Youtube Influencers and Charity

Gone are the days where an endorsement from a loved celebrity or high rating talk show ensured instant visibility and influence over your target demographic

This month a study by Variety magazine found that the most influential figures amongst US teens were YouTube stars. Look out Oprah, Bono and Angelina!

Vloggers Smosh, Fine Bro’s and PewDiePie were some of the online stars ranking more popular than Hollywood A-listers Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp and Steve Carell. The bottom line is celebrities are losing out to younger, more relatable stars with a much stronger power to influence.

I saw this firsthand while working at World Vision Australia, where as Social Media Manager in 2010, I launched World Vision Vloggers, the world’s first charity vlogger program.

It is no surprise that Youtube stars have more influence than celebrities. They do more than perform, they genuinely and intimately engage with their audience. To the individual viewer, they are accessible and relatable, many create content based on feedback from their audience.

Additionally, the humor and authentic approach of Youtubers is a far cry from the choreographed spiel of a celebrity on a PR leash. Vloggers are not distant figureheads, the way their audience relates to them sits between TV star and personal friend.

Before creating an action plan to partner with vloggers, you’ll need to consider whether your charity is ready for this type of approach. In my experience, very few charities are.

Working successfully with a vlogger requires handing over control and making your programs 100 per cent transparent. A partnership can’t be about what you want the vlogger to say. For a vlogger to communicate your cause to their audience they need creative control, freedom and utmost transparency. Handing over control of the message means that they may not explain your programs in the language you craft and/or approve. Most see this as a risk, game changing not-for-profits see this as innovation.

A successful partnership enables vloggers to craft a unique, engaging story and speak in a tone that relates to their audience. Remember, Vloggers are experts at engagement and are the most qualified people to find innovative ways of working your cause in to a high performing YouTube video.

At World Vision, this meant sharing the challenges of explaining our programs and giving the vloggers the creative freedom to help us solve that problem. This meant showing them World Vision’s work abroad, allowing them to ask any question, answering every question and then allowing them to post their honest and personal opinions.

The result?  

They not only explained the development model, they garnered millions of video views, over 11,000 comments and most importantly child sponsorships. What surprised me the most however was that they made the journey entertaining and allowed audiences to see World Vision in a completely new and unique light.

It was incredibly brave of World Vision to give these Youtube stars this level of creative freedom and its exactly what made this project a success.

If your organisation is ready to take the plunge, you may be interested in a chapter I’ve written in Jason’s Miles’s book YouTube Marketing Power on partnering with vloggers. The first person to share their thoughts in the comments section below will receive a free copy.

Read this article at ProBono Australia

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