'Tis the season of giving! Let's look at which nonprofits have the most successful social campaigns.
With Giving Tuesday last week and the holidays in full swing, many people are making charitable contributions. In fact, donating to nonprofits in someone else's name has become a very popular gift – especially in the wake of the presidential election.
How do people determine which charities to support? Personal preference is a major factor, but social media engagement also plays a crucial role. In taking a closer look at Facebook, it's clear that animal nonprofits are making the biggest splash on social.
Of the top 10 nonprofit brands on Facebook in Q3 of 2016, five are animal-related organizations, specifically PETA (#1), Mercy for Animals (#2), The National Audubon Society (#4), North Shore Animal League (#5) and peta2 (#6). What makes these brands so successful? The power of animal imagery is definitely an important factor. North Shore Animal League has cornered the cute and cuddly market. With adorable photos of cats and dogs accompanied by catchy hashtags, such as #MeowMonday and #GetYourRescueOn, the aim of this animal-rescue organization is to promote pet adoptions.
While precious puppy pics never seem to get old, other organizations take a more serious approach. Animal-rights groups PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), its affiliate peta2 and Mercy for Animals all rely heavily on images of animals being mistreated. These photos definitely evoke a visceral response, leading to high levels of consumer actions (reactions, comments and shares.)
Another important element to these successful social campaigns is video. Of the 4.5 million total actions PETA had on Facebook in Q3, 3.4 million came from their 228 video posts. More than half of PETA's posts were video content, which has led to 15% growth in engagement year over year. The graphic nature of the video content, most of which comes with warnings, elicits an emotional reaction from consumers. Many of the videos are shot on camera phones and show gruesome acts being done to animals – proving that videos don't need to be visually stunning or high quality to be engaging.
The National Audubon Society, which protects birds and their habitats, demonstrates that you don't need to share a lot of content or have millions of followers to rank high in engagement. This organization is another top performer and has shown 8% engagement growth year over year. With an audience of 925K, they managed to get 2.1 million total actions on Facebook in Q3. This shows that they have a highly engaged community, many of who are actively responding to the content. Of their 357 total posts, only 38 were videos, which still garnered 376K actions. The video content is primarily short clips of birds in their natural habitats without any fancy editing or graphics – once again showing that it's the subject matter, not production value, that matters most.
Social media has proven to be a powerful tool for nonprofits – especially those related to animal activism. Much like consumer brands, charities leverage images and videos to promote their messages, however there's no expectation for professional quality because they rely more on an emotional response.