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  • Writer's pictureDennis McKesey

What you need to know about adding Instagram to your school's social media strategy.

Parent groups usually follow their child’s school Facebook page (see our blog on Why your school needs a Facebook page), allowing them the opportunity to stay updated on school events and be a part of their children’s classroom experiences (assuming, of course, the school page is being managed effectively).

However, your tech-savvy students aren’t spending as much time on Facebook. A growing number of students are turning to Instagram for their social platform of choice. What’s more, younger parents are more likely to have both, and the number of existing Facebook users who are adding Instagram to their daily social media use is growing. So, for schools, this makes Instagram a great social media platform to add to your online communication toolbox.

What Is It?

Instagram is all about photo sharing. It’s a mobile-based platform, meaning you post photos straight from an app on your phone or tablet, not a desktop computer. It’s your go-to photo-sharing platform when you’re on the go! Instagram easily partners with Facebook, and schools using both can expand their audience by reaching parents and students alike since each platform tends to attract a different age group. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. With Instagram, you can do more than just tell followers how great your school is—you can show them.

Is It Safe?

Keeping your students safe online is a top priority. Like all social platforms, Instagram can be misused. It’s up to school personnel to ensure your Instagram account is set up properly, safeguarding your students’ privacy online. There are a few things to consider when setting up your school’s Instagram profile:

Privacy Setting: Because Instagram business profiles (which is the type of account schools should be setting up) default to “public,” meaning anyone with an account can view the content. Because of this, Instagram should be considered just as public a platform as your website. If you wouldn’t post a particular photo or video on the school website for everyone to see, you shouldn’t post it on Instagram.

Make very sure that you have photo releases on file for every student. Parents need to know that you may feature their child on your school’s public social media pages, and they need to be okay with it. Even with those photo releases on file, remember not to post the last names of the students you portray there.

Stay in control of what photos post to your school Instagram account by selecting just one or two administrators to manage your posts. Page administrators should be the only ones who can log directly into the account. Other staff members can contribute photos by sending them to Dropbox or Google Drive (something I highly encourage) so the account managers can moderate which photos get published. 

Using Instagram Effectively

Because Instagram is a mobile-based platform, it’s ideal for use on the go. If you attend an event—like a basketball game, for instance—where you can take a few photos or short videos and upload them straight to your school’s Instagram right then and there. A fun caption, a few photos or a video and you’re good to go!

1. Engaging photos & video Instagram is all about the visual. The best advice I can give when it comes to choosing content is to not only know your audience but to place yourself in their shoes. If I’m a parent of a child in your kindergarten program, what do I want to see? The answer is pretty simple: I want to see how my child is learning and growing in your care. Give your audience a taste of what’s going on inside the classroom, how your teachers interact with the kids, and how the administration supports the staff and students. Most of all, reassure them that they’ve made a good choice in trusting you with their child’s education.

2. Compelling captions Creating photos and videos can be enhanced with compelling captions. Crafting an effective line of text to go with your images can be the difference between likes/comments and, well, no likes or comments. Since Instagram’s algorithm favors posts with more engagement, your captions play a key role in pushing your posts up higher in your follower’s feeds.

3. Follow and tag Chances are very good that the businesses and organizations in your community are already on Instagram. Spend a little time searching for them there so you can follow their pages. This will often result in their following you in return, and it’s an excellent way to circulate your school’s brand around your area. When you have the opportunity, tag these pages in your captions simply by placing the “@” sign before their page’s name . Tagging fellow Instagram users is a nice way to give them a shout-out when they get involved with your school.

There is no doubt that Instagram is a great way to connect with your students and parents alike and will likely continue to grow and evolve over the coming years. Now is the perfect time to make sure your school has a solid Instagram presence.

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