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Imani Collective is an ethical impact brand crafting beautiful homewares from over 130 empowered artisans in Kenya. Through strategic partnerships, an ambassador program, and paid advertising, they grew their Instagram account from a following of 900 to over 38,000!
There is so much magic in this conversation I’m about to bring to you today with Jenny Nuccio, Founder & CEO, and Annette Wilson, Director of Marketing & Events.
We chat through the power of social proof through user-generated content, how they launched paid ads with a $1,000 budget, the successful collaborations they’ve done, and the inside scoop on their Giving Tuesday campaigns (the last one generated over $16,000!)
When Annette Wilson joined the Imani Collective team, their Instagram account had just 900 followers. Through creativity and innovation, she grew their account organically to over 18,000 followers without any paid marketing!
Creating an application-based ambassador program and boy, was this strategy a win-win. They got to work with numerous content creators and influencers who loved the aesthetic of their products, and in exchange for an item or two, they’d share about it with their followers. In turn, this created a flywheel of beautiful, user-generated photos and more followers and attention on their account.
Annette remembers when just 30 applications would trickle in. Now, they easily get over 300!
If you’re inspired by this idea, be sure you put everything in writing. Each ambassador Imani Collective works with signs a simple agreement that breaks down what their deliverables will be in exchange for the free product. It could be publishing two posts on their feed, or creating an Instagram Story showcasing the unboxing of their gifted items, or sharing a specific number of photos.
Beyond honing their Instagram strategy, Imani Collective also leverages Pinterest and Pinterest advertising, blogging, email, and text message marketing.
Social media ads can often seem daunting, but they can lead to tremendous growth for an organization.
Imani Collective credits paid advertising with taking them from a following of 18K to over 38K! When they first launched ads, they started with a $1,000 budget and their returns were insane. They were seeing at least 2.5-3x ROI. But as Facebook began changing their algorithms, they noticed a sudden drop to 1x ROI as the ads got more expensive.
Here’s the reality. Paid ads are a long game. You have to be willing to put the time and investment in to see the reward. In the early days, the reward is in the data, and the information you’ll glean from that data is everything.
Imani Collective’s largest expense of 2022 is on marketing. As they look ahead, they plan to explore part of that budget with Etsy ads this year to correlate with their Etsy shop, which has done incredibly well since its launch. The team is excited to see how another platform could play a pivotal role in their revenue.
A lot of people who buy Imani Collective’s pillows, banners, and hang signs don’t necessarily know the greater impact behind the brand, as Annette and Jenny have centralized a lot of their efforts on lifestyle marketing with a focus on the products. They shine their impact in a more subtle way compared to a traditional nonprofit.
In hosting these Giving Tuesday events, it gives them permission to blast their social media channels and highlight the impact they’re making in the world. It’s a beautiful opportunity to raise awareness and give back. At their last Giving Tuesday, over $16,000 was raised, and $5,000 of that came from their Kenyan community. Amazing!
Throughout the day, Jenny hopped on a multitude of live streams with people in her community, and on those live streams, winners were selected at random to receive $50 to then give to a special cause or organization of their choice.
It was the perfect ripple effect – money was coming in for Imani Collective to support their holistic programs, but then they got to learn about other organizations doing good in the world, too.
A whole lot of confetti was popped on that Giving Tuesday.
Notable Quote from Jenny
“That’s a true testament to ads. We went from 18,000 to 36,000 in a year. One year. So we doubled in one year vs. three years of growing organically.”
Notable Quote from Annette
“If you’re wanting to do a brand ambassador program on your own without a platform, it is so much work, but it’s worth the work for sure.”
Notable Quote from Dana
“People trust people. Social proof is incredible with user-generated content.”
Follow Annette on Instagram at @annette.marie.wilson.
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