Introduce Yourself With Instagram’s ‘Nametag’ Feature

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 2 • Issue 1 • Fall 2018

    by Jennifer Chapman

    There’s a new way to introduce yourself to the digital world, thanks to one of Instagram’s latest features. 

    Instagram launched a Nametags feature, which allows users to create personalized “nametags” that can be scanned by other Instagram users. When someone scans your individual Nametag, they’ll be prompted to follow you.

    Sound familiar? Think of it as Instagram’s version of a QR code.

    According to Instagram, the goal is to make it easier for users to connect and reduce the need to go through long and confusing searches.

    So, how does this help your municipality, county, or federal agency connect with new followers? 

    Besides meeting followers in person at local events, you can screenshot your Instagram Nametag, post it on your website, on your social media channels, in email campaigns, and printed materials. 

    Head to your Instagram profile, tap on the top right navigation menu, and select “Nametag” to give it a try!

    It’s faster than searching for a profile and ensuring you have the handle spelled correctly.


    Tell Your Story With Instagram Stories

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 3 • Spring 2018

    Have you hopped on the Instagram Stories bandwagon yet? It’s a Snapchat-like feature that lets users create sequences of photos and videos that expire after 24 hours. They can also be saved to your profile as a highlight.

    More than 250 million people are using Instagram Stories slideshow-like feature daily so how can governments use this fast-growing platform?

    Here are a few ideas to get you started and engaged with your audience:

    Go Live with Instagram Stories

    Similar to Facebook’s Live feature, go live on Instagram! Go live at a local festival or hold a quick Q&A with an elected official. Instagram Stories is also great for behind-the-scene tours of a grand opening of a new park or government building. Showcase what your government is doing.

    Capture your community

    What’s going on in your community? Create your Instagram Story slideshow of images or graphics that promote your government’s next big event – give your viewers something to look forward to. Is it snowing outside City Hall? Snap some photos or take video and upload it to your Story!


    If you’re lacking on eye-catching photos, try using some of the built-in emoji and sticker features to add to your image.  If you have more time, try creating some graphics with Adobe Spark (For Creative Cloud users, sign in with your Adobe ID) and use the templates provided for Instagram Stories.

    Have fun with it – tell your story!

    Fishing For Followers With Smart Social Media Clickbait

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 2 • Fall 2017

    By Bryan Bullock

    Most governments use social media to raise awareness about their organization’s news, programs and services. This is a great use of the medium, but it’s important to diversify your content strategy if you really want to get your key messages out to the masses. You need followers to see your posts, and sharing one dry news release after another will likely do little to drive engagement or win new followers.

    You need some “clickbait” in your social media content strategy – posts that you can regularly count on to drive engagement and grow your accounts. It’s best if your clickbait aligns with your broader social media and organizational communication strategy. Sprinkle this engaging content in your normal post mix and you’ve got a recipe for social media success.

    Here are few ideas for smart clickbait for governments:

    Throwback Thursdays

    Your local library or historical society likely has a wealth of old photos of your community, which may even be accessible online. People love seeing old photos, so try sharing some on social media with attribution. It’s always best when you can use an image to tell a story about your community – especially if the government is a character in that story, like the creation of an important landmark. Here’s a #TBT example from the City of Boulder.

    Community photos

    Sharing compelling photos of your community is a great way to drive engagement and help build a sense of community. You can start by sharing photos you already have access to – like staff photos over the years – but it’s even better to share images taken by community members. Photo contests are a great way to solicit images – fall photos are hit this time of year. If you don’t already have one, an Instagram account is a great way to solicit photos and you can share the images across all your social media accounts, which is what the City of Boulder does.


    When used sparingly and appropriately, animated GIFs can be very effective for grabbing attention. It’s best if you create your own GIFs, which can be done quickly and easily with Giphy’s GIF Maker. You’ll have more creative control if you make GIFs in Photoshop. You’ll want a short, engaging video clip to create the GIF or you can add animation to an image. Here’s an example of how the City of Boulder used a GIF to draw attention to bear safety.

    And more

    This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Get creative and come up with fun ways to spice up your social media feed – which is sure to keep followers engaged so they actually pay attention when you do have a critical message to share.

    Why You Should Use Snapchat For Your Agency

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 1 • Summer 2017

    Many local governments have adopted social media as a means of communicating with constituents, increasing citizen engagement and enhancing transparency. While apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have attained great popularity in government use, government organizations are much more hesitant about using other, newer social media platforms.

    Not so the City of Santa Clarita, California.

    Irish Festival in Snapchat“We are always looking for new ways to engage our citizens with technology,” said Frankie Rios, Santa Clarita’s Web Developer and NAGW West Region Director. “Our social media team is great about adopting new trends to reach our younger audiences – teens, high school and college students, etc. – and for about two years now, we’ve been having great success with Snapchat.”

    Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to capture images and video to share as “moments” with friends.

