It is often said in the journalism industry that ‘it isn’t what you know, but who you know’ if you want to break through. That may well still be the case but it’s easier than ever for journalists to connect and get to know each other and their audience through the various social media platforms. However, creating a social media presence that stands out and using it effectively isn’t always easy.
Want to know how to build your platform on TikTok? Find tips here.
Fortunately, Journo Resources recently held an event on how to use Instagram as a journalist. Ella Gilchrist, founder of Sociella, went through building a brand, how to find and engage your audience and how to get the most out of Instagram’s features. Here is what you need to know…
Building Your Profile
The first thing you will want to do is get your profile set up and this starts with your display name. You will want to include keywords here as this is searchable. Something like ‘Joe Bloggs – Beauty Journalist’ will work as anyone that searches ‘beauty’ will bring up your profile. You can then add in your pronouns, so your audience know what you prefer, and in the category selection you can select ‘journalist’ or ‘personal blog’. However, this may limit your music choice for reels.
The main section to focus on is the profile bio. You only have 150 characters to use so you want to keep this simple. Bullet points usually work best here and you’ll want to cover what you write and also what outlet/outlets you write for. However, it is best not to tag them, as people will be more likely to click there and off of your profile. It’s also good to include a call to action, telling your audience what you want them to do next.
It’s also good to link to your own personal website or your author bio, if you have one, so that people can easily go and read your work. You may also want to include where you are based and make sure you have a clear profile picture of yourself from the shoulders up.
Utilising the features
Once your profile is set up, there are several features that you can use to share content and engage with your audience. You can use either single or carousel posts (where you can share up to 10 images) which is a good way to give a glimpse into an article you have written. This could be a screenshot of the published article or a few quotes from it across several images, but always make sure there is a link below to take the reader to the actual article.
The most popular feature now on Instagram is Reels. This can help with reach and growth for your profile and could be a good opportunity to share your ‘behind the scenes’ of how articles come together or going through the contents of your work. However, because reels are trendy at the moment then you need to hook your viewer in within the first few seconds. It needs to be relatable and entertaining and ideally end with a call to action. If you include text in the reel then it needs to be clear and in the centre, and if you use the upcoming trending audios then this will also help with reach and awareness.
There are also Stories and Lives that you can use. A Story can help you to build trust with your audience by giving more background to a story or article. You can also link articles in your story and if you’re talking to camera then use captions to make sure it is accessible to all. If you have collaborated with another journalist for a piece of work then going live on Instagram can be an opportunity to talk through the article. This will help to build trust with your audience and show your expertise, too.
Audience Engagement and Insight
Posting regular stories and reels is good but you have to make sure you engage with your audience, too. If you receive any comments on your posts then it’s always good to reply to them and engage with your community. Another way to build up your community is to follow other journalists on Instagram and also follow publications and comment and engage with their content.
The content you do post will need to be consistent. Pick fonts, colours and a style that suits you and make sure that you keep this across everything that you post on your Instagram. This will help your audience to easily identify you when they are scrolling through the latest posts. It’s also good to vary your content with a mix of text and image-based posts so that your channel doesn’t become too predictable.
Finally, it’s good to keep an eye on the insights that Instagram have to offer (this can only be done for business or creator accounts at the time of writing). The audience analytics will enable you to see the follows you’ve gained or lost, as well as the location, age or gender of your followers. This will help with customising your content so that you’re appealing to the demographic viewing your page. You can also delve into reach, impressions, and profile activity to get a full picture of how your Instagram account is performing.