On June 9th, fashion blogger Michelle Rothenburger posted on Instagram a suggestion for a wedding guest outfit she proudly outsourced from thrift shops for 32 Euros – including a Ted Baker floral straw envelope clutch, and a pair of vintage hot-air balloon earrings and necklace for which she paid 6 Euros each.
Then, Rothenburger vanished from the Meta-owned platform.
For the rest of the month, the Switzerland-based creator who used to post three times a week on Instagram for her 20k+ followers did not upload any content. And no one would see what Michelle was wearing or finding in second-hand stores for the whole month of July, either.
The influencer was not sick, nor had she lost her password to access her Instagram account created four years ago.
Like thousands of users across the globe, Michelle Rothenburger took a break from Instagram after the content she regularly posted on the platform started to stall, making her doubt how much time she was dedicating to a social media outlet that was no longer bringing her feasible engagement.
“I used to spend between 4 and 6 hours creating each post. Now I try to spend no more than 30 minutes. My reach has dropped by around 75% in the last few months and it just feels like a monumental waste of time” – says Rothenburger, who moved from North America to Switzerland in 2018.
Unbeknown of the break taken by the fashion influencer in Switzerland, Trish Martin, a digital marketing specialist based in Australia, was conducting her own social media experiment in June. She decided to stop posting any content on Instagram for 30 days and document the journey using rival network TikTok.
“I am leaving Instagram…for all of June!” – Martin announced on the last day of May. “I am doing a massive marketing experiment. Instagram is where my people are and it’s a big part of how I generate revenue. So, to completely ditch it for a whole month? Well… it’s not comfortable. But moving outside of our comfort zone is where we grow”, the content creator explained before signing off for the next four weeks.
During June, Trish would make daily updates about her life without Instagram and share them via TikTok and her email list. A month later, to her surprise, her Instagram account gained more followers from not posting anything than it did when she was uploading content daily.
“Instagram is going to play a very different role in my world from here on out that is for sure, and that’s exciting! Change is important in marketing; you’ve got to move and adjust with it. And if you focus on seeing change as an exciting thing instead of scary, imagine the opportunities that could come.”, celebrates Trish, who is back on Instagram but with less regularity in her content.
“I am definitely not leaving Instagram or anything. It still plays an important role in my business. But my strategy around it will be very different and it is no longer going to be my main social platform. After the experiment, things will never be the same again”, says the founder of the online business community Chromatical Club.
Over in Somerset, a county in South-West England, content creator Emma Shoesmith has noticed a lack of engagement in her posts since January, for which she hires a professional photographer once a year to shoot images for posts and online courses.
“I used to run a production company. So, apart from spending £500 on photos per year, I create all the content, from designing promo posts to shooting my own videos. I enjoy it and I’ll always try and repurpose it on YouTube or in my emails and not solely rely on Instagram to get my work seen”, explains Shoesmith, who went on to take drastic measures:
“I also unfollowed everyone on Instagram as a test to see if my engagement changed. It felt like quite a radical act, only reserved for people like Beyonce”, says Emma, referring to the American singer who has just released her seventh album, Renaissance, after a six-year hiatus, and who follows zero people on the platform. Like Beyonce, 20-year-old singer Billie Eilish also doesn’t follow a single person on Instagram, despite having over 100m followers herself.
“Once I unfollowed everyone, I cut all the sketchy energy ties and my creativity started to flow. I can now keep myself focused on my own work and not get side-tracked by what my peers are doing. My plan is to come off it completely in the future. However, I need to have my marketing eggs in other baskets before I completely make the switch” – anticipates the content creator who pivoted to business coaching and mentorship in 2020, when the global pandemic swapped away clients and axed marketing budgets.
Michelle, Trish, and Emma have never met each other and share different interests.
The common thing between the three women located in different parts of the globe is Instagram, and how it is no longer a place they spend much of their time after a significant drop in the engagement witnessed across in-feed posts on the platform. And these digital creators are far from being the exception when it comes to Instagram users seeing less and less likes, comments, or followers interacting with their content.
Earlier this year, a research study released by social media scheduler company Later highlighted the dip in engagement numbers of in-feed posts, as Meta continued to push Reels as a priority on the platform: there was a 44 percent decrease in the average engagement rate for an in-feed post on Instagram from 2019 to late 2021.
“I remember when Instagram used to be fun. You would post a photo and the likes and comments would come pouring in. There was an incentive to keep your content coming regularly and frequently”, recalls Michelle Rothenburger.
