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022 – The power of Instagram influencer marketing for non-profits with Derren Ohanian

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Influencer marketing has been around for a long while now, and it hasn’t stopped evolving with the rise of technology and social media culture.

Today’s episode is a very special one since David has brought the first guest ever to the podcast, Derren Ohanian! We appreciate having him here to talk to David about why and how you can leverage Instagram influencer marketing to help boost your non-profit’s message in front of your target audience.

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David: Welcome to a special episode of the Non-Profit Digital Success Podcast. I’m your host, David, and today I bring you our first guess, Derren Ohanian.

Allow me to introduce, Darren is a serial entrepreneur with over fourteen years of experience working with hundreds of startups and businesses to help them thrive. He’s now CEO of Social Sensei, a social media marketing company that helps businesses get more exposure for their products, services, and messages through Instagram-influencer marketing. I brought him here to provide some education around the latest and greatest marketing techniques to help your non-profits get your message out to the world.

Darren, thank you so much for being on the show with me today.

Derren: David, thanks for having me on, it’s my pleasure. I’m excited to dive into Instagram-influencer marketing. So, let’s jump in whenever you’re ready.

David: Let’s do it, alright. So, before we really dive in, can you give us a quick rundown of what influencer marketing is all about?

Derren: Sure, absolutely. So traditionally, influencer marketing may have been seen on your social media. You see an influencer, and they’re holding a bottle of shampoo next to their face, and they’re smiling really, really wide. This is like how people have seen it kind of been done in the past. And it was very obvious.

It was like, okay, they’re trying to sell you a bottle of shampoo or this clothes or something like this. And it came off a little inauthentic. You know, and the influencer marketing plays has evolved quite a bit since then, in so much that a lot of people when they see influencer marketing now don’t even realize it’s an ad, or that they’re being sold something is because it’s kind of shifted from that idea of influencer marketing into what we’re calling now creator marketing in so much that we’re creating creative campaigns with people to reach their target audience from a place of trust.

So these influencers are providing value to their followers and their audience. And so they care about what they’re promoting to their audience, they’re not going to just sell them dog treats, if they’re a photography influencer, they’re not going to sell their soul because they know that their audience is going to leave them. So it’s a bit like Tinder in that way, that you have to get a good match with your, your message and the influencer has to also approve your message as well.

So in that way, it comes off much more authentic. So you really reach people that are ready to receive your message about your product or service already. And they have the additional trust of the word of mouth of the influencer, which is fantastic. And a little bit about influencer marketing is that it’s been one of the fastest growing marketing verticals in the last two years straight.

David: Wow.

Derren: Yeah, I know. And a lot of people still don’t even know about it. But it’s really taking over the marketing world. And why is that? Well, it works. That’s why, right? So people are seeing ridiculous ROIs up to the tune of 6.5x is the average.

David: That’s amazing!

Derren: Yeah, that is absolutely amazing. And I say that with a star next to it, because every marketing vertical comes with a star next to it. You know, a lot of people think “I’m just going to go to Google ads, and boom! I’m a millionaire, I’m printing money!” Or “I’m doing SEO, I’m going to drive tons of traffic to my page or I’m going to do this and immediately work”

David: Wouldn’t that be amazing, right? Like you can just go and spend $10 on an ad and you get one minute and you’re like golden. That would be awesome.

Derren: Yeah, I would absolutely love that but as we know when you’re in the marketing world it takes testing, and tweaking and optimization. So once you’re fully optimized you can really hit those 6.5 acts as an average, a couple months, finding the right influencer, finding the right audience, dialing your message and things like that and it’s done. But, if anything, it takes work, it takes effort looking at the data, getting out of the way of your ego so that you can let the data make the decisions for your company and kind of move on from there.

The beautiful thing about influencer marketing that’s different than say Google ads, you’re just telling the Google ad “Okay cool, I want you guys to run this tag, this font here.” With an influencer potentially you can create a long-term relationship, this person could become a brand ambassador, you could fly them out for a photoshoot, you could send them to an event of yours. You know, there’s a lot of things that you can do with the influencer that you can’t do with a Google ad, they have their own personality and they can help. If they get interested in your brand, they can help come up with creative ideas and things like this, and really work together. Where Google ads is only going to do what you tell it to do and that’s it.

David: Right.

Derren: So that’s a little bit of a breakdown of influencer marketing just kind of like a snapshot shot of it and happy to jump in anywhere and around all around there.

David: Excellent, and how would you go about finding the right influencer for a non-profit for example?

