Instagram launched almost six years ago, gracing all smartphones with photos of friends, family, celebrities, activists, artists and influencers, and turning its users into aspiring photographers with an outlet to share their creative material.
Instagram is the #1 photo social platform and has come a long way from its beginnings in 2010, now boasting over 400 million active users and over 30 billion photos shared. The app now allows users to tag locations, post videos and post content that expires within 24 hours.
This powerful social media has many benefits for the college classroom, both as an educational tool and a promotional tool.
Instagram gives followers an inside look
The newest feature, Instagram Stories, is a quick and simple way to share what is happening in the classroom, from a guest speaker to group presentations or a unique lecture. Instagram Stories allows users to post many photos and videos up to 10 seconds long. Similar to Snapchat stories, which you can read about here, Instagram Stories have a shelf life of only 24 hours and can be altered through the use of filters, doodles and text.
Instagram Stories allows users to quickly and efficiently generate content for their followers to view by having two sharing outlets. It also simultaneously categorizes your posts into two types: content you want permanently on your profile, and content that is only temporary.
Users can view and download Instagram story content online as well, thanks to a new Google Chrome extension, entitled Chrome IG Story.
Instagram creates interaction with students and other users
According to a study conducted at Baylor University, college students spend, on average, 8-10 hours a day on their smartphones. They spend more time in one day consuming media than they spend in a week in one class. Educators can take advantage of students’ screen time outside of class. By sharing a post or adding media to your story, you become part of your followers’ feed.
Hashtags are a great resource for fostering interaction. By tagging a post with a hashtag, you are archiving that photo and labeling it so others can find it. Essentially this is an organizational system that describes the photo you are posting. For example, in the School of Kinesiology, we often use the hashtags #UMN, #CEHD, #KINspired and #KINkudos. By using the tags #UMN and #CEHD, we are reaching the larger audience that is searching for photos of our University and college. By using #KINspired and #KINkudos, we are branding ourselves by using a more specific tag.
Instagram promotes participation in campus events
A picture is worth a thousand words, and when that picture is of a big plate of cookies, users are sure to take a second look! Instagram is a great event promoter, providing a quick view of what’s happening in the moment. From Research Day to a pop-up cookie break, users will be up on the latest in your class, program or college.
Instagram crosses social media accounts
Many social media platforms have the ability to cross over. For example, you can share your Instagram post on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr accounts. Users who don’t have Instagram accounts will still be able to see your posts through different social media platforms, expanding the number of social media users that are viewing and interacting with your content.
If you don’t already have an account, yank out yer phone and install Instagram now!