Why Should Associations Use Instagram?

By • March 6, 2015

Kelly Donovan Clark
Kelly Donovan Clark, Naylor Association Solutions

You might be surprised how many of your members are using Instagram. It’s is one of the most widely adopted and heavily used social media platforms out there. But did you know it’s not just for teens, tweens and Millennials? More than 300 million people use Instagram to document daily work and life.  Is your association taking advantage of its power?

Michele Late of the American Public Health Association and I hosted an Idea Lab titled “Picturing Success With Instagram” on March 9 at the 2015 Great Ideas Conference in Orlando, Fla. We reviewed how popular Instagram is becoming and demonstrated 10 ways that your association can start using this highly visual, highly fun platform.




About half of Instagram’s 300 million users are using the photo and video sharing platform daily. RealLilTweetables
Associations use Instagram’s reach to interact individually with members, to advocate, and to advertise events. RealLilTweetables
Why not meet your members on a platform they’re already using? RealLilTweetables

Instagram profile
Instagram allows users to connect through photos, graphics and videos.

We’ve talked about Instagram before at Association Adviser, but the ways and frequency with which people communicate within the Instagram universe have expanded immensely since our original article was published in September 2013. However, the reasons why associations should mix Instagram into their official communications portfolio have not changed:

  1. Your association most likely does not encompass the entire Instagram universe, but it’s a safe bet that many of your members already use it. So, meet your audience where they already are. As more people hear about Instagram and start using it, the odds that you’ll find your members using the platform, and eagerly waiting to interact with you there, increase.
  1. It’s already a part of people’s daily lives. Nearly half (49 percent) of Instagrammers log in at least once per day. By comparison:
  • Just 40 percent of LinkedIn users log in daily
  • Just 9 percent of Twitter users log in daily.

So, Instagram is “winning” when it comes to providing a platform and a channel on which people feel comfortable and excited about sharing bits of their life, image or cause.

Facebook still wins overall: 71 percent of American adults are on Facebook, and 70 percent of Facebook users log in daily. However, for a social network that is only five years old, Instagram is doing well.

IDFA instagram
IDFA uses Instagram to promote lighthearted events that tie into industry products.
  1. It can easily be integrated into your existing communications strategy. As with other social media platforms, your association can choose to use Instagram to speak to a specific audience using custom content about a specific topic. Or, your association can just as easily use Instagram to bolster what you’re publishing in your magazine or weekly eNewsletter, on your website and at your events. It can also promote any of those other channels.

Part of the beauty of Instagram is that it can flex to meet your association’s communications needs. The requirement of using an image or video to create a post on Instagram doesn’t mean you are restricted to using pure visuals:

  • People post screen shots of text they type into note-taking apps.
  • Creative types post collages of photos and text created in third-party apps.
  • Some organizations take infographics or graphs created for other materials and re-post them in Instagram.
TSAE New Ideas
TSAE encourged attendees to their New Ideas Conference to post photos tagged with #newideas14. The resulting #newideas14 photo gallery lets anyone view the event long after the closing session.
  1. Instagram can help your association increase member engagement. It allows a user to interact one-on-one with other individuals through tagging, commenting and, of course, with pictures of those individuals. If your association agrees upon and appends a distinctive hashtag to its photos, then members and potential members can search by that hashtag and find a custom gallery of all your hashtagged photos. They also can use the hashtag with their own association-related photos – quite a powerful advertising and member recruitment tool.
  1. It’s free!

Thirsty for more? Check out the slides from our Idea Lab. We’ll show you 10 ways associations can use Instagram to promote and engage.

Let us know how you’re using Instagram in the comments below!

Kelly Donovan Clark is the manager for online marketing at Naylor Association Solutions. Find her on Instagram at @AssocAdviser and @HurriGator.