How CSOs can use new Instagram tools

New Instagram tools: How CSOs should use them


One billion people use Instagram every month.

This year, Instagram users in Russia have been able to access previously difficult to obtain features:  Reels, shopping tags and music in stories.

During a recent session at the ASI Blagosphere media club, Anastasia Ratsa, an SMM expert, explained how these can be used by CSOs.

Tik Tok analogue

Reels is a Tik Tok analogue based on Instagram, i.e. short (up to 60 seconds) vertical videos. The Reels is now the middle button on the keypad. Clicking on it opens a feed of short clips. Videos are selected by the social network’s algorithm.

In Reels, content is more important than quality, says Ratsa. These videos should be posted regularly, i.e. two or three times a week. You won’t get a lot of hits straight away.

InShot, Splice and other video montage programmes will be helpful in terms of editing.

If you need some inspiration, Ratsa recommends using Tik Tok. There you can enter a keyword in the search bar, which will show videos on a particular topic. You can see what’s popular in other countries and copy it.

If there are some famous people among your organisation’s patrons, you can always ask them to take part in the video.

Anastasia Ratsa recommends testing different formats to find out what audiences enjoy. However, don’t be put off by a couple of unsuccessful attempts as there are a number of options you can try when filming:

Talking Head. The video’s author films himself/herself on camera and talks about some topic or event. A standard camera and decent microphone will suffice.

Q&A: If there are a lot of myths surrounding a particular issue in which a CSO is involved, you can answer the most popular questions in a dialogue format.

In the background of a video: There is also a “talking head” option in the background of a video. The director can film his/her reaction on a video that’s showing in the backdrop.

Trends: There are popular sounds, dances and movements. You can even take part in these popular challenges which at first glance have nothing to do with charity.

An atmospheric video: This consists of montage, music and short text to explain what’s happening in the video.

Artistic videos can often become “catchy”, e.g. modelling with clay, drawing or creating something.

Storytelling and integrity: CSOs can publicise their work as part of a series, e.g. how they went about arranging a meeting with a famous actor for people in their care, or how they went on an excursion etc.

“For those who will be filming Reels, it is very important to have an insight into and understanding of trends and visual language. I recommend signing up for Tik Tok because it has a cool neural network. You can view the content on your topic all the time and in the process discover new ideas”, said Ratsa.

Reels are suitable for everyone. You can also make a film on a controversial topic if you select the right trend and find a charismatic person in the team, said Ratsa.

Music in stores

Availability of music on Instagram is now available in two ways: complete and limited. All tracks are accessible for personal use but music sources for business accounts are restricted.

Instagram logarithms strictly monitor issues of copyright and content use. If the network finds out that a user is accessing music they shouldn’t, the video will initially be deleted. Should the rules be broken again, an account could be blocked altogether.

“It is very difficult to retrieve an account as their technical services don’t have anything to do with us. It is possible to use remixes as a fallback but with care”, Ratsa explained.

You can view what remixes have been posted on YouTube – there will be fewer problems with that medium.


Stickers: These are internal network tools: surveys, tests and interactive elements. “The top stories in terms of outreach are those that have stickers on them. This is positive activity. Instagram sees what users are interested in and increases the coverage”, said Ratsa.

Photo: Example of stickers on Instagram

One way to use them is to play “Truth or myth?”. The SMM specialist puts together a selection of myths and real facts and invites an audience to tell truth from fiction. At the end, you can leave a form for questions and answer them.

A template for such stories can be produced using Canva, Corelli or other photo editors. If a CSO has a designer, he or she can be called upon for help.

Straight onto the computer

This year, direct and personal messaging has become possible on the computer. It makes it easier to work with your audience and to paste copied answers. You can create a file in an FAQ format and send it.

Also, don’t forget about Facebook’s “traditional” tools. In order to do this, log into your account, go to the “Inbox” tab and respond to personal messages and comments on Instagram.

Live streams

Live streaming allows you to show the public face of your organisation, together with its experts, volunteers and professionals. The only drawback is that not many people watch them.

If an CSO has a small audience, Ratsa recommends organising double live broadcasts with bloggers. They can attract an audience, leaving it to the CSO to provide an expert to talk on an important topic.

