The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 3rd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Entered in Instagram


The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is dedicated to fighting the world's toughest cancer. We attack pancreatic cancer on all fronts: research, clinical initiatives, patient services and advocacy.

Though pancreatic cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, its incidence rate is comparatively low and also tends to affect an older population, resulting in low awareness of the disease. That said, we know that the people affected by this disease are not just the patients, but also their loved ones.

Through Instagram, we are able to not only amplify our message, but also broaden our reach to impact the patients, caregivers and all who are affected by pancreatic cancer.

Instagram has become the ideal platform to help achieve the following goals:

Be #PANCaware: Raise awareness of pancreatic cancer, the stats, the current state of research and clinical initiatives, and encourage people to advocate in the fight

#WageHope: Provide hope to those who are facing the disease and show them that there are resources, there is help and there are survivors.

#DemandBetter: Encourage and remind people that we must demand better -- that a 9% five-year survival rate is unacceptable and we must mobilize as a community to do more.

Strategy and Execution

In the pancreatic cancer space, we have found that it is difficult to reach new constituents, who don't have a personal connection to the disease.

However, on Instagram, we wanted to capitalize on the visual and community-centered nature of the platform in order to reach our goals.

Our strategy was to:

• Position our Instagram channel as a visual view of our brand, organization and community, with content that would appeal to the Instagram population -- not just the pancreatic cancer community. This included sourcing quality user-generated content as well as creating original photos, videos, Boomerangs and graphics.

Key examples include:

Inspirational quotes from pancreatic cancer survivors and caregivers

Flat-lays featuring our branding

◦ Videos featuring celebrities and influencers

◦ Inspirational stories of our volunteers, survivors and constituents who #WageHope in both ordinary and extraordinary ways.

• Promote popular Instagram content and target look-a-like audiences to reach new people with content that would stand out in the feed but also not feel jarring or too much like an advertisement.

• Join existing conversations and popular hashtags, when relevant, in order to reach new people, always tying it back to either our core message or services.

Examples include:

Aretha Franklin's passing to pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer

◦ Video featuring pancreatic cancer survivor's tattoos (Wage Hope and stitch marks over his surgery scar) on National Tattoo Day

◦ Congratulating the Washington Capitals, a regular PurpleStride sponsor and supporter, on their Stanley Cup Win

◦ The Diagon Alley Project, a fundraiser in Seattle that raised money through a mini Diagon Alley replica from the "Harry Potter" series.

• Promote our own branded hashtags, #WageHope, #PANCaware, #DemandBetter and #PurpleStride, while also frequently using common hashtags such as #pancreaticcancer and #cancersucks

• Utilize Instagram Stories and taking advantage of the "Swipe Up" option to share stories and messages with a direct call-to-action.

◦ Promote major research breakthroughs on Instagram Stories in an easy-to-understand format and ending in relevant calls-to-action to learn more and contact us.

◦ Post impactful stories from our website with photos, quotes and videos

◦ Post live on the ground during national campaigns, such as Advocacy Day, World Pancreatic Cancer Day and from events like PurpleStride (our signature 5K).

◦ Share tips for pancreatic cancer patients through engaging quizzes and quotes


Instagram is our fastest growing social media platform and is where we have been able to reach and connect with a broader audience. Though the majority of our audiences on other platforms skew older (65 and above), on Instagram, our largest audience is in the 25-34 age range, followed by 35-44.

We have also been lauded by other non-profit organizations, corporate partners and other industry leaders, with our Instagram being utilized as a top example of use by a non-profit by the Harvard Business School Kraft Accelerator, the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition and Facebook itself.

We also have seen:

• 50% increase in followers compared to previous fiscal year

• 64% increase in engagement compared to previous fiscal year

• 70% average engagement rate (fiscal year)

• 1,281,030 profile impressions (fiscal year)

• 679,176 media reach (fiscal year)

• 926,011 media impressions (fiscal year)


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network


Entry Credits