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As a brand it is important to pay attention to where people are engaging and spending time. With 500 million monthly active users it’s safe to say that Instagram is incredibly important for those seeking to market their brand.

A study by Forrester Research indicated that Instagram users were 58 times more likely to like or comment on a brand’s post than Facebook users. That being said some effort is required on the brand’s behalf. It’s not as simple as posting a photo and waiting for the interactions to come flooding in.

Below are five basic but integral tips for growing your Instagram following:

1. Use Popular Hashtags

hashtag-instagram-popular-important

Use Popular Hashtags

Using popular hashtags helps other users find your images in search. The hashtag #Foodie is more likely to generate you views than something much more specific like #EatingBurgersWithSue

2. Use The Mayfair Filter

According to Track Maven’s Fortune 500 Instagram Report, the Mayfair filter is the single most effective filter for marketers.

social-hype-banner_v4-01-013. Use Third Party Services

Growing your Instagram following can be hugely time consuming. I used to spend hours a day liking other people’s posts in order to get people to notice my page. Although an effective method, this is undoubtedly a time consuming one too.

I have since signed up to a third party service called Social Hype which helps you discover customers and interacts with them on your behalf. There is a three day free trial available for those who want to try it out.

4. Focus On Quality Over Quantity

Delete any low quality photos from your Instagram account and focus on posting appealing, eye catching content. Whilst posting regularly is important, businesses are better off with fewer high quality posts than a lot of pointless updates. Every post shared on social media should take the overall image of your brand into consideration.

Simply put, the better your Instagram content is, the more likely you are to gain followers.

5. Use Appealing Colours

Yes there are “correct” colours to use on Instagram when trying to achieve more likes. A wealth of research has discovered that images featuring cool tones such as blue, green and beige receive more engagement than photos which feature warmer colours such as reds, yellows and pinks.

 

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There are certain words and colloquialisms I have come to accept. I stood by while the word “lol” infiltrated the Oxford English Dictionary and became a legitimate word. I accepted that “on point” has (for reasons I can’t quite comprehend) been replaced with “on fleek” and that sometimes, when complimenting my friends shoes, it’s appropriate to describe them as “hella” cute.

Based on your age (and let’s face it, Education level) you may or may not fully understand what half of this means and I suppose you don’t really need to. Though for the record, if someone tells you that “Jennifer” is “thirsty” that is not your cue to offer her a glass of water and FYI the word “basic” is basically an insult now.

The list goes on and on. Another year, another list of slang words which will probably be out of fashion faster than combat trousers and choker necklaces.

The world is forming full sentences with words which, I’m certain don’t really exist and I’m okay with that. That being said, as a lover of real words and a writer no less, I have to draw the line somewhere and I’m drawing it at “bae”.

What does bae even mean? Is it short for babe? Was the additional “b” secretly bothering everyone but me? Or perhaps the extra “b” is considered too time consuming. Though I would argue that if you can find the time in a day to flick your eye-liner and like Kylie Jenner’s latest Instagram picture, you have time to add the additional letter it takes to properly describe your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Some sources claim that “bae” stands for “before anyone else” which is marginally less irritating than a b-deficient-babe. That is until you realise how little sense that would make in a sentence. “I love my bae he’s hella cute” would roughly translate to “I love my before anyone else, he’s rather handsome” which makes about as much sense to me as a carb free diet.

Then there is the use of the word “bae” to describe inanimate objects “my bed is bae” “these cupcakes are bae” which leads me to believe there is no sentence which bae cannot be squeezed into and therefore probably no real escape from it. Bae is everything.

I had until recently made the assumption that “bae” is a term coined and predominantly used by Middle Schoolers and One Direction fans (who I can only assume use it to describe Harry Styles). A belief I held onto until the word began to infiltrate every one of my social media platforms and not sarcastically.

So it seems, much like the previously used “boo” the word bae is here to stay, if not in our actual day to day vocabulary, then most definitely in every song that is played in 20 years’ time when we ask the DJ for some “old school”.

Whilst that may not be of much comfort to those who can’t tolerate the word “bae” it’s best to remember that there was a time we thought “Fo shizzle” was here to stay, but thankfully it’s gone and we were non-the-worst for its short-lived appearance in our daily language.

I suppose when it comes to the word “bae” there are three types of people: the users, the non-users and the Danish, to whom the word means faeces (that’s poop to you and me).

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All Gone Mad

All Gone Mad

This month, prepare to have your mind blown as event company Xclusivetouch teams up with DNA Club in London to create an unusual and unique immersive party concept.

If you’re looking for a night out with a difference, then take note, because Xclusivetouch are taking clubbing to a whole new level, with a night which will tingle and tease each and every one of your senses.

