We now know that Instagram can be used as a powerful tool for brands to increase user awareness and exposure. With over 40 million users, Instagram is the ideal platform for sharing brand updates through the establishment of a loyal network of followers. We’ve mentioned that brands such as Brisk and Starbucks are making use of this power. They are competing in the space with others such as Burberry, Red Bull, and Playboy. Many of these brands symbolize high-end fashion and/or well-established retailers. Their purpose for creating a presence on Instagram is to engage their audiences and interact with their communities, in the hopes to ultimately lead to increased brand use and purchases. But we can look at this concept in a light that is free of supermodels and beverages consumed for popularity.
In the same way that brands aim to increase exposure, universities strive to achieve the same effects. For example, whether attempting to move up in the national rankings or increase the fan base of their top-ranked football team, universities should be utilizing Instagram as brands do. There are a few different strategies for achieving success through this application. First, Instagram is all about photos, so universities should be using the app to post photos of its campus, its students, and its achievements. Instagram offers the best photographing capabilities as you can easily create a beautiful photo and share it across social networks – no need to access each network individually. Through the use of Instagram’s filters, universities can make their oldest classroom look like a place that would evoke creativity and imagination. By creating a photo stream on Instagram, university fans can become followers and flock to a place of interest – students, prospective students, instructors, parents, alumni, fans, etc. And, because not a lot of universities are making use of this power, it enables the smart ones to stay connected in a world that is constantly being altered through technology.
Let’s take a look at some universities currently utilizing Instagram:
1. Stanford University: The official Instagram of Stanford is run by digital media interns – no wonder they are ahead of the game. Currently with close to 2,000 followers, Stanford’s Instagram seems shameful when compared to Burberry’s over 300,000 followers, but it ranks high in the university realm. Their photostream consists mainly of shots taken around campus of buildings and trees, some documentation of campus events, and a sporting event captured here and there. Taking a look at users’ comments, it is clear many followers are devout Stanford students and alumni, with a few Stanford hopefuls thrown into the mix.
2. Ranking second in number of followers is Marquette University, located in Wisconsin. With only 35 photos uploaded so far, their feed includes more photos of the university logo and of students wearing MU gear. They often send their Instagram photos to Facebook and recently began an RSS feed to get users to tag #marquette or #wearemarquette on their uploaded photos. So far, the number of tagged photos is 870 and 74 respectively. Most of them picture individuals in Marquette t-shirts and sweatshirts.
Taking a look at these users, it is clear that colleges and universities have not taken advantage of Instagram’s full potential. Our very own UCR is lacking a presence altogether, while some schools such as UCLA focus solely on the athletics of their university. And of course, as with all things, there are those accounts such as Swag University and Puppy University that fail to uphold the standards of the university at all.