenner when the collaboration was announced at the Billboard Awards in May. It’s detail is exquisite and ensures its £299.99 price tag.

Green dress | The Balmain x H&M collaboration launches tomorrow

The emerald dress

Secondly, the emerald green dress can be yours for £119.99. This beautifully detailed sequin dress is perfect for the festive season. In addition to its detail, its plunging neckline impresses!

Balmain tee | The Balmain x H&M collaboration launches tomorrow

The Balmain tee

The Balmain T-shirt is the most affordable item in the collection at £24.99. Similar styles are sold on the Balmain website for around £150.

In summary, the Balmain x H&M collection features both fashion and accessories and will be available online here and in selected stores from tomorrow.

What do you think of the collection? What would be your go to item?

Stephanie xox

Discover more fashion news on The LDN Gal.

Beauty: Models Own ~ Green Goddess Glitter Pencil Eyeliner

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I’m always slightly dubious when a nail varnish company releases a makeup range. Saying this, I love Models Own as a brand. So, when I saw their Green Goddess Glitter Pencil, I kind of had to have it. Anything glittery, I want. It is becoming a serious problem…

These eyeliner pencils offer “instant glitz in seven shades”, dubbed by Models Own as “essential clubbing equipment.” This green glitter pencil is just lovely, a very highly pigmented and evidently, very sparkly eyeliner.

However, like many eyeliner pencils, I did find the application a little tricky at first. Heating the pencil over a candle flame for just a second, it glided on like a dream afterwards (do be wary not to burn yourself, scorched eyelids would just not be pleasant, allow some time to cool).

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The colour is a very deep, almost forest green, and unlike many other glitter eyeliners, the glitter does actually transition evenly and visually across your eyelid! It really does come out beautifully bold and bright. The smudging end is fabulous also, blending out to create a dramatic coloured smokey eye.

Each eyeliner pencil comes with its own smudger and sharpening end cap. You never realise how handy this is until you go without and you are desperately trying to get ready with the bluntest of eyeliner pencils!

Have you tried the Models Own makeup range? Would you go for this bold colour?

Stephanie xox

Umberto Giannini ‘Incredible Body’ collection

Umberto Giannini incredible body review

Umberto Giannini review

On a ritual trip to Boots to get my lunch (I am a firm believer that the Boots meal deals are the best in this country), the clearance section caught my eye. Rummaging about, I found a host of hair care products, in particular, this trio from Umberto Giannini.

I have recently promised myself to look after my hair a little better and treated myself to a cut at the Popham salon on the North Parade in Summertown, Oxford. My lovely friend Anna has recently began working there and her positive comment ensured I could not resist getting my hair restyled. It desperately needed it.

I must admit, I was rather gleeful (and a teeny bit smug) about my hairdresser Shaun’s comments on the condition of my hair, which I incidentally, lost a ton of. I am terrible for hair maintenance, and I am the type of girl to crawl out of bed and never make much of an effort when it comes to styling.

Umberto Giannini incredible body review with @Stephmulz

So, what did I think of the Umberto Giannini set?

Shaun completely restyled my hair, ensuring I got my choppy (easy maintenance) layers all over. Having made this promise to spend more time and effort when it comes to my hair, the Umberto Giannini trio was a great place to start. The travel sized set included the Volume Shampoo, Volume Conditioner and Volume Blow Dry Spray for ‘Big Hair’.

The ‘Incredible Body’ collection is suitable for all hair types in need of a volume boost in a bid to gain ‘Hollywood’ hair. I loved the subtle clean fragrance and lovely creamy texture of the shampoo and conditioner, both leaving my hair soft and manageable. Big and messy hair brings me joy.

Leaving my hair to dry naturally overnight, I used the spray the following morning (although advised to apply to damp hair before blow drying, rules are made to be broken). Applying to my roots, I used my paddle hairbrush to subtly build volume, finding it to really bring out my layers.

What attracted me to this set (other than the bargain price) was the beautifully regal coloured packaging in purple and gold, offering a little princess treatment for my hair. The ‘Incredible Body’ collection has since been repackaged to look even lovelier (with the addition of gold caps) and the collection is available here.

Have you used any new hair care products lately? What are your favourites?

