Friday, 19 August 2016

Five Tips For Boosting Your Instagram Engagement & Following

Since I started my new job, at one of Britain’s leading modelling agencys, within their Influencer department, I’ve been exposed to so many incredible Instagram accounts. How did I not know about Symmetry Breakfast, for example?

I get emails every single day from budding social influencers wanting to be matched with brands and start earning money from their social following. I’ll be doing a series soon about how you can get yourself a blogging agent and what the benefits are, but I thought I’d kick of a new raft of social media school posts by giving away 5 tips for organically and honestly boosting your Instagram following. Don’t fret! I’ll still be posting all my usual content and still have some events posts coming up from our adventures at Bluedot Festival, Bures Festival and our upcoming trip to Portsmouth for the best fest in the west, Victorious 2016.  Okay, confession, it’s not in the west but that was a totally great rhyme…

A few industry secrets – in the Influencer marketing world, Engagement is ALL.  We don’t pitch to our clients based on follower data, although it obviously forms part of the bigger picture - we only take on Instagram Influencers with more than 40,000 following, for example. What we do present to our clients is Engagement. All of the tips I’m sharing today are centred around increasing engagement on your posts, and with increased engagement, your following will naturally grow too.

1. Respond to comments.

Everyone does the ‘post one emoji and run’ thing. It’s the equivalent of dropping just your blog link in a comment section on a bit site. It can sometimes be hard to know what to respond to an individual emoji, but rack those brains, tag the commenter and give a similar response – a heart will often do the job. Your thanks will draw the commentator back to your post for another chance to grab them as a follower. This, incidentally, is proven to work even better for gaining and retaining followers if you post another photo before responding to a batch of comments. 

2. Answer questions

I’m constantly being contacted by people looking to take the step in their blogging career. My first step in this situation is to check out their blog. If I see a bunch of answered comments or questions in their comments section of twitter feed, I’m going to assume that the person isn’t actually interested in starting online conversations, in communicating. Since they aren’t in the habit of responding to comments now, how can I have faith that if I match them up with one of our brands, they will engage with potential customers of that brand and drive traffic in the correct way? Real Influencers understand that they need to build a community for their brand to be successful and that involves positive interactions within your communication platforms.

3. Be real, share your true self.

This is common sense. If you are in a great looking place, eating fabulous food or hanging out with interesting people, get a snap and post it up. Take advantage of every opportunity that you have to tag and link  places and events in your posts. Be that guy that asks at the bar if they have a hashtag and take an exciting photo of you having a fun time. This will start introducing you to the types of brands that would fit well with your stream – because it’s the kind of content that you are sharing anyway. Take this one step further – once you made the post, click the linked hashtag and like or comment on two or three other photos that have used the same tags. This will build your following by bringing your account to the attention of people interested in the type of things that you are doing, and it’s all natural!

4. Keep it positive

The party line here is that we and our Influencers do not respond in any way to negative comments. However much you might be tempted to fire back a snappy remark, don’t. Brands like to see people dealing with negativity in the best way possible – there is NO way to respond to trolls and come across as someone who has a grip on their social community. Don’t delete the comment, just reply to a different one, so it’s obvious you’ve seen it and decided it’s not worth your time. That doesn’t stop you keeping it there as part of your total comment count – increasing your personal engagement stats! Obviously, if it’s sweary, or reveals something you wish wouldn’t be on the internet, delete, delete, delete – but no major social influencer gets ONLY positive comments. Stay true – just make sure you show it has no effect on your positive vibes. 

5. Follow the trail

It takes time and energy to build an Instagram following – you will not wake up one day with 100K followers without putting the legwork in. This means getting out there and commenting on other people’s posts, engaging with them and following people with mutual interests. I like to do something called ‘following the trail’ I’ll start with an account that’s commented on me, and I’ll give them a few likes and comments. I’ll find a pic with another user tagged, or a really positive comment and follow that to a different account. I’ll give a few likes and comments, find another tagged account…until I come full circle or run out of time. This is a great way to discover new account ts that will be interested in your content.

Boosting engagement is all about getting the right followers, commenting on your posts. There’s no point in having a million followers from Columbia (a prime region that shows up in insights when someone has bought a lot of followers) if none of them ever interact with your content – the key is to organically grow your following by finding accounts that fit in with your aesthetic. 

I hope these helped someone out there, don’t forget to drop a comment below if you found any of these tips useful – please also share your own tips or experiences, I love reading them!

I’ll be back early next week with the start of my series on Blogger Agents, the How and Why.