On the 25th of April 2015, this 8 week pop up concept will be launching at DNA in Clapham, blurring the lines between clubbing, theatre and performance. The aptly named Mad Dames welcome you to step into their mismanaged Asylum where you are responsible for whatever may happen to you next.

Guests will be immersed through sight, smell, sound and touch. If you’re bored with Cosmopolitans, you can switch things up with an experimental cocktail from their laboratory, or simply enjoy the distinctive décor (a mix of raw metal fixtures and neon artwork).

The night also promises two shows, one at Midnight and another at 1am. The theatrical element of these performances will involve a number of acts interacting with the crowd and blurring the lines between performance and clubbing.

This is the ideal concoction on a Saturday night, you can drink, party and immerse in experimental madness.

All gone mad

All gone mad

Event Details:
Place: DNA Club Clapham Grand. 1 St Johns Hill, London, SW11 1TN
Date: 25th April 2015
What To Expect: Experimental Cocktails, Live entertainment, DJ Rockit Riyad – House, Deep House & Commercial club mix.

Click here to book your tickets now.

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I can’t say I have always been interested in being fit or healthy because I haven’t. In fact the only consistent loves of my life are pizza and S’mores.

Then a combination of reaching my mid 20’s and the growing popularity of stretchy leggings as acceptable day attire meant the skinny jeans which once fit, suddenly became another item of clothing destined to hang in my cupboard forever. Or at least until car boot sale season came around and I could flog them for a pound, eradicating all evidence that I was once thin.

Then came the season of Crop Tops and Bralet’s and it dawned on me, that if I ever wanted to get out of leggings and into something non elasticated I was going to have to unhand the box of Oreo cookies and pick up the occasional carrot stick.

If all that sounds a bit too familiar but you don’t know the first thing about getting into shape, well first finish reading this blog and then consider getting someone to advise you on your fitness journey. Mine started with the help of a personal trainer who helped me set realistic goals and told me where I was going wrong; according to him, swapping lunch for chocolate was not an acceptable weight loss technique and upon reflection, perhaps he was right.

But since even a trainer can’t come to your house at 1am and confiscate the cookies from your hands, you have to accept that this journey is going to require some will power.

But first, the basics:

1. Commit To It
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You can’t lose weight on a half-hearted diet. I have been on a life long search of how to stay in shape without making any effort what so ever. It turns out, you can’t.

2. Set A Goal
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Your body goal is something only you can set. No one can tell you what size or shape is right for you. However, if the shape you want is not the shape you have, then set a target and work towards it.

3. Learn How To Eat
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I know what you’re thinking “Learn how to eat? What a load of old tosh. Eating is just about the only thing I do know how to do”. But trust me, eating and eating right are two different things.

Achieving the body you want is 30% exercise and 70% diet. Learn what foods can help maximize your results, cut down on salt and sugar, increase your protein and vegetable intake and don’t be scared of carbs. Excuse the cliché but, a good diet is a balanced one.

4. Exercise
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No, walking from your desk to the office kitchen doesn’t count.

Work out 3 times a week, don’t be afraid of weights and try exercising with a friend for extra motivation. If you make working out fun, you won’t dread it as much, in fact eventually you’ll start to look forward to it.

5. Establish a routine
you-can-do-this

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. So all  you have to do is stick to it for two months and then it will become part of your life. If you want to maintain a fit and healthy body you have to accept that it’s all about making a positive lifestyle change.

6. Understand where you’re going wrong
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Everyone has a vice; whether it’s too much alcohol, too much sugar or too much snacking on the wrong things, if you’re having trouble achieving your goal weight, you’re probably going wrong somewhere. I found that keeping a food diary was key in identifying where the extra weight was coming from.

Before you begin your diet, considering writing down everything you eat or drink for a week, after all, it’s hard to deny the truth when it’s written in front of you. My vices? Six cups of tea a day with 2 spoons of sugar each. Large meals after midnight and no breakfast resulting in large 11am pre-lunch, lunches.

7. Stop counting calories
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You don’t have to eat less, you just have to eat right. 2,000 daily calories in burgers, chocolate and fizzy drinks is never going to get you where you want. 2000 calories consisting of healthy meals, vegetables and low-fat snacks will.

8. Don’t turn a cheat meal into a cheat day
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Losing weight shouldn’t be slow and painful torture. If you fancy being a little bit bad, go ahead. Just remember that a cheat meal does not need to turn into a cheat day (or a cheat week). Change that “I’ll start on Monday” attitude to “I’ll start after this cupcake” and you’re half way to success. Well, figuratively speaking anyway.

9. Focus on your health, not your weight
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Work towards being a healthier person and the weight will sort itself out. In the mean time, don’t get caught up on what the scales show you, think “fat loss” not “weight loss”.

