Instagram launched the Stories feature in August 2016, and it’s really taken off since. At first, it was viewed simply like a copy of Snapchat, but it’s now far surpassed it.
The newest benefit to Instagram Stories is that nonprofit organizations can now use Instagram to secure donations. Since May 2019, there are donation stickers on the stories of verified Instagram nonprofits, which allows supporters to raise funds.
Here are some helpful suggestions for nonprofits who are using Instagram Stories or are looking to do so in the future.
The Stories feature on Instagram is a way for users to post photos and videos that have an expiry date of 24 hours before they disappear. Every media item will show for 10 seconds automatically, whether a photo or video, and then the user will go to the next account Story.
They don’t show up in the main Instagram feed or the user’s feed – instead, they are located in a priority setting at the top of the feed and are linked to your profile thanks to your avatar. There have been a few things that have changed since the launch of Stories on Instagram, so to recap for those who are less familiar, here are the key features.
After 24 hours, Stories will disappear from your profile by default. However, you can choose to save your favorite Stories as Highlights that appear on your profile. These are albums that display at the top of your main Instagram feed, as you can see in the Planned Parenthood example below.
Instagram Stories have a lot of permissions that are possible, including a diverse selection of filters. You can also create text overlay, add stickers, gifs, geotags, hashtags, and much more. The latest addition to these overlays, as mentioned, is the Donation sticker.
You can use text-only features if you prefer, especially if it’s simple and you just want to get your Story out there. According to Ruth Marsters, an Instagram expert at Draft Beyond and Research Papers UK, “pick from a number of available fonts, colored backgrounds, and more to post a powerful call to action, a marketing campaign message, or important information about ongoing events.”
Stories are a good way to bypass the Instagram algorithm and get your content seen. Since 2016, the algorithm has filtered the feeds of its users to show them only the posts that are most likely to get their interest at the top. That means that pages can get “lost” in the app if your followers are only casually interested in the topic.
However, Stories are at the top of the app by default, so your nonprofit can stay front and center in the attention of your followers. Instagram is also great because the odds are good you already have an audience on the platform, whereas if you were considering Snapchat, it’s much harder to build a new audience.
Instagram Stories is a way to give more content to your existing audience so you don’t have to spend time and resources cultivating a new audience. You also get a little bit of data and analytics on Stories, including your follower count, how many story views you got and the view rate, which is how much your users actually saw of your story.
As per Margaret Woods, a marketing writer at Writinity and Last Minute Writing, “Stories are different from your Instagram profile, because they can be much more casual. Your Instagram profile is usually comprised of photos that are planned, posed, and polished, but Stories show live events or ideas and you can tell stories through successive videos.”
You can start with three to five highlights which show different aspects of the work you do, including the impact, your supporters, your mission statement, recent campaigns, and events. You can also ask that partners, staff members, and influencers, include Story Highlights reels covering the work they do with your nonprofit.
If you set up your Instagram account as a business, you can use analytics to learn more about your followers. Find out when they’re active on the platform, what demographics they are, how your content is doing, and more. Use that information to update your content and understand what you should be sharing with your followers and at what time.
Stories are a great tool to connect with your audience. You can encourage your supporters to respond to your story and send you a message. This allows for more personalized one-on-one engagement with your audience that you would not necessarily achieve otherwise. It helps to make them feel connected to your organization. The important thing with this step is making sure that someone from your team is monitoring the profile and responding regularly.
It’s important to look at other nonprofit organization to see how they’re using Stories to show their impact, the behind the scenes at their events and share key photos.
Do Something is an organization that uses their Stories to show their mission and their vision. Their work is based around campaigns that are perfect for Story Highlights that can show events unfolding in real-time. This leverages social proof for the good, including monthly volunteer horoscopes.
The IRC’s work revolves around refugee aid and it uses its Stories for advocacy, giving a summary and recap to its audience that wants to understand more complex issues or how the organization is supporting people. This is the US-Mexico border issue from the IRC.
A lot of their Highlights are about cute polar bear cubs, but they also ran a successful campaign during National Poetry Month. They posted in their Stories a poem a day with the #PolarPoetry hashtag. This showed the ice melting progression over 30 days and was a powerful and successful message.
Ashley Halsey, the professional writer for Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays, shares her thoughts on marketing and email campaigns for nonprofit organizations with her audience. She enjoys helping these smaller organizations get a great reach like bigger companies with more resources.