in Nonprofits

What We Can Learn From Batkid


Photo: Shelly Prevost

Everybody needs a hero. Last November, the pint-sized superhero Batkid stole the hearts of billions with over 550,000 tweets and 16,000 Instagram photos in a single day.

Miles, a 5 year old who has been fighting leukemia since he was 18 months old, saved a damsel in distress, foiled the Joker’s bank robbery and battled with the Penguin. The story played out in the streets of San Francisco, on television stations across the world and on social media. All in a good day’s work for Batkid, and for the team at Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area.
Here’s what Batkid taught us, so you can add a little KAPOW! to your own projects:
1. Create a campaign that connects. Just about everybody has dreamed of being a superhero. So when we see this crime-fighting cutie who has been battling against leukemia most of his life, we identify.
2.  Invite your supporters to participate on multiple levels. Make-A-Wish designed a fun, inspiring, highly participatory event and made it easy for someone to get involved, whether it was to cheer Batkid along the route or from afar. Although they originally hoped to attract 200 volunteers to make the day feel authentic for Batkid, 16,000 people RSVP’d to volunteer and 20,000 showed up. Amazing!
3. Leverage web connections. Develop a strategy that enlists influencers in your area to help spread the word. Getting the story out took a lot of preparation and coordination. The #SFBatKid hashtag was sent to 6,000 San Francisco “influencers” and Twitter users to try to get it trending as early as possible.
4. Tell a story through social media. Each of Batkid’s adventures revolved around a carefully scripted story – including a bank heist and the kidnapping of San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal – that could be integrated with social media. Each plot point was told in real time via Twitter and Instagram in a compelling visual way. For example, @PenguinSF teased Batkid about his exploits with tweets like this one featuring a picture of mascot Lou Seal. So, Batkid’s followers from 117 countries could learn about his next task as he did and join in on the action.
5. Ask an expert. Much of the credit for Batkid coverage (besides Batkid himself) goes to Clever Girls Collective, a Bay Area social media company. After reading about the event in a local blog, the Clever Girls Collective asked if they could create and execute the social media strategy (in less than two weeks!). Sidenote: Don’t be afraid to get the skilled help you need with a project.
As a result of their expertise, Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area has “seen an increase in offers of help across all areas, including donations, volunteers, referrals and other services.”
Batkid may have gotten the key to the city that day but we all got a key to the power of the Internet. If you have a great story and use the Internet effectively, you can gain attention around the world and turn those participants into not only active supporters but potentially long-time advocates.  As sports blogger Carmen Kiew, 30, said in a USA Today article, “This just restores your faith in humanity.” Yep, ours, too.

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