As you foray into online fundraising for your nonprofit, you might
have stumbled upon the term “social media influencer”.
You might wonder what that is exactly and where would you even get one of
A social media influencer is simply a person whose online
presence carries weight. There are many kinds of influencers, but they share
the following qualities:
An influencer has had to earn their
audience’s trust in some way, and more trust means longer attention spans.
Being an expert in a field is one way
an influencer gains credibility. Physicians like Sanjay Gupta or Dr. Oz are
influential – the former as a CNN medical correspondent and the latter as host
of the eponymous television show – primarily due to their medical expertise.
Social media influencers have
extensive audiences. They have numerous followers across several platforms;
sometimes there are overlaps; that is to say, one might follow a blogger both
on Facebook and Twitter. For example, author, blogger and speaker Jon Acuff has
more than 49,000 fans on Facebook and nearly 186,000 followers on Facebook.
The influencer’s audience is marked
by quantity and quality. That is to
say, she has many meaningful interactions with most of her many followers. Her
followers not only consume her content but share it with their respective
for Social Media Influencers
Now that you know who social media influencers are, you need
to learn how to connect with those who would best advocate for your
Hint: An influencer’s celebrity doesn’t translate into being
an effective endorser of your cause. While not impossible, an urban fashionista
probably would not be the best spokesperson for a nonprofit focused on
promoting sustainable agriculture in the global south. A food critic who writes
extensively about organic farming and shopping at farmers’ markets, on the
other hand, would be a better fit.
Finding the right social media influencers involves more than
just referring to industry and social rankings; you’ll have to do your own
research to identify these key people. Fortunately, searching for them is not
like trying to find Waldo.
Basically, you’ll be relying heavily
on search engines and social media to find and befriend these influencers. Here
are our tips on engaging with social media influencers.
Search for content –news articles,
blogposts, research papers, trade magazines and books – germane to your field
of work. Note the authors and their respective sources.
Chances are you’ve already come
across these names if you’re already keeping up your industry’s news. Create a
spreadsheet where you can record and keep track of these names.
Plug these names into Twitter and
start following them. Add their handles to your spreadsheet and note other
interesting facts about them.
Do likewise on other channels, such
as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube. Skim through their
information and content, and record your findings in your spreadsheet.
Sometimes, social media channels are
search engines unto themselves. Run a Twitter search for
industry keywords to find people that your Google (or Bing or Yahoo!) search
might have overlooked.
Measure their social influence
Use Klout or a similar platform to
get detailed, statistical analyses of the influencers’ influence. You can use
these tools to find more influencers, too.
Determine your targets
Now that you’ve gathered information
on the persons of interest, narrow the field of candidates. You’re free to lend
as much or as little weight to the myriad opinions on the who’s who in the
social media sphere.
But at the end of the day, only you
can decide who is right for your cause and your campaign. One factor you might
consider could be how much time you can devote to engaging with these
influencers, in addition to their degree of relevance.
Once you’ve finalized your selection
of social media influencers, group them by categories of your choice. You can
create lists on Twitter and circles on Google+ to help manage your
You can publicize or keep private the
lists/circles you make. If you opt to share your lists publicly, be careful how
you display them; avoid giving the impression that you’re familiar with these
people if you actually haven’t met them before.
Interact with them
Across the various platforms, start
following your chosen influencers. Listen to what they’re saying. Respond to
their thoughts. Start conversations. Ask questions.
This is a
marathon, not a sprint
Remember that influencers are ultimately people to connect
with, not instruments to be played. So offer ways to serve them; in that way,
both your mission and your influencers benefit.