For the past few months some content creators were finding solace in TikTok and its phenomenal reach; Others have decided to take their content to other social media platforms, while setting a deadline to quit Instagram.
“Instagram is dead to me. I recently announced that from September I will only be on TikTok and LinkedIn. In the past couple of weeks, I had 0.2% engagement on Instagram vs 500%+ on TikTok, plus thousands of new followers. It is a no-brainer”, confesses diversity and inclusion consultant Vanessa Sanyauke, founder of Girls Talk London, an organisation partnering with businesses to help them connect to female workforces and expand opportunities in male-dominated sectors.
Not everyone is thrilled to be on the Chinese ByteDance-owned platform, though.
“I only have a work Instagram but noticed that the only decent engagement had been from reels, and it limits the way I want to engage with followers. I only really use it for stories now, as a lot of my feed has been random accounts that I don’t even follow or have anything to do with”, says Saziso Phiri, a creative producer based in the UK.
“With the area of work that I am in, I am having to rethink how I approach social media content for my business. I attended a workshop on TikTok for business, specific to my industry, but having deleted TikTok about 18 months ago I am still a bit reluctant about returning”, ponders Phiri, who is also the founder of The Anti Gallery, a curation and artist development platform launched in 2016 to engage art outside of formal art gallery environments.
It probably doesn’t help that young adults who joined Instagram when it first came around, in 2010, are now in their 30s and with lots going on in their minds – namely bills, mortgages, and the perils of adulting in the real world. So, wrestling with a platform boasting more than 2 billion monthly active users worldwide and an ever-changing algorithm that upsets most of them no longer seems to be a priority to consider.
“I am 38 now and there is a sort of boredom that has developed for me around software, it’s not quite as shiny as it used to be and my priorities have changed to making real in-person connections”, says Emma Shoesmith, who is about to start her first Telegram group for sacred life and business coaching.
At the end of July 2022, amid concerns of users being unhappy with how Instagram has been discarding static content over the past 12 months after announcing, last summer, that the platform would no longer be a photo-sharing app, Adam Mosseri, Head of @instagram, tried to clear the air through using the format he wants people to use more: Reels.
“I want to be clear: we are going to continue to support photos. It’s part of our heritage,” Mosseri said while assuring users that he, too, loves photos. “That said, I need to be honest: I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time. We see this even if we change nothing. We see this even if you just look at the chronological feed” – the executive tried to explain, while ignoring the fact that those still using Instagram will be more likely to engage with more videos thanks to the social media platform continuously twitching its algorithm and metrics to reward those posting videos with cash incentives and further exposure within the app.
Although Mosseri acknowledged that another Instagram update, a full-screen feed currently being tested for a small percentage of users is “Not yet good. And we’re going to have to get it to a good place if we are going to ship it to the rest of the Instagram community”, it is the negligence toward the photo format, and not how content is displayed on the app, that is displeasing former Instagram fans.
The attempt to justify Instagram’s updates and their push to get people posting more video content didn’t land well with model and actress Chrissy Teigen, who has over 38 million followers on the social media app. The TV personality complained on Twitter that she is no longer able to see photos posted by her actual friends – and they are not seeing hers. Mosseri who, according to the Financial Times, will relocate later this year and build out Instagram’s presence in London by hiring more staff to work at Meta’s new offices in King’s Cross, tried to play it down by answering that “Friends post a lot more to stories and send a lot more DMs than they post to Feed. If you want to make sure you never miss a feed post from a friend, add them to your favourites and they will show up at the top.”
Teigen wasn’t having it.
“The only people I know that post a lot to stories are the ones that know their photos get no engagement any longer, so they are doing the thing they find second best. If photos got the engagement they wanted, they wouldn’t do so many (mostly uneventful) stories.”, Chrissy rebuked straightaway in a tweet message. The interchange of public messages went on for a few more tweets where the only two clear things were how disappointed Teigen was with Instagram and how difficult the platform’s decision-makers are finding it to listen to its users, even the famous ones.
On August 1st, after seven weeks of complete absence, fashion blogger Michelle Rothenburger resurfaced on Instagram with a photo wearing 90s low-rise Diesel jeans she thrifted in Switzerland for 12 Euros. The blurred backdrop of the streets behind her was no different from her other 100s of photos posted prior to her break from the social media platform. But this time, the caption included more than the prices of the second-hand items used, it had a clear invitation for readers to check her blog… away from Instagram.
