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Michael Fewell 2021-07-04
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Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mike Pompeo, and Newsmax all had their pages hacked, as did the app's founder Jason Miller.
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Michael Fewell 2021-05-07
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Whenever I read a review of a lightweight ebike, inevitably someone in the comments feels the need to point out: “you can get the Powertron Cyclenator with a 1,000,000W motor for this kind of money!” Or, you know, something like that. I’ll admit, when I first started to ride and review ebikes, I thought much the same. I’m a big guy, after all, and back then I had pretty much no cycling experience beyond just knowing how to ride a bike. More power for the money always seemed like a good idea. How else was I going to get up…

This story continues at The Next Web
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Michael Fewell 2021-03-05
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QAnon followers were expecting "The Storm" in January. And then on March 4. Unfazed by the failure, many are seeking redemption on a new day.
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Michael Fewell 2021-01-13
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Baffling scientists, GTA V looks poised to live forever.
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Michael Fewell 2021-05-22
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Being ad-free was an HBO trademark for decades, with all the liberation that brings. Now HBO Max is introducing ads -- but trying to be smart about it.
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0
Michael Fewell 2021-05-04
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The bones might have been placed on the wrong shelf and separated from the rest of the artifacts from the burial site in Denmark.
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Michael Fewell 2021-03-04
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“I like your hair!” a woman tells me as we sidestep each other in the street on my way home from the post office – an outing that doubles up as my dai;y sanctioned local exercise trip. “Oh! Um, yes! Wow! Cool! Okay!” I reply, not knowing how to take the compliment and forgetting I have two strips of pink hair framing my face (dyed when I was bored during lockdown one). The woman gives me a puzzled look and walks off. 

That was a few weeks ago now. I haven’t left the house in eight days. Each morning, I log on to Google Hangouts with my colleagues, as I’ve done five days a week for nearly a year. After work, I FaceTime my mum’s ear – she can’t hear me properly and doesn’t realise she’s still on video. At weekends, I have a beer and join a murder-mystery-Zoom-birthday-party with a mix of friends and friends of friends. That’s a social invite I wouldn’t have received pre-pandemic.

Is it any surprise I’m awkward as hell on my few occasions out in the wild?

Small talk and strangers make me uncomfortable at the best of times, and Covid times aren’t those. It’s not that I don’t like socialising. I love being out, in a group. But groups aren’t a thing right now. And even when it comes to friends I’ve known for years but haven’t seen in a long time – cheers, Corona!– I’m nervous and unsure what to do with myself or say to them.

The pandemic and its ever-shifting rules and restrictions have changed our social structures and stripped us of even the most everyday exchanges. Whether it’s missing those non-verbal gestures or the very real absence of physical proximity and touch, we’ve become accustomed to a feeling of social awkwardness. Navigating basic interactions online or off can feel like a quagmire. And I’m hearing similar from introverts and extroverts alike.

Could it be possible that social distancing has made us forget how to interact? Has a year of isolation eroded our social skills down to a point of no return?

Blaming the tech

Four voices are speaking over each other. It’s impossible to understand or get a word in. Someone’s screen has frozen during a key part of the conversation and no-one can hear me. Oh wait, that’s because I’ve forgotten I’m still on mute.

Video calls are terrible. I hate them. They’re exhausting and uncomfortable and ever multiplying. And after a year of looking at small pixellated faces in squares – our own and other people’s – they’ve made us more self-critical than ever. 

As psychotherapist Kelly Hearn, co-founder of the Examined Life therapy collective, explains: “Having to stare at each other face-to-face for every encounter rather than being able to take in the entire scene, we are left without the myriad gestures and non-verbal cues which means our brains have to work harder to try and read a situation and with relatively less information.” 

And that’s the external bit. “There is also the constant ‘mirror’ of a tiny ‘self-view’ window vying for our (critical) attention,” she adds. “The whole process, repeatedly, has been pretty emotionally draining, so it’s no wonder some of us are feeling an element of social anxiety now more than previously.”

As time has gone on, the novelty of video calling has also worn off. A weariness and heaviness has set in and our inclination is often to retreat – which is more likely to impact our social calls (optional) than our work ones (not so much).

“Zoom fatigue means we are recoiling from yet more time online,” says Hearn. “We’re left not feeling especially connected to friends and uneasy about what this means for relationships moving forward.”