Derren: Yeah, absolutely. So there’s a multitude of agencies, like ourselves, who work with hundreds or thousands of influencers depending on how big the agency is and it’s also accessible to agencies, other agencies lists as well. So everyone’s kind of trading their pool of influencers depending on the client they have. Now, if a non-profit came to us and they wanted to work with us there’s kind of two ways that they could work with us. So one would be that on their behalf we send out fifty to a hundred-fifty thousand direct messages to their target audience based on a look-alike organization or influencer, right?

So let’s say I have a non-profit like, for instance, I’m on the board of Mountain Council Training here in Crestline, California and they’re a non-profit that pretty much requires their clientele to be on Medical. So one of the suggestions I told them was that, well you know if you’re going to just do a blanket marketing trying to reach people, how are you going to prequalify these people? That’s going to be a very difficult thing to, you know, make sure that your social media is targeted. Well, one way you can do that is, is there another nonprofit in the area that already prequalifies people? Or do people have to be on Medicare? So there’s a food program called CalFresh. And you have to be on Medical. So great. Let’s target all their followers, let’s target, they’ve already figured it out for us, you know?

David: Right.

Derren: So why do we need to reinvent the wheel? and other nonprofits can do this as well. And so what that looks like with influencers is, well, what the influencer is passionate about the message that I’ve been promoting already? Or what are they in a similar line of work, or like, for instance, you know, maybe the nonprofit is for the health and wellness of children in the area. So let’s work with a influencer, that lives in the area that is focused on health and wellness, that only makes sense and then pitch them idea, like, Hey, we have a special slant to work with children, like, you know, this is gonna be a really feel good story, it’s already behind, behind the message that you promote, helps us get out in front, we’re gonna be able to help more people, you know, create a symbiotic relationship.

And so one way to do that is we could just message all of their followers already with the, whatever it is that you want to get out to the community. So maybe you want to just gain more followers so that we can remark on it for free, we can do a couple things there with the messaging, maybe you want to boost engagement, because you want to get sponsored by another company or something like this.

So important to show them that there’s authentic engagement. Or maybe you want to have some sort of call to action, you don’t give away a freebie, like an E book, webinar educational thing, to kind of let people know that you exist in their community, and that you’re there, you’re there as a resource that can be used and leverage. So all those things can be done. And the reason why you target their followers is because those followers are interested in health and wellness already. So you’re gonna have a much higher chance that these people are going to be interested in what if my organization is about health and wellness, that they’re going to overlap, then, you know, potentially they have children or they know children that they care about as well. And so it’s a good strategy to get traffic to your page.

Now, that does not mean that the job is done just because social sciences are driving traffic to your page, you can’t have a leaky water bucket. You know, I can put water in your bucket, but if you got a hole in it in your funnel, the water just coming out, and you’re wasting your hard earned money marketing dollars, you know, so that’s something that needs to be shored up First, and maybe you do like a small test, before you go to a wider thing, that way you don’t waste so much energy time and effort after maybe like a month or two of testing or three, then you can put a larger amount of some marketing towards, okay, this is working for us, we know we, you know, we generally know what results are going to get, let’s go for it.

Because we can send up to a million direct messages at once on an enterprise level scale. So that’s one way to do it, right? And actually, one of my favorite ways about that strategy is what we call running your own loop giveaway. So for instance, let’s say, I wanted to gain more followers, on my account, you as the nonprofit, you could give away some sort of prize package, you know, and you could get this donated by one of your donors or company that you work with. And you could say, okay, we’re going to give away a trip to Disneyland. Let’s say Disneyland is one of your sponsors, right? And all you have to do to enter is follow our account. That’s it. So we send out up to a million direct messages to people saying, “Hey, we saw you’re interested in health and wellness, come check out Mountain Camp, mountain, health, wellness, nonprofit, they really helped my life because they they provide value to Xyz, I think you should check them out as well”.

So the message isn’t super salesy. It actually comes off very authentic. And it’s because we know they’re following another influencer, that’s in health and wellness, that we could say that, so they’re gonna be like, oh, wow, they actually looked me up or figured a little thing about me, you know, so then they want to win the prize. So they follow you, and you gain, you know, hundreds, if not 1000s of followers within a seven day span. So that’s a great technique to use, like influencers in an indirect way.

David: I love the idea of making sure that you’re staying authentic, right, true to yourself, true to your brand and the organization. And then you know, picking up on those keywords and finding those influencers that are already in the marketplace. Like why try to spend the time and effort to grow your own list when somebody else is already out there. doing that, right? Like they put in the time and effort and the money and the resources to grow their list. Right. So like, let’s leverage that.

