Broaden Your Message With Influencer-Driven Campaigns | Nonprofit Hub Podcast
“Sticking to the basics, getting those calls to action right and having clean data, those are the important things. If you don’t have those, you’re making a soup with a rotten tomato and that’s just never going to taste good.” – Jeanette Russell, Senior Solutions Marketer at Blackbaud.
Launching a successful campaign is a complicated task. We talked to Jeanette about her tips for what kind of impact a social media influencer and influencer-driven campaigns can make for your nonprofit.
Her first tip? Start tracking your organization’s data. Look at your email list and find out who has the largest social media presence. Use the tools you already have.
Another option is a tool called Klout. It’s a way to measure your online impact and you can easily find these influencers. This will give you a Klout score on your followers. It will look at how many followers someone has, how often do they post and what does their engagement look like with their followers. Based on that, they will give you a score between zero and 100. One hundred is the highest and you generally want someone with a Klout score over 40 and cultivate those people into what Jeanette calls, “social ambassadors.”
Social Factor has four reasons why your nonprofit needs a social media ambassador and it ties into Jeanette’s three categories for influencers.
You have VIP’s, media and everyday influencers.
VIP’s are the people in your database with a Klout score of 70 or more. True celebrities. (There won’t be too many of these.)
Media are the everyday bloggers, local groups and traditional media. (These are a big, important group! They will reach the most and post with their own information, too.)
Everyday influencers are the average Joe– the nurse by day and activist by night. (They will share if you just ask. Probably the biggest segment you’ll have.)
So the trick is this: find a killer combination. You want a compelling campaign and call to action and for your supporters to be interested. This is where social listening can be a great pairing. It tells you how interested the people in your database are with your work.
The point is this: you want anyone and everyone talking about your campaign and the year-round work that your shop is doing. So use your data to get a list of social media influencers and then ask them to share your posts on their accounts.
It’s like everyone says, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?
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RANDY: Hello listeners! Welcome to the twenty-first episode of the Nonprofit Hubcast, our podcast that’s dedicated to making your ears happy, your job easier, and your nonprofit more remarkable.
I’m your host, Randy Hawthorne, Executive Director of Nonprofit Hub, an educational resource for nonprofits. You can learn what we’re all about over at nonprofit hub dot org. There, you’ll find all of the education we provide in podcasts, classes, webinars, a print magazine, and online articles that are published throughout the week.
For this edition of the Hubcast, we’re talking with Jeanette Russell, a Senior Product Marketer at Blackbaud. Jeanette helps organizations across the country with marketing campaigns by using social media influencers to hold power and inspire others.
Today, we’re talking about influencer-driven campaigns.
In this episode, you’ll learn about what a social media influencer is and how they can help your campaign.
We also touch on how in just 30 minutes every day, you can find and use data to grow your social media impact with three types of influencers: VIP’s, media and everyday influencers. So let’s jump right in.
MUSIC: Sleepy Eyed Thoughts by Bernardus
RANDY: Hey I have with me today, Jeanette Russell. She is with Blackbaud and she has an awesome topic that I’d love to dive in on. We’re talking about influencer-driven campaigns. Now, Jeanette, what on earth is an influencer?
JEANETTE: Alright, glad you asked Randy because it’s something I’ve been thinking about for the past few years in relationship to how nonprofits can utilize this very under used segment of everyone’s email list. So social media influencers, by definition, are people that are active on one or more social networks with a modest to large following who can drive awareness and action around your campaign. So one thing to note is that they come in all size and shapes, but the thing they have in common is they drive action. So for the common nonprofit, they’re going to generate buzz around key moments which is like the release of a report, a vote, a time-sensitive fundraiser or petition and other events that are share-worthy. So that’s it in a nutshell.
RANDY: And why should that matter to a nonprofit?
JEANETTE: Well it matters because we live in a time where social currency is real so it’s key that nonprofits start cashing in on it. So, look around. We live in the era where the power of the individual tool or an organization is in part determined by an influence online. And I’m going to read a few important trends that are going to help paint this picture why nonprofits need to really start looking at folks in the database who can share their message online. So, first of all, when you look at Facebook. If you were just to pick up your phone right now, how many posts would you see from a nonprofit that is not sponsored? Not many, right? Most of the posts are sponsored because organic reaches almost, it will be dead within a few years. Last year, there was a group called Social Media Marketing Firm, and they do work with New York Times, Wall Street Journal, some big brands, and they found that within their 300 customers, 52 percent declined organic advertising. Organic reach is down so what that means in terms of Facebook is you’re going to need your supporters who are active on Facebook to start posting messages on your behalf. But the key is to find them. Another trend that is interesting is there’s a group called Edelman and they do this thing called the Edelman Trust Barometer. And they’ve been doing this for awhile now. It’s kind of alarming but they found that trust, when they globally interviews folks, trust in all four institutions were at an all-time low. Those institutions were business, government, nonprofits and media. So they found out that basically someone like yourself or your next door neighbor, you’re more willing to trust them than they are one of these institutions. So again, it’s very key to get your supporters to post your campaign messages to their social networks. And the last one, which I just find fascinating, I’ve been in nonprofit space for 25 years and I would like to think that people find out about causes through nonprofits, but apparently not. So the Georgetown Digital Persuasion study found that 65% of individuals find out about a cause through their friends and family. While 68% were prompted to donate after engaging with a cause on social media, which they found out about through their friends. So the message here is that it’s really time to start cultivating supporters in your database who are active on social media to do one thing and that is to share your campaign content and your message to their social networks.
