Students and parents increasingly live on Instagram.  If your school doesn’t optimize its Instagram presence and embrace every aspect of the platform, you will miss a key marketing opportunity to engage your prospects.

Understanding Instagram’s Essential Elements

Instagram posts are made up of either still images or video that show up in your followers’ feeds.

Video, which can be from 3 to 60 seconds long, remains permanently on your page and doesn’t disappear as with Instagram Stories. When creating video for Instagram, keep in mind:

  • Saturation is king. To use the platform effectively, you need to use all the tools that it has. Check out these tips.
  • Know your platforms. Think about the longer, documentary-style video you watch on YouTube. You go there to learn something, get a review, watch an interview, etc. Not so on Instagram. Instagram Video is NOT the place for your head of school to give an interview on what makes your school distinctive. Use YouTube for that.
  • Know your audience. You want your students to show other prospective students how much fun your school is. Episodic video is perfect for Instagram Video. This is behind-the-scenes content, which gives your prospects the experience of greater access to your school in an authentic and intimate way. Follow a few students and let the viewer become “hooked” for the next video, say, an athlete through the season or the Robotics team from their first build through competition.

Instagram Stories are fleeting photos or video content that “live” on Instagram for 24 hours then disappear. This feature is the hottest thing on Instagram and twice as popular as Snapchat, especially among teens. By varying your Instagram Stories, you can communicate the exciting things that happen at your school. The message to your followers? They will miss out if they don’t view your Stories. These don’t need to be polished, but they need to be frequent, engaging and can even be episodic.

Push Notifications is a featured element on Instagram’s mobile app. Once users activate this feature, they’ll receive updates each time you publish new content. A recent study indicates that viewers who use push notifications engage three times more than those who opt out. Want your Instagram viewers to turn on their push notifications? Just ask them to in a post.

Instagram Filters are a creative way to make your images even more appealing. There are 40 filters available to use. But be careful not to overdo it. Use the gear icon to select and save only those filters that are consistent with your school’s identity.

Geotagging your Instagram photos, videos or Stories makes your school more discoverable. It’s a valuable way to let Instagram viewers know where your school photos or videos were taken. Like hashtags, geotags can aggregate and organize your Instagram posts to help people easily find your content.

Pro Tips for Telling Your School’s Story on Instagram Video

In such a short format, it can be tricky, but not impossible, to still have a compelling narrative. We asked a few pros and a few students for their advice on using video for Instagram.

Clark Stefanic, Videographer, LensCAAP Video Production:

  • Show don’t tell. You need to hook someone right away with interesting visuals. Have good B-roll to show that people are having a good time.
  • Set goals before you start creating an Instagram video. Sketch out or outline your story to meet your goal, and then work backwards from the message you want to give a viewer.
  • Use point of view shots and show the student experience (kids meeting teachers, playing a sport, building robots, etc.). Think about how your phone moves through the experience.
  • Never stop workshopping your story. No matter how finished you think your story is, there’s always another eye that can suggest an edit, and there’s always a shorter version to craft.

Robin Taylor, TV Producer, Founded and Principal,

  • Make that first shot count. If your first shot doesn’t get people to stop, no one will hang around long enough to see the second shot.
  • Make your first shot a face whenever possible. Human beings are hard-wired to think that faces are the most compelling thing, particularly eyes.
  • On Instagram, video and image are key. If you are going to add audio make sure the main message is conveyed visually because so many people don’t turn on the sound. Investing time in clever music cues or interesting voice-overs is a waste of time.
  • Kids are really savvy. Your target audience doesn’t view video as their ‘friend,’ but produced by  influencers and advertisers. Make your school’s videos mirror what kids are posting. Follow the kids in your school and see what they are doing. Those videos are probably much less produced.

6 Technical Pointers

  1. Flexibility is key: You can upload video to Instagram directly from your phone or transfer files onto your phone from another source.
  2. Think like a Hollywood director and use good lighting, especially when you have someone speaking directly into the camera. Avoid shooting under overhead lights if you can. Find a natural light source and place your subject near it. Always keep the light in front of you (the camera person) and shining towards you.
  3. Use your smartphone camera of a DSLR. You will have more shooting capabilities than if you use the camera function on Instagram. If using your smartphone’s camera, shoot in portrait or landscape mode.
  4. Pros use a tripod for a reason. Avoid the shaky-cam look and stabilize your camera.
  5. Variety counts: Looped and time-lapsed videos can be great fun. Think about what events lend themselves to this feature.
  6. Try Hyperlapse videos to squeeze longer video into Instagram’s one-minute max. You will need to download the free Instagram Hyperlapse app, found on both Apple and Google Play stores, to condense your longer video.

Need help mastering your message on Instagram? We can help. Give Kalix Marketing a call.

7 Tips That Will Help Your School Master Instagram