Nature Conservancy Instagram Contest and Other Examples | Beth's Blog

Nature Conservancy Instagram Contest and Other Examples

Digital Strategy

Last week,  I wrote a post about Nonprofits and Instagram, asking if it was valuable for nonprofit marketing.  The post summarized why it may be important, best practices, and a few nonprofit examples.       One of my blog readers, Sarah Mowry, Outreach Director for the Deschutes Land Trust pointed me to Nature Conservancy’s Instagram contest, an image scavenger hunt.

Here’s how it works, according to their recent Facebook and Tumblr posts:

The Nature Conservancy has used photo contests to crowdsource photos from its network through social media in the post, as far back as 2008 when it ran a contest on Flickr.    There are some obvious benefits:

  • Engaging its network beyond the like on Facebook. This is a high level engagement task, to take a photo and tag it on Instagram.  But Instagram users seem to be responding, with over 280  posting gorgeous photos with the tag .   This is one way to bring people in your network past the lower engagement activities such as liking a photo – and may encourage  higher levels of participation with the organization.
  • Encourages social content creation from network. This means the organization can be more efficient because it has opened up and allowed its network to create content about what they love: nature.  The photos, particularly since TNC’s audience are photography enthusiastic, can become a richer source for compelling photos than stock photos.   There is also other value: How much time or expense did this save staff?  How much good will is generated by those contributed and by the winners of the contest whose works will be posted on the Nature Conservancy’s FB and Tumblr.
  • A methodology for experimenting, piloting, and ultimately adopting new channels. In my maturity of practice model, “Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly“, nonprofits reaching the “fly” level have an institutional process for testing new channels before investing more heavily     The process might go something like this 1)  Research best practices and users   2)  Set up presence and explore, get comfortable with techniques, see what others are doing  3) Launch a small proof of pilot related to strategic goals and well defined success metrics and value.   4)  Rinse, Repeat, Leverage or not

On my post last week, Andy Sternberg, shared some thoughts about the value Instagram can provide brands, including nonprofits.

“Tags (hashtags) are also a great way to discover your community and encourage them to spread the message on Instagram. For example, a search for “fallingwhistles” (either in the Instagram app or on a 3rd party web viewer such as Statigram or Webstagram) user photos with the tag — typically featuring “whistleblowers” wearing the whistles sold by the nonprofit to raise funds for its campaign for peace in Congo . “Like” these photos as the nonprofit on Instagram and thank them and watch your community and movement grow.   A few nonprofits that I see setting good examples of how to leverage Instagram include (by username): fxckcancer, healthebay, breakthechainprogram, pencilsofpromis, and  surfrider_foundation.”

A quick look through these nonprofit users offers a couple of other ideas for contests on Instagram to encourage engagement:

1.   Snap, Tag, and Share

Who wants a FREE #FxCKCANCER Shirt? Snapshot this picture, share it with your followers, tag @FxCKCANCER & hashtag #FUCKCANCER Monday 8/13 we will randomly select a WINNER! Thank you all for the continued support! No One FIGHTS Alone join our cause by visiting

2. Caption Contest

Caption contest. Go…

Vickie McMurchie, SurfRider Community Manager, shared some additional thoughts about another example of an Instagram contest

“We hosted an online webathon to garner donations and “stoke out” the surf community. We were going to air 8 hours of broadcast and wanted to be able to fully show people what INTERNATIONAL Surfing Day looked like – not just show some pictures of suring in California, or even just North America. Unfortunately, we’re a small staff and we just don’t have people on the ground in international locations… so we used the Instagram contest as a way to crowdsource the images. Our intention (and definition of success) was to get 200 photo submissions and to load them into the broadcast. By that definition – we failed. The webathon was a first year event and 8 hours of LIVE footage was a beast to tackle – so unfortunately the Instagram photos didn’t make the broadcast (all b-roll, clips and photos had to be pre-loaded the day before). The good news is that over 1,800 photos were entered into the contest. We picked our favorite 100 and uploaded them to a Facebook album and then we awarded prize packs to our favorite 7 (as voted on by Surfrider staff and volunteers). And because of how we wrote our rules for the contest, we can now (if we choose to) use those photos in promotional materials, etc.”

Does your nonprofit have an institutionalized process for researching, piloting, and adopting energing technology?  What does it look like?  How is your organization experimenting on Instagram?

3 Responses

  1. […] Last week,  I wrote a post about Nonprofits and Instagram, asking if it was valuable for nonprofit marketing.  The post summarized why it may be important, best practices, and a few nonprofit examples.  […]

  2. […] Social Media Guru Beth Kanter get’s up close and personal with the possibilities in her recent blog about instagram.  Heads Up: the Nature Conservatory Scavenger Hunt Contest runs through August 31. If you […]

  3. I love how you identify the multiple ‘bottom lines’ with the Nature Conservancy contest. It’s not just about the number of people who participate, or the level of engagement they commit…it’s also the content that they create (and make available to the organization) and the ability to learn how your crowd will respond, and the time saved for staff. If we get more comfortable with assessing outcomes on these different layers, we’ll get a fuller sense of whether what we’re doing ‘works’.