Happy Pride month from all of us at Rival IQ! This June, we couldn’t resist digging into how corporations and nonprofits were talking about Pride this month on social media.
Organizations have figured out by now that they see a bump in their bottom line every time they roll out a rainbow-themed product or mention Pride in a post, but not all of their efforts are above-board or appreciated.
How are brands and nonprofits talking about Pride, and what kind of engagement increase can they expect to see using the #Pride hashtag or 🌈? Do consumers care more about brands that connect their Pride efforts to organizations that benefit the LGBTQIA+ community, or are they just here for the rainbow merch?
I looked at posts from five corporations that are known for positive and impactful Pride social media campaigns (Converse, LUSH, Nordstrom, Oreo, and Starbucks), and also included five nonprofits working specifically towards LGBTQIA+ rights and equality (Gill Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, It Gets Better, The Trevor Project, and the National Center for Transgender Equality) to try to answer these questions. I focused on Facebook for this survey.
Read on for all the pride stats, plus helpful tips from those in the know about how to keep your social authentic this month (and beyond).
Pride vs. non-Pride social media engagement
Many brands and nonprofits put a special focus on Pride in June, and the organizations we studied were no exception. Does mentioning Pride really help boost engagement? (Spoilers: social media consumers love Pride posts!)
Using Rival IQ, it was easy to see that posts that don’t mention Pride receive an average engagement rate/post of just 0.025% on Facebook (remember, according to our Social Media Industry Benchmark Report, benchmarks are 0.09% for Facebook, 1.60% for Instagram, and 0.048% for Twitter). To contrast, posts that do mention Pride see a way above average 0.13% engagement rate/post–that’s a 5x difference! It’s no wonder that corporations and nonprofits alike are taking care to mention Pride this month.
To see how Pride-themed content compared in June 2019 against content that didn’t mention Pride, I spun up two quick Boolean searches in Rival IQ’s post tagging feature.
To find Pride-themed posts, I wanted to capture anything that mentioned or hashtagged Pride, and also included the rainbow emoji for good measure.
Identifying posts that didn’t mention Pride was as easy as including the “NOT” operator to exclude all posts that didn’t meet my criteria.
Deep dive: Top Pride Facebook post in this group
We were happy to see that the top Facebook post in our little experiment was from a great organization about a great cause. The It Gets Better project posted a photo/link combo post announcing Ian McKellan’s LGBTQIA+-themed philanthropy with Pride in Ageing, an organization dedicated to older LGBTQIA+ folks in England.
This post saw more than twice the engagement (26.1k) that the next highest post did (12.7k), and boasted twice in engagement rate too (5.71% vs. 2.78%). Our theories for the post’s success?
- Photo post: Facebook rewards non-link post types in its algorithm, so it’s no surprise that choosing to feature the photo instead of the article link gave the post a boost.
- Rainbows: As we can see below, five of the top eight most engaging posts in this survey featured rainbows, so Sir Ian’s boa helped attract more likes and loves.
- A clear focus: As we can see in the least engaging posts below, group shots don’t engage nearly as well as tight, focused, people-themed posts from the top performing group above.
- Celebrity: Of course, featuring such a recognizable public figure helps energize followers and encourages likes.
Measuring Pride authenticity on social
Now that I knew that these organizations are enjoying above-average engagement on Pride-themed posts, I set out to solve another puzzle: do consumers prefer posts (and therefore products and companies) that are actually lending support to LGBTQIA+ organizations via proceeds, or are they just all about the swag?
For example: Starbucks is matching donations to Lady Gaga and her Born This Way Foundation in the month of June up to $250k. Do mission-themed posts like these do better than posts that mention Pride alone?
I know I’m motivated by cause-based marketing like we see above, so I thought for sure that consumers would reward brands that were putting their money where their mouths were. Wow, was I wrong! As you can see above, posts that mention the proceeds of Pride campaigns performed half as well as posts that didn’t even mention Pride at all, and were way behind Pride-themed posts in engagement.
Both corporations and nonprofits aren’t posting very often about how Pride-themed campaigns and products benefit the LGBTQIA+ community, with just 6 posts out of 300.
These results surprised me–I thought for sure that corporations would be doing everything they could to push Pride products and capitalize on any donations they were making this month, but that’s just not happening in this survey.
The Trevor Project is leading the pack in both posts and engagement about products that benefit the LGBTQIA+ community, so I dug in a little.
It turns out this nonprofit is using their social media to call attention to partnerships and corporations like Morphe Brushes, Soul Cycle, Macy’s, and others. They’re seeing lots of great engagement from these posts, and aren’t seeing much competition from other brands and nonprofits posting about ways to support the LGBTQIA+ community through shopping.
To capture these stats, I kept my Pride search criteria from above, and compared it against the following search:
I wanted to find any posts that mentioned anything about a donation, so I used a few different keywords for a wider net. (Speaking of wider nets, we’re not anti-🦈–I just wanted to exclude Lush’s campaign benefitting sharks this month!)
How to authentically support Pride on social media
Intentions are important, but actions are more so. Here are six ways to be a stronger ally during Pride month on social:
- Donate to LGBTQIA+ organizations. The organizations mentioned in this post are great places to start.
- Source your swag from LGBTQIA+-owned organizations. Consider buying that rainbow flag or Pride t-shirt from a business that will directly benefit from your support. Check out the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce for leads on LGBTQIA+-owned businesses you can support.
- Follow the Human Rights Campaign’s tips for corporations on marketing during Pride (and year-round). These LGBTQIA+ marketing best practices from HRC can help your brand stay inclusive and sensitive with all your marketing and advertising.
- Expand your social media campaigns beyond heterosexual, cis-gendered actors and models. This free source for non-binary and POC stock photos can help.
- Make use of Instagram’s and Facebook’s new Pride features. Instagram recently rolled out rainbow hashtags and non-binary gender selections, while Facebook is all about the colorful backgrounds to indicate Pride-themed posts.
- Use the Pride hashtag and the rainbow to truly benefit organizations in need instead of your bottom line.
This Instagram post from Michael Kors makes it easy to think that the clothing brand is donating its Pride product proceeds to LGBTQIA+ nonprofit GodsLoveNYC, but if you read a little closer you’ll see that only t-shirt proceeds qualify. If the t-shirt proceeds benefit GodsLoveNYC, then show T-shirts in your creative for the Love of God(s).
Wrapping it up
Tons of companies are using their social media channels to boost messages of Pride, love, inclusivity, and generosity this month, and there’s no easier time to show your own 🌈 than during Pride month.
Brands and nonprofits can show their support authentically by taking a few easy and careful steps towards inclusion and honesty.
Is there an organization or product supporting LGBTQIA+ organizations this month that you’re especially excited about? Do you have more advice for supporting LGBTQIA+ community members during Pride month? We want to hear about it on Twitter!