Asking a 12th grade student if they’ve checked their email is like asking them if they remembered to clean behind the toilet when they cleaned their bathroom. They hate it, they think it’s dumb, but they’re starting to realize that it’s a necessity for being a functioning and productive member of society.
Asking a 7th grade student if they’ve checked their email is like asking them if they’ve taken the pulse of their pet unicorn. It doesn’t even compute as something that could be possible, relevant, or anything short of a joke.
And yet, I send out emails once a week, and when students don’t know something is going on, “Well…I emailed 357 times about it last week…so….” Email doesn’t cut it. Text services can be somewhat expensive (disclaimer: I’m meeting with a company about getting a short code for our student ministry, post on that later). I’ve used some of the apps, but I’ve not found one that sends what I want, without messing up some of my student’s phones. I used “Groups,” which was supposed to send an individual text to each of the students I picked. It was my go-to for about 6 months until one of my students finally told me, “Hey, when you send those group texts, I try and open it and my phone crashes.” Fantastic.
So email is down, for a lot of people, texting is down. That leaves a few options. You could use Facebook, but the odds of a Facebook status making it to their feed, being there when they see it, and everyone reading it is minimal. You’ll hit some, but it’s not the best. Twitter is amazing, but some students follow 97 accounts that tweet a “Quotes Girls Like” type garbage every nine minutes. Again, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos.
In light of all of that, I’ve started trying to use Instagram. Here are 4 reasons I use instagram…
- Pictures stick. They grab their attention and stick with you a little longer than a normal sentence.
- Instagram is clean. From a design standpoint at least, there’s FAR less clutter to confuse the message you’re trying to get out there.
- Students live for it. There’s an entire subculture of instagram, with students giving shout outs, clamoring for affirmation, and checking it every 10 minutes. Probably another post for another time, but I know that any of my students who Instagram will get my announcement if I throw it up there.
- You can push it to other stuff. Set up sharing with Facebook, Instagram, Email if you want, Foursquare (because if there’s one thing students use, it’s Foursquare. Right? Right? ….), Flickr, Tumblr, whatever you want! So, in essence, you’re killing 2, 3, 6 birds with one stone.
That being said, here are drawbacks to using Instagram to try and spread announcements.
- That Guy Syndrome. Instagram is a way I keep up with a lot of my college friends, my family, and my ministry friends. I run the risk of being “That Guy” when every 3 posts is an announcement.
- Smartphone. MOST of my students don’t have them. But these are easy enough, that it’s worth getting the word out to the students that do!
Here’s how to make the magic happen. Granted, I have an iPhone, so Android users, I’m sure you have a super easy way to do this too.
* Open up “NOTES” and type out your announcement. Try and keep in mind the 1×1 aspect ratio Instagram is going to use.
* Take a screen shot (push the lock and home screen button simultaneously). I’ve seen some people who make a slide in Photoshop and make it all snazzy and sharp. I choose not to, because that takes longer, and I don’t know that it’s really going to change who sees the announcement or not.
* Open up Instagram, load the picture, add a filter if you want.
* I usually add a little caption or something, knowing that when I push it to twitter, that’ll be the text to grab attention in that avenue.
* I push it to Facebook and sometimes Twitter instantly, other times, I’ll copy the share link and throw it in to Buffer to space out exposure.
Simple as that. If you want, you can even tag students in the FB uploaded picture, but I choose not to. I don’t want to be too annoying.
So there it is, nothing special, nothing fancy. I’ve also used it to do giveaways, like in the case below. It wasn’t to get new followers, lots of like, or super important Klout (#sarcasm), but just to get them to engage with me and engage with Scripture.
How about you, have you used Instagram? How?