To celebrate the start of the Back to School season, the Case Foundation teamed up with the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) to honor fearless role models through a community engagement campaign built around Instagram video. We approached this campaign as an experiment in online community engagement and chose the Instagram video platform because of the relatively new integration of the video tool in 2013, its large membership base of more than 150 million users, and popularity among our target audiences. While researching this campaign however, we found relatively little in terms of past examples with a report out of outcomes—especially in the nonprofit sector.

We learned a tremendous amount about the campaign integration during our program review and aim to share those tips and tricks with our community. This post is intended to provide a top line overview of the campaign and general recommendations based on our own experience. Details such as staff time, budget, and other factors unique to the execution of any program certainly impacted the outcome and should be taken into consideration when designing your own program.

Campaign Components

From August 16 to September 13, 2013, the Foundation invited individuals to honor inspirational figures by using Instagram video to share their own stories that answered our prompt: “Who taught you what it means to Be Fearless?” Did your best friend inspire you to take risks; your high school principal encourage you to be bold; or your basketball coach help you to bounce back from failure?

To participate, users simply completed the brief entry form on the Case Foundation’s custom Facebook tab, and then used Instagram video to share their story with the hashtags #BeFearless and/or #NSHSS. The platform included a special video gallery where select submissions were housed for public viewing.

Measuring Our Results

Ultimately, the campaign proved to be an informative experiment in community engagement with the achievement of significant reach, impressions and learnings. In addition, the high quality content of the videos we received also showcased positive engagement and provided tremendous value to the overall campaign. Despite these highlights, the actual number of entries (255 sweepstakes entries) and (37 unique) video submissions fell far short of our target (500) based on our earlier research of other campaigns.

Tips for Using Instagram Video in Your Next Campaign

After crunching the numbers and talking with stakeholders involved with the campaign, we surfaced a number of learnings – from the platform design to the promotional aspects of the campaign. We hope you find these tips useful as your nonprofits works to design your Instagram campaigns in the future.

Do Your Homework: Two other campaign we looked at during our evaluation for comparison purposes included Daily Candy’s “Fashion in Film” contest and Swarovski’s #InstaSparkle contest.
Seek Critical Mass: Critical mass on the organizer’s Instagram profile may be a necessary factor in success when it comes to leveraging that platform for a sweepstakes.
Consider Subject Matter: In reviewing previous current campaigns, we realized that almost none of the video entries for those contests featured the entrant or a person. Rather the prompt only required the recording of something, not someone as our campaign required. We speculate that asking participants to feature themselves in a video may have been a significant barrier to entry.
Find the People: We chose to build our own sweepstakes page to host the content, but found that several other successful campaigns employed a third party host or website with a built in audience primed for sweepstakes.
Note Privacy Issues: The vast majority of video submissions came from high school aged individuals—as was to be expected given our target audience, context and partner. What we did not anticipate though, was that many of the participants would have their Instagram settings turned to “Private” (we do not know definitively, but assume this was due to parental restrictions or permissions). While we prepared for this possibility by troubleshooting from the beginning and encouraging entrants to check their settings, the outcome was that we could not see or find many of the entrants’ videos.

Would we do it again? Of course! Our passion at the Case Foundation is to experiment with online tools to promote social good—no matter what the outcome. Have you tried Instagram video or any other platforms in your social good campaign? If so, we invite you to share your learnings with us and the community as well in the comments section or via Twitter @CaseFoundation!