In our blog post about #GivingTuesday last week, we highlighted how interesting it was that Instagram made an impact on the event for the first time. As we noted, 2.6% of social donations came from Instagram, compared with 2.8% from Twitter and 93% from Facebook. Sure, Facebook is still a huge driver of #GivingTuesday donations, but with Instagram inching up on Twitter, it may be a safe bet to say that the photo-sharing network might just surpass the microblogging service for next year’s event.

If you work for a nonprofit, you might be wondering how you can expand your social footprint to include Instagram – after all, when #GivingTuesday rolls around next year, you’re going to want to already have a presence on the platform. Here’s a few tips to help you make the most out of your Instagram experience:

1. Make the story your focus

As with any fundraising effort, you don’t want to jump right in and immediately start asking for donations with your first few posts. Take the time to introduce your nonprofit’s story to your potential audience. Wired Impact suggests that you attach a solid story to every Instagram post you make, and to “tell the part of the story a visitor would never know from looking at the picture.” (They cite Doctors Without Borders as a great example.) Don’t think of it as a simple “photo caption” – it’s a chance for you to get your viewing audience to care about the work your nonprofit is doing.

2. Mix up your content – and don’t spam your followers

That said, it can be tempting to fall into the same pattern of photos and content every day. The really effective nonprofit-run Instagram accounts know how to mix it up and offer their followers a good selection of content – everything from personal accounts from CEOs to inspirational quotes to photos of good charity work being done. Also, resist the urge to post too much – you don’t want to spam your followers with constant postings. A content calendar is a good fit here (more on that later).

3. Use video wisely

Instagram isn’t just about photos and captions – the platform also allows for live-streaming and uploading videos as well. It’s a good option if you want to create more dynamic content to really help tell your nonprofit’s story, especially if you pair it with a caption to help explain the meaning behind the video. A blog post at White Fuse Media has two great suggestions: use the live-streaming feature to broadcast your charity events live (extra publicity!), and use the video feature to produce quick, unedited windows into the life of your nonprofit. Just be sure to keep them short and sweet – you’re undoubtedly fighting for attention amidst photos of delicious food and cute cats!

4. Work it into your calendar

Social media only works if you devote the proper time and attention to it – you won’t see any results if you pop in and out once or twice a month, toss up a piece of content, and then log off for another few weeks. This is especially true when it comes to Instagram, where photos can fly by in a matter of minutes. It’s smart to keep your strategy on track by including your planned Instagram posts into a content calendar, just so you can target certain dates with specific content. If you don’t have a dedicated social media specialist, you might want to designate someone who’s good with content creation and can set up reminders to post daily (or every other day).

5. Utilize CTAs

Although you’re not able to put hyperlinks in your Instagram captions, you can definitely do it in your Instagram bio. Wired Impact advises that you use your bio – or the occasional photo caption – to invite followers to visit your nonprofit’s blog, sign up to volunteer for fundraising, or simply make a donation. You can change up your bio’s links as much as you want, so don’t forget to do the occasional A/B testing to determine what keyword phrasing and links are getting results.

6. Experiment with social advertising

Here’s where you want to make Instagram work for you. You might already know that Facebook can boost your posts for a fee – Instagram can do the same thing. You’re also able to target these sponsored posts at specific demographics, which can go a long way towards bringing in the audience you want. For more info on how to maximize your Instagram ad results, don’t miss Claire Kerr’s education session “The Social ‘Secret Weapon’ Fundraisers Need to Talk About!” at AFP International, running from April 30th to May 2nd in San Francisco, California.

Hopefully these tips will help you get a foothold in the world of Instagram! If you’re still dead set on sticking with Facebook and/or Twitter, be sure to check out our past infographic on Facebook vs. Twitter for #GivingTuesday.

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