Credit: Mike Eliason / S.B. County Fire Dept.

We can’t underestimate the value the eye has in telling a story. You know the saying: A picture is worth a thousand words. What if we told you our top five Instagram posts of 2021 are worth 13,750? That’s right, we just added up the word counts from all of the corresponding stories. Because that is the domain of web content managers, babey! 

As far as counting likes go, however, let’s be fair: We are a local paper, so we weren’t doing numbers … but we did enough to be able to crunch ‘em! It helps to give us a literal snapshot of what stories resonated with our readers this year — and we’ve been able to zoom in on a few developments. 

We’ll let you in on one: It’s noticeable that a sizable chunk of our best-performing posts were climate stories. It makes sense for denizens of Earth Day’s birthplace to care about the state of our planet, especially as global warming contributes to the issue of wildfires in our area. (Also, the sublimity of weather phenomena just makes for ideal photo-ops.)

And on that cheerful note, let’s look back on our most-liked IG posts, shall we? 

1. Story: “How Cold Was It Last Night?” | 3,046 likes | March 11 | Image credit: Gabriel Vicente, Alexandra Mauceri, Terry Ortega, Emily Cosentino Lee, Samantha Silverman, Ava Talehakimi, and Tyler Tomblin

Call it a Winter Wonder-land, because Santa Barbarans had to wonder why this ever-elusive snow was falling in our Central Californian town. Whatever the climate ramifications, locals were excited to witness a White several-months-after-Christmas.

2. Story: The Alisal Fire series | 1,951 likes | October 12 | Image credit: Mike Eliason (@eliasonphotos)/S.B. County Fire

The Alisal Fire was such a big news story that it notched four of our top 10 IG posts of the year, thanks to the work of Santa Barbara photographers like Mike Eliason and Erick Madrid. But for the sake of avoiding repetition, we limited those posts to one entry on this list. You can see this video that got 1,569 likes here, while this one got 1,145 likes. Oh, and here’s another one coming in at 1,145 likes.

3. Story: ​​“Storm Surprises Central Coast with Thunder and Lightning Show” | 1,895 likes | October 5 | Image credit: Mike Eliason (@eliasonphotos)

Mother Nature had a field day — err, year — in 2021. Good thing our town had plenty of photographers out in the field. 

4. Story: “​​Former Macy’s in Paseo Nuevo to Open as Roller Rink, Arcade” | 1,697 likes | December 9 | Image credit: Courtesy

Can you blame Santa Barbarans for their excitement over the Aloha Fun Center? 

5. Story: “Santa Barbarans to March to Protect Reproductive Rights” | 1,561 likes | September 27 | Image credit: James Bruce

Intern Caleb Rodriguez turned in a widely circulated story on one of S.B.’s hot-button issues.


1. Story: “Dwight Murphy Plan Includes Universally Accessible Playground” | 1,507 likes | July 28 | Image credit: Courtesy City of Santa Barbara

What do you get when you combine colorful design with accessibility support? Cheers from the Santa Barbara community!

2. Story: “Santa Barbara Landlord Bets $450,000 to Find Help for Mentally Ill People Living on Streets” | 1,176 likes | September 30 | Image credit: Courtesy Radius Group

We love a good kern. Especially when it’s in service of a feel-good story.

3. Story: “COVID Shutdown Ends in Santa Barbara” | 1,118 likes | June 16

This was the first start in a stop-start year of moving past COVID. The popularity of this post hinted at our county’s hope that the end times were over — until they weren’t. 

4. Story: “Architect Resigns in Protest over UCSB Mega-Dorm” | 1,105 likes | October 29 | Image credit: Courtesy

The story that launched a hundred national news hits. Senior Editor Tyler Hayden got the scoop on one of the most dystopian housing developments in a county rife with them. 

5. Story: “Loma Fire Breaks Out on TV Hill” | 1,090 likes | May 21 | Image credit: Tayden Tomblin and Mike Eliason (@eliasonphotos)/S.B. County Fire

A harrowing news development with an unfortunate backstory to the alleged arsonist. 

Note: All like-counts reflect the numbers at the time of writing. 

Bonus Round!

This year’s web content managers took a break from our open InDesign programs to offer up our favorite posts from 2021. 

Celina García’s Fave: 

This post and story I am particularly proud of, because if there’s something I have enjoyed most about working for the paper, it’s that it gives me the platform to uplift others in my community. 

For our “Business of Social Media” cover story spearheaded by workmate Cat Kelley, I wanted to set my focus on someone in my community whose hard work I knew could benefit from exposure. When I first started writing that story back in August, Lu’s Strawberries had a little fewer than 4,000 Instagram followers. Just earlier this month, I was checking in with Grecia and Richy, and I squealed with delight having seen that they have now amassed over THIRTEEN THOUSAND. Grecia told me they only very recently experienced this kind of blow up, and I could not be happier for them.

I’m of course not going to take credit for their hard work or their bounty, but this was definitely a prime example of how social media can and should be used to lift each other up. 

Saehee Jong’s Fave: 

This social media post is one of my favorites this year as the events and stories surrounding this particular attack were personal. 

Caitlin Kelley’s Fave: 

I still don’t feel like I’ve ~hit my stride~ as an InDesigner, but I made some typographical progress with this attempt to capture the feel of Lily Mae Lazarus’s headline: “It’s a Dolphin, It’s a Fish, It’s a Great White Shark.”


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.