Forget about Facebook. Turn off your Twitter. The latest social media app that can help your publication: Instagram!
Instagram is an photo app (available on iPhones and Androids) that includes several “camera filters” that make pictures look cool. High school publications of all kinds (not just online) need to jump on this bandwagon. Several professional pubs, including Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune, have Instagram accounts, which can be used as models.
At the beginning of this year, my school gave us three iPod Touches (no cell plan needed). My students use these devices to shoot photos and post them to the Niles West News Instagram account that we created. Instagram is free, but–of course–the phones you take the photos on are not. If your school doesn’t have iPhones or iPads, you can just have your students use their personal phones–even if they have a personal Instagram account; this just makes it more difficult because this requires students to log out and in. One of my students does this, and she says it’s not a big deal.
Within the first month, we already have more than 100 followers of mostly students; it took us more than a year to get that many Twitter followers. Facebook is still the easiest way to get followers, but Instagram is becoming increasingly popular at our school–and probably at yours, too.
Currently, my staff is using Instagram to promote a homecoming contest with the hashtag #nwnhc2012. Students submit their homecoming-related pictures, using that hashtag for a chance to win a Starbucks gift card. This is the exact type of user-generated content that NSPA (Logan) keeps suggesting, especially if we want our sites to win Pacemakers. Instagram makes it easy for users to submit photos that you could use in your publication in some way.
Instagram users: Follow Niles West News @nileswestnews and check out the types of photos my students are posting to help promote our website.
Non-users: Get your own account first, so you know what you’re getting into. It’s seriously addicting.