RANDY: So Jeanette, how do you find these influencers?
JEANETTE: That is a great question. It’s actually been pretty difficult in the past and it is a relatively new functionality that nonprofits can tap into. So what you want to look for is people in your email file. This is your most valuable asset as a nonprofit. You have invested years in cultivating this. So that’s the best place to start. And what you want to do is, first I would ask your database provider, which could be your fundraising tool or your marketing tool, see if they provide that data because more and more companies are. Blackbaud, we of course provide that data. But sometimes they don’t always tell you that actually that data is available. So that’d be a great place to start and it might also be free. We provide that data free of charge, for example, with our product called Luminate. We have a separate program called Attentively, but that’s more of a robust engagement network. So start with the tools you already have. See if that’s something you can find. And what you want to look for is can I find my social media influencers and can you segment them. Some tools I’ve noticed they say they can do that, but really what you want to do is segment them so you can use everybody who is active on social media, not go through each profile record. So just to summarize, you want to find it in your database, go to your database providers. If it’s not readily available, it’s a lot tougher. But there’s a few tools that I really like. One of them is free. I use Chrome, so I use the Chrome app from Klout. You can plug it in, I use tweet deck. So find whatever your social media management tool is, typically there’s a Klout plug-in that’s free. It will give you a Klout score on your followers, not people in your database. But at least you would have a handle of who is socially influential from your followers. So let me tell you what Klout is, because it’s one of the leading ways to determine who is socially influential. So Klout is a scoring system. It looks at how many followers does someone have, how often do they post and what does their engagement look like with their followers. So basically, based on that, they’re going to give you a score between zero and 100. One hundred is the highest and you generally want someone with a Klout score over 40 and cultivate those people into your social ambassadors. The Klout app is a great free choice. Sometimes tools like Hootsuite, for example, have some functionality built in. One reason we created Attentively, which is a social media engagement platform for nonprofits, is because we didn’t find there was much out there that was geared for nonprofits, especially with finding influencers in your database. So if you do a search on influencer marketing, there are literally hundreds of options out there. But they are really designed for brands and customer interaction and retention. So it’s a slightly different use than what nonprofits want to leverage influencers and most of them aren’t looking at your database. They just want to connect you with influencers out in the world who will promote your campaign and generally it’s an exchanging of money and again we don’t need to pay people to support our cause. We’re not selling a widget here so it’s a very different game than what you’ll read about in the social marketing realm.
RANDY: Yeah, so what exactly are you asking your influencers to do for you?
JEANETTE: So it’s very simple. You are asking them to share your content on their social network. So if you have, let’s say, it’s Giving Tuesday. Sowhat you want to do is find your influencers and email as a start and that subject line, you literally want to say, “Will you tweet this to your networks?” “Will you post this to your networks?” Your call to action in that subject line and in the body of your email, just like any other call to action, is one thing and that is to share the content on social media. It’s not a P.S. can you share, which is how we literally do it. P.S. as we all know isn’t as strong as the call out, so their task is to share the content to their networks. Now after you evolve your influencer outreach, you’ll want to work with those top influencers to help collaborate on content because the pros that are out there that are on your list, say they have a Klout score over 70., they’re basically famous. They might want to help in a campaign and craft some of their own message. But for now, when you’re just starting out, I would just ask them to share your content to their social networks.
RANDY: So if they start crafting their own, is that considered self-direction or self-directed marketing? Or am I off base there?
