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Youtube Influencers and Charity

21 August 2014 at 12:18 pm
Lina Caneva
Gone are the days where an endorsement from a loved celebrity or high-rating talk show host ensured instant visibility and influence over a charity’s target demographic, writes digital marketing expert Richenda Vermeulen.

Lina Caneva | 21 August 2014 at 12:18 pm


Youtube Influencers and Charity
21 August 2014 at 12:18 pm

Gone are the days where an endorsement from a loved celebrity or high-rating talk show host ensured instant visibility and influence over a charity’s target demographic, writes digital marketing expert Richenda Vermeulen. 

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.PR leash

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?  

video views

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.

About the Author: Richenda Vermeulen is the Director of ntegrity, a Melbourne-based digital agency that empowers brands to become digital. Prior to ntegrity, Vermeulen spent a decade in the Not for Profit sector, launching social media at World Vision Australia and World Vision USA.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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  • KJ says:

    A partnership with vloggers sounds scary but amazing! Can see certainly reaches a completely different audience to the tried and true – and tired!

  • Reyelle McKeever says:

    Excellent summary and very informative to my practice.

  • crispinr says:

    Great idea and article (The book looks interesting too!) Authenticity is absolutely the critical edge here, and agree that innovation is to be embraced – the risk still needs to be managed, as with any endorsement, eg researching a good fit with the vlogger, agreeing clear outcomes and behaviours, having a written agreement, and having a media strategy to deal with potential fall-out, just as would be good practice with a celebrity endorsement. Which means as a practice it's going to be a good fit strategy for some, but not all, charities. Good to read this article also:

  • Frances Phipps says:

    I think engaging vloggers is a great idea. A few years ago I worked as an intern at a new NFP when they engaged a prominent blogger to be a spokesperson, and even had him travel to one of their overseas project sites. I recall well the first time he posted about something that made us cringe, but allowing him the freedom to engage with his audience in his own way was vital. My challenge now is working out how we can use this sort of partnership to help my current workplace, where our programs focus more on parenting and relationships.

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