Nonprofit Nation with Julia Campbell

How to Work with Influencers with Ash Collins of Best Friends Animal Society

July 26, 2023 Julia Campbell Episode 99
Nonprofit Nation with Julia Campbell
How to Work with Influencers with Ash Collins of Best Friends Animal Society
Show Notes Transcript

This episode is sponsored by Qgiv, a comprehensive fundraising platform trusted by over 20,000 fundraisers. The Qgiv team understands that fundraising isn’t always an easy job. To help, they recently surveyed fundraising professionals and donors to create a soon to be released report, Building a Sustainable Future: A Guide to Healthy Fundraising. This report explores how the economy, staffing issues, declining donor numbers, and more have impacted nonprofit teams. To learn how you can build more sustainable fundraising revenue and advocate for data-backed change, click here  to be notified when the report is released and receive your copy!

Influencer marketing has a wide variety of benefits for nonprofits, but it’s a relatively new space for many of us. We may not know who exactly to approach as an "influencer" - or what to say and how to work with them.

In this episode, Ash Collins, Influencer Relations Specialist at Best Friends Animal Society, will be  sharing the benefits of creating an Influencer Program and the collaborations that she has been part of during her role.  

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to work with influencers
  • How to find influencers
  • How to track success
  • The future of influencer marketing 
  • How to get younger generations into fundraising

Ash Collins (she/her/hers) is the Influencer Relations Specialist at Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization. She manages relationships and marketing collaborations with social media influencers to help end the killing of cats and dogs in America's shelters. She has been in animal welfare for over 7 years and is skilled in influencer relations, social media, digital marketing, relationship development, and crypto/NFT relationships. When she is not working hard to Save Them All, she can be found reading with her cats, hiking with her husband and their dog, or sewing in her craft room.

Connect with Ash:

About Julia Campbell, the host of the Nonprofit Nation podcast:

Named as a top thought leader by Forbes and BizTech Magazine, Julia Campbell (she/hers) is an author, coach, and speaker on a mission to make the digital world a better place.

She wrote her book, Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits, as a roadmap for social change agents who want to build movements using engaging digital storytelling techniques. Her second book, How to Build and Mobilize a Social Media Community for Your Nonprofit, was published in 2020 as a call-to-arms for mission-driven organizations to use the power of social media to build movements.  

Take my free masterclass: 3 Must-Have Elements of Social Media Content that Converts

0:00:00 - Julia Campbell
This episode is sponsored by QGIV, a comprehensive fundraising platform trusted by over 20,000 fundraisers Through online giving and event registration forms. Text fundraising, peer-to-peer campaigns and auction events QGIV's tools help fundraisers like you raise more. The QGIV team understands that fundraising isn't always an easy job To help. They recently surveyed fundraising professionals and donors to create a soon-to-be-released report Building a Sustainable Future a guide to healthy fundraising. This report explores how the economy, staffing issues, declining donor numbers and more have impacted nonprofit teams. To learn how you can build more sustainable fundraising revenue and advocate for data-backed change, head to jcsocialmarketingcom slash qgive. That's jcsocialmarketingcom slash qgiv to be notified when the report is released and to receive your free copy. Thank you, and let's get to the episode. 

0:01:06 - Julia Campbell
Hello and welcome to Nonprofit Nation. I'm your host, julia Campbell, and I'm going to sit down with nonprofit industry experts, fundraisers, marketers and everyone in between to get real and discuss what it takes to build that movement that you've been dreaming of. I created the Nonprofit Nation podcast to share practical wisdom and strategies to help you confidently find your voice, definitively grow your audience and effectively build your movement. If you're a nonprofit newbie or an experienced professional who's looking to get more visibility, reach more people and create even more impact, then you're in the right place. Let's get started. Hi everyone, welcome back to Nonprofit Nation, really excited to have you here today. 

This is your host, julia Campbell, and today's topic is influencer marketing how to work with influencers. So you've probably heard the term influencer marketing. We know that it has a wide variety of benefits for nonprofits, but it's a relatively new space for many of us. So my guest today is going to shed some light on this space and give us some strategies on how to build our own influencer marketing program. So today I have with me Ash Collins. 

