by Chris Carter and Kyla Winchester

One of the winners in 2020 and 2021 was social media: people spent more time online than ever: TikTok’s user base alone tripled in a year. Younger demographics are embracing social on new platforms and engaging in new ways. Along with the proliferation of channels and scarce resources to devote to multiple channels, it can be hard for a nonprofit to determine where to invest.

First, a caveat: don’t remove any channels that are stable or performing well. If direct mail, the newsletter or the email series that go with them are flat or growing, don’t rush to make significant changes. (And if they’re declining, remember to look at key benchmarks such as number of active donors, renewal rates, life-time value, etc., before making decisions—lack of acquisition could be the culprit!) It’s far more expensive to invest in a new channel and get it to the point of being “stable” than it would cost to tweak existing channel messaging, strategy, tactics, etc. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

However, it’s always a good time to think long-term: which channels and platforms may be worth investing in? Where will our donors be in 2 years, or 5 years? Which demographics make up the bulk of our annual giving, and where do we engage with them? And plan accordingly.

Similarly, the nature of donor stewardship has changed with the proliferation of channels: thank-yous used to be a letter after your donation and receipt of, possibly, an annual report. Now it’s expanded to stewardship on several channels, instantaneously and frequently, and younger demographics expect that instant connection and engagement.

In this vein, MADD Canada and Candela developed a strategy to engage new audiences on social media such as TikTok and Instagram by partnering with influencers. While they’re a relatively recent type of brand/marketing partnerships, influencers carry huge weight with their audience: 61% of consumers trust an influencer’s recommendations.

Part of MADD Canada’s mission is sharing information of impaired driving and encouraging people to prevent it; accordingly this campaign would be programmatic, and the goals are about impressions and engagement, not donations. This campaign was developed strategically: to do something new, first of all, in order to engage people who hadn’t been reached before. And it should be lighthearted, to spread the preventive message with a lighter approach. The message itself was clearly about how to Derail the Driver, which informed the guidelines for the influencers who were engaged.

The influencers who MADD decided to partner with were carefully chosen: the Basement Gang creates upbeat dance videos, and Leenda D is known for creative skits, both approaches which align with MADD’s campaign goals. After their representatives were contacted, there was discussion and negotiation and the template for the influencers’ posts was shared. The influencers themselves worked with the template and created videos meeting the brief. The videos were posts on [dates] and promoted by MADD as well the influencers themselves.

The campaign performed very well and was extremely well received by audiences of both influencers. Many positive comments reflected positive sentiment towards the influencer, MADD Canada, and the message of the video.

Between the two influencer posts for the Derail the Driver social awareness campaign, with a relatively modest budget, the total combined results are as follows (as of January 11, 2022):

  • Over 69,000 likes
  • Over 635,000 video plays
  • Over 589,000 accounts reached
  • Over 2,800 video saves

If you are considering a similar campaign for your org, consider that this was an awareness campaign, so approach, tactics and strategy would differ if your measurable is funds raised instead of views. Now go forth and influence!