Influencer marketing—spreading the word about one’s product through social media influencers—has become big business in recent years. People with massive social media followings frequently make a profession of it, and companies pay them large sums of money to wear, eat or talk about their products online. Research suggests that up to 87 percent of shoppers nowadays were inspired by an influencer to make a purchase—and experts believe the influencer industry could be a $10 billion business by 2020.
However, influencer marketing isn’t just for products and brands; nonprofits can benefit substantially by influencers who get behind their cause. Here’s a case in point based on my own experience. While at the venture philanthropy nonprofit, REDF, I had the pleasure of working with actor Chris O’Donnell, who was a member of the board. He shared his involvement with the organization on social media and this effort, coupled with other respected “niche” influencers in the field, helped significantly raise awareness and credibility to the organization’s results.
Think of influencer marketing as an amplified version of word-of-mouth. If you’re looking for a product or service, and a friend, family member or someone you respect recommends one, consider how that person’s endorsement affects your decision. The same principle holds true on social media. There are people within different interest groups who have amassed a loyal following on platforms like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, or are influential bloggers. When they speak well of a product, service—or nonprofit—their followers take notice. Often times they’ll then share it with their networks. This is the power behind influencer marketing. When people who are respected in your field share your content or endorse your organization, it can have a huge impact on raising awareness and trust.
Influencers generally fall into one of two categories:
Ideally, your campaign will use both macro- and micro-influencers to spread the word. However, if your nonprofit doesn’t have access to macro-influencers, never fear—you can still get positive results from this approach.
Effective influencer marketing takes a bit of effort and some research, especially at the beginning. But if you get the right people sharing your content and talking about your mission, the results can snowball into a groundswell of interest in, and support for, your organization.