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How five news organizations are experimenting with Instagram

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How five news organizations are experimenting with Instagram

Dena Levitz | August 17, 2015

As the community of Instagram users continues to grow, sharing upwards of 55 million photos per day, many publications are embracing the photo-social platform’s value.

New York Magazine, for one, recently used the platform to create “audiograms” - photos overlaid with text and an audio clip - for its profile on 35 women who have come forward and accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. [Read more about that experiment here.]

Instagram has long been a favored social media vehicle by journalists and photographers because it allows them to showcase extra photos and to give readers behind-the-scenes access as they cover happenings around the world.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which news organizations have often used to send traffic back to their own websites, Instagram has always been a space to feature extra content, in some cases honing in on a specific part of the story.

Now it’s also a go-to place for experimentation, especially in engaging the crowd.

Here’s a countdown of other global news brands who are trying out different ways of using Instagram:

5. BBC -- Using the hashtag #BBCShorts, the self-proclaimed “world’s newsroom” compresses a handful of stories down into 15 seconds each day. The Instagram videos include a headline in all caps and text running across the bottom to explain the footage that’s edited together. Topics run the gamut from organ shortages in China to a competition to select the next New Zealand flag.

4. Chicago Tribune -- The Windy City newspaper takes advantage of its history through a specific vintage Instagram account that displays past Chicago sights and sounds captured by staff photographers during the last century, with all the photos in stunning black and white. More than 35,000 users follow the account.

3. The Guardian -- Last year The Guardian began an Instagram project it dubbed #GuardianCam as a way to let users see inside its newsrooms around the world and to get more of a glimpse of what this workforce was up to. The idea was that each week the company switched off letting individual journalists based in various cities update the main Guardian Instagram account to give extra images of major news events.

2. NowThisNews -- Video is the bread and butter of NowThis, and on Instagram that translates to video featurettes that skew toward lifestyle subjects or quirky news. For instance, a recent Instagram post gave a mini-tour of the world’s first “green airport” in the Galapagos Islands, complete with a caption and background music. Features like this may be why the newer company has more than 150,000 Instagram followers.

1. Bit + Grain -- This North Carolina-centric media startup covers all things related to the state’s lifestyle, from unique foods to baseball traditions. So it makes sense that its Instagram account would display beautiful pictures of landscapes, coastlines and culinary offerings. Bit + Grain, like New York Magazine, has also started incorporating audio overlaying a static image.

For instance, several months ago, when Duke University was on the brink of capturing the NCAA title, it posted an image of a lifelong Duke fan who now works in the school’s athletic department along with audio from the fan. And earlier this summer, Bit + Grain used Instagram to introduce the world to its new podcast, Lo + Behold, via Instagram -- an image of the podcast’s logo and a short audio clip from the show.

Image CC-licensed on Flickr via Esther Vargas
 

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