Ultimately, she suggests, “it’s this lack of connection and uncertainty that makes interaction awkward, as we fear the worst and judge our attempts.” 

The lost art of small talk

I used to think exchanging pleasantries was a time waster, a tactic I used to fill awkward silences when I didn’t know what else to say. But, as it turns out, I miss small talk, we all miss small talk – the chance to chat mindlessly about random things, and flex our social muscles. To interact, not just transact.

It’s reached the point where I’ve not only forgotten how to respond appropriately to someone I don’t know (as with the hair compliment), I’m overthinking even the smallest facial movement on a Zoom call. How on earth did I used to smile and casually talk at work events and parties with ease?  

We may feel we’ve lost that in-person spark somewhere along the way, but all is not lost, says life coach and author Ruth Kudzi. The first step, she advises, is to recognise that social anxiety lives inside all of our minds rent-free. 

That awkwardness has the potential to impact our confidence, relationships or everyday activities, from parties and social gatherings to busy workspaces and meetings. These days, it can even make going for a walk a tall order.

“Pre-pandemic, many had put coping mechanisms in place and often day-to-day living and what is called ‘exposure therapy’ would help alleviate some worries and fears,” Kudzi explains. 

“However, during lockdown those who suffer social anxiety are not gathering experiences that disprove these worries and fears. We’ve also had time to dwell and over worry about the future, meaning that socialising, reconnecting, and getting back into the world is overwhelming and feels harder than ever before.”

In short, it’s made us all feel like awkward teenagers again – consumed by newly troubled thoughts of going out and managing in group situations.

As one usually extroverted colleague told me after a socially-distanced meet up in the summer with work friends: “I came away cringing at myself, undecided whether I’d said too little or too much, and worrying whatever I had said was unbelievably uncool or off-key – like I was back in school or something.”

“We need to be kind to our inner awkward teenagers; we went through enough back then!” Hearn responds, adding that as adults, we can “depersonalise the awkwardness” and appreciate that everyone has struggled in some way over the past year. “We’re all a little nervous about re-finding our socialising feet,” she says. “We no longer need to put on a ‘cool kid’ facade and can instead speak more truthfully about how we’re feeling – awkwardness and all.”

The best way to get over the discomfort is by addressing it – it can be enough to neutralise any pressure or pretence. “Breaking the ice allows others to share their own awkwardness,” says Hearn. “Humans connect in our vulnerability.”

Getting back out there

Hearn’s main advice for reclaiming our social lives is to “keep our intentions simple but sweet”. A good place to start, she says, is “reminding ourselves of freedoms lost over the last year: the pleasure of the other’s face not obscured by a screen, the ability to enjoy a hot beverage or meal prepared by someone else, the sound of laughter and the warmth of the spring sun.”

Self-confessed introvert Sarah Shuttle, 33, a Berkshire-based brand stylist, initially felt relief during lockdown at not feeling obligated to socialise in situations she didn’t enjoy – but she says she is surprised how much the pandemic has made her miss in-person interactions.

“It’s made me appreciate the way they enrich my life,” she admits. “I took for granted that I would always have the opportunity to socialise in real life, and now I’ve seen what it’s like without that choice.”

As lockdown lifts and life gets going again, Shuttle won’t be diving headfirst into socialising just because she can. Instead, she says she is planning a gradual reintroduction – ie. as restrictions ease up, she’ll ease herself in. 

“I am a little anxious about socialising because it feels exposing,” she admits the start of the end of lockdown. “The less I go out, the less I want to go out. So, despite my appreciation for the freedom it will bring, there is a heightened anxiety. I definitely won’t be alone in that though!”

And she’s right. It’s understandable to feel awkward post-lockdown, even with our close friends or everyday colleagues. We’ve been robbed of normal social interaction for the best part of a year. But while taking baby steps in our social lives might feel weird or uncomfortable, soon enough we’ll bounce back.

“I’ll start slowly and with people I know well,” says Shuttle, who has no plans to go clubbing come June 21, for example, but might show her face at a pub. “I know any awkwardness won’t last forever, I need to allow myself to feel it and realise that it won’t kill me – there are worse things.”

Covid-19 is more than a news story – it has changed every aspect of life in the UK. We are following how Britain is experiencing this crisis, the different stages of collective emotion, reaction and resilience. You can tell us how you are feeling and find further advice and resources here.

