In an increasingly social-media-saturated world, images still have the power to break through the clutter. It should come of little surprise, then, that Instagram has become such a powerful tool for schools looking to engage both students and parents in social media conversations. Posting pictures using the platform-which includes supporting text in a secondary role-provides shareholders with impactful visuals relating to the culture and climate of the school, creating a lasting impression without saying much at all.

Advantages of Instagram

Instagram is all about the audience visualizing the message. One of the greatest advantages of Instagram is how it works with other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. For example, a hashtag on Twitter can also lead to a picture on Instagram, further driving the intended message, highlighting the critical symbol or theme related to the message. Schools can promote partners in education, display visuals of thanks to the community, and represent student successes throughout a school day or school event.

Instagram Format

Users of Instagram often post a picture to chronicle a day or an event. These users value the visuals and enjoy the comments made by their followers. Other users may use a blended approach, including a sentence or a paragraph about the image. These users want to tell their own story rather than have their followers dictate what happened through commenting. Instagram can also be accessed via a link included on Twitter or Facebook. These users prefer to start their story with a hashtag or comment and end their story with a big reveal: the image on Instagram.

As a school principal, I find the following approach best for students, teachers, and the community to promote events on Instagram. Start with a celebratory statement, a reminder of a school procedure, or advertisement for an upcoming event.

  • State the event/reminder on Twitter with a hashtag.
  • Include a link to Instagram with a posted photo.
  • Add concluding thoughts from the original statement displayed under the Instagram image.
  • Allow for comments to be collected via Instagram and displayed beneath the image.

Instagram at Work

One of the most powerful ways you can thank your partners in education is through advertising. Using social media to thank partners while displaying their logos is a very appreciated form of gratitude. Instagram provides an advertising benefit, and schools can express their thanks by specifically referencing a partner’s contribution while posting that partner’s logo. Shareholders see this and feel supported by their local community; they feel encouraged to give their business to those who support the local school.

Another great use of imagery is for student celebration. Posting images of the activities students participate in throughout the school day on Instagram reveals transparency to parents and the community. Maybe a chemistry class is conducting an experiment, or there is a college fair with representatives talking to students about the future. Whatever your students participate in can be documented with images. The community loves to view the inner world of a school day, and doing this builds a connection with the school as shareholders see what is happening.

Reminding students and parents of local school procedures is another important way to use Instagram. It is a great place to post a dress code reminder, using images to model what is appropriate versus what is not appropriate. In addition, posting an image displaying the harmful nature of bullying can be powerful for students and parents alike.

An image that begins with the opening of a story and ends with how you want the community to feel is an intentional way to create a positive school culture and climate.

Jennifer Martin is principal of Apalachee High School in Winder, GA.

Making It Work

Follow these steps to create powerful Instagram posts for students, teachers, and the community:

  • Limit the amount of words. Start with a hashtag on Twitter that has a link to Instagram. Once the user arrives at the image, the remainder of the writing can be displayed beneath it.
  • Choose images that market your school. Consistently post images that have similar themes. When shareholders regularly see positive images and connect these images to your school, they begin to believe in the culture and climate you are aiming to achieve.
  • Address negative feedback professionally. Negative comments are part of the reality of the world of social media. Do not be afraid of them. Respond with positivity and transparency. If something is confusing, clarify and move forward.