The instigator  of the live broadcast can archive it on IGTV. It is possible to combine such live events into a “series”, i.e. a series of clips where experts answer questions.

Ratsa suggested a plan for organising a successful live broadcast:

  • Talk to experts and bloggers in advance to agree the content of the topic to be discussed and the outcome you wish to achieve;
  • Collect questions from the audience. This is part of the “warm-up” to the event – subscribers will be looking forward to the session;
  • Write and agree a plan for the broadcast, e.g. how much time to allocate for each question, when to read out the audience’s comments etc.;
  • Agree and announce the date and time of the event with participants;
  • Carry out a test broadcast so that the organisers and participants are clear on how a live event should be conducted and check the quality of the images and sound;
  • If an expert is unfamiliar with Instagram, make sure he or she is sitting next to someone in the live broadcast who knows how this social network operates. Make sure your phone is fully charged.
  • View the broadcast from the viewer’s perspective. If there are any problems, contact the blogger or expert immediately;
  • Save the broadcast and post it on stories.

Guides and long reads

Guides are Instagram’s attempts at articles. They have limited outreach that users of the social network are not particularly interested in reading. Nevertheless, this tool can be useful if CSOs like articles. Several posts from an account can be included in an article, and there are also lay-out tools.

New statistics

Statistics have become more accessible: – you cannot now use third-party analytical services.

Ratsa recommends looking first at the growth in the number of subscribers (when there has been an increase after which they unsubscribed). This enables you to understand how beneficial it is for a CSO to work with a blogger or media outlet.

You must keep abreast of what is included in the best posts and top stories. You also need to appreciate what is popular with an audience and be guided by this.

If a CSO directs its main business to their website, then it is better to use third-party services for analysis purposes, e.g. Yandex.Metrica or Google Analytics. This is necessary for you to understand the behaviour of social network users on your site.

Shopping tags

There is an Instagram shop where you can tag an item or service in a photograph, with the user immediately able to see the price. However, the tool is not yet universally available. From the photo with its shopping tags, the user can log onto the organisation’s website and have a look at its other services.

Instagram formats

Cards are a tool that many CSOs are already using on Instagram. If an organisation has specialist expertise, some posts and articles can be converted into this informative and educational format.

Visual: A CSO can “embed” its own particular brand colour onto each photo. This will be the “red thread” that not only defines the account’s overall concept but also immediately sets itself apart from the rest.

Natural and high-quality processing, video, branding and avoiding collages are trending. Graphic elements can also be used.

Influencers. This is a trend of the decade. Collective collaboration and other areas of work are in demand. Keep working regularly with bloggers – it’s not enough to have meetings with them once or twice. The more often a CSO talks to its bloggers, the more interested their subscribers become.

A personal brand. This represents the outward face of a CSO – its leader, expert or volunteer. Such a person must be prepared to interact with the public and to go out to stories.

“A personal brand is always easier to promote than a faceless account. People read what people have written, buy from them and trust them, not legal entities or business brands”, Ratsa said.

There can be several such people who an audience should know by sight. Users want to ask questions to real people not machines. If a CSO is reluctant to switch to more live communication, it can start by changing the way it presents information, e.g. abandon their official style and introduce slang terms.

Useful tips

In order to encourage more involvement from users, Ratsa recommends trying something interactive. Quizzes, surveys and other positive activity can increase levels of engagement. The greater the involvement, the more users will see a CSO’s product. But this won’t work unless there’s someone with whom they can engage.

You can attract new subscribers by working with bloggers, organising competitions and raffles and publishing interesting and useful posts. However, it is easier and more profitable to buy advertising from the site itself:

You need to regularly communicate with your audience not only to maintain an engagement with them but also to retain their loyalty. This can be done by responding to their comments and personal messages and sometimes even contacting them in person.

You can publicise information about work undertaken by an audience for a CSO. In this way, the organisation will demonstrate that it has support and so gain the trust of other users.

The Blagosphere Media Centre is a joint initiative involving the Centre and the Agency of Social Information. Its aim is to promote charitable concepts and those of social responsibility through a variety of different media platforms, one of which is a media club for training, discussion and educational events.


Translated by Neil Hailey

Get involved

Share This