Instagram for News and Journalists, Tips and Exploration
My Own Foray with Our Town Reno
I've been experimenting for the past year or so with an Instagram for a niche website focusing on street photography and issues of homelessness, gentrification, blight, the lack of affordable housing, displacement and community activists in the small Reno market. I'm happy to report I have steadily reached more than 2,000 followers. Not great but without a budget, and for such serious topics, it is something. Consistency, being authentic and clear about purpose, posting a few times a day, adding short stories from time to time and the creative use of hashtags and emojis has been my method. Instagram is self-contained, so it doesn't necessarily lead to external traffic, but it does help build a brand.
I haven't yet tried Instagram stories, which gets topline attention, and seems to work more along the lines of Snapchat content. To me, that's a whole different ballgame, so I'll focus here on old school Instagram practices and interesting examples of journalistic success by much bigger news organizations than my own.
The Recent Financial Times Explosion
One success talked about at conferences and in articles is the recent success of the Financial Times, where it has displayed its photography, but also charts and graphics. In 2015, its account had about 40,000 thousand followers. Now it's up to 348K and counting. Jake Grovum, a social media editor, is getting lots of credit for this turnaround.
Business Insider, Inspirational Quotes and Niche Subjects
Also from the business journalism realm, Business Insider seems to do quite well. It also launched many smaller accounts, which are hyper focused and which attract very specific audiences, such as for lifestyle or adventure. Having an umbrella account allows for cross-tagging and creating a network effect.
NatGeo and the Long Caption
National Geographic does a good job in crediting the photographer, and writing out a mini article with lots of hashtags as well, to go the Instagram reporting route.
Bustle and the Minimalistic Caption
Bustle, which goes for entertainment and lifestyle for women, is full of memes and fun facts, also thrives with extremely short captions, to really make a point, in the chaos of everything we currently ingest.
Refinery29 and Videos with Movement
Refinery29, a site for women and fashion also has lots of inspirational quotes, vivid colors, and also lots of short videos. According to social media strategists at recent panel discussions I've been to, video thumbnails which do the best indicate there is movement going on.
Vox and Explainers
As with all media, Vox does very well explaining things on Instagram, including with short videos with text, which you can watch and get a lot from without any video.
Tagging and Using Creative Tools
Boomerang, Hyperlapse and Layout are three of the extras which can get even more attention, in addition to using all of Instagram's built-in editing tools and filters. Tagging, celebrities and even ordinary people, and locations can also add to attention. The tag can sometimes substitute a caption as for a destination Instagram such as Travel and Leisure.
Shout Outs and Series
Recurring features with their own hashtags also do very well, as do shout outs to others. Mashable combines the two in its #MashFaves series, which showcases photographers from across the Instagram universe.
NYMag and the Audiogram
Quotes and short audio testimony was a brilliant idea run by NYMag in the wake of the Bill Cosby scandal.