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Why Nonprofits Need Influencers To Grow (And How To Do It Right)

Have you heard the buzzword “influencer” and wondered what the heck it was? Or if it’s a familiar term, have you struggled with how to find one of these elusive creatures to work with your nonprofit? Well, never fear—today’s post is for you.

While influencers have always existed, the Internet Age has given them new meaning, as well as new ways to capitalize on their popularity. (Cue the Wicked soundtrack!) Social media brought with it a whole host of new job possibilities. I mean, 15 years ago, we all would’ve laughed someone out of the room who said people would pay to watch another person play video games. But, here we are…

So, if getting an influencer to spread the word about your cause is on your To Do List, Kayleigh Alexandra of Micro Startups is going to break it down for you. I’ve seen social impact organizations have great success with this tactic, so I’d encourage you to give it a try and see what happens!

Why Nonprofits Need Influencers To Grow (And How To Do It Right)

Growing your nonprofit can be tough. Aside from competing for attention against so many other worthwhile nonprofits, making donors care about a cause is a big task. Thankfully, influencers are here to make all of that a breeze.

It’s important to make time for your nonprofit marketing, and using influencers doesn’t just save you time—it’s also highly effective. Keep reading to find out how your nonprofit can benefit from an influencer collaboration in 2019.

What are influencers?

While you might not know exactly what influencers are, you’ve probably already encountered them without realizing it. Influencers are social media stars, tastemakers who command significant influence over their followings online.

There are countless examples of online influencers: Kim Kardashian, Marie Kondo, Jake Paul, Huda Kattan, Andrew Bachelor, Gary Vaynerchuk, Joanna Gaines—the list goes on. And for every influencer, there are ten more examples of brands partnering with them for a marketing campaign.

Influencers can be divided into two, broad categories: macro and micro.

Macro-influencers are the A-listers of the influencer world. With social followings in the high hundred-thousands or millions, these individuals are renowned the world over. Consequently, any brand looking to collaborate with them can expect to pay correspondingly high prices.

At the other end of the scale, however, are micro-influencers. These social stars typically have a follower count of around 10-100K.

While they are less well-known than their macro counterparts, micro-influencers enjoy a closer relationship with their followers. They occupy niche areas such as specific beauty subsets (think makeup tips for women with vitiligo), eating gluten-free, or mental health. Their community is intimate and closely-knit, and they’re more affordable as a result of a smaller follower count (though still substantial).

Why do nonprofits need influencers?

We’ve established the difference between macro- and micro-influencers. The former has a large following, so partnering with a macro-influencer for a marketing campaign gets your nonprofit seen by the masses.

But this isn’t the goldmine it first seems. The fact is, while macro-influencers generate more awareness, their campaigns lack engagement.

Research shows that when an influencer’s follower count reaches 1K, the ratio of likes to comments peaks. And when an influencer’s followers exceeds 100K, engagement starts to level out.

Micro-influencers, on the other hand, reach a far smaller audience but with much higher engagement. Their close bond with their followers means their content is received on a deeper, more meaningful level.

And for nonprofits, engagement is crucial. You could create a macro-influencer campaign that reaches 10,000 people. But if those people don’t care about the campaign—if they don’t engage with it—then it will fall flat.

Nonprofits need micro-influencers because the success of their initiative hinges on making people care, and influencers can make that happen.

How do I choose the right micro-influencer?

The key to a successful nonprofit-influencer campaign lies in choosing a micro-influencer who aligns with your nonprofit’s values.

Start with what your nonprofit stands for and the work you do, and go from there. For example, if you work with sufferers of anxiety and depression, a mental health influencer would be an ideal choice for your nonprofit.

You can find micro-influencers in a number of ways. There are plenty of influencer marketplaces that let you easily find influencers, sorted by industry, follower count, social profiles, and more.

But for a quick fix, simply scope out other nonprofits operating within your niche and see who they’ve partnered with. Take a look at their blogs and social media accounts to identify any influencer campaigns, and contact the influencer in question to request a collaboration.

Alternatively, you can search hashtags on social media to see what influencers are already talking about, and what causes might be of interest.

How to launch an influencer campaign for your nonprofit

You know the what and the why. Read on to discover some great influencer collaboration ideas that will grow your nonprofit.

Get your micro-influencer to tell your nonprofit story.

Micro-influencers are characterized by their special relationship with their followers. The interactions influencers have with them are genuine and meaningful—they are real. As a result, they enjoy an honest, trusting follower relationship.

This is a boon for nonprofits. The general public is numb to marketing, either switching over when an ad comes on TV, or switching off when they see one online. But when micro-influencers extoll the benefits of a nonprofit, their followers pay attention.

Use this special relationship to your own advantage and get your chosen influencer to discuss in depth why they partnered with you. They should outline your various initiatives, highlight the work you do, and even meet and interview someone your nonprofit has helped in the past.

Launch a UGC donation matching campaign.

Most brand-influencer partnerships use a contest, competition, or giveaway to grow their business. And while some nonprofits might benefit from this, an even better, albeit similar, idea is to launch an influencer-led user-generated content (UGC) donation matching campaign.

Donation matching is simple, but effective.

Your chosen influencer gets their followers to share an Instagram photo centered around a theme (e.g. if you’re an animal rights nonprofit, they might share a photo of their favorite animal) with a branded hashtag, following and tagging your account. For every photo shared, your micro-influencer donates $1 (up to a given value).

