Dr. Kojo Sarfo’s secret sauce for community-building: consistency, caring and Reels

May 12, 2022

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Dr. Kojo Sarfo, DNP, is a full-time content creator with a doctorate in nursing and a background in forensic psychiatry. Sarfo discusses mental health in an accessible, relatable way, and shares his own journey in the process. “I want you to have fun while you’re healing,” he shared in a video he recorded in June 2021, embodying the mission of his burgeoning content empire. While doing so, he has grown his community across Facebook and Instagram at a meteoric rate, in large part thanks to Reels and a savvy video strategy. He shared with us his tips for sustainable and meaningful growth.


55x times more followers on Facebook in March 2022 than March 2021

190% follower growth on Instagram, March 2021-March 2022

907 reels created since Reels on Facebook launched, September 2021-March 2022

331 reels on Instagram created during the same time period

According to CrowdTangle & Facebook data. Results are not identically repeatable and generally expected individual results will differ. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Meta: Reels on Facebook were first introduced in the US in September 2021. You were early to adopt the format and you’ve seen tremendous follower growth since. What was the strategy behind that decision?

Dr. Kojo Sarfo: I was already creating short-form video for other platforms, including Reels on Instagram, and my assistant thought there’s potential [with Reels on Facebook]. I certainly think there was a “first movers” advantage but we’ve been preparing for this moment. We’ve experimented elsewhere.

I knew that with short-form video, you have to capture someone’s attention within the first 2-3 seconds. So I convey my message upfront. I talk about mental health but I make it fun, I rap or dance, I provide a hook to draw people in. Once things start to click, I look to my audience to see what resonates.

How does audience insight help inform your content strategy?

I saw in my audience breakdown that 85% of my followers are female, so I leaned into their concerns when it comes to mental health. Things that aren’t widely talked about, like postpartum anxiety, ADHD. I started experimenting with formats across platforms, answering questions in 15-30 second videos, and I noticed that the community appreciates that I get back to them in real-time.

Because my audience on Facebook grew more recently, I feel like I have a better handle on who they are. Possibly also because people log in using their real identities on Facebook, as on Instagram, I am able to click on someone’s profile and learn about them from their account which helps the connection feel more authentic. These are real people, and acknowledging that is crucial to community-building.

Keeping things relatable, connecting on an intimate level, that’s how I make an impact.

You launched a Facebook Live series in January 2022, Late Night with Dr. Kojo, and you show up for your community every Monday through Thursday. How does that play into your strategy?

I talk about mental health in nontraditional ways and there’s an energy there. I start every episode by clapping and I make it fun. It doesn’t have to be a drag, it doesn’t have to be dark. People tune in, and they return: I have 10K-20K viewers every night and some people, I know where they’re from. They’re like family. And that return viewership keeps me going. They get notified when I go live and it becomes like TV programming in that way. It also helps that I don’t have to explain who I am or what I’m about every episode, these people know me. People reference past episodes in the comments.

The few times I was unable to go live, I let my community know. When I experimented with going live in the morning, I noticed we got 2-3x the engagement. So now we’re discussing what a potential live morning show format may look like.

How do you stay consistent when you produce so much content? How do you avoid burnout?

Having an evening show four nights a week keeps me organized. I am open about my ADHD so I need guidelines and rules to abide by, and I follow a schedule.

I work Monday through Thursday every week and I usually take Friday, or part of Friday, off. That routine is important to preventing burnout.

I bookend my week with shoots: I usually shoot Sunday afternoons for a few hours, and Thursday for five to six hours. In between, I may record short videos on the spot. But the bulk of my series production happens on those two days.

Structure and boundaries help me stay productive and I’ve found that you improve your confidence when you do something with consistency.

Dr. Kojo Sarfo’s Top Tips for Audience Growth on Facebook:

You have 2-3 seconds to capture someone’s attention when it comes to short-form video, like Reels. Then, provide a hook to keep them watching.

Look at audience insights to learn more about who’s watching your content and what resonates.

Try to respond to audience questions and comments in real time.

If you’re going live, think about structuring it like a TV show. People are more likely to return and watch the next episode if they know when to expect it.

Structure your week so you have shoot days, where you capture content, and rest days.

Put yourself out there and share your story authentically.

You’ve been able to monetize your content on Facebook. Which tools have been most effective in generating revenue?

I have multiple revenue streams when it comes to Facebook:

I’m a part of the Reels Play Bonus program [Bonus programs enable creators to earn money based on performance, earnings or content challenges. Learn more.] which has been impactful in terms of my bottom line. My payout is dependent on performance. I’m also part of an engagement program that pays based on engagement on reels.

In March, I hit the threshold for in-stream ads and since then, ads appear alongside my show, Late Night with Dr. Kojo. In January, I turned on Subscriptions and for $4.99/month, people can have early access to merch and other perks.

And brand deals, which pay very well, come through when brands see the growth and connection I have with my audience. When you focus on building an audience and providing value, that’s when opportunities present themselves: brand deals, collaborations, monetization.

You are a member of We The Culture, Meta’s program to invest in Black creators and in the community. How has that helped fuel your success?

It’s been amazing. It is such a supportive program, you really feel like [the people who run it] want you to win. The incentives allow me to be creative in my storytelling. That’s how I came up with Life of Muo, a mini-series that follows fictional recurring characters that answer mental health questions in real time.

I get to learn about other creators in this space and collaborate, and I get a first look at new features and products like Remix, Collabs, Ray-Ban Stories, and receive support on how to use them. We get to experiment and see what the audience responds to.

What’s next for you?

I would love to have a show where I talk to creators and people with extraordinary stories, people with a positive perspective.

I think we’ve always talked about mental health, we just got a little bit louder with it recently. Infusing my stories with current events, with pop culture, keeps me timely. And it means I educate by entertaining. The topics may be complex but the delivery can be fun. I always think about what I want to watch, personally, and that is what I put out there.

What advice do you have for creators who’d like to use Meta platforms to educate and engage an audience, like you have done?

Put yourself out there. Take baby steps, get comfortable sharing your story and what you’re passionate about. You’ll get better along the way.

Don’t care about what people think, which can hold you back from being your most authentic self. But the community you build, foster and nurture it. Care for it.

Pace yourself. You can burn out doing things you enjoy. Figure out what you need and make sure you’re getting what you need. Reinvest in yourself.

“The topics may be complex but the delivery can be fun. I always think about what I want to watch, personally, and that is what I put out there.”

Dr. Kojo Sarfo, DNP

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