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An investigation of the online presence of UK universities on Instagram

Emma Stuart (School of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
David Stuart (Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, London, UK)
Mike Thelwall (School of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 11 September 2017

2675

Abstract

Purpose

Rising tuition fees and a growing importance on league tables has meant that university branding is becoming more of a necessity to attract prospective staff, students, and funding. Whilst university websites are an important branding tool, academic institutions are also beginning to exploit social media. Image-based social media services such as Instagram are particularly popular at the moment. It is therefore logical for universities to have a presence on popular image-based social media services such as Instagram. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the online presence of UK universities on Instagram in an initial investigation of use.

Design/methodology/approach

This study utilizes webometric data collection, and content analysis methodology.

Findings

The results indicate that at the time of data analysis for this investigation (In the Spring of 2015), UK universities had a limited presence on Instagram for general university accounts, with only 51 out of 128 institutions having an account. The most common types of images posted were humanizing (31.0 percent), showcasing (28.8 percent), and orienting (14.3 percent). Orienting images were more likely to receive likes than other image types, and crowdsourcing images were more likely to receive comments.

Originality/value

This paper gives a valuable insight into the image posting practices of UK universities on Instagram. The findings are of value to heads of marketing, online content creators, social media campaign managers, and anyone who is responsible for the marketing, branding, and promoting of a university’s services.

Keywords

Citation

Stuart, E., Stuart, D. and Thelwall, M. (2017), "An investigation of the online presence of UK universities on Instagram", Online Information Review, Vol. 41 No. 5, pp. 582-597. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-02-2016-0057

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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