An Instagram account that showcases the very best photos from around the country, and managed by a fan of the popular image-sharing service, is fast indirectly becoming the service’s unofficial South African marketing presence.
The account invites anyone to use the hashtag #ThisIsSouthAfrica with photos they upload, and if Cerebra MD Craig Rodney, who runs the account, spots one he believes is worth showcasing, it will get featured.
Rodney says he fell in love with Instagram and wanted to do something to profile South Africa because of his passion for the country.
Naturally, he went was to see if the @SouthAfrica account was available. It wasn’t. It belonged an American woman who had registered it while on holiday in South Africa. She’s used the account to upload only six photos — showing off her nail polish — so, a year ago, Rodney left a comment under one of the images saying he was keen for access to the account, explaining why and asking if she would consider letting him have it.
Six months had gone by when, one morning, Rodney checked his Instagram account and saw a comment from the woman, which said simply, “What is your email address?”. By the time he got to the office, she had changed the login credentials to that Rodney could lay claim to the account.
“She was happy for me to have it and asked that I make her proud because South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries she has travelled to and was glad someone was doing something cool with it.”
The @SouthAfrica account is now marked: “Welcome to South Africa! Tag photos #ThisIsSouthAfrica – we profile the best – see and share our incredible country.”
For the past six months, Rodney has used the account to showcase the best photos from around the country, usually shared by other South African Instagram users. Already, more than 7 300 photos have been tagged with the #ThisIsSouthAfrica hashtag.
Only one image a day is selected and posted, usually drawing comments such as “Ah, this is amazing”, or, from expats, “I remember when I was there.”
Rodney has no intention of monetising the account or selling it.
“I think that storytelling through photos on Instagram is cool, and for me it’s all about the photos. I love photography, good photos and I love South Africa and all of that comes together in this really cool opportunity.”
In an ideal world, he says, he’d like to showcase “much bigger South African stories”, rather than “just profiling landscapes and tourism shots”.
“For now, it’s amazing, but I’d love to be able to do much more detailed storytelling.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media