marketing trends

Why Nonprofits Need Influencers To Grow (And How To Do It Right)

Have you heard the buzzword “influencer” and wondered what the heck it was? Or if it’s a familiar term, have you struggled with how to find one of these elusive creatures to work with your nonprofit? Well, never fear—today’s post is for you.

While influencers have always existed, the Internet Age has given them new meaning, as well as new ways to capitalize on their popularity. (Cue the Wicked soundtrack!) Social media brought with it a whole host of new job possibilities. I mean, 15 years ago, we all would’ve laughed someone out of the room who said people would pay to watch another person play video games. But, here we are…

So, if getting an influencer to spread the word about your cause is on your To Do List, Kayleigh Alexandra of Micro Startups is going to break it down for you. I’ve seen social impact organizations have great success with this tactic, so I’d encourage you to give it a try and see what happens!

Why Nonprofits Need Influencers To Grow (And How To Do It Right)

Growing your nonprofit can be tough. Aside from competing for attention against so many other worthwhile nonprofits, making donors care about a cause is a big task. Thankfully, influencers are here to make all of that a breeze.

It’s important to make time for your nonprofit marketing, and using influencers doesn’t just save you time—it’s also highly effective. Keep reading to find out how your nonprofit can benefit from an influencer collaboration in 2019.

What are influencers?

While you might not know exactly what influencers are, you’ve probably already encountered them without realizing it. Influencers are social media stars, tastemakers who command significant influence over their followings online.

There are countless examples of online influencers: Kim Kardashian, Marie Kondo, Jake Paul, Huda Kattan, Andrew Bachelor, Gary Vaynerchuk, Joanna Gaines—the list goes on. And for every influencer, there are ten more examples of brands partnering with them for a marketing campaign.

Influencers can be divided into two, broad categories: macro and micro.

Macro-influencers are the A-listers of the influencer world. With social followings in the high hundred-thousands or millions, these individuals are renowned the world over. Consequently, any brand looking to collaborate with them can expect to pay correspondingly high prices.

At the other end of the scale, however, are micro-influencers. These social stars typically have a follower count of around 10-100K.

While they are less well-known than their macro counterparts, micro-influencers enjoy a closer relationship with their followers. They occupy niche areas such as specific beauty subsets (think makeup tips for women with vitiligo), eating gluten-free, or mental health. Their community is intimate and closely-knit, and they’re more affordable as a result of a smaller follower count (though still substantial).

Why do nonprofits need influencers?

We’ve established the difference between macro- and micro-influencers. The former has a large following, so partnering with a macro-influencer for a marketing campaign gets your nonprofit seen by the masses.

But this isn’t the goldmine it first seems. The fact is, while macro-influencers generate more awareness, their campaigns lack engagement.

Research shows that when an influencer’s follower count reaches 1K, the ratio of likes to comments peaks. And when an influencer’s followers exceeds 100K, engagement starts to level out.

Micro-influencers, on the other hand, reach a far smaller audience but with much higher engagement. Their close bond with their followers means their content is received on a deeper, more meaningful level.

And for nonprofits, engagement is crucial. You could create a macro-influencer campaign that reaches 10,000 people. But if those people don’t care about the campaign—if they don’t engage with it—then it will fall flat.

Nonprofits need micro-influencers because the success of their initiative hinges on making people care, and influencers can make that happen.

How do I choose the right micro-influencer?

The key to a successful nonprofit-influencer campaign lies in choosing a micro-influencer who aligns with your nonprofit’s values.

Start with what your nonprofit stands for and the work you do, and go from there. For example, if you work with sufferers of anxiety and depression, a mental health influencer would be an ideal choice for your nonprofit.

You can find micro-influencers in a number of ways. There are plenty of influencer marketplaces that let you easily find influencers, sorted by industry, follower count, social profiles, and more.

But for a quick fix, simply scope out other nonprofits operating within your niche and see who they’ve partnered with. Take a look at their blogs and social media accounts to identify any influencer campaigns, and contact the influencer in question to request a collaboration.

