A top challenge for causes is finding ways to continually expand the audience engaging with their content. In short: growing the movement. According to the digital Trends Report, in 2015 top content priorities are video, infographics and quality images.
One of the most powerful ways to actively increase the reach of an organization's content is to engage with allied influencers - these are people that are message catalysts and speak passionately about the work an organization is doing to their many friends and followers. These are the people who can get your content read and spread.
Across 90 surveyed nonprofit organizations with a combined 20 million supporters, Attentive.ly and Fission Strategy found that the top 5% of an organization's database, on average, has a reach 200 times larger than the organization's entire email list. This includes celebrities and VIPs, professionals, and citizen influencers with a large social media following. By engaging with just 1% of an organization's influencers, a piece of content's signal could be boosted by hundreds of thousands of people; by engaging with 10% of influencers, a content's signal could be boosted by millions! This not only increases the reach of an organization considerably, but also takes advantage of the loyal audiences these influencers have built. Check out our infographic "The Amazing Reach of Nonprofits" to see these stats in action.
How to find influencers?
Influencers aren't elusive. They are everywhere, including your database. They aren't difficult to spot either. There's a good chance you have dozens or even hundreds in your email lists already, which is where we recommend beginning. Influencers might be tweeting about your cause already, and you haven't noticed. Our basic formula for Influencers is Klout + Connections + Relevancy + Prior Interaction = Influencer.
Finding people with Klout scores over 40, with 500+ connections who are talking about your key terms on social and have taken multiple actions, is a great place to start. Are these people writing about things that matter to the organization's audience, and does their messaging intersect with current campaigns?
Making the right ask to influencers
Every influencer will need a distinct approach in order want to share great content, and it's important to understand this is more about relationship building than getting someone to push out one message one time. If you have their email, we recommend crafting an outreach email that acknowledges their value, reminds them about their relationship to the organization, and make the ask to share content very clear (and simple). For example, your ask could be to ask your friends to join you in fundraising event.
For example, with the help of Attentive.ly, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® identified 27 social media influencers and asked them to spread the word about registering to walk in their own words and through their own social media channels. By providing them with a registration incentive code, over five months, those influencers recruited 105 additional participants, who raised more than $200,000 for Susan G. Komen.
If you're starting out, we encourage organizations to group influencers into three categories: VIPs, Professionals and Citizens. Professional influencers and citizen influencers have a similar engagement approach, where short, personalized emails should be kept along the lines of emails they would receive in a professional context. If they agree to promote the campaign, be sure to follow up with reminders in the days running up to the launch, and afterwards thank them for their support and tell them how the campaign went.
Celebrities and VIPs require a different approach, and may require an organization to go through the same contact route as potential sponsors or the press. Since they already know their worth, there is no gain by telling them than an endorsement will help the campaign; they've heard it before! Because of this, it's more important to talk about how their work is important to the organization's mission, but be sincere. Make sure to do homework beforehand.
If you're interested in learning more about how to identify influencers in your organization's space and effectively communicate with them, download our new guide "How to Identify and Engage Your Influencers". We hope that influencer engagement becomes a part of your next campaign's strategy!