This strategy doesn’t just give you a quick donation boost. It also invites interaction with your social media followers. It creates a conversation with your followers, involving them with your nonprofit work and making them care.

A UGC donation matching campaign also gives your nonprofit a valuable publicity boost, netting you new followers and growing your Instagram account. Combine this with National Giving Day for an added promotional boost.

Involve your influencer to reach unengaged individuals.

Many nonprofits struggle to make their work seem real to donors. For example, let’s say you’re a nonprofit working with individuals suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. You might find it difficult to make people with no experience of the disease connect with your cause on a meaningful level, simply because it feels too distant.

Micro-influencers are the perfect conduit for breaching that distance. Invite your influencer to see first-hand the vital work you do, and encourage them to share their experience on social media.

Of course, sensitivity and confidentiality is crucial here. But when you and your micro-influencer work together to create a nuanced, insightful social campaign, you turn otherwise indifferent individuals into engaged, committed donors.

Influencer collaborations are an effective and affordable marketing strategy for nonprofits. They drive engagement and get your organization seen, helping you reach a whole new audience of potential donors who might otherwise not know your nonprofit. Use the tips above to create an influencer partnership that grows your nonprofit now and well into the future.


Kayleigh Alexandra of Micro Startups

Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer at Micro Startups, your go-to place for charity news and insight. She loves writing about all the great nonprofits, startups, and entrepreneurs that make waves in their industry. For more of her work, check out the blog today @getmicrostarted.

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Growing your nonprofit can be tough. Aside from competing for attention against so many other worthwhile nonprofits, making  donors   care  about a cause is a big task. Thankfully, influencers are here to make all of that a breeze.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


The Key to Your Success May Be Staring You in the Face (Literally)

The end of the year is coming fast, which very likely means a busy season for you. You either have a big sale ahead of you, or you’re heading into the year-end fundraising season. Some of you may also have both.

And, realistically, a lot of you are already tired.

Not only are you a human with a life and responsibilities, but you are also at a cause-related organization, either for- or non-profit. So, whether your work deals with extremely sensitive and dark subjects like human trafficking or not, you still feel the pressure to succeed because there’s a social problem you’re trying to solve. There is a different kind of gravity to your work that few understand.

This can certainly wear on you over time, and without checks and balances, can lead to burnout. And burnout would be a terrible situation not only for you, but for your cause. The world needs your work!

So, what’s the answer to combating the fatigue and burnout? Community.

Community can give you the inspiration and motivation to make it through another year, month, or even day.

Essentially, you need to find your tribe—even if that’s only one other person.

How do you find the community you desperately need? I’ll show you.

The Key to Your Nonprofit or Social Enterprise Success May Be Staring You in the Face (Literally)

Why You Shouldn’t Only Rely on Co-workers, Friends, and Family

When it comes to community, too many people only rely on their co-workers, friends, and family to fill that void, even when it comes to their work. I think this is a problem.

I don’t know about you, but very few of my friends and family have founded a nonprofit or social enterprise. They’re incredibly supportive for sure, but they just can’t relate.

And as a solopreneur, I have no co-workers! Some days I love this fact, and some days I don’t. But even if you have co-workers, there are probably still a few things you avoid talking about like your salary. It just gets messy.

If you founded the organization, unless you have a co-founder, you also don’t have any direct peers. Meaning, you can’t be completely open and honest with the people in your office either because you need to maintain some professional distance.

Are you seeing the pattern? If you only rely on co-workers, friends, and family to be your community, there are gaps of your work that may never receive essential feedback, support, or input. That can impact you in a big way! It may stunt your success, allow little problems to grow into big problems, or even cause blind spots.

Worse still, without the ability to adequately communicate your thoughts and feelings to people who truly understand, it can lead to depression and isolation. I don’t know about you, but these are two things I already struggle with at times, so I don’t need anything else contributing to these issues.

Again, this would be a heartbreaking for you as a person, but it would also effect your organization. And my guess is that you care deeply about your cause and want to succeed. I want that for you too, so let’s talk about a few places where you can find the community you need.

Accountability Partner

Anytime a new or aspiring entrepreneur asks me for advice, the first thing I tell them is to get both an accountability partner and a mentor. I didn’t know how badly I needed these people in my life until I had them—and I don’t want you to miss out!

An accountability partner is someone in a similar situation or role. They don’t have to be at the same type of organization, but it’s great if they have similar responsibilities. Alternatively, they could be someone who is trying to accomplish a similar goal like writing a book.

Accountability partners are fantastic because they serve as a peer who can almost act like a co-worker or partner without the same strings. You are there to help each other succeed in your goals through, well, accountability.

You’ll be able to accomplish your goals because someone is there to regularly ask about them. It’s the same reason that Weigh Watchers meetings work so well. You take the necessary steps because you’ve got to get on a scale the next week to measure your progress.

You also both show up because you don’t want to let the other person down. Plus, they can provide a perspective and sounding board that you may currently be lacking. And, let’s face it, sometimes you just need to complain to someone who fully relates to your situation. We all have those days!

If you don’t have someone already in mind for your accountability partner, ask friends, family, or even put the word out on social media. It may take some time to find this person, but it will absolutely be worth it.

You might also consider a trial period to make sure you’re a good fit. My previous accountability partner and I had only just met when we decided to test the waters. We agreed to meet twice a month for three months, and we loved it so much we continued for six months. It was a huge boost for both of us—and our businesses!

