Nonprofits Unleash The Power of Instagram For A Cause

Published on Oct 11th, 2016

We recently teamed up with PR News Pro, The how-to resource for communicators, to explore how nonprofit organizations are leveraging Instagram to increase engagement and awareness amongst their followers. The study looked at over 30 of the top non-profits including the San Diego Zoo, Make–A–Wish America, The Nature Conservancy, and PETA during Q2 of 2016.

The results are fascinating:

Consumer Engagement or total actions (defined as likes and comments) grew +32% over Q2 of 2015. In raw numbers, that’s 11.5 million actions in ’16 vs 8.7 million in ’15. Growth was driven by a very conscience effort to change up content strategy and focus more on video. Total actions on video grew a staggering +93%. The other driving force? Since April, the average number of posts published grew by 24%% and the average actions taken grew 57%.

So who led the pack?




PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was the top nonprofit on Instagram in Q2 2016 with more than 1,252,639 actions, just beating the second highest brand, Oceana. That total represents a 19% increase compared with the same time period last year. Video made up 318% of total actions taken by PETA.

While not the largest following in this ranking, PETA has over 306,558 followers. Its top post (with the most actions) was an image of Harambe , a gorilla shot and killed in the Cincinnati Zoo. The post garnered over 1.2 million actions.

Oceana, tasked with saving the world’s oceans, generated 1,220,206 million actions, a whopping 816% improvement compared with Q2 2015 to take the second spot in the ranking. Video made up 484% of actions taken. Their fan base grew by 188%. During Q2 Oceana’s social team made a tactical effort to grow engagement by focusing on a the hashtag, #FinBanNow. It’s top post was an image featuring sharks and the hashtag, #SharkWeek.

Pr News Pro asked Kristen Reilly, Social Media Manager for Oceana about the strategic shift.  She noted the tactical decision to shift from beautiful Ocean life video and photo’s that shed light on the cruelty of sharks fin’s being cut off and the animals tossed back at sea.  From our perspective; Pictures + Hashtag + Cause = Trifecta.

Compassion International experienced the most growth among the Top 30 since Q2 2015, Total Actions grew by 1033%. Compassion International generated more than 61,000 Instagram actions in Q2 2016, up from 44,870 actions in Q2 2015—a difference of more than 35%. Like Oceana, Conservation International took a tactical approach to growth by collaborating with influencer photographers. For a short period of time, photographers would “take over” Conservation International’s Instagram channel. Perhaps this isn’t a new idea, but for a non-profit it opens them to more user interaction and get people directly involved in their cause of conservation.

So what’s the conclusion?

Nonprofits are more and more often leveraging their social channels in the same ways that consumer brands do; they are staying on message by using cause related hashtags and imagery.  What is amazing is that none are selling a product, nor a lifestyle, nor an aspirational message, but rather real world issues, their company’s mission statement and emotional content.

Thank you to PR News Pro for helping bring Nonprofits activity to light!  If you would like to read more visit this link .

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