Right now, there are about 1.1 billion Instagram users worldwide. In fact, it’s growing faster than giants like Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. Instagram’s users come from around the globe, span age groups and demographics, and have thousands of different interests. And if you’re a summer camp director looking to enhance or improve your camp marketing efforts, it’s time to start getting connected!.
In our increasingly digital world, most people use social media for their personal purposes. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are fantastic for connecting with friends and family members and learning about current events. They can also be a major benefit for your summer camp. There are more than 14,000 summer camps in the U.S. right now, and many of them are using social media to market their programs.
So how can you use social platforms as efficiently as possible, and what do you need to know about each platform to be successful?
In this post, we’re going to discuss Instagram. Why it matters, how best to use it, and what to know about the way your campers are probably using it right now.
Let’s dive in!
Why Your Camp Needs Instagram
When you use it correctly, Instagram is one of the most effective ways to interact with campers, attract new audiences, and keep your camp’s registration docket full. In addition to the fact that 71% of Instagram’s users are age 35 or younger, the split between male and female users is virtually even:
Here’s a Hootsuite graphic that breaks it down:
Here are a few Instagram statistics to chew on:
- 72% of U.S. teenagers use Instagram
- Instagram surpassed Snapchat as the social platform of choice for American teenagers in the fall of 2018
- 95% of U.S. Instagrammers also use YouTube
- 35% of all adults that use the internet use Instagram and 28% of them are in the U.S.
- 34% of millennials use Instagram
- 22% of all Instagram users log in at least once daily
- 38% of users check Instagram multiple times a day
- 25% of smartphone owners use Instagram
- Instagram users who are under 25 use Instagram for 32 minutes each day
- Instagram’s users “like” 4.2 billion posts each day
- Instagram users post 95 million posts each day
- 500 million people use Instagram’s Stories features daily
- The platform has seen an 80% increase year-by-year for video content
If you take a look at how businesses use Instagram, the numbers get even more interesting:
- 71% of companies in the U.S. use Instagram. This is a higher percentage than Twitter, for example.
- Instagram is home to more than 25 million business profiles, and at least 200 million users seek out at least one Instagram business profile daily.
- 60% of users discover products on Instagram, and…
- 75% of users take action
While a summer camp isn’t indeed a “product,” it’s clear that people are out there looking for things to discover on Instagram. If your summer camp has a presence, there, it will be easier for them to find your program, as well. Need an example? Check out these must-follow camps on the Instagram platform.
5 Benefits of Instagram for Summer Camp Administrators
Most camp administrators know they need to use social media to market their camp. For many, though, the idea inspires some dread.
After all, there are dozens of social platforms out there, and some (like Facebook, for example) have become increasingly challenging to navigate. Instagram, however, has remained a social media unicorn.
The premise of the platform is easy to understand, it’s accessible, it has a massive user-ship, and it can even be fun to post, share, and interact on the platform.
In many ways, Instagram stands out as the golden child of the social media environment. Here are a few things summer camp administrators will love about Instagram as a marketing vehicle.
1. It’s an Excellent Way to Share Your Camp’s Culture
Since Instagram is so visual, it’s a fantastic way to let your campers in on the experience of your camp. Regardless of whether you’re a specialty or a general camp, images are a powerful way to get people excited and make people want to join you this season.
For example, check out how Pine Forest Camp in Pennsylvania does this:
Filled with pictures of campers and counselors having fun in the scenic Pocono Mountains, this Instagram profile is enough to make anyone want to sign up.
2. You can use it to Share Updates
Instagram doesn’t have to be all fun and games. In fact, it’s a great place to share news and updates. Check out how Camp Tanadoona in Excelsior, MN does this:
After updating their community and dining center, they took to Instagram to share the news. The graphic is eye-catching, informative, and easy to digest. This is an excellent example of how camps can use the platform to keep current and former campers informed. Instagram allows you to stay in touch with your past campers and counselors, and encourage people to continue engaging with you, in turn.
3. Your Posts Aren’t Likely to be Suppressed
In recent years, social media marketing has become complicated by one big factor: algorithm updates.
Facebook, for example, made a significant change to their ranking algorithm in 2018. The shift, designed to help users have “more meaningful social interactions,” took posts from businesses, news outlets, and organizations, and put them in second-place to posts from a user’s friends, family, and groups.
While that didn’t spell the end for branded content, it did make it harder for businesses marketing on Facebook to ensure that their entire audience saw their posts. While Facebook owns Instagram, Instagram has (so far) avoided this fate.
This means that camp administrators who want to market their programs on social media will still enjoy high visibility on Instagram.
4. It’s Very Interactive
Social media can sometimes feel like a one-sided platform. Businesses post, people receive. End of story. With Instagram, however, there’s a chance for dialogue. Camp Pinnacle, for example, uses Instagram to announce a live Q&A for potential campers:
Camp administrators know that fostering dialogue with current and potential campers is the best way to build relationships. Instagram, as it turns out, is one of the best places to do it.
5. Instagram Drives More Engaged Traffic (Than any Other Social Channel)
Instagram is fun and easy to use, yes, but it’s also incredibly productive. The traffic that you’ll earn from your Instagram posts is incredibly engaged.