Derren: Absolutely, absolutely. And so we call that a lookalike audience, it’s basically finding the influencer that has the audience, that is the one that you want yours to emulate or be close to, right. So if you’re I’ll just give a quick example if you’re selling basketball shoes, my look alike audiences Nike, Reebok, right? Right. So you can do that and find that for your own organization. Now, the second way that I alluded to before in kind of the breakdown of what influencer marketing is his creator marketing. And so with creator marketing, it’s a much more close relationship with the influencer. And he just like social sensei will go out and research based on who your target audiences, and what interests you want to match up with, again, what we’ll do is, we’ll get you a list of five to 10 influencers, that we feel are really good matches to get your message or your product or service out to a wider audience, and specifically, their audience. So depending on your budget, you kind of set the budget upfront, and it’s a retainer. So if you have a budget of let’s say, $5,000, there’s a couple ways that you could do this. One, you could work with, like, let’s say 10, micro influencers, and every influencer’s rate is completely different, you know, based on a myriad of factors, but a lot of times just what they think they’re worth.

David: It’s the wild west. There’s no, you know, set pricing and it has to be this right, they can charge what they’re worth and what you think that they’re worth.

Derren: Exactly. And there are some like averages, but I’ve seen people just completely blow out of the water, or less or higher, you know, like somebody one time I had this influencer, she had, you know, she had like, 200,000 followers. And then, maybe the average for that post would be like 1500. And she was trying to charge $5,000 for it. And she wasn’t on TV or anything like that. So I didn’t understand why she was trying to charge $5,000. So other than the fact that she didn’t want to do video content, because I saw most of her posts were photos. So maybe she’s controlling them that way. Like hey, if you want to work with me, make sure it’s the photo. So that’s something that you get to do. Let’s say you have $5,000 Well, we can work with 10 micro influencers And kind of go for like a broad reach micro influencer being less than 10,000 followers. And let’s just say they’re gonna charge us $500 each for a photo or, and story combination to their page. Or maybe we could really one shot and work with that mega influencer that has, you know, 500,000 followers, or 300,000 plus followers for $5,000. And it’s just one post.

So what are you looking at the difference there? Well, one, maybe if you’re working with that larger influencer, you’re getting the brand association of being associated with this larger influencer. Right? But if you’re working with smaller influencers, well, you get to test a lot of different little markets, a lot of little niches within your niche, like maybe health and wellness, health and wellness is pretty broad. So we could go into exercise, we can go into food, we can go into, you know, mental practices, mindfulness, things like that, and test and see which kind of little niche performs the best for you. So it depends on are you looking for reach? Are you looking to test? Are you looking for brand association, and I just want to show that we’re legitimate, you know, there’s a lot of different variables, and we’re there to help you figure out what the greatest strategy is for you.

So once we get the influencers in the list, then we understand your strategy, then we help you pick the influencers. So we get the engagement rates, followers, you know, their target audience where they live, male-female breakdown, interest breakdown. And even, there’s one little thing here, I think, though, we can’t get the income level, that’s the one thing that Instagram doesn’t allow us to do. However, with that information, you can make the best decision to complete your campaign. So from there, once you have that set in stone, now Well, now we pick out the influencers. So again, it could be one, it could be 10. So let’s just say we just pick one for simplicity sake, now we get to do the creative campaign, this is kind of a fun part.

So for you, you know, you don’t have to necessarily do anything like we can help come up with the creative campaign for you as well. But you know your brand, you know your message, you know your audience better than anybody in the room. So, it’s great if you can act at least as creative director, if you’re not going to come up with ideas yourself. Now, the influencer and our team will also pitch you ideas based on what we’ve seen has worked in the past, however, that a couple things one, the influencer can say no to anything. So for instance, we’re an extreme non-profit, like we want you to jump out of an airplane with our message strapped to your back.

David: The Red Bull non-profit.

Derren: The influencer could say yes to that and they might do it, you know, it’s up to them to do the creative. So they’ll go to location, they’ll film everything, you don’t have to worry about any of that, they take care of all that that’s part of the package. However, they could say, No, I’m not jumping out of an airplane. So there might be a little bit back and forth, to make sure that what it is that is being requested is in alignment with, you know, their values, moral conduct, and most importantly, their audiences really what they think about. So once there’s a little bit back and forth, then the influencer will create the content and put it up for feedback. So again, here, we can tweak anything, we can request again, hey, you know, change your shirt, hey, turn 30 degrees, like literally, you can change anything that you wish, again, up to influencer, if they’re going to agree with this or not, depending on your question. The majority of times that we’ve seen working with clients and nonprofits in the past is that there’s absolutely no issues, you know, it’s like, once you match, generally, it’s like, okay, I like you, I like you. Yeah, let’s work together. influencers want to create a long term relationship, you want to create a long term relationship, you know, everyone wants everyone to win. Because it is the best possible scenario.