She is the influencer relations specialist at Best Friends Animal Society, which is a national animal welfare organization, and she manages relationships and marketing collaborations with social media influencers to help end the killing of cats and dogs in America's shelters. Now, ash has been in animal welfare for over seven years and she's skilled in influencer relations, social media, digital marketing, relationship development and crypto-NFT relationships. And when she's not working hard to save them all which is the Best Friends Animal Society motto she can be found reading with her cats, hiking with her husband and their dog, or sewing in her craft room which, by the way, I wish you could see the wall behind Ash right now, with all Is that yarn? I mean forgive me for not knowing what that is Is that yarn, yes, yes, wall of yarn. 

0:03:30 - Ash Collins
It's beautiful Sewing machine over here. 

0:03:33 - Julia Campbell
Well, now see, I do have to take a picture so I can post it so that people can see it's absolutely beautiful. What kind of things do you make in your craft room? 

0:03:40 - Ash Collins
I quilt and I crochet and so those are kind of my two big things. So lots of yarn, lots of fabric. Always, I'm always in here. 

0:03:49 - Julia Campbell
It's just such a cool background for Zoom calls too. It's really neat. 

0:03:52 - Ash Collins
Yeah, Everybody always asks what is that? 

0:03:56 - Julia Campbell
So how did you get started in influencer marketing, and then how did you sort of come to Best Friends? 

0:04:03 - Ash Collins
Yeah, so I've been in animal welfare for, like I said, about seven years. I started at the local shelter. I live in Madison, wisconsin. So I started the local shelter in an education role and then I transitioned into a more like fundraising kind of like corporate partnership kind of role at that same organization. I was there for almost five years. You know, pandemic happens, everybody's looking to like try something new kind of. During that time my work bestie had actually just been hired at Best Friends Animal Society and so I said I'm coming with you. So I was looking at job opportunities with Best Friends and I found the influencer marketing role. So I had worked with a couple local influencers here in Madison. Like we have a guy who runs a Cats of Madison account who had worked with him. 

0:04:50 - Julia Campbell
He just takes pictures of cats around Madison and I got him to come to our local shelter Cats of Madison. 

0:04:54 - Ash Collins
I love it, yeah, and then he also does dogs of Madison. So I got him to come to our shelter and highlight some adaptable animals on his page, which was a really cool partnership, and we work with a couple. There's a bachelor old bachelor, contestant who lives in Madison, so I worked with him to get him to come to our Gala and post about our organization. 

0:05:12 - Julia Campbell
Can you say his name. 

0:05:14 - Ash Collins
Yeah, Peter Kraus. 

0:05:15 - Julia Campbell
Okay, I don't have a bachelor, but I know a lot of. 

0:05:17 - Ash Collins
I don't know, he owns a gym in Madison too, so he's, like, still really active in Madison. So he came to one of our galas at my old shelter and so when I saw this influencer marketing role, I thought a lot of the skills that I had from business stewardship and that type of fundraising, plus my skills with, like, local influencers, would really translate over into this role. So, best friends, since they're a national organization, I'm really excited to be a part of their organization now. So I applied and was hired in February of 2021. So it's been two years now that I've been able to be a part of this team in this role. 

0:05:49 - Julia Campbell
So just so we're all on the same page. What do you consider an influencer? 

0:05:54 - Ash Collins
What is? 

0:05:54 - Julia Campbell
an influencer. 

0:05:55 - Ash Collins
So For me and for best friends, influencers are people that have a social media following. For us, it's at least a thousand or more. There's all different levels of influencer, from like mega influencer down to like nano and micro influencers, and for us it's anybody with a thousand followers or more on their social platforms that is famous because of their social platform. And so here at Best Friends, we also have a celebrity relations team that I work very closely with. But if a celebrity has a social media platform, they're still famous because they were an actor or a musician, then they would be because not because they're social. 

So that's kind of how we differentiate it. There's a lot of gray areas still. And is the reality star who was an influencer before she was on the reality show? How does that fall Like? So we talk a lot about who should be the person, who's stewarding and working with this person or wants to reach out. But that's how we kind of define it. Is people that have a following on their social media with over a thousand followers, and we also look at like engagement rates and those kind of things. But I know we'll get into all those details too. 

0:07:03 - Julia Campbell
I think that's an incredibly important point, because when I talk to nonprofits about influencer marketing, I just think it's easier to say than ambassador marketing. I mean, you can call it whatever you want social media ambassadors. It's so important to know that it doesn't have to be a person with 10 million followers on Instagram, because, first of all, those people are being pitched every single day by everybody on the planet, but, secondly, it doesn't mean that they have the attention of your audience, right? So exactly what is the first step, like what is the first step that we can take or that you take when you're looking to work with an influencer? 

