Falling for Instagram

I spent the better part of two hours last night playing around with Instagram, the photo sharing app for iPhone. I’m well past late to this party — the app is only a year old but there are already over 10 million users (and counting fast). Still, there have to be others like me who have become more and more overwhelmed with social networking and so haven’t had time to discover this wonderful little program.

Facebook is now a way of life; it is quickly becoming a work tool as well as a personal communication standard. Sadly, I’m guessing I’m not alone when I say that I Facebook (verb) with people I talk to everyday!

Twitter is also pretty much obligatory. I’ve found Twitter more and more useful for sharing articles, deciding what to read, and keeping in touch at conferences and meetings.

Add in Yahoo Messenger and Yammer at work, and Ping at home, as well as Google Reader and Google+ (still trying to figure that one out) and — oh yeah! — email, and I have so much social networking that I don’t have time to be social. What do I need Instagram for?

I’m not sure what exactly moved me to download it today, but as soon as I did, I was hooked. I was hooked on the filters — it will make even an all-thumbs photographer like me seem half-decent. But I was more hooked on the feed. Instagram allows you to share pictures with friends and subscribe to their pictures in return. What you get is an ongoing narrative like Facebook or Twitter, but aside from a few captions it is entirely visual. And the fact that Instagram only runs on an iPhone adds a nice creative constraint. You don’t spend a lot of time fretting and editing — you just shoot something and share it.

There’s a huge emotional element that only this kind of image-based dialogue can convey. Why not use it to showcase the people who work to create a better world at your organization (with their permission, of course)? You could create a year-long exhibit of your World-Changers. Or better yet, share pictures and stories of the people you serve. Or, you could share a series of pictures about what the world will look like when you achieve your mission. Or showcase what it would look like without you here to provide your services.

In a time when we have an abundance of tools at our disposal, Instagram captured my imagination more than most. Worth putting to good use for your good cause.