Katy x

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Curious Yellow 2016

I realised as I wrote the title that this year, the guys took the 'The' off the stage signing. So maybe it's just 'Curious Yellow' now? Answers in the comments please, I can't be going around getting that wrong.

Exactly one week ago we packed up Hayley's poor car with enough camping equipment to survive for a month, and headed off to Harlow. My heart was pretty much jumping the whole way, as we got stuck in traffic, realised we had no water, smoked too many cigarettes and tried to avoid starting every sentence with 'Last year...'

And then, considerable further down the lane than I recalled, we arrived at the little gazebo manned with yellow-wristband brandishing fluro-wearers. We were in! The inimitable Greg appeared from beyond the wall and ushered our crew inside, and the moment I'd been waiting for a year was upon me, walking down the gentle slope into the Gibberd Gardens, past the swing and into the riverside undergrowth towards the camping area. I felt about 10st lighter walking into that wild pathway, memories rushing back, excitement building. The layout was perfect, the bedoin tent (sadly under used this year, I felt) set up along the brook, giant Tipi's erected by the Red Hand Tipi Clan, who over the weekend gained angelic status for their ability to always have a fresh hot tea or freezing Tango, any time of the day or night - like them on Facebook to follow their events, I think they do some pretty cool stuff!

We pitched our tents and went off on an explore. I kind of gushed already about how beautiful these gardens are, but I guess I was worried that in my mind I had somehow made it better than it actually was. I was thrilled that I hadn't.

This year, every single music act we saw across the two stages was awesome. The guys seem to have the magic touch when it comes to picking spot-on acts - although in the spirit of complete honesty I think the line-up times needed a tweek - Our friends The Consciousness Collective, with the most incredible resonant instruments and perfectly timed set should definitely have been a late afternoon chill out, many missed their late night performance. The Turner Brothers and Sweetcornbread, the two bands we'd come along with, smashed their sets and picked up some new fans for life - I wish I had better photos of their set but I love the atmosphere of these shots - thanks to Grace Fox for taking some photos with a disposable camera!

If you are reading this in early 2017 trying to decide on a ticket or not - do it. We took a larger than usual crew this year because of all the raving we've done about this festival and every single person had a fantastic time - as well as an experience personal to them. The gardeners in our group found some incredible rare flowers deep in the garden, the music lovers enjoyed Bare Jams so much they saw them again. The free spirits took to exploring the surroundings with abandon and the musicians and singers jammed long into the night and early morning under a wonderful clear sky. One highlight for me was hearing the Game Of Thrones theme tune drifting over from our neighbours encampment on an accordion and other unexpected instruments. I took my steel tongue drum to try and play with the gong guys but I got immediate stage fright when all eyes where on me and I bottled it - maybe next year!

It was pretty hard to pack up and leave. We had planned to leave on the Sunday as had commitments at home but a last minute rush around finding plug sockets and an only slightly imaginary emergency meant the majority of us stayed on for the last night and were super glad we did, getting to hear the organisers Dan and Greg play some wild sets of their own. We stayed up 'til dawn again that night on sheer exhilaration and increasingly strong (curious) Yellow Punch.

Dragging our stuff up the wooded lane to the car park felt like I was climbing Everest with all my possessions on my back - it was bittersweet to leave - I was looking forward to a deep bath and change of clothes, but knew I'd be counting down the days until we could come back. Currently at 356.

Big thanks to the designers, organisers, volunteers and foodie places, we had an incredible time and can't wait for next year...(I'll add links in here shortly)

Katy x

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Five Reasons To Grab A Last Minute Curious Yellow Ticket For This Weekend

Weekend Approaching! In just two tiny sleeps is the festival that I've been counting down to for the last 360 days. That's a pretty long time to prepare for two nights away! Last year, I didn't know I was going to get all Curious until the day before - could you throw your stuff in a bag and go to a festival at that short notice? I bet you could :)

I overheard a whisper from the guys over at the festival site setting up that there's a last little run of tickets available, either to purchase today, tomorrow or Friday morning, or to buy on the door. Their website is right here, linked in this text. If you fancy an adventure this weekend, chuck your tent in the car, grab a few bottles of water and come join us for an amazing weekend you won't forget. I'd love to see some of my blog readers there - I'll be the one coated in glitter with the giant smile :)

Here's 5 reasons why you should grab a last minute ticket...

1. The Setting

I kind of covered this beauty of the Gibberd Gardens in my review of the festival last here. You can read that by clicking anywhere in this sentence if you fancy, but here's a little peek.