Mentor

I think we all consciously, or even unconsciously, crave a mentor. We want “someone who’s been there” to show us the ropes. We are, of course, talking about your working life here, but you could also seek out mentors in marriage, parenting, hobbies, or any number of things.

The only prerequisite for a mentor is that they have more experience in a particular area than you do, and they are willing to share that knowledge. They almost act like a shortcut in that way, helping you bypass more of the struggles to get to more of the wins.

Let me also take a moment to dispel a couple of common misconceptions about mentors. The first is that we commonly picture mentors as much older than ourselves, but that isn’t always true.

My mentor Holly is only a couple of years older than I am, but she is CFO at a nonprofit called Growing Leaders, so she has vastly different experience than me. (One of those being that she’s good with numbers, ha!) She sort of serves as my all-around life mentor. We talk about everything, and often, that includes my business.

I had another mentor for over a year, Christina, who created The Contract Shop. She is actually over a decade younger than me, but had the experience of selling online products which I wanted to learn. So, while you may be seeking someone much older than you for one reason or another, you certainly don’t have to.

And because I also work with cause-focused organizations on both the for- and non-profit side, it’s also helpful to have mentors in both spaces.

With those two examples, you may have guessed the second misconception, and that is that you only need one mentor. Holly is the one who turned me on to this concept. She has multiple mentors that fill different roles in her life and career. Some she sees regularly, and some she may only see once a year. I really love that, and want to follow her example.

In my experience and in talking to others, mentors are much more difficult to find. It was six years of searching between finding Holly and my previous mentor. And I only had Christina for just over a year before her work got too crazy to maintain our appointments. So, I know how daunting it can be to find a mentor.

But again, I suggest that you start by asking your network. And even if you have the perfect person in mind, but they seem to already have a lot of commitments, never assume they’re too busy to fill that role. Make the ask, and be okay with hearing no, but don’t let an assumption keep you stuck. Mentors often get as much out of the relationship as mentees, so it’s definitely a mutually-beneficial situation.

Honestly, you may also just need to be patient. Don’t give up, but be okay with waiting. You’ll be so glad you did!

Mastermind

You may have noticed that I said things were going great with my accountability partner, but we only met for six months. That’s because we turned the partnership into a mastermind group.

I knew several other women who were looking for that kind of opportunity, and none of us were direct competitors, so for us, it made sense that we give it a try all together.

We meet every two weeks via an online chat, and sometimes in person. Our format was pulled from reading about other groups, as well as our own preferences. So, we usually have one person that shares about something they’ve learned which would benefit us all, and we also share a win, something we might need feedback on, and something we’d like to be held accountable for at the next meeting.

The benefit of a mastermind over an accountability partner is, of course, more perspectives and voices. But in all three of these scenarios, it’s been really incredible to get the additional support and encouragement. And that includes both the good days and bad days. We all know they’re both part of the equation!

Other spaces to find community

The three recommendations above are my go-to suggestions because they are often the most hands-on and consistent opportunities for community. They also make it easier to go deep on some of the hard subjects you need to discuss.

However, if those aren’t options right now, or you’re still in the search process, here are some other, great alternatives to try. Who knows, one of these may even lead to an accountability partner, mentor, or mastermind!

  • Events: This weekend I attended the Tribe Conference for the second year in a row. There are a lot of writers in the room, and “writer” is one of the main words I use to describe myself, so these were my people. It was comforting and motivating just to be around their energy. I also feel that way when I attend social justice events. Find the places your people gather and go meet them.

  • Co-working Spaces: These places have become huge community hubs for many entrepreneurs and small businesses. Not only are you working around new people you might not otherwise meet, but many of them also have regular and special events for you to actually hang out with the people sitting around you. I would definitely need these sort of structure introductions. ;)

  • Facebook Groups: It’s quite common now for course creators, coaches, and business owners to have Facebook Groups. (Psst: Have you seen the Signifiers group?) These online outlets are another great place to meet people in similar situations or pursuing similar goals. I’m in a bunch of them that relate to different areas of my life like business, hobbies, church, causes, friends, etc. If you’re have trouble finding community in-person, or have very limited time on your hands, this could be a great source for you.

  • Social Media: I’ll differentiate social media from Facebook Groups for the purpose of this post because groups are generally more targeted. On social media, you may have other friends and followers who could easily become trusted members of your community. For example, I have a new friend I met this summer over Instagram because I wanted to find other people who were Enneagram 4s as well as INFJ’s, both of which are smaller segments of the population. So, it’s been fun to chat with her about how our weird and wonderful minds work. :)

Encouragement From Tribe Conference Speakers

The work of your nonprofit or social enterprise is essential, and it needs you. But you can’t serve it well if you feel isolated, depressed, or burned out.

All of the above examples will meet different needs at different times, and when you mix and match a few of them together, you’ll be unstoppable. You’ll have the community you need to champion your cause, do your important work, reach your goals, and struggle less in the process. I want that for you, so I hope this post will help you take the next step.

As I mentioned, I was at Tribe Conference this weekend, and I can’t tell you how awesome it was. Well, I could, but we’d be here a lot longer! That event was the inspiration for this post because it definitely gave me the inspiration and motivation I needed to finish the year strong.

So, before you start taking those next steps, I wanted to leave you with some of the words of wisdom that meant a lot to me this weekend. I think they’ll do the same for you.

