The rise of the micro-influencer and how to leverage them

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last half a decade, you’ll be familiar with the term influencer marketing: the practice of obtaining a celebrity endorsement on social media, usually in return for payment. Of course, being a charity, you probably don’t have a spare $400k to drop on a single Instagram post (yes Kylie Jenner, we’re talking to you) – in which case you might be better served focusing your attentions on a new, more attainable breed of digital trendsetter: the micro-influencer.

Micro-influencers: need to know

Micro-influencers are defined as highly active digital platform users or content creators who specialise in a particular space or niche, such as beauty or gaming (more on that later). They have a modest fanbase who are nevertheless significantly engaged.

That’s what’s so interesting about micro-influencers: they turn the traditionally-held belief that more followers = better results on its head. Unlike their celeb counterparts, the majority of micro-influencers are members of the public with day jobs, and just a few thousand (sometimes tens of thousands) of followers. But unlike the fans of A-list personalities, micro-influencer followers are passionate, interested and hyper-engaged with the content that particular user is producing. Want proof? Studies have categorically shown that a converse relationship exists between the number of followers an influencer has and their engagement levels. The bigger the fanbase, the lower the engagement rates.

How to become part of the micro-influencer revolution

On to the next question: how can charities tap into this trend? The good news is you don’t need to have bottomless pockets to be able to invest in a micro-influencer engagement campaign – you just need to find the right influencers. In fact, your nonprofit status puts you in an excellent position to be able to negotiate a fee-free relationship, because most micro-influencers aren’t in it to make a quick buck. They typically only support brands or organisations they feel passionate about and have a genuine affiliation for, because their credibility with their fans is their top priority. Anything perceived to be inauthentic is a serious turn-off and likely to damage a micro-influencer’s carefully cultivated personal brand.

Where to find micro-influencers

Most people would assume Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook to be prime influencer-hunting territory – and they’d be right. But while you shouldn’t ignore the more popular social media platforms, thinking outside the box and targeting a specific niche can also really pay off.

An increasingly popular route into the world of micro-influencers is gaming. Online gaming has grown into a huge global industry over the last few years, with 1.5 billion gamers worldwide. Not surprisingly, the industry has given rise to gaming influencers: people who live-stream their game play for others to watch and learn from, typically via dedicated game streaming platforms like Twitch. In return for streaming their skills, gaming influencers invite fans to make a donation via a button on the platform.

Given that Twitch streamers and their viewers are already used to making donations while streaming, should come as no surprise to learn that savvy charities have spied a fundraising opportunity in this space. The term ‘gaming for good’ describes the process by which gamers livestream, often over a 24-hour period, and donate the funds raised to a particular charity. It’s a low-cost, easy-execution activity with figures that are too compelling to ignore: over $133 million has been raised for good causes by Twitch-gamers since 2012.

How to connect with the right micro-influencers for your cause

The great thing about micro-influencers is that they are easily accessible – you don’t need to go through a publicity team or manager to get to them. But finding the right people to partner with does require some research. Thankfully, a range of digital tools exist which can help you identify and connect with micro-influencers across a range of platforms, without you having to spend hours trawling social media.

  • Social listening software created specifically for non-profits, reveals what people from your donor database are saying and doing on social media, so you can identify who your own micro-influencers are and build rich social profiles on them.
  • TRIBE. An app dedicated to connecting brands with micro-influencers, TRIBE allows brands to submit a sponsored post brief (for free) to their database of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook influencers. Influencers pitch for the job by creating a sponsored post and sending it to you (along with any fees). If you like the post and their fanbase is a good fit, you give it the thumbs up and the post is published.
  • Snoopreport. Dedicated Instagram monitoring software that allows you to track a group of users and understand what’s trending with them, Snoopreport helps you to build a highly targeted list of Insta-influencers that are relevant to your cause.

Check out our tips for more techniques to help you improve your fundraising efforts.