In fact, research that evaluates time people spend on various social sites, like Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, and YouTube shows that Instagram beats them all.
Here’s a graphic to break it down:
Instagram also makes it easy to engage with the audience you bring in from your posts. This, in turn, boosts the chance that you’ll convert them down the road.
How to Navigate Instagram Like a Pro: Tips to Build Your Following
If you’ve ever used Instagram in your personal capacity, you probably understand how the platform works: you create a profile (either private or public), people follow you, you follow them, you post pictures, you can use hashtags, and people like them. Sounds simple enough, right?
Assuming you already have an Instagram profile for your camp (if not, here’s a tutorial on how to set one up), here are a few ways your camp can use Instagram this upcoming season:
1. Go in With a Plan
Of the summer camp administrators that use Instagram, the biggest mistake most of them make is not having a documented Instagram plan. Sound overkill? Think again. Instagram is not a place to post randomly and hope something sticks. If you’re going to interact with the platform, do it intentionally.
One smart way to start is to develop an overarching theme for your upcoming posts. Here are a few example themes to choose from:
- Spotlights of your campers. This is a great way to showcase the culture of your camp, encourage parents to hop in and share posts, and create an organic feel for your profile. Before you share camper photos, of course, you’ll have to collect consent forms from families, which many camps do in their intake form.
- What’s cooking? Get people “hungry” for your camp’s programs by featuring the yummy things coming out of the kitchen. This also gives you an opportunity to do a weekly shout-out to your kitchen staff and volunteers.
- Camp activities. This is a gold mine for social media content. Pictures of your campers enjoying your camp activities draw people in and make your Instagram a true must-follow.
This is an area where you can get creative. Don’t allow yourself to be hemmed in by what you think you “should” do. Whatever approach you decide to take, be sure it reflects your camp’s mission, philosophy, and culture.
Bonus points for documenting the social strategy (putting post types and dates on a calendar and charging a camp staff member with carrying the plan out). You can also use some of this photo content to popular your camp’s internal photo interface.
2. Keep Your Username Consistent
If you’re using any other social media platforms, keep your username consistent across all of them. The thought process behind this is simple: when your online information is the same across various platforms, it’s easier for people to find you and interact with your brand. It’s also a ranking factor and will help Google identify, index, and present your content.
If your camp’s username is taken, keep it as close as you possibly can–maybe by appending your location or some other feature of your camp to the name. Then use your camp’s full name (and include a link to your website) in your Instagram bio. You might also consider connecting your Instagram account to your Facebook profile. This allows your Instagram page to auto-post to your Facebook feed every time you share a new piece of content. It’s a great way to employ some cross-channel marketing and attract followers from as many sources as possible.
3. Post Frequently
Most administrators know they should post frequently on Instagram, but how often? Most experts recommend posting at least once a day, and as many as three. The rate you choose is up to you.
If you decide to post three times a day, make sure you’re keeping your content high-quality and relevant. While some people believe that social media is a game of quantity over quality, that’s not true. Your account will perform much better with a handful of high-quality posts than it will with lots of rushed ones.
If you want to post frequently but you’re not sure you have that much fresh material, consider creating some user-generated content. This could come in the form of counselor takeovers, images shared by parents or campers, or updates from past campers.
4. Use Hashtags
Hashtags are a critical part of Instagram success. Designed to help users find and share content, hashtags can help you reach larger audiences, boost discoverability, and get more traction on your posts. In fact, Instagram posts with at least one hashtag get 12.6% more engagement than their tag-less counterparts.
For an example of how to use summer camp hashtags, check out how music-centric Bucks Rock Camp does it:
If you’re wondering how to find hashtags for your summer camp programs, there are a ton of great tools out there. Hashtagify, for example, is a powerful hashtag research platform. You can also take a look at the hashtags other camps in your industry use, and get some inspiration there.
For best results, use a mix of branded hashtags (if you don’t already have a camp hashtag, now’s a great time to create one) and community hashtags (which are more general, and don’t necessarily have anything to do with your camp’s “brand”).
5. Evolve Constantly
As is true with all social media marketing, succeeding on Instagram requires a certain level of flexibility. You learn from what works and what doesn’t. As you build your Instagram strategy and start posting material, pay close attention to the results. What kinds of posts get the most attention? What leaves your followers silent and unengaged? What do people share and like and comment on?
If you’re using an Instagram Business profile, you should also be monitoring your back-end metrics, including reach, link clicks, website traffic, comments per post, and engagement on your stories. These data points will give you an excellent idea of what’s working well for you, and what you should re-evaluate.
Instagram: A Powerful Marketing Tool for Your Summer Camp Program
When used correctly, Instagram can be a fantastic platform for growing and promoting your summer camp. Simple, straightforward, user-friendly, and more welcoming than a few of the other social sites out there, Instagram is an essential platform for any summer camp looking to make its mark this season.
By paying particular attention to how you build your following (and focusing on things like using the right hashtags, creating a strategy for your posts, and sharing everything across multiple platforms), you can enjoy all the functionality Instagram has to offer, starting right now.
Looking for additional ways to streamline and simplify your summer camp operations? Check out our solutions today.