Harnessing the Power of Micro-influencers for Your Nonprofit

2020 was the year of influencer marketing. Lockdown led to an increased engagement with social media media, our behavior as consumers changed, companies were presented with challenges to traditional advertising methods like photo and video shoots, and marketing budgets were reexamined as brands everywhere were pivoting their strategies. People were craving human interaction and many brands turned to influencer marketing, allowing them to connect with consumers in an intentional and authentic way.

Influencer marketing is not new, in fact it can be traced back to the 1700s when Wedgewood made a tea set for the wife of King George III. However, there’s been a surge in influencer marketing over the past few years. According to the annual Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, there has been at least a 50% increase year over year since 2016.

Who Are Influencers?

An influencer is a well-known online personality typically associated with social media. However there are also many influencers who built their following through a successful blog.

Influencers fall into 1 of 5 categories depending on their number of followers. The specific range of followers, and even the number of categories, may differ depending on who you talk to. The following is a general guideline:

Mega-influencers: 1 million+ followers
These are social superstars. Think celebrities
Macro-influencers: 500,000–1 million followers
Celebrities, experts, and public figures.
Mid-tier influencers: 50,000–500,000 followers
Internet famous. Celebrities in their own right.
Micro-influencers: 5,000–50,000 followers
"Real people" considered experts in a specific niche.
Nano-influencers: 1,000–5,000 followers
Content creators with influence in their local communities.

Why Does This Matter to Nonprofits?

While many associate the term influencer with fashion, beauty, home decor and tangible products, nonprofit organizations can leverage the power of influencers to successfully raise awareness, as well as funds, for their cause. And luckily for nonprofits, gone are the days of relying on celebrities to capture the eyes and hearts of large audiences. As social media continues to become more integrated with our lives, people are turning to their favorite YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram personalities for recommendations much like they would their own friends and family. Enter the micro-influencer.

Micro-Influencers: The Sweet Spot

Nano-influencers have high engagement but low reach.

Mega-, macro- and mid-tier influencers all have a high reach, but their engagement declines as their reach increases and their audience make-up diversifies.

With both high reach and engagement, micro-influencers are the ideal choice for many brands looking to collaborate with social influencers.

And most importantly, they are trusted. Micro-influencers are able to connect with their audience on a personal level with curated content related to a particular niche. Interests vary and include everything from animals to cars, beauty, fashion, fitness, tech, gaming, travel—the list is endless.

Micro-influencers have invested extensive time and energy into understanding their audience. They know what content, which platform, and the preferred time of day to communicate with their followers. Their goal is authenticity and their audience can see through insincerity. Micro-influencers are not going to risk years of hard work by compromising their values or breaking the trust of their followers by posting content that doesn’t fit their personal brand. Any time they choose to promote a product, company, or a nonprofit, you can bet it will be well-considered and within their niche.

Why Should Your Nonprofit Partner with a Micro-influencer?

We point all this out, because this all works in your favor. When you collaborate with a micro-influencer, they’ve already done the heavy lifting. A successful collaboration will allow your nonprofit to tap into an entirely new network of people it may have never been able to reach. It’s word of mouth taken to the next level.

Many micro-influencers already support specific causes and often will be more than happy to support a cause that aligns with their own. It makes them look good and their audience feel good.

How Can Partnering with a Micro-influencer Help Your Nonprofit?

Create Trust

Studies have shown that 92% of consumers have more trust in recommendations from other people than branded content. Micro-influencers have built their following over years of intentional content creation, gaining the trust of their audience. Many followers consider influencers to be friends or acquaintances and respect their opinion. Hearing an influencer speak about your organization will go much further than a testimonial on your website or direct mailer.

Raise Brand Awareness

It’s much easier to get the help you need when people know who you are. Micro-influencers can help spread the word about your cause and bring your organization to the forefront. Collaborations with influencers also create a digital footprint, appearing in search results—strengthening credibility and increasing recognition.

Generate New Support

As we mentioned above, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from others. And whether you are seeking volunteers or donations, influencers have access to followers who will not only listen to their recommendations, but likely take action. In fact, 80% of consumers have carried out a purchase following the recommendation of an influencer—imagine the impact influencers could have with a similar conversion rate for nonprofit causes!

Get the Word Out

If you need to get the word out, influencers can make it happen. Any parent who’s supported their child in a fundraising effort understands the power of increasing their reach beyond immediate friends and family. When those friends and family members also spread the word that little Johnny is selling candy bars to pay for a new playground, the network of support grows. A collaboration with the right influencer can do the same thing, increasing your reach exponentially.

How Do You Find the Right Micro-Influencer?

First, make sure you have identified your goals and then ask yourself a few questions:

Who are you trying to reach?

This will help you select an influencer that has an audience that overlaps with your own. If your influencer’s niche complements your organization’s mission, they’re more likely to be invested in your cause and the resulting collaboration will ring true with their followers.

What action do you want them to take?

If you’re looking for a specific action from the influencer’s audience, be clear. Influencers are more successful when they have creative freedom to share your story. The message and any ask should sound authentic to their brand.

What can you offer for compensation?

It’s important to remember that many influencers make a living with their brand. What will you offer in return for their influence?

Once you’re prepared to start reaching out, all it takes is a bit of time and effort. Here are some methods for finding your ideal micro-influencer:

  • Start in your own backyard: Browse your own social media platforms first and see who’s commenting and sharing your content. It’s possible you may have a micro-influencer already engaged with your target audience and familiar with your brand. 
  • Social media hashtags: Search Twitter and Instagram hashtags related to your brand, your cause, and your demographics or use a hashtag tool to find influencers that may fit what you’re looking for.
  • Google search: This can be time consuming, but if you have a specific audience like mommy bloggers, a simple Google search can go a long way.

     

  • Influencer databases: These are paid tools and based on our perusal of the options, they don’t offer much information up front—at least not without turning over your name and contact information first. However they do provide access to influencer databases that allow you to refine your search with filtered searches.

You’ve Found a Potential Micro-influencer, Now What?

It’s time for more research. Before reaching out to a potential collaborator, make sure you take time to review their content, follow them, engage with their posts. Approach them like you would a potential donor by developing a relationship first. Once you’ve developed the relationship, then you can introduce the idea of a partnership and discuss strategies and tactics. Be conscious of their time and consider compensation—especially if they’re working pro bono.

Offer some free benefits to the partnership:

  • Invite them to tour your facility (and have them post about it)
  • Invite them to attend an event you’re hosting (for free)
  • Invite them to see your cause in action—if your cause impacts areas outside your local community (or the country) comp their ticket for a trip to see your nonprofit at work

Immersing an influencer in a cause they care about will likely result in some great advertising and increased awareness for your organization.

It's All About Relationships

Building a relationship with a micro-influencer takes time, effort, and trust. But the outcome is mutually beneficial—more visibility for your cause and quality content for them. 

Partnering with an influencer can be a valuable tool. Connecting with an established influencer’s network will allow you to expand your audience, raise awareness for your cause or a specific campaign, and move new supporters to take action and further your mission.