For several years, I spoke about social media and emerging digital marketing trends at the Wisconsin Community Media annual conference. Year after year, my workshops focused on addressing three common challenges for media centers: outreach efforts, fundraising and executing strategic plans.
A 2016 Linqia study found that 94% of consumer brands that have used influencer marketing believe it’s effective. A joint study conducted by Tap Influence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions found that influencer marketing generates 11 times the ROI of traditional digital marketing.
Community-driven media and influencers can create an almost perfect union. This union can help media centers begin to overcome challenges using some of the same digital marketing strategies that big consumer brands use to launch new products and services.
1. Influencers Help Media Centers Engage Like-Minded Community Members
Influencers have strong credibility and a slew of connections who are a ready-made base for community media centers. With that credibility, influencers can authentically promote the media center if they have used and can attest to the center’s tools and services. Following a few guidelines, centers can develop a partnership with influencers that generates an efficient and effective outreach strategy.
- Ask your influencer partner to test your center’s reach with a project that’s important to them. Consider the example of the pet owner who raised more than $600 for a pet care charity in a short time by asking her followers to re-post a specific hashtag. She cared about the charity and her generosity flowed down through her followers.
- Ask your influencer partner to engage new followers who would be interested in their opinion of your media center’s tools and services. Their followers are naturally effective in encouraging more like-minded parties to encourage others to utilize your media center’s services.
With an influencer’s help, community media centers can engage communities they’ve often had difficulty establishing relationships with.
2. Influencers Help Promote The Value Of A Media Center’s Services
Before engaging influencers in any fundraising effort, community media centers must ensure they’ve chosen influencers who are excited about the center’s mission and vision. One of the important benefits of working with influencers is their ability to humanize your media center’s message. Influencers who have no real interest in the tools and services your center provides to the community make the worst fundraising partners.
- First, identify those individuals on the media center’s email list who are likely fundraising influencers. Look for people who have a significant social media following or who have been the subject of local news related to charity and fundraising events. Assess how sympathetic they may be to your media center’s mission.
- Remember that influencers are people too and they have their own goals and interests. After you identify your prospective influencers, build relationships with them by appealing to their interests with genuine and sincere comments on their social media posts. You’ll want to share their content if you find it relevant and useful to your followers.
- Establish credibility with influencers by demonstrating the value of your media platform. Show how your media platform can engage a community that’s underserved and often ignored by commercial media. A quality influencer who is on board with your platform’s message will be thrilled to help spread that message to a broader audience.
Forbes contributor Ekaterina Walter says, “To humanize your brand you need to get real, add value, and be transparent.” Influencers create authentic content that appeals to their audience — and their audience trusts this content. Influencer-generated content can help media centers raise funds to cover their operating expenses.
3. Influencers Help Media Centers Collect Feedback From User-Generated Content
Organizations attempting to connect with their audience using an anonymous outreach campaign might be viewed with a side-eye due to perceptions of bias associated with that kind of strategy.
Influencers put a face on a center’s outreach efforts, and a trusted influencer will generate reliable feedback from an audience less likely to color its opinions. The media center can then use that feedback to align its goals with its community’s needs.
Feedback is most useful if community media centers follow a couple of guidelines before launching an influencer marketing campaign:
- Identify objectives before engaging an influencer. For example, is the center focusing its efforts on community outreach or is this a fundraising effort? Make sure the influencer is onboard with those goals.
- Be careful you don’t have too many faces for the center. Forbes contributor Daniel Newman notes in his article that overexposure from too many influencers can be as ineffective as underexposure.
- Establish your key performance indicators (KPIs) and determine tools for analyzing feedback.
When community media centers work with influencers to generate content, those influencers are helpful with counteracting both negative and positive feedback.
Partnering with influencers can help community media centers overcome challenges with their community outreach and fundraising. These valued partners provide a direct connection between media centers and the communities they serve. Trusted influencers develop authentic content that generates reliable and honest feedback that’s useful for community media centers during the strategic planning process.
Original publication: Why It’s Important For Community Media To Work With Influencers
Genia Stevens is a digital marketer and Forbes columnist. She is owner and managing partner of Belwah Media, an award-winning integrated digital marketing agency with offices in Madison, WI and Chicago, IL. Genia Stevens is passionate about community media, tech tools, podcasting, and everything digital. Connect with Genia on LinkedIn and Twitter.