During our recent How to Use Instagram to Tell Your School Stories in Photos webinar, we didn't have time to get to all the questions live. Following are the balance of the questions and answers you might find helpful if you're considering using Instagram for schools. Instagram is an easy way to provide great insights and depict many beautiful aspects of your school that many people otherwise would not get to see. Check out some of the questions and answers from Campus Suite Academy webinar participants.
Q: Can I use my desktop computer to post images and video to my school’s Instagram account?
A: Yes you can, but it’s not a built-in feature of Instagram. Instagram is a social media channel made to be used exclusively on mobile devices, so, while possible, let’s just say the developers at Instagram don’t make it easy to post via desktop. The workarounds are as follows:
You can use a third-party app, Deskgram, which is basically a desktop version of Instagram. While not endorsed or certified by Instagram, Desktop appears to be the most widely used solution for those wanting to manage their Instagram photos via desktop.
Chrome and Safari – the two predominant browsers being used today – allow you to switch the "user agent" setting. The user agent informs a website what kind of device you're on. So by changing user agent setting you’re basically fooling Instagram that you’re ‘in disguise’ as a mobile site. This article by Sharon Profis and Jason Cipriani on CNet, shows how to adjust your settings to trick Instagram that you’re viewing your account via phone or tablet.
Q: Can you control who follows you if a connection is inappropriate?
A: Yes, you can. Go to your profile page, tap followers, then block.
Q: How do you document comments?
A: Instagram has no built-in method for recording or documenting the comments that appear on your feed, so what you need to do is perform a screen capture then save that file to a folder.
Q: What is the best time frame to post Instagram photos?
A: To get some good ‘engagement’ going, you’d like to catch them when they’re active, but that varies depending on demographics. Right at the end of the workday and then again late night would are optimal for catching those who check their social media at the end of the workday, and when they’re in that turn-in mode. Matt Smith, founder of Latergramme, an app for scheduling Instagram posts, suggests very early in the morning (hang on for this – 2-3 a.m.) and then again right at 5pm. It depends too on what you’re posting. If you want to promote an event before, during, or after the fact will dictate when you post. Generally speaking, I’m all for lunch-hour postings as well. Make use of Stats for Instagram, a free, built-in feature that will help you develop a history of Instagram activity that will help you find that sweet spot in your scheduling. Remember too, because your followers don’t need to be ‘online’ to view your school photos, they will see what you’ve posted when they log back in or check their notifications on their app.
Q: How do you put together a collage? Does Instagram have a way to add multiple photos in one post?
A: You need to download a layout app that works with your Instagram account. Layout from Instagram is a popular standalone app available in iOS, Android and Windows versions. It’s super simple to use Instagram’s Layout app: you’ll see all the pics on your camera roll, choose your layout and other simple design options, then your collage feeds automatically into your Instagram account for posting. You can also check out other photo editing apps out there – Instapicframe, FotoRus, and others – that allow you to group multiple photos in one post.
Q: What’s the URL address of the desktop version of Instagram?
A: Just go to www.instagram.com and simply log in, then you’re plugged into your instagram account. For more functionality from your desktop, get the Instagram extension (for Chrome browser users only), and you can browse, like, and comment on all the photos from your feed. You can sort and browse by @name or #hashtag.
Q: I've noticed many posts from students are full of emoji. Do you recommend we do that as well to better identify with the kids?
A: Cards on the table/full disclosure: I am not big on emojis. Other than a thumbs up and frown, I don’t ever use them and often find they can clutter up your message, so you may be asking the wrong person. They’re not built-in to Instagram, so if you want to add them, you’re going to have to download an emoji app. In lieu of emojis, I’m all for a carefully worded caption using precise words [insert smiling emoji here].
Q: Is it wise to share everything across all social media platforms or should some content be posted only on one platform at a time?
A: We subscribe to the theory that what’s good for one channel is good for all – in most cases. Facebook is probably considered the most universal of the big three (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), and of course the Tweet copy is still limited to 140 (but you can, of course always link to longer content), but a great photo or video works well in all channels.
