March 18, 2024 11:59 pm
In the past few years, it has become common for many of the over 5.3 million incoming college students across the U.S. and Canada to turn to “class” Instagram pages to get their names out there and meet other incoming students. The existing course of action in the industry is as follows: 1) An anonymous individual informally starts an Instagram account, using a username such as @CollegeName_GraduationYear. 2) Incoming students set to graduate during the year indicated by the page’s username send a direct message to the Instagram page, including an image proving their admissions, 1-10 pictures of themselves, and a body of text describing themselves. 3) Typically after anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and often after administering a fee to the individual, the page administrator uploads a post to the page using the provided 1-10 pictures and body of text. 4) Other incoming students, current students at the college, and others from all over the world interact with the post by viewing the page or checking their feed. I started “class” pages ourselves for the University of Michigan and the University of South Florida during the Class of 2026 admissions cycle; I recognized many flaws with the “current system.” I found that it typically takes 3-4 minutes to upload an individual post, leading many page administrators to charge anywhere from $2-15 to upload a post and building up posting “queues” as long as two months. Looking to manage more than two pages for the Class of 2027 admissions cycle but not having the time, our team recognized that we could expand our presence, all while providing more value to incoming students, by automating the posting process. Autoposting: With one of our two flagship features, we take out all the difficulty of getting on a class page. Rather than direct messaging one’s information and the page administrator having to save all the photos, copy over the text, and execute the post, people upload through our website and are automatically posted by our proprietary software. This not only makes the submission process easier for users — they get posted near-instantly, can edit/delete their post at any time, etc. — but it allows the managemet of potentially hundreds of pages at once and recruit ambassadors to focus solely on driving engagement by making infographics, campus updates, and fostering a community. Hosting anything ranging from FAQs to tours of campus not only differentiates us but also drives engagement. Active engagement is a significant factor in the Instagram algorithm, which causes our posts to be prioritized on suggestions to users and positively affects our ability to monetize the pages. Person Discovery: Beyond the process of executing an Instagram post, another inherent flaw I noticed with “class” pages is that they are unsuitable for accomplishing the very problem they are typically out to solve — helping incoming students find their future classmates. Instagram is the platform of choice for incoming students to get their names out, likely because “class” pages contain the largest network of students; nevertheless, the idea of scrolling through an Instagram page of endless posts to find a roommate, for example, is inefficient. Moreover, when trying to find a roommate, most incoming students are unsuccessful — in fact, one study found that only 31% of college freshmen are happy with their current roommate and living arrangement. Beyond the fact that most dedicated platforms for finding people on campuses are based on machine learning models that do not take into account what is best for an individual user, such platforms also lack a means of drawing a large audience. Considering that MeetYourClass possesses the means of posting to “class” pages, users can be added to our People Finder with the click of a button. With our person-discovery software, we are putting the power in the individual’s hands by making people findable with over 150 filters. Suddenly, you can now find all the in-state, extroverted night owls on campus who keep the room clean, play tennis, and are studying computer science. These core features will allow students across North America the ability to create genuine connections with their class. Already, over 500 students have created accounts and are using the platform to find their future friends.
What I'll do with $5,000
We currently have around 75 “class” pages ready and aim for 100 in total for the class of 2027 admissions cycle. During this time period, we hope to retain all of our pages, continuously iterate our platform, and extensively test all of our monetization hypotheses. We want to become the go-to 2027 “class” page for each university we are targeting, which we will use the funds to conduct giveaways, recruitment of ambassadors, and hire a content creator to develop our online presence. We currently need more resources to continue our social media strategy, which is why the funds will go a long way.