For better or worse, social media is a defining feature of our generation, and over the years, Binghamton University students, community members and the University itself have created Instagram accounts to share and discuss common experiences and various aspects of student life, highlight the local area and provide a few laughs in the midst of our daily hustles.
From Instagram accounts like @binghamtonbarstool, shedding a light on the raunchier aspects of the Binghamton party scene, to @budepressionmeals, featuring some not-so-appetizing student meals, the city of Binghamton and BU have spurred a variety of accounts focused on various aspects of student life, arts and culture in the Triple Cities area and beyond.
It’s hard not to wonder about the faces that run the accounts for students’ enjoyment. In an effort to shed light on what goes into the creation of content and management of BU Instagram accounts, Pipe Dream sat down for interviews with the administrators of a variety of BU Instagram accounts, including @binghamtonu, @binghamton_web_head, @bingboyswearingsalmonshorts, @bingmemeton and @budepressionmeals, to discuss their social media presence.
With Instagram launching in 2010, the majority of these Instagram accounts are not very old. In fact, many of them were created within the last year, with the original creators still running the accounts. Rachael Richter, creator of @bingmemeton and a sophomore majoring in computer science, discussed how her account began.
“I was making memes for fun with my friends and I thought it’s a shame that the world can’t see these memes, so I decided it would be funny if I made an Instagram account for it and it kind of just took off,” Richter said.
The founder of @bingboyswearingsalmonshorts, who chose to remain anonymous, said they had a similar start to their account, initially sharing photos and laughs among friends. The account exclusively posts photos of men on campus sporting the iconic salmon shorts.
“The account was created because [we] saw so many Binghamton [University] boys in salmon-colored shorts as soon as the weather got nice, and we thought it was such an interesting phenomenon,” the administrator said. “So we would send each other [pictures] of salmon shorts sightings throughout the day, just for fun and thought it would be even better to share this with the world.”
The founder of @binghamton_web_head, who also asked to be anonymous, said they aimed to inspire community members when they created their account in 2012.
“I liked dressing up as superheroes just to inspire kids,” they said. “I was raised in New York City, and there were people dressed up in costumes all the time. I wanted to be that for Binghamton.”
While many student accounts originated on Instagram and have always been visuals-based, the official BU Instagram account had slightly different origins, adapting to changing social media trends, according to an anonymous administrator.
“We started our account in July 2012 because somebody at the University was hip enough to realize we couldn’t count on Myspace anymore,” the administrator said. “We saw it as another great way to connect with the [BU] community and hopped on board.”
The content that gets posted on the account depends largely on what is happening in the Binghamton University community and nationally each week.
“Maybe we got a new ranking, or Spring Fling is coming up, or it’s #NationalPumpkinPieDay,” the administrator said. “We have to give props to nature, because photos of the changing leaves, snowfall and rainbows are Instagram gold. Sometimes people tag us in their photos and we share those too, whether they be sunset shots or doggos in Bearcat gear. And sometimes we see a sweet new SpongeBob meme and build a [BU]-specific post around that. It’s a flexible process and oftentimes ridiculous.”
@binghamtonu was recently ranked as the top college Instagram account in the 2019 Higher Ed Social Media Engagement Report by Up&Up, a digital agency, and the administrator said the staff behind the account work hard to keep their content relevant, relatable and informative.
“We try to be real and post relevant stuff that anyone in the [BU] community can relate to,” they said. “Oftentimes, that involves making jokes about the Engineering Building.”
Richter reflected a similar approach to posting relevant content.
“I have an album of material I could post,” she said. “I consider which one is great for today depending on the time of year and what’s going on. For example, I posted about The Rat on a Saturday morning after a lot of people went out the night before.”
Meanwhile, @binghamton_web_head’s administrator focuses their content on sharing unique scenes around Binghamton.
“I try to take [pictures] of different sceneries and parts of Binghamton that people don’t normally see,” they said. “Especially from my perspective, being able to climb up stuff that most people can’t access. It’s nice being able to share stuff that most people can’t see.”
All administrators said follower interactions and responding to direct messages (DMs), comments and tags is central to running their accounts. The head of @budepressionmeals, who wished to remain anonymous, said seeing follower input caused the focus of their account to shift.
“My original idea was actually for it to be about stupid meals college students eat in their dorms, but my DMs turned out to be mostly food from the dining halls,” they said. “The depression part of it was supposed to be about being a student, not having a lot of money and eating ramen [and] microwavable mac and cheese, but it ended up being a lot of dining hall food, and it’s been working out.”
Whether it’s bonding over bad meals, laughing over memes or taking pride in BU and its community, BU Instagram accounts allow students and community members to connect with one another.
“We hope to highlight everything awesome about Binghamton — from classes, to clubs, to impressive alumni, to events, to Tully’s tenders,” the administrator of @binghamtonu said. “We want to keep people informed, instill Bing pride and deliver the [laughs]. This account is for everyone — students, faculty, staff, alumni, anyone about that [BU] life.”