What’s so great about Instagram in the higher education space?

I wrote a blog about Instagram and higher education a couple of years ago, and I think that it is a good time to revisit how universities can make the most of their Instagram presence. So, without further ado, here’s a quick Q&A with me, about Instagram in the higher education space.

Q: Why should my institution care about Instagram?

A: Because your prospects and current students care about Instagram.

According to a social media survey by RBC Capital, 73% of 13- to 18-year-olds surveyed said that they had an Instagram account. SEVENTY-THREE PERCENT.

If 73% of the prospects you’re trying to reach are standing in a room, shouldn’t you also be in that room?

Teens care about Instagram and they’re actively engaging with the community every day. In a CNBC article about social media trends and teens, one 18-year-old is quoted saying “I feel that Instagram is still the most-used social media platform for people my age, and pretty much all of my friends use it on a daily basis.” Because these users are coming back every day, sometimes every hour, Instagram presents institutions with the opportunity to share a multitude of different messages with their audience, at a frequency not possible on most other platforms.


Q: What is the advantage of using Instagram to tell our story?

A: There are a lot of advantages, but I think the greatest advantage is expanding your reach.

Instagram is a well-established community that your prospects already frequent and love. They stop by daily to explore content and engage with their friends and brands that they admire.

Hashtags and locations tags present institutions with an opportunity to organically put their brand in front of new prospects that they may miss with traditional digital campaigns. While also offering the opportunity to promote or sponsor posts targeted at specific users based on selected likes or attributes.

Hashtags are added to captions to make a user’s post appear in a curated list of other user’s posts that are associated with the same word or phrase.

For example, the official Olympic hashtag is #BestofUS. News outlets, blogs, brands and athletes will use the hashtag in order to ensure that their content appears in the curated list of other Olympic content. Thus making it easy for users to browse content related to the Olympics in one place.

A college or university may use a branded hashtag that is specific to their institution, like Kenyon who uses #KenyonCollege to curate a list of 8,642 posts. The #KenyonCollege list is an authentic 360 degree view of life on campus from both the institution’s perspective and the community’s. Geo or location tags work in a similar way.

But there’s more!

Instagram has an explore feature that uses an algorithms to generate a unique feed of content for user’s based on their interactions and the interactions of the brands and people they follow. For example, if a prospect that has already applied to your institution likes a post on your account, the algorithm may serve that same post up in the explore section of their friend. It’s like word of mouth… but through a social media algorithm!

This reach can also extend to international students. 80% of Instagram’s users reside outside of the U.S. And Instagram boasts over 800 Million active monthly users. That’s a lot of potential international recruits.

Q: Followers are great, but will prospects go to my website or request more info?  

A: It’s highly likely.

While there’s no guarantee that a prospect will engage and convert on any platform, one survey found that 75% of Instagram’s users take action, such as visiting a website, after looking at a brand’s post. And those are just the users that we can track. I like those odds.

Interested in learning more about how your institution can make the most of your Instagram presence? Contact us today to speak with our social media experts.