Unlocking Instagram as an Engagement Tool

Most of us are familiar with Instagram as a popular photo sharing app. But are you aware of how the platform has evolved over time? Today, it’s a popular news source for young millennials and Gen Z.  

So, who’s on Instagram the most? According to Canadian data, the majority of users are between 25-34 years old, with 18–24-year-olds also using the platform regularly to both share and gather information.  

When designing an engagement program, don’t discount Instagram’s potential as both a communications and engagement tool. It’s one thing to communicate about engagement opportunities on social platforms like Instagram, but don’t forget that you can engage your stakeholders on Instagram.  

Instagram as a Communications Channel 

Instagram is a great way to share details about your project as a way of keeping people informed. You can also use it to drive participation in engagement opportunities – e.g., “fill out our survey,” “tune in to our webinar,” “come out to our open house.” 

To strengthen how you communicate on Instagram, you have the option of doing organic or paid content. Organic content is whatever you share for free. To maximize the reach of your posts, you can also put some dollars behind them. For example, if you want to get the word out about a public survey you’re running, you can use paid promotion to get your ads in front of your target audiences based on things like their age and geographical location.  

When deciding whether to put some money behind your content, consider your project milestones and identify when engagement and awareness is most important. This can help you put your dollars where they’re going to work for you the most. 

Instagram as an Engagement Tool 

Beyond serving as a useful communications and public awareness tool, some of Instagram’s features are great for directly engaging with your audience.  

1. Posts with prompting questions 

  • Have a specific question you’d like to ask, or want feedback on a particular initiative? Prompt users to respond directly in the comments section on the post; there’s a low barrier to participation.  
  • It’s also the perfect opportunity to lean into the best practice of ongoing two-way communication. Thank people for their comment/question, and if you know the answer – respond to them on the spot! If you don’t, let them know them that you’re looking into it and to stay tuned for the answer.

2. Instagram Ask Me Anything (AMA) – a Stories feature  

  • Instagram Question Stickers are a great way for people to ask you specific questions about your project. Put a direct call out for questions or comments, and then you can respond almost in real-time.  
  • Don’t forget to build a bit of buzz around any AMA or question activities you’re doing – dedicate a date and time so folks know when to ask questions. 

3. Instagram Live  

  • Most people are familiar with the classic townhall. Someone gives a presentation, and then people ask questions – you can run a similar activity on Instagram. 
  • It’s a great way for a well-trained spokesperson to give project updates and respond to questions/comments on the spot. You can even call users out by name as you respond for a personalized touch. 
  • There’s also an opportunity to leverage the AMA in your Live – you can post a questions sticker before the event to collect inquiries that you’ll answer during the Live.  

4. Polls in Instagram stories 

  • A simple tool to easily poll your audience with a very low barrier to engagement – ask a question/share an idea – and see how your audience responds! 

Using social media in a creative way can strengthen your engagement plan and help reach younger audiences, especially when your organization already uses platforms like Instagram. When presenting opportunities to provide input through a familiar platform, you’re able to gather lots of meaningful feedback from those who matter most to your organization. If you can do this effectively, it helps strengthen relationships with your stakeholders and your reputation.  

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