If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Snapchat must be blushing. A few weeks ago, Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, a new format aimed at younger audiences that lets users post quick real-time photos and videos in a vertical format and apply doodles and filters (sound familiar?). The posts last for 24 hours before disappearing—essentially a boiled-down version of Snapchat’s “snaps.” Even with its limitations, Snapstagram has been embraced by Instagram’s community as a way to show unpolished glimpses into a user’s world—in contrast to the usual Instagram posts, which have become filtered, touched-up and highly produced.
For nonprofits, social good companies and DOTGOV teams who are already active on Instagram, there’s no reason not to try Stories. That said, you should go in having a clear plan. For inspiration, here are five of the best social good Instagram story examples we’ve encountered so far.
@charitywater, a nonprofit organization that provides drinking water to people in developing nations, used Instagram Stories to give supporters snack suggestions leading up to a film premiere. It’s a great example of the right time and place for a bit of lighthearted engagement. Since social thrives on humor and silliness, this is an excellent example of maximizing engagement while driving awareness for an event. Charity: water also used Instagram Stories to introduce the staff and announce a social media internship. The kicker: you have to apply on Instagram using Instagram Stories.
Glacier National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
@glaciernps and @rockynps are two US National Parks that are using Instagram Stories to make announcements and go behind the scenes as the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday. Stunning nature shots are all well and good, but Stories helps put faces to the name and make followers feel like they are part of the action. For instance, Glacier documented a visit from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, wished the National Park Service a happy 100th birthday, and introduced followers to a park VIP: Bark Ranger Gracie. Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain National Park joined in the celebration with special graphics split across multiple story slides.
Instagram Stories can also be used as a fun educational tool. Case in point: @nasa‘s visit to their Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. Instead of the standard walk-through tour, NASA planned out a series of story slides about the Orion spacecraft, including a live safety test. This helped give the story a sense of purpose.
Humane Society of the United States
Similar to Rocky Mountain National Park, @humanesociety used Instagram Stories to celebrate a special event—in their case, #NationalDogDay. Instead of using a stale stock photo, they posted in-the-moment video of a group of dogs playing together with doodling and text overlaid. This sort of content can help your channel come alive and not feel so staged.
Goats of Anarchy
@goatsofanarchy is a special needs baby goat sanctuary—yes, it’s as adorable as it sounds. They use Instagram Stories in an everyday fashion to document what’s going on at the property. One day, the team captured the morning stampede for breakfast. While simple, this is a great example of using what you have in front of you, and publishing without much heavy lifting (no long copywriting sessions or creative design time). If you aren’t out in the field taking care of your proverbial goats, consider tasking someone who is with contributing Instagram Stories to the feed while you handle the traditional content that sometimes requires more polish and planning.
Why All Social Good Orgs Should Give Instagram Stories a Shot
If you’re already on Instagram, then Instagram Stories is one more tool in your toolbox. By providing supporters with two different types of content (regular image posts + quick hit and temporary “stories”), you’ll deepen and enrich the experience. What’s more, Instagram Stories is relatively new and unexplored by most groups, which means savvy social good-ers have an opportunity to get out in front of the pack and form a tighter bond with their Instagram supporters first using the intimate new format. Finally, since it’s only visible for 24 hours, you can use Stories as a place to experiment and test out ideas, knowing that the content you publish won’t live forever.
That said, some advice: always ask yourself the following question before posting: “am I adding value to the channel?” If not, hold off. Think of what makes sense on Stories vs. traditional Instagram posting, and even try laying out both separately as you plan out your editorial calendar. As tempting as it may be, try not to borrow content from your Snapchat channel. Be authentic by using what you have around you on any given day and publish only using the features that are native to Instagram. And most importantly, have fun! Instagram Stories is meant to be playful, light and quick—not serious, long-winded or overproduced.