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Harnessing the power of influencers to create social change

You’ve seen it before. You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and you see a celebrity you follow sharing a testimony about a product you’ve never heard of, or maybe they’re advocating for a cause that’s close to your heart. 

In recent years, influencers have risen as key spokespeople for brands and organizations looking to expand their reach. Influencers will continue to be a presence; today, 89% of marketers believe connecting with influencers is an effective way to market. While big-name brands and corporations have already started using the strategy, there’s opportunity for social good organizations and efforts to tap into this effective way of connecting with audiences. An increasing number of studies show how influencers can help develop trust with an audience, increase knowledge retention and inspire audiences to take action.

Jeff Boodie, social impact entrepreneur and founder of ConnectUp Media, recently led a Spitfire U session to discuss the power of influencer marketing and how social good organizations can harness this strategy to strengthen their impact. Boodie laid out all the things social change leaders and communicators need to know about influencers and how working with them can help amplify your mission. Here are some key takeaways for your organization to rethink communication and harness influencers to move the needle on important issues.

Finding the right influencer for your mission

Identifying a successful influencer means more than looking at follower count and engagement metrics. Finding the right partnership for your mission requires an alignment of shared values and interests. Finding influencers with personal stories that resonate with a specific audience and connect with your organization's mission or brand is essential. Consider these questions when looking for the right influencer for your cause: 

  • What projects are you working on this year that could benefit from a partnership with an influencer that reaches your brand? 
  • What age are you trying to reach and who of influence resonates most with your clients demands? 
  • Where is your client based and which influencers can most connect with the location(s) your client represents?
Creating positive social change with the help of influencers

Simply put, influencers are people with influence. They don’t have to be megastars; they just have to be individuals who are viewed by their community of followers as a trusted voice. Research has shown that working with nano-influencers can actually be more impactful than working with those with name recognition and large follower counts. Influencers with smaller followings often drive more meaningful engagement among their audiences, while encouraging conversations about an organization or brand at the same time. When they put their support behind a cause, it can help raise awareness of social change efforts happening locally or across the country and generate additional support. 

Our friends at the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) have been working for more than four years to #FreeTheVote for returning citizens across the state of Florida. Throughout 2020, FRRC organized chapters and mobilized communities to exercise their sacred right to vote, in addition to raising funds for returning citizens who still owe fines and fees – a legislative barrier to having their voting rights restored.

FRRC partnered with More than A Vote, an organization led by Lebron James, along with other Black athletes and artists working together in the fight against Black voter suppression, and When We All Vote, an initiative led by Michelle Obama and other celebrities and public figures to increase voter participation. Through this partnership with prominent leaders and organizations, FRRC elevated its profile nationwide and helped raise $27 million for the organization’s Fines and Fees Fund to help returning citizens restore their right to vote. 

Building partnerships with influencers

If you’re looking to build a solid partnership with individuals who can continue to build an on- and offline community of advocates for your cause, influencer marketing is a good way to do it. One of Boodie’s most important points was that influencers should not be looked at as a quick marketing opportunity. Organizations that want to leverage influencer marketing the right way should look at influencers as long-term partners and advocates. 

While some influencers approach partnerships more transactionally, others appreciate developing a relationship that can be mutually beneficial and long-term. Think carefully about your goal, your capacity to fairly compensate a prospective influencer partner for their work, and the value of your organization’s brand and mission when considering whether to move forward with an influencer partnership. Fairly compensating an influencer for the value they bring and their work is a key part of building and sustaining relationships.

Evaluating your influencer strategy

An influencer marketing strategy requires careful monitoring and follow up. Social media metrics are important, but they’re not everything and building support takes time. Check in with your influencers, ask them about the response they’re getting to content that mentions your work, and evaluate how they feel about continuing a partnership. You’ll need to continue to be hands-on with these relationships and identify what works and what doesn’t, and then move forward with cultivating relationships based on what you find. 

Influencers and culture have the power to move hearts and minds in ways that facts and advocacy alone often cannot. Influencer marketing is on track to become a $15 billion dollar industry by 2022, and it’s something your organization can tap into, whether big or small. 

If you missed this insightful Spitfire U session, watch the recording here. To stay up-to-date on all of our upcoming Spitfire U sessions and more, sign up for our Spitfire Sparks newsletter. 

If you’re interested in a complimentary, 30-minute influencer session, set up a time with Boodie here.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 12, 2021 at 14:39 pm and is filed under Digital strategy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.