Different social networks seem to appeal to different audience demos, so understanding how to search several of them for content and sources is critical for a journalist. For example, according to SproutSocial, 53% of Instagram’s users are aged 18-29.
“Imagine a breaking news story in your community; and thinking about who uses Instagram, if there’s a breaking news story that’s going to involve younger people, this could be a good place to look for images,” says Doug Haddix, director for the Program in Public Affairs Journalism, Ohio State University.
Haddix, who conducted a social media search workshop at the Excellence in Journalism Conference recommends Websta as a tool for finding Instagram content that’s relevant to the story you’re working on. Websta works by searching hashtags or user names, so you may have to play around with different terms to find what you’re looking for. Once you find a relevant photo, you can click on the user’s profile name to try to track him or her down.
Another great tool for Instagram search is Gramfeed. What I like better about this option is that you can easily search by location and time/date to pull up anything public that was posted to Instagram from the location and during the time period you need.
For example, a search for photos from the candlelight vigil following the shooting incident at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi this week turned up multiple photos. By clicking on the user profile for this photo and then tracking back to the user’s Facebook page, I was able to identify where she worked and found a phone number for that business within 2-3 minutes.
The photos you find on GramFeed can be shared on your newsroom’s social media accounts or downloaded and incorporated into whatever story you may be working on. (Preferably, with the user’s permission, of course.)
The functionality of Gramfeed and Websta is more robust if you link your own Instagram account to the services, but you can get some content in search results without doing that. Both are free and both are good tools for finding sources from that younger slice of the audience.