“You cannot avoid rejection and do your greatest work.” - Jeff Goins

"If you do work that is different, you’re doing something dangerous and worthwhile. People will question your differences now, and celebrate them when you succeed." - Todd Henry

"Other people see your work for what it is. You see your work for what it isn’t." - Melissa Dinwiddie

“Be relevant, authentic, and advocate for your brand.” - Amy Landino

"Community will help you succeed." - Chase Jarvis

"Dream big. Start small. Keep moving." - Charles Lee

“Lead with acceptance. Become a better listener. Don’t fear failure.” - Dave Delaney (Check out this guest post I did for him last year!)

"If you keep waiting for your dream to feel easy, you’ll never stop waiting." - Ali Worthington

"Don’t wait for permission to create your work." - Nicole Gulotta

"Marketing isn’t about closing a sale, it’s about opening a relationship." - Mike Kim

"We need to say out loud what our souls are silently screaming, because it may give someone else the courage to do the same." - Tim Grahl

“Know who your audience is. You can even have a less than perfect product or service depending on who your audience is and what they’ll pay for. They may just be waiting on you to create something.” - Joseph Michael

“Get okay with being uncomfortable.” - Heather Teysko

"Tell the stories people want to hear, not the stories you want to share." - Janet Murray

"Failure doesn’t ruin your story. Failure helps you write it." - Paul Angone

“You need to take responsibility for your own success.” - Joe Bunting

"It's easy to think about the things you haven't done or success you haven't attainted. But remember that there was a time when where you are sitting now was out of reach." - Ken Davis



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What’s the answer to combating fatigue and burnout? Community.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Your 4-Step Facebook Advertising Checklist

Social media remains a great way to get eyes on your cause, but because of those ever-changing algorithms, it’s also become much more difficult to get people to actually see your posts. So, what’s the next step? Social media advertising.

You’re interested in getting started with something like Facebook ads, but it’s also darn confusing. It seems overwhelming to take the first step, and how do you even know what the first step is?

Today’s post is going to help answer that pesky question and more. Dana Bakich is the Founder and CEO of Positive Equation, a purpose-driven social media consultancy, and she’s a wiz when it comes to social media advertising. So, I asked her to share what steps you need to know as you get started with your Facebook ad strategy, and she’s broken it down to four steps.

Your 4-Step Facebook Advertising Checklist

Don’t let the daunting Facebook Ads Manager push you away from social advertising. Here are four, simple steps to set you up for success.

It’s no secret that your social media News Feed is in high demand. It’s more difficult than ever to have your posts seen, let alone engaged with. Within the past year, you’ve heard news of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm changing—a few times. The content coming from companies and brand pages is no longer the priority content on our feeds. Facebook’s goal is to connect people with messages they’ll authentically care about.

Due to the News Feed changes, there’s been a rush to figure out social advertising. You might be thinking that if people don’t see your message, you’ll just add some $$ to make it so, right? However, from boosting posts to creating a full social campaign, there are four things to consider before you spend a penny.

  1. Listen to Facebook’s algorithm change. Does your campaign creative (images/video) speak to your target audience?

  2. Have you created custom target audiences that contain people who are most likely to engage with your content and be moved to take action?

  3. Can you measure success? Do you have tracking pixels in place to evaluate whether your campaign was a success or not?

  4. What’s your goal for this ad? What type of ad needs to be created based on that goal—a boosted post or ad campaign created within ads manager?

CAMPAIGN CREATIVE

Let’s rewind to the note about Facebook’s new algorithm. How does it actually work? Well, Facebook uses a tool called, “Ranking,” and it’s broken down into four steps:

  1.  Inventory of stories – what content is available from your friends and pages you follow

  2. Signals – information available about the stories/content, such as how popular they are, what type of device you’re using, and your internet connection

  3. Predictions – how likely you are to engage with that post

  4. Relevancy Score – Each piece of content receives a relevancy score of how interested Facebook thinks you would be in that post/story.

Understanding how they rank content is helpful when you’re developing your campaign creative. Do your photos, videos, or articles align with what your audience is most likely interested in? How can you shape your organization’s content in a way to receive a high relevancy score? Think about it from the viewer or reader’s perspective, not just the perspective of your nonprofit or social enterprise.

Is your content social ready? Meaning, is up to the specs of the platform and ready to go? Video is hot right now, but the video length and size depends on the platform you’re posting to. For example, make sure to follow Facebook’s guidelines to maximize engagement. Also, 85 percent of videos on Facebook are watched without sound, so always include captions with videos that have audio. I recommend a company called Rev. They only charge $1/minute to create captions for your videos.

CREATE CUSTOM AUDIENCES

This is one of the most important aspects of a social advertising campaign.

WHO do you want to reach, and WHAT do you want them to do?

The WHO:

Within Facebook Ads Manager there’s a section called “Audiences.” This section allows you to upload csv files of your email newsletter contact list and retarget them through social media, create lookalike audiences to your current pages, and build a brand-new audience to reach a different market with demographics, interests, location, etc.

The WHAT:

The other component is understanding WHAT you’re asking for. Do you want to raise awareness of your cause? Maybe a video campaign makes the most sense to generate a large reach. Do you want to encourage your audience to purchase tickets to an event or make a donation? A conversion campaign might be a better fit to track the exact outcome.

NOTE: Think about the first time you’ve come across a new brand. You probably needed to see it a few times and engage on social media before making any financial commitment. If you’re running any kind of “ask” campaign, make sure you’re publishing educational, informative, or entertaining content first to increase your chances of success.

