2013 Conference Social Media

Instagram: Make Crowdsourced Photos Work for You!

John S. Murphy
Social Media Specialist, Brown University

If we Instagram a session about Instagram, will the universe collapse? Let’s see, shall we? Check out #BrownUniversity for the result.

Over 10,000 instagram photos have been submitted to the Scene by you at Brown campaign in the past year. It’s impossible to have a campus photographer working 24/7 capturing the great moments, so John relies on students to capture what the photographer can not.

First, John discussed the social media goals at Brown:
– Increase visibility, reach and engagement
– Infuse social media into all communication channels
– Report actionable data to optimize content strategy

John tracked views of Facebook, Press Releases, and the homepage and found that Facebook had become the primary form of use in May of 2012, especially after refining the content featured on the Facebook page. This statistic was also compared to the use of the website (, proving that Facebook is the primary engagement channel.

There’s no doubt that Instagram is on the rise. “What do we know so far?” John asked, “students are taking photos on smartphones…and Instagram is the primary mobile photo sharing app in the world.”

John hoped to use the increased use of Instagram by creating the Scene by you at Brown campaign. This campaign sought to:
– Increase number of photos taken
– Increase engagement and reach of photos
– Create an insider’s view of Brown

The challenge with this campaign was that the photos shared on Instagram under #BrownUniversity were built for mobile, and not for desktops. Because of this, the content is stuck on our phones. To work around this issue, John found Statigram allows for realtime aggregating of images shared on Instagram under a specific hashtag.’s sister site, allows users to view images on Instagram and check the locations where these images were taken. Between these two helpful (and free!) sites, there is a lot of content to be shared!

It’s important to remember the Terms of Service for Instagram and Facebook when implementing this type of campaign. Essentially, don’t take other people’s stuff without permission. That’s not nice! In order for the success of the campaign, John found ways to share the content without violating these Terms of Service.

The first resource is, which provides a direct “click” feature to find Instagram photos. Those photos can be quickly dropped into a Storify page, and then embedded onto a webpage, for example. This is not in violation of the terms of service, because it is a direct copy of the image. and are also helpful resources.

Uploading images to Facebook from Instagram is allowed, but with permission. An obvious negative of this process is the time required to gain permission from students for “taking” their image, which does not work well for live-broadcasting events. John suggests commenting directly on the image through your University’s official page saying, “This image is great! Can we use it? We’ll be sure to credit you.” Most often, John says, students are excited and willing to hand over permission.

Moderation is key with this type of campaign. You will inevitably have “spam” pictures, but the good will outweigh the bad!

The Results:
– 10,000+ Instagram photos submitted in less than a year
– Engagement of local, national, and international Brown community
-Facebook album of the Seen by you at Brown campaign is the most popular and engaging piece of content on Brown’s official page.

The Next Steps:
– Can Brown create a reward for students, aside from feeling famous?
– How can Brown use Instagram’s new video feature?
– How can Brown use the campaign for their upcoming 250th anniversary?

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By Jackie Vetrano

Jackie Vetrano is the assistant director of MBA prospect management & marketing at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She manages and implements the lead-nurture strategy using email as well as other important touchpoints to encourage prospective students to apply to the top-ranked MBA program. Outside of work, you’ll find Jackie participating in hot yoga, out on a run, or watching reality television. She also enjoys traveling, petting her cat, and spending time with her partner trying new foods and experiences.