5 Ways to Stop Wasting Time and Start Optimizing Your Instagram

Even if your selfie game is “on fleek,” the idea of representing your organization on Instagram can be daunting. Moving from the perfect brunch pic (always from above, according to Bon Appetit) to representing an institution or organization on Instagram is a journey not a destination. Here are some steps to help you get started.

1. Define your goals. Like every piece of your marketing mix, identify what you’re trying to accomplish, what success looks like, and what you’ll measure to determine if you’ve been successful. Set benchmarks and react to your discoveries to refine your tactics. Social media without strategy is not marketing; it’s a hobby. Like all social platforms, Instagram strategy requires constant updates. The ‘throw it at the wall and see if it sticks’ approach is great, only if you’re actually reacting to whether or not your content is sticky. As Instagram advertising becomes more prevalent, consider (like all digital media) if your paid and organic content has different goals. I’m not saying it has to, but it’s important to ask the question and shape your content to meet those strategies.

2. Define your visual identity. We all have buzzwords about our brand that can be represented visually (like “bold” and the color orange) but these trendy phrases don’t translate well to this photographic medium. Instagram, the community, knows what it likes. Take cues from users you admire and let your brand’s identity help you to tell your story visually. For example, a clean and crisp brand could adapt the minimalist modern aesthetic, where a more dynamic brand could learn from an ‘unboxing’ video. Once you’ve developed what you look like on Instagram, set rules for what content you post and be ruthless about following them. Pro tip: defined rules also allow organizations to empower multiple staff members to share on your account cohesively. If your visual aesthetic and caption basics are defined, you can activate your base without stressing out your social media manager. (For more on successfully navigating connecting multiple staff on social, check out Beth Kanter’s The Networked Nonprofit).

3. Activate your local community. While the hashtag has lost its relevancy on Twitter (RIP), it’s alive and well on Instagram. Every region has its own IG community with popular tags (for example in DC, there’s #IGDC and #acreativeDC). Find your tags and the power users in those tags. Following the habits of these users and tagging like them (when relevant) can lead to organic growth and discovery. Then maintain a living document that has all of your hashtags - sorted into different categories for different subjects.

4. Let them in. Instagram meetups aren’t a new concept, but making your organization accessible to this community is vital. Even physically allowing them into your space can have results you can’t foresee. Watching a group of ‘grammers discover the lights and sights of an empty theatre reminded me that what seems every-day or banal to me is actually magic through the lens of this community.

5. Take advantage of location based tagging. Having trouble getting your event-specific hashtag to catch on? Geo-tagging is the easiest way for denizens of the internet to prove they were at a place. Search your location regularly to see what content is being generated about you and engage / regram, especially if you’re a venue that regularly has “young and cools” in your space (for reasons outside of your organization). For example, we regularly host Creative Mornings DC in our space - most attendees have never been inside Studio Theatre before. They may not tag our Instagram account because they have no connection to our organization, but they definitely geo-tag their location. And their shots are gorgeous.