Lately I’ve been obsessed with the photo-sharing platform Instagram. Instagram exploits the fact that us humans are highly visual creatures and created a social network solely dedicated to sharing snapshots of users’ lives. The creators of this app were very intent on making sure it only be used to snap on-the-go photos by restricting uploads to those from smart phones. This ensured that users wouldn’t use the app merely as a photo aggregator where batch photos could be uploaded from their laptop just as they can with Facebook or other social networks. It wasn’t until recently that users’ profiles were even viewable online without a mobile device. Even so, capabilities on the non-mobile version are extremely limited. This, to me, is what sets this platform apart from other photo-sharing networks.

Another appealing aspect is their photo filters. This allows each user to edit their photos by choosing one of the several predetermined filters until it appears to their liking. Who doesn’t enjoy feeling a little bit more like a professional photographer? This ensures the most aesthetically pleasing photo for the user editing it and for users consuming it. Instagram has been my go-to app to view pretty things (photography, blogger outfits and collages).

I can see libraries using Instagram just like any other user does: to share snippets of its daily happenings. When I worked as a social media assistant in a digital agency, I learned that users want to see humanizing posts, not merely adds or calls to action. Seeing what goes on behinds the scenes at the library, during lesser-known programs or showing some personality from staff can really go a long way to make an information institution more appealing. It also has the potential to elucidate the fact that libraries are not just books anymore by providing visual evidence to the contrary.


9 thoughts on “Instagrammin’

  1. Deborah Cooper

    Thanks for reviewing Instagram – this is another one of those tools I keep meaning to explore but hadn’t gotten around to yet 🙂 One thing I am not clear about is the difference between using this and say, just tweeting a photo from your iPhone or even just uploading a photo to Facebook. Both of these activities are already widely used by libraries. Is it the filters that make it different or something else that makes it stand out?

    1. cogsighhh Post author

      You’re right about one of the major differences being the filters–they’re fun to play around with for different effects. But the other biggest difference is that you can always tweet a photo or post a photo to Facebook from your computer. You cannot post a photo to Instagram from your computer, only from your smart phone. This (more closely) ensures that you’re snapping and posting as things happen throughout your day, in the closest form to real time possible. That’s my take, anyway. 🙂 It’s a lot of fun and quite addicting.

  2. Nicole Wiley

    I like the idea of libraries using instagram, but logistically it seems problematic. The account is tied to a smartphone, as far as I am aware. I wouldn’t want a personal device of my own linked to a work account (nor would management, I think.), and what kind of library has the funds for staff smartphones? But maybe I’m wrong….. I don’t have a smartphone so I’ve never used instagram!

    1. cogsighhh Post author

      Ooh you bring up an excellent point. I hadn’t even considered that. I suppose a traditional library wouldn’t want an employee phone being tied to their Instagram account, although the phone number is never used when signing up. I believe multiple people could be logged into the same account across several smart phones, but I’m not positive. I think it could still be possible, but only if supervisors were extremely comfortable and trusting of the staff in charge of updating the account.

  3. cynthiaalise

    i have to say that I think it is viable for libraries to add multimedia to their facebook pages. It may not be a tool that can be used alone, but following the examples in class of good pages, we see that proper implimentation of the things like facebook pages is diverse. This application can just add to the palette of things that can make a page or link more interesting.

  4. tnixey

    “Users want to see humanizing posts.” A great recommendation! Information organizations should consider this when creating and uploading images to any of the social media tools they use.

    ToeKnee 🙂

    1. cogsighhh Post author

      Thanks! I love seeing personality shine through on organizations’ social media accounts, and I figure library patrons are no different. 🙂

  5. Christy Confetti Higgins

    Thanks for looking at Instagram from the perspective of a library environment – it’s very interesting to think about how to make that of value and tackle some of the challenges mentioned here about smart phone being tied to a person. I think you could consider a library account with various people sharing photos related to library activities etc. to that Instagram account that then patrons can follow and you can post to your FB site as well.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention!


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