I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but just incase you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years Instagram is hot. Like “100 million monthly active users” hot. Like “over 40 million photos uploaded daily” hot. This makes Instagram a very important tool for your non profit. It should be noted that although Instagram is a fantastic way to engage with your audience, it is not a platform that will help drive traffic back to your website. That’s because, as of right now, Instagram only allows live links in a few spots.  This is both positive and negative. I think it challenges community managers to be more creative with their posts (and less sales-y), and to focus on audience engagement and conversation (vs sales). Anyways…


Whether you’re a social media newbie or a seasoned veteran, Instagram is easy to use and instantly addictive. I mean, even George W. Bush has an Instagram. All you need is a smartphone, a photo, and the Instagram app.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing and video sharing social network that was launched in October of 2010. Within 24 hours of it’s launch, Instagram because #1 in the App Store and it currently holds the record as quickest app to reach 1 million downloads. Instagram allows you to take pictures within the app or import into the app. Then, you give the photo a title, apply a “filter”, and instantly share it to Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform you might use. Users have the option to make their profile either public or private, which allows them to control who can “follow” them, although it doesn’t make sense for a business to have a private Instagram account. Instagram, like any other social network, is based around having friends or followers and commenting and/or liking pictures. To see how successful brands can be on Instagram, check out this article.

How should you use it?

There are lots of different ways that you can use Instagram to help market your non profit. Some are more successful than others. Here’s the break down on what you should be doing on Instagram:

  • Be personal. Instagram is different than Twitter and Facebook. It’s not commonly used to broadcast things, but to share a small glimpse into user’s private lives and “behind the scenes” experiences that aren’t typically shared on Facebook. A fantastic example of a company using their Instagram in a more “personal” way is Target.
  • Hold competitions. There are lots of strange trends on Instagram, and one of the most popular is called “TBT,” which stands for throw back thursday. Every Thursday Instagram users will upload an old picture of themselves and tag it “TBT.” I work for a local non profit called United Planet that helps to send volunteers abroad, and last week I challenged our followers to upload a “TBT” from their time abroad and tag it “#UnitedPlanetTBT.” The competition was overwhelmingly successful. I managed to increase our following and increase brand engagement. Here are some tips on how to host a photo campaign.
  • Post at all times of the day. According to this Forbes article, there is no optimal time to post to Instagram. It’s one of the most addicting smart phone applications of our generation, which means that people are constantly checking it. Keep your Instagram feed fresh with new content daily.
  • Harness the power of hashtags. On Instagram, Hashtags are used to corral search results into relevant categories and conversations. Using the hashtag #volunteer or #nonprofit will connect you with other Instagram users who are interested in the same things.
  • Use “Simply Measured” to track your analytics and make sure that what you’re posting is effective.

Here are a few more helpful articles that will help you use your Instagram account effectively.


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