10. Don’t expect to work out once and wake up with a booty like Beyoncé.
Beyonce-booty-hot-legs

It just don’t work like that. 

It takes 4 weeks to notice your body changing, 8 weeks for your friends to notice and 12 weeks for the rest of the world. Keep at it and results will come.

As for the personal trainer part, if you’re in the market for someone to help you squat to your ideal bottom size, click here to check out mine.

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Whoever said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” clearly never understood the beauty of a cupcake. Or wine. Or chocolate. Or pizza. That being said, I’ve tried the “eat everything in sight and hope for a miracle diet” and it was largely ineffective.

In fact, when it comes to losing weight, I think “ineffective” is the operative word, because in the world of dieting, it’s so very easy to go wrong. So very very wrong.

When it comes to female dieting logic, I’ve heard it all (and also said it all) because no one, and I mean no one, can rationalize a calorie away like a woman on a diet can:

“If I skip lunch, I’m allowed a snickers… it’s the same calories as my salad anyway”
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A calorie is a calorie right?! If two donuts have the same calorie content as a super-food salad, who’s to say it matters which of the two we eat… as long as we don’t eat both.

But what about fat content… or sugar content… or… oh you’ve already started eating the donuts. Never mind.

“Sunday is my cheat day”
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Someone who knows about diets: “Cheat day? Do you mean cheat meal?”

Me: “No I mean cheat day. I’ve ruined my diet already so I might as well persevere and eat all the junk food in the house, so there’s nothing left to tempt me tomorrow”.

“Marshmallows and jelly babies are fat-free… so they basically fall into the health food category”
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Now don’t quote me on this, but I’m almost certain strawberry laces are not one of your 5-a-day.

“Liquid calories aren’t really a thing… you pee them right out”
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A glass of wine has the same amount of calories as a large Cornetto ice cream (and let’s be honest, who ever stops at one glass?!). Alcohol contains seven calories a gram, in fact, almost as many as pure fat!

“I’ve got a tight dress to fit into tonight so I’m not eating anything today”
jog-and-drink-green-shit

Yep, done that. Usually followed by a 3am binge of anything and everything I can find. Plus toast. Because even if you get a bargain bucket on your way home… you needs some pre-bed toast. “To soak the alcohol up”.

“I barely eat anything but I’m putting on weight”
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I, like many others, suffer from an increasingly widespread disorder known as “food related memory loss”. This involves eating 7 times a day, but only remembering 3 of them. But the truth is, if you’re putting on weight, you’re probably eating more than you think. Or you’re eating the wrong things.

Don’t believe me? Carry around a diary for one week and write everything you eat in it. The chances are you’ll be coming out as a secret eater by the end of it.

“Everything I eat when I come home after the gym doesn’t count”
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“After you work out, your body continues burning fat for another hour, so anything you eat within that hour doesn’t count. They’re free calories!” – Dumb s**t women say.

“I never eat breakfast… it makes me fat”
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Me for the first 24 years of my life: “I don’t eat breakfast, it awakens my appetite then I can’t stop eating all day”.
20 minutes later: *Eats waffle* “Yeah… this is lunch though. And I deserve it for making it to 1pm without eating”.

“I’ll have cereal for dinner to be healthy. One bowl, two bowl, three bowls… what difference does it make!?”
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30 grams suggested serving size? Yeah I think that’s only for kids though…

“Coke Zero has the same calories as water… therefore it is basically water”
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Look, I’m no health expert, but one thing I know is that if a drink has no calories in it, but still tastes as good as its “full fat” counterpart, they’re putting some crazy s**t in there.

I know it sounds rich coming from the woman who thought alcohol can’t make you fat, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Drink some God damn water.

“Carbs are the devil. That bowl of pasta I ate last night is the sole reason for my impending obesity”
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Everything is okay in moderation. Plus, it’s all about eating the right carbs. Oatmeal for breakfast = good. French fries for dinner = bad.

But then, we must ask ourselves… what is life without the occasional fry?

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It’s here, whether we like it or not the season of ear muffs and grandma style jumpers is upon us. The prospect of chiselling ice off our windshields at 7am is only slightly counterbalanced by the thought of two things: gingerbread lattes and Christmas day over-eating.

That being said we all know it’s not officially the festive season until the Coca-Cola ‘holidays are coming’ advert hits our screens.

Christmas tree and presents aside, it’s the little things that really get us in the festive mood. Here are my top 5:

Costa Coffee (aka Christmas in a cup)

Costa Coffee (aka Christmas in a cup)

1. The battle of the ‘festive flavour’ coffee commences. From Eggnog Latte to Black Forrest hot chocolate, this is what Christmas tastes like and it would be rude not to taste it all.

