Steve Winter: conservation photojournalist, speaker, and most importantly: social media influencer.

A simple endorsement from Steve caused one of our client’s, African Parks’, Instagram following to spike by nearly 90%, in two weeks.

Social Media Influencer

Posts like this aren’t just a great way to increase your following:

  • “Influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher return on investment (ROI), than traditional forms of digital marketing.” (Tapfluence)
  • “Influencer content on social media earns more than 8X the engagement rate of brand-direct content.” (Tapfluence)

These numbers demonstrate what social media influencers are: people with large followings who have pull or sway over their digital audiences. Influencers make me buy things and consider veganism. And their authority exists on all social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, even Snapchat.

Many people think only brands use influencers as a part of their marketing strategy. But, like we’ve seen with African Parks, nonprofits can benefit as well.

So how do you build these bonds? Influencer/non-profit relationships can happen organically – but there are a few questions you might want to ask before establishing one:


1. Who do you reach out to?

When you’re looking for an influencer to work with you, find ones who genuinely connect with your brand. Target those who care about what you’re saying.

When Steve Winter published his Instagram promoting an African Parks campaign, it resonated with his audience. This was because, as a conservation photojournalist, an African Parks photo is the type of content Winter’s audience can expect from him.

So, when targeting influencers the first question you should ask is: have they posted content relevant to what your nonprofit is doing? If the answer is yes, great.

Once you’ve found a relevant influencer, see if this influencer has posted content that isn’t original. By “not original” I mean, is this influencer reposting content from other organizations or people? If the user you’re looking to target is a passionate advocate for your issue, but only posts original content and rarely interacts with others, they might not be the influencer for you. But if they’re often retweeting others or reposting people’s work, they could be a good match.

Keep an eye out for the micro-influencer. Micro-influencers are people with 10,000-100,000 followers. They tend to have higher rates of engagement than their more popular counterparts.


2. How do you reach out to them?


Email is a great place to grab your influencer’s attention, especially if you’re trying for more of a formal partnership.

If you’re going to reach out to an influencer by email, explain to them what you’re doing, and how they can help. Try to have a clear and expressive subject line that drives the purpose home. Also: explain to them why they’re essential to you. Make sure they know how important they are.

And don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be afraid to email people you think won’t respond. And when they don’t, email them again. Just because someone has loads of followers does not mean they’re impossible to get ahold of.

Oftentimes, influencers will have their email in their social media bios or on one of their social media accounts, or sites. If they don’t, don’t be shy about reaching out to them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to try and get that information.


Some people have referred to Instagram Direct Message as a secret weapon – and it is. Less people utilize it than email, so Instagram inboxes are not flooded in the same way. And there is less pressure to be formal and over-think things.

Sending an Instagram message is a bit intimate, but that doesn’t mean it’s off limits. If there’s someone who you believe would be into what you’re doing, reach out to them. Similar to email, explain what you have to offer and why they’re important – but keep it a little more abbreviated than you would on email to try and avoid double messages.


On Twitter, the only thing that separates you from an influencer is the “@” sign. Use it! Tweet your influencers content you think they’ll care about. You should also re-tweet them, and respond to their tweets. All in all: work to get your name into their Twitter stream. Just remember, there’s a difference between spamming and engaging. Start conversations that make sense.


3. When do you reach out to them?

There are two great times to reach out to influencers:

Right now

You can start targeting influencers now. These don’t have to be huge strides. Get close with the Twitter @ sign. Spend 10 minutes in the morning double tapping insta-pics. These are little things that will catch an influencer’s eye and get you into their feed. If you have a small team working on social media, these are undemanding gestures that can have a substantial impact on your organization.

Before you’re doing something big

If you have a large donation campaign, a charity run, or any sort of event launching: reach out directly over email or DM and be aggressive. There’s nothing wrong with asking for people to spread the word.


Final Thoughts:

Getting in touch with influencers is all about building relationships that matter. But what matters to you? What are your goals? You want your influencer relationship to be impactful – whether that means increased donations or increased conversations. Build your relationships around the goals you set for yourself. Then just tweet, ‘gram, hit send.

About the Author
Gina Fuchs
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