Differentiation: How two non-profits compare in their social media strategy

Two of the largest non-profits in the pet industry are The Petfinder Foundation and the ASPCA.  The ASPCA is not for profit association whose mission is to prevent cruelty to animals in the U.S.  The Petfinder Foundation is also a not for profit with a mission to help animal shelters and rescues in North American save animals lives. Both organizations have a strong social media presence and use various platforms to help spread their message, outreach, and organization initiatives.

14463136_10153966176241452_1169597109201196744_nThe Petfinder Foundation is active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  They are most active and successful on Facebook with over 76,000 followers. On Twitter, they have over 3,000 followers and on YouTube 1,700 subscribers, their most popular video has 2,000 views.  On social media, The Petfinder Foundation posts mostly about donations it gives to rescue organizations and heartwarming success stories of rescued pets.  Their posts tag many other shelters and rescues and use many photos of animals to engage their followers.   They also include information about events and how people can help but that is not the focus of their social media strategy.  They have an engaged audience by sharing positive stories, photos and expand their reach by tagging other organizations they help.

ASPCA is active on the same social media channels as The Petfinder Foundation with the inclusion of Instagram.  Although they are both active, their strategy, posts and engagement with their community is different.  ASPCA uses Facebook (1.6 million followers) similarly to Petfinder, with much of its posts positive photos and stories about its impact in the animal community.  Much of ASPCA’s posts on YouTube however vividly show animal cruelty in powerful videos.  While the videos may be hard for some to watch, their strategy works, with their most popular video viewed more than 2 million times. On Twitter, the ASPCA shares stories but also includes many Tweets about policy and politics involving animal welfare.  The ASPCA shares information on farm animals and how food in the U.S. is made, as seen in this video on their YouTube channel.

The ASPCA’s mission is to not only inform consumers about animal cruelty but to put pressure on the government for better policies and regulations.

While both organizations use social media to engage with their community, they differ greatly in their objectives for each platform.  Both mainly use Facebook to engage with their followers by sharing success stories.  ASPCA uses YouTube and Twitter to inform the public using a journalistic approach about animal cruelty and public policy. ASPCA’s social media strategy has been very effective in doing so.  Likewise, The Petfinder Foundation has raised over 20 million, using social media to promote shelter/rescue awareness for pet adoption.


Social Media and Non-Profits- A Perfect Match


Social media for non-profits

Non-profits need financial donation to survive.  Before the web, non-profits would mainly raise money by holding fundraising events, telemarketing possible donors and marketing through snail mail.  Social media has changed that.  The use of social media has created high impact and relatively low-cost opportunities for non-profits.  Many non-profit companies have embraced social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and even Snapchat.

How Social Media Can Help

  1. Engage communities
  2. Increase awareness about their mission
  3. Obtain new donors
  4. Positively impact society


140819-ice-bucket-challenge-1949_899e03e1c58b45b56812f96bc79680a6In 2014, The ALS Association started a social media campaign called the “Ice Bucket Challenge”. The social media campaign went viral world-wide on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  More than 28 million people participated in the “Ice Bucket Challenge” on Facebook (comments and likes), including over 17 million videos. 4.4 million tweets included the hashtag #Icebucketchallenge. YouTube had more than a billion views from Ice Bucket challenges. According to CBS This Morning, the social media campaign raised over $114 million for the ALS Association in two months.

How To Get Started

Social media is a very powerful platform and I believe all non-profits should be using these highly engaged marketing tools.  It’s fairly easy to get started by creating a Facebook page or Instagram account.  First companies should understand their target market and choose the social media platform (s) that make the most sense.  Like any other company, it’s important to integrate social media with your overall marketing strategy.  There are various online learning seminars and even conferences that can help non-profits understand how to build, execute and analyze how social media can work for them.  One in particular, Social Media for Non Profits, is a great organization that offers online learning, conferences, consulting and a community.

Follow my blog and Twitter at @Sara_Given for more info on Social Media Marketing.