How Schools Are Using Photo-Sharing Services

College Photo Apps

YouTube might be the king of online video but there is no shortage of places on the web to host your campus photos. Photo sharing services have seen a resurgence in recent months thanks to Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and the surge in popularity of Pinterest. How are universities using these social media properties to attract students? Read on to find out.


Instagram is the wildly popular photo sharing app that is probably best known for its filters feature. The app is so popular that Facebook bought the company last month for a billion dollars. Instagram is a favorite app of many teens and college students. As a result, some universities are beginning to experiment with the photo sharing app.

University College Instagram

Todd Sanders at the University of Wisconsin has written a post expressing his love for Instagram. He believes that what makes Instagram so special is how easy it makes it to share your photos across all your school’s social media properties. Nick DeNardis from Wayne State University has also written a blog post that chronicles his school’s first 48 hours on Instagram. He includes some helpful lessons learned such as the deeper the meaning of the photograph posted, the better the results.


With all the talk of Pinterest and Instagram, it can be easy to forget about the original photo sharing service. Originally launched back in 2004, Flickr refuses to go away. The site still has a massive number of active users which makes for a thriving community. Most universities and colleges have been on the service for years now.

University Flickr

There’s not many new developments with Flickr lately, but one recent photo collection caught our eye. Titled 365@VU, Vanderbilt University has created a photo set that chronicles a year in the life at the school, one photo at a time. It just might be the closest way for prospective students to experience university life at Vanderbilt, capturing the people, places, and events that make the school unique.


Pinterest has recently undergone a site redesign since our last post on the subject. The new social network has been receiving a lot of coverage lately so it should come as no surprise that many schools are rushing to the platform. However, some universities and colleges are finding it difficult to fit the pin-boarding site into their marketing strategy. Pinterest, like Facebook and Twitter, is a unique social network and it should be treated as such.

“We’re not selling jerseys and event tickets, and we certainly are not selling admission to the university. We would never imagine that this platform is going to directly relate to any of those sorts of sales results.” – Aaron Jaco, Digital Media Specialist at Drake University

It seems like every school is finding a different use for Pinterest. Some current ideas are:

  • Virginia Tech is gathering ideas and inviting feedback about its renovation of the school library.
  • The University of Nevada has created a lost and found board for things that may be missing from campus.
  • Saint Mary’s College of California is featuring photos to promote its De La Salle Week, a celebration of the life of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the college’s Lasallian heritage.

In each of these three cases, schools are using the visual design of Pinterest to engage its audience more effectively than it could otherwise. As Ashley Powell says at the Daily Wildcat, colleges utilizing Pinterest to reach out to a broader student population is a brilliant way to communicate with today’s students. It is much more efficient for students to just log into Pinterest than for administrators to expect a newsletter or announcement to reach everyone. It may not exactly be a revolution in communications, but it is another avenue for schools to create engagement with students.

“It’s a way to collaboratively tell a story about the school rather than us telling a story about the school. Getting the more holistic view of what the college is and what the alumni do and what the students are involved with kind of gives you a more personalized feel of the college than just visiting our website.” – Ma’ayan Plaut, Social Media Coordinator at Oberlin College

16 Ways Educators Use Pinterest

Here’s an infographic from Online Universities that highlights how Pinterest is being used in the classroom. As you can see, the versatility of the pinboard social network allows schools to show off their uniqueness in a number of ways.

16 Ways Educators Use Pinterest
From: Online Universities Blog

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