“Recently I have been focusing on Pinterest and it’s a great complement to my blog. I think brands would have much greater success, nowadays, if they focused their efforts on Pinterest rather than Instagram. I have already driven more traffic in the last few months from Pinterest to my blog than I think I ever did from Instagram”, highlights Rothenburger.
Since returning to Instagram, Michelle no longer has a regular posting schedule and doesn’t know when she will be posting again on the platform.
Since complaining to the head of Instagram that her friends can’t see her photos and telling Adam Mosseri that “we don’t wanna make videos”, Chrissy Teigen is posting more … Reels.
London exhibition features evolution of Santa Claus through the centuries
From Saint to Santa is displaying with 32 artworks, including an original AI-generated one, tracking the history of Santa Claus and its influences. The photos are now available across light boxes in Wembley Park’s Arena Square, next to the Grade II listed OVO Arena Wembley.
The exhibition explores the emergence of the modern Santa Claus from roots that span Norse Yule celebrations, the Roman Saturnalia festival and Christianity’s Saint Nicholas. It travels through early spirituality and the Reformation to the jollier Santa figure we recognise today. The images also pay heed to some of Santa Claus’ less cheery companions, from the demon-like Krampus who seizes naughty children in central Europe to Knecht Ruprecht from German folklore who reprimands ill-behaved children with his staff or a bag of ashes.
Wending its way through history, the outdoor photography exhibition looks at how two distinct figures – Father Christmas and Santa Claus – merged into one and where characteristics such as the famous red suit, rosy cheeks, gift-giving and reindeer-pulled flying sleigh originated. It shows the impact that authors such as Washing Irving and Clement Clarke Moore, and artists such as Thomas Nast and Norman Rockwell, have had in turning a serious, saintly figure into someone altogether jollier.
“I am immensely proud to present this new exhibition in Wembley Park. The figure of Santa Claus carries a universal message of generosity and kindness that spans eras and cultures – and is today more resonant than ever. It’s a fascinating tapestry that blends traditions and local customs in ways one wouldn’t expect – from Northern European gods to ancient Rome, through the lenses of Christianity and modern-day advertising. This is a story for everyone, young and old, and I hope visitors leave with a better understanding of the enduring symbol of Santa Claus and the joy he brings to people around the world”, says Claudio Giambrone, Exhibition Curator and Producer at Wembley Park.
The evolution of Santa’s treatment in consumer culture goes under the microscope as part of the new exhibition as well, including the role that advertising and modern popular culture have played in shaping today’s Santa iconography.
For more information visit www.wembleypark.com/winter.
Millions of people in Britain admit to making costly car mistakes
As winter takes hold and temperatures start to drop, a recent research by Aviva reveals the most common mistakes drivers could be making when it comes to getting behind the wheel this winter.
The research, which surveyed 2,000 Brits, reveals that more than a quarter (28%) are leaving their cars running to de-ice screens, with older generations most likely to take the risk. Over a third of those aged 75+ (41%) and those aged 65-74 (34%) leave their car on to de-ice screens, compared to 17% of 18-24 year-olds and 24% of 25-34 year-olds.
By doing so, Brits may be unwittingly putting themselves at risk with most car insurance policies excluding thefts of vehicles while the engine is still running. This is also an offence under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 which states that drivers cannot leave vehicles running and unattended while on a public highway, otherwise known as ‘quitting’.
When looking at visibility, the research reveals that almost half (45%) of Brits have driven without making sure that their screens and mirrors were properly clear. By doing so, motorists could also be risking a fine under Section 229 of the Highway Code, which states that all drivers ‘must be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all windows’.
The top 10 winter driving habits that could cause issues:
1. I have left my car running to de-ice the screen and warm it up: 28%
2. I have driven in gloves: 21%
3. I have driven in a big winter coat: 20%
4. I have driven even though there is snow on the top of my car: 19%
5. I have driven even though the screen was not fully de-iced or de-misted: 16%
6. I have driven without checking that my number plate was clear: 16%
7. I have driven even though the screen wasn’t clear: 15%
8. I have driven even though I was too tired: 14%
9. I have driven even though the mirrors weren’t fully clear: 14%
10. I have driven through floodwater or a ford: 13%
“While we all want to get to our next destination as quickly as possible, it pays to be safe, particularly as the risk of an accident typically increases during the winter months. Spending five or ten minutes to prepare your car means that not only are you more likely to avoid an accident, but also a hefty fine – which can be as much as £1,000 – points on your licence or even a driving ban in the worst case scenario”, says Martin Smith, Motor Claims Manager at Aviva.
