As a connectional church, it's important to share the General Conference experience with those who are not able to actually travel to the meeting in Portland. With 400 million monthly active users around the globe, a great way to share your unique perspective as a General Conference delegate is through Instagram, a free mobile photo- and video-sharing app you can download on iOs and Android phones and tablets, as well as Windows Phone 8 and later. It's also an easy and fun tool to help you meet and get to know other delegates' stories.
The good news is Instagram is easy to use and you don't need to be a professional photographer to take beautiful photos with Instagram. Below we've put together some Instagram tips especially for General Conference delegates.
Need to set up an Instagram account?
- Find the app for iOS devices from the App Store, Android from Google Play Store or Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Store.
- Once the app is installed, tap to open it.
- Tap Sign Up, then enter your email address and tap Next or tap Log In with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
- If you register with email, create a username and password, fill out your profile info and then tap Done. If you register with Facebook, you'll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you're currently logged out.
Easy to edit
Instagram comes equipped with effects and filters you can apply to your photos or videos to make them appear more polished, better-lit or even vintage. Additionally, you can adjust the brightness, saturation, color or add shadows. Don't be too concerned about making your photos appear professional, instead it will be more important to focus on telling the story of General Conference.
We know you will be extremely busy. If there's a moment you'd like to capture and you have a few seconds, Instagram makes it simple to upload and share your photos and videos instantly. However, if you're in the thick of the action, you can always snap a photo or video with your mobile device and go back later when you have an extra minute to upload then. As a general rule, try to avoid posting more than three photos in a row or more than once every three hours. If you post more than that, you run the risk of overloading your followers' feeds and tempting them to unfollow.
Don't forget our hashtag
Instagram, like other social networks, is driven by hashtags. If you're not familiar, it's when you place the pound sign in front of a word or acronym to make that phrase a searchable category so everyone else who uses that hashtag can see your photo or video. This is especially important when documenting your General Conference photos. United Methodists around the world will be following the hashtag #UMCGC during the proceedings to get a glimpse of the action. Add this at the end of your caption.
Tag your friends
If you take a photo of friends, be sure to tag their username. There is an option for adding tags before you tap share. This is not only a courtesy to your friend so that they can expand their network, it also helps you expand yours to meet other people and get new followers.
Share across networks
With just a tap, Instagram also enables you to share individual photos that you upload on your other social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. This is a great feature, however, don't assume that all of your friends want to see the same photos across all of your networks, especially if you have the same followers on each of them. Select and customize each photo or video for the appropriate platform.
The bottom line? Have fun telling your story and seeing the connectional nature of the church at work in the palm of your hands. Be sure to follow @UMCGC for updates from the official Instagram account of General Conference.
*Natalie Bannon is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, email Presscenter@umcom.org.