Help your nonprofit shine on Instagram
Originally published: April 2017 and updated 2020.
Instagram uses images to tell a story — and the stats are impressive: 400 million people use Instagram each month, and more than 95 million photos and videos are shared on the platform each day. It's an incredible opportunity to reach new audiences and raise awareness of your brand.
Use these tips to up your Instagram game.
How to increase your followers
Use hashtags wisely
In order for your posts to be seen and for people to want to follow you, you need to make them searchable through relevant hashtags. Posts with at least one hashtag get, on average, 17.6 percent more engagement than posts without any hashtags. You don't want to overdo it, though. Three to seven hashtags per posts is a typical guideline, with up to 30 hashtags allowed per post. Use hashtags wisely, sticking to those that are most relevant to the post or to your cause.
If you start typing a hashtag into the search field, Instagram will suggest similar hashtags. Always go for the ones that are between the most popular and the least popular. If you choose the most popular hashtag, which may have hundreds of thousands of posts, people will see it only briefly or miss seeing it at all as it quickly moves from the top of the feed. Include one or two hashtags in your caption then add the other hashtags as a comment.
Join a hashtag community
Niche hashtags can be used to create a community — for example, #diabeteslife for people who have diabetes. Do some research to see if there are any niche hashtags related to your cause. If so, add the hashtag to your posts when appropriate.
Follow relevant accounts
Just as you would with Twitter, find relevant Instagram accounts and follow them. The account owners will be notified that you've followed them and are likely to follow you back if they feel your interests are aligned. Then, have a quick look at their feeds and like a few of their posts and maybe leave a comment or two. This will show that you're genuinely interested in engaging with them and, again, they'll be more likely to follow you back.
How to increase engagement
Reply to comments
As with any social media platform, replying to comments will increase engagement. Why? Because when you reply to a comment, you send a message that you value the interaction — and the person who left the comment will be more likely to do so again. Replying to comments also encourages others to comment as they see that you're likely to respond.
One of the best ways to encourage comments on a post is to ask a question. If you're a dog rehoming charity, for example, and you post a picture of a dog that's been recently rehomed, you could ask people to share their top tips for helping a dog settle into a new home.
How to improve your profile
Make the most of your bio
It's important to explain succinctly what you do in your bio. If you use bespoke brand hashtags within your posts, ensure you include them in your bio. Always include a URL in your bio, too, since links don't hyperlink within Instagram posts themselves.
Switch to a business account
If you have a Facebook Page, then make sure you switch to an Instagram business account. This will give you access to analytics, so that you can see how your posts are performing. With a business account you also get a "contact us" button, which allows someone to call you, send an email or get directions to your office.
Change your URL regularly
Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn't hyperlink URLs in their posts — so a top tip is to change the URL in your bio whenever it's related to your post. For example, if you're posting about a fundraising challenge, ensure the URL in your bio is directed to where people can find out more about the challenge. Then, let them know in the post that the link is in your bio.
Media Mister: How To Get More Followers On Instagram (2020)
Hootsuite: A long list of Instagram statistics that marketers need to know by Syndey Parker (2016)
Hootsuite: Instagram hacks: 44 tricks and features you probably didn't know about by Kendall Walters (2017)
Travelista: 5 ways to up your Instagram game by Jess Gibson (2017)
Hootsuite: How to get more Instagram followers: The ultimate guide by Sarah Dawley (2016)