Why Higher Education Presidents Should Be on Instagram
Last month, I updated my list of Higher Education Presidents to follow on Twitter. One of the major things I noticed while compiling that list was how powerful photo and video tweets were in telling a community’s story. College presidents are outpacing executives in their use of Facebook and Twitter, but aren’t showing the same usage rate on other platforms.That got me thinking: what about Instagram?
I’m not alone in asking that question. As it turns out, high school students are turning to Instagram to scope out what life is REALLY like on campus. According to a recent Time article, they’re checking out official accounts, hashtags, and geotags to “see the authentic side of the college, beyond the pretty, glossy brochures” and get a better grasp on the campus culture and communities.
Instagram has a userbase of more than 500 million active monthly users, and almost 60% of adults age 18-29 engage and interact on Instagram. The demographic makeup of Instagram makes it the perfect platform to connect with current and prospective students.
Many colleges and universities already have an official, school-wide account on Instagram. Hubspot has a great list of the best college Instagram accounts, and all of them have one thing in common: they use striking imagery to tell a story and make their campuses seem a little more human.
There’s a huge opportunity for Higher Ed Presidents to bring a personal touch to the platform. Santa J Ono (One of my 25 Presidents to Follow on Twitter!) noted that “it helps for a brand to have a human voice and a public face,” and I’m inclined to agree.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of Higher Education Leaders who are already using Instagram. It’s chock full of amazing inspiration for any leader, whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your Insta-game to the next level.
This post may look long, but I promise, it’s mostly pictures (hurray!) Think of it like a hyper-curated Instagram feed, just not one that updates in real-time!
And of course, if you’d like to connect with me in your instafeed find me @josieahlquist!
Higher Ed Presidents to Follow on Instagram
This list is in no particular order, and you’ll probably recognize a few of these folks from my list of Higher Ed Presidents to follow on Twitter. As with the previous post, there’s so much to learn from each and every one of these accounts. If you are reading this as a president on the list – thank you for your leadership!
Now that we have all of that out-of-the-way, here’s the list:
President of the University of Texas at Austin. 2,180 followers. 159 posts. Every picture and video prominently features burnt orange, a testament to Fenves’ involvement on-campus. His posts celebrate so many different departments and events, painting a picture of what life is like throughout ALL parts of the UT campus.
President of Morehouse College. 1,165 followers. 20 posts. It only takes a quick glance at Harold’s Instagram to know exactly which college he’s president of. Though most of the posts have some sort of Morehouse branding in the shot, the ones that don’t are still thoughtful reflections of the Morehouse community. Now let’s just President Martin posting more often.
President of Babson College. 830 followers, 228 posts. This Instagram is chock full of highly engaging posts, pretty much all centered around Babson College. Kerry may not use many hashtags, but they’re always highly relevant to her community.
President of Howard University. 1,882 followers. 65 posts. His captions may be short, but they manage to say so much. Every post has a clear purpose, and all of them promote what makes Howard University extraordinary.
President of Wellesley College. 1,852 followers. 38 posts. Paula’s Instagram is largely focused on her students rather than herself. She’s got a great balance of original content and reposts, and her posts are artfully composed.
President of the University of British Columbia. 8,846 followers. 3,319 posts. Take note: this is how you do consistent social media PLUS transition from campuses! Santa’s posts are a blend of pop culture and heart, showcasing everything that makes UBC great.
President of Dillard University. 5,086 followers, 1,354 posts. Walter’s Instagram shows what life is like for a college president, both on and off campus. His reposts are a great way of showing off all of the amazing things happening at Dillard University!
President of the University of New England. 725 followers. 166 posts. James has some of the best captions out there, blending clear communication with a hefty dose of heart. His video content also stands out… how many college presidents do you see posting about a shark tagged by an on-campus lab?
President of Paul Quinn College. 2,186 followers. 1,204 posts. If his Instagram is anything to go by, Michael Sorrell’s got a friendly personality and a sharp eye for the content that the Quinnite nation cares about. Every post celebrates a real connection that he’s made on campus, which is a testament to how connected he is to his community.
President of the University of Florida. 6,318 followers. 30 posts. This account is proof that you don’t need to have a ton of posts to show off a ton of personality. President Fuchs posts memes, campus scenes, and, yes, the occasional selfie. Bonus points for the audio quality on his Instagram videos!
President of the University of Toronto. 1,966 followers. 264 posts. Meric’s eye for photography shouldn’t go unnoticed. Whether he’s documenting his global adventures or featuring on-campus events, he always manages to frame his posts perfectly through the lens and through his captions.
President of CSU Channel Islands. 641 followers. 365 posts. One of the most notable things about Erika’s Insta is her vlog series, which showcases both her personality and attention to accessibility. Each video has subtitles, a major video best practice on every social media platform!
President of Arizona State University. 782 followers. 137 posts. Another president leveraging the power of video subtitles! Michael Crow’s posts are the epitome of polished; his professional-looking photography is often complemented with graphic design elements that help tell his campus’ story.
President of Virginia Union University. 454 followers. 12 posts. Hakim J. Lucas has mastered the art of social media cross-posting, adapting the content to suit the platform. Calls to action like “tell me in the comments” inspire action and inspire engagement, as evinced by all of the likes and comments on Dr. Lucas’ posts.
President of Eastern Kentucky University. 1,642 followers. 182 posts. Michael Benson may be better known for his Twitter (check out the snow day tweet that went viral!), but his Instagram is also definitely worth noting. It’s a great example of the power of personal posts. His posts about his family are an amazing show of authenticity that make his posts about campus seem even more “real.”
President of York University. 1,224 followers. 101 posts. Take note: this is how you do a “branded” content series on Instagram. Rhonda L. Lenton’s account features multiple graphics calling for submissions for awards across the York University campus, all tied together with a cohesive tagline.
President of Virginia Tech. 1,585 followers. 98 posts. Not sure how to balance personal posts with on-campus promotion? Tim Sands has it down to a science, sharing scenic views of all of his favorite places and gorgeous snapshots during his adventures.
President of Texas Woman’s University. 642 Followers. 184 posts. Carine Feyten includes #CampusWithaHeart in her Instagram bio, and it’s obvious that every post is meant to exemplify that message.
President of Washington State University. 497 followers. 175 posts. Instagram is one of the many platforms that the President and the First Lady of Washington State University (Noel Schulz) use to connect with the campus community. Kirk Schulz’s posts usually feature his wife, his campus, or a combination of both, and are always top notch. Honorable mention also goes to the First Lady’s Noel Schulz Instagram, which you can find here.
Now that you’ve seen the ways that other College and University Presidents are using Instagram, I hope you’re inspired to put those insights into action. Even if you aren’t a university or college president, we need campus leaders role modeling and engaging in digital platforms.
My goal as a digital leadership educator is to empower administrators, faculty and even students to take on that role. Learn more about my consulting and speaking programs (here) and reach out (here) to start the booking process.
In case you’re still not sure how to kickstart your social media efforts, I offer executive coaching opportunities that will give you the tools and confidence to harness social media in your leadership position or executive job search. For more information on what my coaching services can do for you, click here.
And finally, make sure to connect with me on Instagram for behind the scenes on my latest speaking engagement, writing retreat progress or even adventures with my friends/family.
If you’re ready to connect with your campus, you’ll love this BRAND NEW resource that I’ve created called Get Connected: The Social Media Guide for Campus Leaders.
This guide shares the latest usage of young adults of social media and how campus leaders can genuinely connect with their campus community.
[button link=”https://www.josieahlquist.com//getconnectedguide/”]Request your free copy[/button]