Believe it or not, there’s strategy to Instagram.
Amy Swingle, the director of campus recreation at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), has learned a lot on how to drive student engagement through Instagram. FGCU’s account facts include:
Below, she shares the direction of the FGCU Instagram, techniques they’ve used successfully to grow it, who is in charge of posting and how to get the most out of your account:
Amy Swingle: I’ve been here since 2010. We were active on Facebook, then we got on Twitter, and then Instagram came along and students here at FGCU really gravitated a few years ago to Instagram. The direction was we needed to start engaging with the students through our social media, not just using it as a one direction by pushing things out to our students. We needed to ask and get feedback, however we could do that, and engage them in the conversation with what we’re posting.
AS: One thing we did was a takeover campaign. We had a student employee take over the account for a week. We gave them some guidelines and told them to post their day in the life of a campus rec employee from going into meetings, working out at waterfront and officiating intramural games. That was a huge hit. They were tagging their friends and their friends were giving shout-outs back and asking questions.
We started this program called Pop-Up Rec. It’s a one time, no registration required, show up and play activity. The only way we advertise is through Instagram and social media. The first time we did it, we did a sunset yoga program and we had over 80 people show up. It gave us confidence – this is how students want to get their information.
Students are also responding to the Instagram stories. They love the stories because they get to see them and then they move on. Fitness has had really good luck with funny quick polls, yes or no questions and just being fun with it. We’re trying to connect to the students at their level. We want them to feel like campus rec is their friend, not some department.
AS: It’s typically been a couple students, but right now, it’s mostly professional staff who have access. We post organically. We will be talking in a staff meeting and someone will say, “Hey, can I get a post up?” And then we’ll decide who does it.
AS: Listen to your students. That means your employees, interns and your young staff. See what works and what drives them and take those risks. Don’t slack on your usage, and if you put a dog on your Instagram, it’s amazing.