0:07:44 - Ash Collins
Yeah, so I know that I'm speaking to you from a national org, but I do want to make it really clear that this is something you can do at a local level as well, and so, when you're thinking about these steps, kind of think about your. How could I take this kind of like large piece of it and kind of like pull it down to my level? So I think that's really important for people to think about. But for us, I typically am looking for people who have engaged with best friends in some way, and so I look for people who follow us on our social media platforms. We have TikTok, instagram, twitter, facebook. Those are kind of our big ones. So we look for people that follow us on social media or have engaged with us in some way. That's really it's a lot easier to activate people that already know about you and are interested in you than it is to try to find somebody and tell them who you are and see if they want to join your cause. So I really encourage kind of like the same with donors, right, you want to continue to steward the donors you already have instead of trying to always go out and find new people. So it's kind of that same idea where it's easier to work with those people that already know you exist and already, hopefully, like your organization. 

So I would encourage people to look at their social media followers. Look at who their local influencers are, like I mentioned Katz of Madison. Also, look at who could be an influencer for your organization. While I'm talking about, like social media influencers, there might be somebody in your community, like if there's a political candidate that really aligns with your organization's mission, working with them, or if it's your Furo Library Foundation and there's a local author, like getting them to support your organization, something like that. So look outside. Obviously we focus, since we're a larger org, on those people that really have those big social platforms, but I encourage you to look at like who would be an influencer for your mission and in your community. 

0:09:26 - Julia Campbell
So what are some sort of best practices when approaching an influencer? 

0:09:31 - Ash Collins
Yeah, so at Best Friends, we do not pay our influencer partners, and so I'm always very clear, upfront about that with our influencers Do nonprofits pay? 

0:09:41 - Julia Campbell
Some do Okay. 

0:09:43 - Ash Collins
So it depends. A lot of that kind of comes down to what the influencer is comfortable with, and also you also have to ensure you're following FTC guidelines. So that's a whole other thing that I would encourage people to talk to, either their leadership or their legal advisors, just to kind of make sure they're following FTC protocols when they're working with influencers. So what I typically do is I look at people who've already engaged with us in some way, follow us, and I send them a DM. I would say there's like two different groups one that's like you should always email influencers and other that says you should send DMs. I prefer to send DMs. I've gotten a really good response from DMs, especially if that's the way I've engaged with them in the past. It's on social. So I encourage to send direct messages through social. So I do that and I'm very clear, like I am, ash I'm with Best Friends is who we are. 

We're looking for influencers who are willing to donate their platforms to help with our mission, and so I'm very clear upfront that we do not pay our influencer partners. 

That being said, we do offer like swag in exchange for content occasionally, or we have a roadhouse near a hotel, near our sanctuary, so sometimes we'll cover stays at our roadhouse in exchange for influencers can visit our sanctuary and check us out, but we're just very clear that we're looking for people who can donate their platform, and sometimes people say, yes, that sounds amazing. Other times they say, unfortunately, I can't do collabs like that right now, and we totally understand a lot of these influencers. This is the way that this is their job now and it's how they're making money, and I think it's really important to respect that and understand that you never want to act like an influencer isn't worth what they say they charge. That being said, though, I would say we have a really great success rate with influencers saying like yes, I do want to donate my platform to help your mission or to help whatever other cause there might be happening right now. 

0:11:31 - Julia Campbell
That's a great philosophy to have, because a lot of organizations not a lot, maybe, not a lot maybe some think that they can just sort of demand things of people for free and ask for things for free without any kind of context. But I love that you have that approach of OK, we're going to respect you as an influencer and make sure it makes sense for you and your platform, your audience, but just be aware that we do not pay, like that's our mantra and that's just what we do. And that might not be a fit, but there's no hard feelings at the end of the day. 

0:12:05 - Ash Collins
Exactly, that's exactly how we approach it, because we want to be respectful. We want them even if we're not partnering, we still want them to think positively about our organization. We don't want to leave them with a bad taste in our mouth, especially because they have such a public platform. Correct, and we've all seen the influencers who are roasting brands or businesses who have not given them that respect. So we never want to leave that sort of negative experience with them. 

0:12:28 - Julia Campbell
What are some pitfalls that you see that small or midsize or even national organizations run into, like some challenges or some things that you see and you think, oh my gosh, I wish I could tell them not to do that. 

