DIGITAL: TOOLS OF THE GRAM-TRADE

In an ever-evolving social landscape, content is king… As such, it’s vital to keep on the pulse of new trends and modes of communication; to master those all too elusive tools of the social trade and embrace the coming change. Whether you’re looking to raise your salon profile or bolster your personal brand, there’s no arguing the pertinence of a successful Instagram presence. So to help you up your insta-game, we’ve rounded up six of our favourite social saviours, guaranteed to help you crack the algorithm.

PLANOLY

Scheduling apps such as Planoly are a must-have for creating cohesive, appealing grids, allowing you to visually plan, rearrange and automate your feed from the comfort of your desktop (or smartphone app). With its user-friendly, drag and drop interface, Planoly allows you to pre-schedule months’ worth of grid content in one sitting, storing your uploaded imagery for immediate or future posting. You can also draft and edit image captions, access your analytics and set-up auto posting at peak user times. “I always recommend Planoly for scheduling,” says Melbourne Hair Blogger Nicole Healy. “It’s Facebook Partner approved and allows you to plan your grid so that it flows cohesively. You can also save relevant hashtag groups and captions – a timesaver for any busy salon owner!” PRO TIP: For maximum engagement, schedule your content during peak user periods. To determine the peak timeslots for your followship, click on the audience tab in your Instagram insights for a recap of your followers’ viewing activity.

Image via instagram/planoly

INSHOT

These days, video content not only garners more engagement, it also ranks higher (from a reach perspective) than stagnant imagery, meaning this is one format you’ll want to master. With more than a couple (of hundred) video editing apps circling the cybersphere, it’s vital to choose one with all of the necessary functions. A one-stop video-editing shop, InShot allows you to trim clips, alter footage speed and add simple image filters. You can also insert music, text and graphic overlays as well as flip, rotate and reverse your footage (handy features most other apps tend to neglect). “Natalie Anne introduced me to InShot and it’s been an absolute gamechanger,” says Bixie Colour founder Sheree Knobel. “I love how easy it makes video editing. I’m able to remove parts of footage that are irrelevant to my viewer and can speed up or slow down my videos. You can also change the video format to suit your desired network, be it Instagram stories, Facebook Cover or YouTube.”

Image via instagram/shereeknobel_bixiecolour

VSCO

A staple for smartphone photographers, VSCO features a built-in camera function, image editor and content sharing platform; all of which are incredibly simple to navigate. Equipped with standard editing tools (exposure, contrast and saturation) VSCO also includes s a number of more advanced options – from brushes and assorted retouching options to curve tools – making it the perfect entry-level editing app for just about any content creator. VSCO’s biggest drawcard? A portfolio of custom filters; from standard B&W through to various filmic treatments. Add pre-sets to your favourites or experiment with custom combinations; the possibilities for image adjustment are truly endless. “I can’t live without VSCO,” shares Shella Martin. “I typically use it to adjust the image skew.” While she advises against using VSCO for overt colour adjustments (you don’t want to alter natural tones or mislead clients) Shella suggests using VSCO to “adjust poor light” or “bring your image to life”. We can’t argue with that.

Image via instagram/vsco

iMOVIE

iPhone users rejoice. Your next editing hero can be accessed on just about any apple device. As with InShot, users can alter clip length, duplicate segments or adjust video speed in a mere matter of seconds. You can also add titles, filters or sound effects to suit your page style or preference. Our standout functions? Custom video transitions (which make unsightly snap cuts a thing of the digital past) and the ability to insert freeze frames or reframe footage; a must for highlighting visual details. “iMovie is perfect for creating film content,” says AHFA Makeup Artist of the Year Shella Martin. “My advice is to shoot all your content in one orientation and organise your clips to follow a client or shoot journey. It’s great for close-up shots and before and after transformations.” Sheree Knobel adds, “iMovie allows you to zoom in on your footage, which is great for showcasing finer details such as foiling and finessing.”

Image via instagram/shellarubymartin

UNFOLD + STORY ART

So now you’ve mastered your feed… what’s next? Once a means for sharing instant, non-abridged moments (thanks to a 24 hour expiration period) Instagram Stories are now as popular as good old fashioned grid posts, allowing you to connect with your followers, drive traffic to your profile and amplify your social reach. It’s vital your content is engaging; you want to stand out from the crowd and ultimately direct viewers back to your page. Luckily for all, there’s no shortage of story apps on the market, meaning impactful stories are but a drag-and-drop away. Coming in at a close tie, our favourites include Unfold and Story Art; both of which boast a hefty template selection, allowing you to be as minimal, or as extra as your heart desires. “Unfold and Story Art are quick, easy and allow you to experiment creatively,” says Circles of Hair owner Sharlene Lee. “You can really make your content stand out, and establish your brand culture through your stories.”

Image via instagram/unfold

INSTAGRAM

Believe it or not, Instagram’s own in-app editing suite is one of the cybersphere’s best kept (or overlooked) secrets. The best bit: You can upload, edit and post your content – all in one sitting. Whether you’re looking to resize, straighten or rotate your frame… alter brightness, contrast and warmth/saturation… or simply sharpen the overall image quality, Instagram’s own photo editor is a content creator’s dream. “I use the Instagram editor to adjust from warm to cool tones,” says Chelsea Haircutters’ own social guru Peter Thomsen. “When using these, it’s important to keep the edit as close to natural tone as possible.” Our favourite feature? The LUX option, which transforms otherwise limp imagery into HDR-like renderings; lightening shadows, darkening highlights and increasing contrast for maximum wow factor. There’s also your trusty, IG filters (who hasn’t given Mayfair a whirl at some point?), a vignette-border function, and the app’s most misunderstood feature, tilt shift’, which can be used to highlight or exaggerate depths-of-field.

Image via instagram/chelseahaircutters

THE FINAL WORD...

The final word: as with all apps, Instagram is not without its limitations, many of which may be overcome with a touch of ingenuity. Pete’s tip for capturing the perfect insta-snap? “Look for natural light, and if you can’t find it, get your hands on a ring-light.” Current AHFA Creative Colourist of the Year Rachel Vitullo agrees. “Sometimes you’ll create the most beautiful colour, however it may read completely different on camera (due to time of day or lighting). I will only use an editing app to ensure the shot mirrors the actual hair.” Like Pete, Rachel advises against drastically changing tone or colour, so as not to create false expectations. “If you change the way a colour looks, you’re creating a reference that’s impossible to recreate. When I do edit, I brighten and/or correct; keeping things true to tone without drastically changing the image.” The end goal? To enhance, rather than recreate. As Pete reminds, us, “At the end of the day, we want our clients to come back.” Amen to that.

Image via instagram/rachelvitullo