5 rules of influencer marketing for charities

Charlie Davenport

Influencer marketing is the practice by which businesses recruit a person of influence to share the organisation’s messages with the influencer’s own audience, often (but not always) in return for a financial incentive. I look at this as – empowering your advocates. This method is based a core principle of marketing: people are more likely to absorb and act on the recommendation of a friend or individual they trust than that of a brand or organisation.

The five rules of influencer marketing

Whether you’re considering dipping a toe in the waters of influencer marketing or simply want to add further rigour to your current influencer program, your timing couldn’t be better. As the channel matures, many of the challenges and teething problems of the last few years have been solved or improved upon. The relationships between brands and their influencers are becoming less murky and more sophisticated. Best practice approaches have been identified and perfected.

Here are a few rules of thumb to help you get the most out of your influencer marketing program:

  1. Be authentic.

Authenticity is the key to a successful influencer campaign.  Audiences have a nose for when something feels contrived or an influencer is ‘doing it for the money’ so it’s critical to work with people who have a genuine stake in your cause.  One of the reasons influencer marketing and charities are such a good fit is that influencers will often already be vocal about causes they support; this, in turn, makes them easier to identify, the relationship smoother to establish and your message a more natural fit.


  1. Don’t assume bigger is better.

Experience has taught us that going after big-name celebrities or digital influencers with huge fanbases to endorse your cause doesn’t always provide the best ROI. In fact, statistics have shown that niche social influencers with smaller followings tend to enjoy greater engagement with their audience and higher conversion rates, all of which is great news for charities with limited marketing budgets.  We call these individuals micro-influencers or long-tail influencers: their audiences are smaller but highly targeted and more active online.

Where it gets really interesting, however, is when you can start to search for these individuals within your existing donor database. Attentive.ly is a social listening software provider created especially with nonprofits in mind. It reveals what people from your database are saying on social media, as well as which issues resonate and why allowing you to identify who your own micro-influencers are and build rich social profiles on those individuals. This offers charities the potential to radically increase the engagement and reach of campaigns by creating tailored outreach to influential and highly engaged individuals from within their own networks.

  1. Choose quality over quantity.

Influencers like to feel valued and expect to be treated as individuals. Even if they provide access to their fans in return for a financial reward, it’s still important that you invest time in the relationship to ensure they are emotionally committed to your cause.

  1. Be strategic.

Before committing to an influencer program, have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, how you’d like to achieve it and how you plan to measure success. Consider how best to use your influencers and what actions you want them to take: is the primary goal sharing your brand’s content with as many people as possible?

  1. Track & measure.

Measuring the success of influencer marketing campaigns has historically been problematic – and continues to be. According to a recent industry survey, 78 percent of marketers said measuring ROI for influencer marketing was their biggest challenge – and it’s easy to see why.

So how should brands be measuring success? For starters, introducing a wider range of metrics, such as engagement, audience sentiment and conversions will help to level the playing field and ensure you are measuring more than just fan numbers.  Even easier to incorporate into your campaign are hashtags: they encourage others to join the conversation and make it easy to track.

The post What is influencer marketing? appeared first on Blackbaud Europe.

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