David: Absolutely.

Derren: Yeah. So, once the content is approved, now it goes live, and goes out to the public. Now, that strategy could just be well, we’re just going to do one post, or that strategy could be, hey, let’s have the influencer, try out our service, you know, over the course of a month, and each weekend, he’s kind of doing like a testimonial, how it’s working for him and his family, or, you know, for himself, depending on what your nonprofit actually does. I’ll just give an example. Let’s say there’s some sort of coaching program in your nonprofit, helping people along some sort of process.

So let’s have an influencer take the program. And, you know, week one, how does he feel? Okay, hey, I’m doing this thing. never done this before. But given it a shot, you know, got invited to do it. So here I am. Week two, oh wow, I just had this really deep, profound breakthrough. Week three, you know, wow, I just learned this new technique and never thought this would be applied to my life. Week four, hey, you guys should, you know I just finished the course. It’s amazing like you guys, you guys have been following my journey for the last four weeks, you guys should check it out as well.

Now see, this is what I mean by like, people don’t even realize that it’s a paid thing. But if your non-profits product service message is so strong, it will come off not as a paid thing. But as an authentic thing, like, they just went through this process and they had a transformation, you know, whatever it is, or you could have the influencer come to one of your events. And they could be a volunteer, like, “Hey, I’m helping, you know, dig some holes and plants, the trees, and we’re terraforming our neighborhood to make it more green, you know, it’s amazing. And I feel great about him here connecting with, you know, Billy Joe, down here, he lives down here, it’s awesome”. And you, you have this story going and you can also make the invitation, “Hey, you guys should come down and volunteer to get some fresh hair straight for your body exercise and make some new friends in the process. And here’s how you do it, click the link”.

So there’s a lot of ways that you can kind of spin it. And it really depends on again, what your actual goal is. And so once that’s done, now there’s one last little interesting little tidbit that you can do. So once the content is up on the influencers page, instead of traditionally running an ad, let’s say you run an ad on any social media, what you’re going to find is, okay, there’s zero likes, and there’s zero comments. And it’s very obvious that it’s an ad, right? But if we’re going to, the influencers give us the opportunity to run ads on their account for any content. So basically, we can boost that post. And that post has already got hundreds, if not 1000s of likes and comments. And so when we boost it, it’s going to look like just part of somebody’s feed. Of course, you know, if somebody looks carefully, they can see the sponsored thing there. But at the same time, and when people are just scrolling instantly, and they stop what does that mean, that’s social proof. And social proof just helps increase trust, helps conversion rates. So that’s one last little opportunity that we have to work with the content.

And then afterwards, you know, we have all the analytics, and we can have a conversation breaking down. Well, this is what content works great. This influencer works here. You know, stories actually did better there. And let’s, let’s try this and pivot for the next campaign. So in a nutshell, that’s the process. There’s two kinds of processes that I feel would work for non-profits in general. And that is it.

David: That’s amazing, I love the idea of taking content that’s in the influencers profile that has, you know, hundreds of 1000s of likes or even 2000 likes, right, and then boosting it there. So it shows up similarly like audiences feed right and connect with people that way. I think that’s a really smart tactic for sure. In terms of influencer marketing, and like digital advertising, what percentage of the market share would you say is focused on influencer marketing?

Derren: You know, off the top of my head, I don’t have that number for you. But it is the fastest growing segment. And I’ll tell you that my company is 100% focused on it. But that’s probably a pretty easy statistic to figure out. What I’ve seen in the past is, you know, something, you know, I’m not going to take a guess at it. But I’ve seen it grow from I remember seeing one quick statistic like something like 2016 that was less than 10%. And I definitely know that it’s over that now. So I will speak to that.

David: So how can non-profits take advantage of influencer marketing to help with donations and maybe even grow their volunteer base?

