In many ways, Instagram is becoming the most important platform for a non-profit, charity or religious organization. Its continually growing membership of 400 million, plus its visual nature, and ability to reach a user’s intended audience makes it easier to reach your target audience than Facebook and Twitter. To be more specific, your followers will see 100% of your content on Instagram as opposed to on Facebook, with an algorithm that favors advertisers. Twitter’s upcoming update will also make it as hard to reach followers without advertising as it is on Facebook. Here are some key elements that a non-profit should incorporate into their Instagram strategy to engage their followers, break into new audiences, and generate more donations and/or volunteers for their cause.
Create an Instagram strategy
When I work with my non-profit clients, I focus their Instagram content strategy around four pillars:
This is the most effective way to evoke emotions in your audience. Positive stories evoke joy, happiness, and proof that your non-profit’s work is impacting the world. Highlighting the struggles of your cause and who it affects can galvanize your base. Profile a distinguished donor, employee or volunteer and how they’ve impacted your organization. Both the positive and “negative” aspects of storytelling can easily make a post go viral. Storytelling doesn’t always mean a novella-length photo caption, in fact sometimes a photo says much more than a caption ever could. Choose your words and photos wisely.
Building awareness for your cause is often implemented through storytelling, but that is not the only way. Many causes have a day, week or month dedicated to raising awareness and donations. Deadlines, both real and manufactured, are also a way to encourage donors to act. Non-profits should take this time to educate their followers about their cause, those who are affected, and how a person can help donate their money or time to this issue.
Engaging donors, past and potential
Success on Instagram means not only a continuously growing following that you can talk to, but a following that talks back. Instagram has engagement levels that are over fifty times as high as Facebook or Twitter, but you must position your content correctly to obtain these elevated levels of engagement. One way to do that is by using popular hashtags. Hashtags will link potential donors to your content easier. Another way to garner more engagement is to tag other Instagram users in your photos. You can either tag them in the photo caption or the photo directly. Users who are tagged can spread your message simply by liking the photo as well. The explore tab is a mixture of trending tags and photos that are relevant to a user. Tagging donors or volunteers can have your content reach hundreds and even thousands of new people.
Still not getting enough feedback? Ask your followers questions. Interact with the people you follow. The more of the human element you put into your page and persona, the more humans will want to interact with your organization.
As a non-profit, you need to approach donation generation just as a business would treat leads and sales generation. This means that, in conjunction with other three pillars of the Instagram strategy, you also have to employ some subtle sales tactics. Soft selling works much better on Instagram than most other social platforms since the majority of the users are Millennials. When creating a new post always mention how the viewer can donate. If you are taking donations online link your website to your profile’s bio section to take the viewer directly to the donation page. If your donations are from texting out a special code, remember to put that in each and every photo caption. You never know how someone might find your content so remember to list any and all donation channels.
Instagram advertising is still relatively new, but this strategy offers a great opportunity to raise donations through Instagram. If you have previously run ads on Facebook you will find that creating an Instagram ad is very similar, and ads can be created in the Facebook platform. There are a variety of goals you can set and methods of ad delivery, so the choice is up to you on how you advertise and how frequently. A word of advice, start slow and try different delivery methods. A “small” budget is really whatever your organization considers one to be, but I often start my clients off with a $25 dollar ad spend. Once you have tested various methods and audiences you should get a good feel of what is working and what isn’t effective. At that point you can invest more in ads for longer periods.
Final word: It’s all about your audience.
Instagram is not the platform to constantly churn out genius-level content on. Although your cause is no doubt a serious one, many users will not react kindly to cold, donation driven content. Sometimes a post you least expect to resonate can go viral. Listen to your audience. Monitor what they like, and then give them content that they will respond to. That is the key to success on Instagram. Happy posting!
Are you part of a non-profit that needs assistance in creating a digital strategy? Are you in search of an integrated marketing plan that can result in a larger audience, more donations and higher public visibility? Contact me at email@example.com or 610.937.5187 for a free consultation and $100 off your set up fees.
If your business doesn’t have a presence on Instagram, it’s time to reconsider your social media strategy. Here are the top ten reasons why Instagram is right for you.
