Instagram is a social networking app created for people to share photographs and videos. Although you can view Instagram accounts on a desktop computer, in order to create an account and post you need to use the app either on a smartphone or on a tablet device.

Unlike other social networking sites, the main focus of Instagram is sharing visual content either a photograph or a video (maximum length 60 seconds). Instagram tends to attract a younger user demographic, with 58% of U.S users aged 18 – 29 years old (, 2015).

As well as uploading images and video content, users can utilise hashtags in the same way they can on Twitter in their posts updates.

Instagram - Information for students

As Instagram is a visual platform it is an interesting source for connecting with brands and businesses. Depending on the course you study you may find inspiration on Instagram. You may also wish to consider the Instagram accounts the university has which you can connect with.

If you have an Instagram account it is important to consider what you are posting. Remember anything that you post may be seen by someone, even if it is many years later. As a general rule only post what you would be happy for anyone to see online. You may find that when you apply for a job your employer may check your social networking sites and you wouldn’t want anything to be visible which could negatively impact on your chances of a job or further study.

Instagram - Information for staff

As Instagram is a visual platform you need to consider how you will use it. Not all courses or departments will necessarily benefit from using this platform as users interact with it differently than they would to Facebook or Twitter.

People will interact and like your posts based on their visual merit and your usage of hashtags. By using hashtags you help your content to be seen by a wider audience than just your immediate followers. This does not mean you should include multiple hashtags in every post, make sure they are relevant. It is also important to note that you are unable to include hyperlinks in any posts you write. There is however the opportunity to feature a web link in your profile and this can be changed as often as you wish. See hints and tips for more information.

You may want to consider whether or not you have access to good quality images which you can post, or do you have someone in house who could contribute to your account? What type of images or videos will you post? If in doubt whether or not you think you could effectively use this platform, please seek guidance from the central marketing team:

Instagram - Hints and tips for posting

  • People primarily interact with your content based on the quality and interest of your image or video, colourful photographs do particularly well. Make sure you are always thinking of ways to keep your posts interesting. 
  • Utilise hashtags. In a similar way to Twitter, users can add hashtags into their posts to help their content reach a wider audience and even attract new followers. This can be useful to join an existing conversation. There is lots of information on the most popular hashtags to use on Instagram online. Do some research and consider how you can work these into your content. Don’t over use hashtags, no one is going to look favourably on your posts if they contain lots of hashtags or if the hashtags you use are not relevant to your post.
  • How to use a web link – unlike other social networking sites you are not able to hyperlink any text in your posts. This means if you do post a web link no one will be able to click on it, which isn’t much use. In your profile you can set up a web link and this is the only way you can direct people from your Instagram account to a website. This can be changed as many times as you like, so for example if you are wanting to showcase an event you can change the link in your profile and then sign post people to that link from your posts. For example, “Come along to our latest exhibition, click on the link in our bio for more info!
  • When you decide to post can greatly impact how many people see your post. Check online when the best time to post on Instagram is, as it can vary from day to day. Experiment with your posting times and make a note of when seems to work best for your audience.
  • How often should you post? Make sure you post regularly to keep your audience engaged. This doesn’t necessarily need to be every day. Planning your posts in advance can help you greatly manage your time but ensure that you are still dedicating enough time to your account. You may want to consider keeping a document and planning the type of content you want to post so that you don’t struggle with ideas. 
  • Respond to comments. If someone has left a comment about your image or video respond to them. It is always a good idea to make the effort to interact with other users. 
  • Monitor Instagram trends and keep up-to-date with what is working well on Instagram. You could even follow other businesses for inspiration. 
  • For more information and tips have a look at Instagram's website.

Instagram - Glossary of terms

  • Hashtag - A word is made a hashtag by adding a # at the beginning of the word. E.g. #rgu
  • Re-gram/Re-post – This is when a user posts a photograph from someone else’s account. There are multiple ways to do this, however there are a set of guidelines on how to do this properly. This includes asking permission and crediting the person. Find out more on Hootsuite.
  • Filter – Instagram has multiple filters which users can use to enhance or change the look and feel of their images.
  • Geo-tag – When you post you can choose to add a geo-locator. This means that your post will be attached to a specific place, e.g. RGU campus. Other people can find images by searching on geo-locators.
  • Instagram direct – This is the function which allows users to interact privately by sending photographs or messages between another user on Instagram.

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