Last week at the annual Universities UK 'Making an Impact: Marketing and Communications in Higher Education' conference, TAP's Nik and Rebecca conducted a Breakout Session about Instagram, and provided ways universities could recruit potential applicants by utilising the platform. There were so many great questions after the talk, we didn't get time to answer them all. Enter this handy blog post, where our Social Media and Content Officer, Rebecca, answers those unanswered Qs.
Our hashtags never get used. What are your top tips to get students and academics to engage with your hashtag to gather UGC?
I'd recommend keeping your university's hashtag as consistent as possible and using it across every platform; from online channels, to print. If students see the same hashtag being used on Instagram, Twitter and print publications across campus, they're more likely to use it because it's more prominent. Try and keep to as few hashtags as possible too. The more hashtags you have associated with your institution, the less likely it will get used because there are too many options and people may get confused which tag they are supposed to be using. Like we mentioned in our talk, #MyChesterStory is successful because it is applicable to everything that happens at University of Chester. Whether it's Freshers' Week or Graduation, students are using it on multiple posts on multiple occasions because there was only one to remember.
Rebecca, did you follow more than one Instagram feed whilst at Sussex? or just the main one?
In short: no I didn't. I followed the official University of Sussex Instagram account like most of my fellow students, but I honestly couldn't tell you another Instagram account that is run by Sussex. I followed the Students' Union and society accounts, but they're associated with the SU rather than the University.
What is IGTV and how can it be utilised?
IGTV is Instagram's answer to long-form video content. It was launched in June 2018 and saw a lot of HE institutions scrambling to optimise it as quickly as possible. Personally, I never create content with it, or watch it for that matter. The only time you'll find me on it, is when I accidentally click on the IGTV icon when I wanted to open my Insta DMs. Saying that, if done well, I think there is a lot of opportunity for universities to create engaging content with the feature. Regular, well-created episodes definitely have a space on the platform, but they need to be fresh and different from content that's posted on other platforms.
What would your advice be when setting up a new Instagram account and how do you grow followers?
I'm going to echo something Robert Perry, Head of Research and Pickle Jar Communications said at #UUKComms last week: "It's not about followers, it's about how you get involved in the conversation." Start by really cementing the brand of the new account you're creating, and consistently share eye-catching content that you think your target audience will appreciate, and the followers will come if they like what you're posting. Like I said in our Breakout Session, it's super important to not stop the conversation at 'publish'. Engage with the people who take the time to interact with your content by replying to comments and DMs, and the algorithm will play in your favour.
Can we take our Instagram comments and forward them to student ambassadors without giving them access to our account?
Technically, yes: if you screenshot/copy and paste the comments and send them to your student ambassadors. They can then send you their replies, which you can then share to the platform, with their signature. However, I honestly would just trust the ambassadors with access to the account. Something I didn't mention in our session is that the 'Digital Gurus' at Sussex were granted access to all the official accounts and to be honest, we could have caused havoc with it. But we didn't. It all comes down to trusting the students you're working with. If they love the university, their team and their job as much as I did, then they would never contemplate posting anything inappropriate. It would save you SO much time and effort if you hand over the password for them to respond directly to comments. You can pre-agree terms with the ambassadors on the type of comments they can reply to and things to steer clear of, but it will be a lot more honest (and hassle-free) to give up the password.
We hope that's answered your questions and thanks again if you came to our session! If you have any more questions, let us know on Twitter.