Instagram boasts more than 500 million users that generate 4.2 billion likes every 24 hours and upload 95 million photos and videos every day. So if you are wondering if your university or college should be on Instagram, the short answer is "yes."

There’s more to it, though, than simply uploading a picture, adding a filter and picking a few hashtags. The following five tips will help take your Instagram game to the next level and help wow that ever-difficult 16-to-24-year-old demographic.

1. Tell the story in the picture

Instagram is all about visuals - that is what makes the platform so popular amongst younger users. If your picture can get the entire message across without having to rely on the description to tell the story, you will find that the likes will start to flood in.

2. Encourage comments

Ask questions to help drive engagement, but don’t overthink this and complicate things. Keep it simple and direct. If someone can answer a question in three words or less, that is best. (Pro tip: Ask your followers to “tag a friend” - this way you let your followers help generate new leads and help grow your audience.)

3. Don’t rely on audio

About 85 percent of all users are viewing their timelines in complete silence. This isn’t much of a surprise - videos start playing automatically as your scroll down the timeline, and, unless you are one of those really annoying people who blasts phone audio in a public place (I'll save that for a "pet peeves" blog), you have no need for audio. Adding captions is going to be your best friend in these situations. If you really want to wow your audience, add dynamic captions that are a part of the video to really keep that view time up.

4. Be artsy

Instagram is a great place to feed your creative mind. You will be surprised at how well a simple post that has a creative angle and a nice filter on it will do. Remember, not every post you make needs to be official and have a purpose. Sometimes simply a nice photo of a popular building or a flowery landscape can go a long way.

5. Embrace the hashtag

Adding hashtags to your photos is an excellent way to gain new followers and share your photos with an even broader audience. But not all hashtags are created equally. To get the most out of them, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

  • Be specific - Don’t settle for the broad, catch-all hashtag. (i.e., #College vs #SDSU)
  • Be relevant - This will allow you to help gain the quality followers who are probably more passionate about your university than anything else. Go after the diehards.
  • Be aware - Do your research, and see what others are using as hashtags. You might just find a gold mine where you least expect it.

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