Can Associations Ignore Instagram?
It’s easy to get cynical about social media. New services pop up all the time. Most associations are short staffed and unclear about the ROI. Should your organization really jump into everything that comes along?
Generally, the answer is no. But for associations and advocacy groups trying to find new ways to engage members and prospects, Instagram may be worth a look.
Now entering its fifth year, the photo-sharing network closed out 2014 with 300 million members — that’s more than Twitter — and an average user who spends about 21 minutes each day on the app.
But for associations that work in visual industries, Instagram is an easy way to interact with members, prospects, volunteers and supporters. For example, a quick tour through the app will show that the American Hunting Association and the Western Surfing Association are both well represented with beautiful imagery.
There are also some groups getting creative. New York’s Concierge Association posts amazing photos of cuisine. The Police K9 Association shows off the dogs. And the National Barbers Association will never run out of hairstyles to depict. In fact, they solicit suggestions — and those pics reach more than 73,000 people.
But even if you work in a decidedly non-visual industry, creating an effective and engaging Instagram presence for your association may not be as difficult as you imagine. As Econsultancy suggests, the social network might well be the most inclusive of them all, offering all organisations a chance to present another side of themselves. Here are some strategies:
Get By With a Little Help
There are some 300 million users on Instagram, so there’s a good chance that someone, somewhere is posting images that align with, or are relevant to, your association. Many will be flattered by having their picture “regrammed” and make mention of it to their followers, enhancing your exposure.
Indeed, you may have many allies. Your members, chapters, state affiliates, volunteers and employees may have visual content streams to draw from. And the various departments in your own organization may, too. For example, marketing may have infographics. And the events people may have entire galleries.
The instagram streams run by the American Heart Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are good examples of organizations that are making it work. They use infographics, invitations, event photos, photos of members, images that depict association leaders with VIPs, historical photos — all kinds of different tactics to create an engaging stream.
Here’s one simple way to get started: tell the story of your organization through photos. People may be unlikely to read your organization’s backstory, but when you bring interesting images into the equation it’s a different prospect. Take a look around you to see what objects, documents or people are unique to your association. Then ask followers to guess the significance of the images.
Learn Some Tricks
Of course, like all social media platforms, there are some tricks that work on Instagram. About to unveil some important news? Drop some hints on Instagram and ask your audience to speculate on what that might be. Chances are they will head to your website to find out.
You can also identify Instagram influencers who are likely to be well respected by your members, and then build relationships. If they are willing to recommend and share your content, you’ll gain both credibility and reach.
If you’re still questioning whether there will be anything for your association to work with on Instagram, consider this: since its inception, there have been roughly 30 billion photos shared through the app, according to Econsultancy. Collectively, Instagram users now share 70 million photos a day, and hit the “like” button about 2.5 billion times. That’s a lot of engagement!
Ready to take the plunge — but need a little inspiration? Beth Kanter has an excellent roundup of Instagram tips and tricks for nonprofit organizations that should help get the creative juices flowing.