Stephanie xox

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What to pack when travelling? 🌍

What to pack when travelling - The LDN Gal

Suitcase essentials for your next holiday

I recently got asked by Age UK, what would my suitcase essentials be if I were to go on holiday.

As I am off to Australia for Christmas, this question could not have come at a better time, and it got me thinking (and far more excited) about what I will need to be taking.

Obviously, it is dependent on the holiday, are you going on a weekend city break? A week or two away somewhere sunny? Or are you venturing away for longer?

You have to think about the climate, what season is it going to be? Are you going to be sweltering or freezing?

These are my suitcase essentials for travelling:

So, what do I need to take on holiday with me?

All travel documentation

First of all, remember your passport and ensure that it is valid for the duration of your trip! You will also need all travel and health insurance documentation, personal identification and visas. If travelling in Europe, be sure to bring along your European Health Insurance Card.

If you have a student card, it can come in handy for discounts for tourist attractions.

Also be sure to have a copy of all relevant emergency numbers. Have a copy of contact details for your bank, travel insurance provider and emergency contacts at home.

Travel money (home and destination currency)

Another thing to remember is to have travel money for your destination country and money for when you return home.

Remember to take along your debit and/or credit cards in case of emergencies and a secure wallet to keep everything in.

Holiday clothing and accessories  

Remember to bring clothing and accessories for the climate you are traveling to.

Most noteworthy, remember underwear, tights, sleepwear, swimwear and accessories. Don’t forget bags, belts, jewellery and watches but be careful with heavier items such as shoes.

If you are doing sports outdoors, remember specialist sporting clothing.

Above all, remember to bring some outerwear just in case it gets chilling in the evenings.

Sun protection

Whether it is hot or cold, sun protection is key. Be sure to pack sunscreen, after sun, sunglasses and insect repellent.

Beauty and hair care essentials 

There is nothing worse than forgetting your beauty and hair care essentials on holiday. Make space for your makeup, wet wipes, nail varnish and a nail file.

You do not want to forget your hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, hairbands, shaving gel and razors. Optional extras include straighteners, curling tongs and tweezers.

Personal care essentials 

Even more important are your personal care essentials. Toiletries such as shower gel, body lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash). Remember, these things can be carried in hand luggage if 100ml.

You’ll want to make space for antiperspirant, perfume, female hygiene and sanitary products and any relevant prescription medication (painkillers are a must). Towels are often provided but you may want a beach towel.

Your camera, mobile and laptop 

Most importantly, be sure to bring along your camera, mobile and laptop. This is to record all of your holiday memories and adventures online. You may want to contact family back home if on longer ventures and update your blog.

Make sure that your phone has the relevant data plan to ensure that you aren’t charged too much while abroad. You may also want to bring along some headphones.

Note, that you will need to remember to bring all chargers and the relevant travel adapters. Batteries can come in handy too.

A notebook and pen

Bring along a notebook and pen as you never know when you may become inspired. Be sure to pack all relevant stationary too.

Before you head off, double check uour luggage allowance. Some baggage restrictions are very specific. Also, be sure to keep space for all the goodies you bring home with you!

Be sure to keep your valuables in your hand luggage. Although it rarely happens, suitcases can go missing or get damaged in transit.

What do you always pack? Are you off anywhere nice this summer?

Stephanie xox

Music: We Are FSTVL, Upminster ~ Saturday

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Award-winning, We Are FSTVL returned for its third successive year this weekend, bigger than ever and booming electronic dance music across the countryside.

The two day event in Upminister, Essex, brought in crowds from all over Europe as festival goers were offered 150 artists across 15 stages on Saturday and Sunday.

A short commute from London, We Are FSTVL has been dubbed the Best New Festival in 2013 and Best Medium-sized festival in 2014 at the UK Festival Awards.

Festival goers had high hopes this year would continue to amaze, and it did just that. Crowds began to gather early for the 10:30 start, with queues of over two hours in the morning.

Weekend and Saturday day entry tickets had already sold out by Friday evening.

Excitement has been stirring for weeks as the rabble awaited some of the most prolific electronic acts from across the world. The main stage proved to be where it was all happening, with house dominating throughout the day.