Derren: Yeah, absolutely. So through the utilization of the creative marketing method, we can pair up with influencers that have looked like audiences that they’ve already built already. So those audiences are already interested in what your nonprofit is doing in a general or a hyper targeted sense, depending on how great of a match we can find for you. Now, the influencer through the creative process, can do a multitude of things. You know, one they could be Trying out the product or service that your nonprofit provides and give like a testimonial over, let’s say, one to four weeks, and encourage their audience to go and try the service out for themselves. They could also go to one of your events where you have volunteer opportunities, and they could be filming what they’re doing and give a shout out, like, “Hey, I’m down here at so and so’s event. We’re having a great time, we’re planting trees, you made some new friends, come on, and join us click the link to get involved, you know, in your community.” And lastly, you could also use it to drive donations. So that same influencer could say, “Hey, I feel really passionate about XYZs message, here’s the message, and I just donated X, you know, $500, to their cause, and they’re going to put it towards this next step in their mission. And I invite you all to do the same. Click the link to learn more and get involved now”. So depending on what your organization’s objective is, we can help you craft a strategy to ensure that you know that their follow- up audiences take the call to action that you wish.

David: Yeah, I mean, for everybody that’s listening to this. Imagine what would happen if you connected with an influencer, that was in your similar kind of space. And they posted something out to 200,000 people saying that they’ve donated to your cause. Click here to get involved in making a donation like you’re jumping right into the mindset of the people that you want to connect with that will be so amazing for your organization.

Derren: Absolutely. So for instance, just really quickly, let’s say organizations about health and wellness of the community. So let’s work with a local health and wellness expert in our area. And let’s say they do have that 200,000 followers, you’re going to get people that are already interested in health and wellness. Now you have the trust of the influencer guiding and leading these people that these people are going to the influencer for advice on health and wellness consistently. So whatever the influencer will be saying, That’s why they call them influencers. It goes deeper, because they have already built that bond with their audience. So the ability to convert is much higher than just going for blanket targeted advertising. Instagram influencer marketing specifically.

David: Yeah, you’re connecting with people that are already in that mindset. So yeah, that’d be amazing for any organization for sure.

Derren: Absolutely.

David: So 2021 we’re like we have three months left, basically, it’s been, you know, a good a good ride this year so far, where do you see influencer marketing going in the coming year?

Derren: Where I see it going is kind of dripping down into the Small Business space. So influencer marketing has been relegated to primarily the big boys. Like in the past, we knew it as celebrity marketing or happy marketing, but that’s still influencer marketing just on the highest skill. So if I have LeBron James, or Beyonce, or Britney Spears, it’s like, okay, obviously, you know, that looks like celebrity marketing, but at the end of the day they’re influencers, and they have audiences and they’re influencing the audience. So basically, for small businesses, it’s like $50,000, just to have an entry point to play the game of influencer marketing. Now, there’s mid market in agencies, and we’re even getting down to, you know, small business agencies almost, we’re not quite there yet to enter into creator marketing you’re looking at, you know, somewhere like a budget of 3500 – 5000. For an organization that might make sense. For small businesses, that might be a reach for getting into the game.

However, you know, at Social Sensei, they were a very progressive company in thinking of solutions for even smaller organizations or businesses. And so we came up with that direct message outbound driving traffic campaign, which ranges from 500 to $1,000. And so I really see the availability becoming even broader. And so what does that mean? It means there’s going to be more influencers, there’s going to be more opportunity for organizations to work with a broader spectrum of people, and even smaller niches. So better targeting in the long run is really what it means. And all this has been happening over the last couple of years as it’s been slowly getting over there. But I really think, you know, in 2022, that’s what we’re gonna see. The next wave is like these micro influencers being affordable for small businesses and smaller organizations.

David: That’s awesome. What do you think, there’s a difference between growing your audience right and growing an audience of engaged people? Right? Like, there’s obviously a big difference there, you want to try to get engagement, right? And not just have people, you know, sitting there, and you put your message out there, and nothing really happens with it. Do you have any tips for nonprofits, charities, about how to build more engagement?

Derren: Yeah, absolutely. So number one, don’t get down on yourself. Because Instagram owned by Facebook is always shifting the algorithm to please their shareholders. So they’re nipping engagement in the bud, basically, for the last two years to force people to pay to play to get engagement. So your content may not be seen by even 10% of your audience. So don’t get down, don’t start railing your marketing person because you’re not getting engagement. However, with that said, there are some very valuable things that you could be doing.

Number one, and this has never changed since the beginning of social media. Content is king. Right? So if you’re not getting engagement, the number one thing to look at is your content. And what is the most valuable part of content? Is it “Hey, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at what I’m doing. Look at what I’m selling, look at what I’m selling, hey, do you want to buy this? Do you wanna buy this? Do you wanna buy this?” Let me just tell you, do you want to follow that person? You know, do you want to look at that person’s feed? Me? It’s an absolute no.

