Calgary Zoo turns to Instagram for annual report

May 02, 2013
<p>Latest eco-friendly report goes online with Instagram</p>

Calgary Zoo celebrated a bumper 2012 with a series of fun and beautiful photos to accompany the numbers, all posted on photo-sharing website Instagram.

The 2012 report was the brainchild of Trigger Communications, the zoo’s marketing firm for the last 10 years, which says on its blog that ‘despite being Instagram newcomers, [Calgary Zoo] approved it within five minutes’.

Trigger says its innovative and environmentally friendly creation is the first time Instagram has been used to publish an annual report. ‘The idea came from the creative insight that, along with a zoo record of 1.46 mn visitors in 2012, there came a record number of images on Instagram tagged #calgaryzoo,’ continues the blog post. ‘Our audience was using the channel – why shouldn’t we?’

Calgary Zoo financial condition - operations
Image from Calgary Zoo 2012 annual report

‘Like every organization, we want to be as cost-effective as possible, and as a conservation organization the added incentive is to be as environmentally responsible as possible,’ says Lindsey Galloway, director of marketing, communications and sales at Calgary Zoo. ‘When Trigger made the Instagram pitch, we jumped. It just made sense in every way.’

The zoo doesn’t spend much on its annual reports anyway, continues Galloway, instead using financial reporting as a means to ‘make a strong statement as a conservation organization’.

Calgary Zoo is no stranger to unusual annual reports, either: last year it squeezed everything it needed to say onto two sides of a single newssheet. ‘It took just 28 minutes to print,’ says Galloway.

Calgary Zoo 2011 annual report
Image from Calgary Zoo 2011 annual report

And because the zoo’s reports tend to be slim, the Instagram idea didn’t involve cutting out content. Instead, the report’s 55 photos are accompanied by statements from president and CEO Dr Clément Lanthier and Greg Turnbull, chair of the board of trustees, plus milestones from the year and the financial figures.

‘The opening of Penguin Plunge, favorable weather and new baby tigers were but a few things that contributed to record attendance in 2012, which, in turn, drove strong operating results. The 2012 excess of operating revenue over expenses was $8.9 mn compared with $3.9 mn in 2011,’ notes part of the operations section of the report – accompanied by a picture of three origami penguins.

The zoo did in fact print ‘a few dozen copies’ of the financial statement for those attending its AGM. ‘But we then took a photo of those statements and simply added those pictures to our Instagram,’ Galloway explains.

As well as being cost-effective and eco-friendly, Calgary Zoo’s annual report also generated publicity. ‘On the day of our annual meeting, we published our Instagram [report] and publicized it by issuing a news release, posting to our Facebook page and emailing our members. And of course, word of the world’s first Instagram annual report really began to travel via social media worldwide,’ he adds.

Of course, this is all easier given that the zoo’s shareholders are in fact its 78,000 members – with added support coming from a number of donors and sponsors – rather than big institutional investors. But as more and more firms go online with their company reports, making greater use of interactive elements and integrated videos from the CEO, perhaps they can take inspiration from Calgary Zoo’s eco-friendly focus.

Calgary Zoo Instagram annual report 
Image from Calgary Zoo 2012 annual report

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