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2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday April 16, 2019

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Beth Daley

Beth Daley

Editorial Adviser , Europeana Foundation

portrait of Aleksandra Strzelichowska

Aleksandra Strzelichowska

Senior Adviser Online Marketing & Events , Europeana Foundation

Why we’re now using Instagram to interact with new audiences

With over one billion monthly active users, Instagram is fast becoming the place to see and be seen. You can now follow Europeana on Instagram. Find out why we made the leap and how we squared it with our strict sharing policies.

Screenshots of Europeana on Instagram

Instagram has been around since 2010, so why hasn’t Europeana embraced it before now? Because our policy was (and still is) to only share openly licensed content and credit it by linking back to its source, usually on Europeana Collections. And Instagram doesn’t let you link to external websites from an individual post.

But Instagram is becoming too big of an opportunity to pass by so we needed to find a way of being part of that phenomenon without compromising our belief in credit where credit is due.

Europeana on Instagram

Europeana on Instagram

Squaring our sharing policy

We came up with two ways of ensuring that attribution to the source material is always included.

  1. The bio section of an Instagram account does accept external links. So we can use the text ‘Link in bio’ in an image description and put a link to the source material in the main page bio.

  2. We tag the source institution in the post, so the reader can click through to see where we got an image from.

As a result, our policy for posting on Instagram is:

We only post public domain or CC0 content that ideally comes from an institution already on Instagram. The only exception to this is if we have express permission for promoting a copyrighted item, for example, one that’s part of a Europeana exhibition.

A different audience

Instagram has an audience of (youngish) people who are looking for the visual. They want to see nice images. That’s pretty much it. So every post we make has to have a great picture, and include interesting information in the description.

That’s different to Twitter, which we use to talk to our professional audience, and to Facebook where our followers are looking to be informed - they want to read and click-through. On Instagram, we’re catering to people looking for more artsy, visual inspiration.   

And we have noticed that lots of institutions who don’t use Twitter as organisations, do use Instagram. They tend to post about their offline activity - the things that people in their museums are doing. When we team up, we present material from their collections and we tag them. It’s a way of connecting our online collections with their offline activity.

A good start

Europeana on Instagram

Europeana's Women's History Month pledge on Instagram

Even though we only started posting on Instagram in February, and we have 750 followers, in comparison to the 112,000 followers on Facebook, we are seeing more engagement - comments, likes - on Instagram on a per post basis than on Facebook.

Aleks Strzelichowska, Senior Online Marketing Specialist at the Europeana Foundation (aka our social media guru) says, ‘Instagram followers curate their feed using hashtags and so you often find Instagram posts littered with hashtags. Far more than you’d see on a tweet or Facebook post. If you tag your post with precise hashtags, you can reach specific audiences who just want to discover interesting content and who don’t really care where it comes from. So by using hashtags cleverly, we can reach people who don’t normally come across Europeana.’

So far, we’ve used Instagram to support the Europeana Women’s Season. We promoted the Pioneers exhibition and took over WomenInTheArts for a day, posting artworks from our collections by five women artists from five different countries.

The future

We’re testing how frequently we should post and scoping out possible partnerships. We’ve started small but we’re planning to scale up and use ad campaigns to promote posts and grow our following.

The aim of our activity on Twitter and Facebook is to generate traffic to Europeana Collections. Instagram really does have the focus on the ‘social’ so we aim to use that for interaction.

Follow us on Instagram!

And if your organisation is on Instagram, get in touch - we want to feature your artworks on our feed!