Tag Archives: mobile

Recipes for success: Instagram and cross-posting

I do like a little bit of creative problem-solving. And here’s an example… (and it’s no coincidence that I’m posting this on a Wednesday!)

Instagram’s visual nature makes it different to fellow platforms like Facebook and Twitter. But this doesn’t mean cross-posting (posting the same content on more than one platform) won’t work. Personally, I’m not a fan of simply posting identical content on multiple platforms. It’s lazy, for starters,  and the same key messages can – and should – be optimised for different channels. But there is an overlap.

For example, at work (The Open University) we’d been posting regular #WednesdayWisdom posts (every Wednesday in fact, go figure) on both Instagram and Twitter, developing a very simple quote-on-a-block-colour-background-with-logo-in-the-corner style for both: square for Instagram, rectangular for Twitter. And we were getting good engagement on both platforms.

So how could we do this more efficiently – posting the same content in two different places but optimised for both? In comes IFTTT, a series of ‘recipes’ you can set so if you do something to A, something will also happen to B.

Rather than posting twice on two channels, I wanted to see if we could use an IFTTT recipe to auto-post an image from Instagram directly onto Twitter using a single hashtag, saving time and helping to drive traffic from Twitter to Instagram. You can do this via Instagram directly but it posts the image as a link, meaning you have to click the link to see it, rather than embedding the image for all to see.

In principle this was a simple idea. In reality, it caused three problems:

  • Firstly, finding a style that would complement both Instagram’s square layout and Twitter’s wide layout.
  • Secondly, finding a way to optimise that style to work for mobile Twitter (quotes on a regular 1024 x 512 pixel Twitter card will be chopped off when viewing on a mobile. 700 x 400 pixel works well on mobile if you want to avoid any chopping.
  • And thirdly, how to write a caption in our current Instagram style with up to 30 hashtags which would also fit Twitter’s 140 character limit.


The first and second issues were tackled by creating multiple layouts and testing them on Instagram and Twitter mobile, over and over again, until we found one that worked for both.

The same post on Twitter showing the Instagram layout works for Twitter mobile.

The third issue was solved by posting a short caption with two hashtags: #WednesdayWisdom (the whole reason for doing these posts as it’s a popular hashtag) and #OU, the hashtag set up via IFTTT that enables the auto posting to Twitter. Any image we now post on Instagram with the hashtag #OU will automatically post to Twitter. I then posted the remaining hashtags, to aid search, in a comment below the original Instagram post. Job done.

These #WednesdayWisdom posts are now created in batches of 10 and loaded onto scheduling tool Buffer. The get good engagement on both Twitter and Instagram, and posting in this way helps us to promote our Instagram account – which we’re actively trying to grow – weekly on Twitter.

This method could also be used for other department’s social media too, posting an image of the OU in Scotland’s Edinburgh office, for example, but setting up an IFTTT recipe for it to autopost to the OU in Scotland’s Twitter account, helping to drive traffic to the corporate Instagram account from different Twitter accounts, and therefore different audiences.

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Finding my #mojo: Mobile, memories and an MA

A few weeks ago I was in Cornwall strolling sunkissed beaches, chasing after two excitable children and eating LOTS of ice cream. And with clear blue skies every day, it was pretty glorious and a very welcome break from the daily grind. But I still had my next MA assignment in the back of my mind… (wondering about the last assignment? I passed, yay!)

During my week-long hols on the Cornish coast, I took a step back from Facebook, my usual social weapon of choice for personal endeavours, instead plumping for Instagram – showcasing my holiday highs with a series of photos and videos shorts. And they had to be good ones, I wanted to hone my skills.


I’m pretty much decided that the focus of this next module, production labs, will be on mobile journalism. The details have yet to be ironed out but I consider myself a storyteller in my personal and professional lives and a mobile phone comes with me in both.

So, I spent more time than usual trying to capture holiday moments on my mobile phone. I thought about composition, set some pictures up, captured some spontaneous stuff and did a spot of video editing using iMovie when the kids went to bed. Simple stuff, mostly hyperlapse or slow-mo edits, a few cuts and a few transitions.

I wonder, if in taking time to produce a good picture, I was in anyway compromising the memory-making process. Would memories be stronger if I didn’t have a phone in hand, would the images I captured be more authentic if not so thought out? What is more important, the image or the moment-in-time memory? Or is it the ability to capture one without compromising the other?

I learned some stuff

I actually think both are important. I will always have the memories, they create themselves by the nature of being a family and doing family things on a family holiday. Capturing them on camera is part of the memory-making process and taking good photos just means I have a better recording of that particular memory. And I’m really pleased with my shots, and my mini videos. And because I set myself this challenge as soon as we set foot in Cornwall, I was on the look-out for pictures opportunities from the off. I’m not a fan of parents constantly glued to their phones when with the kids so I whipped it out for photos and videos only, editing, cropping and loading to channels took place when the kids weren’t around.


And I did learn a few things… Not least that Cornish wifi is a bit iffy. I learned that fading into a video from black results in a black video on Instagram rather than an opening image of the action (see below). This looks pants. I learned that I need to remember to film in landscape – I always do this at work because I tend to use a tripod and mobile clip so have to, but for some reason, casual in-the-moment recording is always in portrait and I need to remember to stop that. A great video of a ‘bury grandad in the sand’ memory would have been much better in landscape.


Capturing the content is the easy part though, stories and opportunities present themselves and the tools, technologies and a bit of skill help to hone those stories in whatever format is chosen. It’s what comes next that takes the time, which matters less in a personal context but very much so in a professional one.

The other week I shot some video to do with the ExoMars Mission mid-cruise check-out. Getting the story and footage was simple, editing too, but the hosting, loading, formatting, meta data, multiple image cropping, hyper linking, reworking for social channels, hash tagging, scheduling, publishing part takes a lot longer.

Quality versus efficiency?

And is all this crafting of content worth the extra effort? Or is mobile journalism in its truest sense, shooting something and publishing straight to social media – raw, authentic, and more efficient way? Where does the need for quick turnaround trump a polished, more professional piece of content? Does it need to be great or good enough?

These are some of the things I hope to explore in my current MA module – and I need to get a wriggle on, the clock is ticking!

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