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Michael Fewell 2021-01-03
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Not sure what to watch tonight? Here are some of the best movies Netflix has to offer.
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Michael Fewell 2021-05-19
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Similar to Hulu's price options; other stream-with-ads options are much less.
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Michael Fewell 2021-04-08
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Boutique browsers try to scratch out a living by finding a niche underserved by the usual suspects. Brave is one of those browsers.

Brave has gotten more attention than most alternate browsers, partly because a co-founder was one of those who kick-started Mozilla's Firefox, partly because of its very unusual — some say parasitical — business model.

That model, which relies on stripping every site of every ad, then substituting different ads, came under attack almost immediately from publishers that depended on online advertising for their livelihood. "Your plan to use our content to sell your advertising is indistinguishable from a plan to steal our content to publish on your own website ((emphasis in original," lawyers for 17 newspaper publishers wrote in a cease-and-desist letter to Brave Software in April 2016.

To read this article in full, please click here

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Michael Fewell 2021-02-27
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The game developer has a reputation for pulling some of its most avid fans into its ranks, but whether that relationship will persevere isn't so clear.
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Michael Fewell 2020-08-27
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Script kiddies run rampant in Minecraft

Ever torn your keyboard from the desk and flung it across the room, vowing to find the "scrub cheater" who ended your run of video-gaming success? Uh, yeah, us neither, but a study into the crooked practice might help narrow down the hypothetical search.…

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Michael Fewell 2021-05-08
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We break down the ending of Resident Evil Village, including what it means for the characters involved and the questions that remain unanswered.
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Michael Fewell 2021-03-22
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"Sexually explicit images of real people" not allowed on the service, Valve says.
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Michael Fewell 2021-01-25
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If your office chair is causing you pain, it might be time for an upgrade.
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Michael Fewell 2020-08-17
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Ashley Jones

  • Ashley Jones has nearly 45,000 followers on her Instagram account and has over 25,000 subscribers on on her YouTube channel.
  • She said she treats her social-media pages as a side hustle. 
  • Like many influencers, Jones earns the majority of her money online through brand sponsorships and she pitches brands and negotiates all of the deals herself, she said. 
  • She shared her asking rates for a sponsorship on Instagram, including a post and Story slide, and for a YouTube video mention and dedicated video. 
  • Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter: Influencer Dashboard.

Even though college student Ashley Jones doesn't have millions of followers like some social-media influencers, she's still able to earn money from posting content on Instagram and YouTube. 

Jones has nearly 45,000 followers on her Instagram account and just over 25,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel.

She originally started her YouTube channel when she was 12 years old, and growing up, she loved watching makeup and beauty videos.

"I felt like there wasn't an outlet for creators like me, brown skin, curly hair, just someone different," Jones, now 20, told Business Insider. "I felt like I was a different face that could add to the world of content creating."

Recently, she decided to take her channel more seriously and make social-media her side hustle. 

"The shift definitely happened about a year ago," Jones said. "When I really started to become serious about fashion and partnerships. That's when I really took it seriously and started to create content more consistently as well and I started to reach out to brands about partnerships." 

Like many influencers, Jones earns the majority of her money online through brand sponsorships. But unlike some influencers who have talent managers or agents, she pitches brands and negotiates all of the deals herself, she said. 

"I watched a lot of videos on how to price your content when working with brands," she said. "I decided to create a flat rate for all of my content." 

Jones said she developed her rates by negotiating with brands and seeing what they would offer her. 

"I would always offer higher and if they would agree to it then great, but if they would try to offer something lower then I would come to a conclusion and try to average in-between to try to figure how much brands are willing to pay," she said.

Her set rates for a sponsorship include:

  • Instagram Story post: $100
  • Instagram in-feed post: $300
  • Two-minute YouTube video mention: $300 to $400
  • Full YouTube video: $850 

"I feel like a lot of people go wrong by emailing a brands customer service email or just a random email on their Instagram page," she added. "I really try to ask for their PR representative or I'll try to reach out on my own."

Her strategy for pitching a brand on Instagram 

Jones is in college currently, and she schedules her YouTube channel around her classes. On the days she's not in class, she'll film videos and take pictures. 

