By Bradley Caro Cook, Ed.D.
A continuation of a series on Growth Hacking for Jewish Engagement
Sometimes, I’m told that the terms I use are unfamiliar. So before proceeding, allow me to define influencers and viral marketing.
Influencer: A person or group that has the ability to influence the behavior or opinions of others. This is the individual whose effect on a purchase decision is in some way significant or authoritative (Merriam Webster)
Viral Marketing Campaign: is a business strategy that uses existing social networks to promote a product. Its name refers to how consumers spread information about a product with other people in their social networks, much in the same way that a virus spreads from one person to another (Wikipedia).
Hanukkah: An Influencer, A Grassroots Viral Campaign, and A Miracle
The Hanukkah story and the preceding revolt is a story based upon the actions of an influencer and a successful grassroots campaign going viral.
The Hanukkah story begins when the Syrian King Antiochus identified Mattathias as the primary influencer of the Jewish people. He sent his soldiers to him with an offer King Antiochus thought Mattathias couldn’t refuse. The offer: drop your monotheistic practices and bring pagan sacrificial offerings, and in return, you and your sons will be welcome in my influential inner circle.
REJECT & FLEE!!!
Mattathias rejected paganism by killing the Jew who obeyed the Syrian officer’s orders and then proceeded to kill the Syrian officer. Mattathias then fled to the mountains, together with his sons and his friends. This marks the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt – a grassroots campaign that went viral.
From Scrappy Guerrilla Warfare Startup to Organized Military
Although the revolt started with guerrilla warfare, to win, the Maccabees realized that they needed to up their game. So they organized a stronger army which was modeled on the Greek military forces (Barnavi & Eliav-Feldon as cited in Pierre Vidal-Naquet, 2015).
Their viral grassroots campaign achieved rapid success, and at the end of the year 164 BCE, the first Festival of Light was celebrated (ibid). Through influencer strategy and grassroots efforts, even though the odds were stacked against them, the Maccabees leanly overcame the Syrians, cleansed the temple of Pagan rituals, and miraculously brought Judaism to its pre-Syrian-Greek glory.
Who are Modern Day Influencers?
Influencers are individuals who have a reputation and are known for their expertise on a particular topic.
- Celebrities: The most well known influencers. They have mass audience appeal.
- Industry Experts and Thought Leaders: These include academics, entrepreneurs, executives, and journalists
- Content Creators: Individuals who have a social media following and create their own content, videos, or posts on social media.
- Micro Influencers: Niche specific and have a loyal following
Influencers exist in all realms. Let’s take a look at some influencers who are using their influence to advance Judaism and/or Israel.
Mayim Bialik is a vocal Zionist, feminist, and Jewish influencer. She’s vibrant, and fills many of the influencer categories: celebrity, thought leader, and content creator. As a personal example of Mayim’s influence, I have removed the word girl from my vocabulary (and so are an increasing number of other men).
Adam Milstein, a real estate entrepreneur, philanthropist, champion against BDS, and outspoken Israel advocate, is an industry leader, content creator, and micro-influencer. He literally puts his digital mouth where his money and beliefs are. Over the past six years, Adam has steadily and strategically built a social media following to advocate for his passion. As a result, Richtopia recently ranked him as the world’s 31st most influential philanthropist – higher than Marc Benioff (44), Ashton Kutcher (69), Larry Ellison (73), and Angelina Jolie (76).
Hillel Fuld, who is Ari Fuld’s (zt”l) younger brother, is ranked #11 globally amongst tech bloggers. He uses his influence to promote Israel’s startup ecosystem, teach Torah, and influence other influencers.
The Impact of One Influencer
Adam Krief, a 32-year-old father of three, was diagnosed with primary myelofibrosis and needed to find a bone marrow donor. On September 27, 2016, Kim Kardashian heard of Adam’s fight and tweeted that Adam needed to find a bone marrow donor. She linked the Hope4Adam campaign, and as a result of this influencer’s tweet, thousands of individuals submitted samples of their DNA to Gift of Life.
Organizations Engaging Influencers
REALITY: A program of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, REALITY delivers niche journeys through Israel from various themes, ranging from tech entrepreneurs to storytellers. Reality engages influencers in the categories of industry experts, content creators, and micro influencers.
ELI Talks: Known by some as the Ted Talks of the Jewish world, ELI Talks works with micro-influencers, thought, and industry leaders to transmit inspired Jewish ideas.
Career Up Now: believes the way to strengthen Jewish communities is by engaging emerging professionals (20-26 year olds) intergenerationally with industry leaders to form soulful connections and organic mentorships. Many of the industry leaders involved with Career Up Now are influencers.
