Your NPO and Instagram

It’s a shame. People barely read these days. It’s all about good pictures. I guess that’s not so bad as photographs leave lots of room for individual interpretation.

It’s for this very reason that Instagram is on the rise.  With 100 million monthly active users and over 40 million photos uploaded per day, the photo-sharing site claims to gain a new follower every second.

So how can NPOs use Instagram to turn their photos into donation-drivers? Here are some ideas to start:

1.     Get personal.

The most successful Instagram accounts offer a glimpse into user’s private lives and behind-the-scenes experiences not revealed on other social networking sites. They key is authenticity and transparency – if your organization is not comfortable with this yet, then Instagram may not be for you (right now).

2.     Connect Instagram with your organization’s Twitter account and Facebook Page.

Since photos get above-and-beyond the most interaction and engagement of all content posted to Facebook and Twitter, it makes sense to post your best Instagram images on both of these accounts. If you are using Instagram from a personal account, you can link your organization’s Facebook Page easily.

3.     Follow other accounts first to see what works for other nonprofits.

As with all social media sites, first conduct research on best practices, sketching out a plan and then jump in. See what local businesses, nonprofits, community organizations and leaders in your area are posting to Instagram. Follow your supporters, donors and volunteers to see what moves them and what they like to post.

4.     Take some time to learn how to take a great Instagram photo.

Unusual angles, different lighting and a unique perspective are all characteristics of viral Instagram shots. Shots of nature, beautiful scenery, close ups on faces all translate into likes and comments. instagram

5.     Showcase direct impact.

There is a reason that your organization exists. You are changing lives, saving the environment, finding homes for animals, preserving historical buildings, saving children. Whatever your mission, make sure that some of your Instagram photos show this impact – whether it be a smiling face, a cleaned up beach or an empty food pantry after the holidays.


6.     Have a healthy balance of fun pictures and business images.

It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom on Instagram – yes, touching, emotional photos work well, but change it up and show a happy moment!

7.     Crowdsource images from your supporters.

Your supporters, constituents and community members are online. What about that younger demographic you desperately want to reach? Guess what. They are ALL using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest. They are taking photos. They are sharing their experiences, thoughts, dreams and hopes online.  Why not use them as a source of content for your social media accounts?

8.     Highlight volunteer work.

Showcase the local bank stocking the food bank, the mom’s club hosting a fundraising event and the people monitoring the hotline, stuffing envelopes and doing office work.

9.  Feature your donors.

With their permission, post photos of your donors. Add a short caption describing who they are and why they support you.

10.  Use hashtags strategically and wisely.

Do not jump on the most popular hashtag and use it repeatedly – that’s spam. Use hashtags that make sense to your followers and your supporters.

Using hashtags is very important for continually adding new followers, as it exposes you to a wider circle of Instagram users who are searching on that hashtag.

Do your research, see what others are using and add them sparingly.

11.  Get comfortable with posting photos first, then develop a strategy for videos.

Instagram videos have become a hugely popular addition to the site, but most are blurry, unclear and indecipherable. When using video for your nonprofit, there needs to be more preparation and planning than just sneaking a snapshot.

13.  Link to your mobile site (or make sure your website is mobile accessible).

Instagram is a mobile app and thus all links should go to mobile accessible pages and websites, as well as mobile donation pages and email sign up forms. This should go without saying.

14.  Have fun!

Post a photo of the Board President at their high school prom for #ThrowbackThursday. Post photos of staff members celebrating a birthday.

Keep it light and go off topic once in a while. Enjoy yourself!


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