David: Agreed.

Derren: So if you don’t want to follow your own account, or you do our own content that you’re putting that that right, there is a red flag. The number two red flag is if I’m scrolling and I have literally milliseconds to grab somebody’s attention, is the content I’m posting compelling enough to stop somebody mid-thumb. That’s the next question with your content.

David: I like that, mid-thumb.

Derren: If you’re not stopping mid-thumb, then your contents are not eye-catching enough. Or the first line in the caption isn’t drawing people in, and it needs to be reevaluated. Now, the most absolutely valuable thing for your content is value. Right? So how do we train our audience to keep coming back to us to keep wanting content from us? Well, we need to provide value to their lives. Again, this shifts the me-me-me concept into something that nonprofits are quite familiar with into the we-we-we concept.

So how can I help you become a better person or do something in your life in a better way, and this is why influencers have an audience in the first place. They understand that concept, that of providing value. So let’s just say for photography, you know, they’re reviewing cameras and lenses, and telling people which is the best, so they don’t waste their money, that’s a service, right? And providing value to them. So we want you to have the absolute best. So how can we do this in our nonprofit as well, if I’m promoting health and wellness to children, well, then why not target parents and provide valuable healthy tips for free, you know, why not create an e-book or a webinar series or have one of your, you know, marketing PR people get on camera and be the face of your your nonprofit? I know, that’s tough for a lot of people. But it’s something that creates connection, one of the biggest connections on social media is the eyes.

So you know, I could put a picture up of some healthy food with some tips or I can have my, my PR person, they’re my outreach person, they’re making the connection with the community, and being a face for the organization. So when there’s in person events, everyone knows, “Oh, this is so and so organization is here.”

So value, you know, come up with a content strategy that not only gets your message out, and the way I like to do this is like, maybe one post a week would be dedicated towards messenger branding, which which I equate in the business world as selling something. And the rest should be geared towards providing value to people. And of course, your message is weaved into the value. It is the core of your nonprofit. Right? So people can always click on your bio link. People can always figure out more information about what it is that you’re doing. But we don’t need to be yelling in their face constantly. Like “hey, this is what I’m doing”.

What we get to do is talk about how we’re helping people’s lives. So testimonials of other people in the community that you helped, is also very powerful. You know, in addition to literally helping the Instagram followers, and it’s wild how much impact you can have, just through social media, if you put the value out there, it’s another powerful medium to change people’s lives, so.

David: Absolutely, for sure, being able to show the value and you know, for for a nonprofit or charity to show what their impact is in their communities and the people that they help, you know that that has tremendous value to people that might not be as familiar with their organizations and people that work in the organization. So I can definitely see a lot of benefit from that, for sure. Do you have any secret like growth hacks for like Instagram, if people are like, kind of not quite there on the budget scale to be able to, like bring in an influencer?

Derren: Yeah, absolutely. So organic growth on Instagram is really, really tough these days, unless you’re doing what I just spoke about, which is creating amazing content, providing awesome value. Like that is probably the greatest Do It Yourself growth hack. However, if you want to try to get out there, what I can recommend is to create a network of influencers. So people that are associated, maybe they’re not doing exactly the same that you’re doing. But they’re in associated lanes, like complementary situations.

So for instance, you know, off the top of my head, if I’m a restaurant, then I would love to partner with maybe a food critic, right? So somebody, or if I’m a restaurant, maybe I’m partnering with the local farmer, who provides fresh and organic food. If I’m a restaurant, maybe I’m partnering with a furniture company that provides restaurant furniture, something like this. Right? So those are all influencers. And what you could do is rotate, doing cross promotion between the two channels, right? So I have content, and they have content. So let’s swap. And let’s talk about each other, because we’re doing similar stuff.

So “hey, I’m working with John the farmer, and he provides our fresh tomatoes, you can go check them out, farmers market, six o’clock, so and so”. And then maybe it’s like your PR person’s down there. And like you guys are smiling with giant tomatoes next year. Awesome. That’s great content. And then you could even put a little nutrition about why you want to eat tomatoes. And like, “here’s the nutritional value, and you only want to eat so many, otherwise, it’s too acidic for your stomach”. Anyways, so then John the farmer is like, “Hey, I’m working with so and so restaurant in downtown Toronto, you know, make sure you go support them, they support local farmers, not only that, they they actually care that their food is, you know, organic and fresh and healthy for their customers.” Right? So now John the farmer who’s a local influencer is promoting you guys while sending your message up.

