If the previous generation was about data, today is all about its presentation and communication. Good marketing strategies are no more an accessory; they sell more than the product itself.
And to top it all, marketing can be done with virtually no costs, or with remarkably low expenses than the results. Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram work as great platforms to market one’s product and service, with a great success rate.
It is estimated that there are at least one billion.Instagram users in the world as of today, almost equal to the population of India.
Using Instagram as a marketing tool would be a great idea if one considers its pros and cons.
The idea of projecting college education to the target student population using social media is not a new phenomenon, as many educational institutions regularly communicate to the public via their social media pages.
In fact, rather than the standard advertisements, digital advertising would capture many eyeballs. Instagram stands to score here, as the present generation prefers visual cues to text.Starting a new educational institute or a new course in an existing institute requires the reach of the student population, who would any day prefer social media to the mainstream media.
Putting up a new Instagram story along with other media advertisements would attract a lot of attention, and would ensure the marketing goals are reached.
Create more followers – A page with more than a few thousand followers would grab more eyeballs than a page with a hundred. The key is to create a positive hype about the brand one is creating, and keep one’s followers eagerly waiting for the next announcement. With word of mouth, the marketing would reach many people.
Create interesting content – Posting relevant images regularly that are either thoughtful or funny would keep the followers engaged to one’s page. For example, if the marketing drive is about a course in management, putting up images of humorous management quotes and sayings would not only let out a few laughs but also keep the site traffic flowing.
Play smart – Instagram marketing must be done smartly, not vigorously. Subtle placements of the key concepts must be made, but not too much that one seems desperate. For example, to market a course in management in a particular college, the focus must be on the course and not on the college.
Stressing on what the course has to offer, and how it would be offered in that college would create a positive image in the students rather than focusing on what the college has to offer.
Manage target audience – To create a base for marketing college education, one must find followers in students who are in their final years of school. For this, the pitch must be in such a way that the people in that age group get attracted.
It can be done by referencing popular movies, sporting events, current affairs, etc. Once their attention is received, a serious pitch on the educational course can be provided.
Use influencers –
Instagram success is all about using the right person at the right time for the right purpose. Having an Instagram celebrity endorse one’s educational course can make the institution a huge hit amongst the followers of that celebrity.
However, much care must be taken while choosing the right person as an influence; that particular person must strike a chord with the target population, must be non-controversial, and must be relevant.
A fashion diva would be great endorsing a fashion technology course; a sportsperson would be the perfect choice for endorsing a sports management course, and so on.
Stay dynamic –
Conduct events that the target population can participate in, keep posting updates as Instagram stories. For example, picture quizzes, competitions, etc. can be both announced and conducted via social media platforms.
This would leave the audience checking the institution’s page for constant updates. This would create an automatic interest for the student to enroll in the courses offered by that institution.
Show a sneak peek – Once a while, show a sneak peek into the institution; post pictures of the infrastructure, the staff, the facilities, the amenities, etc. This would serve as reinforcement to students who already have or are developing an inclination towards the institute.
However, do not post inflated or false information, as this might backfire. Posting a picture of an existing modestly sized lecture hall as it is would help in the long run, than posting a graphically generated majestic hall, only for the students to find out the truth at a later time.
Connect with alumni – Nothing markets one’s product or service better than the testimony of its previous and present users. For an educational institute, what can be a better testimony than the success stories of its own alumni?
Posting Instagram stories of the past students’ experiences of the course and the institute would go a long way into gaining the trust of a new student. It would be a bonus if any alumnus is an Instagram celebrity – there would be more viewership and credibility.
Share pictures of events – Pictures of recruitment drives, laboratory proceedings, fieldwork, community and social drives, marketing pitches, outreach programs, lectures, group activities, sports events, etc. can be shared periodically, to keep the audience connected to the social media page of the institution.
The right pictures at the right time using the right hashtags would be a great boost to the marketing of the institution to future students. For example, on Earth Day, pictures of tree plantation and maintenance drives can be shared.
However, on the hindsight, one must actually do such activities in order to showcase them.
Create sponsored advertisements – Paying a small premium for a particular Instagram story to be boosted in order to gain widespread reach is a great tactic to ensure visibility among people beyond one’s followers and target audience.
The amount invested in this would be much lesser than investing in mainstream media with limited visibility.
Instagram marketing, however, has its own drawbacks. Instagram, however huge followers base it might have, is still not that widely followed as other social media sites. Marketing on Instagram would help only if tagged with the other platforms.
Also, most people are on Instagram to pass their time, and so using Instagram as a marketing pitch for a serious issue such as college education would not be preferred. However, the predominance of pictures and images in the pitch would attract attention.
Another disadvantage of Instagram is that there is not much room for content. Even if one uses self explanatory images, an extra content can boost the post. Here is where platforms such as Facebook and Twitter stand apart. Referral Web traffic, or attaching links to a particular website is not possible in Instagram.
Thus, the institution’s website cannot be linked, causing a major setback in having the target audience reach the site.
Nevertheless, the numerous advantages the site poses overshadow its disadvantages. An Instagram story makes the brand to be known better. Also, the fact that many do not use Instagram as a marketing tool can be used as an advantage for one’s business.
While a powerful competitor might ruin one’s chances, their absence can definitely be encashed upon. As the target population of educations institutions – people in their late teens – are growing rapidly, there can be a constant follower base assured.
The ease of access of Instagram from mobiles can be used as a major advantage, as the institution’s reach can be right in the pockets of one’s prospective clients.
Another major point to be noted is the trending factor hashtags. Hashtags make news spread faster than wildfire. They are used liberally by Instagram. Using the right hashtags at the right time would enable proper reach, which at times might go even viral.
Social media marketing is a double-edged sword. It can be enticing with its promise of widespread reach and very low costs, yet the huge storehouse of data it possesses can be a nightmare.
Every single post put out in the web will be documented, and would come back to haunt if any malpractice occurs. It is essential to safeguard one’s social media accounts so that the data is safe within trusted sources.
Instagram is a great choice for marketing, and once a niche is created, there is no turning back. After all, “a picture is worth a thousand words” was not said for nothing.