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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.937.5187 for a free consultation and $100 off your set up fees.