What a BLESSING it is that I am getting asked so often right now about how to best share Damian's story online!! Thank you all so so much for caring enough to help spread the word! It makes the BIGGEST difference!!
As of now, I believe the most helpful ways to share Damian story online is (1) through an influencer and (2) on your own account to your family and friends. I'll share my suggestions for both avenues in this post! And, importantly, I will also share some tips on how to make these posts (yours and an influencer's) the most effective they can be.
Talking to Influencers
People with large followings are responsible for a HUGE portion of the donations we have received:
Actress Amanda Seyfried's audience raised us over $5,000 within an hour
Comedian Ryan Kelly's massive TikTok audience raised us over $5,000 in 1 night
Former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe's audience donated over $20,000 in 1 night
Government teacher Sharon McMahon (@SharonSaysSo on Instagram) spent an entire day sharing about Damian and raised us a miraculous $400,000
The average donation from all of their many followers was only about $10 each.
For most people, $10 is no big deal. But collectively, these "simple" donations are literally going to be saving lives. What an incredibly mind-blowing amount of influence.
So how do we tap into this more in order to reach our monetary goal? It's not as simple as just reaching the right people. Good people are everywhere! It is easily more important to present information the most effective way than it is to present it to the right people. More on that later.
First things first: How to Contact an Influencer
1. Talk to a mutual friend
If you know them personally, or if you know someone who knows them personally, talk to them and ask if they would be willing to share a post or a story to their social media about Damian - you can even offer to send them everything they need (if they want) to make it that much easier on them to post.
2. Email them
If someone has a lot of followers, chances are they do not read every single DM, so you have a much better chance of being noticed if you send an email. Check their profile for an email (some have it, some don't). On Instagram, if they have one there will be a button just above their highlighted stories that says "Email" on it. If they have a blog, you can also go there and see if they have a "Contact Me" form or an email listed somewhere on their site.
3. Direct Message (DM) them
Like I said, there are a lot of people who struggle with reading or replying to each and every DM they get. But some do read them and respond! It's always worth a shot to reach out!
What to Say to an Influencer
Many people have asked me to post what I write to people so that they can copy and paste the "right thing" to them. I will post an example here, but I strongly suggest making it a little more personal, unique, and appropriate depending on who you are talking to. I follow the same formula each time:
1. APPRECIATE THEM (Are you a longtime follower? Why do you follow them? How do they positively impact your life?)
2. INTRODUCE DAMIAN
3. ASK (What do you want them to do?)
Here's an example of an email that I wrote to one of my favorite influencers, with some necessary adaptations and info removed so you can write something authentic to you:
Hi [INFLUENCER'S NAME],
First of all, thank you so much for the wonderful content you and your team work so hard to produce. I find so much inspiration from your stories and posts on Instagram and you so often inspire me to [something they are promoting on their social media, like enjoy time with family, travel, go outside your comfort zone, try something new with your home decor...].I really appreciate [something that they do] and it makes me [say how it impacts you].
Besides thanking you for being present on social media, I also wanted to reach out because I believe you can, and I'm hoping you will, help me. My friend's son Damian is two-years-old and is fighting a terminal rare disease called Acid Sphingomyelinase Deficiency (ASMD). It is often referred to as "Baby Alzheimer's" and because treatment is still in development and not currently available for human use, Damian is not expected to live to be 5. Without a surge in funding and public awareness for this disease, Damian will likely miss the first trial by only a couple of years. However, with a surge in funding (about $3 million), they believe they can cut development time in half, which would mean Damian could participate in the first administration of life-saving treatment.
I have really grown to love Damian, and his mother is doing whatever it takes to get the funding needed to save her son (she is on Instagram @PleaseSaveDamian ). Please, if you are able to, I would be so incredibly grateful if you would consider a small donation to their GoFundMe, or share the link on your Instagram stories, or any kind of help you have time for. I'm happy to even send a ready-made photo or post to make it easy to share, or tag you in my own story if that's easiest for you!
Thank you so so much, [INFLUENCER'S NAME]!
I have sent a ton of emails and messages like this to many influencers already and sometimes they land and sometimes they don't. But so far every email has been responded to and they have either donated themselves, or posted on their Instagram stories, or both!! PLEASE NOTE: It is really important to either link the GoFundMe campaign (if you are writing an email) or include the link in the message (if you are writing a DM) because (1), the person does not have to work to get more information, it's right there, and (2) the GoFundMe is an easy way for people to verify that we are legitimately raising money for a registered nonprofit. (This is one of the main reasons I chose to link the campaign directly to the Wylder Nation Foundation so they are sent all the money directly, rather than it being sent to my private bank account).
