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July 20, 2013

Storytelling, Tradition, & Pride: How universities are strategically using Instagram

It appears Instagram is one of the dominant platforms we are seeing presently among brands, individuals, and even now universities. Nitrogram (a must follow resource both for metrics and trends on Instagram) recently published a blog post discussing the top universities that are currently on Instagram. This is a good resource to look at when you consider what are some of the cool ways universities are showcasing their

Instagram has raised its profile over the last couple of months not only for their strategic use for brands, but also establishing their new video feature, which has brought the competition directly back to Vine. Plus, you are now able to embed both Instagram photos and videos,which allows for cross-platform integration possibilities here as well to get more awareness and following of these profiles among other communities as well (ex. blogs, FB, etc).

So, how have universities strategically used Instagram for their brand in building a visual community with interesting content to share their stories? Based on what I have seen so far, here are some of the ways universities are using Instagram strategically:

  • Displaying Pride:  University of Michigan has done a very good job in highlighting pride and tradition with the various photos they have been showcasing. From taking pictures on campus with fellow students wearing Michigan gear to those who are proudly showcasing their gear around the world, you can see the pride resonate in these photos.
  • Tradition and History: Got to give props to one of my former universities, University of Florida, for their use to showcase their history through visuals to tell their story. It is interesting to see some of the historical pictures from decades ago from the university – this is one way to showcase the transition and evolution of the university over time – a strategy to use for universities to use to connect with potential students and alumni.
  • On & off campus lifestyle: USC has done this very well on Instagram – showing other views from on campus but also off campus as well from various perspectives. Plus, there are lots of pictures highlighting the mascot, Tommy Trojan, which is always very cool to see. This is a great recruiting tool for parents and students since it allows them to get a feeling of what it is like at the university from various angles.
  • Making announcements pertaining to news related to the university: Drake has done a very good job in doing this when it comes to covering events and other activities at the university. For example, they did highlight their iconic track and field meet (Drake University) on Instagram along with announcements related to graduation. USC has done this as well to announce new buildings being built and other related news pertaining to the university from a visual perspective.
  • Shout outs & congratulations: While at the University of Louisville, I have noticed how the university’s athletic program has done a good job with highlighting the accomplishments both off and on the field on Instagram. What UofL has done here is to give praise and congratulations to specific athletes who excel in their sport as well as on the field. In addition, highlighting photos sent from fans and others from all around the world displaying their pride for the university is also connected here as well.

In case you are interested or want to get on board with Instagram yourself, here are some good resources here you may want to check out and see what works for your own personal brand, your client or organization.

In summary, there are many opportunities for universities to use Instagram to engage and share updates and stories with their audiences visually. It allows users to experience various aspects of the community while being connected through their mobile device. These are just some of the various ways universities can use this platform strategically – it all depends on the community as well as how it currently fits in their overall strategic communication plan and mission as an academic institution.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,
Karen

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