Social media is growing fast and nonprofits are becoming increasingly inventive in the way they engage supporters through the channel. In this blog, Pinja Hirvilammi, marketing lead at Plan International’s Global Fundraising Hub and Plan International Finland, sets out her approach to influencer marketing, sharing her tips for success.
Over the last decade, we have seen social media grow rapidly in importance. Since the astounding Ice Bucket Challenge back in 2014, which raised 200 million dollars for the research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, nonprofits are increasingly turning to social media channels to fundraise. Social network platforms have doubled their total user base globally, from 2.03 billion in 2014 to over 4.20 billion users in 2021. But how can we encourage our supporters not only to follow us on social channels, but to engage with us or take action?
It’s a fact that human beings react more strongly to other human beings and that is the reason why influencers have significant power in social media. As influencers make regular posts about their chosen topics on their preferred social media channels, they generate large followings of engaged people who pay close attention to their views. People look up to influencers in social media to guide them with their decision making. Interestingly, we find that influencers that with the largest follower base tend don’t always have the strongest influencing power. Being a niche influencer often creates more credibility in the followers.
An ODM Group study found that 74% of consumers rely on social networks to help with their purchasing decisions. I believe it’s quite safe to say that this trend applies also to donation decisions.
Working with influencers
Influencer marketing can be an extremely successful strategy for fundraising. At Plan International, we’ve found that long term influencer collaboration can lead to gathering donations three times their fee and produce this way great pool of leads.
If you’re considering working with influencers, you’ll want to be clear about what you expect to achieve from the programme (for both parties), what to consider when choosing your influencer(s) and how to go about embedding influencer marketing in your fundraising programme.
When it comes to why nonprofits and influencers should work together, there are three main reasons that come to mind:
-Influencing power. Our industry has a long history of using celebrities to gain attention to our causes, so we really understand the influencing power of someone in the limelight – or regularly appearing in one’s phone screen.
-Beneficial collaboration for both parties. When values are shared, collaboration tends to be a win-win situation to the nonprofit and to the influencer. Nonprofits can reach new audiences and the influencer gains depths to their brand.
-Finding new ways to communicate your cause. Influencer marketing can also be an excellent way to learn and test new ways of communication.
Choosing an influencer
But how do you choose which influencer you should approach? This takes some research and planning. You’ll need to:
–Know your target group. What motivates them to donate. What social channels do they follow? Adjust your campaigning targets according to your purpose and the possibilities of reaching out the right audience.
–Set your goals. Be clear about the goals of the collaboration and budget realistically resources and time.
–Aim for long-term relationships. Build a good regular rapport with your influencers. In my experience, collaboration and results tend to get better with time.
Three ways to implement influencer marketing
You’ve found your influencer(s), but what will you ask them to do? There are many ways to use influencer marketing in fundraising and I’ve seen some great results from these three approaches:
–Let your influencer and their followers become activists and create a sense of community. This might be by asking them to demonstrate their stance by contributing their photo to your campaign (as pictured below).
-Link the influencer with your regular donation product and let them build their identity around their support for the cause as a donor. Share their story on your landing page and raise the profile of regular giving, as we’ve done here.
-Incorporate peer to peer fundraising in your influencer marketing programme. Let your influencers set up campaigns, raising funds and inspiring others to do the same within their community. See Hanne Kettunen’s peer-to-peer page here.
Our changing times require us to innovate and the best innovations tend to combine something new with something old. So, I recommend we should take this novel way of communicating with audiences, but combine it with the classic elements of fundraising. I’m quite sure we’ll reap the best results this way.
About Pinja Hirvilammi
Pinja is the marketing lead at both Plan International’s Global Fundraising Hub and at Plan International Finland, where she has successfully run marketing and fundraising campaigns with influencers. She promotes the Finnish Fundraising Association‘s ethical regulations of influencer collaboration with NGOs and created a campaign to encourage a more positive donation culture in Finland.
Pinja joined Plan International Finland 2018. Prior to this she worked in UN Women Finland as a Fundraising Manager.