Twelve-year-old Max Lerman has been coming to Chautauqua all of his life, but this summer is different. Now, he’s not only a part of Chautauqua Institution’s physical community, but its social media community as well.
“I take pictures of things happening in Chautauqua from the perspective of an everyday, regular Chautauquan,” Lerman said.
Lerman is one of about a dozen “social media contributors” on the Institution’s Instagram account, @CHQ1874. The social media contributor program was implemented across the grounds this summer to cover aspects of the Institutions four pillars — art, education, recreation and religion — through the entirety of each day. Contributors photograph events happening around Chautauqua and post the photos to Instagram.
Instagram is a social media platform that lets users illustrate their daily activities through photographs. Instagram accounts can then be linked to personal Facebook pages, which allows individuals to share photographs with friends and family around the world.
Lerman originally became interested in Chautauqua Institution’s social media, particularly Instagram, when he competed in the Institution’s weekly Instagram contest “#WoofWednesday.” Every Wednesday, community members submitted photographs of their dog to the Institution’s Instagram account. Each week, one dog was chosen to be featured on the @CHQ1874 Instagram page.
“When I won the Woof Wednesday competition, I was asked about being a part of social media and Instagram,” Lerman said.
For the remainder of the summer, Lerman was the only community member to collaborate with Chautauqua Institution’s social media entity. Together, they sought to provide a younger, community-oriented perspective of the events happening around the grounds.
“There is so much going on at Chautauqua, that there is too much for just one person to photograph,” said Jenny Capitano, Chautauqua Institution’s social media intern.
In particular, Capitano feels Instagram and Facebook are effective due to the use of photography in the applications.
“People enjoy sharing photographs of their lives, as well as looking at photos of their friends,” said Capitano. “For example, Woof Wednesday originated from me taking a picture of an adorable dog on the grounds. When I went to post the photo, I found the hashtag ‘WoofWednesday.’ Everyone seemed to enjoy the photo, so I created the competition.”
In conjunction with popular social media trends “Transformation Tuesday” and “Throwback Thursday,” Capitano also complements photos of the Institution’s daily activities with images of the past.
For “Transformation Tuesday,” users post before-and-after pictures of people, places and things. Equally popular on social media, “Throwback Thursday” represented by the #tbt, is an old photograph of a person or event from Chautauqua’s past.
“I think that social media is so important because it brings a community of all ages together in a unique way,” Capitano said. “On Chautauqua’s Instagram, each age group is represented by the different social media contributors.”
Capitano also said that she hopes more people, over the next few years, will interact with the Institution’s social media community. To build participation, Capitano has weekly photo contests, ones in which Chautauquans can enter by posting to the Institution’s Instagram.
“By participating in our contests and posting pictures, Chautauquans are not only interacting with the community, but also contributing to the history of Chautauqua through photography,” Capitano said. “Every photograph published enhances the image of Chautauqua and documents the history made here each day.”