#SciFund Challenge Class

Connecting people to your science with Instagram

Part 7: taking instagram further


When you first open your Instagram app, you’ll notice a row of accounts sitting at the top of your home feed. That row is a bunch of people sharing something about them that has happened in the past 24 hours. Some of those may even be happening right now. And you can join the fun too!

Instagram Stories are a way for you to share a more informal and less permanent slice of your life. Each story lasts for 24 hours, and if you choose to share something live it will disappear immediately after the live feed is complete. Stories may be a great way for you to talk about your research without the pressure of creating something unique and aesthetically appealing.

For example, a recent @NASA story included a short video of a man describing a rocket stage. There weren’t any photography tricks or dramatic perspectives, there were no video filters, and there weren’t any crazy sound effects. It was just you and the presenter for 20 seconds.

For those of us without much visual inspiration, for instance being trapped in a lab or doing data analysis, this may be the perfect method for sharing unique and interesting information about your research. Just get a little creative and you can make your story fun, engaging, and interesting. Check out @science.sam for some really entertaining research stories!

Ready to learn how to create your own story? Follow the slideshow below to learn how!


Instagram doesn’t allow you to share someone else’s content. It really tries to force you into creating your own content. But science is a collaborative process, and sharing science should be the same way! Luckily there are others out there who agree and so they created Repost for Instagram . To use Repost, download the Repost App from either the Apple App store or Google Play (or your local app store). Once installed, Repost will walk you through its use. But if instead you’d like to stay here, then we’ve got a slideshow for you:


Instagram isn’t just a place to share photos – it’s also a great place to share video. But what’s the right way to do that? Let’s get into it.

When sharing video is a plus

Video allows you to show motion (obviously), which is important if motion is key to telling your story. Here are a few places where showing video can be key (there are plenty more).

Instruction or demonstration

A demonstration can often be much more effective if you can watch someone doing the thing you want to see. For example, think of reading a cookbook to learn a whisking technique versus watching a video demonstrating that technique. You can see a great illustration of this in action with one of your handy-dandy class instructors (Paige). Among other things, Paige just happens to be a very accomplished aerialist and she has an Instagram account ( @fromthelabbench ) where she demonstrates all sorts of aerial routines. The account is super popular among the huge aerialist community on Instagram (she has almost 12,000 followers at the moment). Here’s an example of one of those videos, where a picture just wouldn’t do.

A story over time

There are many occasions where a static shot can’t truly capture a story because the story intrinsically involves change over time. Here’s an example of that: a time-lapse video of Yosemite National Park where the entire story is about the movement of clouds.

The change doesn’t need to involve very long amounts of time. Here’s a video showing monarch butterflies during their migration. The whole story here is about how many butterflies are flying around, a story that would be difficult to tell with a single image.

The downside of video

It takes no time at all to look at a picture. A video though takes time to watch, even if the video is just a few seconds long. In our busy world, asking for even a few extra seconds of your audience’s time can sometimes be a bridge too far. If the story in your video can be fully captured by a static image, you can increase the odds that your audience will actually take a look.

How does Instagram video work?

You can take video within the Instagram app itself. If you use the plus icon at the bottom of the Instagram screen (which you use for shooting pictures), you’ll see that one of the other options is Video. You can also use video that you have shot and edited elsewhere (use the Library option on the same screen).

Some tips for successful Instagram videos

Everything we have covered about images also applies to videos. We have talked a lot in the class about the need to create content that: connects with your audience’s interests, uses the right hashtags and captions, and effectively tells your story. All of that is true for video as well.

Keep your videos short. Instagram allows videos to be up to one minute long, which might not seem like very much. However, as far as your audience is concerned, 60 seconds is an eternity. The shorter the video is, the more likely that your audience will actually look at it. What is the fewest number of seconds needed to tell your story?

One video can serve only one purpose. Since your videos are going be so short, you won’t really have time to make lots of points. In fact, you’ll be able to make exactly one point. And you’ll need to get to that point right away, since your audience will start clicking away pretty rapidly. For example, in Paige’s Instagram feed (mentioned earlier), each video demonstrates exactly one aerial routine and each routine begins immediately.

Sound considerations. By default, sound is turned off on Instagram videos. As a consequence, videos that work even with the sound turned off are more likely to be watched and understood by your audience. This doesn’t mean that silent videos are a must. Rather, if you can, see if you can create videos where sound adds to the experience but is not required to understand what is going on. Additionally, if you are planning to do much talking in your videos, you should invest in a microphone that you can connect to your smartphone – it will make a huge difference in your sound quality. One microphone that we recommend for its bang for the buck is the Giant Squid microphone .

Shaky cam (mostly avoid it). Most of the time, having a steady camera is going to make for a better video. How do you get a steady camera? A tripod. A good tripod for smartphones is the GorillaPod .

Video editing. The tools in Instagram for video editing are pretty basic (video shortening and filter addition). If you want to do anything more complicated, you’ll need to put your video together elsewhere and import it into Instagram. There are no shortage of video editing programs, but one that comes highly recommended is Videoshop as a phone app.

NEXT Steps

Well, you have now reached the end of this guide - thanks for reading through it! What now? Well, we have other guides for you (here) that you might want to poke around. Let us also humbly remind you that you should consider taking one of our online communication classes. We offer them several times a year and, by signing up for our mailing list, you can be the first in your neighborhood to be notified about what's coming up. Our classes are extremely collaborative - which is a really essential part of the process of working through this stuff. It is not so easy to come up with the answers all on your own.

Also, give us a buzz if you have any questions on anything! We're always happy to chat about this stuff.