This blog post originally appeared in npENGAGE.
Instagram is here to stay. All organizations should definitely get on board with as strong an Instagram game as they have on Facebook and Twitter. In order to do this, however, you’ll need to play the influencer game—connecting with everyday influencers. But don’t be scared— jump in! The water’s fine and solid influencer engagement can be very rewarding.
But who are these Instagram influencers?
Check out this Adweek infographic on millennial women micro influencers. The below graphic is just a taste of what you’ll find if you head to the larger article. But as you can see, micro influencers are those with around 2k to 25k followers “who closely watch their style and brand affiliations”. On Instagram, follower count is important but so is one’s level of engagement—how many comments and likes an influencer receives can be a strong measure of persuasion.
With this for inspiration, let’s look at micro influencer engagement for nonprofit causes. How are you building relationships now that will turn into donations, actions and mentions later?
1. Let Instagram suggest influencer accounts to follow
The easiest way to find influencers and let them know about you is to ask Instagram for suggestions. First, think of a non-celebrity, down-to-earth influencer who’s interested in your cause.
For example, let’s look at the awesome Baratunde Thurston, my co-conspirator and co-founder at our once-popular political blog Jack and Jill Politics. Baratunde is not only a comedian and entrepreneur who is passionate about several key causes, but he’s also a high-Klout influencer on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. If you click the down arrow near his name (right of the Follow button), Instagram will suggest others—in this case, like Bartunde— that you may be interested in as well. You’ll then see who follows you back
2. Do your research on influencers and what interests them
Beyond getting a little help from Instagram, there are other ways to find the influencers who might be enlisted to support your cause. So now let’s think about how to reach them.
We can learn from for-profit companies that are reaching out effectively to micro influencers in order to reach their base of followers. While vitamin, beauty and fashion companies may have to pay influencers to get involved in promoting their products, nonprofits, foundations and NGOs can inspire influencer involvement with its mission for free!
You can actually search within social media platforms for keywords and hashtags that are relevant to your nonprofit’s issues. Instagram has a great search engine and is heavily hashtag-driven. However, someone who has been popular on Twitter for awhile may be quickly building a powerful Instagram presence as well and may be looking for ways to accelerate that growth. Aligning with you on a compelling campaign might be a win for both parties as well as for your mission.
Hootsuite also has a number of apps in their App Directory that you can add into the platform—mostly free or low cost— that can help you find influencers on Instagram & other social media platforms. Trendspottr is a great place to start.
Start a list (say, in a spreadsheet or doc) of the Instagram micro influencers you want to track and consider reaching out when you have something great or time-sensitive to share.
Before the next step, make sure that your Instagram page shares shining examples of your work and your team so that you’re seen as an equal partner. Micro influencers will want to promote brands that reflect well upon their own presence. Use your account to demonstrate the importance of your cause and the ways in which your organization is creating real change.
3. Ask those micro influencers to help
Once you know the micro influencers you’d like to involve in your organization’s mission (and you know that they’d be interested in your cause), you have to ask them to be involved. First, make sure to follow them and leave a supportive comment on a relevant post—or even just a like—so the micro influencer notices you. Build a relationship by sending a private message.
Here’s a suggestion on getting started. Write some fascinating text about what you’re sharing: “Thank you @microinfluencername for your support of this issue! Here’s a sneak peek at what we’re up to. Would love to partner with you! Can we talk offline?”
Don’t expect much in terms of direct conversions (eg sign ups) via Instagram, but use it to build trust and awareness with a younger, tech-savvy, affluent and diverse emerging base. Multiple touches from different platforms matter for increasing your overall base’s interest. Instagram interactions in particular help create connection to your cause, and people on Insta AKA the Gram are often more ready to engage and interact with organizations and brands than they are on Facebook and Twitter.
One idea for an ask that might appeal to micro influencers would be a page shout (or event shout). First, search hashtags related to your mission and see which micro influencers are engaging around that issue (or select from the list you’ve already created!), and see if they are doing page or event shouts, or whether they might be interested in doing one for you—perhaps they’d be open to encouraging their followers to check out your organization’s campaign.
We hope these three micro influencer tips help you generate more excitement about your work! Make sure you’re in it for the long haul, with steady and frequent posts over time. If you haven’t yet, please read my first post in this Instagram series, Instagram for Nonprofits — How Your Org Can Get Onboard.