Great Instagram Idea: Sharing User Pics

My love for Instagram has been well-documented on this blog. I think it is a tremendous tool for engaging with current and prospective students – better even than Facebook and Twitter – because (at least for now) it connects with the under 20 crowd where they connect with each other, rather than where they follow their grandparents and/or get their news. If you aren’t on Isntagram or don’t do much with it yet, there’s no time like the present to hitch your wagon onto that star… who knows how long it will be one of the “cool” social networks among the kiddos, what with Kik and Snapchat absolutely booming. (For tips on how to get started, check out my post about launching an Instagram page in 13 easy steps.)

As great as it is, one feature Instagram lacks is an easy way to share other people’s photos. I can understand the reasoning behind this – Instagram wants to encourage people to produce their own content and reward those that actually produce the great content rather than simply aggregating it – but it can be a bit frustrating sometimes when I want to share some of the great photos my students are uploading and tagging, especially since many of them take infinitely better photos than I could ever hope to. There are roundabout ways to do it (iPhone screenshots, using a web platform like Webstagram to download the photo and email it to yourself), but it always proves to be lacking in quality or overly cumbersome.

So I was VERY excited when I noticed Princeton University’s Instagram account sharing other users’ photos in a very clean way – keeping the integrity of the shot while also making it clear it was taken by someone else:

It was nice of Maverick to take this pic, but really... he should be telling Goose to talk to him, amiright?

It was nice of Maverick to take this pic, but really... he should be telling Goose to talk to him, amiright?

I became immediately jealous of what they were doing – darn those Ivy leaguers and their Instagram skills! – so I spent a bit of time on Google and found that there are a few very nifty options that make sharing other people’s Instagram photos a breeze. Yep, turns out there is indeed an app for that. Go figure. I’m telling you guys… the internet – it’s going to be huge.

Princeton is encouraging people to use the hashtag #princetagram and is telling its followers that they are running a “Princetagram Repost” promotion, where they will select the best photos and share them. My rough count shows that in the week or so that they’ve been promoting it, more than 120 photos have been tagged, many of them older photos that users have gone back and tagged several weeks, even months, after they were originally taken. Pretty darn awesome.

But even better? Searching on #Princetagram also turned up some photos of friends of mine – including the brilliantly talented photographer Liz Devine – at a recent Prince concert in Portland. I mean… how fantastic is that? You can’t make stuff like that up.

Anyway, Princeton is using an app called Repost for Instagram, which couldn’t make things any simpler – it automatically includes the profile picture and username of the photo uploader in a tasteful shaded black bar that can be positioned over all four sides of a photo. It also automatically generates the username of the uploader into the comment field, making it very easy to give appropriate props.

Another option is Statigram (see photo below), a web-based platform that will automatically email you a photo with the username of the uploader, which you can then upload onto Instagram. While I personally like the look of the Repost app, Statigram does offer the benefit of allowing you to save the photo – both in your email and in your phone’s albums.

Statigram's version of an InstaRT.

Statigram's version of an InstaRT.

An app like Repost is extremely handy, and has already made my Instagram life easier. (OF COURSE I stole the idea immediately. That's what I do!) Not only does it take a bit of pressure off from having to always find something new to take a picture of, it has the added benefit of allowing you to highlight user posts and reward people for generating good content and using the tags you want them to.

If you use Instagram for your college, you need this app. And if you are stretched thin for time and you don’t yet use Instagram or use it only sparingly, this app will make your life MUCH easier, because it provides an easy way to find good content to post. Basically, there’s absolutely no reason not to be doing this. So get on it. Now. I’m waiting!!!


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