Ace photographer Dave Musson looked at how to get more out of Instagram in a popular post. This time he shifts his focus to helping you make the most of the photo-sharing network as an organisation.
by Dave Musson
So, your organisation wants in on Instagram?
I’m not surprised it’s a great community to tap into and you actually still get pretty good engagement rates – at the University of Warwick our Instagram followers are by far the most likely of our social media crowds to do something with our content.
But where to start? Well, hopefully this post will help.
Obviously, before you go on in and start posting on Instagram as your organisation you’ll make sure you’re comfortable using the platform first – but you knew that already, right? If you want some tips on how to boost your personal Instagram skills, check out my previous post here on Comms2Point0. (link to previous post). Otherwise, let’s go!
- Invite your followers in, virtually
The biggest appeal for an organisation to use Instagram has to be the ability to show the world what life is like behind the scenes and what the people working there actually get up to on a daily basis, whether it’s in the office, at a Council meeting or out in the local area. This is especially useful for public sector organisations, as you can very easily show off what taxpayers’ money is being spent on, which, for local councils for instance, can be an awful lot!
@localgovqld (link to: https://instagram.com/localgovqld/) - the Local Government Association of Queensland in Australia – does a great job. Scrolling through their feed you get a real human flavour of what those public servants get up to, whether it’s attending meetings, travelling around their local area or hanging out with some snoozing Kangaroos
Another great feed for showing what life in an organisation is like is West Midlands Police’s @westmidlandspolice (link to https://instagram.com/westmidlandspolice/). They’ve got shots or raids, officers pulling silly faces, aerial views of the city at night and cute dogs galore – it rules.
If, like me, you’re fortunate to work on a lush campus with a mixture of cool buildings and pretty green spaces, then Instagram is a great platform to show it off. At Warwick, the most popular posts on our @universityofwarwick (link to: https://instagram.com/universityofwarwick/) feed are nearly always shots of campus in weather – any type of weather really. Our Instagramfeed is also pretty popular with international students as it gives them a chance to see campus before they arrive, which makes Instagram a really useful marketing tool for us.
However you use Instagramto show what life is like at your organisation, don’t forget that everyday things that might seem dullto you could be fascinating to your followers, so show it! I remember when I was still in local government and our trading standards team was surprised that people were interested in seeing pictures of them doing their rounds and the counterfeit goods they seized, but our followers absolutely loved it.
- Be genuine – think mobile
As with any social network, you’ll get the most traction as an organisation if you play by the rules and use it in a genuine and appropriate way. When it comes to Instagram that means making most of your images ones you have taken with a phone, rather than uploading pro shot ones all the time. They’re so much more engaging because they’re more real. Cameras on phones are pretty good now and they fit in your pocket, so it’s really easy to capture your Instagram content if you try and stick to mobile. Also, have you ever tried uploading pro shots to Instagram? It can be a faff, as the only way you can actually post to Instagram is via a mobile, so you may as well shoot on your phone too.
- Use #hashtags
As we saw in my previous set of Instatips, hashtags are a vital part of Instagram if you want people to actually find your pictures. Because they are so entrenched in Instagram’s architecture, it makes running a hashtag campaign on Instagram relatively simple. At Warwick, our Comms2Point0 Unawards-shortlisted #warwick2014 campaign was undoubtedly boosted by Instagram, with plenty of students posting their selfies and giving us the chance to say hi to them and point them towards useful induction information.
Reposting or regraming is sort of the Instagram equivalent of a retweet. I say sort of, as it’s not a formal function of the Instagram app, so it can be a bit of grey area. However, there are lots of appsout there that will allow you to repost content from other IGersand willautomatically add the appropriate attribution to the image, and tag the original user in your caption, which are the main things you must do when you repost. We try to repost every so often at Warwick; we did it lots over the course of the #warwick2014 campaign and we still do it now – it’s a great way to get our followers involved in our feed.
