Adopting close to the curve–NPR joins Instagram

tumblr_le9qrdpUA71qdkv8qo1_500Many organizations are just discovering Twitter and Facebook but there are always a few brands that are quick to adopt social services a bit closer to the cutting edge.

This isn’t a call for your business to adopt the “shiny new object” strategy but it is a great example of how to leverage an emerging platform.

NPR is a brand I watch closely for a few reasons:

  • I love NPR
  • Highly engaged, connected, and informed audience, which allows them room to experiment
  • Proven track record of smart adoption of social media

3 days ago NPR joined Instagram

Instagram is an iPhone app and photo sharing community that’s seen astounding adoption, 1 million users in 2 months. The app is simple but with great photo filters, community features, and social sharing it hit a trifecta sweet spot and NPR recognized the opportunity.

In 72 hours NPR has shared 17 photos and gained 1038 followers. More importantly the interaction on their photos is off the charts.

What did they do right?

  • Activity tied directly to goals – They are posting pictures related to stories. These images draw interest and make you want to listen. They even previewed as story on the Large Hydron Collider and invited listeners to hear it on All Things Considered Weekend Edition.
  • Invited listeners behind the scenes – People want to be insiders and NPR nailed it with sharing pics of hosts and even Christmas decorations at the NPR office. It’s exclusive content and makes a national brand seem very personal
  • Asked for feedback – After just 12 hours  they asked the community what they wanted to see. Never be afraid to directly ask people what they want.



Many of us would be quick to point out the flaws of adopting a service like instagram – namely its currently limited to iPhone only and you can’t add a hyperlink in the description – but NPR has gained an audience where no other brand has even ventured.

Will these photos draw people into the content and get them listening? It will me. Mission Accomplished.


Your brand isn’t NPR but the opportunity to invest very little and get noticed in emerging platforms is something worth evaluating.

  • Measure your investment of resources but be willing to take a chance.
  • Focus all activity through the lens of your objective and mission.
  • Don’t make failing to costly.
  • Meet the people where they are.

PS: Guess where they announced it? The NPR Tumblr blog. In contrast – take a look at the NatGeo account on Instagram. Opportunity Missed.

2 responses to “Adopting close to the curve–NPR joins Instagram”

  1. thinklynsen says:

    I think there are definitely benefits to early adoption of social networks, not the least of which is the ability to secure your preferred username for your organization before someone else snags it. However, the downside is the potential to get overwhelmed. How does an organization figure out exactly which networks are worth trying and investing time in doing well, rather than ending up with a lot of cluttered, unused accounts on various networks?

    • Keith says:

      I absolutely agree. The potential for being overwhelmed is especially true
      for small businesses where you have to concentrate your efforts on a few
      areas. Experimentation is good but allowing it to detract from your bread
      and butter community engagement isn’t.

      NPR can do this, many can’t but good case study in my opinion.

      Thanks for the comment (love the name of your pirate band).

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