Friday, May 10, 2013


Part three of five in my Social Media Marketing Series. Enjoy.


Differing Universities and Institutions in Higher Ed have all enjoyed the recent "mobile app" breakthrough in the world of social media (and I'm not just talking about adding classes/degrees/majors in Designing Mobile Applications.) The one I'd like to highlight right now is the use of Instagram.

More photos are taken by mobile phones today than with any other designated camera. College students use mobile phones more now than just about any other demographic, which makes a Universities adaptation of Instagram a no-brainer.

But it's not just about college kids taking pictures with a hip filter and tagging their school on their profile, Colleges also are able to manage and maintain their own Instagram account, post photos, and interact with students showing interest or involvement with the school.

The risk involved here is that students (or anyone) displaying less-than desirable or inappropriate behavior have the ability to tag their image with the school's name, thereby associating their behavior with any organization they choose. There is no way of removing someone else's tag or comment, and so the person in charge of a school's social media account needs to be trained in PR, to understand how to appropriately deal with such an event.

With that being said, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to Universities having an Instagram account. It creates social engagement within the student population and alumni, which in turn leads to interest and involvement on campus. As an RA, I learned that the more involvement a student has with their school, outside of just their dormroom, the more likely they were to continue at that school, whereas the less involved student was at a higher risk of dropping-out or transferring. Retention is half the battle, in the world of successful Higher Education.

Success on Instagram can be measured in a few ways, depending on the industry, but typically more "followers" and more "likes" a school has is a pretty strong indication that the brand is doing something right. The number of followers an account holder has can be seen right from their home page, but the quantitative number of "likes" (or, "hearts") a company receives from each shared image can be a little harder to identify. That's where social media monitoring tools like can help. can feed you the information about progress your company's profile has made -- progress you wouldn't easily be able to compute on your own. This gives schools a "snapshot" of where they're at and allows them to better determine goals for future media involvement.

A "snapshot" example of my own progress, e-mailed to me from


  1. I think you make a very good point about the pitfalls of using this service. If it is not managed properly there may be information and or items that the school does not want to be associated with. There will undoubtedly be an instance where a kid will post something that the school doesn’t find appropriate and it will need to be addressed in order to manage the crisis from a school perspective. Other than that this is a good tool to use to stay engaged and to bring awareness to what kids are doing at a particular school.

    1. True, but the larger pitfall might be to not be part of the noise to even hear that someone is saying something. Sure an individual can post an image and tag a brand into that message but, if you're listening you can react if necessary. If you're not listening, it could go unanswered or worse yet believed to be true in instances when it isn't.

      In the end I think you and Jordan are on to something in that it's better to be part of the mix than to be letting others frame what people are seeing out there about a particular brand.

  2. Despite the cons of this service, I think this is a great idea. This is a great way to connect so many different groups from current students to alumni to potential students and more. It is even a great way to connect on campus students, commuters and online students. This is can foster school spirit and allow for networking that may not have otherwise taken place. I am hoping more schools will adopt this method of socializing and Instagram finds a way to remove tags for the not so appropriate pics.

    1. Removing tags could be considered censorship and in part a First Amendment rights issue. I'm not sure there will ever be a way to remove tags. However, what can sometimes happen is that if a brand reacts to the mention of their name they can either change the conversation to a more friendlier tone, treat it as a customer service act, address the issue head on, etc.

      The old sayin, A picture is worth a thousand words, still rings true and brands are wise to get into the use of Instagram if only to extend the brand and feed other social platforms.