Last Updated on August 12, 2021 by Vikas Kalwani
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in today’s era. Instagram is the free app with the most downloads right after YouTube, according to App Store’s metrics, and it numbers around 1 billion users, spread evenly between genders, according to HootSuite:
As with any social media platform that is popular, the use of Instagram comes with a lot of benefits:
- It’s the perfect way to showcase your nonprofit’s work visually.
- Instagram posts always elicit emotion. This can boost engagement rates.
- You can increase your reach with the right hashtags and good copy.
- Your followers are always up-to-date with your activities, and it makes them feel like they’re an active part of your organization.
In general, social media can be used for several reasons: from expressing your nonprofit’s mission statement to keeping in touch with donors online, especially during the pandemic, these platforms can be handy tools, provided you know how to use them.
So, how can an NPO make a difference through its use of Instagram, especially in 2021?
Table of Contents
The Ways to Use Instagram as an NPO
Digital marketing has come into every marketer’s life to make it a little easier, but this doesn’t mean that nailing it isn’t a little bit challenging.
For example, marketers can use a plethora of marketing tools that can help with everything from social media reports and scheduling – like Buffer – to creating video content (an essential component when it comes to Instagram marketing) – like Biteable.
While these tools are handy, they won’t work without some proper strategies in place. So let’s see what those are.
Perfect Use of Hashtags
Instagram is all about hashtags, and many of its users – if not all of them – use hashtags to find new posts concerning their interests. Hashtags can help more people discover your account. That way, your NPO’s content can ultimately reach the “Discover” page.
There’s a little trick to get hashtags right that consists of three actions: do your research, differentiate according to action, and come up with a branded hashtag for your NPO. Using the wrong hashtags will attract the wrong crowd, which is not what you aimed for when you were writing content.
Looking for hashtags can be tricky, but there’s a general rule behind it: try to be as specific as possible. Every NPO will use #donation or #nonprofit. You want your content to pop, not be lost among others.
This would be a good time to do some extensive research and determine what types of hashtags your audience is using. Invest in some AI and machine learning – or use some online quizzes, if you’re only just starting – to determine what type of things, content, and, as a result, hashtags interest your target audience.
By doing so, you will come up with common patterns and trends that will pinpoint the hashtags you can use.
So, let’s assume that you’ve found the hashtags you’d like to use. Now would be the time to determine the post that goes with each hashtag. In other words, you need to differentiate according to action.
Of course, nobody says you can’t use some generic hashtags, like #tbt, for example, but you need to determine the posts that can go with this. Do your research and see what some of the most popular posts in your niche use as a hashtag. Finally, determine what makes sense according to your demographics and the post itself.
Pro tip: If you’re about to post a picture or some content that has to do with past actions, use #tbt. If your post is about your NPO’s brand new action, it’s best to come up with a specific hashtag.
And as for a branded hashtag, things are pretty self-explanatory with this one. Branded hashtags are beneficial, as they help prospects find your posts and yours alone. But coming up with a branded hashtag for either your NPO or one of your campaigns can be tricky, so make sure to follow these steps:
- Be simple. You can do it like The Water Project and use a branded hashtag with just your NPO’s name, like so:
- If you notice the image above, The Water Project uses hashtags that relate to its cause. Apart from the branded #thewaterproject, you can also see #watercharity and #hygiene.
Through hashtags, your posts will get more views and more engagement, users will find them more quickly, and it will be easier for you to reach new audiences with the right mix of popular and niche-specific hashtags.
Posts: Planning and Scheduling
Planning can be as tricky as finding the right Instagram hashtags. However, you don’t need to plan way in advance to keep up with your audience. Just put together a content marketing plan for your social media efforts first.
Content marketing will allow your efforts to be more targeted and to-the-point, especially if you combine them with the proper tools. For example, a specific event needs a specific campaign, and so do various “International Days” that could help with the visibility of your posts.
Create idea funnels and fill them with content that will allow users to engage with your posts. Then, determine the following:
- Your vision: Are you after awareness or raising funds for your NPO? What is your campaign aiming to do?
- Your goals: This will help you streamline the whole process and track the success or failure of your campaigns.
- Posting times: What are the best posting times for an NPO? Post updates at different times and days to determine what converts best with your audience.
- Posting frequency: Your audience will determine that one as well. Post frequently and make sure to have a steady schedule – that way, your audience will know exactly when to expect your posts.
All in all, creating an Instagram marketing plan and scheduling your posts properly will result in more people seeing your content and more of them interacting with it for all the right reasons.
Lucky for all of us, social media platforms’ search bars are kind of like Google’s search bars. This means that you can implement SEO to increase your Instagram profile’s visibility. Now, there are two ways you can go about that. One would be to approach a recommended agency; the other would be to follow an SEO tip or two to drive traffic to your profile.
First in order of business is your primary keyword, aka the reason behind your Instagram account’s existence. Your display name and username would be better off if they contained it.
Take the New York Public Library, for example. If a user is looking for a public library, NYPL will show up in their results. Talk about SEO!
However, there is also the case of your bio. Your bio needs both primary and secondary keywords. In the example above, we’ve got words like “learning”, “knowledge”, and “communities”.
By using secondary keywords in its bio, NYPL can attract both people looking for NPOs through the keyword “communities” and people looking to expand their interests through the keyword “learning”.
Of course, there is another reason why you need SEO and keywords – both primary and secondary – and this is your content. You’ll need to bake your keywords nicely into your content, make it relevant and, in the end, satisfy your users’ intent.
SEO for Instagram will allow your users to create a correlation between your NPO’s mission and your content. In the end, this tactic will help your posts reach your users faster and more efficiently by refining your content and building authority through your interaction with them.