JEANETTE: No, if it’s more like user-generated content, what you could ask them to do – one example that’s pretty basic – the “unselfie”. So this is where a supporter can use a provided piece of paper that they print out and it says hashtag your campaign. It’s easy, customizable content that’s not a big stretch. Like, most people will get that right. But if you’re finding that you have celebrity type people on your email list, which we always find with our customers, but we’ve found that it’s typically less than one percent. So we’re really talking a handful of folks. But if you find a Hillary Clinton or a Van Jones or a Tim O’Reilly. Then those personalities and figureheads are on your list, you might want to customize an email saying, “Hey! We have this Giving Tuesday campaign coming up and would you want to participate. Here’s a campaign saying.” Lots of times these are professionals, so they might have their own take on it. But that’s down the road. I wouldn’t start with that. The easiest thing for folks to do is to send an email to what we call your everyday influencers and ask them to share your upcoming campaign that’s shareworthy. So let me get into, kind of ways to look at your influencers. We’ve found that there are basically three types of influencers. The analogy is everyone has money. There’s different levels of wealth, you have your major donors, and then sustained giving and so on. So with people, if you think of social wealth, there’s similar categories. There are your VIP’s, they are truly famous folks and they have Klout scores over 70. You have media, and there is typically a fair amount of media on everyone’s list and lots of times they’re just self-identified bloggers. But this is a really powerful group and they’re especially handy when you can segment folks who identify themselves as being the media that you’ve not uploaded, that does not count! Or if they’re self-identified bloggers because these are folks that can create information about those campaigns and then the third are your everyday influencers. These are just everyday folks, nurse by day, climate activist by night, and those are the folks who will share your content if you just ask them. And they’re going to be the biggest segment of your email list.
RANDY: So, an average nonprofit, how many influencers do you think make a good group?
JEANETTE: So we have found that it’s generally about 10 percent of an organization’s list, email file. But they have a huge amount of reach. We did a little study with Attentively and we found that the top five percent of influencers in your email file had 85 percent of your network reach. So it doesn’t really take that many to get results. So I would say, it really depends. But for the typical organization, you’d want at least 20,000 emails because what happens when we match, we call it social matching, and we take that email and try to find those people on social media we find about half of your email list. Lots of times they actually may be on social media, but the email that you have is not the email they used to set up their Facebook account. So that’s how we know. Keep in mind whatever you want to match, you’re going to get half of those back. So if you have, let’s say, 20, you’ll go down to 10 and then about 10 percent of those are going to be truly active on social media. You can do the math there so that’s why we say you at least want to have, you want to look for a file on at least 20,000 if your approach is to start with your email file. You want to have a campaign that people do talk about on social, not all subjects are social media friendly but a lot are. And do you have an active campaign? So if somebody was talking about your campaign, and you asked them to share, would you have something for them to do. For some, that seems pretty silly, but not every group runs a campaign and has a call to action, I have found out. They sometimes don’t know what to ask them to share.
RANDY: Right, and I feel like that’s where a lot of us struggle is making sure that we have a good call to action and that it’s clear.
JEANETTE: And if you’re active on social media, you want something that’s fun to share, too. Something that’s visual, that makes them look good. So you want to make sure that it’s a compelling call to action. But given politics right now, people are pretty active and a lot of folks are looking for ways to plug-in, somehow, anyway. Lots of times they’re not always looking for the nonprofit they’re involved with because they don’t have the right call to action. A good way to start out is to create some collateral, like an image you want folks to share. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram if you have a good following, and just the folks are not too picky, just send them out. And we’ve found that the conversion rates are typically like 50 percent open rate, 25 percent conversion rate. So we’ve found that when people do this, when they email their influencers to share their content, they have a huge amount of success and it is a call to action that folks are under utilizing so it’s fresh and that’s key.
RANDY: So how does this fit in with maybe some other marketing you’re doing as an organization?
JEANETTE: Leveraging your social media influencers is all about tapping into social currency and letting folks know about what’s happening outside of their campaign. But the killer combination is, of course, when you have a compelling campaign and call to action and your supporters are interested. This is where social listening can be a great pairing with that because social listening tells you how interested the people in your database are about your program’s work and your campaign. So just like social influencers, the goal there is to find people who are socially active. When you utilize social listening, you can also find out who on social media is actually talking about your campaign. So you can fire off those call to actions within 24 hours of someone talking about your campaign. So that’s a very powerful tactic and one example we have is we had a customer who was trying to stop a project in the Grand Canyon and they put in the search term, Grand Canyon and they just started listening for people talking about the Grand Canyon. What they did was they connected it to their marketing automation tool which is Luminate and they sent everybody who mentioned the Grand Canyon an email asking them to sign a petition to stop this project. And that’s where they got a 24 percent conversion rate. So if you’re able to tap to the real-time passion and target those folks who are actively talking about what you’re doing, when you send them that email within 24 hours, that is where it’s so powerful to tap into the social data. Often times we’re going to send that call to action in our next newsletter a month down the road and you know how we all operate on social today, if you’re not replying within a couple hours it’s not top of mind. So what’s happening with digital and engagement in general and why so many of these engagement trends are decreasing is because there is so much noise out there and so sending the right message and the right time, that’s the foundation of marketing but it’s even more critical with all of the noise and competition out there. And it’s also why you want to find supporters in your database who can be those messengers because you know when you get those posts on Facebook or Instagram from your friends, you are going to read it for the most part. You are not going to probably read what comes from a nonprofit. But if your friends ask you to get involved, you’re much more likely to do that.
