Q&A

Meet the woman behind one of Halifax’s top Instagram accounts

Kate Ross explains what it's like to be named Halifax's most popular Instagram account

Halifax Noise is like a social media tour guide: it curates photos, places and events from all over Halifax with one Instagram account.
Halifax Noise is like a social media tour guide: it curates photos, places and events from all over Halifax.   Erin McIntosh

With more than 34,000 followers and almost 8,000 posts, @halifaxnoise is a definite presence on social media. It was chosen as Halifax’s most popular Instagram account in The Coast’s 2016 Best of Readers’ Choice awards.

But with no visible name attached to the page, hardly any of its followers knew until recently who ran Halifax Noise.

The account owner is Kate Ross. She single-handedly runs the main account, along with halifaxnoiseVids, halifaxnoiseKids, noisenb and noisepei. Ross created halifaxnoise.com 17 years ago with a friend as a place for online, city-wide entertainment listings. The site ran for five years, but shut down when other websites and news publications, like The Coast, started doing the same thing.

Ten months ago Ross set out to create a reliable, accurate and continuously updated source for events happening in Halifax. She decided to relaunch Halifax Noise through Twitter and Instagram, so she could easily share what other people posted.

Ross went to NSCAD, Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie and studied art, film history, business, marketing and photography. She worked at the University of King’s College for seven years before leaving in 2014.

Halifax Noise has become a full-time commitment, but Ross also makes a living as a freelance social media consultant.

In 10 months you’ve gained over 34,000 followers. Did you expect Halifax Noise to grow so quickly?

Kind of. I do social media stuff, so it didn’t happen by mistake at all. There was a very strategic social media plan that I came up with and then it just kind of worked.

It’s overwhelming how much you post. How do you organize all your accounts?

I use scheduling apps a little bit. Mostly it’s reactive, so people tag me in things or I know things are going to happen. I know there’s going to be Hal-Con; I know the Best Of (Halifax Reader’s Choice) awards are coming and so I just need to remember to look for that stuff. In case no one’s tagged me in things, I just have to go look for it.

How often are you looking for posts or getting tagged?

All the time. I’ve been tagged in more than 20,000 pictures in the last 10 months and I’ve posted like, almost 8,000 (photos), I think, on Halifax Noise.

Ross feels like Halifax Noise has created a community. She loves being able to share good-looking photos, fun events and interesting content.
Ross feels like Halifax Noise has created a community.   Erin McIntosh

How do you choose which pictures to post?

If I think it looks cute or if my friends would want to go to it (I post it). I think … this is not for everyone. I think it could be even nicher than it is, but I want it to be pretty open to everybody and so if anybody I know that wanted to go (to an event) then I’ll tell people about it. Some things might get 35 likes and some might get 1,200, but that doesn’t really matter. That’s like 35 people that maybe didn’t know there was a cat costume contest happening and they maybe went and it’s like, that’s pretty fun. I think the target audience is like cool kids (laughs). So the whole point – this might be one of your questions coming up – but the whole thing is like, it’s really easy in 2016 to lay in bed with Netflix and the thing’s like do you want to watch more, and you’re like “ya.” All you need to do is move your thumb and your remote. I think it’s way cooler for people to just pause Netflix for a minute and hang out in real life. It’s way more fun to hang out than to text people or whatever.

But do you get out and get off the Internet?

Yeah, yeah, all the time. I mean, I’m on a lot of guest lists, so that helps. I go to a lot of stuff. I try to only post other people’s photos. So I get invited to a lot of things to take photos, but it’s a more community feel if I post somebody else’s photos. So as long as somebody else has something fun, then I use theirs.

Was it part of your idea to be anonymous? I didn’t know who you were until The Coast’s awards came out.

I got outed by The Coast. I actually did a TV interview earlier in the summer and everybody was like “people are going to know who you are” and I was like “mmh, yeah.” But it’s been 15 years, so who cares. So at this point, whatever. It was really fun at the beginning for nobody to know who you were, but yeah I don’t really care. But I think that it is fun to be able to kind of eavesdrop on a conversation. I have stickers and logos and stuff, but pins are really fun because you can just throw a pin on your hat and then take it off if you want to be anonymous somewhere. So it’s not bad to say who you are, but if you want to do something that maybe you don’t want to be seen doing, you just pop it off. I think it’s fun to be undercover (in) places, but you don’t want to be wearing a Halifax Noise sweatshirt at some vendor thing and everybody’s like “oh excuse me, can you repost my thing?,” so it’s good to be anonymous. I get a lot of messages online; I don’t really know if I need that in real life. People keep telling me to watch Gossip Girl. I haven’t seen it, but I guess it’s similar to my life.

 

Ross can get notifications from Instagram on her Apple Watch, but she relies more on her iPhone.
Ross can get notifications from Instagram on her Apple Watch, but she relies more on her iPhone.   Erin McIntosh

You won gold for Best Instagram. How does that feel to be Halifax’s most popular Instagram account?

It’s good to be back. I put a post the other day, it was a throwback to 2003, the last time we (Ross and her friend) won the best of Halifax for the website (halifaxnoise.com). It just said this is really what I wanted it to turn into and the readers of The Coast voting that I’m still cool means that it’s totally what they wanted too. So I don’t know. It feels good; it feels expected. It’d be really embarrassing to not have been gold (laughs).

Do you feel like there’s any competition in the Halifax Instagram community?

Nah.

Where do you want Halifax Noise to go? How do you want it to grow, or do you?

People are constantly sending me their new singles and EP’s and stuff like that, so maybe more music stuff. I talked about doing a street styled thing, a fashion thing and everybody was really pumped. I get tagged in a million portraits and it doesn’t necessarily go with the flow right now, so maybe more offshoot things.