0:12:41 - Ash Collins
Yeah, I would say, if you only speak to people that align directly, specifically with your mission, you're not going to reach new audiences. So I encourage businesses and groups to look outside of at best friends. Obviously we're animal welfare organization, but if I only ever had us work with animal welfare influencers who are vegan, with rescue dogs, we're not going to be reaching those new audiences. We're not going to be reaching those people who are looking to buy a dog and might like, if we're never talking to people who have kind of been in that world, like they might not ever consider adoption. And so for us I encourage obviously you want to fit within your brand guidelines, so, like, for us that's very positive influencers. 

We never do like the Sarah McLaughlin vibes at best friends. We're always very positive and happy. So we want to work with influencers that have that same vibe as us. But if they, like we have worked with influencers who have purchased pets and our hope is that we'll reach their audience and help them maybe learn that next time they're ready for an animal, maybe they will consider adoption. Or maybe there's someone whose platform doesn't have anything to do with animals. So we worked with Cole Prott's last year. So he is an astrology influencer and so he'd adopted his cat from us, which was how we got that connection. But he did a whole video on what animal you should adopt from best friend based on your sign, and so, while he's not an animal influencer, it was a really fun collaboration that we got to do with him that reached his audience and got adoption in front of his people, who aren't following him for that reason, so that was a really fun collab. 

0:14:16 - Julia Campbell
Such an important point, because so many organizations, they want to reach these new audiences, but they, you know, I always say you should be preaching to the choir. But if you're only preaching to the choir you're really not getting in front of that new audience, that new, you know, the new person that might want to learn about you, like you just said, but has never heard about you, because they're not in those kinds of circles. Like, just because I am not, I don't follow a million. You know, cat accounts on Instagram doesn't mean I don't like cats, you know. It doesn't mean I don't, I wouldn't want to adopt a cat. 

I love that. You know he's talking about his personal experience adopting, but also molding it for his audience, so kind of inserting, like, his own spin on it. But it still makes sense. It's not completely out of the blue that he's talking about this, because this is something that he has. So that's really important. I love that. So influencers are a way not only to engage and deepen relationships with your current audience, but a way to get in front of a brand new audience. What would you say the percentage should be there and what is the ratio of? You know, maybe using it to deepen relationships with your current audience, but also engage new audiences. 

0:15:35 - Ash Collins
You know, it just really depends on the focus and what the campaign might be. And so, like with Cole, that was kind of a one-off collaboration we did with him to encourage his audience to consider adoption. But when we have, like our foster kitten campaign, I typically will then only reach out to our foster influencers people that already like they're an influencer because they foster animals, because that seems a lot more authentic to me. So we get them to say, hey, best Friends is doing National Foster Month and we want to encourage you to sign up to foster. We know their audience is already following them because they're interested in that, but then that also means that they are probably more likely to take that step to foster. 

So I mean, it really just depends on the focus of your campaign. I would say, when it comes to like of our end of year fundraising, though, everybody can agree that we want the animals to have a happy holidays and we want to support them. So then we can work with all different types of influencers. But when it's a really specific campaign like adopt a big dog, I'm not going to work with the person who has a rescue chihuahua Like right. So I'm going to like try to keep it authentic when it comes to those types of campaigns, but then otherwise that can be more general than we work with our larger group of influencer partners. 

0:16:47 - Julia Campbell
I didn't even think of adopt a big dog and I'm thinking now there's keep an animal in where I live and they do a lot of campaigns around adopting older cats, because of course everybody wants kittens, everybody wants puppies. But raising awareness around these older animals and people that have older animals or have adopted bigger animals, that's just something that's so interesting, so kind of thinking like a little bit outside of the box of what might be obvious. I love that idea. So a challenge that some organizations have found, or at least I mean I'm sure you've seen this. What happens? I mean we lose control a little bit with the influencer, right? So when we are working with them, do we give them the content, like how much control do you have or should we have over this relationship? 

0:17:36 - Ash Collins
Yeah, so for us, we trust that our influencers are going to follow our branding guidelines. 

0:17:43 - Julia Campbell
Yeah, you got to trust them. You have to. 