2. Fashion comes in reindeer form. It doesn’t matter how much of a fashionista you are, reindeer print jumpers and Santa hats are not only acceptable but stylish too. By rule of thumb if you see someone in a jumper embellished with: polar bears, penguins or Christmas puddings (and not in the ‘how embarrassing my grandma made me wear this’ kind of way) then the holiday season is here.

photo 2 (2)

Oxford Circus Christmas Light Show

3. Staying in is the new going out. Who needs to venture into the cold when you have all the entertainment you could need playing out the box in your living room? Aside from the Christmas themed adverts playing at quarter of an hour intervals (the John Lewis and Marks and Spenser holiday adverts truly giving Coca-Cola a run for their money this year) we also have Christmas 24 and a whole array of other deliciously terribly Christmas channels waiting for you. Truly terrible films… I must have watched 8 already.

4.  Stuffing is back on the menu. You know it’s almost Christmas when every lunchtime menu has at least 3 stuffing-based options on it. Turkey and stuffing sandwiches (come to mamma) chicken and stuffing crisps (I think so). In fact everything begins to taste better around Christmas. With so much festive food porn, it’s no wonder we put on so much weight in the holiday period!

5. Every shopping spree comes with its own Christmas themed backing track. You can’t walk past a single shop on Oxford Street without your ears being greeted by a complication of “Santa Claus is coming to town” and “Do they know it’s Christmas” (which admittedly is a welcome pick-me-up from the obscene money spending on other people).

Music and the act of overbuying go hand in hand in the lead up to Christmas and even the Amazon spending sprees in your lunch break at work seem to be coupled with Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas”.

The worst part? No one even bats an eye.

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The Season Of Earmuffs Is Upon Us

The Season Of Earmuffs Is Upon Us

It’s here, whether we like it or not the season of ear muffs and grandma type jumpers is upon us. To some it’s the season to be jolly, but to most it’s the season to wake up at 7am and chisel ice off your windshield in minus temperatures.

The days are shorter, working hours seem longer and if the sun ever does decide to make an appearance, most of us miss it as we’re chained to the confines of our office until past sunset. As if being pale from sun deprivation wasn’t depressing enough, most of us also have to deal with weight gain and increased lethargy.

Hibernation being the obvious solution to this chilly problem, it’s a shame taking a 3 month nap-break from work isn’t an acceptable way to deal with winter.

When it comes to advice on dealing with the winter months I’ve heard it all: buy a vitamin D supplement, take up ice skating, invest in some cosy mittens and my personal favourite… invest in a light box which simulates the suns natural rays and trick your body into thinking it’s day light when it’s not.

If you ask me it seems like a lot of effort with minimal results. No amount of sitting under a really bright light bulb is going to make me forget that summer is another 240 days away.

So other than moaning about it (which granted is a mini therapy in itself) is there anything that can make us warm to winter? These are my tips: tried, tested and not yet rejected.

How I Feel Every Morning

How I Feel Every Morning

1.  Invest in a heated blanket. It’s a given that during winter you’re more and more drawn to your bed and since we’ve already accepted we’re spending most of the live long winter there, optimizing duvet time is sure to increase happiness levels.

Throughout summer people speak of how amazing it is to get into a nice cool bed… that feeling of crisp sheets and cold pillows. In the winter that sounds about as appealing as getting a face full of rain on your way out your front door in the morning. Warm and snug is the way forward, ditch the hot water bottle and heat your bed up with the click of a button before you jump in and re-think that hibernation idea.

2. Use your gym membership (you know… the one you signed up to four months ago and used twice in the week leading up to your summer holiday). It’s a common misconception that summer is the season of working out and winter is the season of food. Well, not a total misinterpretation, the latter is true, but the season of food comes at a heavy cost (heavy being the operative word).

Two consecutive months of baggy jumper and legging combos and the weight creeps on without you or your skinny jeans being any the wiser. I’m just saying, the person with the biggest belly at your work Christmas party should technically be the guy in the corner who came dressed as Santa. Don’t pass up on those mince pies just yet however; there’s nothing a few work outs won’t work off.

3. Go Out. If I can still make it to the pub in 6 inch stilettos over a floor full of ice, you can too (the 6 inch part is optional, but the socializing part is not). I often find as soon as the temperature plummets below 10 degrees, people will find any excuse to stay in on a Friday and Saturday night.

Don’t get me wrong; when they invent a bar which I can shuffle on down to in my onesie and bath robe, I will be the first one there. Until that day comes however, putting on (three layers) of real clothes and going out with your friends really is the most effective way of forgetting we’re only half way through what feels like an ice age.

Plus, nothing warms you up mid-winter like a large glass of wine.

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