Tamara Day
Written By:

In higher education, it’s imperative to remain relevant and connected to prospective students and the school community as a whole. However, the recent expansion of student demographics attending college has made maintaining connection an increasingly difficult task. In fact, higher education has experienced an increase of 38.6% in foreign student enrollment at US colleges. 

While students across the country and the globe can add diversity to your school and enrich your community, you often need a strong digital presence to meet your enrollment goals. This is often where social media comes in—more importantly, Instagram. 

If you’re hoping to leverage Instagram Stories in your social media marketing efforts, here’s an overview of what they are, strategies you can use in gaining positive results, and why this can be incredibly important to your enrollment goals.

What Is an Instagram Story?

Instagram stories are short clips and videos that are shared and stored on a user’s account for a 24-hour basis. Unlike stationary photos, Instagram stories are multiple videos and photos that appear together in a slideshow format. 

These visuals also tend to include other elements such as: 

  • Filters
  • Stickers
  • Text overlays
  • Interactive elements (e.g., surveys, polls, emoji sliders)
This type of Instagram content can be incredibly useful to enrollment marketers for a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest one is the accessibility your school community followers have to your posts. As a result, Stories can provide a highly engaging and immersive environment for sharing important moments, insights, and behind-the-scenes action with your school community.

7 Ways to Use Instagram Stories in Higher Education Marketing

While Instagram Stories might seem like a simple marketing initiative for your social media team, there’s a lot of strategy that goes into the decision-making around this type of content. Here are eight different ways to approach Instagram Stories to ensure they help you meet your unique enrollment goals.

1. Promote Your Campus

Instagram stories are a great resource for prospective students to get a sneak peek into everyday life on campus. There are many ways to promote your campus with Instagram Stories, including snapshots of student housing, virtual tours, and campus perks.

Student Housing

Providing photos and videos of dorm life can be useful content for both current and prospective students. These Stories might include dorm tours, student interviews, and day-in-the-life videos that follow students around campus.

Virtual Tours

Giving students and parents an inside look into your campus can go a long way. Therefore, posting Stories of tours gives prospective students the opportunity to explore your campus from the comfort of their home. This especially helps students who may live far away and cannot commit to an in-person visit. 

Campus Perks

By highlighting campus perks on your Stories, you can help prospective students get a better sense of what life is like on campus. Doing this allows you to show what your college has to offer and how your campus stands out from competitors in an engaging way.

2. Promote Events and Challenges

Promoting on-campus events is an essential element of any marketing strategy. When it comes to social media, doing so requires intriguing visuals and content that effectively engages with your audience. 

To start, you need to gain student acknowledgement with consistent, event-related content weeks prior to the date to create a conversation on campus. This can drive interest and ultimately help to increase attendance rates. 

If your campus event still needs help in boosting attendance, try encouraging students with Instagram contests for your event. When people participate in these challenges, they’re often promoting your brand without even realizing it. 

Some examples of challenges your institution should try include:

  • Take a picture of your favorite place on campus and share it with us
  • Create a video of where you spend the most time on campus
  • Share a photo with your favorite professor

The use of hashtags is another great tactic to get your Stories viewed by more people. These can consist of specific hashtags to better organize your content and make it easier for students to search for certain events. As a result, relevant hashtags can make your Stories more likely appear in search results of your students.

3. Present School and Student Achievements

This strategy can be used to entice prospective students who are more interested in achievements versus campus life. On your Instagram Story, try to post content related to school achievements and student awards. 

This can include content such as: 

  • Student interviews
  • Success stories
  • Press releases of school awards 

This type of content can inspire prospective students while giving them insight to what your school has to offer.

4. Utilize Instagram Highlights

Instagram Story Highlights are categorized stories that are saved to a user’s profile indefinitely—rather than the typical 24 hours. 

Highlights can be useful to your social media strategy for numerous reasons. For one, repurposing and saving your Stories keeps your prime content more accessible to students. In addition, Highlights are a great tool to use to categorize your topics—whether it be academics, student life, or campus events. Doing so allows your followers to easily find the content they’re searching for.

5. Run Polls

Running polls and challenges on your Instagram Story can benefit your institution in many ways. Polls and challenges allow your followers to engage with your content in a more interactive way. As a result, it can be an excellent way to bring more viewers to your account who might view more of your content, or even follow you. 

Polls are also a great way to collect feedback from your students throughout your Instagram campaign. You can get more input from students on your events, which can help you improve them to better meet their needs.

Some examples of polls you can incorporate in your Instagram Stories include: 

  • What class are you most interested in this semester?
  • What part of campus is the most fun?
  • What is your favorite thing about this institution

    6. Respond to Users

    Responding to comments and messages on your institution's Instagram is important for a number of reasons. When you take the time to respond to comments and concerns, it shows that you care about your students. Doing so creates a sense of community and trust with your audience, and even generates new leads. This is because people are more likely to contact your school if they see you as a useful resource. 

    Responding can also help you learn more about your students and how you can better accommodate their needs. This can include improvements in campus offerings or even your content/marketing strategies on social media.

    7. Repost User-Generated Content

    There are many reasons why your institution should repost user-generated content (UGC). For one, UGC gives your followers the opportunity to see their peers’ authentic experiences on your page. This can increase engagement with your account since current and prospective students because it shows how much you value their opinions and experiences. 

    Posting student content can also help you generate more ideas for your Instagram Stories. It won’t always be easy finding content to post every day, but students post fairly often and create content that resonates with their peers. As a result, leveraging UGC can fill the gaps in your social media calendar.

    Incorporate Instagram Stories in Your Social Media Strategy

    Instagram stories are a useful tool that can be used to attract prospective students, engage current ones, and build overall brand awareness for your institution. However, your Instagram Stories shouldn’t be all about memes or making users laugh. Your content should be informative and useful as well. 

    No matter what strategy you choose, including content such as educational infographics and videos can enhance your authority on social media with your followers. To ensure students engage with this content though, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. Try to be aware of what they might be interested in or want to learn more about. This ensures you reap the full benefits of an effective Instagram strategy. 

    Still wondering how you can use Instagram to meet your enrollment goals? Check out our Pre-Publishing Social Media Checklist to help boost engagement, enhance your messaging, and ensure quality across all of your social media posts. 

    New call-to-action

Stay Updated

Join our email list to get a weekly digest of the latest content published by the Pepperland Marketing team.

Other Content You Might Enjoy

Threads: How Higher Ed Marketers Can Gain Early Leverage

Threads: How Higher Ed Marketers Can Gain Early Leverage


While social media has experienced a recent influx of new platforms and social features, including TikTok and Instagram...

read more
How to Create a Social Media Calendar to Plan your Content

How to Create a Social Media Calendar to Plan your Content


In today's digital landscape, where social media has become an essential platform for communication and engagement,...

read more
How To Build a Strong Social Media Team in Higher Education

How To Build a Strong Social Media Team in Higher Education


Social media has become an essential part of our daily lives and transformed the way higher education institutions...

read more
How to Develop a Social Media Strategy in Higher Education

How to Develop a Social Media Strategy in Higher Education


In the world of higher education, social media has become an essential tool for promoting your school, connecting with...

read more
5 Types of Content to Include in your College's Instagram Strategy

5 Types of Content to Include in your College's Instagram Strategy


As enrollment marketers, we are constantly trying to find new ways to reach potential students. The new generation of...

read more
TikTok in Higher Education Marketing: 5 Tactics to Try

TikTok in Higher Education Marketing: 5 Tactics to Try


As TikTok continues to dominate social media, universities and colleges are using the platform as a marketing tool to...

read more