Other British driving habits include leaving the car unlocked to quickly pop into somewhere (13%), pouring boiling water over a car windscreen to de-ice it (11%) as well as wearing inappropriate footwear such as heels (9%) or wellies/snowboots (7%). Those driving whilst wearing inappropriate clothing and footwear could also risk a fine under Rule 97 of the Highway code which states that you should ensure: ‘clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner’.
5 of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe this winter
Whether you are a seasoned skier or a first-timer, one thing that is for sure is that skiing can be a very expensive trip. Even if you don’t enrol for a celebrity-like skiing weekend, following on the footsteps of Kim Kardashian, Orlando Bloom, or Gwyneth Paltrow, the costs can pile up. as research shows Brits fork out between £500 and £750 per person on spending money for a ski trip.
If you are keen to hit the slopes but are being mindful of the pennies, here is a shortlist of five of the cheapest resorts you can visit in Europe, based on the average cost of a lift pass, accommodation, ski rental, and of course food and drinks.
“Skiing can be a very expensive holiday, especially for families. However, there are some fantastic resorts out there offering surprisingly reasonable prices, without compromising on those amazing views and fantastic ski runs”, says Laura Evans-Fisk, head of digital and engagement at eurochange. “Borovets in Bulgaria came out on top as the cheapest ski resort. It’s definitely an underrated destination, with unbelievably low prices for food and drink, and a whole week lift pass for less than £150.”
Topping the list is bargain-friendly Borovets, Bulgaria. The country is quickly becoming a cheap and cheerful favourite spot for skiers, and it’s easy to see why. Located in the Rila mountains, Borovets is an all-round resort providing luxury amenities at very reasonable prices. With fabulous nightlife as well as gentle slopes for beginners, it’s an ideal destination for adults and families alike. Ski passes start from just £29 per day, so you could really save some cash if you visit for just a few days.
- Adult lift pass (6 days): Лв370 (£143.75)
- Ski rental (6 days): Лв155 (£60.22)
- Accommodation (per night): From Лв135 (£52.45)
- Beer: Лв3 (£1.17)
- Wine: Лв6 (£2.33)
- 3-course meal: Лв15 (£5.83)
Lesser known than its Austrian and Italian neighbours, Slovenia’s Vogel resort is no less spectacular. Tucked away in the stunning Julian Alps, Vogel offers exceptional value alongside outstanding snow sports facilities and stunning views. The après is one of the cheapest around, with beer costing just €2, and a three-course meal setting you back just €17.
Les Houches, France
For a Mont Blanc ski holiday without the Chamonix prices, look no further than Les Houches. A top choice for families, this picturesque village is quiet at night, while the neighbouring high-altitude areas are perfect for advanced skiers. A six-day adult ski pass is less than £200 and equipment can be rented for less than £100 for the week.
- Adult lift pass (6 days): €197 (£158.46)
- Ski rental (6 days): from €114 (£91.70)
- Accommodation (per night): From €77 (£61.94)
- Beer: €2 (£1.61)
- Wine: €5 (£4.02)
- 3-course meal: €20 (£16.09)
Nestled in the heart of the Alps, Italy‘s Livigno offers sterling snowsport facilities for all skill levels, from absolute beginners to black slope aficionados. And thanks to its tax-exempt status, Livigno provides premium resort standards at budget prices, giving you far more for your euros than most other ski destinations on the continent.
- Adult lift pass (6 days): €223* (£179.38)
- Ski rental (6 days): from €74.00* (£59.52)
- Accommodation (per night): From €101 (£81.24)
- Beer: €3 (£2.41)
- Wine: €10 (£8.04)
- 3-course meal: €30 (£24.13)
While Switzerland tends to be an expensive country to visit, Grindelwald is one of the more affordable resorts for getting the Swiss ski holiday experience. Even if you’re not a keen skier, there are plenty of other activities to try out, including tobogganing and winter walking. Set in the beautiful Jungfrau mountains, Grindelwald provides a picture-perfect slice of the Alps for far less than you’d expect.
- Adult lift pass (6 days): SFr385 (£308.79)
- Ski rental (6 days): from SFr237 (£190.09)
- Accommodation (per night): From SFr57 (£45.72)
- Beer: SFr2 (£1.60)
- Wine: SFr13 (£10.43)
- 3-course meal: SFr24 (£19.25)
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