Instagram is a mobile app that allows users to take photos, add filters and effects, and share them on their social network of choice. It has grown to more than 40 million users in the iPhone and Android market since launching in October 2010. As it gained popularity, Facebook jumped at the opportunity and purchased the app in April for $1 billion to complement its already robust social network of more than 900 million users.
For college students, who are already overloaded with social networks and text messages, Instagram provides a visual context that many students are finding increasingly more appealing, visual alternative to, well, words.
Like Us on Facebook
"I love Twitter and I've been using it for years, but words only say so much, and I tend to scroll past a lot of tweets if nothing pops out at me instantly," Carly Heitlinger, a recent graduate of Georgetown University, told U.S. News and World Report.
Instagram's continued growth in popularity can only benefit colleges and universities who are active on the service, Amy Peterson, a new media specialist at Texas Christian University, told World Report.
"We use it as another tool in our marketing [strategy]," Peterson said. "It's a place where our students and alumni are, so that's where we are."
World Report lists a few ways colleges and universities are using Instagram to connect with current and prospective students:
The University of Florida has been using Instagram since March 2011. Its initial plan was to post an image a week that represents the university. But this changed when Bruce Floyd, the school's social media specialist, said he kept hearing from students that they wanted to see "behind-the-scenes images," or "parts of Florida that people that don't normally see."
The images since have been dedicated to more exclusive visuals, such as a photo during a class lecture, an image inside a university television station, and a point-of-view photograph from the podium at the university commencement ceremonies.
Relating to smaller colleges, these colleges can now reach a variety of audiences by sharing images on Instagram.
At the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, with an enrollment of about 6,400 students, feeling Instagram to other networks allows the school to promote the school through the photo platform, says Todd Sanders, a social media specialist at the university.