I'd Like to Order Some Social Influencers
Lately I've been talking a lot with organizations about "social influencers." Here's my summary of these discussions: We know we have social influencers but just don't know how to figure out who they are. Part two of the discussion always seems to be focused on "what would you do with them if you knew who they were."
With the power of social media, the concept of "loyalty and influence" is on everyone's mind. Are there really people who can drive more awareness to your brand due to their commitment to your brand and the size of their social networks? Fundraisers are used to the traditional concept of "money finds money," and at the top of the pyramid you want wealthy people to leverage their personal social circles to get higher-value donors involved. But, on social media the size of your bank account does not have the same impact (unless you are a celebrity, but that's a whole other story).
There are more questions than there are answers right now. There are a lot of really smart thoughts, but it seems that there are not a lot of products out there that are proven (but please prove me wrong by sending me some information).
Recently I came upon a great article by digital strategy content consultant Ayaz Nanji titled "Influencer Marketing: Top Tactics and Challenges"
The opening paragraph sums up exactly what I (as a single marketer) have been feeling:
- "Nearly two-thirds (61%) of marketers say one the biggest challenges of influencer marketing is identifying the relevant persons who can truly help their brand or campaigns, according to a recent report from Augure."
- "More than half (56%) of marketers say another major challenge is getting the attention of influencers and building interest with them via direct interactions."
- "Accurately measuring the ROI of influencer campaigns is an additional headache, with 44% of marketers citing it as a significant challenge."
Yet, this doesn't stop me from still wanting to figure out the best way to find them and leverage them. I can't believe I'm actually saying this as someone who was born and raised in the direct marketing world — but, heck, I'd even hold off on worrying how to measure them if I could just really understand the best way to find/reach them.
The primary study referenced in the article is the Influencer Marketing Status 2014. One thing is for sure, there are pretty specific views on the definition of an influencer.
According to those surveyed, an influencer should have the following attributes:
- "79% pointed Echo, in other words, being able to mobilize opinion and creating reactions when they talk about a specific topic"
- "73% pointed Exposure, which refers to the potential audience and the size of the influencer's community on a specific area"
- "62% pointed Share of Voice, which refers to the Influencer's high degree of participation in a conversation on a given subject"
From the study, it becomes clear that not everyone is in agreement on how to communicate with this unique constituent segment and what too share with them.
- "66% think email is a suitable channel to contact an Influencer"
- "Twitter comes in second with 57%"
- "The Influencer's own Blog is being used by 52%"
- "Only 29% of those surveyed see Facebook, while being the most popular social network for companies and users, to be a valid channel for contacting Influencers"
- "The least used channels are forums (11%) and Google+ (6%)"
If you skimmed the list above, make sure you reread the fourth bullet. From the nonprofit perspective, many organizations and marketers immediately think of Facebook when we think of finding "social influencers" with our brands. Yet, a lot of marketers from around the globe really view Facebook differently when it comes to using that opportunity to communicate.
Overall, here's where I land on this topic: I'm still not sure. As a marketer, I have finally become comfortable saying, "I'm not sure" — but you better believe I can't stay in that place for long.
This is a topic that the nonprofit industry needs to continue to explore and really start to spend some time 1) developing our own social influencer definition (if we don't agree with the above) and 2) putting some leverage into using social influencers. After all, according to this study, "43% of the marketers claimed they have had profitable responses and 36% feel their campaigns with influencers should be rated as either being 'effective' or 'very effective.'"
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.