Social media event/hashtag display on the cheap?
June 7, 2016 5:59 PM   Subscribe

The small natural history museum I work at is looking for a way to let visitors tag photos on instagram (or twitter, or facebook, or whatever, but instagram is the one they asked me about) with a hashtag about our upcoming temporary exhibit, to be displayed on a 60" display in the gallery. The exhibit opens next week. The service we used for this last time shut down last week. All the other services I can find either have no moderation tools or are super expensive. Help?

We did this once before with a temporary exhibit and used a service that I thought felt pretty fly-by-night, but it did more or less work. Apparently the developer didn't notice Instagram's API change announced six months ago until it took effect on June 1st and his application stopped working and he opted to shut down rather than try to fix it. So now I'm looking for a replacement.

Required features:
  • Pull photos from Instagram with a given hashtag within a reasonably short amount of time from being posted and display them in rotation on a screen with our exhibit logo on it.
  • Have a moderation console where we can either approve each photo before it goes live or approve everything by default and block individual offensive photos as they show up.
  • Be able to spotlight a single photo/tweet at a time, not just tile a bunch of them in a scrolling display.
That's pretty much it for the must-haves. Features which would be nice to have include:
  • Include posts from other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • An embed widget so we could put a small version on our web site.
  • If it's a full screen webpage presentation, use HTML5 instead of Flash.
  • If it's an executable application, supporting linux would be nice.
I keep wondering how hard this could possibly be. I'm pretty sure that if I didn't have anything else going on, I could write a minimal version myself in a week. But apparently this is either a harder problem than I think, or it's extremely profitable and nobody wants to sell a cheap version.

Things I've looked at already:
  • -- $10/day charge
  • -- no moderation tools that I can find
  • -- it's tile based and starts at $40/mo, which is maybe doable, but not if I can't have tiles featured in rotation
  • -- promising, but Instagram is unavailable for now, and the animated player requires Flash
  • EventsTag -- $500 is out of our budget
  • TINT -- $300/day or $500/month
  • The Wallrus -- free, until you want moderation, at which point it's as low as $375/month
  • -- $199/day or custom work starting at $900
  • Tweetwall -- $39/day
Plus few others which I've forgotten the names of but which had no prices listed, opting instead for a "contact us for a demo/quote" form. Which probably means expensive.

Am I seriously going to have to take a week off my other projects and try to write this myself?
posted by hades to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly, this looks like a few hours to one day of work, not a week - but I'm wondering what was wrong with Tweetwall which is $39/day with $29 extra for full moderation?

Edit: ah, Instagram vs Twitter? Anyhow, if Instagram's API is easy to work with, it sounds like it'd be a fun little project if you have some free time one day.
posted by destructive cactus at 6:50 PM on June 7, 2016

I'd try using Google Apps Script to log pictures/tweets/whatever to a Google Spreadsheet, moderate from there, and then build a display based on what gets approved.

If you're creative about how you use it, GAS can be pretty powerful and useful, especially if your organization already uses Google Docs.

Disclaimer: I am a freelance GAS developer so this might be a situation of when all I have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
posted by paulcole at 7:00 PM on June 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: $39/day works out to over $7,000 for a six month installation. ("Temporary" is relative to our permanent exhibits.) We were hoping for more like a couple hundred bucks, total.

I'm an ok sysadmin, but kind of a crappy developer, which is why I put it at a week. I'm sure that, yeah, a better programmer than me could knock something like this out pretty quickly. I hadn't considered using GAS like that, but I've dabbled with it, and it could be a fun project to try there. Hmm...
posted by hades at 7:39 PM on June 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In that case, I'd definitely try searching for something open source that you could install on a server, but ... I'm looking around and not finding much. I truly think that this is probably because it's pretty quick to set up a web app to do this.

Aside from that, have you checked out Their large or enterprise plans might work out for what you need, and the pricing seems like it'd be better for a six month installation.
posted by destructive cactus at 9:37 PM on June 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd check with some of the products that you like. Maybe they can give you a deal.

Twitter and Instagram together might be hard. I wouldn't try for FB; because of privacy settings, you won't be able to see half the posts people make.

Do you want to control how they rotate or maintain a sense of motion? Some tools lets you choose: stick with the most recent or rotate through.

If you made a nice tool meeting your specs, I'd totally use it. :)
posted by ramenopres at 11:22 PM on June 7, 2016

Response by poster: I was able to make do what I want, so I'm going to use their $20/month plan until I've had a chance to write my own version. Juicer's moderation interface is less than ideal, but it'll do for now.

posted by hades at 12:10 PM on June 8, 2016

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