by Kat Connelly

An example from @witness_org of a post last week.
An example from @witness_org of a post last week.

Instagram is the internet version of yearbooking, scrapbooking, photo/video blogging… basically your nonprofit’s gateway to visual storytelling. Just like your family’s photo album, it’s a great place to show and share your organization’s personal story through selfies of staff members, fun facts, how-to infographics, behind the scenes at events and more.

I recently relaunched WITNESS’s Instagram account at (@witness_org) and wanted to share some ideas and tips on managing an account for a nonprofit.

Before getting into tips, here’s a little background about the platform. The name Instagram combines “insta” referring to photos and “gram” coming from the idea of sending photos out like “digital telegrams.” I believe their format was designed to mimic a traditional polaroid photo: the square image with a white space on the bottom on which to write something. Instagram also has a 15 second video option to be able to add variety to your posts. I will follow up with a post about the video feature. In the meantime, here’s a review about it’s competitor: “The Vine Mobile App – The Social Media Fanatic’s Favorite New Tool“.

Full size photo example from @witness_org
Full size photo example from @witness_org

Here’s my five easy-to-do tips on how to get #Instagood with Instagram’s simple visuals and short storytelling captions for your nonprofit:

  • Designate a primary organizational mobile device for the organization’s account. Instagram is an mobile app that at this point cannot be accessed on a computer. Therefore, designate a staff member’s mobile device (preferably an iPhone since the app seems to be more “Apple friendly”) or get an office wide tablet to be able to take, upload and store photos.
  • Establish what kinds of photos you want to share that reflect your organization’s culture. Whether it be a previously taken high-res image, a camera phone snapshot or a screenshot from a computer or mobile device the type of photo you post helps set the tone. Depending on your story or caption, you might want to play around with how much formality or clarity you want for your content.
     [examples: smithsonian vs. keepabreast vs. pencilsofpromise]
  • Hashtags are a great way to invite your community and general public to take part in the stories about your cause. Ask followers to use the hashtag on their posts to show what they are doing that relates to your cause and possibly give out prizes for the best images.  Websites like WEBSTA or Iconosquare are good places for mass searching hashtags.
  • Create a schedule, but be flexible. Organize posts, such as music playlist suggestions on Mondays, staff photos on Thursdays, etc. However, be sure to allow wiggle room for spontaneous posts like selfies at events, in the office or abroad as they reflect the “instant” aspect of the platform. [example template ]
  • Experiment with guest curators. Let fellow colleagues, friends and partners of your organization “takeover” your account for a day to show another visual perspective of the work you and others are doing. I will talk more about this concept in the follow up post.

If you have any other ideas or #instagood practices, please share them in the comment section below or write to us @witnessorg on Twitter.

One thought on “#Instagood Tips for Nonprofits

  1. Great posts! I manage accounts for @CultureStrike and @DetentionWatch.

    I’ve experimented with uploading edited videos to Instagram. Just make sure the subject of the video is centered since Instagram uses a square aspect ratio. For rectangular videos, I often edit the video into a smaller frame on a larger white background.The easiest way I’ve discovered to get edited videos onto Instagram is to upload the edited video clip to Dropbox or Google Drive and then use either app to download it to your phone. Then it’s possible to upload to Instagram.

    I’ve also found that I need to use secondary apps to optimize Instagram: i.e. for Reposting images & videos, I like the Repost app because you can repost both images and video while crediting the source and easily duplicating the description; for sharing non-square photos, Instasize is great when it’s necessary to post a rectangular image; for creating collages, I like Picstitch for combining images.

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