The popularity of Instagram during the past 18 months led student media staffs to dive in and start posting. An active stream keeps the audience connected and catches readers in an app they use constantly. Posts remind readers of coverage happening daily, teasing upcoming publications such as the printed yearbook. (For example, here are a few yearbook staffs on Insta: Tonitrus, Details, Skjold, Pioneer.)
Now that everyone’s on board with posting photos, it’s probably a good time to talk about Instagram videos and some apps that make the most of the options.
Pic Frame ($0.99): In this app, users can combine multiple videos and/or photos into one frame. Adding text is simplw, and 73 different options exist. It’s easy to export in a variety of forms, including posting on Instagram.
PicPlayPost ($1.99): Users can combine up to six different video clips into one for posting on Instagram. Videos in the montage can play separately or all at once. Covering a sporting event in one Instagram post, for example, could include video highlights from each quarter and the crowd.
Squareready (free): Because all video should be shot horizontally and Instagram requires a square image, this app is a perfect tool. It adds a white border at the top of the frame in order to create a square for posting.
If the student media account is traditionally run by students with experience in photo and not video, it’s time to expand their skill set. All media students should be able to capture video stories. For complete beginners, Don Goble offers 5 Tips for Shooting Great Video.
And in one of its newsletters, Photojojo offers this great tip for shooting video with an iPhone: “To adjust how light or dark your video is, tap around your screen when you’re in shooting mode. You’ll notice if you tap a dark spot, the entire image will brighten, and if you tap a light spot, the entire image will get darker. Since exposure and focus go hand-in-hand, this also means the spot you’re tapping will be the part of your video that’s in focus.”
Whether the account has great video or just focuses on photos, here are three suggestions for any program on Instagram.
1. Establish a posting schedule.
Everyone on staff may have account access or just a select social/photo team — either way it’s important to set a cycle for posting. This helps ensure the feed stays active and relevant without overposting. One method is to assign each student a number, and that date on the calendar becomes his/her “photo of the day” date each month. This forces students to be observers to find story ideas or interesting moments to capture. Students also can post spot news at any time, but the “everyone has a day” schedule helps and is easy for grading purposes if necessary.
2. Follow the publication’s style for captions and comments.
Writing captions here should be an extension of all other student media. Accuracy and professionalism matter! Follow AP style and consistent school style. Practice. Critique the Instagram captions from the feed in class and offer feedback.
3. Include photo/video credits.
Students deserve individual credit for their work, and having a name attached to an Instagram post (and its caption) holds students accountable. It also helps reinforce that the account is student-run and not maintained by an adviser, which builds trust among student followers and stronger ownership for the staff.
Constant evaluation of what works and what doesn’t is an important part of the learning process. If you have Instagram best practices to share from your student media program, please let us know.