Many Journalists – in order to keep up with the times – are now taking advantage of new social medias like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. All these sites allow journalists to post/view articles and receive essentially a ‘livefeed’ on worldwide events by simply the click of a button. However, sites like Instagram prove to make this job somewhat more difficult – being a picture posting site and certainly not an ‘article posting’ site.
However, with Instagram’s popularity rapidly increasing with it’s monthly active users being just over 500 million, and this figure rising by 16% each month (Source – Stats), it’s become virtually impossible for journalists to avoid it.
Many journalists have had to become aware of their ‘visual voice’ on Instagram – being clear about the story they want to tell through their feed, and making the right impression on those who click on their profile, and hopefully encouraging them to follow their page. Creating a ‘voice’ can be done through captions (either long-form storytelling, captions to get feedback on a new project, write personal notes to fans, or sharing small snippets of everyday life). (Instagram’s top features) Instagram has also launched a new feature, in pages being able to view their ‘Insights’ – showing engagements, views and their top posts. (Instagram’s new features)
For those who find difficulty in using Instagram in a professional way, there are many unknown-to-many features on Instagram that many journalists are already utilising:
- To facilitate crowdsourced projects – showcasing work from around the area/worldwide.
- To tease long-form reporting – almost like live-reporting, with journalists posting from places they visit as they visit them with interesting stories or images (possibly portraying the smaller picture of a large news story to come)
- To showcase – whether this be photography, or simply lifestyle or travelling, many users of Instagram develop a following due to the audiences awe at the lifestyle they portray through their feed.
- To present news in a modern/new format – picture/video based news profiles are a new, upcoming thing and becoming increasingly popular, with more and more news organisations posting short videos/images of news stories, making news simpler and quicker to consume.
- To experiment – although it might not work out for all, there’s no harm in news organisations testing Instagram out for news reporting – also giving reporters more experience and insight into new social medias.
Surprisingly, many popular news organisations have already started using Instagram to post news:
BBC – They have developed a format called BBC Shorts, and the videos are uploaded to the main BBC News Instagram account. The corporation come up with “a way of turning every news story into a 15-second, self-contained story”. The videos are either with or without sound, and also provide a text summary or quote alongside the video, in order to still get the message across to the audience, as well as a hashtag so those who don’t follow the page have other ways of finding the story – these posts often include a link to a longer video or article to provide additional information or put the story into context.
CNN International – They use Instagram both for distribution and newsgathering – the platform helps strengthen the broadcaster’s presence on the ground, but also provides “insightful views of what happens in the field and behind the scenes”. Some of CNN’s Instagram initiatives include CNN In the Air, which asked people to submit pictures they’d taken from plane windows around the world, often the images are compiled into ‘social media walls’ and featured on CNN.com.
Ways in which I could use Instagram throughout my course – Instagram is a social media platform in which I am extremely familiar with, giving me somewhat of a head start, as I am aware of what features I could use to promote a story or event. I could use an image from a story I have reported and post it to Instagram with a short caption, hashtags and a link to the whole article, providing a short insight into the story but also the opportunity for the audience to explore further into the story, and into my work.