0:17:46 - Ash Collins
Exactly Because if you like Coleprots, for example, let's say for him I want us to do an adoption campaign. So here is the photo I want you to use and here are the four talking points that I think you should say. So if he'd gotten on his platform that's astrology focused, and had said you should adopt a cat and like, held up his hand, you see the graphic, here's four reasons to adopt a cat today, that's not going to speak to his audience, that's not his authentic voice and so his audience is just going to scroll right past that. So we want our influencers to use their own voice, to speak to their audience, because that's why they follow them, is they like that person and they like their tone and their vibe. We do send a toolkit, and so what I typically do is reach out to our influencer partners. That, I think, would be a good fit for a campaign. I think they might be interested and I say, hey, here's a little summary of our campaign, here's our guidelines, and that includes the dates of the campaign is running. 

Occasionally, I will include like a deck of graphics that they can use, because sometimes they might want to do that, like put that up on their story. Obviously, it's not required for them to use our graphics. I prefer if they use their own, but they might want to use some of our graphics. I send them like key talking points. I send them kind of the vibe of the campaign. So the call to action is adopt it's, donate it's, sign this petition, whatever it might be. It's the tone of it should be positive, happy or more informative, serious, depending on what the campaign is, and so we share all of that with them. And then I ask them like if you're interested, let me know. Also, I'm here to happy like brainstorm ideas. I typically will include a couple write up so like here's things that I think could work on your platform to share this campaign. 

Nobody ever takes me up on my ideas, but I always include them in case they need a like jumping point for their campaign of like do. If it's adopted kitten month, then pick kittens from our website and say what their vibe is, or like kitten most likely to do this, whatever it might be. But I think if you're giving them the exact script, the exact copy that you want them to say, it's not going to connect with their audience because it's not going to sound like them. 

0:19:51 - Julia Campbell
I completely agree I completely agree, and that's really how I work with brands. They can sort of send me something, but I'll always put it in my own voice because you're right. If you are just simply reading a script or, like you just said, posting the four, you know benefits of adopting a cat, but it doesn't make any sense and it's not in this particular person's voice or vibe or graphics, then the audience is going to know immediately. And I also love also, Ash, how you call it a collaboration and I think it. I just keep thinking of like fashion collaborations, you know, like Beyonce and Adidas or something, because it really is like they are marketing it and both sides are benefiting from this collaboration. And so can you talk about what are some of the benefits for influencers that we could try to sell them, you know, say like oh, you know, we know that this is a cause that really benefits you, but here are, you know some ways that maybe we can follow up with them. How can we cultivate this relationship long term? 

0:20:57 - Ash Collins
Yeah. So some benefits for our influencer partners. One is that we continue to steward our relationship with them. So once they become a part of our program, I guess when I reach out to them and say, here's who we are, this is what we were interested in working with you. If you're interested, please let me know and we'll send you a welcome packet. 

So everyone always is sent some sort of best friend swag just for like saying yes, I want to be one of your partners. So that way they've gotten some sort of swag, hopefully, even if they never actually are able to activate on a campaign timing doesn't work out whatever. Hopefully you'll see that mug in the background of one of our other videos or they'll wear their t-shirt they got from best friends and another photo, something like that. But we so we do like those swag collaborations. We gift them those. They are then kind of brought into the best friends fold of stewardship. So they're receiving our magazine, our newsletters, all those types of things. They get those types of information to hopefully learn more about our organization and want to activate with this more. When it comes to those collaborations, though, they are getting lifted by best friends, or we have about three million followers across of our platforms. 

0:22:02 - Julia Campbell
And usually engaged audience. 

0:22:04 - Ash Collins
Yeah. So since our audience is so engaged and so large, we never promised to reshare their content. But if they're tagging best friends, it's likely that our audience will see that and we may reshare if the like timing works out for that content as well. So that's something else that we kind of look at is giving them that lift. And then, once they're kind of a part of that, we have collaborations, like when our corporate partners are reaching out to us saying, hey, we're looking for influencers to partner with for this campaign that supports best friends. Now we have those influencers and we can say, hey, we have this cool opportunity that could be a paid partnership because it's through our corporate partners. So that's another kind of benefit our influencers are seeing is those kind of experiences that they receive after kind of becoming a part of our program. 

0:22:47 - Julia Campbell
How do you measure the success of these collaborations? 