Alternatively, you can search hashtags on social media to see what influencers are already talking about, and what causes might be of interest.

How to launch an influencer campaign for your nonprofit

You know the what and the why. Read on to discover some great influencer collaboration ideas that will grow your nonprofit.

Get your micro-influencer to tell your nonprofit story.

Micro-influencers are characterized by their special relationship with their followers. The interactions influencers have with them are genuine and meaningful—they are real. As a result, they enjoy an honest, trusting follower relationship.

This is a boon for nonprofits. The general public is numb to marketing, either switching over when an ad comes on TV, or switching off when they see one online. But when micro-influencers extoll the benefits of a nonprofit, their followers pay attention.

Use this special relationship to your own advantage and get your chosen influencer to discuss in depth why they partnered with you. They should outline your various initiatives, highlight the work you do, and even meet and interview someone your nonprofit has helped in the past.

Launch a UGC donation matching campaign.

Most brand-influencer partnerships use a contest, competition, or giveaway to grow their business. And while some nonprofits might benefit from this, an even better, albeit similar, idea is to launch an influencer-led user-generated content (UGC) donation matching campaign.

Donation matching is simple, but effective.

Your chosen influencer gets their followers to share an Instagram photo centered around a theme (e.g. if you’re an animal rights nonprofit, they might share a photo of their favorite animal) with a branded hashtag, following and tagging your account. For every photo shared, your micro-influencer donates $1 (up to a given value).

This strategy doesn’t just give you a quick donation boost. It also invites interaction with your social media followers. It creates a conversation with your followers, involving them with your nonprofit work and making them care.

A UGC donation matching campaign also gives your nonprofit a valuable publicity boost, netting you new followers and growing your Instagram account. Combine this with National Giving Day for an added promotional boost.

Involve your influencer to reach unengaged individuals.

Many nonprofits struggle to make their work seem real to donors. For example, let’s say you’re a nonprofit working with individuals suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. You might find it difficult to make people with no experience of the disease connect with your cause on a meaningful level, simply because it feels too distant.

Micro-influencers are the perfect conduit for breaching that distance. Invite your influencer to see first-hand the vital work you do, and encourage them to share their experience on social media.

Of course, sensitivity and confidentiality is crucial here. But when you and your micro-influencer work together to create a nuanced, insightful social campaign, you turn otherwise indifferent individuals into engaged, committed donors.

Influencer collaborations are an effective and affordable marketing strategy for nonprofits. They drive engagement and get your organization seen, helping you reach a whole new audience of potential donors who might otherwise not know your nonprofit. Use the tips above to create an influencer partnership that grows your nonprofit now and well into the future.


Kayleigh Alexandra of Micro Startups

Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer at Micro Startups, your go-to place for charity news and insight. She loves writing about all the great nonprofits, startups, and entrepreneurs that make waves in their industry. For more of her work, check out the blog today @getmicrostarted.

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Growing your nonprofit can be tough. Aside from competing for attention against so many other worthwhile nonprofits, making  donors  care about a cause is a big task. Thankfully, influencers are here to make all of that a breeze.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


Ask the Experts: Understanding Your Audience

Each month, I invite guest contributors to speak about timely, relevant, and sought-after topics that are important for cause-focused organizations like yours to be aware of as you grow. For August, I've invited my friend, Jen Gordon, to share about uncovering the hidden desires of your donors and customers. Understanding your audience will be a key to your success.

Uncover the hidden desires of your donors and customers.

Q. What are the latest trends in your industry?

A. What I’m seeing lately is a trend toward companies identifying their marketing strategy first, and then outlining the tactics they will take to align with that strategy. By “strategy," I mean really digging into the hidden and unspoken desires of your prospect, and developing your approach to that audience around those wants.

In the past I’ve seen marketers using tactics like, “Hey, let’s send out a direct mail piece like the one I saw from XYZ organization.” Or, “Oh, let’s send an email campaign about our next fundraiser,” before truly identifying why their prospects would want to engage the content.