So you can you can, I’ve done this before, for we had an art contemporary art client. And so we would work with 30 other contemporary art galleries and influencers online and we rotate them every single day, it was a lot of extra work. But if you want to do it yourself, it’s a great, great growth hack to get in front of large audiences for free potential. Now, of course, what do you have to do to make that happen? One, you got to do your research, create a list of potential influencers, organizations that you feel would be good matches, second, you got to go create a message and message all these people. And then you know, schedule like little mini meetings with them, probably like at least 15 minutes to explain what it is that you want to do. And then you have to create a content schedule, schedule everybody, then you have to manage, then you have to create the content in the captions, you know, to do that wheel of posting. We did thirty, so that’s every single day, that’s a lot of work. You don’t have to be that aggressive. You know, you could do something like once a week, to make it much more manageable. And do the cross promotion, we used to call them cross promotion shout outs. So that’s, that’s a fantastic growth hack that I still recommend for the people that have the time and energy to do it.

And just to give you some idea of the results for that, it took us this for this client, it took us organically about three years to get to 100,000 followers to go from 100,000 to 350,000 followers, it took about a year with that strategy. So we had celebrities following the account like Miley Cyrus was following, major movie stars and athletes were following this account. And it was seen as legitimate contemporary art, you know, from promoters and experts.

David: That’s amazing.

Derren: You get up, because everyone in the community we’re influenced by saying, hey, go check them out. It’s like, everyone just starts seeing you as the expert of whatever they’re, they’re all repeating, you know.

David: If you can get a celebrity, a lot of people are really interested in celebrity, right? And they’ll go in, they’ll check out their profiles and who they’re following. Right? And then you can get some organic growth potentially that way as well.

Derren: Absolutely.

David: That’s pretty neat. So we’ve spoken a lot about what you should do. But what shouldn’t a non-profit or charity do on social media?

Derren: Yeah. So not to do? Well, this is kind of general because it’s not for everyone. One, any business, any non-profit, stay away from, for me, my, my professional opinion, is staying away from any sort of politics, or, you know, religious or racial, anything that’s like political is just obviously there’s non-profits that work in politics, you can’t stay with it. Yeah, that’s your mission. But for me, it’s like, I know that sometimes boards and organizations have strong opinions about certain things. But you’re really going to just create friction, heat, and friction. And you can say, “Well, yes, we’re standing for XYZ”, but it can also just end up creating separation, you know, and for me, it’s like, we’re trying to bring people together, how can we come to understandings rather than I’m right, and you’re wrong. It’s like, both people see themselves as right.

So it’s like, how can we come to a level playing field? And so don’t be the person that’s pouring gasoline on the fire, even though it might look enticing to, “hey, this is a hot topic for this week, let’s jump into the ring, and let’s go against the grain”. I found that people that spend energy on going against something and kind of end up looking like this kind of like Angry little Gremlin, you know, it’s like, I’m champion and against this, it’s like, as a non-profit, why not just focus on the positive energy that you’re trying to cultivate in your community. Don’t worry about what somebody else is doing, just focus on being that beacon of light, that tower of hope, and of course, educate, if there’s something that the community shouldn’t be doing

So that’s the philosophy behind it, you know, stay in your own lane, like I’ll give a good metaphor is that when you’re driving on the highway, and you’re breaking your neck to look at somebody else’s accident, you’re, you know, much more prone to getting in your own accident. So just stay focused on what it is that you’re doing, and, and strengthen that, that thread. So that’s absolutely one thing that I would not be doing.

Another thing off the top of my head, what not to be doing is overselling, and I kind of talked about this before, you know, your grant. They love seeing your impact and your numbers of impact and things of that nature. I know you brought that up as the educational piece to kind of create some clout. But as a common person, great, maybe we put that out like once a month, once a week, something like this. But let’s not just talk about how great we are all day long. “Hey, you know, we planted 10 million trees. Hey, we did this, we did that”. It’s like me personally, as being part of a non-profit is I don’t really even care about the numbers. I’d rather see what actually happened. Like, don’t show me 10 million trees on an infographic, show me the trees, show me the children playing in the trees, show me the animals like you rehabilitating there, show me how much joy you brought to the world.

