Influence Marketing and Fundraising: A New Approach

Photo by db_platypii
06.17.2013By

Photo by db_platypii

For the past two weeks, we have been discussing how to approach fundraising on social media sites through the prism of the book Influence Marketing, by Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella. In the first post we talked about how influence marketing as a strategy has been evolving over the last few years, and last week we discussed why you might not experience a lot of success using that approach.

This week, I want to offer some solutions based on what Brown and Fiorella write in their book.

Consider What Might be Weighing on Your Supporters’ Minds

One thing Influence Marketing (the book) covers at length is the nature of external factors that can determine whether a person will purchase a product or, in our case, donate money. Many NPOs already know that the holiday season is a prime time for giving. We can attribute this to people wanting to spread holiday cheer, or we can assume it’s the more utilitarian rush to get in tax breaks. These kinds of factors exist all year, however.

Using social media listening tools, you can gain a feel for what is on the minds of your supporters, and from there you can get a feel for whether the time is right to approach them. This takes time and research, there’s certainly no silver bullet for this approach, but you can learn a lot more than you can in the traditional “influence marketing” model.

Who Actually Influences Your Supporters?

As we discussed in the first post in this series, we are all influencers. People may phone you with questions when they are getting ready to buy, or you might call up a specific person if you are looking for a new car. A key to fundraising success today is figuring out who influences the people who end up contributing to your cause. Some of this can be accomplished by sending a survey to people who contribute.

Learn how they found out about your cause, and see if they are willing to describe what motivated them to finally donate. Beyond that, you can follow the steps that Sam and Danny detail in their book to find out what kinds of conversations evolve in relation to your cause. What concerns do people raise and who responds to those concerns? Identifying people who seem able to sway peoples’ opinions regarding issues tied to your cause can also help you identify the real influencers you want to target during fundraising efforts.

Matching Your Approach to Your Audience

The book goes to great lengths to explain that once you find out what is impacting your key “influencers,” you want to make sure your promotional efforts are in sync with that audience. For example, you would not want to approach a person who has donated steadily over ten years the same way in which you would approach someone who has merely expressed an interest in your organization.

Similarly, you would not want to use the same content to reach people who may never have heard of your cause, and people who have been loyal supporters. If your approach does not seem to fit your audience, your results will bear that out. The recipients of your message may seem isolated if you don’t approach them personally or confused if you approach them in too friendly a matter.

As you can see, all of these areas to consider are far removed from the approach of, “Find the person with the biggest following, and hammer them with our message.” As I mentioned in the first post in this series, the book Influence Marketing is asking for a real revolution in terms of how people approach marketing (business or cause) on social media platforms. I think reading this book will offer NPOs a lot of interesting insights on how to better use social media tools to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of fundraising efforts. Check it out!

  • Sam Fiorella

    Another great summary Ms. M. While the methodologies developed and shared in our book were not specifically designed for non-profits, they’re easily transferable. Specifically, attention to the power of dyadic relationships. Influence marketing is about soliciting a specific action among your audience. For-profit businesses attempt to sway purchase decisions; non-profits attempt to sway donation decisions.

    In either case, understanding the context of the relationships between people communicating online – in different situations – will provide the insight to affect those behaviors better than if you simply target socially popular individuals.

    We’ve proven that such decisions are driven more by close, personal relationships than they are by those with whom we have looser social ties – including social celebrities we “like” and “fan”.