TRACKING PIXELS

One word: necessary. What you’re thinking: confusing. Don’t be!

Pixels enable you to understand the impact of your social advertising campaigns. Whether your goal is to increase website views, email signups or donations, adding pixels to your website is the only way to see how your ads are performing.

Here’s a step-by-step process of how to add pixels to your website from Facebook. (You don’t need a developer, but they help!) If Twitter is more your thing, they have them as well!

It’s helpful to install the Facebook Pixel Helper chrome extension. This will allow you to see if your pixel is active and working on the web pages you’ve applied it to. It usually recognizes the pixel within a few minutes.

Additionally, with any Facebook ad, the company recommends running the ad for a minimum of four days to allow the Facebook algorithm to work properly.  

Can you think back to a time when you’ve been scrolling through your feed and said, “That’s SO me.” Or, “I MUST share this—right now.” That’s the impact you want to create with your content.


BOOSTED POST vs AD CAMPAIGN

When you’re considering which type of ad to run, think about your goal. Boosted posts are usually created right within your Facebook Page News Feed post. They have limited options and audience selections to choose from. If you’re simply looking to amplify that piece of content for a short period of time, boosting is the way to go.

However, an ad campaign provides a much richer and controlled experience to get specific on your audiences, upload new ad content, and run longer campaigns. You can usually get much better results with ad campaigns, so don’t let any intimidation hold you back.


YOUR FORMULA FOR SOCIAL ADVERTISING SUCCESS

Use content that’s meant for social use + Tell a compelling story to a key audience(s) + Use tracking tools = A very Positive Equation.

To dive further into the latest social media tools, tactics, and executing a social ad campaign for nonprofits, check out my online course, The Ultimate Social Media Toolkit for Nonprofits.


Dana Bakich, founder of Positive Equation

Dana Bakich is the Founder and CEO of Positive Equation, a purpose-driven social media consultancy. She’s launching her first online video course to help nonprofits with the latest and greatest that social media has to offer. She’s also a Digital Producer for Season 2 of American Idol! Dana is based in LA, but you can most likely find her 30,000 feet in the air traveling somewhere.

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PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

You’re interested in getting started with something like Facebook ads, but it’s also darn confusing. It seems overwhelming to take the first step, and how do you even know what the first step is? Today’s post is going to help answer that pesky question and more.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


How to Start a Successful YouTube Channel

Been thinking about starting a YouTube Channel for your nonprofit or social enterprise? if so, you’re not alone. My intern, McKenzie Bethel, is about to share some compelling stats that may move you beyond simple curiosity.

In fact, for nonprofits, it may be the perfect time to begin! Just a few weeks ago, the video giant announced YouTube Giving, which will offer expanded tools for soliciting and receiving donations. But no matter your business model, here are a few, easy ways to create your YouTube channel.

How

It can be difficult to clearly convey what you are thinking and feeling through written text. While traditional social media sites are great for starting, growing, and expanding your organization, sometimes the human to human connection can get lost in translation. This is one reason video has become so popular. It’s the next best thing to being in the room with someone.

And when it comes to video, there’s still no one bigger than YouTube. Along with connecting to your audience, YouTube can be used as a great marketing tool.

Why YouTube?

Over two million videos are viewed on the platform each day. Just imagine how much attention even a portion of that could bring to your nonprofit or social enterprise!

A little over 10 years ago, Google bought YouTube, making it one of the most searchable platforms around. This merger is great news for your organization and growing a channel, as this allows you to appear in many more search results.

YouTube has become a powerful form of communication because it makes sharing your message incredibly simple. And unlike other social media outlets, YouTube’s content is widely consumed outside of itself, such as on other websites. Embedded videos allow users to share your content almost anywhere for more people to see.

Another perk is its longevity. Videos are often watched and shared months after they were posted, even without promotion.

Before you jump in, though, there are a few things you need to know to make the best out of your new YouTube channel.  

 

1.     Choosing a URL

As they say, the internet is forever. Well at least your YouTube URL will be. Google, the owner of YouTube, makes it very difficult to change your URL, especially if you have a young and growing channel. Unless you qualify for a custom URL, you are stuck with the first one you select.

Choose something that is synonymous with your organization and brand. It’s also a good idea to examine your other platforms. Having the same username across all of your different social media channels makes it easier for your audience to find and connect with you. Using a tool like Namechekr will help you make sure that the name you want is available on multiple platforms.  

 2.     Consistency

The key to a successful YouTube channel is being consistent! To keep an active audience, you must be active as well. One way to stay consistent is to let your viewers know when you will be posting and to stick to that promise. It lets them know that you will be coming back regularly and are committed to your work. It also gives them something of yours to look forward to.

The frequency of your uploads depends on the type of channel you have. With a vlog, you would want to post more often to keep the audience in tune with your daily life. For most other channels, posting once a week is sufficient.

Whatever upload schedule you decide on, stick to it! Your audience will lose trust in you and your nonprofit or social enterprise if you make promises that you cannot keep. 

 

3.      Optimization

If you haven’t heard yet, YouTube is going through major algorithmic changes. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with, even for the current, popular creators. However, there are a couple of ways to stay ahead of the game.

Quality, quality, quality. No one wants to watch a blurry, difficult to see video. High resolution, high quality videos will attract more viewers. More viewers will, in turn, encourage people to like, share, and subscribe. And greater interaction will increase the ranking of your video and that is how more people will see it.  

