The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!
From the 14th Annual Shorty Awards

@aaltoarts — Pushing the creative boundaries of Instagram

Entered in Instagram Presence


The Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture is a Finnish and Nordic leader in higher education for design, fashion, games, media, architecture, film, art education and art. In the global QS World University 2021 ranking, the School has been evaluated sixth best in the world (fields of design and art).

In the School’s communications, we cherish all of our social media channels — they truly are the windows to our vibrant community. But when it comes to content-oriented student marketing, we have made a strategic choice to focus on Instagram. Through the @aaltoarts Instagram channel, we want to strengthen the brand of the School as a world-renowned, international community with strong academic standing. And we want to be a powerful advocate for creativity. With engaging Instagram content, we want to attract the best talent worldwide and build pride and commitment within our present students. We want to win hearts!

There’s nothing wrong with creating content that we already know our audiences will like. But in our @aaltoarts Instagram content marketing strategy, we have chosen another path.

We’re boldly experimenting with the tools, possibilities and restrictions of the platform, creating content that pushes the conventional boundaries of IG. Our ultimate aim is to surprise and inspire our audiences, and get a dialogue started. What’s best, we’re getting great results with this new strategy!

Strategy and Execution

The @aaltoarts Instagram channel operates on three different levels.

1) Our core mission is to present the work of our students and researchers.
This is an on-going effort and we take great pride in it. We want our talented people to be seen and the true impact of their work understood!

2) On top of presenting the individual projects of our students and faculty, we have a need to connect the dots between projects and link them into a larger context and wider societal discussions.
For this purpose, we have created special Insta concepts. We have a mini-webmag called #ArtsZine, which illustrates the power of design, creativity and holistic solutions. We’re presenting our teachers’ and researchers’ values, visions and personality with our #FacultyStories series and we host Insta exhibitions and takeovers, as well as an annual student Holiday Sales webshop. These concepts are not one-offs, but a rolling effort providing depth and variety in our content.

3) The third level of content creation is the one we are most proud of. It is all about pioneering and exploring Insta’s possibilities.
Together with our students and faculty we create thematic concepts that take over the channel for days and even weeks. For example, we have hosted the world’s first arthouse short film festival on IG. The "@aaltoarts originals" festival brought completely new, tailor-made short films to audiences across Instagram. Another very eagerly anticipated moment across our channel is the annual student fashion show “Näytös”, which is presented as a runway video broadcast. It brings together creations by the finest new talents in Finnish fashion in a very stylish and experimental audio-visual way. And together with our gaming experts, we have created a tailor-made role-playing game “AaltoARTS Heroes” for Instagram. It’s an RPG quest where everyone can make their own character and play across Instagram stories and highlights. (Coming up in 2022 we’re also experimenting with tailor-made "Instagram books" on stories & highlights as well as an art education workshop that takes place on the IG feed, stories and IGTV).

All in all, the secret behind our pioneering work in Instagram is that we are able to collaborate throughout our School and make use of the resources and ideas that originate from different departments, units and teams. Many of our projects are being executed as student course work. This way of working gives the School fantastic, original social media content all the while promoting the work of our students and staff. Not to mention the branding dimensions of these very special projects. We simply love this way of working!


We follow several KPI’s, both on social media and off social.

In 2021 our Instagram channel @aaltoarts has experienced significant rise in

Furthermore, we have experienced a significant 7% rise in our student application numbers in our latest application period.

But there is a lot more involved in what we consider a success.
As a School dedicated to design and creative practices, we also want to follow certain design principles. Our mindset is about prototyping, experimenting and testing. It’s about learning about our audiences, stakeholders and about ourselves as makers and doers. We firmly believe that the world needs to develop new ways of thinking, learning and driving change. And in this small scale, within our single Insta channel, we’re embedding creative practices into our ways of seeing and working in the world. This novel approach is already a success in itself, and we are humbled and pleased to see that it resonates with our audiences and produces tangible and measureable results.


Video for @aaltoarts — Pushing the creative boundaries of Instagram

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture


Entry Credits