Instagram and Frankenstorm

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been slow to get on board with Instagram – maybe I’ve seen one too many vintage photos of what my friends are cooking for dinner to take it seriously.

But then Jay Baer, a social media expert (and one I actually had the chance to meet, so I know he knows what he’s talking about), tweeted this:


You can’t ignore that.

And you definitely can’t ignore the facts: During the storm, Instagram was flooded with 10 relevant pictures a second.

Even Time magazine used Instagram to cover Hurricane Sandy. Over a 48-hour period, the magazine’s Instagram account gained 12,000 new followers.

Director of photography Kira Pollock told Forbes the decision to use Instagram was an experiment motivated by necessity – Instagram is fast, direct and reaches a completely different demographic beyond those who would be checking Time’s website or Twitter feed.

That’s a pretty compelling case for Instagram as a news source, particularly when you see photos like this one, from user @MHodgson_22. Pictures like this truly can be worth a thousand words, depicting the devastating effects of the storm in a way journalists have trouble describing.

Of course, Instagram has its flaws. Like Twitter,Instagram can launch viral content in a matter of minutes. That means accuracy is even more important when you’re reporting the news.

Take this photo:

The moving image of soldiers standing guard outside the Tomb of the Unknown Solder spread like wildfire on Twitter and Instagram. It was even picked up by the Washington Post.

But nobody bothered to check if it was accurate – and it wasn’t. The photo was actually taken during a run-of-the-mill thunderstorm in September.

Which brings us back to the same question we’ve been wrestling with since social media came on to the scene: Is accuracy or speed more important to you in a crisis? Is there a way to have both?

What do you think?


About Tara Knott

Tara is a staff associate at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations. She recently graduated summa cum laude from Belmont University, where she studied journalism and public relations.

Posted on November 2, 2012, in Social Media and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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