Network World has an Instagram account! Now what?

Powerful photo-sharing app sucks us in

Network World has religiously expanded its presence online by creating social network accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (hello out there?), LinkedIn (here and here), Pinterest (we look good alongside all the shoes and recipes) and even Tumblr. We're more religious about updating and interacting on some more than others.

We admittedly hesitated on Instagram, but have relented and started an account called nwwinstagram (yes, someone else already has the networkworld handle for some reason or another). It's been hard to ignore Facebook's Billion Dollar Baby and its 55 million new photos per day for a while, and most of us NW editors and reporters do have personal Instagram accounts. For us, it was more a matter of: Can we really commit to supporting another app on behalf of Network World? And, do selfies and enterprise networking really mix?

We did ask readers on our Facebook account how we should approach a Network World Instagram account. The general consensus was something along the lines of: "Don't!"

But how could we resist? We've seen other news organizations doing some pretty creative things, as CNN has done in crowdsourcing images from events like the presidential inauguration or natural disasters. We've also seen lots of great Instagram images and videos coming out of events like the recent World Mobile Congress and RSA Conference, and have been looking for a better way to tap into those. Even Windows Phone users now get to use Instagram.

And hey, if the Kardashians are on board, who are we to hold out?

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What's more, many of the big network companies we track have Instagram accounts. Some have been at it for more than 2 years, others have only launched accounts in recent months. Their approaches vary from artsy to semi-candid to smarmy advertising, but many are worth a look and I've rounded up some of the best in this slideshow. Cisco uses its account to connect employees across the globe and to have fun with fans of the networking company, such as by holding photo contests focused on cabling closets. Others, like VMware and CA use their accounts as recruiting tools (Look how cool it is to work here!).

Cisco's community manager, Kati Dahm, tells me that Instagram does have its limitations as a social network for brands in that live hyperlinks aren't allowed in posts. But Cisco sees benefits in generally spreading the word of its brand, even if photos shared don't immediately drive Instagram users back to Cisco's website. We, like Cisco, would love to be able to include links to our stories in our Instagram posts, and like this Forbes contributor, we fully expect that will one day be possible if Facebook has any say in the matter. 

Our account has modestly begun with a handful of photos taken at our headquarters in glamorous Framingham, Mass., but our plan is have staffers fill up the queue with colorful photos from our travels around the industry, such as at site visits and trade shows that you might not otherwise get to see for yourself. And we'll certainly attempt to get all of you involved as well.

We're open to ideas, so feel free to share them.

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