"A lot of my friends would ask how I do my hair, what products I use, so that was really the first couple of videos that I posted on my channel, and still to this day those are the videos that I get the most recognition, the most views on," she said. 

Her major in college is business marketing and when she does work with a brand she researches who the PR team is and what kind of aesthetic they look for, which she's learned from her marketing classes, she said.

She'll also tag the brand and use specific hashtags that they use to grab their attention and possibly be reposted on their page. 

"That's how I really started to develop my technique when I'm reaching out to brands," she said. "For example, a lot of brands will have a certain color scheme on their page, so I will try to follow that color scheme in order to get reposted and some brands have a hashtag in their bios that they like creators to use. When they want to repost someone, they'll go to that hashtag."

Getting an Instagram reposted by a brand can be a first step in trying to negotiate a brand deal, she said.

Jones will also sometimes direct message a brand on Instagram as a way to grab its attention, which is a common technique for many influencers.  

"The one thing I have learned from in the past is that brands will most likely respond when they see that you have a genuine love and use for their products," Jones said. "I'll start off by trying out the products and tag them in a couple posts, letting them know that I use their products and I'm not just a random person just trying to get free stuff. After that, I'll reach out through DM and let them know that I'd love to collaborate through Instagram or YouTube and ask for a PR contact."

Ashley Jones

Working with micro influencers has proven to be effective for many marketers

Micro influencers like Jones prove that you don't need to be Kylie Jenner famous — with 190 million followers — to earn money from a sponsored post on Instagram. (A micro influencer is generally considered to be someone with fewer than 100,000 followers.) And hiring part-time influencers rather than those who consider it a full-time profession is becoming increasingly popular among brands.

Many brands have gravitated toward micro influencers because those with smaller follower counts can often have a loyal following and high engagement rate, making it easy for them to convert or drive purchases for a brand.

Recently, a report from the social-media marketing company Socialbakers suggested that "micro" or "nano" influencers — specifically those with 50,000 followers or fewer — make up the majority of brand collaborations on Instagram. 


For more on the influencer industry, check out these Business Insider posts: 

SEE ALSO: 'Micro' and 'nano' Instagram influencers have proven effective for many marketers, but new data suggests only a small fraction of them are working with brands

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid

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Michael Fewell 2021-07-04
img
Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mike Pompeo, and Newsmax all had their pages hacked, as did the app's founder Jason Miller.
Michael Fewell 2021-05-19
img
Similar to Hulu's price options; other stream-with-ads options are much less.
Michael Fewell 2021-05-07
img

Whenever I read a review of a lightweight ebike, inevitably someone in the comments feels the need to point out: “you can get the Powertron Cyclenator with a 1,000,000W motor for this kind of money!” Or, you know, something like that. I’ll admit, when I first started to ride and review ebikes, I thought much the same. I’m a big guy, after all, and back then I had pretty much no cycling experience beyond just knowing how to ride a bike. More power for the money always seemed like a good idea. How else was I going to get up…

This story continues at The Next Web
Michael Fewell 2021-04-08
img

Boutique browsers try to scratch out a living by finding a niche underserved by the usual suspects. Brave is one of those browsers.

Brave has gotten more attention than most alternate browsers, partly because a co-founder was one of those who kick-started Mozilla's Firefox, partly because of its very unusual — some say parasitical — business model.

That model, which relies on stripping every site of every ad, then substituting different ads, came under attack almost immediately from publishers that depended on online advertising for their livelihood. "Your plan to use our content to sell your advertising is indistinguishable from a plan to steal our content to publish on your own website ((emphasis in original," lawyers for 17 newspaper publishers wrote in a cease-and-desist letter to Brave Software in April 2016.

To read this article in full, please click here

Michael Fewell 2021-03-05
img
QAnon followers were expecting "The Storm" in January. And then on March 4. Unfazed by the failure, many are seeking redemption on a new day.
Michael Fewell 2021-02-27
img
The game developer has a reputation for pulling some of its most avid fans into its ranks, but whether that relationship will persevere isn't so clear.
Michael Fewell 2021-01-13
img
Baffling scientists, GTA V looks poised to live forever.
Michael Fewell 2020-08-27
img

Script kiddies run rampant in Minecraft

Ever torn your keyboard from the desk and flung it across the room, vowing to find the "scrub cheater" who ended your run of video-gaming success? Uh, yeah, us neither, but a study into the crooked practice might help narrow down the hypothetical search.…

