Instagram now has more than 300 million active users. That’s more users than Twitter (288 million) and nearly as many users as people who live in the U.S. (318 million). And today, in addition to millions of individuals who use Instagram to show off their kids, their vacations, and their latest sartorial purchases, there are thousands of corporations (Nike, Patagonia), news outlets (the BBC, The New York Times), and government entities (The White House, City of New York) that have jumped on the Instagram bandwagon and are using the tool to market, advertise, and brand themselves. And doing so to great effect.
Another group that’s using Instagram effectively is universities. What schools are using the tool for is to show prospective students what their campuses look like, to show what a typical day in the life of their students look like, and to keep their students and alumni connected and informed about events and other happenings.
To that end, a few editors here at Vault recently turned their eyes to the official Instagram accounts of the eight Ivy League schools to find out which institution is using IG most effectively. To do so, we rated the Ancient Eight IG accounts on a scale of 1 to 8 (with 8 being the highest and 1 the lowest) in three categories: (1) Scenery (how well, aesthetically, a school depicts its campus and surrounding area—think cityscapes and landscapes); (2) Campus life (how well a school depicts what students do and engage in while on campus); and (3) Informational (how well a school keeps followers informed of events and happenings, as well as of accomplishments of students and alumni).
Vault averaged the scores in the three categories and ranked the schools in order from highest to lowest.
Although Brown had Vault editors' favorite throwback photograph (of an African-American student protest in 1968), the account was a little light on current campus life. And while there are some beautiful shots of Providence and the Brown campus, the editors thought the photos were a bit substandard when compared to those posted to the seven other Ivy League IG accounts. Followers: 9.2K. Posts: 177. VAULT SCORE: 5.83 out of 8.
The photographers running the Cornell IG account should be very pleased with themselves—there are several posts of Ithaca, N.Y., in the account that would make Ansel Adams proud. However, the feed is very one-sided: there are few shots of students, and even fewer of campus events. Still, for pure campus landscape photographs, Cornell is best in league. Followers: 18.9K. Posts: 426. VAULT SCORE: 6.50 out of 8.
The Dartmouth IG account includes many great campus life shots, including numerous candid photographs of students in their daily life (having, it appears, an excellent time in Hanover, N.H.). In fact, it ranked second of the eight accounts in the campus life category. However, it was a notch or two below the top Ivy League IG accounts in the scenery department, which hurt its overall score. Followers: 9.4K. Posts: 614. VAULT SCORE: 6.58 out of 8.
The Princeton account was the top rated IG account in the campus life category; no other account among the Ancient Eight gives a better depiction of student life. Protests, classrooms, projects, faces of fellow students—these are all plentiful and beautifully depicted. However, the school’s account fared poorly in the scenery category; Vault editors thought it could do a lot better in this department. Followers: 14.4K. Posts: 1,486. VAULT SCORE: 6.67 out of 8.
The Harvard IG account is very well balanced. And thus had solid ratings across the board. It was near the top in the campus life and informative categories, and just slightly below the best accounts in scenery. Overall, Vault editors called Harvard’s IG very good—but not great. Followers: 53.7K. Posts: 381. VAULT SCORE: 6.83 out of 8.
Like Harvard’s, Penn’s account is very well balanced and scored well in all three categories. In fact, Penn only barely edged out Harvard because it had slightly better scenery shots (whoever’s responsible for the photographs of the West Philly Penn Quad is doing a heckuva job). However, Penn has to do a little better in each of the three categories if it wants to compete at the very top of the Ivies. Followers: 20.5K. Posts: 1,630. VAULT SCORE: 7.00 out of 8.
Columbia’s location in New York doesn’t hurt this IG account, which includes many interesting and beautiful shots of the city. In addition to scoring well in the scenery category, the account scored very well in the campus life and informational categories. Memorable photographs include student athletes in creative poses, as well as students and prominent alumni receiving accolades and awards—Columbia alumni and recent IG posts include celebrity chefs, recent Oscar winners, Time magazine’s latest Person of the Year, and the current President of the United States. Followers: 17.K. Posts: 357. VAULT SCORE: 7.08 out of 8.
Beautiful, informative, interesting, and balanced, Yale’s IG account ranks as the best in the Ivy League. Vault editors lauded the account for its breathtaking shots of the Yale campus in New Haven, Conn., and very much appreciated the posts devoted to introducing the Yale student photographers that run the account. Editors found so many outstanding shots in the Yale account that it was extremely difficult to choose which one to include in this slideshow. Followers: 33.9K. Posts: 1,257. VAULT SCORE: 7.30 out of 8.
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