You need a new way to market to Millennials
The majority of users are in the 18-29 age group and chances are your business services Millennials, whether you know it or not. Due to everyone and their mother (in my case, literally my mother) joining Facebook that platform’s popularity has waned for both the Millennials and Generation Z. It’s not uncommon for members of my generation to be exclusively on Instagram, and since Instagram now has 400 million users and counting this trend doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. So if you don’t have a considerable presence on Instagram you are not effectively reaching the Millennial market.
If you’re looking for more engagement online, visual content is how to get it.
It’s a fact that visual content on any platform receives more likes, comments and shares than plain text. On Instagram visual content, whether it be graphics or video, is paramount. Of course, the caption for the photo or video is very important, but most often a “double tap” happens because the viewer likes what they see.
In need of a digital portfolio? You’re in luck.
Instagram can work for many different types of business’ and industries, whether they offer products or services. For example, many hairdressers and makeup artists use Instagram extensively by posting photos and videos of their work and relevant tips. Ultimately, it turns into an easily accessible, free portfolio for those in the personal services industry. With the help of relevant hashtags you can easily promote yourself and your work and gain not only a following of potential clients but connect with other colleagues around the world.
These Insta-folios are so effective, that it’s even landed someone a job or two.
You want to connect to your audience, but don’t have a lot of time.
With the help of scheduling software like HootSuite it’s become even easier to create a full range of content for your followers to enjoy. Now you can post from a desktop computer, whereas before Instagram was a purely mobile app.
You want to connect with other businesses in your area (and beyond).
Big businesses often team up on Instagram to expand brand awareness and engagement for both companies. (See #BlueApronXZola!). This is something small businesses should take advantage of as well. Contact other complimentary local or national businesses and ask if they’d be interested in cross promoting. The most popular way of cross promoting is a one-day “Account Takeover”. A takeover usually involves the complimentary business creating branded posts for your Instagram page and visa versa. This can be a win-win for both companies because it creates awareness of your brand in a different but relevant audience.
Uninspired? Get insta-spired.
Instagram is full of inspiring quotes in attractive graphics. Whether you catch one on your photo feed or find one in the explore tab, there’s a quote graphic for everyone! If I’m ever experiencing the dreaded creative block I look to Instagram to find content to curate on my account. Apps like Repost are available for both on Apple and Android. Repost allows you to screenshot the original photo and copy the caption. That way you have a steady flow of content but you’re not stealing someone else’s work.
Need quick and real feedback? Instagram can do that.
With the help of relevant hashtags feedback is just a post away. The best way to get feedback on your Instagram posts, your products, or anything else is to simply ask.
It’s the perfect platform to reach niche markets
It is becoming more and more difficult to get your business noticed on Facebook everyday. If you’re looking for a bigger range of exposure you are required to pony up some cash for it. Fortunately that’s not the case with Instagram. Since such a low percentage of small business owners even Instagram, this platform is wide open for promotions and can provide a wealth of opportunities for your brand.
Looking for more leads?
According to Shopify, Instagram has the second largest average order value. Simply put, Instagram users are buying more high ticket items than every other social platform other than Polyvore. So if you are struggling get leads that turn into sales, Instagram would be the platform for you to try. Not only do Instagram users buy more often than almost other platform users, but they spend more money as well.
You can (finally) advertise on Instagram.
Instagram was bought out by Facebook in 2012, but just recently has Instagram started to venture into paid advertisements and posts. Advertising on Instagram is now available for all businesses, no matter what size and budget, through Facebook’s Power Editor. This is a great advantage for businesses who want to advertise on Instagram and Facebook concurrently since you will be able to view the metrics of both ads on the same platform. There are three different types of advertising spots: a carousel ad (multiple photos you can swipe left to see more), a single photo and a 30 second video. Like Facebook’s ads there are different projected goals and budgets to choose from.
So now you know the reasons why Instagram is right for your business. Are you still unsure you have enough time to use it to your business’ full potential? Then it’s time to call Content + Creativity! Our seasoned team will help you craft a clever, cohesive brand message that will span all your social platforms. Call us at 610.937.5178 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss a custom plan to fit your business’ needs.