2. This wonderful, sky-high swing

3. It's for everyone

This festival is for everyone - the kids had an amazing time last year, playing in the freshwater spring, running wild in the undergrowth and dancing to an incredible variety of music. The gardens are safe and enclosed, so the kids went totally free range and they loved it. I have some beautiful photos of little ones drumming, slightly older ones dressing up and generally having fun and children and adults of all ages enjoying the atmosphere, I'm reluctant to post pics of other peoples kids without permission, so you'll have to take my word for it, but what I do have, is these photos of my besties and I soaking up the sun last year...

4. Music

Last year I went with Sweetcornbread, who smashed their set late at night and got the whole tent clapping and cheering. This year, three bands that I have connections with are playing (and they are all completely awesome), as well as loads that I've been looking up online and having a listen to. I think the Happy Daggers and the boys from the Consciousness Collective are pretty unmissable. The Turner Brothers were all that was missing from last year for me, and I'm thrilled they are going to be on stage, strutting their stuff and hopefully playing some new music. There's going to be an incredible atmosphere when the boys are up there. I've roped as many of our crew into bringing their T-Bro t shirts as possible and I can't wait to get sweaty in the crowd, as well as get some photos of the lads on the main stage. Rumour has it, the big black and white tent that you see in these photos is no more, and it's being replaced this weekend with a series of connected geodesic domes. Here are some snaps I took of the mini-dome we danced all night and some of the morning in, last July- can't wait for a repeat in a bigger space!

Here's the full line up if you fancy a look before committing, but I think you should just go for it :)

5. Escape From Reality

This is the BIG one for me. I love my little flat and my life with my son, but there is something freeing about spreading your wings and getting stuck into a completely different way of being. I love being outdoors in the sunshine, rolling in rum-soaked fields and seeing and hearing things I don't usually get the chance to (Gong tuned to the frequency of Jupiter, anyone?)

There are lots of surprises in store for revellers. Last year we were treated to late night fire art shows, whiskey tasting, crazy bike riding, exploring the grounds, giant games and space hoppers...This year is bigger & better and I am so pumped to see what the guys have in store!

So, if you want to come, grab a ticket from the Curious Yellow website - click anywhere around here and the magic of the internet will whisk you to the ticket-buying part of their site. Then grab some festival-appropriate garbs and a pot of glitter and come make some amazing memories - see you there :)

Next time I'm here, I'll have a whole bunch of new photos and experiences to waffle about for another year - I'm off to pretend to sleep so it comes faster...

Katy x

Many thanks to Tasha and Zoe for letting me use their photos in this post :)

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Summer Festival Bucket List 2016

I still haven't quite got used to it being summer. I mean,I don't have to wear my coat all the time but there's something missing from my usual summertime happy feeling. It might be 'sunshine'.

Still, we are just at the beginning and there's loads of exciting things coming up in the next few months so I'm trying to use this quiet, low-key time to relax and try to get enough sleep before the three back-to-back weekends of festivals I have coming up!

I came across Eventbrite's festival bucket list idea, which of course, I definitely wanted to do!  We use Eventbrite all the time for buying tickets and searching for fun stuff in our area. The search feature is one of the best ways of booking spontaneous weekend activities - we've found some real gems on there, Canvas Of Crumbs Biscuit Experience, anyone? If you host events, the site looks pretty simple to use too - check out their Event Management information by clicking here.

I've been thinking all week about which direction to go in with my bucket list. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to make it achievable & affordable. That's why these festivals are all upcoming and in the UK - I'm hoping next year to travel a little more but for now I'm stuck here, so let's make the most of it :)

1. Curious Yellow, 1st - 3rd July *click here for tickets and info*

I've been banging on about this one for almost exactly a year now, to the point where most of my friends, acquaintances and people who work in the shops local to me have heard about how much of an amazing time we had.  I'm choosing it first because there's now only one weekend left before we drive over the hills and far away to the magical gardens that Curious has commandeered for the weekend. Highlights include grounds full of beautiful sculpture, music from a huge variety of genres - I'm looking forward to dancing to The Turner Brothers, meditating to the Conscience Collective and experience Happy Daggers (website here) for the first time! - not to mention an atmosphere of such love and calm that I know I won't want to leave come Sunday afternoon.

