We used to live in a world where we sat down for a TV show and endured the constant commercial breaks. It was part of the deal until Netflix, on demand, and mobile-first streaming forced ad agencies to revisit everything they’d ever known. In a similar fashion, influencer marketing may represent the next big shift in advertising. A pop star drinking a can of soda used to be the standard to attract consumers, and now an 18-year-old blogger can have just as much clout. Just as the savvy viewer grew increasingly numb to TV ads, our audiences are becoming more likely to trust average people than celebrities.
In 2016 most marketers spent between $25,000 and $50,000 per influencer marketing program, and reported those figures would double to $50,000 to $100,000 in 2017. For nonprofits, not only can your mission inspire socially-minded individuals to support you without the big paycheck, but you also shouldn’t assume that there’s only a select, esteemed group out there who can expand your reach. The truth is, you have influencers right in your own circle.
Each nonprofit has a network of staff, volunteers, fundraisers, donors, and program participants, and these people are significant “influencers” in their personal networks. Colleagues, friends, family, and old classmates are inclined to pay closer attention when loved ones choose to share about the causes they care about on social media. So before you go spending on influencers or paid ads, be sure you’re activating the network you already have.
Below are some tips to turn your supporters into your own personal influencers.
1. Show Your Supporters How to Help
Try to provide your advocates the same support you would provide a paid influencer. Let them know what your organization needs them to focus on in their outreaches to friends and family, and provide content, graphics, and videos they can use.
Also offer suggestions on what to write about in their emails and social media posts, such as personal stories, how they heard about your cause, or why they choose to give. Templates are a great way to equip and encourage them to get started. Using a tool like Social Press Kit to package these posts makes it as easy and straightforward as posible for your advocates to participate. Writing a post might seem like a simple task or that this is all basic information, but your supporters may not know where to start.
2. Empower Them to Share
A post from a nonprofit’s page that isn’t promoted only reaches an average 8 percent of their fans. Of the people who actually see a post, only 4.6 percent engage on Facebook and 1.3 percent engage on Twitter . The shelf life of each of these posts on a feed can be just a few minutes.
Every individual share is an opportunity to stay visible and reach and activate new volunteers, donors, program participants, and more. Ask your network to share your posts and extend your reach.
And remember to get creative. While you might not pay these personal influencers to share your posts, there are other free ways you can incentivize them. Social media competitions, for example, are a great way to encourage sharing. Host a photo contest where submissions use a specific hashtag or host a giveaway with entries based on “follows” or tags. You can also personally or publicly acknowledge your most active social media supporters to make sure they feel appreciated and continue to advocate.
3. Facilitate Dialogue
Beyond impressions and reach, social media engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares, and clicks helps build relationships with your audiences through social conversations.
Tools like Hootsuite and Agorapulse can help you monitor mentions of your organization or topics you care about, helping you respond quickly. While this may already be a priority for your social media or marketing team, you can extend beyond your own organization and equip your influencers and network to engage in these social conversations about your mission.
Arm your advocates with facts your cause, organizational growth and successes, and impact metrics so they feel empowered to lead these discussions in their own circles.
4. Just Ask
Your supporters may not know what you need from them and when, so simply asking them to share about a program, event, campaign, or volunteer need can be enough to get them sharing. Make sure you give them ample lead time and reminders, make the ask clear, and specifically outline what you need from them and why.
Do make sure you’re asking the right people to share. If you’re raising awareness about a specific program, it may make the most sense to ask your volunteers or program participants to share, while you might reach out to your previous donors and fundraisers during a fundraising campaign. These individuals will be most inclined to continue engagement and facilitate dialogue with their peers. Remember you have hundreds, thousands, or more in your immediate reach that each have their own personal untapped networks—and they have a personal connection to your cause and may thus willingly want to share the experience that drew them to your organization in the first place.
Increasing your engagement and social sharing can seem like a daunting task, but remember they already care about the work you are doing. You are just helping them realize they can and want to help, and making it as easy as possible for them to advocate for your cause.
Bre Vergess is the manager of Social Press Kit, an outreach tool that streamlines and amplifies social media sharing and offers a 50 percent discount for nonprofits. She has held communications and development positions for major nonprofit organizations.