The Best Thing an Influencer (OR YOU) Can Post
Like I mentioned at the beginning, WHAT you (or anyone) will say to an audience is more important than who your audience is. Most people are willing to give to a worthy cause. It's holding their attention long enough to tell them about it that is the challenge.
One lesson I learned in art school was that the average person will look at a piece of art in a gallery for less than 3 seconds. I found that attention spans are even shorter on social media. When people skim through stories, most see a flash of color, a word or two, and move on... UNLESS something catches their attention or sparks curiosity.
With that in mind, I have found that the most effective social media posts or stories (effective = people absorbing the content, clicking the link, making a donation, and/or resharing), include only 3 basic things:
YOUR heartfelt words (so people know YOU have a connection to this - this isn't just a meme, a news story, or an old article you found)
A picture or video that immediately communicates Damian's situation
A clickable LINK and a clear request to take action
It is key to make it as legible as possible (not too many words, not too few words), so that even someone flipping through might catch a key word that makes them go "wait, what was that about?" and go back to it to learn more.
Here is a mock Instagram story that includes the 3 things. Try only looking at it for a split second and see what you remember from it after you look away:
If I wasn't me and I was seeing this from one of my friends, the things I remember from a split-second look are (1) the broken heart emojis and (2) the picture of an adorable little boy. I think most people would immediately make the connection that there is something really sad associated with that boy. Many people might wonder "what is wrong with him?" Some people would be curious enough to go back to find out and then actually read the rest of the message, which, you'll note, (1) includes my friend's own words, which makes Damian seem more "real," (2) includes some kind of media that visually explains Damian's situation (in this case, it's the SaveDamian campaign video), and (3) asks for people to donate and includes a clickable LINK to the GoFundMe and even a link to the @PleaseSaveDamian Instagram account.
Here are some other examples following this same format:
INSTAGRAM STORY TIP: When you tag someone in an Instagram story, that person gets a notification and they can view the story themselves. They then have the option to reshare it to their own stories literally with the press of a button. This could be a great way to help an Influencer share to their audience with little effort on their part - or you could get creative and come up with your own kind of chain mail challenge (i.e. "I would LOVE the following friends to help me share this!!! @DianeK7925 @BriMark40 @DarrickPJohnn_ ")
One final request:Please keep sharing!! It might seem repetitive, but I know from personal experience that hardly anyone is on social media 24/7, and even if they are, they don't see everything on their feed. Every time you share something, chances are very high that one of your friends/followers will be introduced to Damian for the very first time. It is my personal goal on social media to not only keep people up to date on what's going on, but also to provide fresh and new content that people WANT to share again and again and again.
There is a reason that some mega-influencers share something about Damian and it results in about $100 in collective donations (STILL VERY HELPFUL!) and some people with not so many followers share about Damian and it results in thousands of dollars in donations. It all comes down to:
The instant legibility of WHAT they posted (how effectively it captures attention)
Their personal words being used to request action from their audience
Sharing 1 story vs. sharing more than once
I hope this was helpful!!! I really hope this information is beneficial and not discouraging or make you feel like sharing effectively is too hard or takes too much work. I don't don't don't want sharing to be a burden on anyone. Any time anyone shares in ANY way, I am incredibly grateful and it does make a difference!
THANK YOU again for your willingness to help me share our campaign as far as possible. "Many hands make light work," as they say, and I really believe in the power of community. Most people are willing to donate a little to a good cause. They just need to learn about it and feel that their contribution will actually make a difference.
I hope you know that you are making a HUGE difference. Not just in our lives, not just in my Damian's life, but in SO MANY people's lives. Damian's disease is genetic, so people are going to keep being born with this disease. Your help is not just benefitting my son. It will benefit ALL babies fighting this disease and their families, now and in the future.
YOU ARE CHANGING EVERYTHING. YOU ARE MAKING HISTORY.
Thank you thank you thank you!!!!
[Photos from the night of "Crazy Day" when Sharon McMahon led an all-day fundraiser from her Instagram account @SharonSaysSo and we reached our first major funding goal of $500,000]