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Bolster Your Nonprofit Marketing Strategy with Social Media Influencers

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A few months ago I was scrolling through Youtube and landed on a video by a Youtuber that I watch every so often. Her name is Zoe Sugg and she’s a popular United Kingdom-based beauty and fashion vlogger with over 12 million subscribers. She started her video with a friendly “hello, everybody!” much like most of her other videos, but soon after she launched into a passionate plea to her subscribers to celebrate her birthday by donating to a cause that was close to her heart.

The organization she asked her subscribers to consider donating to was called “Mind,” the UK equivalent of a United States nonprofit that provides advice and support for anyone experiencing mental health problems. Sugg is Mind’s digital ambassador, but what makes their relationship special is that Sugg has used their services herself. Sugg has struggled with anxiety and panic attacks throughout her life, which she began vlogging about long before her partnership with Mind started.

This relationship between Sugg and Mind got me thinking about how nonprofits can use social media influencers to help bolster their marketing strategy. Sugg, a mental health advocate, was the perfect person for Mind to reach out to due to her own personal struggles and her history of speaking out about mental health. If you’re thinking about enlisting the help of a digital ambassador to tell your nonprofit’s story and reach a greater audience, consider these three things:

  1. There are influencers on every social media platform. Which one will reach your target audience? Mind is for anyone, but it’s likely that they reached out to Sugg specifically to connect with a younger demographic (millennials and generation z). According to the Pew Research Center, Youtube is used by nearly three-quarter of U.S. adults and 94 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds. If you’re going to seek out an influencer to help build your nonprofit’s brand, make sure you’re searching within the right platform.
  2. Don’t disregard micro influencers. Zoe Sugg has 12 million subscribers, but there are plenty of micro influencers out there with only a small percentage of that number that could still help you spread the word about your nonprofit. People like Sugg are celebrities in the Youtube world, and just like any other celebrity, capturing their interest and convincing them to be an ambassador for your cause wouldn’t necessarily be easy. Micro influencers may be a better choice for small businesses as they still have a devoted audience but probably aren’t as inaccessible as bigger names.
  3. Make a genuine connection. Mind reached out to Sugg for a reason. You should do the same. If an influencer is going to invest their time helping your nonprofit, you should make sure you understand what they do and why they would care about what you do. Find someone who is personally invested in your cause and you’re already off to a great start.

Sugg set up a link to a fundraising platform called “Just Giving” and set a goal of £10,000. She exceeded that and ended up raising over £13,000 in a very short amount of time. This money was donated by 1,822 people, making the average donation just £7.60 (around $10.70).  The fundraising page included some background information about why Sugg was choosing to ask her subscribers to donate:

“Mental Health is something that NEEDS more resource and more awareness and as someone who is very vocal about the journey I’ve been on, I know how many others are still struggling in silence or don’t know where to turn for the help they need and this is where Mind comes in! I’ve had all your support on my journey, and now I want us to show support to those who really need it too,” her fundraising page reads.

Consider how a social media influencer might help bolster your nonprofit marketing strategy and if it seems like a good fit for your organization, try it out!

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