    “Snapchat posts or ‘Snaps’ are best described as moments because you’re sending photo or video messages immediately after taking them but they will disappear from the recipient’s inbox in 10 seconds or less after they’re opened,” said Frankie. “Unlike Facebook or Instagram, where you can upload images that have been in your camera roll for a long time, you can assume that a Snap from a friend is going to be a quick, personal glimpse into a moment they have chosen to share with you as they are experiencing it.”

    Snapchat’s unique ability to share moments is complimented by another feature of the app that Santa Clarita enjoys using – Geofilters, or special overlays for Snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations.

    “When sharing a moment on Snapchat, your picture or video can be accompanied by a filter that acts as a picture frame,” said Frankie.

    The filters are fun graphics that illustrate anything from a restaurant, city name, or an event -- their form and design will be based on a user’s phone’s GPS location, so the filters one sees in Santa Clarita will differ from those users will see elsewhere.

    “For a reasonable fee, Snapchat gives us the ability to design our own Geofilters for events we hold throughout the city,” said Frankie. “Our Snapchat users love discovering new Geofilters at all of our events and they use them to decorate the moments they share with their friends. Not only do Geofilters give our events more publicity, they also provide a sense of innovation and attention to detail that our citizens appreciate about their city.”

    Some examples of Santa Clarita’s filters with their associated costs are provided below.

    Snap chat filter example

    “In the first example, we created a custom filter in Photoshop and had it cover 47,685 Sq Ft for 3 hours. Total cost was $5.00,” said Frankie. “In the second example, we had our filter cover 331,541 Sq Ft for 33 hours. Total cost was $101.78.”

    Snapchat’s increasing popularity has been documented in Snap Inc.’s initial public offering prospectus (February 2017), showing that 158 million people use the platform daily and 85% of users are between the ages of 18 and 34.

    Santa Clarita is one of few governments who were early adopters of the app – other government organizations are more hesitant in using the technology, primarily because of archiving and FOIA issues.

    “The temporary nature of Snaps can be a concern for governments because we’re required to keep a record of the content that we produce, and Snapchat Snaps are no exception,” said Frankie. “Luckily, Snapchat has been very compliant when it comes to records requests.”

    Santa Clarita Cowboy FilterSnapchat retains all Snaps for 30 days, after which they are deleted. However, an agency may put in a preservation request with the company.

    “If you’d rather not go through the process of making requests with Snapchat, there is an easier way to preserve your own content for as long as you’d like by saving it to your ‘Memories,’” said Frankie.

    Snapchat’s “Memories” feature is a searchable and shareable archive of Snaps that is accessible from the app. “Memories” backs up Snaps to Snapchat's servers and automatically categorizes users’ saved snaps according to location.

    “In the case of governments, I would suggest that all Snapchat videos and images taken from the government account be saved to ‘Memories’ to comply with open public records requirements,” said Frankie. “I would also suggest that the content be purged from the account according to a specified retention schedule.” 

    Learn more about Snapchat’s legal process

    More information on Snapchat


    Geofilter Example One

    Click on the image to view a larger version of the geofilter.

    Geofilter Example 1

    Geofilter Example Two

    Click on the image to view a larger version of the geofilter.

    Geofilter Example Two

    Government agencies to follow on Snapchat

    Below are a few government agencies on Snapchat -- to follow them, install Snapchat and enter each username. Source: Girardin, Lauren (2016, February 24). Snapchat for Government: The Basics

    • America’s Navy (americas_navy)
    • Be Ready Utah (bereadyutah)
    • City of Evanston, IL (cityofevanston)
    • City of Las Vegas, NV (cityoflasvegas)
    • Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship, UK (csfasttrack)
    • Corporation for National and Community Service (nationalservice)
    • Coventry, CT Recreation (covparksrec)
    • Department of State (statedept)
    • Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (myfwc)
    • French Government (gouvernementfr)
    • Hamilton County Public Health, Ohio (hamcohealth)
    • Hawthorne, CA Police (hawthornepolice)
    • House Republicans (housegop)
    • Provo City, UT (provocity)
    • Texas State Parks (TxParksWildlife)
    • UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (ukforeignoffice)
    • U.S. Department of the Interior (usinterior)
    • The White House (whitehouse)


    UPDATE: "Snap Maps"

    Snap Maps is a new Snapchat feature that was launched last week. The Snap Map gives the user the ability to turn their location on and share it with friends. In the app, you can open a virtual map that will show avatars of all your friends who are sharing their location. Privacy concerns naturally come to mind because the app will update your location for all of your friends to see each time you open it. It is clear that this feature has the potential to aid stalking, lurking, and other dangerous situations, but there are pretty easy ways to prevent your location being known: 
    • The feature is opt-in, meaning that you have to choose to share your location, it won't just share without your knowledge. 
    • Your location can only be shared with your Snapchat friends list and is not available to all of the public. You will also receive notifications periodically reminding you that your location is being shared to make sure you are still comfortable with it. 
    • And lastly, if you have shared your location, and would like to turn it off, you can easily activate "Ghost Mode". 
    Of course, it is suggested that all agencies using Snapchat keep their profiles in "Ghost Mode" so the employees moderating the account aren't broadcasting their location to their ever-growing list of followers.