17 Of the Most Engaging College Instagram Accounts

Jennifer Barker

Business Development Strategist

How Instagram Accounts Increase Enrollment

Keeping your higher institution front and center on social media can feel like a full-time job in itself. And while you probably put in a lot of time posting social content, interacting with followers and building out your social presence, the fruits of your labor aren’t always obvious. Are you on the right channels? Are you getting the right amount of engagement? What types of content is your audience most interested in?

When a new social network comes along, you may be hesitant to create another account and have more work on your hands. More unique posts to make. A new audience to build. Another channel to pour time and money into. And let’s face it. Time and money don’t come easy these days.

For these reasons, it’s no surprise that when Instagram was first created in 2010, many colleges and universities took their time setting up an account. It wasn’t until 2012 that some higher institutions started a profile, and many more lingered in the background, waiting to see if the social app would really take off.

And it did. It has. It keeps moving forward.

Eye-Opening Instagram Statistics from 2015

For the last 5 years, Instagram has shown us some pretty impressive growth. Here are a few statistics to enjoy over your morning coffee.

  • Instagram has 300+ million active monthly users.

  • Users have shared over 30 billion photos so far, and share an average of 70 million posts per day.

  • Seventy percent of Instagram users are from outside the U.S.

  • The social app brought in $595 in mobile ad revenues in 2015, and is predicted to bring in $2.81 billion by 2017.

  • Top brands on Instagram report seeing a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent.

  • Instagram’s per-follower engagement rate for top brands is 58 percent higher than on Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter.

  • Instagram is considered the most important social network by more American teens (at 32 percent) than any other social network.

Whoa...wait a minute. What did that last point read? Instagram is considered the MOST IMPORTANT SOCIAL NETWORK for American teens than any other social network? This eye-opening statistic comes from the Internet Trends Report in 2015 and is a real attention-grabber for businesses with a young clientele. This means you.

Instagram is the “It” Channel for Young Adults

Colleges and universities are getting the hint that Instagram is a widely used platform for teens and young adults. Because the app encourages the sharing of photos and video snippets, it’s a highly engaging platform. That’s what makes it perfect for young users.

Not to mention, many teens and young adults are looking for new places to exist since Facebook has been taken over by some of the older crowds. They enjoy having their own platforms where they can post what they want without having to worry about what Mom or Grandma thinks. Instagram is the perfect place to do this.

By creating and maintaining an Instagram account for your higher institution, you are taking advantage of a simple and free way to reach potential students. You can successfully build a rapport with young students who may have otherwise gone unnoticed on Facebook or Twitter.

How exactly are colleges and universities using Instagram to engage students? We take a look at 17 of the best Instagram accounts from around the world as researched by HubSpot.  

17 Colleges and Universities Who Have it Figured Out

1. Colorado State University. With adorable pictures, playful captions and a sweepstakes with a grand prize to Cancun, Colorado State University has secured a top spot (and a top following) on Instagram. They’ve also launched successful hashtag campaigns such as #endhazing.

2. Dartmouth College. It’s no secret that Dartmouth College has some pretty superb scenery to work with being located in the beautiful state of New Hampshire. Their Instagram account doesn’t disappoint. If you take a look, you’ll see stunning photos of their campus and student body.

3. Liberty University. What makes Liberty University worth a second look is its unique approach to engagement. Rather than snapping photos of generic groups of students, the university takes photos of individual students engaging in daily campus life. This is a great way for potential students to picture themselves as a student on campus.

4. University of Cambridge. Mastering the art of photo editing, this England university has an Instagram account that is filled with high-definition landscape photos. Most are edited to intensify the colors and bring out unique details.

5. Arizona State University. The Sun Devils love their sports teams, so it’s no surprise that ASU’s account has a strong focus on sports. With game day announcements and real-time updates, ASU does an excellent job of gearing up fans and followers for important events.

6. Adolfo Ibanez University. Located in the beautiful Andes Mountains in Chile, Adolfo Ibanez University naturally has a lot of great scenery to work with. Not only does it capture the surrounding mountains but also gives focus to student-led projects.

7. West Virginia University. West Virginia University is another example of a school that posts new perspectives on campus life. The photos are all high quality and bring some element of WVU into them such as holding a flag or keychain from the university in the background.

8. The University of Sheffield. What’s neat about these photos is that they play with angles and lines, giving them a distinct edge next to the softer, more natural looking photos. These edgy photos keep consistent with the image of The University of Sheffield, a hip, modern school in the U.K.

9. American University of Beirut. AUB does a nice job of bringing their community together through photos. They celebrated their 150th birthday by posting old black-and-white photos, and they run hashtag campaigns to encourage student interaction.

10. University of Nottingham. Another school that knows how to work its magic with landscape photos is the University of Nottingham. A quick glance at their Instagram account and you’ll have your daily dose of scenery photos that play around with shadows, light and color.

11. University of Rochester. What the University of Rochester has accomplished on Instagram is a brand personality. Not only is there a decent collection of high-end photos, but also these photos tell a story of the university’s relationship with students.

12. Texas Tech University. The highlight on Texas Tech University’s Instagram account is their seasonal content and videos. If you want to get geared up for a football game or learn more about an upcoming NASCAR race, head to their Instagram account. You’ll also find plenty of seasonal content to celebrate year-round holidays.

13. Boston University. What we love about Boston University’s photos is that they add a dose of humor. Many colleges are afraid to do this for fear of not being taken seriously, but BU achieves this effortlessly. Case in point: The #AwkwardBU Twitter campaign on Instagram.

14. Georgetown University. What Georgetown University does with their photos is add an iPhone element to each one. Even if you’re an Android fan, you’ll still love the well-framed photos that are posted in chronological order, as if to tell a story.

15. Penn State. Penn State nails the “love stories” side of their Instagram account which showcases photos from couples that met at Penn State. It’s nice to know that there are enough happy stories to share. If you’re looking for love, maybe try Penn State?

16. Australia National University. While it may be true that Australia National University has a leg up with its beautiful region, they definitely know what to do with it. Aside from the traditional campus and scenery shots, the university also captures up-close photos of animals in the area. Kangaroos included.

17. Barcelona University. Barcelona University has some beautiful buildings to work with, and their Instagram account doesn’t fail at providing the rest of the world with lovely photos of these historic masterpieces. You can also catch photos of their events, with many photos including branding for easy regraming.

Conclusion

Sometimes it can feel like you’re always one step behind your audience, but don’t let this discourage you. The young adult audience is a hard one to catch because they are on the forefront of trends. At the same time, they are most open to social media and the fresh perspectives that take place on it. For now, Instagram is a great way to connect with potential students through rich media content. Spend some time fleshing out your profile and see the difference it can make.

About the Author: Jennifer Barker

Jen is the Business Development Strategist for SEMGeeks and the only team member born and raised north of the Jersey great divide, i.e. the Driscoll Bridge. Her BFA in multimedia design and extensive experience in digital marketing make her both an analytical and creative thinker. Jen has lived and worked for digital agencies in two major cities over the last 17 years but 3 years ago this “gypsy living, free bird” happily put her roots down at the Jersey Shore. The struggle to defend North Jersey to the rest of the team is an ongoing battle. #TaylorHam

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