Is Instagram Useful for Nonprofit Marketing? | Beth’s Blog

Is Instagram Useful for Nonprofit Marketing?

Measurement, Storytelling, Visual

Instagram, the mobile photography app purchased by Facebook, has been getting a lot of attention lately.   From critics saying it is killing photography to hype and hoopla from marketing pundits saying it is a must-have as part of your “visual marketing tool box.” In Steve Rubel’s Ad Age post,  ”The Revolution Won’t Be Televised; It Will Be Instagrammed” points out some underlying trends that might make some of the hype less hype:

  • Smartphone use has become pervasive, siting recent research reports from Pew  Internet for America Life research
  • Visual marketing is becoming an important part of the online marketer’s tool box – especially because images are global, easy to digest, and distributable.

There are some nonprofits, early adopters, experimenting with Instagram.    I’ve been following charity:water that has been posting a photo of the day.     But charity:water’s CEO, Scott Harrison, is also using it quite skillfully to share imagery about his organization’s work.    Like many nonprofit leaders and staffers,  Scott is “mixing up the personal with the professional brand.”     I think instagram is a terrific platform to do that – if you have a culture that is comfortable with mixing it up and, of course, people who like to share photos.

 

Others are using Instagram by sharing visual stories about their programs using a branded profile, like Children’s LA and Unicef USA.     And take a look at the how the US Embassy in Wellington, NZ uses it.

 

 

Instagram is one of those channels where a nonprofit could start with a small pilot that is strategically linked to communications or marketing objectives and pick a success metric and track it.   But first  best practices and measurement, learning, and improving. This guide for business marketers is relevant to nonprofits.  It boils down the techniques to simply:   Curate, Snap, Hashtag, Engage, and Repeat. Simply Measured offers a free report that lets see which of your photos/stories was most engaging.

I ran an analysis on my Instagram experimenting and discovered that my most engaging photos included Monks, Clouds, and Cats!    Porter Mason from UnicefUSA also suggests this other measurement tool: Staigr.am

Is your nonprofit experimenting with Instagram?   What have you discovered? How are you defining and measuring success?

17 Responses

  1. [...] "Instagram is one of those channels where a nonprofit could start with a small pilot that is strategically linked to communications or marketing objectives and pick a success metric and track it."    [...]

  2. Instagram is a great marketing tool for nonprofits. I’d even venture to call it the most valuable photo-sharing network for brand-building to date. In spite of its current limited sharing capabilities there is a solid community and level of stickiness there as evidenced by the “likes” on the charity:water example above.

    As Instagram integrates more seamlessly into Facebook’s social graph, the opportunities to market such campaigns in a more targeted, relevant and action-inspiring fashion should increase.

    Now if Facebook makes some moves to better support and enable nonprofit communities, messaging and action within its platform then we’ll REALLY see the added value. Nonprofits should absolutely be on Instagram, publishing, participating, discovering and fostering community.

  3. andy says:

    To add some examples of Instagrams value — Tags (hashtags) are also a great way to discover your community and encourage them to spread the message on Instagram. For example, a search for “fallingwhistles” (either in the Instagram app or on a 3rd party web viewer such as Statigram or Webstagram) user photos with the tag — typically featuring “whistleblowers” wearing the whistles sold by the nonprofit to raise funds for its campaign for peace in Congo (http://statigr.am/viewer.php#/tag/fallingwhistles/). “Like” these photos as the nonprofit on Instagram and thank them and watch your community and movement grow.

    A few nonprofits that I see setting good examples of how to leverage Instagram include (by username): fxckcancer, healthebay, breakthechainprogram, pencilsofpromis, surfrider_foundation.

  4. [...] Instagram, the mobile photography app purchased by Facebook, has been getting a lot of attention lately.  [...]

  5. Kristen Gastaldo says:

    Great post! If any nonprofit readers are not yet convinced, check out this post on how Arts & Cultural organizations can use Instagram to inspire:

    http://www.blackbaudknowhow.com/altru/non-profits-use-instagram-to-inspire.htm

  6. Beth Kanter says:

    Thanks Kristen – awesome article

  7. Great post! Thanks, Beth!

    I’m a bit obsessed with Instagram myself right now. I think it’s really interesting how social media that’s visually-based (like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr) are really trending right now.

    Lots of organizations are using Instagram for photo contests as a way of building engagement. Instagram has a really useful FAQ on their website about how to do this:
    http://help.instagram.com/customer/portal/articles/95801-how-to-host-a-photo-campaign-on-instagram

  8. Beth says:

    Rebecca – awesome resource – thanks for sharing. I’ll have to find you on Instagram.

  9. [...] Instagram, the mobile photography app purchased by Facebook, has been getting a lot of attention lately. #pinning4good  [...]

  10. Wired Canvas says:

    Oh absolutely! I think Instagram is an amazing marketing tool.

    We have put together a guide for using Instagram for arts marketers http://www.wiredcanvas.com/2012/11/instagram-for-arts-marketing – but I totally think it could apply just as much to non-profits and charities. They do amazing work and people love to see how their donations are being put to good use.

  11. [...] short, as my friend and colleague, Beth Kanter says, “Instagram boils down to curate, snap, hashtag, engage, and [...]

  12. [...] short, as my friend and colleague, Beth Kanter says, “Instagram boils down to curate, snap, hashtag, engage, and [...]

  13. [...] short, as my friend and colleague, Beth Kanter says, “Instagram boils down to curate, snap, hashtag, engage, and [...]

  14. [...] short, as my friend and colleague, Beth Kanter says, “Instagram boils down to curate, snap, hashtag, engage, and [...]

  15. [...] An example of how Charity Water uses their Instagram account! (from here x) [...]

  16. [...] Is Instagram Useful for Nonprofit Marketing? [...]