Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Then you’re probably working for a nonprofit! As one person who’s slammed with the workload of five employees, it may seem impossible to give your Instagram account the attention it deserves. That’s why this guide is here: to help you optimize your Instagram marketing strategy and posts so your channel essentially runs itself.
1. Convert to a Business Profile
Instagram allows businesses to convert from a standard profile to a business profile—giving you free access to tools, metrics, and data…for free! Plus, since Facebook now owns Instagram, this provides a seamless presence between the two platforms—allowing your Facebook following to go back and forth between the channels easily. Go to your Instagram profile and make this switch ASAP!
2. Optimize Your Bio
SEO doesn’t just apply to your website, but your Instagram profile too. Make it easier for donors and supporters to find your organization by updating your bio with relevant keywords. While your handle is permanent, your name is changeable! For instance, say your handle is @Savetheworld; your profile name can be “Environmental advocacy group” to avoid redundancy. Test different names and keywords in your profile to see what attracts the most followers. Also, don’t forget to test and optimize the link in your bio. Drive traffic to this link through your posts and track conversions and engagement on your website (or wherever you’re driving traffic). Then, change it up every couple of weeks to find the most effective option.
3. Use Hashtags Wisely!
Hashtags are arguably the most strategic and important aspect of a successful Instagram account—aside from original and engaging imagery and video of course. When it comes to hashtags, focus on these three areas.
Do Your Hashtag Research
Quality hashtag research takes hours…but it’s worth it! These tags are essentially your SEO keywords in Instagram—a.k.a., what helps new followers find your organization.
Start your hashtag research by taking a look at the hashtags your competitors or affiliates use. Then, come up with a list of relevant keywords of your own. Here comes the time-consuming part. Once you have this master list, go through every hashtag via the tag search function on Instagram. Use a spreadsheet to record the number of mentions each hashtag has (some may be in the millions while others in the hundreds). Finally, click on each hashtag to see what kind of content is being posted with that tag. This ensures you won’t use a hashtag that has a different or controversial meaning than you thought. Plus, this extra research step will give you insight into the competition for each tag.
Say #volunteerevents has 5,000 uses on Instagram, but each post using that tag has an average of 50–100 likes. If your Instagram posts regularly get this much engagement or more, you have a great chance of ranking highly for that hashtag—putting you at the top of feeds and allowing people to find you! Now comes the next part: combining different density hashtags to be the most useful for your profile…
Try Different Hashtag Combinations
Every Instagram post should include 30 hashtags (more about that below). However, you should include a variety of hashtag types in each post like
- 1–2 large industry hashtags
General, mass hashtags like #donate, #philanthropy, and #volunteer fall into this category. They are the most popular/dense but have the largest reach.
- 2+ niche hashtags
These tags are less competitive but more specific, so they attract an engaged and qualified following. If your organization protects animals, try #animaladvocacynonprofits instead of just #nonprofits (which would be an industry hashtag).
- 2+ branded hashtags
According to Sprout Social, 7 out of 10 hashtags used on Instagram are branded. Branded hashtags are those that companies, influencers, or organizations create for their brand, campaigns, or events. Create your own branded hashtags and incorporate them into your posts.
- 5+ community hashtags
Community hashtags bring people with similar interests together. If you’re an environmental advocacy nonprofit, community hashtags for you could be #savetheearth, #naturelover, #animallover, #green. Community hashtags are more niche, so they’ll less competitive and easier to rank for. Likewise, this audience is super passionate and engaged, so it’s a great one to tap into.
- 2+ location hashtags
Using location hashtags unites people in a geographic area. So say you’re a chapter of an environmental nonprofit, you could use #SeattleGreenpeace or #SanFranNatureConservancy. Location tags are also low competition but help you connect with those nearby if that’s part of your marketing strategy.
- 5+ event hashtags
Think of event hashtags as events your organization throws, public holidays, trending news and topics, and other large events. Try to use these to stay current with popular conversations and promote your events and initiatives.
Use all 30 Hashtags
You’re allotted 30 hashtags per post—any more and Instagram’s algorithm will render them useless (a way to prevent spammy content) and any less and you won’t be using every tool you have to grow your following. While where to post hashtags (within the post itself or below in the comments) is debated, there is no evidence to date that shows one benefits or hurts engagement more or less. Do what’s easiest for you!
4. Tag Your Location
According to research, Instagram posts that include locations get nearly 80 percent more engagement! Add locations to every post to increase your chances of appearing in feeds and getting more followers.
5. Plan Your Posts
No matter what you’re planning—overall marketing strategy, Instagram content, or your entire social media strategy—it’s best to sit down and hash out the big picture and then execute on daily posts. To start, hold a meeting with your team to chart of the next six to 12-months of your Instagram channel—writing down events, holidays, and other initiatives your organization is going to be doing.
