How to Start with Nonprofit Influencer Marketing in 2023

Want to make good use of the power of influencer marketing to promote your nonprofit, charity or social enterprise? Check out how you can get started effectively.

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For this post, I wanted to put the focus on how an overarching marketing concept such as influencer marketing can have a positive impact on non-profits.

We have a better understanding now of how social media, content marketing and email marketing can help a non-profit organization exceed fundraising goals, raise event attendance and even recruit scores of new volunteers, but what about influencer marketing? How does influencer marketing fit in the larger picture on marketing strategy for non-profits?

As it turns out, the concept of influencer marketing may not be as foreign as you think. You may have potential influencers in your audience-dedicated fans who have been donating to your fundraising campaigns, volunteering at your events and sharing any and all organization news. In marketing, we call these individuals brand advocates.

Brand advocates are passionate people who believe in what your brand represents and the message behind it. They’re the ones who are sharing updates via social media, encouraging others to donate and attending and volunteering at your events. Brand advocates champion your cause-and they’re also spreading the word with new audiences every day.

Influencer marketing nonprofits

So what’s the difference between a brand advocate and an influencer and how do you turn a brand advocate into one? A brand advocate will champion your cause for free-and they may or may not have a large audience. An influencer, whether they’re high-profile or micro, has a dedicated, highly engaged audience who trusts their recommendations. An influencer promotes your cause after entering into a partnership with your organization. With a specific set of criteria, any brand advocate can become an influencer.

Learn more about the types of influencers and how you can form partnerships with them.

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In this article

Identify Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Marketing Strategy

Before you start setting up your campaigns and partnering with Influencers, make sure you’ve set up your Nonprofit’s social media marketing strategy.

At GlobalOwls, we believe that Nonprofits and Social Enterprises are the true heroes of our society and that Nonprofit Marketers are the ones that fight every day to make the world a better place with too little time, money, and resources.

Our mission is to help them to become more effective with those limited resources.

Check out our book on how Nonprofits can get more out of their Social Media Marketing efforts.

We see that some Nonprofits are crushing it on social and many others… don’t.

By following the tips and strategies that are laid out in this book, everyone should be able to achieve their goals faster.

The book goes into specific use cases for nonprofits to become more effective at Social Media Marketing. If you don’t have the time to check out the book, check out this short video that can also help you create your Social Media Marketing Strategy effectively. Be mindful that you might be mission out on some essential nonprofit tactics.

Being specific about your influencer strategy will help you find the right people to work with. Defining what your objective is will drive the influencer search, the type of content the influencers will be posting and social media themes.

Ultimately, influencer marketing aims to build an emotional connection between a non-profit organization and the target audiences, through experiences. Here are some of the content strategies you should be considering to help engage audiences:

Awareness Campaign

Work with influencers to create/share inspirational content that shows the audience why your mission & programs are important to them (ie. showing women getting back into the workforce with your programs that assist women in poorer countries with building their own businesses).

Interest Campaign

Work with influencers to create/share educational content with their networks on how to use your program & build skills.

Decision Campaign

Influencers share stories from your organization about the people you have helped and how they’ve benefitted.

Action Campaign

Influencers can share promotional content that lets audiences know where they can donate, sign up to volunteer and/or attend the event

After you decide on what your objective will be, it’s time to identify the influencers your non-profit should be working with.

Finding the Right Influencers to Work With

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Enlisting influencers can help increase the legitimacy of your cause among the public by spreading your name through a trusted source and can be a great way to gain new audiences, potential donors and volunteers. Working with influencers who have press experience and highly engaged audiences may also increase the chances of your cause getting press coverage and increase engagement.

When you’re looking to work with influencers, keep in mind that there are three main types of influencers: top-tier, power middle and micro.

Top Tier Influencers

Typically public figures with extremely high reach, with anywhere between 750k-1M+ fans across all platforms. They’re notable, well-known and have built their highly engaged audiences over years. Influencers in this category don’t normally work for free and have experience working with bigger brands.

Power Middle Influencers

They usually have a moderate reach of between 50K-250K followers across social media. They’re more likely to have agreeable cost agreements or perhaps none at all as they’re still building their audience & brand.

Micro-Influencers (Also known as Long-Tail Influencers)

These influencers have a relatively low reach, less than 10K across social media. They do, however, have highly engaged audiences and their accessibility and reliability resonate with consumers.

How to Find the Right Influencers

Remember what I mentioned earlier, about how you might already have potential influencers in the form of brand advocates who are championing your cause? Look through your organization’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even YouTube fans and followers for detailed analytics. Take a note of the accounts that have been commenting on your status updates, sharing your fundraising campaigns and signing up to attend your events more often as these people could be potential influencers.

Outside of your own social media accounts, you should also be looking through Instagram and Twitter hashtags related to your cause. If you find a potential influencer, you should follow them and use the Suggestion feature to find accounts with similar content. Detailed, Google searches can also help you find potential influencers.

Your email subscriber database would also be a good place to start because people who signed up for your newsletter are already invested in your cause and would be more likely to share content for you.

Don’t assume that bigger is better when looking for influencers. Often, going after big-name celebrity or digital influencers with huge fanbases don’t provide the best ROI. In fact, working with micro long-tail influencers may provide higher conversion rates because they’re generally more engaged with their audiences. The process to find micro-influencers for your brand is not very different from macro-influencers, but your chances of getting noticed are three times higher with micro-influencers as they tend not to get so much attention from big brands. And this is where the opportunity lies; as mentioned, micro-influencers are more authentic, engaged, and loyal to their followers!

No matter who you choose to work with as an influencer, remember these vital tips:

BEFORE presenting them with the offer, make sure to interact with them.

Follow their accounts on different platforms, share and comment on their content and just interact with them on social media in general. Before asking them to do something for you, you need to spend some time and energy building a relationship with key influencers.

When you do present them with an offer, BE CLEAR on what you want.

When you present influencers with an offer, make it clear on what you need from them (Facebook posts, Instagram posts, videos etc.) and how often you need them to post. Then you need to be clear on what they can expect in return, whether it’s financial compensation or something else.

Be strategic and choose quality over quantity.

As I mentioned earlier in the post, make sure you define what your campaign goals are and try and engage the influencers you want to work with in early discussions on how the partnership could work. Whether it’s your first influencer campaign or your 20th, make sure to keep your influencer group small and tailor your program to each influencer. Not only is it more manageable time-wise for your organization, influencers like to feel valued and expect to be treated as individuals. So it’s important to not spread yourself too thin and give your organization time to nurture these key relationships.

Author Bio:

Lilian Sue is a marketing communications professional with over 10 years of experience developing integrated multi-channel marketing campaigns (copywriting, social media & PR/media relations) for lifestyle brands, indie film & television projects, B2B companies, tourism/hospitality & food/beverage brands. Learn more about her work at In Retrospect Writing Services.

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