10 Ways to Communicate Better with Instagram

By • September 19, 2013

By now you have most likely heard of Instagram, the photo- and video-sharing app founded in Oct. 2010. Instagram lets users take a mobile-device photo, apply a digital filter to it, and share it with followers and the Instagram network, much like you can share Tweets on Twitter. By the time Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion last year, the app had 30 million registered users and an average 58 photos uploaded per second. On Thanksgiving Day 2012, more than 200 Thanksgiving-tagged photos were uploaded every second. That’s a lot of turkey. In June, the app introduced video capability. You can now share 15-second videos with friends – more than twice the length of Vine videos.

AGC of America Instagram support
AGC of America uses Instagram to showcase events, leaders and publications, and to garner support for causes related to the construction industry.

How Instragram works

If you’re new to Instagram, here are some basics. You can type a caption to describe your photo, but most users keep the text short. Like Twitter, Instagrammers use hashtags to categorize and describe their photos. Tap on a hashtag and you’ll go to a grid filled with other photos tagged with that description. Tag other Instagrammers in your images and in comments to tell others who was with you, or to call their attention to an image.

The beauty of Instagram is the fun simplicity of sharing images. I like a well-researched, well-written article or book, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. While teenagers and the more narcissistic among us may post a lot of selfies, there are some very talented photographers posting astonishingly beautiful images, and some very connected influencers posting visual information, too. Instagram bridges you with friends, family, celebrities, locations and events that, because of time and geographic constraints, you wouldn’t otherwise see and learn about.

And since many of us are visual learners, Instagram is a suitable tool to spread information quickly among a large yet targeted audience. Read on if you’re wondering how to harness the hipster zeitgeist of camera phone photos for the benefit of your association.

10 Ways Your Association Can Use Instagram:

IDFA Instagram contest photo
The International Dairy Foods Association hosted a contest on their Instagram account in honor of National Ice Cream Month.

Hold an Instagram contest

Instagram contests are a fun way to engage members and followers while getting your association’s brand out there. Post an image that introduces the concept of your contest and explain the rules in the caption, or type a link to a web page that details the rules. Ask entrants to tag their contest-related photos with a custom hashtag you designate. (Any unbroken string of letters and/or numbers can be a hashtag.) Once the contest deadline has passed, search your designated hashtag to find all entries, choose a winner, and repost (“regram”) their image.

Show staff and board members

Especially for large associations, visualizing who runs your association’s operations can be a little like guessing who the person behind the curtain is. Introduce your members to your staff and/or board in a friendly way by posting their mug along with a caption that gives their name, responsibilities, and a fun fact about them.

Post event-related photos

You might already post photos on Facebook or Twitter during events to show off the fun you’re having. Originate your photos from Instagram, which integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare, and broadcast your photo on all your networks with one tap. Images of maps, speakers, social activities, venue spaces and awards ceremonies will generate interest before and during your event. Digital Atlanta is building excitement for its October conference by featuring photos of speakers along with a brief description of their talk, when it will happen, and where.

Relive events

Post images of memorable moments from your events to extend the good times and remind members why they should return the following year. Use the common hashtag #latergram to clarify that you’re posting an oldie, but a goodie.

DigATL Instagram photo
Digital Atlanta is featuring its speaker lineup to build anticipation and advertise individual sessions ahead of its October conference.

Remind members about deadlines

This is one example in which text can work to your advantage. Use the Notes function on your mobile device to type a quick message to your followers about an upcoming deadline. Snap a screen shot of the note and post. We hear this method is replacing email among the under-16 set.

Feature outstanding members or companies

Recognize your colleagues by featuring them on your Instagram account with a brief caption about their accomplishments. Create an original post or regram their post. This is a fun, informal way to introduce new members, too.


Use a photo to illustrate news about your association. Show your members what happened during your legislative day with a video. Photograph a piece of equipment (or film it in action) and explain in the caption what it does. In other words, use Instagram like a set of electronic flash cards.

Broadcast a call to action

Similar to reminding followers about deadlines, use a Note or image + caption to urge followers to act. This example gave followers plenty of information about how fans can vote for their favorite Miss America contestant.

Ask for support

Promote a charitable cause or philanthropic endeavor by posting a photo or image about it.

Advertise merchandise and discounts

Hawk your next paid program or new association accessory with an Instagram photo. Incentivize following your organization on Instagram by offering discounts or promo codes available only to those who see it on Instagram. Many mainstream retailers already announce flash sales, upcoming discount days or catalog sneak-peeks exclusively on this network.

For even more ideas and visual inspiration, visit the Instagram blog.

What are some creative ways you’ve seen organizations use Instagram?

About The Author

Kelly Clark is the manager for online marketing at Naylor Association Solutions.