IndependenceFirst consumer Kelly and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers making music at the Pabst Theater.
IndependenceFirst is a champion member of the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee.
by Margaret Thom
Membership Manager, Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee
“We’re really grateful. We could never get that much attention from anything we could do or buy.” - Carol Voss, IndependenceFirst
How can social media help you receive 750,000 views of a video that publicizes your nonprofit’s work? I recently spoke with Carol Voss, PR & Marketing Director for IndependenceFirst, about her experience with the itsAaron campaign with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and David Gruber of Gruber Law Offices. IndependenceFirst, Metro Milwaukee’s first resource for people with questions about access and disability, was one of three Wisconsin nonprofits chosen for season 2 of itsAaron.
Skeptics may ask: A video of Aaron singing may go viral, but did it help the bottom line at IndependenceFirst? According to Carol, "The video did result in increased interest in our nonprofit, increased website hits, and increased donations, including from people with no previous relationship with us, some as far-flung as California. It took no extra resources on our part except time."
Here’s a summary of Carol’s reflections on how they used hashtags and chutzpah to make the campaign an even bigger success:
Communicate your effectiveness: The quality of IndependenceFirst’s website and our use of social media was believed to be a factor in Gruber Law’s selection of IndependenceFirst for the itsAaron campaign.
Develop your strategy: The strategy for the itsAaron campaign was developed by Gruber Law and CI Design, the production company. We had to make our own strategy for the gift we were given. We used social media channels and nonprofit chuztpah to extend the opportunity, and set aside the time to do it right.
Listen and respond: When it launched, we had to jump on the train. The video went viral - the first few weeks were very labor-intensive. We followed Google+, YouTube, Twitter and FaceBook. We favored and replied to any comment. That real-time response is very important.
Collaborate: Gruber Law, CI Design, and IndependenceFirst all promoted the video. We played off each other and amplified each other’s contributions through social media.
Use multi-media platforms: This campaign involved a mix of traditional and nontraditional media. Outdoor, TV and radio ads from Gruber Law Offices reinforced the online website and video. Their public relations targeted large websites to drive traffic and did media relations.
Maximize the hashtag: The hashtag #itsAaron was trending locally and nationally. Seeing comments allowed us to respond across platforms, develop deeper relationships and share our gratitude. It also added fuel to the trending hashtag. It allowed us to track the conversation easily for months after the launch. We’re still following it.
Move online relationships offline: Afterwards, we received lots of media attention. Kelly was interviewed by all the local news stations. We had two weeks of constant monitoring and two weeks of scrambling with media interviews, but it was definitely worth it.
Continue to extend the impact: At our June 5th A Night for Independence event, we’ll show the video. Kelly and her family will be there. You can extend the impact beyond a one-day event to much, much more. It’s turned out really well for us. IndependenceFirst is very grateful for this gift from the Gruber Law Offices and Aaron Rodgers. More adults and kids with disabilities like Kelly are now aware of our services and can work with us to try to achieve their life goals. And personally it is an experience I will never forget, and neither will my coworker, Kelly and her family. David Gruber, his family, the production crew and Aaron Rodgers are really caring and amazing people.
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I appreciate Carol’s taking the time to share her story with us. It's one way to learn how to use social media to maximize an opportunity. The Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee offers social media consulting and social media training to members and nonmembers. Please contact us if you would like some help.
See Carol’s article on BizTimes.com: #WhyIUseHashtags: Five ways you could too
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Fun Facts about the Video