Memories Through Media: 8 Ways Instagram Can Improve Your Yearbook

On the surface, businesses and yearbooks share little in common: one makes money, the other makes memories. Where they do intertwine is their mutual struggle to harness the ever-elusive power of social media. And with how rapidly the social networking map has changed over the past decade, it’s easy to see why. But reports continue to show that photo sharing is the hottest trend throughout social media, especially among teens. As a yearbook supervisor, you’re probably wondering how you could use this to make your yearbook more exciting and more relevant to students of the social media generation.

If you can’t imagine adding yet another task to your clipboard, we’ve compiled a list of eight undeniable reasons why you should be using Instagram to your advantage to create a modern and artsy yearbook that students will relate to and, more importantly, will want to buy.

1. Visual Storytelling – It’s What All the Cool Kids Are Doing

As of 2013, 94 percent of teens 12-17 use Facebook and each of those users has an average of 495 friends. What are they posting among each other? Visuals. As much as 70 percent of all Facebook activity is photography based.

Facebook may still be the king of all social networks, but rival photo sharing websites and apps are quickly aiming to dethrone it. Instagram saw a growth of 23 percent over 2013, a surge which tripled almost every other social network. As the most popular social site among 16-24 year olds, Instagram estimates over 35 million selfies posted to their server. Snapchat, the app that allows users to share “self-detonating” photos among their friends, also continues to rise in popularity with roughly 26 million users who’ve sent 400 million “snaps” amongst each other every day since its inception in 2011. They’re using the app and they like it, so why shouldn’t you use that to improve and promote your yearbook and produce something that students are genuinely interested in?

2. It Provides an Insider Perspective You Won’t Find Otherwise

Using Instagram doesn’t just mean uploading pictures. It also allows you to search through all of the photos that students are posting. And, let’s face it – adults like to think they’re familiar with what teens are up to, but the fact is that we’re often late to the game and don’t find out about what’s popular until weeks, if not months, after it’s already been on the scene. Being linked in with students gives you the scoop on a variety of things like favorite hangouts, what’s trending, and popular music, which helps to generate more relevant content for the yearbook.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

Sorry to break it to you, collage lovers, but the days of the cutout collage are dead. Some designers might say not dead enough, since they still pop up in places, especially places like yearbooks. The reason those collages are so disliked is because they’re cluttered, hard to look at, and outdated. They also take something that you don’t have a lot of – time. Why go through all that work for something that doesn’t even look that great?

The default square sizing of Instagram provides a simplistic but aesthetically pleasing way to layout multiple photos per page with very little formatting work required.

4. It Encourages Students to Become More Involved with Their School

In some ways your school is a brand, and it is one that students want to be a part of. Digital media and photo sharing help to promote that brand. Yearbook advisors can update Instagram with photo challenges for students by using a pre-chosen hashtag. For example, if you want students to show up to the Homecoming game and take pictures, you can ask students to update their accounts with #schoolnamehomecoming2014. Remind students that these are all photos that they will be able to use on the customized pages of their yearbook.

5. It Takes the Load Off

Yearbook advisors can worry less about making sure that every last student is included in the pages of the yearbook. Thanks to TreeRings customizable pages, students can upload an assortment of their own favorite Instagram photos rather than a set of pre-chosen stock images.

Yearbook advisors will enjoy the ability to quickly sort through and upload their assortment of the yearbook’s Instagram photos instead of through folders and folders of JPEGs. And, when searching through the yearbook’s promoted hashtags, if there are photos that are exceptionally good and you would like to work them into the layout of the yearbook, advisors can contact those students and ask for permission and an original copy to upload into the layout.

6. It Sells Itself and the Yearbook

Kids love their Instagram photos. So, the fact that they are able to incorporate them into their own personalized yearbooks is a huge selling point for the yearbook itself. Make sure to remind them that whatever they post, they can use, and they will be much more eager to get their hands on the one thing that sites like Instagram rob them of – a physical copy of their favorite photos.

Getting students to add the yearbook Instagram page to their news feeds may take a little push at first, but once students start hashtagging and tagging their friends in photos, the promotion will take care of itself. After a few popular photos network their way around, the students will be coming to you rather than the other way around.

7. It Promotes the Yearbook, School, and Ads

Having an Instagram account exclusive to the yearbook committee allows you to gain direct access to your audience  – the students. You can post deadlines and reminders, promote events, ask questions, and ask for feedback. The more students that follow your account, the more you can reach.

Instagram also provides a platform for a new face of advertising. In all honesty, teens have learned the skills to tune text ads out. But using photographs or video to take advantage of strategic product placement and business promotion is what gets through and can even go viral.

8. It’s Easy… and Free

With so many kids already using Instagram, there’s no extra effort or cost to get them involved. All they have to do is take pictures like they’re already doing. The pre-planned, school-specific hashtag will also give them the ability to search through all of their photos with a simple swipe of their finger to make uploading their images even easier.

Because there are no upfront costs or overhead for schools to take on by utilizing Instagram, it is an invaluable and inexpensive resource for yearbook committees with a tight budget. Encouraging students to participate requires minimal effort because they’re already photo sharing with friends online, so marketing costs are virtually non-existent, as well.

The landscape of being a teen may have changed over the times, but the sentiment remains the same. Adults will always go on to tell the stories of their most cherished school days for years to come. That’s why social media and photo sharing apps are so popular: because they give users the chance to tell the story of their lives the way they want it told and, most of all, remembered.

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