What Is Your University’s Instagram Strategy To Gain Followers?
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Instagram has grown by leaps and bounds since its launch in 2010 and its subsequent acquisition by Facebook in 2012. As per the information available on Wikipedia, just after its launch in 2010, Instagram instantly became popular. Wikipedia informs that the service acquired one million registered users in two months following its release in October 2010, 10 million in a year, and ultimately 600 million in December 2016. It was acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock. As of April 2017, the Instagram Stories functionality has over 200 million active users, surpassing the user growth of Snapchat, and Instagram Direct has 375 million active users. With respect to the demographic dividend, about 40% of its users are young people and 24% say that they use the app several times a day.
Instagram is a social networking application that allows its registered users to upload photos or videos to the service. Users can geotag their photos so that the people can spot the location where it was clicked and can also apply various digital filters to their images. To ensure wide outreach of their posts by connecting more audience they can add hashtags, link photos to other content on Instagram featuring the same subject or overall topic or can even connect their Instagram account to other social media profiles, enabling them to share photos to those profiles as well.
Although, there is no quick solution for gaining followers on Instagram, however, there are strategic ways of reaching out to your right target audience to get more followers.
A few such steps have been listed below:
Why do I need followers?
This should be a question that has to be answered first before launching your Instagram campaign. Understand one thing that Social media is like an ocean. The more you explore the more chances are of getting confused. So, moving ahead pointlessly without a clear strategy, will only increase likelihood of failure. This can further affect return on investment, time and effort spent. Ask yourself, what is the overall objective I want to achieve for the University through Instagram followers? What is the objective of my marketing campaign for acquiring more followers? Should it be to increase the funnel size for driving admissions or institutional branding or increasing website traffic etc.? And then define campaign goals, set monthly targets and align logistics to set key deliverables in action. Putting the right strategy in place will help your College identify achievable campaign objectives for driving new followers.
Promote your Instagram account
In the age of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), it is important that the digital assets you create are discoverable. In the initial stages getting immediate followers could be challenging. As a result, you can choose to increase visibility of your Instagram account by promoting it on other official social media properties such as facebook, twitter, linkedin, youtube etc either organically or through paid advertizing. Internal audience (students, faculty, staff members) can be asked to follow the Instagram account. You can direct your facebook, twitter etc. audience to the Instagram account by asking them to follow a particular story on it. A lot of companies such as Sony Mobile are using this strategy to drive traction on their Instagram profile.
Content is King: Design compelling story telling techniques to gain followers
Identify your target audience first. Classify them as internal (current students, faculty and staff members) and external stakeholders (parents, recruiters, policy makers or any other important touch point). This will help you to define your content strategy and roll the plan accordingly. Create good content to engage your target audience. Define timelines for proper scheduling of content and its further execution. Develop content that generates users curiosity and drives them to a landing page for capturing lead or to your most important touch point i.e. website. Write compelling stories around your University brand to create emotional connect. Use pictures/photos to leverage experiential marketing techniques for enhanced engagement with the end user. Run Instagram contests to engage audience and gain visibility for attracting followers. Use contest hashtagas for promotion. You may wish to run photo campaigns to highlight various USPs of the University.
Identify strategic time for posting content
With prior experience, use customer analysis to identify the right time to post contents. Usually, it has been observed that aspiring students are hooked on to social media more frequently between 12pm to 3pm and after 8pm till midnight. Similarly, you will have to tweak the timings if the content is targeted to the external audience other than students depending on their best time to see the posts. This can also be analyzed by tracking performance of your photo posts on Instagram at different time intervals during the day, month or season.
What gets measured gets done
For better results it is important to prepare performance matrix of the Instagram campaigns. Measure the campaign performance of key deliverables during periodic reviews. Organize regular review meetings to revisit campaign objectives. Re-engineer the content plan if it is not effective in engaging audience. On the basis of analytics, identify areas of improvement. For instance, you may like to change content theme if there is low spike in follower base or perhaps would want to focus more on contests that have been useful in driving engagement. In addition to this, analyzing what your competitors are doing on Instagram can help you to identify gaps and reinforce your success. It will also help you to identify your campaign’s strengths and weaknesses and will generate new ideas for improvement.
For education marketers, branding in the age of Digital/Social Media is not easy. In quick time they need to grab attention and create favorable perception towards their brand. It is also crucial since return on investment of this media can be tracked in real-time. Also, academic institutions have conservative advertising budgets. Keeping this into consideration, getting people to follow and like your Instagram posts could be challenging. However, it is not so difficult either if you have a proper strategy in place.