Parks can be very photogenic. Whether you’re sharing a photo of a smiling volunteer at your outdoor festival or a short video of snow falling on your park’s trees, Instagram is a great platform for park people like you. In fact, because park work is often so visual, Instagram should be in the top-two social media platforms you use. Here are some tips to get you started.

Take a good look around:  

The easiest way to get started with Instagram is to download the app and look at the images others are posting. Do a search using popular hashtags like #parklife or your city’s name (#Calgary or a popular ‘handle’ like #yyc). See the images you like and see what’s popular and start to generate ideas for photos you could take in your park. Be sure to check out Park People’s Instagram at @parkppl

Follow Instagrammers with interests like yours:

Here are some ideas of others you can search for and follow on Instagram:

    • City-types: The people, publications, and organizations that take an active interest in your city
    • Neighborhood organizations: Non-profits, residents associations, business improvement associations in your community
    • People who care:  See if your city councilor or other local politicians have a presence on Instagram. Also, ask members of your volunteer group or people who frequent your park events if they have accounts
    • Niche groups: One thing that makes cities great are the number of niche groups that can find critical mass. Look around your park and consider what assets it has and how those could be of interest to these groups. Does your park have awesome graffiti? Then find local street art photographers in your city. Does it have a natural playground? Follow people with a passion for outdoor education.
    • Use the “Near Current Location” function: Use “near current location” option and see who is active on instagram in your neighbourhood. If you like them, give them a follow.

Create an identity:

According to researchers, it takes two tenths of a second for an online visitor to form an impression of your account. So, it’s really important for that first impression to be a good one! Create a name that’s relevant. It’s a good idea to use your park name or your park group name. Add a profile picture that looks good on a mobile device like a smartphone. Instagram gives you space to add a profile. Use it to explain what your group is and does. Be sure to be deliberate in your tone. You can come across as formal or silly depending on how you write. (We welcome volunteers vs. Come on out and join us!)

Post good content, consistently:

Instagram is a photography platform so it should go without saying that you should post good quality photos. Determine how often you can post and commit to that frequency. Once a week is a good amount to start. Remember, pictures tell a story. Use the caption below the picture to share that story. It can even be a short poem, a quote or a simple description of what moved you to take that photo. Be sure to use the popular hashtags others use to get their posts seen.

Nurture others:

As you’ll quickly learn, there’s nothing better than getting a friendly comment or a ‘like’ on one of your Instagram posts. Make a habit of recognizing others’ efforts and cheer them on. Comments like “great photo,” or “looks like a great event” are always welcomed and are likely to get you more followers.

Photo Credit: Hamza Butt

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