Michael Fewell 2021-05-22
img
Being ad-free was an HBO trademark for decades, with all the liberation that brings. Now HBO Max is introducing ads -- but trying to be smart about it.
Michael Fewell 2021-05-08
img
We break down the ending of Resident Evil Village, including what it means for the characters involved and the questions that remain unanswered.
Michael Fewell 2021-05-04
img
The bones might have been placed on the wrong shelf and separated from the rest of the artifacts from the burial site in Denmark.
Michael Fewell 2021-03-22
img
"Sexually explicit images of real people" not allowed on the service, Valve says.
Michael Fewell 2021-03-04
img

“I like your hair!” a woman tells me as we sidestep each other in the street on my way home from the post office – an outing that doubles up as my dai;y sanctioned local exercise trip. “Oh! Um, yes! Wow! Cool! Okay!” I reply, not knowing how to take the compliment and forgetting I have two strips of pink hair framing my face (dyed when I was bored during lockdown one). The woman gives me a puzzled look and walks off. 

That was a few weeks ago now. I haven’t left the house in eight days. Each morning, I log on to Google Hangouts with my colleagues, as I’ve done five days a week for nearly a year. After work, I FaceTime my mum’s ear – she can’t hear me properly and doesn’t realise she’s still on video. At weekends, I have a beer and join a murder-mystery-Zoom-birthday-party with a mix of friends and friends of friends. That’s a social invite I wouldn’t have received pre-pandemic.

Is it any surprise I’m awkward as hell on my few occasions out in the wild?

Small talk and strangers make me uncomfortable at the best of times, and Covid times aren’t those. It’s not that I don’t like socialising. I love being out, in a group. But groups aren’t a thing right now. And even when it comes to friends I’ve known for years but haven’t seen in a long time – cheers, Corona!– I’m nervous and unsure what to do with myself or say to them.

The pandemic and its ever-shifting rules and restrictions have changed our social structures and stripped us of even the most everyday exchanges. Whether it’s missing those non-verbal gestures or the very real absence of physical proximity and touch, we’ve become accustomed to a feeling of social awkwardness. Navigating basic interactions online or off can feel like a quagmire. And I’m hearing similar from introverts and extroverts alike.

Could it be possible that social distancing has made us forget how to interact? Has a year of isolation eroded our social skills down to a point of no return?

Blaming the tech

Four voices are speaking over each other. It’s impossible to understand or get a word in. Someone’s screen has frozen during a key part of the conversation and no-one can hear me. Oh wait, that’s because I’ve forgotten I’m still on mute.

Video calls are terrible. I hate them. They’re exhausting and uncomfortable and ever multiplying. And after a year of looking at small pixellated faces in squares – our own and other people’s – they’ve made us more self-critical than ever. 

As psychotherapist Kelly Hearn, co-founder of the Examined Life therapy collective, explains: “Having to stare at each other face-to-face for every encounter rather than being able to take in the entire scene, we are left without the myriad gestures and non-verbal cues which means our brains have to work harder to try and read a situation and with relatively less information.” 

And that’s the external bit. “There is also the constant ‘mirror’ of a tiny ‘self-view’ window vying for our (critical) attention,” she adds. “The whole process, repeatedly, has been pretty emotionally draining, so it’s no wonder some of us are feeling an element of social anxiety now more than previously.”

As time has gone on, the novelty of video calling has also worn off. A weariness and heaviness has set in and our inclination is often to retreat – which is more likely to impact our social calls (optional) than our work ones (not so much).

“Zoom fatigue means we are recoiling from yet more time online,” says Hearn. “We’re left not feeling especially connected to friends and uneasy about what this means for relationships moving forward.”

Ultimately, she suggests, “it’s this lack of connection and uncertainty that makes interaction awkward, as we fear the worst and judge our attempts.” 

The lost art of small talk

I used to think exchanging pleasantries was a time waster, a tactic I used to fill awkward silences when I didn’t know what else to say. But, as it turns out, I miss small talk, we all miss small talk – the chance to chat mindlessly about random things, and flex our social muscles. To interact, not just transact.

It’s reached the point where I’ve not only forgotten how to respond appropriately to someone I don’t know (as with the hair compliment), I’m overthinking even the smallest facial movement on a Zoom call. How on earth did I used to smile and casually talk at work events and parties with ease?  

