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Social media platforms now have the power to reach millions, and many of the millennial and Generation Z audiences who regularly use and engage with social media networks and apps like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are increasingly motivated to enact or contribute to positive changes in the world around them. Because social media stars like YouTubers, Instagrammers, Viners, Snapchatters, and bloggers command the attention of massive audiences and are therefore in a position to sway public opinion and inspire followers to action, collaborating with these top digital influencers is one of the best ways that charities, not-for-profits (NPOs), and other organizations for positive social/environmental/political change can appeal to already-proactive young demographics.
While many social media stars are routinely recruited by big brands to endorse products and services through influencer marketing collaborations, Snapchat Takeovers, and other types of social media marketing campaigns, the power of digital influencers to sway the actions of everyday citizens are just as potent and valuable in the nonprofit sector. For charities wishing to spread the word about a specific cause or promote positive changes, collaborating with a social media star to create an informative-yet-entertaining YouTube video or publish a philanthropically-motivated post may actually help save lives, fund humanitarian efforts, and/or inspire others to promote positive changes within their own social circles and communities.
While social media stars are adept at generating high levels of engagement with their content, Reelio found that YouTube videos with charitable messages received 2.5 times more engagement (in the form of social shares, comments, and likes) than those without—great news for NPOs that strive to inform the largest possible number of people about their causes and, in many cases, raise funding. According to a study cited in a recent Social Media Today article, 96% of NPOs said that, because producing video content was so successful, they would maintain or increase their focus on video creation in the future.
To raise money for the Trevor Project, an NPO that focuses on suicide prevention, social media stars James Lecesne, Arianna Huffington, Tyler Oakley, Peggy Rajski, and Abbe Land created content and asked their engaged followers to contribute. Oakley was the hero of the campaign, raising $500,000 through donations from his 8 million YouTube subscribers.
Beloved travel YouTubers JacksGap filmed and created a video centered around their journey to the Waterberg Welfare Society, a South African organization that raises awareness and provides support to fight the HIV epidemic in Africa. Currently, the video entitled “South Africa” has garnered over 2 million views and 139K likes.
Smosh creators Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox inspired thousands of followers to visit DoSomething.org and raised awareness about teen pregnancy after posting a YouTube video in which they acted out what their lives would be like as parents. According to DoSomething.org’s Colleen Wormsley, Smosh’s videos accounted for one-third of all campaign sign-ups.