Online influencers are the most powerful force online today for moving awareness, advocacy, and giving. But who are the influencers you need to know, and what do we know about them? First, I’d like to recommend you look for micro-influencers in particular — i.e. those with substantial but not huge followings. They will likely be more accessible and helpful for your cause, and are driving change online—influencers are exercising leadership on Instagram in these times of crisis. As I wrote about engaging everyday influencers in a recent piece, millennials are closely tracking and taking inspiration from these everyday influencers. Given the popularity of Instagram among millennials, it’s critical to consider influencers can raise awareness for your cause on the platform.
Instagram is the fastest-growing major social network: 59% of people age 18 to 29 are using “Insta” and other demographics are likely to adopt it in increasing numbers. Traditionally, many nonprofits and foundations have turned to major celebrities to help build awareness, action, and donations for causes. However, engaging celebrities with high media profiles and large audiences doesn’t always work on social networks like Instagram.
The influencers you are more likely to activate are “micro-influencers”—grassroots people with Klout scores of 40 to 60. Corporations have known this for years. High relevance can be more important that wide reach when looking to engage people who will appreciate your work.
While Twitter and YouTube are well-known for their powerful influencers, Instagram has its own set of influencers who have become major celebs in their own right. Let’s meet a few of the influencers on the Gram that are helping to push forward important social causes at this moment:
@BlackJoyMixtape, Black Joy Mixtape Podcast
Amber and Jazmine host the Black Joy Mixtape Podcast about pop culture, news, and politics. They bring you into the world of #BlackJoy by being honest, open, and unabashed in their posts. They lay bare the artistry and the process of creating a cultural and political podcast filling their instagram feed with style, design, and music.
Bombshelltoe is a nuclear policy writer. She uses Instagram as a way to tell the stories about nuclear policy both historically and in the present context through art in order to spark meaningful conversations. She is able to translate hard to understand dense policy into stunning visuals that make you think.
@altnatparkser, Alt National Parks Service
These brave souls have taken up the task of using photos of our beautiful national parks to critique the lack of investment in public services and environmental protections by the government under our current administration. The stunning visuals of natural beauty are juxtaposed with facts about our current environmental policy changes to great effect.
@petesouza, Pete Souza
Pete Souza was the former White House photographer under the Obama administration. He’s got a treasure trove of photos from his time in the White House and he posts these as a way to critique the current president’s administration. His photo essays tell a story about where we were and where we’re headed, always tied to current events.
@byp100, BYP 100
BYP100 has paired aesthetics as a part of their political program and they are using instagram to share memes, images, artwork, quotes, and organizing opportunities with their members because they know a large portion of their audience exists on this platform. They are influencers among their peers both organizationally and culturally.
People listen to their friends and family. This simple truth is the key to unlocking your micro-influencer strategy. There are people already in your network—among your supporters and donors—that are validators online. Creating meaningful relationships in these spaces can unlock a powerful connection that boosts your work to new heights.
In my next article, I’ll tell you more about finding and cultivating micro-influencers. And if you haven’t yet, read my piece How to Engage Everyday Instagram Influencers and Reach Millennial Donors.