Close behind video quality is content optimization. Telling YouTube what your videos are about will help them reach more people. The title, tags, and description will tell YouTube’s algorithm how to categorize your video and make it appear in the appropriate search results.

Find the right buzzwords that relate to your video. Use them in your title, tags, and description along with other relevant words that will attract a larger audience. Shorter descriptions tend to perform better. Not many people want to read an essay before watching a video.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the description under 180 characters without forgetting the most important information. With that being said, do not use fluff words. YouTube can detect “filler” tags and will shift your video ranking lower. Use words that are relevant to the context of your video, channel, and cause-focused organization as a whole. Always include your website, social media links, and other links you want your viewers to have handy.

 4.     Thumbnail, Title, and Trailer

The thumbnail and title are the first two viewed elements of your video. If they are not interesting enough, no one will click to watch more. YouTube is considered one of the largest search engines at the moment, so having a catchy title can increase your channel traffic tremendously.

Make sure your title is short, yet engaging and descriptive. One thing to note is that video titles are not permanent! You can play around with different keywords and title structures to see what works best for you.

One of the easiest ways to gain views is by having incredibly eye-catching thumbnails. YouTube will offer random screenshots for you to use as thumbnails, but it is a much better decision to create custom thumbnails. A great resource for that is Canva. Canva has many templates, including one specifically for YouTube thumbnails. This way you always get to control what people immediately see on your videos, rather than worrying about someone’s eyes being closed or mouth being open.

While you want to make your thumbnail interesting, avoid click-bait! Click-bait is using a provocative title or photo in order to get someone to click on it, only to find out the topic is not related to the content at all. Click-baiting is very deceiving and will make your current followers, and new viewers, lose trust in you.

Your video titles should be short, sweet, and clever but not to the point where they are difficult to understand. They should hint to the biggest point in the video without giving too much away.

Your channel trailer may be the first video your growing audience will see when they visit your channel. It’s a short clip that promotes your channel and hooks your audience into wanting to see more. The best trailers show the highlights of your page and display your businesses content in a fun way. Instead of sitting down and talking about your channel, show us!  

If possible, use clips from previous videos and compile them into your own little story reel. That is a creative way to explain what your channel is all about. Keep your trailer short and sweet, too. YouTube analytics predict that trailers under 40 seconds perform better than longer ones. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to make the viewer subscribe. If you were a new viewer, what is something you would be excited to see?

 

5.     Content

Content is the heart and soul of your channel. Ultimately, it’s what draws viewers in and keeps them coming back. Your channel is the perfect place to introduce your work or cause, share ideas, and promote upcoming launches. The most common and successful videos for small businesses and organizations are product explanations, customer testimonies, and tips.

It sounds daunting to create so much new content, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Repurposing video and content is more than welcome in the YouTube community. For example, if you are already producing a podcast, try taping it and posting that footage to your channel. People would love to see the mannerisms and facial expressions that go along with their favorite podcast.

Another way to repurpose content is by using footage from a previous event and adding to it. Show snippets of the event and add in your commentary so the viewer is engaged. Of course, the type of content you choose to post will depend on each organization, but a good rule to follow is to mix it up. Switching it up between sit-down videos and “in the field” type videos will keep your audience looking forward for your next upload.

 

6.     Be social, share, and collaborate

Popular videos are promoted more often by YouTube and that’s all thanks to engagement levels. More subscribers and more views will place your videos higher in search results. It’s a huge plus if someone subscribes to your channel right after watching one of your videos, according to YouTube.

The easiest and most organic way to generate growth is to ask for it! Share your channel and videos on your other social media channels and website, tell your friends and colleagues, and collaborate with other entrepreneurs and organizations. Using a Call To Action (CTA), is a great way to get the word out about your cause and YouTube is no different.

Each one of your videos should have a CTA at the end to further engage your audience and encourage them to take action. Tell viewers exactly what you want them to do whether that’s subscribing, liking, or sharing your video. 

Last but definitely not least—become a part of the YouTube community. Find channels that correlate with your organization, cause, or personal brand and engage with them! Even leaving a simple comment on another creator’s channel can connect you with the right person.  

Contributing to discussions will attract new viewers to your channel as well. Leaving thoughtful comments will grab the attention of passer-by and encourage them to check out your content. Avoid spamming others’ comment sections, however. That gives of an insincere vibe and will not yield great channel traffic results. 

 

Would you like to see this advice in action?

Here are four examples that showcase the tips above. The first two are nonprofits, and the latter are for-profit organizations.

The Task for Global Health has a wide variety of videos. Some explain who they are and what they do, and others are stories from communities they have served. And Dosomething.org caters to young people, so they have a more laid-back approach to their channel. The incorporate interviews, challenges, and some public service announcements into their content.

The Body Shop is a cause-oriented brand. They use their YouTube channel to show tutorials for their products and on occasion, have serious conversations. Finally, most of us know about Tom’s Shoes and what they stand for. Their videos range from completely creative content to their newest shoe to showing off their charity work. These four organizations can be great inspirations for your own channel.

Does your organization have a YouTube channel? If so, leave your link in the comments, and we’ll check it out!


McKenzie Bethel

I’m McKenzie Bethel and I’m a fourth-year Economics Major at the Georgia State University with a minor in Journalism.

