Influencer marketing campaigns for nonprofit organizations are a great strategy for building awareness for your organization and attracting more people to support your cause.
What is an Influencer?
An influencer is a person that has a large group of followers online. These followers are highly engaged, interested in the influencer's daily activities, the products she or he uses, the causes she or he supports and so on. Brands love social media influencers because they can create trends and encourage their followers to buy products they promote, but influencers are also very relevant to nonprofits.
Influencer Marketing for Nonprofits
Influence marketing is the practice of finding an influencer that speaks to you and to your community, and to leverage them to expand your reach and to connect your nonprofit with more people through trustworthy, authentic voices. With the help of your influencer you can invite more people to take action and get them excited about the great things your nonprofit is doing.
3 Types of Influencers
Mega Influencers - These are influencers with a a huge fan base of over 700K followers. Many of these influencers are celebrities such as movie stars, models, athletes, artists, musicians, etc. Mega influencers are harder to reach since many brands and people approach them, and they usually have agents working on their behalf to make any marketing deals.
Middle-Tier influencers - These are influencers who have valuable reach within specific communities and their followers range may be from 40K-700K followers. This group tends to consists of two types of people. They are either "B-grade" celebrities, or they are successful online experts, who have built up significant followings. Middle-tier influencers generally have a high profile and can be excellent at raising awareness. They are also easier to access than the mega influencers.
Micro-Influencers - Micro-influencers have relatively low reach with audiences of 10k or less, but they have a tremendous amount of influence within one niche. These are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views. They are easy to access and they bring relatability and reliability to the table.
Finding an Influencer
By identifying and supporting potential influencers, your nonprofit can elevate its message throughout various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok as well as blogs, podcasts, and video platforms.
Identifying the perfect influencers to work with is a thoughtful process. It's not enough to find someone with many followers, you are looking for someone that shares your values, that your cause is important to them, and has many followers. Don’t assume that bigger is better when looking for influencers. Often, working with micro-influencers is more effective than going for a mega-influencer, as they are very connected and engaged with their audiences.
1. Search on a search engine - Look up people who are affiliated with you cause. For example if your organization is fighting global warming you can start even with simple searches like "influencers global warming", "global warming activists" or "celebrities that fight global warming". Go over different search results, let one result lead you to another. As you are searching, create an initial list of names of potential influencers for your nonprofit.
2. Hashtag Search - Scan through the social platforms for hashtags related to your cause.
3. Groups and forums - People who believe in the same causes gather in specific social media groups and forums. Find a group or forum where your target audience shares their thoughts. and search for very active and out-spoken members.
4. Read the News - Especially the gossip column. Did someone known share a personal story about themselves? Perhaps they grew up poor and are likely to support community development? Perhaps someone they care about suffered from an illness your organization is trying to fight? Maybe she is a huge feminist or he is very active for human rights. Scan the media for known people that might relate to your cause.
5. Influencer tools - Special influencer marketing tools have been developed to help you find influencers. Using these tools, you can search influencers based on different filters to find some one that is relevant to your audience. Keep in mind however, that using these tools cost money and not all platform have the best reviews.
Approaching an Influencer
After you created a list of influencers you hope to recruit, the real challenge is getting them to accept. Here are a few tips for approaching an influencer:
Don't be shy, and don't get intimidated. Whether you are talking to a celebrity, their agent, or anyone else, remember - they are just people like you. The worst thing that can happen is them not replying or saying no. So keep in mind - you don't have anything to lose by asking!
Do your research. Once you know who the influencer you want to approach is, you want to understand this person and their audience. How are they connected to your cause, why would their audience find it interesting. When you approach them, they have to feel it's a personal approach. Give them the feeling that you actually understand them, and know why you are relevant to them and they are to you.
Preliminary interaction. You want to try and build a relationship with the influencer before asking them for their help. Before you contact the influencers, interact with them. Follow them on different platforms, share and comment on their content.
Start small. When you first approach your influencer, don't lay out a 3 year plan. Start with a very small ask, something that shouldn't take them a lot of time, and is very specific. For example help fundraise for a specific campaign or raise awareness for an event. Hopefully, as your relationship evolves, you will be able to ask for more. It's important to remember that when you are approaching the influencer you are not asking for their money (even though that would be incredible), you are asking for access to their audience with a stamp of approval saying that you are the real deal.
Your offer to the influencer should be very clear.
You should shortly present your nonprofit and what it does, and offer links for more information they can read if they are interested. Then, tell the story of the project you need their help with. Try telling the story so that they feel there is some sense of urgency. Then explain what it is you need from them and how much time and effort it will take from their part.
This part is very important, you want to frame your ask according to what you learned in your research. Try explaining why you are relevant to them and to their audience, what they will gain from it, and the impact it will have on the cause. Finally show your appreciation and provide contact details. You can even praise your influencer a bit, make them feel good and tell them why you chose them and why you think they are an incredible fit for this, but don't exaggerate so it still feels authentic and not fake flattery.
The Follow Up
If your influencer agreed to collaborate, and fulfilled your ask, don't forget to update them about the results. Try to create a relationship and to get them involved. Update them about the success of the collaboration, tell them how much money you raised thanks to them, how many new supporters you've gained, send photos of the beneficiaries, share the impact it created and so on. The more your influencer feels involved and passionate about your cause the more likely it is you will be able to grow this relationship into more joint projects.
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