RANDY: Yeah, this sounds all so cool and you’ve had some awesome examples of how this is making some great conversions. I’m a small nonprofit, how do I work this into my regular life.
JEANETTE: Well if you’re small and you also have a small email list, say under 20,000, and let’s say you also don’t have too many followers on social media platforms, a great place to start is to build up those communities where your supporters currently are. It really depends on who you’re serving. If it’s millennials or younger people, it might be Instagram. And for others, it could just be a Facebook focus. I would start by building up those communities, at least with Twitter, it means knowing who your influencers are through Klout. The key there is to get those influencers to share your message and there’s different ways you could go about that, which I’m not going to get into now. At least start leveraging the influencers you do have on your platforms. You can also use tools like Google Trends, that’s a free tool, just to see what is trending in your world. There’s different segmentation techniques you can use to drill down into how people are talking about healthcare or what have you. I think sticking the basics, getting those calls to action right, having clean data. If you don’t have clean data, you’re making a soup with a rotten tomato and that’s just never going to taste good. So get that data right and your call to action and growing your list accordingly. And understanding where you’re people are on social and I would focus on that one to two social networks and build that following. You might find that you have completely different followings. I work with an organization who is a wilderness group and a lot of their supporters came from the folks who actually fought for the wilderness act. I went to a fundraiser a couple weeks ago and I’m not exactly a spring chicken, but I was the youngest person there. Most people there were 70 to 90 and I’m not joking. So recognizing that they had an older demographic and honestly shift because everyone should love wilderness, it is not a generational issue, what they did is started from scratch with building a social presence on Twitter and Facebook and they hired someone who was a campaigner for wilderness, not a millennial, who knew the campaign and they have thousands of followers and they probably get a million impressions a month. And the way they’ve done this is they have found celebrities who love wilderness and they often get those folks to retweet about what they’re doing. It’s really cool, their following on social is a completely different demographic than their former base. They also did use social listening tools to find out that supporters were adopting animals, so they were very much on the animal rights side of things, but specifically into adoption of pets and the trending image was black cats because there’s this belief that black cats don’t get adopted. So they just found interesting demographics about their audience, where they would have never understood this if they didn’t dive into social data to see really who was on their list and what are they talking about.
RANDY: That’s fascinating. As you’re telling me these stories, I feel like as a smaller nonprofit, there’s probably a volunteer out there who would just love to dig into some of this stuff and help you out, too.
JEANETTE: Perhaps, especially if they understand the issues and if you explain your call to action and your campaign priorities. Getting them to know to spend a half hour a day at most. If you’re a volunteer organization or you have one staff then that could be a good approach. But if you even have five staff people, having a dedicated social media staff ,who is integrated into your fundraising and your marketing campaigns, I would say is a must. One of our clients and they had a staff of four people for the entire organization and they achieved tremendous results and they invested. They spent 30 minutes a day socially engaging with their supporters and what they’ve done is created social media ambassadors to go out there and when they fire off their call to action, those are the people that have been trained up to send those call to actions to their networks. When President Obama was visiting Nepal, the campaign wanted to have the President to mention a group of people who was being persecuted at the time that the local government wouldn’t let anyone talk about. It was something they didn’t want anyone to know about. So this group, through social media and four staff people, got their influencer through social media to tweet at Obama and they actually got him to say it as he was leaving that country. That social media influence, that was the tipping point. And again, that was four people. But they had a solid call to action and what they also did, because they were so small and they didn’t have any resources, they used social listening to listen for when their people were talking about various campaigns. They didn’t have the resources to touch on all parts of their campaign at once so that was their barometer of when to strike.
RANDY: So what I’m hearing is it doesn’t take a large staff, you’re getting great data, which we’re always complaining we don’t have enough of so it’s important. I thank you so much, Jeanette for giving us some time today and making us think differently a little bit about how we do our social and how we do our marketing and we can get some influencers to help build our campaigns.
JEANETTE: Randy, it’s been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
MUSIC: Sleepy Eyed Thoughts by Bernardus
RANDY: That’ll do it for this episode of the Hubcast. Thanks again to Jeanette for talking with us about some of the things she has learned through her experiences working in the nonprofit sector. There was plenty of knowledge to go around, whether you are just starting your organization, or you’re a veteran of the industry looking to gain an edge.
Our featured artist is Bernardus. You can hear more of their music at bernardus music dot com.
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Sydny is a senior studying sports journalism and broadcasting with minors in English and theatre. She works on the Hubcast, Hubbub, web and magazine content and social media. She’s excited to be working at Nonprofit Hub, where she’ll be able to help nonprofits of all shapes and sizes. Sydny's addicted to fruit snacks and binge watching shows on Hulu and Netflix. Yes, she has both.