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How to use Twitter pollsHow to use Twitter pollsCanadians love their social media. In fact, 82 percent of Canucks use social media—one of the highest rates in the world. And according to a recent Forum Research survey, 16 percent of Canadians use Instagram®, with users visiting an average of six times each week. It isn’t just a fad, either. Instagram usage in North America is predicted to keep going up over the next year.The free, online photo- and video-sharing app can be a fun and engaging way to share and connect. But it’s not just for selfies, baby pics and vacation snapshots. Governments are using it, too, to connect with citizens, promote departments and services, and tackle complex issues. Take a look at some creative ways to use this tool in the public domain.

  • Define problems: The U.S. city of Mobile, Ala., used Instagram as a way to tackle its blight problem. Enforcement officers photographed blighted properties, and the app automatically documented and mapped locations and problem areas. It also enabled the city to discern between minor problems, such as un-mown lawns, and major ones, such as fire-damaged homes at risk of collapsing.
  • Share beauty: Instagram is a great way to share and spread beauty. From neighbourhood parks and nature preserves to national landmarks and forests, Instagram can be the perfect tool to promote and share magnificence. Upload your own photos and encourage visitors to share theirs as well. The City of Calgary invites citizens to share their best frosty weather shots by using the hashtag #winterincalgary. Follow their example by using your own unique hashtags on promotional literature and signage, and encourage users to post their experiences with rewards for doing so. Consider a custom-printed cleaning cloth, stylus pen or an Adhesive Cell Phone Wallet.
  • Inform and educate: South of the border, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses Instagram to provide travel tips, including how to fly with pets or pack carry-ons. The Department of Energy provides lab tours on its feed. And at a more local level, municipalities share snapshots of those hard at work at neighbourhood events and meetings.

Once you have a “must-follow” Instagram page, you’ll want to promote it. Include icons on all online communications so community members can easily follow your account. Hashtags will help users find your content; best practice is to use at least one but no more than five hashtags. And, incentivize people to join and engage by providing random draws for engagement. Magnetic photo frames and Hashtag Stress Relievers imprinted with your logo and account name make nice prizes.

Remember, Instagram isn’t just for sharing selfies—it can be a great way for government agencies to connect with, engage and inform the community it serves. How will you use Instagram in your agency?

McKinnon, Melody. “2015 Canadian Social Media Usage Statistics.” Canadian’s Internet Business. 12 Jan. 2015. Web. Retrieved 30 Dec. 2015.

“Instagram.” Wikipedia.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.

Wogan, J.B. “How Mobile, Alabama, Used Instagram to Address Blight.” Governing.com. N.p., 20 Nov. 2015. Web. Retrieved 21 Dec. 2015.

Walgrove, Amanda. “4 Government Agencies That Rock Instagram.” Contently.com. N.p., 01 Apr. 2015. Web. Retrieved 21 Dec. 2015.

Stone, Maddie. “8 Government Instagram Accounts You Should Definitely Follow.” Gizmodo. N.p., 22 July 2015. Web. Retrieved 21 Dec. 2015.

Dalton, Kristy. “Instagram App for Government.” Government Technology. N.p., 19 Jan. 2013. Web. Retrieved 21 Dec. 2015.

Daley, Rachel. “How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Brand and Drive Sales.” Kissmetrics Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 21 Dec. 2015.


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