0:22:51 - Ash Collins
It's so hard. No, there's a lot of different ways that you can measure success for influencer campaigns. So if it's something like a merch collaboration, so we just did one, or we launched some new pet merch, and so for Valentine's Day we partnered with a couple of our pet influencers. We sent them some of that new merch for their pets and then they posted about us and encouraged their audience to purchase those items. So we could kind of see like, was there a spike in sales after we did this collaboration? Of these specific items we highlighted, we had Casey Hamilton, who's Mr Hamilton on TikTok. He has a couple million followers there. He came and visited our sanctuary last year and before he left he made a video all about our roadhouse encouraging people to check us out. That's where he was going to stay. He was really excited and we saw a huge spike in website visits to our roadhouse page after he made that video. 

You can also look at engagement rates, and so there's all the different types of influencer softwares and social media softwares that I'll tell you engagement rates of posts. You can evaluate those. So there's the things you can kind of track on your own, like the merch sales or the use of promo codes or the amount of funds that are donated to their campaign, those types of things. But you can also then look at those engagement rates and really those analytics on the back end of how many comments like shares did this post get? Did their audience really engage with this post and want to share it? That kind of thing. 

0:24:15 - Julia Campbell
So you've been working as the influencer relation specialist since 2021. Was this the first time that best friends had this position? 

0:24:26 - Ash Collins
It was, and so we did have somebody before me that kind of decided yes, we want to do influencer marketing. 

Somebody had kind of been put in the role and then she ended up leaving for another organization. So then when I was hired, they were kind of like here, all of our ideas go. So I was able to make the program my own, which has been really exciting. There's a lot of support of for me of like figuring out which softwares I wanted to use, what were the categories that we want to use, what are the criteria for influencers, and so I was really disabled to make this program my own, and I really believe that my background in fundraising and stewardship really helped with that as well. 

To really build relationships with these influencers. Like, I got a text from an influencer the other day because they were wearing their cute shirt and just wanted me to see it. I get to meet a couple when I go out to our sanctuary this year and we're so excited to like actually meet in person and hang out. So it really is this relationship that I've developed with them, not just best friends but like me specifically, which I think is important too as you continue to steward and work with these people. 

0:25:29 - Julia Campbell
So for you, you must be pretty engaged on social media platforms, both like personally and professionally. So like, where do you see yet the younger generation of influencers really sort of taking root, and what do you see kind of as the next iteration of where nonprofits should be building their presence? 

0:25:50 - Ash Collins
Yeah, I say it really depends on where they think their audience. How am I trying to say this? 

0:25:59 - Julia Campbell
Well, they think their audience is only baby boomers. Yes, that is true. That is true. 

0:26:04 - Ash Collins
Yes, it is not. So looking at ways to engage with younger audiences influencers are a great way to do that because depending on who the influencer is, they might have that younger audience you can also look. There's a lot of different softwares and things where you can kind of evaluate an influencer's audience. You can see what is the general age range, the gender, those types of things for their audience. So I would say, obviously we know TikTok is a booming social platform. Best Friends is always trying to pay attention to what's next. So for a while we were considering being on Be Real, which is kind of like faded in the background. So glad we didn't take that jump. 

0:26:39 - Julia Campbell
I know, I actually really like Be Real, but of course it was like once all the moms got on it, nope. 

0:26:44 - Ash Collins
Yeah yeah, it wasn't a good way to like engage past photos. 

0:26:49 - Julia Campbell

0:26:50 - Ash Collins
Which I think was their point. But anyway, that's a whole other thing. 

0:26:53 - Julia Campbell
But no, that's important, I think because there was no marketing potential there. 

0:26:56 - Ash Collins
Yeah, obviously, tiktok is where that younger generation is. So maybe your organization is not on TikTok but you could partner with influencers who are. So instead of you trying to create and build a following on that social platform, finding partners who'd be able to share your information on that platform could be a better way to go. I did kind of look because we had talked a little bit about younger generation. Obviously, twitch, too, is really common with, I would say, gamers, but not just gamers. There's a lot of other types of people who do live streams and we do see some nice donations that are coming in through the Twitch platform. So I would say that's where we see the most fundraising by the younger generation, because it's so ingrained as a part of Twitch is by having that Tiltify collaboration and pulling in those fundraisers and creating a fundraiser for your live stream, and you'll eat a pineapple pizza if you get $100 or whatever it might be. 

0:27:56 - Julia Campbell
I saw one like you'd slap your friends with a fish in the face if someone gave $500. 

0:28:02 - Ash Collins
Yeah, there's like all kinds of I think that's fine, hey. 

