Great Lakes

Are You Using Instagram to Connect with Students? Why You Should

April 28, 2017
A graph showing popularity of social media platforms

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Increasingly, college financial aid offices are turning to Instagram—an app that allows users to take photos, add filters, and share them with their social networks—to connect with their students. An excellent complement to your other social media efforts, Instagram offers some unique benefits to help you connect with students, and even find out their pain points.

Instagram's user base has grown exponentially—and particularly among younger users. Pew Research Center's 2016 data shows 59 percent of online adults ages 18-29 use Instagram—nearly double the share of 30- to 49-year-olds (33 percent) using the app.



An adult man sitting on a bus looking at his phone

Why is Instagram Popular with Students?

Instagram is a tool that allows people to edit their pictures before instantly sharing them on their preferred social media networks. This was initially a hook for younger users such as college students who are drawn to the more visual, and less text-heavy, social network. Since Instagram was acquired by Facebook, they've worked hard to ensure the two platforms are intuitive and complement one another. Instagram's innovation—evolving to successfully clone popular features used on other social media networks like Snapchat—adds up to ease of use and efficiency valued by busy students.

How Does Instagram Work?

If you've mastered Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is an easy transition. You can upload photos and easily edit them, and you can build a community around your photos by using hashtags. You can also mention people by using @username in a comment. You can connect Instagram with your other social media accounts so that you can easily push out your edited Instagram images to Facebook and Twitter. And, if you want to stir up memories among your audience, Instagram's filters allow you to easily alter and enhance an image to mimic the appearance of a photo from an earlier era, making this channel powerful. The app is compatible with 360 degree photos, and allows for telling stories—and going live—via Instagram Stories.

How Can You Use Instagram Effectively on Campus?

Once you've done your research, you'll likely find that getting your campus on Instagram can provide numerous benefits. For recruiting, Instagram is a great way to use images to show, rather than tell, the story of your campus, your culture, and your diverse student population. If you've done your research, getting on Instagram can help your campus in numerous ways.

  1. Share unique real-time visuals of your campus.

  2. Curate student-generated content.

  3. Strengthen your branding.

  4. Enhance your presence.

  5. Connect with alumni.

But for financial aid offices, there are many ways to use Instagram to reach a broad audience and enhance what you're already doing in other social media channels.

  • Use it to feed other social networks. Adding Instagram along with your other social media efforts ensures that your message will reach students on the platform with which they choose to interact.

  • Boost interest and engagement in major events. Instagram's visual and immediate format is a great way to show how useful or fun your events and activities are to participants, further driving attendance.

  • Identify students' pain points. By searching hashtags, you can find out what students on your campus are talking about, identifying hot topics and pain points for them. This helps you be proactive about meeting their needs by providing useful information and addressing concerns.

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