2. Bluedot Festival, 22nd - 24th July *click here for tickets and info*

Underworld, Floating Points, Caribou, Everything Everything, Professor Brian Cox, Aiden Byrne cooking the most incredible food, a midnight feast in the shadow of the Lovell telescope and far enough away from home to feel like another planet - I literally cannot WAIT for Bluedot. I already posted my top three picks at this festival and I have more posts coming up, including all the science talks and comedy shows I want to see. The Invisible Monkey cage is a big priority - a radio show featuring Professor Brian Cox who I absolutely love for his wonderful way of describing superbly complex scientific terms in a way even my little gin-addled brain can understand. I also have a not-so-secret plan to wear entirely cosmic-themed clothes for the weekend. I have a few pairs of galaxy leggings, a super cosmic bag, a Spaced Out jumper and a wonderful space print shirt AND a plan to make my own custom sweatshirt with my favourite hashtag, #bringbackcosmic. Read my top 3 picks for this one by clicking here.

As well as the music, the Cosmic Piano, a million talks on the cosmos and the incredible food, I can't wait to see the site as a whole. It's a pretty big festival and I bet it's going to be wonderfully themed as it's set in some truly beautiful grounds around the Jodrell Bank mission control buildings and giant radio telescope.

3. Secret Garden Party 21st - 24th July *click here for tickets and info*

For some reason, I think SGP was one of the first festivals that ever came to my attention as something I would like to experience. I've never been, but the theme this year is The Gardeners Guide To The Galaxy which is kind of the perfect fit for me! I love looking at pictures from this amazing festival - set around a lake, they usually have a large installation to party on floating on it, check these out -

Their website is pretty cryptic, but if you do a search for Secret Garden Party images you'll be swept up in the colour and excitement just like I was. Izzy Bizu, Temper Trap and Primal Scream (!) are all on the line-up as well as countless smaller bands to discover. The fancy dress looks mega too - I'm kind of aching to go to this, especially as the theme fits basically all the festival clothes I have this year - I love how space has become super cool to love right now and festivals are embracing that!

4. Boomtown, 11th-14th August *click here for tickets and info*

One of the most outrageously themed UK festivals - Boomtown has 24 stages set in it's very own City, with 9 districts to choose to spend time in and hundreds and hundreds of acts and activities. Some of the artists form some of my very favourite at-home listening, I've so far missed every opportunity presented to see Parov Stellar live, The Correspondents are so catchy I was singing some of their tunes for days after first hearing them and there's Madness, Channel One and So Solid crew, plus pretty much all the artists on the Psychedelic Forest stage look seriously incredible.

This is one of those festivals where there is a hell of a lot more than music going on in wild, lose-yourself setting. We aren't going to this (yet) but it's right up there on my bucket list, I have a secret hope that a ticket might come up from somewhere - it's basically our only free weekend left this summer so I've entered about 9 competitions!

5. Victorious, 27th & 28th July *click here for tickets and info*

We loved Victorious so much last year! I'm thrilled that the Turner Brothers are playing there again this year. It's a beautiful setting, all along the seafront down in Portsmouth. Last year there was a fabulous street full of vintage, craft  and clothing sellers and the food choices were among some of the best we came across all summer. I had the most amazing burrito from a shiny airstream trailer and some spicy chipotle mac & cheese from a rustic shed that basically won mac & cheese for me, forever.

Here's some of the line-up:

I'll be making Mark Ronson, Echo and The Bunnymen and The Manic Street Preachers my priorities at this one, as well as the The Turner Brothers, who if you haven't heard have an awesome England anthem out just in time for the Euros, check it out:

6. Festival Number 6, 1st - 4th September *click here for tickets and info*

My hopes are pinned on Festival Number 6 for a last summer weekend with a carnival atmosphere and dancing until dawn. Have you seen the setting? Portmeirion in North Wales was designed to look like a Mediterranean village and it kind of works, with cobbled squares and brightly-coloured architecture set round a central plaza, it looks incredible, especially as you don't need to fly on a hateful plane to get there!

The festival has only been running a few years, but it makes my bucket list because of the wonderful setting. Festivals always make me feel like I'm miles from home and reality and I bet being in this beautiful environment just adds to that wonderful feeling of escapism. By this point in the summer I'll have seen at least one of the bands on the line-up - Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds are playing Victorious but I'd be most excited for Bastille. I love a good sing-along anthem and they provide them by the bucketful (that was a bucket list pun. Just in case you thought I had written bucket quite a lot in this last paragraph.)

Other highlights are paddle boarding on the Estuary, swimming in the pool whilst listening to music at sunset, an illuminated procession and a spa. A spa! On top of that you only have to take a look down the list of street food vendors to start your tummy rumbling - and there's lots more food to be eaten in more formal settings aswell. I can't do it justice so hop over to their food page for a real feast for the eyes :)

So, three booked, three that are still pipe dreams! I'm excited to hear what you think of my bucket list, whether you have booked any of the festivals here or have any others you think should not be missing for a UK festival bucket list! Comment below with your alternatives :)

Katy x

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