This episode is presented by Feathr – Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes use Feathr’s digital marketing tools to increase awareness, engage donors, promote events, and hit fundraising goals. Feathr provides a central place to manage digital advertising, email marketing, and peer-to-peer campaigns, as well as build ads, landing pages, and more. Click here to learn more.
Ready for a powerful conversation that gets to the root of why creating an online digital community matters? I could have talked to today’s guest for HOURS.
Alicia Maule is The Innocence Project’s (“IP”) first Digital Engagement Director and since 2015, she has led the nonprofit organization to exponential audience growth, revenue, and advocacy. Even more amazing? The content she’s creating has the power to stop wrongful executions and reform the criminal justice system.
In this episode, we talk about why branding matters, behind the scenes of The Innocence Project’s viral video campaign, and why you should take a people-first approach to your website and digital presence. Let’s go meet Alicia!
Clients of The Innocence Project are in a hopeless situation. They are post-conviction. They’ve exceeded all appeals. Working with IP is a last ditch effort to re-litigate the case when there was otherwise no other shot for them.
When Alicia joined the team as the first Digital Engagement Director, her first set of priorities was to build a new website and increase their social media output. If they had been posting 1 day per week on Instagram, Alicia was gunning for a daily cadence.
They became the hub for all things wrongful conviction, getting people to click and investing in paid advertising to get the word out.
If you want to nail something, you have to repeat it over and over again. The Innocence Project’s messaging all had clear goals and they hammered it home every day. Because maybe someone saw their posts once, twice, three times, but it took the 5th time for them to donate and get on board with their cause.
The Innocence Project has helped free over 200 people from prison who have spent a collective 3,000 years behind bars. It’s unfathomable to think about someone being wrongfully convicted, but it’s happening every day.
Their team recently won a well-deserved Webby Award for their Happiest Moments video, which you can check out here. It’s a difficult piece to watch, but beautifully done. It’s no wonder it went viral and obtained over 1.2 million views.
The inspiration for the video stemmed from this one powerful question: “If we had a chance to show who we are in a Superbowl campaign, what would that ad look like?”
Getting the right experts together to work on it helped bring their concept to life, including partnering with director Ariel Ellis, who has personally experienced incarceration in her own family.
When figuring out their distribution plan for Facebook, Google, Instagram, and YouTube, they put a lot of ad spend behind the video and used it as a tool to bring in new donors. The beauty of creating a video like this is that it lives on for multiple facets. It’s continually running so new folks can see it. And if The Innocence Project actually has a Superbowl ad one day… well, they have a video for it!
As Alicia says in the episode, nonprofits are still catching up to digital, so you’ve got to innovate. Otherwise you’re not moving efficiently, you’re not scaling, and you’re not going to have the same impact.
The Innocence Project is constantly testing new strategies, including TikTok and SMS marketing. They now have an SMS list of over 300,000 people. TikTok was critical for catapulting the word out about their client’s case. They got 11 million references to her case, vs. 1.5 million pageviews and the 300,000 supporters who said they were against her execution. The best part about TikTok? It’s very low stakes. You’re creating a video on your phone and getting an urgent message out there.
What if you don’t have a team who can create the content for you?
Start by doing it yourself, even if it’s just a video a week. Take time to brainstorm content ideas, and know that TikTok videos do not need to be beautifully edited – sometimes the most viral videos on the platform are the most raw.
There’s also a MASSIVE opportunity to learn more about the metaverse and this new Web3 world we’re moving into (I’m reading this book about it right now!) Alicia believes Web3 will not only help nonprofits fundraise, but it will become a potent strategy for building advocacy, too.
We do not want to be the last ones to be having conversations about how to integrate this into our mission!
“I love feedback. What are we not doing that we should be doing? And what are we doing that we shouldn’t be doing? Because when you’re back here producing stuff, it hits people differently.”
Reach out to The Innocence Project with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notable Quote from Alicia
“Make sure that you represent your folks with dignity, and that you tell their stories with integrity, and that you’re sensitive to the politics of representation. Compassion for people over everything is our #1 value for digital.”
This episode is presented by Feathr – Expand your reach, further your mission. Use Feathr’s digital marketing tools to increase awareness, boost online donations, promote events, recruit volunteers, and ultimately do more good. Learn More.
Support The Innocence Project and help them put an end to wrongful convictions.
If you enjoyed today’s conversation with Alicia, you can follow her on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. She invites you to reach out to if you’re interested in the Web3 movement or have prospects there.
Watch The Innocence Project’s Happiest Moments video on YouTube, which won a Webby Award.
Follow @sainthoax on Instagram for pop culture content, editorialized in a funny way.
Check out my NEW $27 mini course, Visible Reach In A Week. In 30 minutes, you’ll learn how to create a $3 a day ad campaign that will drive brand awareness with your supporters.
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