0:28:05 - Julia Campbell
however, you get that $500, fine. 

0:28:08 - Ash Collins
There's all sorts of ways especially there's some really cool collaborations within certain games, where you as the watcher can donate and give money to a cause. That will then cause the game to do something for the player, so it'll change their shirt color or it'll make them have a dance break in the middle of their battle, or whatever it might be. But I do think gamers is obviously kind of the focus of Twitch. There are a lot of other people that do live streaming on Twitch as well. There's artists, there's musicians, there's all sorts of people that are using that platform, and I do think that is where we're seeing a lot of that younger generation kind of decide hey, I'm going to do a fundraiser for this thing that matters to me and that happens a lot on that platform. What about? 

YouTube and Instagram. So YouTube we that's under a different branch at Best Friends and so it's a little separate from where my specific role is but we have seen like an increase, especially in Gen Z, in like YouTube watching and following and engagement. Especially those YouTube shorts seem to really kind of pull people back over to that platform, and so we have seen that that's not something we've really explored very much at our org with like influencers and YouTube and that sort of collaboration. And then Instagram we've seen an increase in donations on social like from Instagram over on our Facebook platforms, which we've thought was really interesting, especially for our end of the year. And so while Instagram I feel like really targets kind of the millennial generation, I love Instagram a lot and all the time I don't know how that's really translating into the Gen Z yet I don't know what that type of data is. 

0:29:44 - Julia Campbell
Yes, I think that there are platforms that are coming up that I definitely don't know, I don't know about, or platforms that you just said, like Be Real, that are much more about networking with friends or networking with complete strangers, like TikTok, which is really not a social networking platform. I mean, it's really like a broadcast platform. So that's the challenge for nonprofits. But something you said really stuck with me Instead of trying to go viral on TikTok or YouTube or Instagram, if you're not there, why doesn't your organization try to partner with someone that has an audience, that is speaking to your audience or something that makes sense? 

And what really strikes me as the biggest challenge to influencer marketing taking off in every organization is that the loss of control. You know, nonprofits want to have that complete control over the message, the brand, the video, the talking points, the caption, the everything. And we have to realize that that's just not how younger generations are operating and they're much more likely to trust someone that they respect and that they love or they listen to or they follow or even just trust a peer. So I think it's just so great that Best Friends is really on the forefront of this. Do you see influencer relations coming up more in other organizations, like being more of a focus. 

0:31:18 - Ash Collins
I do. I want to piggyback too off of something you just said, where you talked about like the trust with influencers. Yes, studies have shown that influencers are trusted at the same level as like friends and family. 

0:31:29 - Julia Campbell
Yes, and so I think that's oh, I know, I have a 13-year-old daughter, I get it. 

0:31:33 - Ash Collins
I think that's really important for your audience to know is like, when we're talking about influencers, people aren't just like, oh yeah, well, nobody cares. Like people do care, they're trusted at that same level as your best friend who recommended that vacuum, versus like your mom who loves that type of yogurt. Like they're trusted at the same level as those people that are actually in their lives. So I think that's so important to think about and look at. So when the influencer saying, hey, I love this organization, that audience from real estate, well, if they love it, I probably will too, and here's all the reasons why. So I think that's really important and we need to think about who our favorite authors are. 

0:32:10 - Julia Campbell
If we're older, you know like I'm Gen X, like Cusp of Millennial Gen X. And then I think you know Oprah, I just think of the, you know the, or Brené Brown, or you know whoever the middle-aged women are following right now, but those people are influencers and you don't have to have 10 billion followers to be an influencer. I've had people on my podcast that anything they recommend. You know some people on LinkedIn that I follow. It's like if they say, listen to a podcast, I will check. I will at least check it out because I trust what they have to say and I think that's the, that's the whole point. 

So, I love that. So where should you know? Where do you think a small nonprofit should start first, like what's kind of the first step, especially for a fundraiser or a marketer that kind of wants to dip their toe in the pond? 