I have many hobbies but writing, filming, and creating content hold a special place in my heart. I hope to use economics to advocate for caused-focused organizations in the future.

LinkedIn



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

It can be difficult to clearly convey what you are thinking and feeling through written text. While traditional social medias are great for starting, growing, and expanding your organization, sometimes the human to human connection can get lost in translation. Along with connecting to your audience, YouTube can be used as a great marketing tool.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Using Hashtags on Social Media: The How, When, and Why

Today’s post comes from my friend, Jennifer Wilder. Jen is a social media marketing pro, and a constant source of information and inspiration. She’s the first person I turn to when I have questions, and she even set me up on Smarterqueue last year, so that most of social media is automated.

Using hashtags is something I frequently talk to people about when they’re working on their social media strategy. Too many cause-focused organizations seem to leave them off completely, but they can be a great tool for helping new people find you. Otherwise, those already in your tribe will be the only ones to see your post . . . and still only a percentage of them. (Thanks, algorithms!)

So, do yourself a favor and read up on why hashtags should be a part of your social media strategy. This post is #allthethings when it comes to using hashtags, so be sure to bookmark it for referencing again later!

Using Hashtags on Social Media: The How, When, and Why

Are hashtags a part of your social media strategy? Do you even know what a hashtag is? Hashtags are a means of finding conversations in social media around desired topics. They are keywords preceded by the hash (#) or pound mark. Within social media platforms, hashtags are clickable, so that you can find all posts that include the hashtag on which you clicked. 

These small indicators within your social posts can start conversations, attract customers or donors, and change public sentiment. Are they powerful tools? When used strategically, you better believe it.

 

The Power of Hashtags

We’ve all seen that picture of someone holding up a coffee cup in front of a clear blue sky accompanied by hashtags like: #love #coffee or even #instagram. How effective do you think those hashtags are in helping someone get discovered on social media? Here’s a hint: not at all. But there are hashtags that could be used with that picture that would drive engagement and possibly attract customers or donors

When we think of hashtag strategy, we most commonly think of Twitter and Instagram. Recently, though, LinkedIn increased their promotion of hashtag use on their platform by allowing users to search and follow hashtags through a feature called “Your Communities.” In addition, you can pin hashtags so that posts within that topic appear first in your LinkedIn feed. When searching hashtags, there is also a new discover feature that shows how many people are following that hashtag, as well as various features to dive deeper into insights surrounding searched hashtags.  

Another platform that is now embracing and promoting hashtag use is Pinterest, where up to 20 hashtags are allowed per pin.

Though the capability for using hashtags exists on Facebook, they are not recommended unless you are posting from an event with only the event hashtag so that the event organizers can find you and possibly reuse your post—taking into consideration that you must change your privacy settings to public for those specific posts.

The space in your social media posts is precious, so let’s use that space to find customers and donors. Here’s what you need to know about hashtags to enhance your posts, as well as search out potential supporters.

 How to Find Hashtags for Your Business

  • Create a list of keywords (or common words) associated with your organization and mission—these are the things that you want to be known for. Some examples include nonprofit, social enterprise, modern slavery, homelessness, or social impact. It’s likely those keywords are already being used as hashtags, so give them a search on Twitter or Instagram. You’ll want to scroll through each hashtag to determine if the conversation around each keyword is a conversation you want to enter.

  • Hashtags should not include spaces or punctuation. If you wish, you can camel capitalize—capitalizing the first letter of each word—a hashtag for easier reading, like this: #ThisIsCamelCaps

  • As you search keywords as hashtags, look to see what other hashtags people are using. Perhaps some of the keywords they’re using would better resonate with your potential customers, or should also be used by your organization.

  • Search for other people or other organizations that are like yours, in your industry, or that are the type of organization you want to become. Read through their social posts to find hashtags not already on your list.

  • Once you have a large list of hashtags, you’ll want to know a little bit about each. Search each hashtag on the respective platform noting how many posts are using that hashtag, and noting the types of images that are most popular. You will also want to pay attention to context. Does the hashtag mean what you think it means on the Internet? It might not.

  • When using hashtags for Instagram, be sure to use a variety of counts. Meaning, use a few hashtags that have 250,000 to 350,000 posts; use a few that have 100,000 to 250,000; use a few that have 50,000 to 100,000, and a few that are less than 50,000.

  • Broad subject keywords with 350,000+ posts are not going to get you seen by potential customers or donors. With that number of posts on a hashtag, the posts are coming so fast that your post will constantly be pushed down the feed, getting very little eyeballs on it. That’s why it’s best to use a variety of post counts on each hashtag, not using those over about 350,000. An example would be #event, which is extremely general and won’t help you gain any traction.

  • If you have a storefront, or if you are serving a particular region of the country, then you want to be sure to include hashtags that are location specific.

  • If you want to work with or get noticed by particular brands or organizations, use their personal hashtags. Many times organizations create their own that they use often within their social media, which you can likely find by viewing their Twitter or Instagram accounts. Since hashtags can’t be owned or sponsored by any company, you are free to use their hashtags to get their attention, or to align yourself with their message. Use this tactic mindfully—hitting their hashtag too often with irrelevant content is off-putting. A popular example of this is #EndItMovement, which is used by not only the End It Movement itself, but partners and people who are trying to raise the awareness of modern-day slavery.