Career Up Now as a Case Study for Influencer Engagement
A key to Career Up Now’s strategy is engaging influencers to serve as lay leaders, mentors, advisors, and educators.
Here are some examples of grassroots strategic influencer engagement.
How I created this Methodology
When we launched Career Up Now in Los Angeles, I knew we needed some big names. I asked the few entrepreneurs that I knew in Los Angeles, “who is the biggest name in Tech in Los Angeles?” Eytan Elbaz, who is the founder of Applied Semantics, that later became Google Adsense, name kept coming up. I went to my LinkedIn and noticed one of my Career Up Now advisors was a 1st connection. So I asked him for the introduction, and Bam! We had our significant influencer industry leader. Engaging Eytan yielded high recruitment and press coverage for our new program.
Engaging Women of Wisdom
When launching our Women of Wisdom series, we targeted influencers to be mentors for our launch. We knew would yield an oversold event, and mass reach to tens of thousands.
Three Women Influencers
Over the past two months we’ve engaged close to 30 women influencers with our programs. Our goal is to engage 200 over the next year to share their wisdom. Here are some examples of women influencers we’ve brought on board.
Sarah Snow, who Fast Company recognized as one of the world’s most creative people in 2016, has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and creates viral facebook videos that have been viewed millions of times.
Tal Navarro founded the first social media college in Israel and now lives in Beverly Hills. Her company creates social media strategies for celebrities and political officials, such as the Mayor of Beverly Hills. She gets hundreds to thousands of likes on each of her instagram and other social media posts.
Noelle Freeman, digital marketing entrepreneur and Miss California 2011. While not Jewish, Noelle was raised with a deep care for Israel and the crucial role the Jewish people play in the world. She serves as a role model for thousands of young women through her online and in person presence.
The market reach of these three women alone is in the millions.
GROWTH HACKING FOR INFLUENCER ENGAGEMENT
Why Would an Influencer Want to Engage with My Cause? A Symbiotic Relationship
Influencers gained their influencer status by bringing their unique value to the world, and this brought them followers. By engaging with nonprofits, influencers use their influence to make a difference, shape their image, and engage new audiences. This is a win-win for your organization and for them.
The Influencer Growth–Hack
The simplest way to growth-hack for influence is through your current social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
The Influencer List
Fellow growth hacker and AEPi brother Josh Fechter’s growth marketing company BAMF creates free growth marketing tools. Warning: Josh’s methods are advanced and designed for techies. So, for the purpose of this article, I’ve simplified the process.
Josh and his business partner extracted and then compiled a list of a few thousand influencers from CrunchBase. I’ve narrowed the list down to 1,800 influencers, then 180 influencers that may be of interest to you. Here is a link to Influencer 180.
Steps in the Process
Access the Influencer 180 List.
Review the profiles and identify which influencers you wish to reach out to.
Ideally, if you have someone in common with the influencer on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, those will be your easiest asks. Like I did when designing the Los Angeles Career Up Now to recruit Eytan Elbaz (one of the influencers on the list), you can reach out to your mutual connection to ask for an introduction as well.
Script to ask mutual connection for an introduction
Hi _____, I noticed you were connected with ____. I’d like to introduce my organization with him/her. Could you connect the two of us?
What if I don’t have a mutual connection?
If you don’t have someone in common with the influencer, or your common connection can’t make the introduction, reach out to them directly.
Script for a Direct Reach Out
Hi ____, I run the nonprofit xyz (have as a link to your website i.e. CareerUpNow.org). I noticed your interests in _(put something that you have in common)____. We’d love to have you as a/an (speaker, mentor, advisor). Might we set a brief time where I could share more?
Keep In Mind
If an influencer isn’t interested they likely won’t respond to your message. I advise to reach out to as many as you think would have an interest in what you are doing. Don’t spam, and make sure you have a good reason why you are reaching out in case they ask.
Through this simple growth hacking technique, you too may have a Hanukkah Miracle.
Happy Hacking and Happy Hanukkah!
Bradley Caro Cook, Ed.D. is the co-founder of Career Up Now. He writes, speaks, and advises on Growth Hacking for non-profit engagement, and is happy to be of service. You can reach him anytime via LinkedIn, Facebook, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barnavi, E., & Eliav-Feldon, M. (1999). A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People: From the Time of the Patriarchs to the Present. New York: Schocken Books.
Vidal-Naquet, P. (2015). Maccabean Revolt. Retrieved from https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/maccabean-revolt/