There has always been interest in the marketing world around the psychology of marketing, but today there is a lot more content readily available about the psychological drivers that cause prospects to take a certain action, to leave, buy, or donate. Nir Eyal writes a blog that focuses on consumer behavioral triggers and habits. Though most of his work focuses on software development, the concepts he teaches are applicable to any industry.

Q. What is the biggest mistake you see people making in regards to what you do?

A. One of the mistakes I have seen many times over the years of creating landing pages and sales funnels is that business owners may have a short-term plan or campaign they want to launch, but don’t have a clear roadmap for the year in terms of where they want to be in 30/60/90 days or six months, etc. They generally know what they want to achieve, but the path getting there is often unclear.

Right now, I’m working on a marketing calendar (with some inspiration from this SEJ post) for my own product, the Hope Deck, using Google Sheets, Google Calendar and Trello—all free tools!

Q. What is your best piece of advice?

A. If you aren’t trained on how to uncover your prospect, donor, or customer’s hidden, unspoken wants/desires, then find someone who is. :) Learning how to do this while working on the Hope Deck has completely changed how I connect to, and communicate with, my audience.

It has allowed me to understand how I can bring the maximum amount of value to my customers. I no longer assume that I am a part of my target audience, which I have done in the past. My mind is open to a wider range of problems people want to solve, and emotions they want to feel or not feel.

Q. What is one thing readers can do this week to improve?

A. Start figuring out what your audience really wants—not what they need, but what they want. I created a spreadsheet for the Hope Deck where I am in the process of identifying my customer’s unspoken desires. Don't get overwhelmed. Keep it simple to begin, and then edit or expand it over time.

Q. Anything else we should keep in mind?

A. The best way to uncover these hidden wants and desires is to actually talk to your customers or donors. I’d recommend recording the conversations, if possible, so you can review them later and pick up on details you may miss in the moment. Another option is to get them in writing through emails or surveys. You'll then use their language when speaking to them in your emails, social media, and any other communication pieces, so that it's familiar and relatable.

And be sure to ask them open-ended questions about why they choose to partner with, donate to, purchase from, or do business with you. Most of the time they won’t express their hidden desires outright, but you can infer from their answers what is important to them, and from there brainstorm motivation, emotional triggers, and things like that.


Jen Gordon is a momma, artist, and entrepreneur based in Atlanta, Georgia. For the past eight years of her career, she’s specialized in conversion centered design, working closely with marketers and business owners to increase sales by testing and optimizing their sales funnels. Her geeky passions include finishing stuff, brain rewiring, crafts of any sort, and anything Dolly Parton has ever said or sung. :) You can find her latest creative project, a collection of inspirational postcards, at www.HopeDeck.com.



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Start figuring out what your audience really wants—not what they need, but what they want. Uncovering the hidden wants and desires of your audience will be a key to your success.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Marketing Plan: Is Your Mission Missing Its Map? (Free Download)

Your organization undoubtedly has a mission, but does it have a map?

Marketing Plan: Is Your Mission Missing Its Map? (Free download)

For several years, my friends and I set off each summer on what we called the Chaos Mission Trip. It was completely unplanned (hence "chaos"). We went through several weeks of training leading up to our departure date, but they were focused on personal growth and team development. Meaning, we were prepping for whatever might happen along the way. The trip itself thrived on spontaneity. Every trip was completely different because it changed depending on what direction we went in, who was on the team, those we met on the road, and what opportunities were presented to us. The goal was just to serve those we came in contact with in a way that benefited them.

In contrast, last year I visited Barcelona for the first time. This was a bucket list trip for me! And, as such, I wanted to make the most of it. It also marked my first solo international trip. I'm a planner by nature, and also an introvert. So, I scheduled myself fully each day to make sure I knocked out all the city's highlights. I booked all kinds of tours, and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone to make friends when possible. Every day was packed, and when I left, I felt like I'd accomplished almost everything I wanted to. I wasn't sure if or when I'd return to this amazing city, so I wanted the full experience. 

