Who Rules Social Media? A Look At Social Media Impact By Nonprofit Issues

So, a few weeks ago, the craigconnects team researched how the top 50 nonprofits do social media. We decided to dig a little deeper to find how nonprofits by area of focus use social media and what kind of an impact that they were having in the social media space.

Who Rules Social Media

From August to October of 2011 we analyzed the top 5 nonprofits in the following categories based on total expenses provided by Charity Navigator:

  • Animal
  • Children
  • Cultural
  • Disaster Relief
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Veterans & Military
  • Women

We broke down the data even more since the last infographic to answer some follow-up questions that folks had and satiate our own curiosity. Instead of just looking at the information over the course of two months, we went even further and looked at the average number of posts and replies the nonprofits were submitting on both Facebook and Twitter per week.

We researched how often organizations are posting on different social media platforms, what nonprofits are being talked about the most: mentioned on Twitter and talked about on Facebook, and whose words are having the most impact on their communities.  And, we found some cool stuff:

  • The most talkative category on both Facebook and Twitter are Animal and Environmental Organizations. Animal groups have a weekly average of 14 Facebook posts and 134 tweets. Environmental groups are close behind with 12 Facebook posts and 88 tweets per week.
  • The least talkative on Facebook and Twitter are Veterans and Military organizations.
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the most talkative Animal Organization per week, on average, on both social media platforms.
  • The most engaged communities on Facebook are Children’s Organizations with an average of 39 Fans per person are “talking about this.”
  • Only 1 nonprofit, out of the 40, does not have a Twitter account.

We also talked with several of the organizations by phone and email and asked them how many social media staffers work for them and whether they were part time or full time and if their social media responsibilities were incorporated into different job roles such as online advocacy, online communications, etc.

Out Of 21 Organizations We Spoke With:

  • Only 1 does not have a designated social media person–neither part nor full-time.
  • There are 14 full-time social media staff and 40 part-time.
  • Organizations that focus on Animals, the Environment, and Women are the most staffed for social media.

It was interesting to see that environmental groups were at the top of the list as far as posting, tweeting, and talking back to their users, yet they fall at the bottom of the totem pole in regards to being talked about. Luke Franklin, Director of Member Communications at ASPCA explained that for their Animal Organization, “engagement is what pushed our numbers as high as they are.”

More Staffing Data:

  • Among the 4 responding Women’s organizations there is one full-time staff social media staff and 13 part-time.
  • All 5 Animal organizations had social media staff. There are 7 full-time staff and 6 part-time.
  • Since hiring a FT social media person, ASPCA has seen tremendous growth over the past year: they have 75,000 Twitter followers (their following has doubled) and have surpassed 1 million Facebook fans by thousands.
  • Out of 4 responding Environmental organizations there are 2 full-time social media staff and 14 part-time.

Another fascinating parallel: while demographically women dominate on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, people are “talking about” women’s organizations the least on Facebook out of the 8 nonprofit issue areas we analyzed. Over on Twitter, they rank second to last.

While it is remarkable to see the variations in social media use by area of focus among nonprofits, the bottom line is that your main concern should be to cultivate conversations, relationships, and interactions within your own specific community, whether it’s 2,000 or 200,000 people. Work to move “your people” up the ladder of engagement, based on their needs. But know it will take an investment of staff time and resources to achieve this. These are the keys to keeping up in the fast-paced arena of social networks.

Check out the full infographic here.

0 thoughts on “Who Rules Social Media? A Look At Social Media Impact By Nonprofit Issues

  1. Forcing people to Like your page before showing them an infographic is so wrong on so many fronts. That isn’t engagement, it’s like-counting! I can live without the infographic and you’ll live without my retweet.


  2. Kyra, several of the organizations listed in the infographic are advocacy organizations though they are not 501C4’s. Charity Navigator does not have access to those organizations financials which is where the craigconnects team gathered financial organizational data from.


  3. Thanks for this great information! Just to follow up on Allyson’s point, Pathfinder International (one of the orgs included in the Women category) does advocacy work to support international family planning. We use social media quite a bit to share action alerts and engage with supporters for various advocacy issues.

    Appreciate RAD Campaign and Craig Connects’ work on this! Very helpful!


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