If new information from research group Forrester is anything to go by, now is the time for charities and other not-for-profits to take full advantage of Instagram for their campaigns. Because of its brand-friendly culture, Instagram is the newest way to raise funds and awareness in the third sector. Experts believe the photo-sharing app will soon cotton on to the revenue potential it holds and start changing the rules.

So how can charities and non profits make the most of this and why is Instagram the place to turn to right now?

Brand Friendly

At the moment it doesn’t filter brand posts. Instead, as with Twitter, posts are listed in chronological order. On FaceBook, ‘organic reach’ (that is posts seen by followers naturally, rather than with paid-for adverts or sponsored posts) has recently fallen to just 1 or 2 %. Due to the clearer layout, and less users than FaceBook (1.2 billion) and Twitter (255 million) at just 200 million, it has “less clutter than other social sites”.

It was found that when it came to brands’ posts as a percentage of brands’ followers or fans, Instagram had 4.21%, with FaceBook trailing at 0.07% and Twitter at just 0.03%.

Through extensive study of the top 50 global brands across the main social networks, researchers have discovered that Instagram’s photos generate far more user engagement than content placed on FaceBook or Twitter. Instagram, unlike other social apps, does not filter brands and has less ‘white noise’.

The new research shows that a brand’s photos on Instagram generate 58 times more interaction from users than FaceBook, and 120 times more than Twitter. This information was based on over 3 million user interactions.

But this isn’t set to last. As Instagram is now owned by FaceBook (bought out in 2012 for $1 billion), the company is looking at ways to boost its revenue. Brands are realising the potential of Instagram and using it more often and for this reason Instagram and parent company FaceBook will be looking to use this to their advantage in limiting brand’s usage with new rules and encouraging advertising and paid-for posts. So this is a use-it-while-it-lasts opportunity. Top brands such as Red Bull have enjoyed serious engagement success. Red Bull receives 300 times more ‘likes’ per fan for content on Instagram compared to that on FaceBook.

Charity Awareness

Charities need to fully understand the capabilities of each social media app in order to utilise it fully. Whilst most are using Facebook and Twitter properly, they are often overlooking Instagram as a channel of raising fund and awareness. Set up as a simple photo-sharing app, this app offers a filter that makes the dullest of photos look like a masterpiece. More than this, however, it allows these photos to be shared with the 200 million users, who will like and share your content, thereby organically spreading your message for you.

How does a charity use it? Well, essentially you need to show people who you are and what you are doing. Seek out and engage with like-minded people and other charities. Post content that really says something about your organisation and is likely to be shared.

It could be a strong statement, or a truly inspirational or beautiful photo. Invite people to interact – competitions, campaigns, donations. The potential is truly there, you just need to use it wisely. Don’t be too aggressive, allow things to develop naturally, but get your message across.

In summary, the Vice President of Forrester Nate Elliott explains that Instagram delivers the best in social engagement rates and best in-class for brands today, but remember it will not last.

So, marketers or charities must use Instagram in the hype of its existence because as reported the rules could be set to change. Have a plan ready and be prepared to move onto a new social site when Instagram’s phenomenal engagement rates disappear.

Jenny Beswick

Jenny Beswick


Jenny Beswick is a group project manager for Cancer Research.