Of course, to do that, you will need to track your data and make educated decisions in terms of keywords and content. Always A/B test your content. This will allow you to optimize it for both the selected keywords and the audience you’re trying to reach.
Create Content Wisely
Content creation is something that begins even before you determine what your social media profiles should look like. Essentially, creators build their content around the NPO’s mission statement, allowing the NPO to communicate visually with its audience, as well as verbally.
Your bio needs to reflect that as well. So, if there is content you’re willing to share that can’t be on your social media platforms – a blog post for example, or a revamped website – this is where the “link in bio” comes to save the day.
This link is essential in terms of content because it will allow you to point users and viewers to what you need them to see at that specific point in time, creating some much-needed traffic.
Pro Tip: If you’ve got multiple links you’d like to include in your bio, use Linktree to create a landing page that will have various links for your prospects to choose from. That way, you’ll be able to promote more than one important link, your donate page, and, of course, your email signup page.
PETA did it. Doesn’t look stuffy and spammy, does it? Check it out:
Through Instagram, you can distribute content to other platforms and reach new audiences by adapting your existing Instagram posts for different social media platforms (and vice-versa).
Let’s assume that you’re about to create a blog post that will explain the hows and whys of your new project as an NPO. You can create a YouTube video and post snippets of it to your Instagram. That way, you will entice users and redirect them exactly where you want.
You can also create a “behind-the-scenes” post that will eventually lead your audience to a brand new blog post or an infographic about the project you’re currently working on.
Another crucial aspect of content is your CTA and how you use it both in your Instagram profile and your email marketing campaigns. CTAs always need to include verbs that are simple and actionable, and your content efforts need to be unanimous across all platforms.
Your email list is your most valuable asset. Therefore, your emails’ content needs to be similar to your social media profiles and, of course, your website. Through email marketing, you can keep your email list up-to-date about your most recent actions and campaigns.
Make sure to pick out an email newsletter platform that will enable you to include a “donate” button in each email campaign and urge your recipients to spread the word around. That way, you can turn them into brand ambassadors – which is something that everyone loves.
User-Generated Content (UGC) is one of the most foolproof ways to spread awareness and earn some engagement.
For every new action and campaign, you can create a branded hashtag and urge your prospects to use it. The how is in their discretion – and yours. Inspire them to create content by taking pictures, boomerangs, or videos to promote your cause and turn them into ambassadors.
That way, you can get tonnes of new content, a lot of engagement, and spread the word with a little help from your target audience. This will result in people trusting your NPO, which you need, to get more donations for your organization.
Seeing one of my friends supporting a movement or an NPO’s action would make me consider donating as well. There is no reason you can’t use this trust to help your community and make a difference.
The Importance of Stories and IGTV
The “Story” feature of Instagram is one of the most successful ones to date and one of the pillars of video marketing for Instagram.
Instagram stories are essential for creating and sharing content that can be more fun, as their temporary nature – they’re only available for 24 hours – makes them the perfect field for marketers and creators to experiment with new content.
Instagram stories are great for videos, GIFs, NPO stickers, polls, any content one could imagine. They can also lead to tones of engagement. For example, it is not unheard of for a poll to precede a QnA session and one of those to precede an Instagram Live.
Of course, experimentation can lead nowhere if there is no “Donate” button. The first thing to do would be to turn your NPO’s account into a business account and then use the proper tools.
Pro Tip: Use Story Highlights for a recurring event or to keep evergreen story content to your profile.
Instagram video marketing doesn’t end with Insta stories though. IGTV and Instagram Live are two fantastic ways to raise awareness and get the donations your cause needs.
IGTV allows you to post videos that are up to 60 minutes long. They will appear in your followers’ newsfeed and will redirect them to your IGTV page, making the process seamless and intuitive.
Check Unicef’s IGTV, for some inspo:
On the other hand, an Instagram Live video fundraiser will allow you to elicit an emotional response from your audience and help with those donations by “selling to them while they’re hot”. Even though you’re not selling something and donations are always for a cause.
Here’s how you can create an Instagram live video fundraiser:
The Importance of Influencers and Audience Engagement
Lastly, one of the most important things to consider while creating an Instagram marketing strategy for your NPO is influencers and how they engage their audience and boost your cause.
Influencers are essential for one main reason: they create social proof. If an influencer interacts with your NPO, their audience will start interacting as well.
So, determine the tools to discover and audit influencers, create bonds with them, approach them, and see whether they’re interested in helping out with your campaign, with their content and expert photography. If you manage to get one of the influencers on board, you will get more traffic and engagement.
What is more, you will reach new audiences while the influencers will show a side of them that the prospects always love to see: their more human, more caring side.
Is Instagram a Good Fit for Your Nonprofit?
This is a fundamental question that needs to be answered before you begin delving into Instagram marketing for nonprofits.
Instagram is a fantastic way for any business in any niche to raise awareness and increase their reach and online presence.
To determine if it’s a good fit for you, try and ask your marketing team the following:
- What are your goals?
- Do you need to share your actions with a younger audience?
- Do you need to find different platforms where you can reach new people?
- Do you have the time it takes to create a successful Instagram marketing plan? Keep in mind that Instagram is a highly popular – and competitive – social media platform.
If you think you can do all of the above and your goal is to reach younger people, then this platform is for you. But keep in mind that it’s an over-crowded platform, and you need a lot of time and effort to stand out.
Instagram marketing is a fantastic tool that can help your NPO’s performance. Create visuals that will speak volumes, find the top Instagram hashtags, and always A/B test posts.
This will help you come up with the best ways to use Instagram and make educated decisions that will keep your NPO’s overall marketing plan moving forward and bringing results.