We all know that social media has historically been hard nut to crack for nonprofits. The potential for raising awareness is virtually infinite – but then so again so is the competition who are vying for a finite amount of attention. And to rise above the noise that’s out there it’s (obviously) important to get people talking about your organization. While easier said than done, it’s critical to figure out how to do this for your own cause.
To help illustrate this, I’ll borrow a term from the military: force multiplier. Force multiplication refers to an attribute or a combination of attributes which make a given force more effective than that same force would be without it. A simple example of a force multiplier is a hammer. Imagine trying to hit a nail into wood with your hand. Good luck. But the hammer multiplies the force available to you – and actually makes your job much easier (and safer).
This is the same principle at play in getting people to talk about your organization. It’s just a matter of identifying the people in your networks (whether power users or celebrity types) that are the influencers. And if you can tee up the work for them, it’s easy for them to in turn do the work on your behalf and, in the process, reach orders of magnitude more people than you could ever hope to on your own.
Take for example Boxed Water. They worked with three influencers to raise awareness around their campaign with the National Forest Foundation.
Called The Retree Project, for every Instagram photo posted with #Retree, Boxed Water plants two trees. As of today, there are 7,181 Instagram photos with #Retree tagged. I’m no mathematician, but that’s like 14,362 new trees. Without the assist of the three influencers (aka force multipliers), who knows how many fewer trees would be planted for this campaign?
What we can draw from this case study is that working with influencers on social impact campaigns is mutually beneficial. The brands get the awareness they need to thrive and the influencers are given ways to align their own brands with causes they care about. It’s force multiplication across the board.
GIVE YOUR INFLUENCER OUTREACH STRUCTURE
Influencers cast a wide net and will be your ultimate force multipliers. But before getting started on anything, take a quick look at this Brand Ambassador Program Blueprint by Britt Michaelian for small businesses. She lays out an excellent template for how to get get a program like this off the ground, the differences between brand ambassadors and influencers, and just what you can expect from these people who are now critical components of your organizational strategy.
GIVE THEM FUN CONTENT TO SHARE
When Blue State Digital launched their first influencer campaign with Freedom to Marry in 2013 before the Supreme Court took on DOMA and Prop 8 they needed to find the right influencers to help make history. And guess where the influencers were? Literally right under their noses. They were in FTM’s database, but just needed to be empowered, activated and armed with simple, yet fun actions (note the colorful props and influencers used in the image below).
The results they got in the social media sphere were staggering, and speaks to the testament of force multipliers. Learn more about this groundbreaking and innovative collaboration between Attentive.ly Partner Blue State Digital and Freedom to Marry.
MAKE IT WORTH TALKING ABOUT
Patagonia’s “Worn Wear Wagon” will encourage customers to think about how fashion choices relate to environmental conservation.
When it comes to finding ways make something worth sharing, sometimes it’s nice to borrow ideas from our (resource-rich) corporate friends, such as a recent campaign by Patagonia that’s one of my personal favorites. One component of their larger organizational goal is to support conscious consumption and sustainability. And to show that this wasn’t just corporate buzz, they sent employees out on the road in a mobile repair station to mend well-worn clothing (and this wasn’t limited to just Patagonia equipment).
During their nationwide tour, they also taught people how to do many of the easy repairs on their own. This is the sort of thing that will get people talking about your brand organically – and then imagine how much more awareness a well-known influencer could bring to a project like this?
LIKE DONORS, MAKE SURE TO THANK YOUR SOCIAL WEALTH
A common thread running through all of these is that you need to make the process as easy and painless as possible for these your influencers. Even if they openly care about your cause, many of these people have a lot of asks and requests flooding their inboxes and DMs every day. So you need it tee it up for them and think three steps ahead of what they may need. And thank them profusely, privately and publicly. Most everyone loves to be praised, and if other people see your sincere shout outs to your team, they’ll want to get in on the action as well – and will just be adding to your arsenal of influencers.
WHO SHOULD YOU GET TALKING?
Clearly work must go into identifying the right influencers to get people talking, as well as making their lift as little as possible in multiplying your force. In our guide, “How to Identify & Engage Your Influencers,” we discuss that everyone has some kind of influence over others, the key is to figure out who you should spend your limited time cultivating. We recommend starting with your people. These are the folks who have already raised their hands and said tell me more by signing up for your enews, petitions, events, donations, etc. Look for those with 500+ social connections, a Klout score of 40+ and ideally write about issues that support your work.
To better understand an influencers relevancy, take some time to listen to what they’re saying on social, especially with VIP or Professional influencers. What topics are most important to them and do they intersect with your campaigns? With a social listening tool like Attentive.ly, you can make an informed decision on whether this is the right person to be promoting your campaigns.
ASK YOUR STAFF
In your next all staff meeting, ask everyone to send in lists of people that are already very engaged in your issues, people who currently talk about you, and, most importantly, a list of aspirational influencers that you can approach about working together in a mutually beneficial way. You never know where your next influencer may come from – so it’s important to get feedback from as many people as possible. After compiling this list, sit down with the key players on the team and whittle it down to who will work best for your larger strategic goals. This list is your team of human force multipliers, blanketing the social media landscape with your cause.
Also think about leveraging your staff to get creative and really think outside of the box. Assemble a creative committee that meets twice a month to discuss innovative ways to get people talking and sharing – around the issues important to your brand and mission. Really dive deep into the question: what’s going to get people talking? Strive to create a culture in your workplace in which social media is where the staff’s craziest and most off-the-wall ideas can potentially find a home.
I’ll leave you with this not-new idea: to succeed as a nonprofit, you need to rise above the noise. And you can try do this on your own and reach your current base, or you can focus on engaging existing and new influencers and reach 100 or 1,000 or 1,000,000 times as many people. The name of the game is force multiplication. And you do that through leveraging influencers.
Do you want to find a way to get people talking about your campaigns? Want to encourage influencers to support your organization, but don’t know how to get started. Download our free guide to learn how to start your own influencer powered program.
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