What encapsulates 76 percent of American teenagers, has the capability to teach anything from baking to backflips and is younger than a first grader? You guessed it: Instagram.
This free, photo-sharing mobile application has been sweeping the nation, doubling its users annually and keeping them 15 times more engaged than Facebook, according to a September 2014 Pew Research Center study.
Consequently, The Compass took to Instagram June 5. “Photo of the day” features from around the Catholic news world, on-site diocesan reporting via 15-second video clips, story features and breaking news updates as well as personal messages will compile the site’s postings, according to Sam Lucero, The Compass editor.
“We would like to see dialogue between our staff and young people who follow us on Instagram,” Lucero said. “We don’t always have the opportunity for conversation with young Catholics. This might be the impetus for that dialogue to occur. It may lead to new directions for story ideas and content in our print edition.”
Diocesan social communications director Matthew Livingstone said the new audiences the account will attract are the future of Catholicism, making them important audiences to reach.
“Every day, we’re recognizing as a church that we need to connect with young people, and Instagram is where young people are today,” he said. “The Compass being present in this network reminds them very readily that these stories of their Catholic faith are relevant and easily accessible to them. It also says clearly, ‘We recognize that you’re important, so we’ll bring this Good News of the Gospel to you — right to your ‘virtual doorstep.’”
According to the Nielsen-Scarborough 2014 Newspaper Penetration Report, 57.2 percent of readers are 65 years old or older. Nationwide reports mimic this, as newspaper readership lessens, alongside print advertising’s steady decline in revenue since 2005. That said, it is important to match the strides of the up-and-coming audience.
“The Compass decided to add Instagram to its social media outreach because it is another evangelization tool we can utilize,” Lucero said. “In addition, it’s an opportunity to share images and information with people we probably wouldn’t reach in our print edition. Our use of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have been successful in sharing stories and photos with a larger audience. Instagram will allow us to reach even more people.”
Livingstone agreed, saying that The Compass is taking initiative to stick with trends that work and will continue to propel the newspaper into the future.
“The landscape of social media is always changing, and Instagram is the latest among all the social networks to stand out front and center,” he said. “It’s great to know that The Compass not only recognizes where this growth is happening but is communicating its message right where people are at.”
With The Compass’ implementation of Instagram, goals include engaging users more directly, providing more immediate video and photos from key events happening around the diocese, and enhancing the reach of Catholic news information and education locally, regionally and nationally.
“At many of the events we cover, our photographers take dozens of photos that do not make it into our print edition,” Lucero said. “Instagram, as well as our other social media platforms, give us an opportunity to share those images with more people. So, our plan is to post photos and videos from around the diocese – and that includes posting while at events such as ordinations.”
Livingstone said he is looking forward to the growth and utilization of the new account, saying it is a call to action and to evangelization in a unique way.
“Instagram sets a high bar for the quality of content which is shared within its social network,” he said. “Unlike other platforms, it’s not about how much you share, but how well you share it. This is a welcome development among all the social communications options out there if it challenges us as communications and ministry professionals to do better.”
Stay up-to-date on diocesan and Catholic world news via The Compass’ Instagram @thecompassnews, and use our hashtag #TheCompassNews to tell us how you’re staying involved and making a difference in the Diocese of Green Bay.