We usually hear about influencer marketing in connection with companies who pay influencers to promote them on social media. So if you’re from a nonprofit, you may have never tried to find influencers to spread your message. But you should.
Influencer marketing can help raise awareness of a cause, raise money for a charity, or let people know about an event your nonprofit is running. Keep reading to learn more about the strategy and how you can use it for your nonprofit.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy that relies on influencers. Influencers are social media users who have gained sizeable follower bases and who regularly create content for those followers.
While influencer marketing is usually used to promote brands and their products, you could also use the strategy to promote nonprofits. There are influencers from all types of categories, and while we may be most familiar with fashion, beauty, or food influencers, there are also influencers interested in activism, environmentalism, and other causes that nonprofits typically promote.
How do you find the right influencers for your nonprofit marketing strategy?
Finding the right influencer is always a bit tricky, whether you’re a brand or an organization. The key is finding someone who has healthy performance metrics and who also aligns with the brand or organization’s mission.
Before you start searching for influencers, it’s important you define your nonprofit marketing goals, and how you plan to measure them. What is your objective—do you want to raise awareness, raise money, get people to attend an event?
Depending on your goal, think about how you plan to track your progress. For example, if your goal is to raise awareness of your nonprofit and what it does, you could measure impressions (or views) of influencer content, clicks on links, traffic on your website, etc. In marketing, these elements you measure are called key performance indicators, or KPIs.
Analyze performance metrics
Influencer marketing goes much deeper than what you see when you open someone’s social media profile. Just like in other types of marketing campaigns, there are various metrics we can use to analyze influencers’ effectiveness.
You may think follower count is the most important metric when analyzing influencers. However, that’s not always the case. You should also look at the following metrics:
- Follower growth rate – How they grew their follower base over time
- Engagement rate – The amount of interaction between the influencer and their followers
- Audience demographics – The age, gender, country, language, and interests of their followers
- Audience authenticity – What percentage of their audience looks suspicious, like they may be fake followers
Analyzing these metrics carefully can help you detect and avoid fake influencers, who may have purchased followers, likes, comments, or other types of bots to make their profile look more impressive.
Additionally, checking into the influencer’s audience helps you ensure that you connect with your target audience. Knowing your target audience is an important part of marketing, and you want to find influencers who can get your nonprofit in front of them.
So, you may be wondering how you can get this information? There are three main ways to find influencers:
- Search directly on social media
- Use an influencer marketing platform
- Hire an agency to run your campaign
If you choose the third option, the agency will vet all these metrics for you. Alternatively, you could subscribe to an influencer marketing platform to have access to these metrics and other information about influencer profiles. Or, if you prefer to search directly on social media, you can ask influencers for their media kits, which should contain this info.
Find someone who aligns with your cause
The next step when finding influencers for your nonprofit marketing strategy is to find people whose profiles align with your cause. For brands, this is relatively clear-cut: If you’re a fashion brand, you probably wouldn’t ask a food influencer to promote your products.
For nonprofits, this may be a bit more ambiguous, as various causes may intersect. In any event, you should look for influencers who are a logical fit with your organization. Ask yourself questions like:
- Is this influencer’s voice capable of sharing my nonprofit’s message?
- Does the influencer uphold my nonprofit’s values?
- Is their content of a quality that meets my nonprofit’s standards?
- Does their aesthetic style make sense with my nonprofit?
Candice (@roofusandkilo) is a pet influencer with 414K followers who regularly collaborates with the nonprofit @nwdogproject, which rescues homeless, neglected, and abused dogs. In addition to fostering dogs for the nonprofit, Candice also amplifies their voice on social media.
It may take some time to find the right influencer for your nonprofit marketing strategy, but it’s worth the work. The better your nonprofit and the influencer fit together, the more likely you are to be successful at achieving your campaign goals.
Once you’ve found the right influencers for your nonprofit, reach out to them to see if they’re interested in working with you. Brands usually pay influencers to promote them, but with nonprofits, an influencer may be willing to support your cause if it’s something that is important to them. Just understand that some may expect incentives, and reflect on what you could offer them in case they do.
Content ideas for your nonprofit marketing collaborations with influencers
Social media in 2021 has tons of media formats and content types you can explore with influencers. When you begin a collaboration, ask an influencer what type of content they think would work best to spread your nonprofit’s message. After all, they are the content creation experts.
That being said, here are a few examples of ways that nonprofits have used influencers in their nonprofit marketing strategies.
Guides are one of the more recent Instagram features, and they actually originated to spread wellness content during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the release of Guides, Instagram said: “We’ll enable creators to connect with expert organizations to share resources during this time, including tips on how to look after your well-being, maintaining connection with others or managing anxiety or grief.”
Guides allow you to curate collections of content or resources to share with your followers. Incorporating Instagram influencers in your Guides is a great way to unite your cause with voices speaking out about the same issues.
For example, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (@afspnational) included actor and model @dominique.a.r.jackson in its Guide “Keep Going,” which was posted to help people protect their mental health during the ongoing pandemic.
Most social networks now offer a live-streaming feature, which can be used to host virtual events for your nonprofit. This type of content is more important than ever during a time when many people still can’t attend events and gatherings in person.
On TikTok, @unicef partnered with singer Skip Marley and other creators to host a live event in support of children affected by Covid-19. The video included a button that allowed followers to donate to the nonprofit’s cause.
When you find an influencer who is the right fit for your organization, a social media collaboration can be a great addition to your nonprofit marketing strategy. Remember to vet their performance-driven metrics and really focus on how the influencer’s voice and personality align with your nonprofit’s mission.