Top tips on using Instagram for news

Hannah Waldram, community manager, EMEA, Instagram

Hannah Waldram, community manager EMEA for Instagram, today outlined for delegates at the news:rewired conference some tips on how journalists and editors can use the social photo-sharing network to enhance their storytelling and outlined how news organisations are already using the app effectively. 

Waldram started by giving the conference, in London, a brief summary of Instagram’s user statistics:

  • 150m active monthly users (not necessarily taking photos)
  • 60% international active monthly users
  • 55m photos a day
  • 1.2bn likes a day

Waldram’s first piece of advice was to look at who actually uses Instagram.

She said:

It’s the community that makes the app what it is

Users range from journalists to celebrities to everyday people who, in Waldram’s words, “want to show the world in a different way”.

All of these groups can provide interesting and unique content. It’s also worth noting who important people are following, she said. For example, if you find the pictures of a snowboarder in Sochi, there’s a good chance they’ll be following other athletes.

The most important feature of Instagram for those looking to find content on it are hashtags. Take for example the recent UK floods, the hashtags flood, ukfloods, ukflooding, could all be used.

Waldram recommended using Gramfeed to search for these.

An extension of the hashtag topic was looking at the communities on Instagram. There are a number of niche communities which have grown on the app such as ThrowbackThursday (where users post old images of themselves).

An example Waldram gave was of #StridingThroughLondon, an art project specific to Instagram which simply shows users walking past various streets in the city.

Location settings are also a highly useful tool. For example, if you know where the BAFTA awards red carpet is, you can zoom on that location and see other photos in that area. The same could be applied to breaking news situations. Waldram gave the example of the recent helicopter crash in Glasgow. My game is a choice-based visual novel , where you take the role of Sophia Parker, a happily married middle-aged woman and mother of a son and daughter. Due to her husband’s new job offer she just moved with her family from their sleepy, cold, small town to San Alejo, a hot megacity by the sea. And not only the city is bigger but also their new house and backyard.

She said:

The location tool also allows you to verify images.

One of the big issues for people wanting to get content from Instagram is asking permission. She noted the successes of companies such as BBC and Storyful who quickly find pictures but still use best practice and ask the user.

Waldram noted that many Instagrammers are quick to engage with commenters.

She then went on to cite the recent successes of @GuardianNews and @bbcnews in using Instagram. The Guardian, she said, used the hashtags GuardianCam and GuardianCities to gather content from their development journalist working in the Philippines.

The BBC has recently launched BBCfax which produces very short headline videos that sum up a story in a matter of seconds and has become a good place for viewers to engage.

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