How Instagram Is Becoming a PR Powerhouse

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Instagram is changing. Its latest updates to the Search and Explore functions are turning the social network into an easy-to-navigate news source. That’s the true aim; Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of the network, says that Instagram is designed to be a 100 percent visual experience that is more timely, efficient, and effective than television.

That means the network could become PR pros’ social media go-to. Twitter still has its place, particularly in engaging with reporters, journalists, bloggers and influencers. However, Instagram may become a crucial tool for detecting and engaging in breaking news stories and trends.

How can you leverage the network and make it into a PR powerhouse? It starts with an understanding of just how powerful Instagram’s Search and Explore really are.

Want to turn your brand into a powerhouse on Instagram? Click here for your free Instagram tip sheet!



In the past, people would search by hashtags or people. It was a valid technique, but it meant people had to already know about the news or event or hope that the person had an easily findable account.

That’s changed with the updates. Explore now proffers trending hashtags and places and puts the two into tiers. The first tier highlights places related to events attracting attention such as the Pride weekend celebration or the opening of the White House to photography.

The second features curated collections of photographs that are updated regularly by Instagram staffers. While the idea is to offer interesting accounts, photos and places to consumers, it holds at least one benefit for PR practitioners: a ready-made source of influencers to investigate.

The third highlights trending hashtags. The final tier acts like the historical Explore except that users can now move from photo to photo without having to return to the Explore page in between. The overall effect is, as Instagram says, “immediate and effortless.” The news and trends, all presented in a visually pleasing way, now come to you rather than you coming to them.



Visual searches used to mean entering a single search query and being delivered results, the same as with a basic Google search. The updates evolve the function.

Search can be done in almost any way a user chooses, with an emphasis being placed on location (Places Search). The other option is Top Search. It lets you search across people, locations and hashtags all at the same time.

Search has become multi-layered, which means you can find exactly the right content at exactly the right time. It’s great for finding visual resources for stories, but it’s equally great for getting your own content found, followed and talked about.

To learn more about accomplishing that goal, view Cision’s tip sheet “10 Tips to Make Instagram Your Most Effective Social Channel.” In the meantime, let us know what you think about the changes to Instagram and what they mean to PR.


Images: Olle ErikssonTim EvansonCityofStPete (Creative Commons)

Tags : social media

About Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media. When she isn’t researching, writing, and editing blog posts and white papers, she writes poetry and essays, draws her favorite Write Right character, and plans what art form to study next. She’s based in Austin, Texas and can be found on Twitter @erinmfeldman.

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