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The fun, fast and friendly atmosphere made for an intense day and evening. Leaving revellers sidestepping and shuffling on a sea of nos canisters, plastic bottles of beer and broken sunglasses.

The Main Stage continued to be graced with the best energising dance acts including the likes of Gorgon City, Hot Since 82, MK, Monki, Solomun and Secondcity, among others.

An exhausted Seth Troxler flew in from Berlin, to perform his hour and a half set. Followed by superstar Carl Cox’s penultimate performance, wowing the horde with his anthemic mix of house and techno, alongside an impressive light and fire show throughout, finishing with a brilliant fireworks finale.

However, the festival left a few with higher hopes. The outdoor stage didn’t prove as eclectic an arena, with the sounds of thumping house far better suited to a club environment, the open space proving to take off the edge of the bass.

In relation to the Sunday line-up, Saturday failed to satisfy some with its lack of electronic dance music accompanied by vocals. Constant repetitive beats proving to not be the taste of some.

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The Used + Abused stage, an impressive aircraft hanger venue, featured the likes of Noir, Oliver Dollar, Sam Divine and Masters at Work. Steam and confetti cannons filled the air as rammed revellers remained dancing to the flashing lights until the end.

Thankfully, drum and bass pumped through The What Hannah Wants stage, featuring the prolific DJ herself, alongside Cyril Hahn, Redlight, Friend Within, My Nu Leng and Waze & Odyssey.

The Defected in the House stage presented Loco Dice, Adam Beyer, Tale Of Us, Yaya and Enzo Siragusa.

The VIP area allowed ticket holders to enjoy an additional stage with exclusive performances by Mark Knight, Wankelmut, Weiss, Shiba San and Dosem in the ‘VIP Village’.

Only in Essex would you find GHD stands and an outdoor spa lurking in the VIP area. In regards to this area, it failed to overly impress with its exclusivity meaning an additional stage (Toolroom Live), an outdoor spa, and access to viewing stands at the Main Stage.

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Although an amazing weekend for the majority, the lack of space for camping proved disappointing to many who faced ‘chaos’ leaving the site once the festivities concluded.

Many reported struggling to find travel back home, of shuttle buses not being efficient and of an immense difficultly in getting taxis home, with many opting to walk along the dark roads the 2.3 miles back to the station.

Although mental and a tad exhausting, Saturday proved to be a non-stop party, filled with renowned acts and a consistently upbeat atmosphere.

We Are FSTVL should definitely be in the running to receive further rewards at this years UK Festival Awards.

Beauty: Benefit ~ Gimme Brow

Me Benefit Gimme Brow-vertEveryone has something they must do as daily as part of their beauty routine, or they simply do not feel right.

For me, it is my eyebrows. Some may find that strange, but I just feel shoddy without them coloured in.

This is why I have been very excited to try out the Benefit Cosmetics, Gimme Brow* brow-volumising fibre gel.

I have been a ‘Benefit girl’ for many years now, so I had a lot of faith that this would be another one of their wonder products, especially in light of its 2013 Allure best of beauty award.

Being a (somewhat ginger, I blame the Irish in me) brunette I opted for the medium/deep shade, there is also a light/medium alternative.

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Benefit claims an, “innovative brush-on fiber gel that adheres to skin & hairs, creating brows where before there were none. It builds easily for thick, lush arches, thanks to a tapered brush for blending & precision tip for shaping.”

I have to say, I was very impressed with Gimme Brow. I usually swear by my Beautiful Brows Kit and I was concerned about it running out, but Gimme Brow is totally on the same level.

If anything, it is nicer to have it in a gel format as opposed to powder when it comes to application.

Gimme Brow is super easy to use, you can layer the shade on subtly, or add pressure to your strokes to take full advantage of the shade (as I do, dark and intimidating eyebrows seem to be a thing with me).

I applied as recommended, in short pressing motions, combing across the length of my brow and using the tip of the brush to define shape.

 

 

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For a more natural look, it is advised you “start at the inner edge of your brow and move outward. Repeat to add more volume.”

What I like about Gimme Brow, is that it lasts throughout the day and as promised, was water resistant, natural-looking and buildable. The latter quality being the most appealing, as it is suitable for all intended looks.

