Should Instagram Be a Tactic in Your Digital Strategy?

Carnegie Higher Ed Jan 13, 2016 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Have you looked into whether it’d be a good idea for your college or university to advertise on Instagram? If executed correctly, Instagram can be an incredibly effective advertising platform when it comes to generating user engagement and developing brand awareness. The social media channel is growing very quickly since opening its advertising API to the public on August 4, 2015, a major move for the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app that immediately transformed it into a major mobile advertising business to rival both Google and Twitter. Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted Instagram’s ad revenues could reach near $1 billion in 2017, rising to as much as $3.86 billion by 2020.

Integrating Instagram into your strategic marketing approach may be just what your school needs to strengthen its brand reputation, reach a wider and more diverse audience, and produce measurable growth in student enrollment.

Who is on Instagram?

According to a Pew research study, 28% of all U.S. Internet users are on Instagram, totaling approximately 400 million active monthly users globally. These numbers are up almost 20% from 2013. When it comes to gender, 24% are male while 31% are female. People below age 30 are the fastest growing group on the platform, making up 55% of the user base, while 28% of users fall into the 30–50 age range.

Who should advertise on Instagram?

Any college or university interested in reaching a targeted audience across the world to build brand awareness, promote major on-campus events, increase enrollment, or highlight the school’s culture should consider developing a marketing campaign on Instagram. The visually engaging social channel is also one of the most effective ways to reach potential students who normally would not have the opportunity to visit your campus, giving them a “behind the scenes” look at the life of an average student.

How can you target users?

Using Instagram behavioral data, as well as Facebook demographics, you can target your campaign to a very specific audience. Reach potential students using factors such as geography (from country down to zip code), age, gender, profession, accounts that users follow or frequently engage with, and relevant hashtags. This tactical approach provides higher education institutions with the right targeting criteria necessary to tailor content that reaches users based on their specific interests. By using this data to find your unique and potential students on Instagram, you’ll be far more likely to generate conversions and engagement because of relevancy.

What kinds of formats are available for ads?

Regardless of the goal of your campaign, there’s likely an ad format suitable for your content and the audience you’re trying to reach.

  • Sponsored ads are available for photos you want to drive user engagement on and increase the comments and likes the photo receives.
  • Direct-response ads appear as clickable posts in a user’s feed as they scroll, taking the student directly to the landing page you want to generate traffic to. Choose from compelling calls to action like “Visit Us,” “Learn More,” “Apply Now,” or “Attend Today.” These posts won’t show up on your school’s Instagram page and will only appear in Instagram feeds for those you’re targeting.
  • Ads are available in carousel formats where you can choose up to four photos to include, allowing you some flexibility as you optimize your campaign.
  • Video advertising is also available; 30-second clips can be used the same way as a regular photo.

What should I do now?

With Instagram ads now more widely available and easily implemented, colleges and universities have more opportunity to connect with potential students. If you’re considering Instagram advertising or want to find out more to see if it’s a fit for your school, contact Carnegie Communications today and learn more about how Instagram can become an important part of your advertising strategy.

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