When it comes to building school spirit and pride, Florida Atlantic University is in an interesting position. Things that traditionally build school spirit – a long institutional history, storied athletic programs and large alumni base are still in the works at our 50-year-old university. Throw in a large commuter population and you've got an uphill battle when it comes to inciting spirit and pride around FAU. University Communications looked to social media, specifically Instagram, as a way to learn what makes students FAU proud. Once points of pride were established, FAU shared images that were within these categories and encouraged its followers to do the same.
Team members evaluated FAU's Instagram account searching for trends among images users liked and commented on the most. We found that our followers responded to three categories:
1.Scenic photographs of campus and surrounding areas
2.Photos of our Mascot, Owlsley
3.Spirited shots depicting school pride
We discovered that students were FAU proud, but in a way we didn't expect. Because our campus is not a traditional gothic-style campus, we didn't anticipate students posting photos around our 60's-era campus. What we found was that they loved the natural beauty found all over and the idea of going to school in paradise. They were experiencing college…with a view. As for categories 2 & 3, these students wanted to have spirit; they needed someone to lead the charge. We took on that challenge and were mindful of capturing moments that encompassed what it means to be an Owl.
In addition, we began following photos posted around our campus using geographical search. When a student shared an image of our campus, we liked it, commented and even re-gramed it. We encouraged students to tag us in their photos, leading to a method of using curated content to fill our Instagram feed. We replied to comments and got a little silly in our captions. All with the intention of telling our students, "We love it here, and so should you!"
Over the course of one year, this new approach to Instagram improved our presence on the app significantly:
-179% Increase in followers
-184% Increase in engagement (likes and comments)
-Went from average of 150 likes per photo to 355 likes
-More users using #FAU
Comments on the account became more positive and students have even started direct messaging images to us for use on our account.
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