Open any social media app on your phone and you’re guaranteed to encounter branded or sponsored content. That’s because social media marketing is fast becoming a mainstay of any comprehensive content marketing strategy. Companies can easily leverage the numerous perks of running a marketing campaign through social media platforms, such as running ads, utilizing their own channels for content marketing, and running targeted social media campaigns. These tools allow brands to access new markets, particularly millennials, share user-generated content, and develop deeper levels of trust with their audience. 

While digital advertising has been around for over a decade, influencer marketing has really come into its own within the past five years. Brands from all industries have been working hard to tap into this new social media industry. However, aside from major events like #GivingTuesday, it’s not as common to see nonprofit organizations having the same social media presence. 

From the outside, influencer marketing can seem like an enormous financial investment and this can be true if you’re working with influencers who have a follower count in the millions. That being said, an effective and affordable influencer marketing campaign can be run with individuals who have just a few thousand followers. These creators, often called micro-influencers, can be a wonderful persona to activate for any non-profit facing an internal resource hurdle. 

Overcoming the Resource Hurdle

It seems as though there are two major limitations that are extremely difficult for non-profits to overcome: time and money. When you’re strapped for these two resources, it can be a real hindrance to implementing a highly effective digital marketing strategy. However, collaborating with social media influencers can help alleviate both of these stressors and help you achieve your social media goals.

The Perpetual Time-Crunch.

A smaller staff and big ambitions mean that time is always in short supply in the nonprofit world. With the increasing demand for daily social sharing, content creation and audience engagement, it can be difficult to stay on top of your marketing strategy and manage of all the social media platforms your non-profit organization utilizes.

Influencers can help – with a highly engaged audience and high-quality, repurposable content, influencers can help your nonprofit’s mission to get in front of more eyes with the bonus of amazing user-generated content that can be shared on your social platforms. This can free up time for your team to create content and strategize effectively.

Bigger the Budget, Better the Reach?

In addition to alleviating some time for your digital marketing team, running an influencer campaign can also be more cost effective than paid media to reach your targeted audience on social media. Paid ads from emerging and established brands have saturated our feeds on every social platform. With a budget that’s highly dependent on fundraising, non-profits can have a difficult time achieving similar results.

Micro-influencers can be really helpful if this is an issue your brand is facing. Micro-influencers  are influencers with a smaller social following (typically between 5,000-25,000 followers) who usually see social media as a side hustle. However, they have strong audience engagement which leads to deeper, more authentic interactions with the content they publish. Leveraging micro-influencers can be a far more cost-effective solution for any marketing campaign.

In a recent Mavrck survey, 35% of influencers reported that they would collaborate with nonprofit organizations without compensation, and 12.3% said they would collaborate for the opportunity to cross-promote. People are looking for opportunities to support causes they believe in on social media. As a result, tapping into influencers can help your brand engage with social media users at a fraction of the cost of traditional paid media.

Social media influencers have the power to get you and your team over that resource hurdle once and for all. Influencers’ creative expertise and willingness to collaborate with non-profits means that you can spread awareness in a way that’s budget conscious and time efficient.

How Do I Find the Right Influencers?

Now it’s time to find the influencers you want to partner with. Unfortunately, finding influencers who specialize in marketing for non-profits will not be obvious at first, but that doesn’t mean the right influencers for your organization aren’t out there. Here are some things to keep in mind when crafting an influencer marketing strategy and starting your own outreach:

Choose influencers who are strong visual storytellers

Non-profits often offer a “product” that is intangible, like fundraising for a social cause. Influencers who typically work on a product-focused campaign might have a difficult time creating narrative-focused influencer content. When you begin your influencer outreach, identify key influencers who demonstrate strong, visual story-telling skills on the social networks your organization uses the most. That way, even if they don’t have a tangible product to take a photo of, they’ll be able to spread the word to your target audience with ease.

No influencer is one-size-fits-all

Not all influencers are the same, especially when it comes to their social media audience. Each influencer has their own niche that is a sum of their topics of interest, social media channels, engagement rate, and follower count. Some influencers are stronger at generating brand awareness while others are more adept at mobilizing their audience around a call-to-action.

To find the right influencer for your organization, it’s critical that your marketers identify your organization’s social media goals – awareness, advocacy, or action in the form of volunteering, fundraising or donations. Then, take a look at the influencers that you are considering. Who seems to encourage their audience to participate or engage with them? Who seems as though they have a great feed for brand discovery? Taking the time to correctly identify your goals will make sure you identify influencers that make sense for you.

Commit to long-term partnerships

A significant part of an influencer relationship is being educated. Brands need to be working with influencers to educate them about the brand’s mission, objectives, and values so social media influencers can more deeply and authentically act as brand ambassadors to your non-profit organization. This takes a lot of time, communication, and effort on the part of both the brand and the social media influencer.

In a recent Mavrck survey, 47% of influencers said they would prefer working with non-profits in a long-term partnership. This is particularly advantageous for non-profits who tend to have complex values, goals, and mission. It’s extremely time consuming to educate new influencers every time you want to engage their audience or run a campaign. 

By establishing long-term partnerships up front with the right influencers, your organization will build a trusted pool of ambassadors you can activate with confidence while influencers continue to grow, learn, and collaborate with your organization in an authentic way.

While it may seem daunting at first, these tips will help you and your organization achieve its social media goals, overcome major resource hurdles, expand your social presence, and develop authentic relationships with amazing groups of creatives.

Don’t Forget, This is New for Everyone!

As you embark on your journey into influencer marketing, always keep in mind that influencer marketing for non-profits is new for both you and (possibly) for the influencers you want to partner with. Be transparent and clear with what you are looking for. Listen to the influencers and make sure that what they’re offering is going to work for your organization. If you establish these strong lines of communication from the start, you’ll both figure out how your partnership can be a success in the long term!