When Instagram launched eight years ago this month, it was mostly for personal expression. Today, brands and organizations have joined the 800 million active monthly users to share who they are in a creative, authentic way.
With more than half of Instagram users on the site daily, it’s the perfect place for your school, college or university to be to grow your brand and inspire your audiences. To do this strategically and engagingly, you need to do much more than just post a nice campus shot.
Here are seven tips for making Instagram work for you:
1. Think quality over quantity.
Publishing multiple images each day isn’t necessarily going to help you reach your audience, especially since Instagram’s algorithm is akin to Facebook’s. Publishing images once, or sometimes twice, a day that are relevant, pleasing to the eye and stand out from the crowd will more certainly attract engagement and meaningful interactions.
Make sure your images are sharp, well-lit, fit Instagram’s format and relate to your followers. If you don’t know how to use a tool like Photoshop, then make use of Instagram’s edit tools to enhance your images and make them pop.
2. Use video and stories.
People spend more time watching a video than looking at a photo. Use Instagram video to:
- Spotlight your school, college or university
- Tell a story
- Provide value
REMEMBER to Go Live. Live stories help boost your posts because they are a top priority for the algorithm.
3. Insert and vary hashtags.
Instagram posts with at least one hashtag receive 6% more engagement than posts without hashtags. Hashtags help your posts to get exposure beyond your followers. They attract audiences you might not otherwise be able to reach.
When someone searches #highschoolfootball, Instagram produces its latest posts that contain that keyword. Make sure to hashtag all keywords within your posts to ensure that your posts are more discoverable. Hashtag specific locations to reach a broader audience within the area.
Branded hashtags are a great way to curate and promote a specific event or program. Whether it’s homecoming, a theater production, or a retirement celebration for a beloved faculty member, a dedicated hashtag for all related photos will boost viewership and engagement. And, when you want to measure the success of your marketing for the event, you can tie it back to the related hashtag’s performance.
To reach a wider audience, Instagram offers new analytics for business accounts to make it easier to identify which hashtags work and which don’t. It’s important to get the most out of these numbers. And make sure you use hashtags on Instagram Stories, since people can follow hashtags.
Sprout Social makes the following suggestions on how to pull your Instagram posts together with hashtags:
- Make sure your hashtags are relevant.
- Use trending hashtags and tie them back to your school, college or university.
- You don’t need to use 30 hashtags in every post. Five to ten relevant hashtags will do the trick.
- Research the hashtags used by your competitors, influencers and even your students – yes, students make heavy use of Instagram and are your best ambassadors.
4. Write captions that will spark engagement.
Not only will people spend more time on your post, but it will boost your influence on Instagram’s algorithm. One of the best ways to get more likes on your Instagram photos is to use your photo’s caption to ask a question. This is a great way to drive photo likes and comments.
5. Take advantage of your Instagram bio.
Don’t neglect your Instagram bio! Use this space to feature a call to action, branded hashtags and web links. Or better still, use ShortStack to build an Instagram campaign that you can easily update without having to change the link in your bio every day.
For Instagram users who are new to your institution and come across your page for the first time, this section can be a make-it or break-it factor in influencing a viewer as to whether or not he/she should follow you.
6. Make use of Instagram apps.
Polish up those images before you publish them. Instagram has three apps to help you elevate and enrich your creativity. Make use of Layout, Boomerang and Hyperlapse. These easy-to-use apps can turn your photos into collages that will fit Instagram’s format, turn bursts of images into looped videos and condense lengthy video into fun, time-lapse presentations.
7. Use these free apps to set your Instagram account apart from your competitors.
- Canva – Create images that will pop on the page and get your follower’s attention. Use it for your Instagram feeds and stories. You can superimpose text, create multi-image layouts and much more.
- Photoshop Express – This powerful image of editing tools offers an editing experience with multiple controls. Though not quite as robust as Photoshop itself, Photoshop Express offers filters and various options that you just won’t find on any other app.
- Buffer – Offering both free and paid plans, Buffer lets you schedule your Instagram posts ahead of time and publish them on your institution’s Instagram business account.
- Display Purposes – Offers more control over the hashtags you select for your posts. This web-based tool lets you begin with a keyword or hashtag you want to include in your post and then recommends additional relevant hashtags you can use with your image.
- Autohash – One of the simplest ways to find hashtags, Autohash recognizes objects in your photos and suggests relevant hashtags based on those images. It also saves your favorite hashtags in the app.
- Websta – This free tool allows you to better manage your Instagram account and provides you with understandable analytics about the performance of your posts.
Need help managing and coordinating the myriad social platforms to boost your marketing efforts? Contact Kalix Marketing.
Gerri Baum, Kalix Marketing’s Digital and Social Lead, is recognized nationally for her expertise in social media and digital marketing.
Missed this valuable read? Check it out now!