Twitter Takes a Back Seat to Instagram for Giving
Many charities and nonprofit organizations think of Twitter as being crucial to their donor outreach. Considering the volume of tweets on popular days, such as #GivingTuesday, it’s easy to see why. Twitter helps organizations amplify their message on an event day, attract media attention and make it easy for followers to share your content.
However, social media activity is not always a reflection of action.
In the days after #GivingTuesday, FrontStream, which powers online fundraising for more than 10,000 organizations, analyzed a large segment of online donation traffic on our platform. We found Instagram represented 4.3 percent of socially-referred gifts—at a $78.5 average gift size. Instagram sent more individual donors to donation forms than Twitter, had a higher donation conversion rate and the resulting gifts were of a higher average value. That means that Instagram was the second-most effective social network after Facebook for driving charitable donations on #GivingTuesday in 2017!
We had noticed the recent rise of Instagram as a popular tool for charities to promote this particular event, but this was the first time that Instagram outpaced its more famous and established rival: Twitter.
Twitter’s Evolution Since 2012: A Reality Check
Statistics show that Twitter’s active user base is stagnant. In this case, active means the number of people who are currently using the platform, as opposed to the number of people who have an account. While you would expect the number of Twitter users to be growing quarter over quarter, the numbers actually stayed about the same. Comparing Twitter’s over 300 million reported users to Instagram’s 800 million reveals how Instagram is beginning to leave Twitter in the dust. Instagram has also shown signs of user base growth since April 2017, while Twitter has remained flat.
Instagram As a Transactional Platform?
Instagram lets users share images (or videos) and find new ones through hashtag and keyword searches. The vast majority of users access Instagram on a mobile device—usually a smartphone. Instagram likes to keep users inside the platform and does not allow clickable links in text sections or comments. There are only two ways to “click out” of Instagram: The user’s bio includes a section for links, and Instagram ads include call-to-action buttons like “Learn More” or “Donate Now” that take users to a website.
The fact that Instagram is generating traffic to donation forms could indicate that nonprofits and their influential supporters are encouraging donors to “click the link in the bio to give.” But it most likely represents the increased number of charities and nonprofit organizations that are using sponsored Instagram posts. It makes sense when you consider that Instagram now has more advertisers than Twitter.
Taking a Page From Facebook Ads
Many organizations choose to run a single advertising campaign on both Facebook and Instagram. It’s easy to do, as Facebook controls both advertising platforms. A charitable organization does not have to have an Instagram account to advertise on the platform.
Instagram allows you to pay for sponsored postings and add a strong call-to-action like “Shop” or “Donate.” Pair this with Instagram’s options for adding multiple photos and videos to an ad, and you’ve got the ability to create a truly impactful and convincing message that goes beyond a simple in-feed advertisement.
Next Up for Nonprofits and Charities
Given that we know Instagram can drive donations, why not consider a year-round Instagram strategy? Most nonprofits have a time during the year when the spotlight is on their organization because of a special holiday on the calendar or an awareness month for their cause. Take the flurry of environmental and health-related days in March and April (e.g. #EarthDay on Apr. 22nd).
Build Instagram posts and sponsored ads into your communications strategy in advance of the big day. Nonprofits should try targeting the demographic profile of their typical donor by location, age, interest or who they are following. You might be surprised at how easy it is—and how this method of advertising can help reach new audiences.
Switch up the strategy and do occasional A/B testing with sponsored ads to see if some are performing better than others, and why. Ad placement on Instagram is inexpensive, and you can set a maximum daily or weekly budget.
We now know that on #GivingTuesday, Instagram outperformed Twitter in number of gifts, size and conversion rate. It’s now second to Facebook, which you already know is doing a good job of pushing donors to your donation and fundraising pages. And, once deemed a platform for younger generations, a Pew social media report shows Instagram’s demographics are trending “older,” with now 92 percent of users between ages 18 and 49.
So in 2018, consider planning out a strategy to reach those supporters and donors on Instagram. The data tells us they are “actively there” and willing to donate.
As Director of Digital Philanthropy at FrontStream, a company that powers the online fundraising of more than 10,000 charities and nonprofits around the world, Claire Kerr provides best practices to charities as they fundraise through web, social and mobile channels.
Claire has worked for nonprofit organizations in the economic development, education and health and research sectors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org