Best Practices For Instagram in Higher Education Marketing

Pete Schauer

Marketing Director

Here’s a fun fact to start your day: higher education institutions on Instagram have an average of 10 times the amount of interactions per post compared to on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Some say that it’s the most important social media network for recruiting students, with over 700 million users in just 7 years. Instagram has more users than Twitter and Snapchat, and is competitive with Facebook in terms of relevance and functionality.

Instagram is a popular place for higher institutions to be, so you won’t find a shortage of colleges and universities with established presences. While this is great for gaining exposure, it also means that the competition is high. To be successful, you must continually evaluate your strategies to ensure that you are getting the most from it.

In this post, we are going to cover the best practices for Instagram higher education marketing. Let’s get your brand noticed and increase student enrollment and retention!

Put Your Best Visuals Forward

Each social platform is distinguished. Twitter is known for its short, real-time messages, Snapchat is favored for its fun filters, and people come to Instagram to see stunning photos. The backbone of your Instagram marketing strategy should be beautiful, eye-catching visuals.

Feature the natural beauty of your campus buildings, parks, trees, and common grounds throughout the seasons. Capture students having a great time at an athletic game or participating in a community event. Use the filters to enhance your photos and only pick your finest images. One great photo says more than several mediocre ones.

Tell Your Brand Story

Every college and university has a story to share. Whether it has to do with your history, the programs you offer, or the students who attend your school, stories are a wonderful way to hook people in and make your academic offerings relatable.

Thanks to Instagram Stories, which were introduced in 2016, it’s quick and easy to create a narrative. As you share multiple photos and videos on your Instagram page, they blend together in a slideshow format for your users to eat up. After 24 hours, the story disappears, keeping the content current and fresh.

Use Hashtags in Your Posts

Twitter and Facebook use hashtags to organize posts, which is helpful when you want to join in a conversation. Instagram content benefits from hashtags, too, because they can get your content into more hands.

While it’s great to have a branded hashtag that is used on all content, you also want to come up in popular topics of conversation. Try searching for trending hashtags and see if any relate to your content. If you find one or two that do, add them to your post for greater exposure and visibility.

Encourage User-Generated Content

User-generated content is an effective form of marketing that builds brand awareness, establishes credibility, and supports qualified leads. In a nutshell, user-generated content works because people trust what others say over paid advertising. A blog post written by a current college student speaks volumes and appears genuine and authentic compared to a paid ad or TV commercial.

Luckily, Instagram makes it easy to encourage user-generated content. You can ask students to share their first and last day school pictures, run a photo/video contest, or vote on which image they like best. The content that grows from these efforts increases brand visibility and also creates a lot of new, engaging content at no cost. Double win!

Feature Your Alumni

Many graduates feel connected to their alma maters long after they graduate. They look back on these four years as a time when they became independent, made new friends, bonded with professors, found their passion and more. This connection is powerful because your alumni are more likely to donate and be involved in your school.

Instagram offers a ton of new ways to showcase your alumni and let them know they are just as significant to you as you are to them! Feature posts from graduates talking about their experiences at your school. Use Instagram to promote alumni-student mentoring services or community-wide events. Alumni bring fresh, new content to keep your Instagram page going strong, so don’t leave them out of the mix.

Offer a Glimpse into Your World

One of the neatest aspects of attending college is that it’s a world within a world. Students can do just about everything on campus, allowing them to build a life within your boundaries. This is why it’s so important to not just share the academic side of your institution but also its everyday life.

With so many brilliant filters and photo editing options, use Instagram to feature glimpses of your college campus and what prospective students can expect. Everything from dorms, to vending machines, to common areas can be featured. Don’t forget to get images in there with actual students enjoying their time at your school. Prospects like to see how they might fit in at a particular university.

Measure the Effectiveness of Your Campaigns

Instagram is growing, and so is the competition. You must pay attention to your higher education Instagram marketing strategy and how it’s performing. Instagram Insights is similar to Facebook Insights and shows you everything from views on a particular post to demographic information about your users.

By monitoring the success of your campaigns, you can identify areas that need your attention and fix them right away. You may notice that your content performs better at certain times or among certain demographics. At the very least, make sure you are putting high quality, engaging visuals forward that relate to your audience.

There’s no question that Instagram should be a part of your social media marketing strategy. To get the most from this platform, call SEMGeeks and speak with one of our higher education marketing specialists.

About the Author: Pete Schauer

Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Pete Schauer is the Marketing Director at SEMGeeks. He holds a M.A. in Digital Communications from William Paterson University and has 8+ years in the digital space with companies such as Bleacher Report and Social Media Today in addition to SEMGeeks. His background includes creative and professional writing as well as strategic digital marketing communications and management.

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