We may feel we’ve lost that in-person spark somewhere along the way, but all is not lost, says life coach and author Ruth Kudzi. The first step, she advises, is to recognise that social anxiety lives inside all of our minds rent-free. 

That awkwardness has the potential to impact our confidence, relationships or everyday activities, from parties and social gatherings to busy workspaces and meetings. These days, it can even make going for a walk a tall order.

“Pre-pandemic, many had put coping mechanisms in place and often day-to-day living and what is called ‘exposure therapy’ would help alleviate some worries and fears,” Kudzi explains. 

“However, during lockdown those who suffer social anxiety are not gathering experiences that disprove these worries and fears. We’ve also had time to dwell and over worry about the future, meaning that socialising, reconnecting, and getting back into the world is overwhelming and feels harder than ever before.”

In short, it’s made us all feel like awkward teenagers again – consumed by newly troubled thoughts of going out and managing in group situations.

As one usually extroverted colleague told me after a socially-distanced meet up in the summer with work friends: “I came away cringing at myself, undecided whether I’d said too little or too much, and worrying whatever I had said was unbelievably uncool or off-key – like I was back in school or something.”

“We need to be kind to our inner awkward teenagers; we went through enough back then!” Hearn responds, adding that as adults, we can “depersonalise the awkwardness” and appreciate that everyone has struggled in some way over the past year. “We’re all a little nervous about re-finding our socialising feet,” she says. “We no longer need to put on a ‘cool kid’ facade and can instead speak more truthfully about how we’re feeling – awkwardness and all.”

The best way to get over the discomfort is by addressing it – it can be enough to neutralise any pressure or pretence. “Breaking the ice allows others to share their own awkwardness,” says Hearn. “Humans connect in our vulnerability.”

Getting back out there

Hearn’s main advice for reclaiming our social lives is to “keep our intentions simple but sweet”. A good place to start, she says, is “reminding ourselves of freedoms lost over the last year: the pleasure of the other’s face not obscured by a screen, the ability to enjoy a hot beverage or meal prepared by someone else, the sound of laughter and the warmth of the spring sun.”

Self-confessed introvert Sarah Shuttle, 33, a Berkshire-based brand stylist, initially felt relief during lockdown at not feeling obligated to socialise in situations she didn’t enjoy – but she says she is surprised how much the pandemic has made her miss in-person interactions.

“It’s made me appreciate the way they enrich my life,” she admits. “I took for granted that I would always have the opportunity to socialise in real life, and now I’ve seen what it’s like without that choice.”

As lockdown lifts and life gets going again, Shuttle won’t be diving headfirst into socialising just because she can. Instead, she says she is planning a gradual reintroduction – ie. as restrictions ease up, she’ll ease herself in. 

“I am a little anxious about socialising because it feels exposing,” she admits the start of the end of lockdown. “The less I go out, the less I want to go out. So, despite my appreciation for the freedom it will bring, there is a heightened anxiety. I definitely won’t be alone in that though!”

And she’s right. It’s understandable to feel awkward post-lockdown, even with our close friends or everyday colleagues. We’ve been robbed of normal social interaction for the best part of a year. But while taking baby steps in our social lives might feel weird or uncomfortable, soon enough we’ll bounce back.

“I’ll start slowly and with people I know well,” says Shuttle, who has no plans to go clubbing come June 21, for example, but might show her face at a pub. “I know any awkwardness won’t last forever, I need to allow myself to feel it and realise that it won’t kill me – there are worse things.”

Covid-19 is more than a news story – it has changed every aspect of life in the UK. We are following how Britain is experiencing this crisis, the different stages of collective emotion, reaction and resilience. You can tell us how you are feeling and find further advice and resources here.

Michael Fewell 2021-01-25
img
If your office chair is causing you pain, it might be time for an upgrade.
Michael Fewell 2021-01-03
img
Not sure what to watch tonight? Here are some of the best movies Netflix has to offer.
Michael Fewell 2020-08-17
img

Ashley Jones

  • Ashley Jones has nearly 45,000 followers on her Instagram account and has over 25,000 subscribers on on her YouTube channel.
  • She said she treats her social-media pages as a side hustle. 
  • Like many influencers, Jones earns the majority of her money online through brand sponsorships and she pitches brands and negotiates all of the deals herself, she said. 
  • She shared her asking rates for a sponsorship on Instagram, including a post and Story slide, and for a YouTube video mention and dedicated video. 
  • Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter: Influencer Dashboard.