Q: Can Instagram be useful to communicate privately with a group of parents?
A: Yes, Instagram Direct allows you to send messages to one or more people. You can create a new group conversation in Instagram Direct by sending a message to 2 or more people. To create a new group conversation:
- Tap the arrow in the top right of Feed.
- Tap the plus sign in the top right.
- Select 2 or more people you'd like to send to, then tap Next.
- Type a message, tap to select a photo or video. Caption, and edit if necessary then tap Send.
Once you create a group conversation, you can add a name for it.
Q: From a district level, can the account be shared among multiple people to post to the district instagram?
A: Yes, certainly. All they need is the password (and the trust, of course.)
Q: Is there a way to recover an account when the original admin has left and did not leave the password?
A: There is probably a way, but you’ll have to to check with Instagram Support. Did you try tracking down the person who opened it?
Q: Can multiple phones utilize the same instagram account.
A: Yes, as long as you share the account credentials, anyone you share them with can use the account from any phone.
Q: Can you set up so comments do not post? If you cannot keep comments off, how is it best to respond to negative comments?
A: You can keep followers from commenting on your feed, on individual posts, and you can block anyone from following you. Simply go to your profile, tap followers, tap the name of the user and you’ll have the option to vamoose them. As far as negative comments, keep the following in mind: put them in context and don’t exaggerate their effect by escalating the situation online; always try to handle them offline. You can always block and ignore them. In those rare cases when it does become extreme, vindictive or abusive, you can report a violation to Instagram. Check out the Instagram suggestions for addressing online ‘abuse.’
Q: What is the benefit of creating and managing an Instagram account instead of just using your existing Facebook page?
A: Your Facebook page gives you more flexibility than Instagram for things like non-photo content and adding hyperlinks using URLs. So don’t look at is as an either/or thing. Instagram is really a photo-centric medium that is very agile for portraying your school in pics and short videos. As we discussed in the Instagram for schools webinar, it’s easy to link your Instagram posts to your Facebook account by going to your Instagram settings, tapping linked accounts and logging into Facebook.
Q: We have a district Facebook page and pages for each of our schools. Would you recommend adding Twitter next or Instagram? Which is the best next step?
A: Since you already have Facebook in place, I’d get your school’s Twitter communications off the ground next. Not to discount the role of Instagram, but Twitter is a great channel for posting and gathering all kinds of content and linking to other channels such as your school website, school blogs and Facebook page. I’d put them both on your to-do list, and start slow with each. Get some early successes and build followings for both Instagram and Twitter.
Q: I really don’t want school pictures on my phone. How do I get around this?
A: Good timing. Coincidentally enough, I just recently wanted to open up some storage space on my own phone, so I downloaded the Google Photos app, which links and stores the photos you take on your phone to a Google account (which, if you choose, could be a dedicated school Google account.) It does it automatically, and storage is virtually limitless.
Q: Are there specific settings in the set-up process that you recommend?
A: Setting up your school Instagram account is a breeze. Everything’s pretty self explanatory. Profile photo (which really should be a logo or some mark that works well in a small size) should be 180 x 180 pixels. Be sure to give some thought to selecting a good profile username that’s consistent with the rest of your social media naming structure. Your profile description is critical too. Precise, specific word choice here. Refer to Instagram Guide for Schools for tips on maximizing your profile.
Q: What is the name of the photo editing program you mentioned during the webinar?
A: Most of the photo editing we covered – crop, contrast, colors, filters, etc. – are baked right into Instagram app itself. We did cover watermarking, which is a another branding tool to use on your images, and the tool we’ve used is called eZy Watermark Lite.
Q: What is the link to the Twitter for Schools webinar?
A: Here’s the link to the How to Use Twitter to Improve School Communication webinar produced by the Campus Suite Academy. Also, you might want to check out these questions and answers from that live webinar.
If you have any questions of your own about using Instagram or any social media in your school communications, let us know.
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @jay4schools.