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10 Smart Ideas to Grow your Nonprofit’s Instagram

Social media today has over 4.1B users globally and yet it is estimated that this number will keep increasing annually. This is...

Written by Maggie Nugent · 5 min read >

Social media today has over 4.1B users globally and yet it is estimated that this number will keep increasing annually. This is because the ability to interact and network with other people virtually is the driving force keeping people on the internet. 

Visual content has become the most appreciated content on the internet, which is why Instagram alone has registered over a billion users since its inception. This surprisingly high figure is the reason why businesses and organizations continue to join the platform with the hopes of reaching a wider audience. 

Nonprofits need proper awareness to be able to spread their message, connect with new supporters, and attract donors. But, because Instagram is a large community of users, it also means it’s a competitive community, with millions of other organizations vying for a user’s attention.

In this article, we’ve carefully selected 10 easy-to-follow steps your nonprofits organization can employ to create awareness and attract new followers to your Instagram page.

1. Make your Profile Search-Friendly

Recently, Instagram added the ability for users to search by keyword. Although it’s not entirely clear how Instagram organizes content under relevant keywords, what we do know is that the platform uses machine learning to identify and categorize content. If you want your content to appear as a result when a user searches the keyword “nonprofit,” pay special mind that when you post your Instagram content, you’re using practices similar to SEO. Use relevant keywords in your captions and bio, and keep your posts relevant to what you do. 

Another way you can stay ahead and make your page search-ready is by planning your posts in an organized manner.  

2. Use Other Platforms to Promote your Instagram Page

Another way you can promote your NPO’s Instagram is by using dedicated buttons and cross-platform promotion to lead people to your Instagram page. Add social media icons to your nonprofit’s website and sprinkle in some calls-to-action to visit the page throughout the site as well. You can even integrate a plug-in on your site that will allow you to feature a feed of your latest Instagram posts on your website.

Instagram also makes it possible to post simultaneously on Facebook — employ this method as a way to get your Facebook followers to see your Instagram content and follow you there. 

3. Keep Posting Consistent

With so much else going on, it can be hard to keep up with posting content consistently on social media. The best way to keep up is by getting ahead. Platforms like Later allow users to schedule their Instagram posts in advance. This way, you can spend a few hours scheduling out your posts for the next month (2 posts per week is a good number to aim for), and then you don’t have to worry about creating content until it’s time to start planning for next month’s posts.

4. Use Video Content

Studies show again and again that video content gets higher engagement than text and image content.

Instagram has multiple ways to share video content: video posts, Stories, IGTV, Instagram Live, and Reels. Each one of these methods serves a specific purpose: Stories are quick, in-the-moment snippets that disappear from your page after 24 hours. These are best used for up-to-the-minute updates, like if you were posting about a fundraiser as it was happening. Instagram Live is even more timely — it allows you to stream video live to your users and is probably best used when addressing your followers, featuring a guest speaker, or filming a live event. 

Video posts are normal, one-minute videos that live on your grid among the rest of your content. Here, you could post recaps of events or short explainer videos about your nonprofit. IGTV is similar, but allows for much longer videos. 

Reels is the newest video feature on Instagram, the answer to the ever-popular TikTok, allowing you to post 15-second clips with more advanced editing capabilities. 

If this all sounds like a little too much, keep it simple. Keep your videos one minute or shorter and post them as regular video posts on your feed, and use Stories and Instagram Live to post live, in-the-moment content. 

5. Engage with Your Followers

A way you can convert visitors into supporters and supporters into donors is by engaging with them. Most people visiting your nonprofit’s Instagram page are curious and would love to know more about your organization; the more responsive you are to them will determine if they want to stay or not. Something we know about human nature is that people love to stay where they feel welcomed.

Being responsive on Instagram isn’t just about replying to messages alone. Engage with posts where you are mentioned, acknowledge supporters who repost your content, and generally make your supporters feel like a part of your cause.

Responsiveness is a strategy that can help in the long run to create a welcoming community that turns ordinary visitors into devoted supporters and dedicated donors.

6. Occasionally Promote Tagging Culture 

Another strategy to help promote your Instagram page is by occasionally encouraging your supporters to tag people in the comments of your posts to raise awareness about a particular cause or as a way to invite others to come to see the content they might be missing on your page.

This strategy is highly beneficial because it allows you to gain followers while also raising awareness and promoting your cause. That being said, you never want to overuse a strategy like this — too much promotion in this way might feel like spam to a user on the receiving end of these tags. 

7. Make Using Hashtags a Habit

A deeper and wider strategy to attract more traffic to your nonprofit’s Instagram page is through the use of Instagram hashtags. Hashtags are popular words or phrases preceded by the “#” symbol. Instagram aggregates all posts using a particular hashtag, like “#givingtuesday,” so that when the user clicks on it, they’ll see a feed of every post using that hashtag. 

As a nonprofit, you can take advantage of hashtags to increase awareness of your cause and reach a wider range of supporters. You can also create a unique hashtag to promote a particular cause you want to raise awareness for, but to reach more supporters, there are two efficient ways you can employ hashtags:

  1. Using hashtags that are popular already, but which are relevant to your nonprofit organization’s interest at that particular time. These could be hashtags such as #breastcancerawareness or #greenenergy. Try typing in relevant words and phrases into Instagram search to see what hashtags are popular.
  2. There are certain hashtags that trend regularly that may be of use to you. For instance, every Giving Tuesday, be sure to use the#givingtuesday hashtag in any post you publish. Other weekly or monthly trends might include #womenshistorymonth or #followfriday. Make sure you tailor your Instagram posts to accommodate the hashtag relevant to your cause.

8. Don’t be boring 

As a nonprofit organization, it might be tempting to post “all work and no play.” And, we get it. Your mission and impact is the most important part of the work that you do. However, having a personal, friendly online presence is a better way to attract loyal followers.  

Some ways to make your page a little more personable? Feature “employee spotlights” where your staff can share some images and interesting facts about themselves. Post “behind the scenes” images of your nonprofit logging some late-night hours or sharing dinner together. If it’s appropriate, even sharing a funny meme about what it’s like to work in the nonprofit world can help lighten up your page and encourage engagement and conversation. 

9. Organize an Instagram Giveaway

Got some extra merch on hand? Create an Instagram giveaway that encourages users to follow and engage with your page for a chance to win some free swag. Create a post that asks users to follow your page and tag a certain number of friends in the comments underneath the post for a chance to win a prize. Promote the giveaway across your social media and communication channels as a way to motivate your audience to participate. This is a low-stakes way to gain some visibility and expand your reach. 

10. Create Thoughtful Captions

Although Instagram is a photo and video-based platform, written captions are important to adding context to your imagery. And with the creation of Instagram’s keyword search, captions are a great way to integrate those relevant terms into your post. While an image or video can capture a user’s attention, the caption can really drive your messaging home and add important information to every post.  

Remember that…

Not every strategy will work right away. Play around with different approaches to your Instagram content and activity and pay attention to what seems to work the best for your nonprofit. 

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