You know, like that is, as a visual that can be so much more powerful. Now, of course, for the grants you’re applying for, by all means, get your infographics and statistics and just, you know, put them out there, and to make sure that your nonprofit keeps going. But try to find that balance. Because when you’re just talking about numbers, or if we’re talking about content before, it doesn’t really provide value to anybody’s life. Like if I know that you do 10 million, you know, trees, like what did that? Did that change my life at all? You know, not really so other than maybe…

David: What’s the impact? How does that affect my life? Right? Yeah, and what you know, 10 million trees is amazing. What does that do for the environment? Do I care? Like, if you plant trees in Australia, how does that impact me in Canada or the United States or Brazil or whatever country you’re in right? You have to tie that together to the message to make people care. Create that empathy.

Derren: That’s a great way to look at it is like a bridge. Like let’s say, you’re a worldwide organization, how can you bridge the global to the local, and create that story and weave that in? So those are the two things I would say.

And then third, last but not least, I’m trying to think of something with engagement that you wouldn’t want to do. But I would, I would simply say, what you don’t want to do is not engage, right? So that might seem very obvious, but every single little comment that is posted on your page, every single little comment that’s a direct message to off of any Instagram story, one thing you don’t want to do is just let it sit there and idle. If you wish to create engagement, you have to engage back, like and within a timely manner, like don’t let these people even though they might be saying something general, or they might be saying something that isn’t so specific, like still engaged back, because what it does is it shows the rest of the people that are coming to your page that you’re active, and that you actually care about your social media presence. And if they ask a question, or they reach out to you that they’re going to get responded to, which is going to encourage them to do that more so. So again, this is social proof that your organization engages. And one last thing is, is, don’t be inauthentic. I’m going to give you two more.

David: Alright, two more!

Derren: Don’t be authentic with your voice. Because a lot of times people will come off as like, “Oh, I have to be like selling so you know, and tiptoe around this”. It’s like, come up with a brand voice in your marketing and like to train your social media people to stick by it. And like to stay true to that. So maybe your non-profit is really laid back and chill. Or maybe your non-profit is really funny, like, find what works for you and your community. Maybe they’re really serious. Maybe they’re the teacher, maybe they’re the grandpa, and just be that throughout all your messaging. And watch how that threads and you kind of take this position in your community’s mind. It’s very interesting.

And lastly, don’t try to be somebody else, right? So this, this jumps on to that last point is a lot of nonprofits and businesses, they’ll go and look out there in the world and say, “Oh, this is working for them. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel”. Yes. And you’re also a unique offering to the world. You know, you don’t need to copy outright “Oh, look at what these nonprofits do, look at how they’re speaking, look at what, what they’re, you know, saying”. Well, guess what, now you’re just a clone, you know, it’s Attack of the Clones, like, we already have that in the world, like, we need a new offering a little bit of a new angle, what makes you your your nonprofit unique, and stick by that because when you hold that unique frequency, or that unique energy, it’s gonna attract a certain group of people, you know, that will be more loyal and supportive of whatever it is that you’re doing.

So just trust it, because when you look at Instagram influencers, the reason why they became influential is because they did that one thing. And they did that one thing well over and over and over and over again, and they stuck to it all the way through. And then they created a niche. Maybe it’s like goth punk kids, you know, that were all black and rock out and watch anime sometimes. But whatever it is, like, that’s a niche. And that person just stuck with it. Because that’s their unique thing that they love to do. And that expresses who they are, you know, and that’s amazing. Now they have a whole community dedicated to that. So I’m not saying that’s what you guys are doing. But stick to your one thing.

David: That’s amazing, amazing. So if everybody that’s listening and connecting with this episode, what would be the one thing if they can only walk away with one thing from this? What would that one thing be?

Derren: For me, value, value, provide value, you know. I mean, this is what you’re doing as a non-profit already. You know, providing value to your community will now extend it to your social media, and really find ways that you can improve people’s lives just just through the content that you create.

David: Awesome. This has been so enlightening and amazing. I’ve learned a lot of great little tidbits myself, that I can take back to my clients that we work at Wow Digital. And help the people that are listening, so that they can get some great advice and pointers from you today as well. If anyone wants to get in touch with you, what do they need to do?

Derren: Yeah check us out socialsensei.co that.co and if you guys are on Tik Tok, check us out at tiktokbot.co and we’ll help your Instagram and your Tik Tok grow.

David: Amazing. Thanks again for joining in Derren, it’s been great having you on the Non-profit Digital Success Podcast and to everybody listening if you want any of the links or resources Darren was talking about, his contact info, just head over to our episode show notes page, which is going to be at a wowdigital.com/022. Thanks so much, and take care everybody.

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