Both trips served a purpose, but I wouldn't recommend building your business using the chaos formula.

Sadly, that's what I see too often in organizations. Sure, it may not be quite this "chaotic," but there seems to be little strategy behind lots (and lots) of effort.

  • Social media posts go up haphazardly.

  • Emails are sporadic, at best.

  • To Do lists are determined by urgency.

  • Initiatives are based on what's been done before, or what seems best right now.

  • Goals are recycled or undefined.

  • Staffers are overworked, and always in reaction mode.

None of this sounds fun, but it may sound familiar.

However, there is one item that may help ease some of these pains. It's not a magic pill, or a miracle cure.

But it is a way to give your purpose more purpose, you mission more muscle, and your cause more concentration.

It's called a marketing plan. 

What exactly is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is likely a term you've heard before, but may not fully understand. The beauty of this document is that it provides both a 30,000 foot view and an on-the-ground perspective. It gives shape and structure to all your efforts. It tells you which direction you should go in, and helps keep you on the path for getting there.

Basic pieces of a marketing plan:

  • Objectives and goals

  • Customer or donor research

  • Market research

  • Unique selling proposition

  • Pricing and positioning strategy

  • Distribution plan

  • Offers

  • Marketing materials and collateral

  • Promotions strategy

  • Conversion strategy

  • Partnerships and joint ventures

  • Referral strategy

  • Retention strategy

  • Financial projections

  • Key dates (Not on a lot of plans, but I personally like to include.)

So, in looking at this list, you may automatically see why you've never created a marketing plan before. I get it. Some of the terms can be confusing. And you may assume this will take a lot of time and effort—and, frankly, you'd be right. But remember that first bullet list above? The one with little strategy behind it? Marketing plans are the workaround. Wouldn't it be better to focus your efforts rather than running around exhausted, overworked, and on the path that leads to burnout?

Think about it in your own life. Meal planning can save you money on groceries because you're less likely to eat out or waste food. And running errands in a particular order often saves you travel time. Time and money often top our priority list at home, as well as at work. So, preparation and planning can go a long way to ease some of your daily concerns. They have a beautiful trickle down effect.

In essence, marketing plans are the lens you can use to focus all your organization's efforts. When a new event or initiative pops up, as they tend to do, see where it fits into your marketing plan. Can you squeeze it in? Does it require some editing, or a complete overhaul? Should it be added to the radar, or become a priority? Use these filters to determine it's place in your organization. Depending on your answers, you may want to add it, put it on hold, or scrap it entirely. Without a marketing plan, you may not be able to see the big picture objectively, and how it may alter all other aspects.

Hopefully, by now I've convinced you of the need for a marketing plan.

You may even be asking yourself how you can create one of your very own. (Stay tuned!)

And depending on your job function, you may also be wondering if a marketing plan is best for your business as a whole, an annual event, or an big initiative? The answer is yes.

How do you create a marketing plan?

First, start with one of those targets: the company as a whole, an annual event, or a large initiative. Just choose one to begin until you've practiced and refined your process. If you decide to create a marketing plan for your business as a whole, it will touch on events and initiatives, but you can go into greater detail when you write one for all of the large "buckets" at your business. 

And to make things easier for you, I've created a marketing plan template for you:

Again, this document will be important for several reasons:

  • When your team goes through it together each year, you'll be able to get, and stay, on the same page. Goals, objectives, strategy—everything is laid out right there for you all to see.

  • It'll help you plan and execute more efficiently.

  • It'll help you easily answer questions for employees, partners, contractors, and new hires.

  • It can be helpful to show your board if you need to request a larger budget next year.

  • It's great for accountability, either for yourself, your team, or your entire staff.

I've included directions in each section of the template so you know exactly how to fill it in. I'd say to set aside a few hours minimum to work on this document. Your team can build it together, or you can kick things off and then bring others in after the first draft. And because this is likely new to you, be sure to work on it in a distraction-free space. You'll need to concentrate. It should be really well-defined and detailed so that it's easier to edit or update moving forward.

