Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 45 seconds

influenceOut of the seven billion people in this world, we all have the ability to - and most of us do - influence someone at least once per day. Everything we do has an impact on those around us, our words, actions, social media behavior, email messages and even our body language can persuade others to think or act in a certain way. As social creatures, we humans need constant interaction to define and refine our place in our social and familial hierarchies.


Influencers, or rather “key influencers,” according to The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) 2013 Influencer Guidebook are people with an outsized or amplified ability to "cause or contribute to a change in opinion or behavior."

By social media standards, Influencers generally have high Klout scores (+55) and at least 5,000, if not more, followers on social networks. For nonprofits, this is one of the best ways to amplify the reach and engagement of your social media campaigns. Rallying supporters through social media channels isn’t just about clicks, likes or donations - it’s about tapping into a nonprofit’s authenticity and giving your audience a reason to continuously care about your message, .

The holiday season is the busiest time of year for nonprofit fundraising, which is why it’s the perfect time to not only identify, but also to mobilize your social media influencers in order to raise vital funds for next year.

Greenpeace, one of the worlds leading environmental nonprofits, with 15,000 volunteers, offices in 40 countries and annual global donation revenue in the region of $88.5 million, recognizes the value of mobilizing influencers.

At the Greenpeace Digital Mobilisation Skillshare (DMS) earlier in the year, many lessons on social influence were shared with activists and digital strategists, to benefit other nonprofits wanting to achieve similar levels of fundraising success.

Make it Personal
Getting buy-in from influencers means putting them in the mindset of those who benefit from the work of a nonprofit. In 2007 the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise was held by Russian coastguard and the crew later imprisoned on charges of piracy when trying to protest arctic drilling by the Russian oil and gas conglomerate Gazprom. Greenpeace immediately mobilized public sentiment against the actions of the Russian state, branding the crew as the “Arctic 30,” sharing stories from those in prison and their loved ones.

After three months the crew, and several months later the ship, were all released, thanks to international protests and diplomatic pressure.

With the Arctic 30 issue taking on the importance of a diplomatic incident, Greenpeace benefited from an outsized amplification of their campaign, a concept that most nonprofits either don’t understand or believe they don’t have the resources to do. But that belief is simply untrue. Greenpeace didn’t invent anything magical or overly complex. In fact, what they did can be replicated by nonprofits of all sizes; it just requires them to listen. By listening to stakeholders, nonprofits can better understand what drives people into action. What they learn from listening can then be capitalized on when the time comes to make a financial ask. A great example is when the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) organized peace related social media activities so soon after the violence in Ferguson, MO erupted. This wouldn’t have been possible without active listening.

2. Add Suspense, Drama
Sometimes there is genuine suspense and fear - like in the Arctic 30 case - and other times, fear has to be created to grab and keep the publics’ attention. Hold back details in order to build intrigue and ongoing interest. The best stories always leave people guessing, wanting more - so it would benefit your campaigns to bring an element of mystery to your audience, leaving them wanting to follow along and get others involved.

3. Make Stories Interactive
Standing 87 floors high (310m / 1,016ft), The Shard is one of London’s tallest skyscrapers. Shaped like a shard of ice and housing the oil giant BP (amongst other tenants) Greenpeace UK thought a climb to the summit would get the publics attention about drilling in the Arctic circle.

Six women took sixteen hours to climb to the top, unveiling a “Save the Arctic” flag once they got to the top. Throughout the climb supporters were interacting with the climbers on Twitter (who were also live streaming using helmet cameras), bringing influencers and supporters together in a way never before possible.

During hot campaign moments, like this, you mobilize your fans - all of those who can’t take part in person - through engaging, sharable, and dynamic social media content. With enough people talking about your campaigns online they will quickly pull in those who took an interest on the strength of the content alone, thus strengthening your support base. In this example, 50,000 joined the Greenpeace Save the Arctic campaign as a result of the climb up the Shard. Hot campaign moments are perfect times to engage your influencers so they have a juicy story to help you tell.

4. Develop the Story
For suspense and engagement to build up a story has to develop naturally. Throwing in a few suspenseful moments and unexpected twists or characters is another great way to keep the audience engaged, sharing and donating.

5. Have a Strategy Timeline
Plan for every story to have certain duration. Ideally, the duration should be the same length as the campaign you are planning. Don’t start with enthusiasm for it one week only for it to fizzle out the next week. Have a point person to coordinate internal staff and external stakeholders so that it helps you meet campaign targets.


Attentive.ly is a social marketing platform that drives engagement with your digital campaigns by turning your existing audience into brand advocates. Roz Lemieux - LinkedIn Profile

Last modified on Thursday, 19 February 2015
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