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Instagram Best Practices

Instagram is a good social media platform for sharing videos, images, and graphics with your audience. It is first and foremost a visual platform. Linking to other sites from individual posts is not allowed, although you may highlight one link in your account profile.

Audiences and Content

In University Communications’ experience, Instagram is particularly effective for reaching prospective and current students.

Content that we’ve found to be most engaging for prospective students includes videos, causes, and images sharing brand personality. These audience members tend to engage with content through watching and collaboration.

Content that we’ve found to be most engaging for current students is user-generated content, authentic conversations, humor, and visual graphics. Current students tend to engage through creating content, voicing opinions, and reading our content.

Help and Support

The Instagram Help Center is a robust resource for questions regarding the use of the platform. Visit as a first step in learning about the platform and for troubleshooting any issues.

How should I use Instagram at MSU?

An Instagram account can be set up with just an email address. Anyone can log in to the Instagram account using the associated email address or the Instagram handle, and the account password. Profile customizations are limited to the user name, a web address, a brief bio, and a profile image. Any profile customizations will need to be made directly in Instagram. For creating posts, you may alternatively choose to use an external program (such as Hootsuite or Sprinklr) to schedule posts in advance, but most of these programs will require you to approve the post from your mobile device.

Learn more about creating accounts in the Instagram Help Center > Creating an Account & Username.

Learn more about using Instagram in the Instagram Help Center > Navigating the App.

If you would like the ability to view analytics for your account, you need to set up a Business Instagram Account.
As Instagram is a highly visual medium, you’ll be best served if you follow commonly accepted rules for good photography (i.e. the Rule of Thirds, paying attention to composition and lighting).

You should also approach each of your account posts both individually and as a piece of the greater whole of your channel. When individuals view your account profile, they’ll see your most recent posts in a grid layout. Plan out your images to have a good mix of content, composition, etc. You may also keep the image coloring and filters used in mind. There are dozens of filters available. Many Instagram professionals recommend limiting your use to a set of a few filters. You may choose to turn off the availability of specific filters in your settings in the mobile app, if you wish, to limit the options.

Instagram images should always be taken with a vertical orientation (don’t make your audience rotate their phone). Analytics show that square images perform better than rectangular images.

When creating a new Instagram account, you may choose to refer to the following checklist:

  • Assign a staff member to have primary responsibility for managing the account, and have at least one staff member as a backup.
  • Upload an appropriately sized profile image, keeping the circular cropping in mind.
  • Complete the account profile sections (brief description, link to your website, etc.).
  • Promote your account internally to build the number of followers.
  • Develop a schedule for regularly posting content.
  • Promote your account handle (on your website, on print pieces, on other social media accounts, etc.).

As you manage your Instagram account, you may choose to refer to the following checklist:

  • Post regularly with content relevant to your audience.
  • Be sure that your profile image reflects the brand.
  • Always obtain an image owner's permission before sharing their work. This can be done with a simple comment on the post.
  • Change your account password as staff changes. Only current MSU employees should have access to the account.

Additional Resources

Below are links to relevant resources shared at Social @ Michigan State events. See the meetings and workshops lists on the Campus Community page for additional information regarding these events.