Remember, it's yours, so add as much detail as you like to be helpful. You'll see how nice it is to keep all of this information in one place! You may also choose to include more detailed explanations, budgets, note responsible parties for each section, add specific deadlines, and things like that. You can also, of course, delete anything you that's not relevant to you, but I'd recommend that sparingly because both nonprofits and for-profits can benefit from this information.

One and done?

Marketing plans are living documents, and should be reviewed at least annually, unless something major occurs. They can be edited and updated as needed, which will likely be minimal changes. The heavy-lifting occurs during the first draft, which should also come as a relief.

And marking plans are fantastic for being able to see information, trends, and outlines at a glance. That's what makes it more of a reference document than a one-time task. This is long-term thinking in action! Be sure to highlight and note any important changes from one revision to the next, such as a major shift in target audience, pricing, or financial goals.

Next?

After you've logged the time creating this mammoth, you should be able to see how a marketing plan will direct your organization's efforts. It should give you both short-term and long-term perspective.

Now, your mission has a map. The path has been laid out, and all you have to do is walk it. It's not always easy, but a marketing plan goes a long way to making it more simple.

Next week, we'll talk about what this looks like in action on a daily basis. I'll show you how I used five different marketing plans at my previous job to detail my To Do list. 

In the meantime, check out other recent posts for "Marketing May" where I discuss trends and strategies, as well as marketing 101.

And if you are interested in a marketing plan, but just can't find the time to create one on your own, this is a service I provide. I'd be happy to work alongside you in creating your map. Alternatively, learn the five things to stop doing this week, which will give you more time and energy to work on your marketing and communications.



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Your organization undoubtedly has a mission, but does it have a map?

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


12 Questions That Inspire Content Creation

Content marketing has made a huge splash over the past few years, and it's only gaining ground. If you aren't familiar with the term, content marketing is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as, "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues."

If you haven't jumped on the content marketing bandwagon, you'd be wise to not only consider it, but start the implementation process soon.

This is the reason you see more and more organizations of all sizes utilizing social media, blogs, webinars, podcasts, Pinterest and the like. These mediums for "giving away" free content do not hurt revenue, and only help to spread the word about your organization. They also help build credibility as well as a relationship with fans. If you haven't jumped on the content marketing bandwagon, you'd be wise to not only consider it, but start the implementation process soon.

However, one of the biggest challenges to content marketing is creating a steady stream of, well, content. Some days it can feel like inspiration rains from the heavens, while other days are more drought-like. The important thing is to record ideas as they come, so you'll have them on tap for a later date.

If you need a springboard, or think your supply is running a little short, below are some questions to get you started.

CLIENT INSPIRATION

  1. What questions have they asked?

  2. What problem or need are you trying to solve for them?

  3. What case studies can you share that others can learn from?

INDUSTRY INSPIRATION

  1. What are the latest trends?

  2. What have you learned at recent events or conferences?

  3. What are your online and in-person mentors discussing?

PEER INSPIRATION

  1. What relevant conversations are you having?

  2. What questions have they asked regarding your expertise?

  3. What do you see them doing that could help your clients/customers/fans?

POP CULTURE INSPIRATION

  1. What movies or TV shows have sparked business ideas or lessons?

  2. What books are you reading that you could share lessons from, or post a book review on?

  3. What podcasts are you listening to that could also benefit your audience?

As you see, inspiration can come from anything. Pretty soon, you'll start to recognize it in all its forms. And because information changes, your knowledge base expands, and perspectives shift, you can come back to these questions again and again.

A reminder: Make sure you have a system handy for writing down ideas when the pop in your head so that you have them ready to go in the future. And a tip for writing—do it when the mood strikes, and write as much as you can. Get ahead, if possible, for when you are low on time or your creativity is more tapped.

Where do your content marketing ideas come from? Please share in the comments!



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

If you haven't jumped on the content marketing bandwagon, you'd be wise to not only consider it, but start the implementation process soon.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.