The New Instagram Algorithm – How Nonprofits Can Get Ahead

You may have been hearing a lot of talk over the past week about the new Instagram algorithm. I’m here to bust the myth of doom –this is actually good news for nonprofits!

Similar to the changes made by Facebook a while back, and more recently by Twitter, Instagram made moves last week to begin the rollout of an algorithm that will surface content for users that they are more likely to engage with. Here’s why this isn’t bad news for nonprofits: Long-term nonprofit supporters are more invested in your organization and have grown a relationship with your mission. You want to be in front of people that are genuinely more likely to engage with you.

More engagement, different formula.

Nonprofit supporters have the potential to be more engaged than the average Instagram follower. Your challenge is simply a matter of finding the right formula to tap into it. The key is getting a digital strategy in place that is focused on fostering existing supporters with meaningful content and effectively introducing your organization to new users through key interests. With this in mind, nonprofits can establish a base to set themselves up for success ahead of the shift.

How does the new Instagram algorithm change things?

Currently, the Instagram feed is set up to display content in chronological order, with the most recent content displayed first. Users scroll through their feed to access older content. With their recent announcement, Instagram confirmed that in the coming months they will be switching up the order that photos and videos appear in users’ feeds.

New Instagram Algorithm

In an effort to get posts people “care about the most” in front of users, the algorithm will most likely take into account the following: how relevant the content is to an individual, how often they interact with content from specific profiles, the individual’s relationship to the poster, and how recently the content was posted. With these in mind, there are ways you can begin prepping your nonprofit’s content calendar in advance of the rollout.

Post with purpose.

Every audience is different when it comes to their response to post frequency – and yours is no exception. Do a little testing to see how responsive your audience is with more or fewer posts per week, tracking engagement along the way. Campaigns, timely news, and fundraising pushes may be opportunities to increase the frequency, but these tests will help inform the baseline for post frequency to keep your audience engaged. Be sure that you are posting with a specific goal in mind, rather than just throwing something up to be seen. Think quality, not quantity.

Fine-tune your voice.

With the new Instagram algorithm coming into play, it’s more important than ever that your nonprofit’s voice and visuals are immediately recognizable. Experiment with using the same filter for all posts, consider utilizing a specific caption format for each post, or take it one step further and create a template with a tool like Canva.

The time to stand out is now.

The more engaged your followers are with your content ahead of the shift to the new Instagram algorithm, the more likely they are to see it when the new structure gets rolled out. Take a look at your website’s analytics, email metrics, and social media performance to pinpoint the content pieces that have been most effective in supporting your nonprofit’s goals. Once you’ve identified key content pieces, weave these successful items into your content calendar, adjusting the frequency based on your specific audience. By getting these highly engaging pieces in front of your Instagram audience now, you will be able to harness their engagement ahead of the shift, when they are more likely to see your content. Not only will these content winners help boost your current engagement, they will also ensure that supporters will continue to be invested in your brand and see updates from your nonprofit in their feed.

Revisit your content strategy–get inspired.

It never hurts to get a little inspiration from other users when it comes to social media. When approaching content strategy for Instagram, I find inspiration from a seemingly unlikely source–fashion bloggers. While this may seem out of left field, this group of social media power users has a tried and true approach to Instagram that not only helps them attract new followers, but allows them to keep existing followers engaged and drive meaningful traffic to their websites/blogs. They are also able to take one piece of content and effectively recycle it over a number of visual posts. Not only have I seen some of their methods be extremely effective in their field, but I’ve seen trends trickle into the nonprofit sector based on tactics from these individuals.

Media Cause client NRDC leverages similar tactics in their Instagram content strategy. They focus on engaging visuals and encourage individuals to take action through bio links. This organization is also very strategic with their hashtag use.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation has a uniquely engaged audience – one that not only engages with the brand, but is invested in its success. If you’re looking for Instagram fundraising inspiration, look no further.

I find my inspiration for Instagram all over the place. Forget work for a second and spend some time ‘gramming’ to find inspiration of your own. Look at users with high engagement or follower counts, perhaps with a better-aligned interest to your nonprofit. This may also include checking out the competition or some of the organizations that you partner with. Regardless, Instagram provides an endless amount of sources for inspiration among its 400 million users.

Looking to take your Instagram efforts to the next level? Learn more about how to make the most of Instagram advertising.

Questions? We’re always here to help! Leave a comment below, tweet us at @mediacause or get in touch.


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