Even though college student Ashley Jones doesn't have millions of followers like some social-media influencers, she's still able to earn money from posting content on Instagram and YouTube. 

Jones has nearly 45,000 followers on her Instagram account and just over 25,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel.

She originally started her YouTube channel when she was 12 years old, and growing up, she loved watching makeup and beauty videos.

"I felt like there wasn't an outlet for creators like me, brown skin, curly hair, just someone different," Jones, now 20, told Business Insider. "I felt like I was a different face that could add to the world of content creating."

Recently, she decided to take her channel more seriously and make social-media her side hustle. 

"The shift definitely happened about a year ago," Jones said. "When I really started to become serious about fashion and partnerships. That's when I really took it seriously and started to create content more consistently as well and I started to reach out to brands about partnerships." 

Like many influencers, Jones earns the majority of her money online through brand sponsorships. But unlike some influencers who have talent managers or agents, she pitches brands and negotiates all of the deals herself, she said. 

"I watched a lot of videos on how to price your content when working with brands," she said. "I decided to create a flat rate for all of my content." 

Jones said she developed her rates by negotiating with brands and seeing what they would offer her. 

"I would always offer higher and if they would agree to it then great, but if they would try to offer something lower then I would come to a conclusion and try to average in-between to try to figure how much brands are willing to pay," she said.

Her set rates for a sponsorship include:

  • Instagram Story post: $100
  • Instagram in-feed post: $300
  • Two-minute YouTube video mention: $300 to $400
  • Full YouTube video: $850 

"I feel like a lot of people go wrong by emailing a brands customer service email or just a random email on their Instagram page," she added. "I really try to ask for their PR representative or I'll try to reach out on my own."

Her strategy for pitching a brand on Instagram 

Jones is in college currently, and she schedules her YouTube channel around her classes. On the days she's not in class, she'll film videos and take pictures. 

"A lot of my friends would ask how I do my hair, what products I use, so that was really the first couple of videos that I posted on my channel, and still to this day those are the videos that I get the most recognition, the most views on," she said. 

Her major in college is business marketing and when she does work with a brand she researches who the PR team is and what kind of aesthetic they look for, which she's learned from her marketing classes, she said.

She'll also tag the brand and use specific hashtags that they use to grab their attention and possibly be reposted on their page. 

"That's how I really started to develop my technique when I'm reaching out to brands," she said. "For example, a lot of brands will have a certain color scheme on their page, so I will try to follow that color scheme in order to get reposted and some brands have a hashtag in their bios that they like creators to use. When they want to repost someone, they'll go to that hashtag."

Getting an Instagram reposted by a brand can be a first step in trying to negotiate a brand deal, she said.

Jones will also sometimes direct message a brand on Instagram as a way to grab its attention, which is a common technique for many influencers.  

"The one thing I have learned from in the past is that brands will most likely respond when they see that you have a genuine love and use for their products," Jones said. "I'll start off by trying out the products and tag them in a couple posts, letting them know that I use their products and I'm not just a random person just trying to get free stuff. After that, I'll reach out through DM and let them know that I'd love to collaborate through Instagram or YouTube and ask for a PR contact."

Ashley Jones

Working with micro influencers has proven to be effective for many marketers

Micro influencers like Jones prove that you don't need to be Kylie Jenner famous — with 190 million followers — to earn money from a sponsored post on Instagram. (A micro influencer is generally considered to be someone with fewer than 100,000 followers.) And hiring part-time influencers rather than those who consider it a full-time profession is becoming increasingly popular among brands.

Many brands have gravitated toward micro influencers because those with smaller follower counts can often have a loyal following and high engagement rate, making it easy for them to convert or drive purchases for a brand.

Recently, a report from the social-media marketing company Socialbakers suggested that "micro" or "nano" influencers — specifically those with 50,000 followers or fewer — make up the majority of brand collaborations on Instagram. 


For more on the influencer industry, check out these Business Insider posts: 

SEE ALSO: 'Micro' and 'nano' Instagram influencers have proven effective for many marketers, but new data suggests only a small fraction of them are working with brands

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