- Give your followers the keys
You can go a step further than just reposting to get followers involved; why not let them take over your account for a set period of time? It’s something the @visitcopenhagen (link to: https://instagram.com/visitcopenhagen/) does fairly often and is a brilliant way show off the city from different perspectives and in different shooting styles. Also, if you can find a local IGer with a large following, having them run your account for a week or so is a fantastic way to build your own following, as it shows some real community endorsement.
- Invite your followers in, literally
Another great way to get people talking about you on Instagram and gather some fantastic photos is to get some of your local IGersthrough the doors and taking pictures. It’s a simple idea really, you give them access, they’ll take pictures and point their followers to your account in the process and everybody wins.
A quite brilliant example of this is the #empty movement pioneered by @dave.krugman (link to: https://instagram.com/dave.krugman/) in America; he works with museums to give small groups of influential IGers out of hours access to shoot when they’re empty, and the results have been stunning. See this New York Times article (link to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/arts/design/sharing-cultural-jewels-via-instagram.html) for more background.
Another IG-friendly way to get people on site is to host an Instameet. At Warwick we teamed up with @igerscoventry (link to: http://www.instagram/igerscoventry) last October to hold a joint Instameet on campus. On a wet Saturday morning we had 7 local IGers turn up and take a brilliant set of photos – many of the participants had never actually been on campus before, so it was also a brilliant way for them to see what the University looks like and the ideal opportunity for me to mention the lifelong learning courses we offer. The Instameet was such a success that we’re running another one on Saturday 25 April.
Have a look at the hashtag (link to: http://iconosquare.com/tag/wwim10_covigers_warwickuni) for our first Instameet to see the range of shots that were posted.
- A note on links
Do you want to use Instagram to point people to a particular URL? Hard luck. If you type a link in a comment it won’t be clickable. However, there is a workaround; you can change the URL in your Instagrambiography as often as you like, and then tell people in your posts to ‘click the link in your bio’ or something similar. Doing this way makes it easier for your followers as they can actually click something, and if you change the link regularly it gives them a reason to keep coming back.
- Don’t autopost to Twitter
I’m sure you wouldn’t do this anyway, but it’s worth pointing out the futility of auto-posting to Twitter from Instagram; Instagram images don’t appear as images on Twitter, they appear as links that you then have to open your browser. They are a pain, so don’t do it. Instead, make sure you’re treating each of your social networks properly and using appropriate content, rather than hoping to create once and post everywhere.
- Switching accounts
Managing multiple Instagram accounts from one phone is fine, but should come with some words of warning; unlike the Twitter app, for example, to switch accounts you have to log out and then log back in to the different account. Also, frustratingly, each time you log out of Instagram you lose all your previously used hashtags, so the first time you use them again after logging in you’ll have to type them out in full – this took me a while to figure out and used to really annoy me. It’s not the end of the world, but is useful to know about. The idea, of course, would be to keep your personal account on your personal phone and the work account on a work phone, but that’s not always possible.
Obviously, you’ll want to evaluate your work on Instagram and gather stats for your social media reporting, but where to go? Unlike Facebook’s Insights or Twitter’s Analytics, Instagram doesn’t yet have a built-in stats function. Enter Iconosquare (link to: http://iconosquare.com/). This ace, free website gives you loads of statsand will generate videos and images based on your statsfor you to post on your accounts. It looks at follower growth, engagement rates, what time your audience is online and when it is most responsive, which filters generate the most likes on your pictures and loads more. It also has a feature for reposting images and has a very handy hashtag tool that shows you what the most popular tags on Instagram are – a great resource for getting your photos in front of more eyes if you have something relevant. The stats update every day too – it’s well worth spending some time using.
There you are – I hope it helps. Get out there, post some great pictures, talk to your followers and have fun with it!
Dave Musson is the Senior Online Communications Officer (Social Media) at the University of Warwick. Outside of work, he likes taking photographs – he’s @davemussonon Instagram.