I’ve decided that one of the next areas I want to put some concerted focus around is the topic of “influencing your influencers,” an area that’s really caught my eye for the past year. The heart of almost all social media tools is tapping into the power of online word of mouth, and the best way to achieve that is by having influential sources share a message on your behalf.
There are influencers and evangelists among all social media networks. These are the people that have developed social media “cred”. They are different from your regular user; they are more invested, spending countless hours engaging with others. They also have a nose for what is the truth and what’s not. It is important to understand who your influencers are and what makes them so passionate about you, because simply put, influencers can be your biggest cheerleaders – cheerleaders who will scream your message through an oversized megaphone, as long as that message stays true to your mission.
One of the most recent examples I’ve seen that exemplifies this concept is from the organization Free The Kids that used its influencers earlier this year when the earthquake in Haiti struck. With a full-time staff of only 2 people (one of which is the on-site Priest running the program in Haiti), Free The Kids focuses on helping Haitian orphans. And at the time the Haiti disaster occurred in January 2010, the nonprofit had virtually no social media presence aside from the Father Marc’s blog updating supporters of the organization’s work in Haiti.
After the earthquake struck, the organization sent an email to its core group of supporters informing constituents that without donations, the organization-run orphanage in Haiti would run out of food in 4 days. And with no Twitter account containing an outlet to reach online followers, this was the best and really only form of communication they had at disposal for quick outreach.
However, an online supporter who was social media savvy utilized the practice of reaching out to a group of influencial Twitter users to get the message out and promote social sharing of the need for immediate donations. One large influencer, author Neil Gaiman, shared the message sent to him which was dispersed to his 1.4 million + Twitter followers. He used his megaphone to spread the message to his own followers about something he felt was a worthy and timely cause.
A surge in gifts and donations quickly found their way to Free The Kids through the avenues created by influencers and advocates. By using a bit.ly URL, the organization was able to measure the actual click-throughs of the message and even see what other online entities on which users were sharing the message.
The initial email would have fallen on a much, much smaller audience had one super advocate not reached out to Twitter influencers who carried the influence to reach such a mass audience. And now, the organization not only received the funding to help in the time of crisis, but it also was able to leverage these social media efforts to help build its housefile for future online marketing activities.
This is just one small example of how important it is to engage and keep your users and potential influencers passionate about the cause you drive. You won’t need your influencers every day, but when you do need them, they can be absolutely instrumental in your success.
Any other great examples of campaigns tapping into the power of “influencing the influencers”?