Social movements are ultimately about people—and building movements online is no different.
Advocacy and social good organizations are finding the messenger is increasingly becoming as important as the message on social media platforms. Especially with paid advertising restrictions of advocacy and political content wreaking havoc,
We here at Global Wave Digital have been working with movements all over the world to cultivate and empower key individuals who have strategic value to help campaigns achieve their goals.
Here is what we’re learning about the Do’s and Don’ts of Building a Digital Influencer Program
- Rethink the Corporate Influencer: When you hear the term ‘social media influencer’ you might picture a selfie–obsessed, Instagram personality hawking questionable products. Those type of influencers are a hard pass. Programs should first and foremost look to build on authentic relationships with individuals who can have a direct and meaningful tie to your mission.
- Think Quantity and Quality When Targeting Prospects: It’s not all about follower count. We use the term direct influencer as someone who may not have a large audience, but is a strategically powerful voice based on their experience or expertise (think medical doctor, scientist or even advocate with relevant personal story) and indirect influencer for someone who commands attention based on their audience size (celebrity, online personality, athlete etc.) Both can have value for your campaign!
- Build Relationships of Mutual Benefit: We’ve seen an instinct for organizations to pursue influencers solely through the lens of what that individual can do for their cause—begging for reposts or mentions, a random invitation to show up at event, tagging individuals on a post out of nowhere etc. It’s critical that your campaign ambassadors feel you are as invested in them as they are in you. Show your support by giving them status, specialized access to organization leaders/events or recognition on your own social channels. Consider publicly branding your network of ambassadors to help in this regard.
- Build a Program of Sustained Activity: Once you have a relationship established, make sure you have substantive actions for your ambassadors to take on a regular basis. It’s critical that people who commit time to your mission feel their actions have value and are impactful. Mix up easy and more substantive commitments, but always, always give your ambassadors something to do that’s meaningful.
- Be Careful with Paid Relationships: We see a cottage industry growing in many countries of ‘influencer brokers’ who will manage a paid network of influencers who will post just about anything and guarantee a topic to go trending for the right price. Tempting as it may be, we avoid these set ups to ensure campaigns don’t run afoul of terms and services of social platforms, or even worse of legal advertising and sponsorship guidelines. That’s not to say all paid relationships are taboo. Our rule of thumb is that monetary payment to an individual should be to cover their time and effort in participating in the campaign, not a means to access their audience. Paid relationships require significant vetting and understanding of disclosure requirements—so proceed with caution.