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May 20, 2016

Appreciating evidence-based case studies with Instagram

Pen and Pixel poster
NEXT WEDNESDAY, MAY 25TH, the hallways and studio space on the Clonmel campus of the Limerick Institute of Technology come alive with samples of creative work during the annual Pen & Pixel exhibition. I'm deeply interested in following the conversation about the event as it trickles far beyond County Tipperary, primarily through social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

My professional interest arises because I teach a Web Analytics module as part of the BSc in Creative Multimedia Honours Degree in the Limerick Institute of Technology. All of the  students taking that module have work on display in the annual Pen & Pixel exhibition. I plan to use several lab sessions during the Web Analytics module to create rich and inspiring content that would appeal to Instagram’s aspirational audience. This is a huge demographic because Instagram now counts more than 400 million active monthly users.

Instagram content is more than compelling square format digital snaps because Instagram is part of the Facebook family. When you want to leverage Instagram, you get to dive into a wide range of apps and services powered by Facebook. I want to watch our clever Web Analytics students use Facebook’s targeting to reach out to a young, engaged audience. And as we reach that audience, I want to define the persona most engaged by the high quality Instagram content in a branded PenAndPixel.ie Instagram account.

That account uses curated images from the creative multimedia and digital animation production programmes that showcase the creativity and diversity that prospective students would find on the Clonmel campus of the Limerick Institute of Technology. The culturally diverse student cohort there follows semesterised academic programmes in creative multimedia, digital animation production and games art design. We want to build brand awareness with 14 to 18-year-olds during the period when they are making college choices.

Our target audience of degree candidates live and breathe the digital world. They see their world through mobile newsfeeds. With strong creative and relevant stories, we can reach this special audience by using Instagram.

People want to connect to the PenAndPixel.ie Instagram account. They recognise the brand of PenAndPixel.ie when they see it. Most of the first 30 people connected to the account had displayed their work in previous exhibitions, suggesting Instagram offers an easy alumni network connection.

Instagram also offers a way to produce a series of stylized visuals to further nurture connections with alumni, practising artists and design agencies while building brand awareness of the LSAD-Clonmel programmes and increasing student numbers. Several clever Instagram advertisements I've seen feature clean creative content in bright colors with wordless videos presented from a let-me-show-you point of view, mimicking the visual style of popular blog posts written by students as they share their work online. 


I believe it is a worthwhile learning strategy to lead my Web Analytics students through a process where we measure "return on objective" in several ways. We will construct an online survey to track brand awareness. For example, we could ask visiting second level students if they have seen PenAndPixel in their newsfeeds and determine if they can remember what PenAndPixel is about. We can also measure the effectiveness of the Instagram content by calculating changes in website visits, clicks on Google ads and subscriptions to mailing lists.

And perhaps most importantly, we can iterate the messages if we're unable to document positive lift when measuring the effectiveness of the Instagram account.

If you're interested in how we've progressed with a creative marketing strategy involving Instagram and Web Analytics, please check back in October 2016 when I'll share first results.


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