instagram-election.pngBetween hurricane Sandy and the US presidential elections we now have confirmation, if you needed it, that Instagram is a big social player. I can see why Facebook bought it – there’s plenty of evidence that people interact more around photos than anything else on Facebook. Instagram –  as a pure photo social network – has an obvious appeal. And people are using it to share so much material around big news events that reporters just can’t afford to ignore it.

Instagram skills are pretty much an essential part of the social media journalist toolbox now. Last week I did some work with the Interhacktives on verification and identification of images from Instagram. It was a good session – but it did expose a problem. A few of the students had BlackBerries or older model Android phones that didn’t support Instagram. How could they participate? Some universities now set compulsory tech standards for their students. That might have to expand to phones, if services are going to stay mobile-only, like Instagram. Now, that service is starting to make it a little easier to access material via the web (here’s my Instagram feed) – and there are tools that allow you to interact with hashtagged content directly –  but this trend is only going to continue.

Right now, it feels like an Android or iOS smartphone is pretty close to essential for anyone serious about using social tools as part of their journalism. But am I missing something?