Founder and CEO ofSway Group, an award-winning agency that specializes in influencer marketing with a focus on B2C nano and micro campaigns
When you think of successful influencer marketing, do you think of how influencers can help sell things, or how they can help the world?
I think most of us tend to associate influencer marketing with brand partnerships. Influencer marketing’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with brands seeing the advantage of leveraging influence on the social platforms where today’s consumers are spending their time.
This same influence can be used for more than boosting product sales or even increasing brand affinity. Influencers can help organizations of all kinds make a meaningful difference by building trust, increasing reach and awareness, and driving action.
Today’s influencer marketing campaigns offer the unprecedented opportunity to connect the right audiences to the right causes. Let’s take a look at four reasons why influencers are the perfect partners for driving change.
Plenty of conventional brand-influencer partnerships have the goal of increasing consumer recall and recognition for the promoted product or service. In the same way, influencers can help increase public visibility and awareness for nonprofits and other organizations.
Influencers have a platform for directing their audience’s attention to issues that are close to their hearts. Even more importantly, they can help shine a light on the work of nonprofits in ways that resonate with their followers.
For instance, let’s say a nonprofit’s mission is to support underprivileged children with monthly sponsorships. An influencer best known for her parenting content can help spread the word about this cause with specific examples of how sponsorships can make a difference in a child’s life (tying the benefits back to her lived parenting experiences).
In a situation like this, an influencer can help build emotional connections and motivate audiences to take action.
Credibility For The Cause
While influencers can help educate the public about a mission or issue, they can also spark important conversations about the issue itself—especially when they bring a personal connection.
Influencers (particularly micro-influencers) are often perceived as more relatable than big-name celebrities. Notably, their endorsements and recommendations often carry more weight because they’re viewed as peers, but they may also be perceived as experts in certain content niches.
Influencer specialties can lend credibility to cause-related outreach simply because of the nature of the partnership itself. For instance, consider the impact of an influencer known to have battled skin cancer raising awareness for Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Instead of simply posting about the campaign, this influencer could:
• Share her own personal story, making a potentially abstract issue relatable and understandable.
• Educate her audience on skin cancer risk factors and tips for prevention.
• Show audiences how to check their skin, emphasizing the importance of early detection and prevention.
• Help audiences feel better about donating by understanding exactly where donation funds go and how they help the cause.
• Prompt audiences to ask their employers to match donations.
• Drive specific types of action: ask for donations, content shares, purchases (when a portion of each transaction is donated to charity) or other types of actionable support from audiences.
• Start a conversation around the issue by asking audiences to share their own perspectives.
Social media is often used as a one-way communication platform to spread the word about charitable causes, but the real value comes from audienceengagement—people talking about the issue and driving more awareness through active conversations.
Influential social media creators know how to authentically connect with their communities and how to actively encourage audiences to help spread the word.
No one can guarantee that a campaign will go viral, but working with the right influencers can tip the scales in the right direction. Popular platform creators understand exactly what kinds of social media techniques are likely to boost their content and can expertly leverage content trends to raise visibility.
A well-known example of using social media and viral-style challenges is the ALS ice bucket challenge in 2014, which ultimately helped increase the ALS Association’s annual funding by 187%. This wildly popular challenge racked up tens of millions of views across multiple platforms, sparking active social sharing and introducing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to an incredibly broad audience.
“Going viral” is a loosely defined expression without true benchmark numbers, but any organization looking to boost visibility for their cause can work with influencers to:
• Use the latest content and audio trends.
• Include the right hashtags to boost the algorithm’s ranking signals.
• Leverage humor, brevity and authenticity in the messaging.
• Share a hot take to drive more engagement.
For the best chance at viral success, partner with creators who have their fingers on the pulse of the platform and can strike up the right engagement to encourage content shares.
We’ve talked about how influencers can help raise visibility for a cause, but they can also encourage direct action that results in a stronger base of support.
In the same way that influencers work with brands to drive consumer actions like product purchases, app downloads, newsletter subscriptions and more, an influencer campaign can be structured around nonprofit calls to action.
Influencer campaigns for the nonprofit sector should include strong, clear calls to action that encourage audiences to take that next step:
• Click through the social content to a fundraising page.
• Learn more about the mission or cause.
• Share the promoted content with their community.
In addition to sharing all of the different ways that supporters can learn about a cause, influencers can ask for specific types of support. Personal, relevant storytelling transforms any request to donate time or money, upping the chances that audiences will connect to the topic.
Today’s nonprofits have more opportunities than ever to build trust, increase reach and strengthen their missions by raising awareness of social causes through authentic influencers’ voices.
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