Currently Benefit are hosting their Bold is Beautiful campaign, raising money via their brow waxes for women’s charities Look Good Feel Better and Refuge.

100 per cent of the money raised will go to charity and you’ll also receive a full-sized Gimme Brow of your own! If that isn’t an incentive, I don’t know what is!

The campaign only has a day remaining so be sure to get your eyebrows waxed to perfection and donate to an amazing cause!

What do you think of the new Benefit Gimme Brow? What item of makeup can you not leave the house without?

Stephanie xox

Beauty: Benefit ~ Bold is Beautiful Campaign


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Last year, Benefit Cosmetics Brow Arch March campaign raised over £146,957 for charity and returns with a brand new “global philanthropy project”, the Bold Is Beautiful campaign.

Get a brow wax at a Benefit counter this May and 100 per cent of proceeds will go to charity! To find your nearest store search here.

Promising to be “bigger and better” than ever, Benefit are working alongside charities Look Good Feel Better and Refuge in order to raise as much money as possible this year.

Look Good Feel Better “helps women and teenagers combat the visible side-effects of cancer treatment, through their free confidence-boosting skincare and make-up workshops, masterclasses and self-help materials.”

Refuge “empowers women and children who experience domestic violence to rebuild their lives free from violence and fear. Via a network of services they provide life changing support to over 3,000 women and children every day.”

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So far, the Benefit team have managed to raise an astonishing £189,000 with over 31,739 eyebrows already waxed, shaped and filled to perfection this month.

With only three days left of Bold is Beautiful, be sure to get down to your nearest Benefit cosmetics booth to support and donate to this great cause.

100 per cent of proceeds will go to both Look Good Feel Better and Refuge and you’ll also receive a full-sized Gimme Brow of your own!

After all, doing the greater good and your eyebrows should always be your first priority.

Will you be partaking in the Bold is Beautiful campaign? What is your favourite Benefit product?

Stephanie xox

Keeping the party going at Everywhere Festival, Nottingham

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Everywhere Festival, Nottingham review

An indoor playground for electronic enthusiasts, Everywhere Festival, the largest multi-venue dance event in the East Midlands returned to Nottingham clubs for its third successive year.

On May 3rd, an eclectic selection of artists and DJs catered for many tastes. Dollop presented acts to satisfy the most passionate electronic, house, techno, grime and garage lovers.

Alongside hardened veterans of the electronic and dance scene such as chart-topper Route 94 and Leeds’ Hot Since 82 performing at Forum, came newcomers such as garage and grime goddess Flava D adding a sense of rhythmic bass to Rescue Rooms.

International talent in Nottingham

International talent came from Cyril Hahn at Rock City and Motor City Drum Ensemble at Stealth.

Rescue Rooms set off Everywhere 2015 with a day party from 2pm. Finally switching at night to a line-up with an urban edge. Melé concluded the evening with a bass-fuelled set, contrasting the infectious house and techno pumping throughout the other venues.

Rock City’s main hall attracted the largest crowds of the evening, as the masses crammed themselves onto the dance floor and along the balcony.

Anthemic beats throughout the night

Redlight gave a sterling performance with anthemic beats. Popular hits such as Gold Teeth & 9TS ensured the crowd continued to beat the air throughout his set.

“Notts was sick,” he said, posting a picture of the audience post-set on Instagram.

Hannah Wants steals the show

Finally, the highlight of the evening, Hannah Wants. She kept the masses of 20-somethings shuffling on their feet with a cleverly driven DJ set. In essence, a seamless mix of renowned original work such as Rhymes alongside clever remixes of old-school classics such as Renegade Master. Her bold determination towards the end of the night left many a sweltering and heaving mess.

Aggravated bar staff and bouncers tried to stay optimistic as dawn approached and sweat began to drip from the booming speakers upon the waning crowds.

Stealth offered a wind down from the smoke machines, flashing lights and visuals. Survivors swayed to the calm beats of Chunky, Paleman and Loefah.

A night to remember

With bass pumping through the mind, bodies and souls of revellers for eight hours straight, most will still have a ringing in their ears today.

Finally, for the partygoers of the Midlands, it’s a good thing it’s a bank holiday weekend.

As seen originally for the Nottingham Post in print, and online for the Summer Festival Guide.