VISUAL STORYTELLING WITH INSTAGRAM
July 12, 2016 • By AIDS.gov
Visual storytelling lets you build awareness, trust, and loyalty while engaging and expanding your audience. With 500 million active monthly users as of June 2016 , Instagram’s popularity proves how a “picture is worth a thousand words.” Eighty-seven percent of Instagram users are under age 34 . This image-sharing app has created opportunities to tell visual stories about your organization and powerfully connect with followers within this age group.
On Instagram, your visuals take center stage to convey your message, instead of a lot of text. A single image can speak volumes about you, your mission, and your work. As with all your social media, it’s important to offer consistency and quality. Grab attention and build your followers with these tips:
- Define your organizational mission in one sentence or less—and then share images that convey it . For example, in its mission statement, New York’s GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) says it “fights to end the AIDS epidemic and uplift the lives of all affected.” Images of people the agency serves are naturals for Instagram. Images that illustrate the mission “in action” are shared.
“A picture is worth a thousand words, which is why GMHC loves Instagram. We live in a culture where most Americans spend over three hours a day on social networking, and for many, these platforms are their primary source of information. This is why you can’t be afraid to think broadly about hashtags for your posts because many people search by words; for example, #Instagay has over 16M posts, #treatment has over 700K posts and #NYC over 60M. The rise in HIV transmission in young people is alarming, and we hope that Instagram’s predominant age group, 18 – 29, sees our messages about prevention, treatment and advocacy. GMHC has always taken our message to where people are..” – Anthony Hayes, GMHC’s VP of Policy and Public Affairs
- Keep captions short and sweet . Remember that Instagram’s purpose is to share images. Let them speak for themselves as much as possible by limiting the verbiage in your captions.
- Experiment with different types of visuals . You can bring your story to life with a mix of photos, videos, and infographics that tie back into your overall message or mission. But remember that images of real people and events are what people really want on Instagram.
- Be observant and “listen”. Pay attention to what your followers say in their questions, popular conversation topics, timely events, and issues they care about. Then strategically use visuals to draw attention and build engagement around these topics
- Be human . Whether you share images generated by your followers, or share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your staff, show the human side of your work.
- Be share-worthy. When followers share your content, they provide you with a valuable word-of-mouth endorsement. Analyze your most shared posts to learn what your audience finds most shareable.
- Prepare for real-time sharing . If your organization is at an event that is important to your audience, share a few images in real time. When you do, it’s essential to share only those visuals that convey your organization’s voice, values, and mission.
Instagram’s unique ability to let you share stories visually offers a powerful tool in your social media toolbox, and an excellent way to engage followers in helping to fulfill your mission.
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