0:32:58 - Ash Collins
So I would say start with who already likes you so kind of decide, hey, we're doing, maybe it's your end of year campaign, we're doing our end of year campaign and we want to see who already in our pool may have some influence. So look at who follows you on social media. Look at who maybe is part of your email list. Maybe one of those emails can catch your eye and maybe you recognize some of those names. Look at those people that are already involved with your organization and kind of decide okay, now I want to reach out to them. So I guess a good example would be like if you have kids programs at your organization, look at those local mommy bloggers I'm sure you have one in your community, in your like greater metro area. Look at those types of people that are the like mommy bloggers the stay at home data counts, those types of things and see how you can engage them. Maybe you invite their kids just to like tour your facility or come like you are doing some sort of activity and you ask them hey, do you want to like come? Well, happy to like. Comp your tickets to this activity if you come and you're willing to share about it on social. So encourage them to do that to kind of get them to learn about your organization. Take them to coffee, just like you would a donor. Talk to them about, like, what are their goals? 

Like we have people that I've reached out to who they have dogs, so I just assumed they're a dog account, but they're actually. You know, I grew up with cats. My mom had a cat rescue when I was a kid, so I really want to talk about community cats on my platform. So get to know them and find out where their interests are and see how you can connect that with your organization. And so, while we are working at Best Friends with, like the D'Amelio families and the Dill Malanis and like those larger accounts, it's important to remember that those nano influencers and people in your community have actually more engagement with their audience than those large giant influencers do. So it's important to look at those people and see, like, how can your platform connect with theirs in a certain way? 

0:34:49 - Julia Campbell
And a question that I ask, or I'm starting to ask, all my guests, because I love the insight that they give, is what do you wish? You knew when you were just starting out. 

0:34:57 - Ash Collins
I would say let them make it what they want, but also be very clear about your brand's guidelines and tone. One of our first big collabs that we did was announcing like life-saving and shelters the past year, and we partnered with an influencer who did a great job talking about those positives. But then they continued and then they made a video in the arms of the angels and that was very negative and sad and depressing and not our vibe at all. 

Exactly so. I learned a lot, though, from that experience that I need to be much more clear about my brand guidelines. That's when I started including here's that tone of the video that we're looking for, and then I also learned we never promised to reshare content. So even if that influencer makes a video and maybe it's a little like TikTok, can be a little more crass, maybe is a good word a little more, not risque, but like edgy, yeah like the casual. 

So I think edgy is a good word, so TikTok can be a little more edgy. And so we never promised to reshare. Because while that video may do really great for their audience, if I take that really edgy adoption video that has curse words in it and I have promised to reshare, so now I have to put it on my Facebook page with my older generation, who's not going to know who this person is or get the joke, then that's just going to be a negative experience for everyone. So I learned a lot from that of like, being clear on my tone and also that promising never to reshare. If we are going to reshare, I will typically ask to like see a preview, or I just ask them after they posted of hey, I'd love to reshare your content, is that okay? Or we get that permission beforehand, so that way we know we have that ability to reshare their content, and we always provide photo or video credit when we do that too, just to make sure that they're still getting their acknowledgement. 

0:36:52 - Julia Campbell
I love that point about if it's something on TikTok, then the Facebook audience might not understand it or know that influencer or get the joke, and that's so important. And the not promising to reshare, because you can't make that blanket promise If you haven't seen it yet. You just can't make that blanket promise. So that's something I think that's a really important tip. So where can people find more about you, ash, but also find more about the fantastic work of Best Friends? 

0:37:18 - Ash Collins
Yeah, so you can learn about Best Friends at our website, bestfriendsorg. We're on TikTok, youtube, twitter, instagram, facebook all as Best Friends Animal Society, so definitely check us out. If you're ever in Canab, utah, you can check out our sanctuary, which is the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the US. We house about 1600 animals at any given time that are looking for homes, and then, as far as me, I'm on LinkedIn and people can always shoot me over an email at ashcbestfriendsorg. I'd be happy to talk with you. 

0:37:51 - Julia Campbell
Thank you so much for sharing this today. I know it's going to be incredibly useful to so many organizations. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for the fantastic work that Best Friends does. 

0:38:00 - Ash Collins
Yeah, thank you. I'm so happy to be part of this organization. 

0:38:10 - Julia Campbell
Well, hey there. I wanted to say thank you for tuning into my show and for listening all the way to the end. If you really enjoyed today's conversation, make sure to subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app and you'll get new episodes downloaded as soon as they come out. I would love if you left me a rating or review, because this tells other people that my podcast is worth listening to, and then me and my guests can reach even more earbuds and create even more impact. So that's pretty much it. I'll be back soon with a brand new episode, but until then, you can find me on Instagram at Julia Campbell 77. And keep changing the world, you non-profit unicorn. 

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