Summer is well underway and for higher-ed marketers that means a new group of students will soon be flocking to campus for the start of fall semester. With 64% of 18-29 year olds using Instagram, there’s no denying showcasing university culture on Instagram will be crucial to making an impact with these students.

Instagram posts get 4.2 billion likes a day, the highest engagement of all social media platforms, but as student engagement on social media increases, so does the competition. So how can you stand out from the other higher education institutions vying for their attention?

Tell a Story

Why your university? What makes students choose you? Use Instagram to tell your story and showcase your university culture in a visual and strategic way. Post images to your feed, but don’t stop there. Utilize stories (and story highlights for content you don’t want to disappear) like our friends at Cornell Engineering. Create a branded hashtag to get students and prospects involved. And remember authenticity will go further than perfection, especially with Gen Z.


Give a glimpse into student life

What is being a student at your college or university really like? Chances are your current students (not your admissions counselors or marketing teams) are the ones with the best insight. Consider gathering a trusted group of students with diverse points of view and letting them host Instagram takeovers on your account– shameless shout-out to my own alma mater, Loyola University Maryland, for the way they do this on their study abroad account.

Not quite ready to turn over the keys to the social media kingdom? There are still ways to give prospects an inside look at what’s possible at your university. Showcase what’s going on on-campus by sharing coverage of events like orientation, lectures, activity fairs, sporting events, graduation and more. The more different types of events you can highlight the better

Show off your campus

Where do students spend their time? A big grassy quad straight out of a college movie? Science labs or lecture halls? Highlight different places on and off-campus that your students can be found. Whether it’s a video tour, an aerial shot of students studying or a close-up “where on campus are we?” quiz, highlighting the different places students will find themselves during their time there can be a great way to showcase your culture and campus life.



Talk up your people

As we wrote once before, some of the best influencers for your institution can be found right on the quad, so be sure to talk them up. After all, your people are a big part our your culture and the student experience. From highlighting research to congratulating a student club that just won an award, if you’re sharing a photo or video that mentions another user be sure to tag them. Not only will they see that they’ve been recognized but chances are they’ll return the favor and get more eyes on your content.


Take your offline community online

Get ready to start double-tapping because interacting with other users will be key to your success on Instagram. Liking comments and replying to users on your photos is just the beginning. Scroll through photos that use your hashtag (and other university hashtags) and interact with that content too. This user-generated, or should we say student-generated, content will be invaluable when it comes to showcasing your university culture on Instagram. Repost their photos to your feed or in your story. Your students will appreciate the recognition.


There’s a lot that goes into successfully building your university’s culture on Instagram. It won’t happen overnight but it can help you make an impact with students and prospects.