  • If you choose to use the maximum number of hashtags allowed on Instagram—which is 30!—sprinkle in a few hashtags that are funny, or that share additional funny commentary about the image you’re posting. Going back to the picture of the coffee cup that I referenced, you could add the hashtag, #NeedISayMore, to show off your brand’s personality.

  • Using all 30 hashtags on Instagram may seem excessive if this is a new process to you, but you’re already doing the work of posting, so why not use the opportunity to be seen by more people?

  • Once you have a list of hashtags you want to use, you can rotate through them with each post. If you prefer, you could create a different, or customized, batch of hashtags for each day of the week that you’re posting. Use the notes feature on your smartphone to keep track of your hashtag list. Then copy/paste into the first comment on Instagram.

 How to Use Hashtags in Your Social Media Posts 

On Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, it’s more acceptable to use hashtags within the body of the post more so than it is on Instagram.

Just be sure to pay attention to hashtag limits on each platform.

  • For Instagram, 30 hashtags can be used for posts appearing in your feed.

  • For Twitter, there’s only a limit to how many characters you can tweet, which is now 280. However, a maximum of three hashtags is recommended, and can be used in the body of the copy or added to the end of the copy.

  • For Pinterest, 20 hashtags are allowed for each pin, though 10 is considered optimal. Frequent users of Pinterest use three to five per post.

  • For LinkedIn, there is no limit to the number of hashtags that can be used, but pay attention to relevance and aesthetic. You don’t want to make your reader weary with a large amount of hashtags. And please note: While editing articles is allowed on LinkedIn, editing or removing hashtags within a published article is not allowed.

    For Instagram Stories, there is a hashtag sticker that will accommodate one hashtag. Additional hashtags can be added as a text block. You can then reduce that text block down by pinching together your fingers until it is barely seen. Or you can color the block of hashtag copy as the same color as your background using the eyedropper tool in the bottom left while within the editing block of the hashtag copy. Or, you can reduce the hashtag block and hide it behind a block of copy that you do want people to read. This would be done so that the hashtags don’t distract from the photo, video, or other content you’re highlighting in the Story.

Additionally, it’s common practice on Instagram to add hashtags in the first comment. The reason many people do this is to keep their captions looking neat and tidy. Another option is to use one dot on a line for five lines in order to push the hashtags down, either far away from the caption if they add them there, or to push them down from being seen in the first comment.

This can make for a cleaner, neater post on Instagram. However, if you’re going to use the one-dot-per-line method of paragraph breaks on Instagram, you can create your post content in the notes feature on your smartphone, and then copy/paste to Instagram since there isn’t a paragraph break button on that platform, or hit the period key and then enter repeatedly to manually create breaks.

When using an event hashtag on Facebook, be sure your posts are set to “public” so that event organizers can view your posts and possibly reuse them on their brand’s social accounts.

 

How to Use Hashtags to Create Connections and Find Potential Customers and Donors

From your master list of hashtags, choose one to search and scroll through. As you find posts and images that interest you, leave a genuine comment on that post—preferably 8-10 words.

Be sure your comment adds value to the post. This means you shouldn’t just drop a heart emoji or say “Nice job!” It’s unlikely anyone will check out your account or interact much with you without any effort on your part. And for bonus points, ask a question in order to start a conversation.

Because Pinterest is a discovery/search engine (they do not consider themselves a social platform), engagement on pins is not weighted the same way as it is on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Meaning, it’s unlikely to produce a lot of results. Pinterest isn’t a place you go to in order to interact with people and have conversations.

Next, if you find a post within a hashtag search that is getting good engagement with many comments, dig deeper into who is leaving those comments. Click the username of the person or business leaving the comment, go to their account, find a picture within the last three or four posted to their account and leave them a genuine comment.

Likewise, you can go to the account of a similar organization to your own, find a recent post with good engagement (multiple comments), and click through to the accounts of people leaving comments on their post. Then, leave a genuine comment on one of their recent posts.

What you’re doing in all of these instances is connecting with people, nonprofits, and social enterprises who have liked something similar to your own business—so why wouldn’t they want to follow you too and eventually buy from you?

Helpful Tools

If you’re still struggling to come up with the right hashtags for your brand, or simply need more options, check out Hashtagify.me. This site allows you to type in a keyword search term, and give you related options that people are already using.

Additionally, if you’re looking to add some oomph to your Instagram strategy, I recommend PeopleMap, which lets you track influencers, create lists, evaluate campaign engagement, and more.

Finally, posting on Instagram can definitely eat away at the time in your day. If that’s an issue for you, consider trying out a social media scheduler like Hootsuite, Later, Planoly, Smarterqueue, or any number of other options.



For what some may think of as a throw-away or a random portion of a social media post, the hashtag can be quite powerful when content creators take the time to be intentional and strategic.  

Now that you have this power, what good are you going to do with it?

Jennifer Wilder is one smart cookie. If you like this post, you might like one of the previous guest posts she’s written for Signify:


Jennifer Wilder

Jennifer Wilder is a social media professional who helps brands reach customers through online conversations. Over the last decade, she has worked with LifeWay Christian Resources, Leading The Way, The reThink Group/Orange, and The John Maxwell Company. Jen and her husband Nathan live in Kennesaw, Georgia, with their soon-to-be-Instagram-famous Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Copper.

Jennifer is available for freelance social media consulting and voiceover work.


PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

These small indicators within your social posts can start conversations, attract customers or donors, and change public sentiment. Are they powerful tools? When used strategically, you better believe it.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.