However much administrators may want to believe that life only occurs inside the classrooms of their schools, it’s simply not true. Students go to college to learn, sure, but they also go to live. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a prospective who finds your school appealing if all you’re showing them is fancy buildings, research projects and smiling professors.

Having fun —and showing it— is integral to a successful social media strategy.

Don’t be afraid to put control in the hands of your students. Oftentimes you’ll be pleasantly surprised what they’ll create for you. However much you want to believe you are a part of their world (see left: puppies), you’re not going on 3AM pizza runs or participating in dance parties in their dorm rooms. So let them tell these stories. Let them show you what their college experience really looks like.


Try It came from a necessity to have more current students see their experiences reflected across Colby’s social media channels, and for prospective students to be able to imagine themselves on campus—particularly on Instagram, where most 18-22 year olds are spending their time online. It was clear that Colby could be doing a better job engaging with these populations. All of Colby’s social accounts were lagging behind peer institutions, and engagement beyond base, low levels of likes was nonexistent.

While initially conceived as an idea for YouTube (with horizontal video), audience engagement opportunities on Instagram prompted us to try something a little different— committing fully to shooting vertically and editing the final product into :15 second story arcs to make the whole concept work on Instagram stories. We knew that the story functions on the platform were (and continue to be) a great way to reach our target audiences, and Try It became one of a number of weekly series that put the Colby College brand at the forefront of students’ feeds every day.

Try It view rates tend to start in the 2,300 - 2,400 range and end in the 1,900 - 2,000 range (although there are definitely outliers). Videos retain 79% of viewers in a worst case scenario. Instagram influencers tend to have the highest average retention rates on the platform, generally around at 83%. Brands see results in the 62% range. So, Try It is performing closer to influencer levels than brand. Those videos also continue to rack up views on IGTV and Youtube, although they are most successful in stories because they are tailor-made for the distribution method.