Influencer marketing has been a buzzword for a while now and for good reason. Fashion and beauty brands were quick to discover the benefits of working with both well-known and up-and-coming influencers to reach new audiences online, yet surprisingly, when it comes to not-for-profit organisations, this approach is in its infancy.
Statistics prove that consumers are more likely to trust third party recommendations, and working with influencers is a great opportunity to amplify a message and reach a new audience.
A charity may already have one or two patrons of celebrity or notable status to draw upon to help promote a cause, but the first step is to assess their fit for the organisation.
For example, a personal connection builds authenticity. Actor Stephen Fry, who is a patron of the charity Missing People, is one of the few celebrity patrons who regularly turn to social media to help raise awareness. He, helpfully, has a following of over 12 million people and is well-known for actively supporting charities that are close to his heart.
It’s imperative that whoever you choose is passionate about your cause and relevant to your target market – meaning their audience should match the one you are trying to connect with.
Savvy audiences can tell when someone isn’t being genuine. If an influencer is writing about something they love and advocate then others are more likely to sit up and take notice. This is why it’s important to decide whether your current patron, or one that you are considering approaching, is likely to generate the reach you need.
By their very nature, influencers have a large and loyal fan base, normally amassed from their expertise in a certain area. They are looked up to, and in some cases, as soon as they endorse something, their community will go out and buy it. As Jay Baer, author & business strategist says, “True influence drives action, not just awareness.”
Some charities are starting to take note of the benefits of using influencers, bloggers and vloggers to get their message out there in innovative ways. YouTube woodworking sensation Steve Ramsey used his influence to encourage people to make a toy aeroplane and raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation – allowing the charity to be visible to a whole new demographic.
Another YouTube star, Zoella, became the first Digital Ambassador for mental health charity Mind. Zoe has been very public about suffering from anxiety, so for her audience – over 11 million subscribers on YouTube – the partnership felt natural, so it was little surprise that the #DontPanicButton campaign generated a huge social reach and had over 1.5 million interactions.
Influencers don’t necessarily fit a certain mould – they could be industry experts, up-and-coming photographers, make-up artists – and the more creative the collaboration, the more successful it is likely to be. For example, Refuge UK teamed up with a popular YouTube artist Lauren Luke to produce a poignant video on how to cover up bruises to the face and neck from domestic violence. The video has over 2.5 million views and over 21,000 likes on YouTube and is an example of a clever collaboration between an influencer and a charity.
The relationship is a two-way street. The more influence you have online, the more appealing you will be to an influencer, especially if you are a cause they care about. When you approach an influencer, you need to make them feel valued. As a charity budget may be limited, but be aware that some influencers will already have media packs and rate cards which can be requested in advance. Be aware that the majority of influencers and bloggers expect an incentive for their time and efforts. Many of them already have daytime jobs and while they remain as passionate as the day they began, they have spent hours building their community and reputation.
When it comes to identifying potential patrons, mummy bloggers are very popular with readers and brands alike and they can be the ideal fit for children’s charities. Helen Wills, blogger of Actually Mummy, writes regularly about diabetes (her daughter has Type 1 Diabetes), attends conferences, fundraises and raises awareness of the illness. Helen states that she is happy to be contacted regarding ambassador status.
Other bloggers may already have a vested interest in charities, for example Kate Davis-Holmes of Striking Mum, says she is ‘keen to raise awareness of charity services, campaigns and fundraising initiatives’ and has a whole section dedicated to charity on her blog.
Whether searching for bloggers who are interested in promoting charities in general, or going more granular and reaching out to the influencers of a chosen target market, any charities are bound to find that influencer marketing can provide the credibility and amplification needed to raise the profile of your organisations’ cause, either as a standalone strategy or as part of a more integrated campaign.
By Catherine Spencer, senior content, PR & social media Executive at equimedia
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