We find that creating content buckets—a.k.a. the types of posts you cycle through—helps tremendously with a relevant and engaging content calendar. For instance, one bucket for your nonprofit Instagram posts can be “inspirational quotes” while others can be “donor spotlights” or “local events.” Creating categories for your posts will ensure you have variety and cover all your bases for an interesting and engaging Instagram presence. According to Social Media Today, images with faces get nearly 40 percent more likes, so plan to throw lots of those types of images and videos into the mix.
Once you’re done planning content, it’s time to curate! Determine how often you’d like to post (at least every weekday is highly recommended). Then, write down deliverables (images and videos you’ll need to go along with posts) and have a photographer, videographer, or team member gather the assets needed for the posts. Having a clear plan and all of the assets will ensure you continue to post wisely and well on Instagram.
6. Schedule Your Posts
Posting on-demand is a time suck. Plus, it’s easy to forget to post (and at inopportune times as discussed below) if you take this route. If you’ve worked super hard to create content for Instagram, don’t miss out on actually posting it. Use a platform like Hootsuite to help you schedule your posts beforehand. Tools like these also track data to help you optimize your posting times, types of content, and more. Try to schedule out two weeks at a time—sitting down to do it twice per month—to streamline your workflow and improve your Instagram presence.
7. Post at the Most Optimal Times
After reading our tips above, you now know that Instagram’s algorithm uses hashtags to rank your organization across feeds. However, the algorithm also takes your past post engagement and how quickly that happens into account. And since 70 percent of Instagram posts are never seen, it’s critical you do everything you can to please the algorithm and increase your chances of appearing in more feeds—upping your exposure and following. When you’re scheduling your Instagram posts, plan for them to go live at these times:
- Weekdays at any time besides 3:00 P.M., which gets the worst engagement
- Mondays–Thursdays at 2:00 A.M., 8:00 A.M., and 5:00 P.M. (before and after people are at work)
- Mondays (this day sees the most engagement of the entire week)
8. Engage With Your Followers
While everything else on Instagram can be done in bulk and beforehand, boots-on-the-ground engagement cannot. Make this easier on yourself by setting aside 30 minutes per day (ideally within the first three hours of a new post going live) to take time to respond to comments, like comments, and post on your followings’ posts. Calling out followers by tagging them, giving out compliments, and sending some love back their way can enhance relationships with current and future donors.
9. Cross Promote
If your organization is on other social media channels, use them to promote your Instagram account and drive traffic to it! Try a campaign and tease it on Facebook and Twitter. On the flipside, use Instagram to promote Facebook Live events, Twitter Chats, and other content you have on your website. Your goal should be to attract new followers and deepen their engagement with your organization. Cycling users through your digital presence will help do this.
10. Mix In Stories
Out of the 800 million users on Instagram, 200 million regularly engage with Instagram Stories. We love Instagram Stories for a few reasons. First, they allow you to maximize your content output without overloading your followers’ regular feeds. Secondly, Stories allow you to drum up more engagement than regular posts because you can incorporate hashtags, polls, and more. Finally, now you can store your Instagram Stories in highlights that appear on your profile—and in a private folder for yourself and other admins so you’ll never lose track of these posts that otherwise disappear into oblivion after 24 hours. Start by posting one Story per week and see how your content does with your following. We’re sure you’ll love the results.
11. Post Different Types of Content
People love them some video—Boomerang too! Experiment with traditional video, Instagram Live, and Boomerang to see what your audience responds to best. Then, cycle through each content type to keep your Instagram channel fresh, engaging, and up with the times.
12. Leverage Influencers
According to Sprout Social, 80 percent of Influencers prefer partnering with brands on Instagram over any other channel. And as you know, customers who receive a recommendation from someone they trust are way more likely to make a purchase or donation from an organization or company. To begin forming bonds with potential influencers (whether that’s other companies or individuals), start with flattery. Get on their radar by tagging them in your posts, commenting on their posts, and promoting them on your own page. You can also reach out directly to see if they’re interested in a philanthropic partnership. However you secure influencer power, you’ll get a boatload of traffic over to your Instagram page and website with their help.
Marketing is all about going with the flow, sticking to what works, and changing up what doesn’t. Set benchmarks for your internal team—whether that’s monthly or quarterly—to go over results and brainstorm optimization tactics. By setting goals and regular meetings to continue to improve your Instagram channel, you’ll ensure this important step doesn’t fall by the wayside and continue to reap the benefits of your hard work.
Whether you’re a team of one or more for your nonprofit marketing team, you can use these tips to improve your Instagram following and presence in 2018. And if you’d like to learn more about your overall content marketing, check out our other resources. Good luck!