instagram screenshot

The image boom: universities on Instagram

The image boom of social media is here to stay.

Instagram is now more popular than Twitter, the Chinese photo app Camera 360 has surpassed 250 million users, and photos continue to get the largest engagement rate on Facebook (more so than videos).

It is therefore no surprise that Higher Education is starting to embrace Instagram. 41% of Instagram users are aged between 16 and 24, which coincides with the undergraduate target market, meaning the platform could be utilised for student recruitment.

Here are some quick tips for making the most of your University Instagram account.

1. Buildings are good…

Photographing campus landmarks is a great way to engage international students. They cannot visit your campus for an Open Day (not without a long flight) so snap pictures of where they will be studying.

2. …people are better

Most applicants do not want to see photos of buildings. Successful social media content is about empathy because users want to see themselves in the content. However, the most successful content is also about aspiration because users want to see an idealised version of themselves in the content.

Therefore, pictures of students on campus, living the life that our applicants hope to be living in the near future, are social media gold.

Third day of #uobchristmas: We’re top 3 for inter-University sport in the UK and have been so for the past 5 years.

A photo posted by University of Birmingham (@unibirmingham) on

3. Instagram takeover

Improve the authenticity of your photos by arranging for a student to takeover your Instagram account for a few days. This will give applicants a better insight into student life and allow them peer-to-peer engagement with a current student.

Ithaca College organise weekly student takeovers. The student who posted the example below was a member of the Guiding Eyes for the Blind society and took lots of photos of his guide dog.

4. Instameets

Got a beautiful campus? Organise an Instameet. You simply arrange a time to meet on campus and get the word out there to students, the local community and any other interested Instagram users.

Provide your group with a campus tour, show them points of interest and let them take lots of photos (all labelled with your hashtag of choice, of course). Images of your campus will surge across Instagram and you will see a spike in engagement with your account.

5. Measure your engagement

Social media ROI is hard to measure but using a free site such as Iconosquare can help track user engagement with your Instagram account. Put together a simple report and justify your activity with senior officers. 158 likes for a sheep? Not bad.

Simon Fairbanks

Simon Fairbanks

Simon Fairbanks is the Undergraduate Marketing Manager for the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham. He has been working in Higher Education since 2011. Simon is a self-published author and has written several books. You can read more about his writing projects at

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