Oh, Snap! Instagram for SLPs What exactly is Instagram? Here are the basics and—yes, really—how it can benefit your work. Get Social
Get Social  |   January 01, 2015
Oh, Snap! Instagram for SLPs
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Professional Issues & Training / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Get Social
Get Social   |   January 01, 2015
Oh, Snap! Instagram for SLPs
The ASHA Leader, January 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.GS.20012015.np
The ASHA Leader, January 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.GS.20012015.np
Even if you’ve never used Instagram, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Instagram images. They are quickly recognizable by their square shape and artistic filter effects. So what is this social media platform, and how is it useful to speech-language pathologists?
Instagram sets itself apart from other platforms like Facebook and Twitter by being visual—it’s powered by images. Users can view images others have uploaded, add comments, “like” them and post their own pictures. While many images have a caption, the main focus of Instagram is to share visual snapshots from your life and experiences. And it’s made the sharing process quick and easy!
How to share
To begin using Instagram, you need to download the free app onto your mobile device. Then, to add you own pictures, you can either take photos using the app itself, or you can upload images from your device. The benefit of using the app to snap photos? The app automatically makes them square! If you upload a photo from your device you have to crop it down to a square (easily done in Instagram or other photo apps).
With your photo now cropped, the fun begins. You can choose from filters that really change the look of your image. For example, use Willow for a black-and-white vintage feel, X-Pro II to get richer hues, or Brannan for a washed-out effect. Some users like to use additional apps to add words, borders and more. I’ve listed some popular photo-editing apps here.
Before you upload, add a caption. Some people skip writing captions, some keep captions short and sweet, and still others write a short book. It depends on whether the image speaks for itself or how much you want to share about an experience.
Anytime you upload an image, it is automatically shared on your Instagram feed and with all of your followers. In addition, you can link your Facebook, Twitter and/or Tumblr accounts to share your images with followers on those platforms as well.
Who is sharing?
Instagram is full of interesting users, ideas and resources. Use it to full advantage by following key users and searching popular hashtags related to your profession and interests.
Hashtags will help you connect with others who post similarly. A hashtag is a pound symbol followed by a keyword or phrase (without spaces). For example, if you are posting or searching for speech-language pathology material, consider adding the #slpeeps and #ashaigers hashtags. You can also search more specifically with hashtags such as #preschool, #sped or #tbi. In Instagram, these hashtags automatically become links, and by clicking on them you can find other users to follow. Hashtags also help others find you.
What to share
The possibilities of “sharing” are endless. From treatment successes to clinician bloopers, sharing a peek into your professional world helps others grow, too. Take a picture of that great worksheet you found through Pinterest or a blog post. Ask a question about an assessment or treatment product or recommend your favorite game this week. When it comes to Instagram, sharing can be caring. But sharing can also get you into a world of trouble.
You need to decide early on about the theme of your account and which security settings to use to protect yourself and your clients.
If you want to use Instagram to share ideas, promote a business or blog, and meet other professionals, don’t set high security settings on your Instagram account. By making your account viewable to everyone, you are able to meet others, gain followers and appear on Instagram searches. Higher security settings will allow you to control who can view your images as well as who can follow your account. Users will have to ask you to approve them. This method helps keep your information private and reduce spam comments, but it also means you won’t be “searchable”—making it more difficult to connect with other professionals.
You also need to decide if your account will be purely professional or if you plan to share some of your personal life. Some SLPs maintain separate Instagram accounts for different areas of their lives, while others allow their followers to see multiple facets of their lives in one account. If you choose to mix content, be aware of what you are sharing with your professional followers!
Regardless of which settings you choose, be sure to remember the ASHA code of ethics and HIPAA regulations. No matter how high your security settings, your images can still be shared with the world through your followers. Don’t show client faces, personal information or even too much about where you work.
I encourage you to give Instagram a try, connect to other professionals and enjoy the advantages social media has to offer. I hope to see you there!
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January 2015
Volume 20, Issue 1