Opinion: Look beyond reach to find the right influencers

Identifying influencers with a real connection to your cause is essential for running successful PR campaigns, says Katie Malark, Allison+Partners’ senior research director.


Katie Malark

In our latest Influence Impact Report, Allison+Partners looked at the intersection between cause and influencer marketing.

The biggest takeaway for PR professionals trying to drive donations, awareness or engagement for their cause? Take the time to find influencers who have a real connection to your cause or issue.

This may seem like common sense. But all too often influencers are selected because of their reach alone. It’s easy to be seduced by a vision of millions of eager followers seeing your message. However, this ignores a critical reality of modern audiences. If the message your influencer is passing along isn’t authentic, the audience won’t trust it – and they certainly won’t act on it.

It pays to choose the right influencers


When we surveyed individuals who follow digital influencers, 63% said they were extremely, or somewhat likely, to have more trust in an influencer’s recommendation for a cause if that influencer personally volunteers with the organisation. Similarly, 60% said they were likely to trust a recommendation if the influencer is personally impacted by the cause or issue in question.

These authentic connections to a cause build invaluable trust in an influencer’s recommendation, which in turn drives real action.

More than a third of digital influencer followers report engaging with a nonprofit due to an influencer recommendation. Of these, 52% shared awareness about the cause, 51% made a financial donation and 37% went out and volunteered. These results illustrate the measurable, real-world impact an influencer can bring when they have an authentic and powerful connection to a cause.

Audiences respond to authenticity, not reach


To see this authentic connection at work, look no further than the AdCouncil’s brilliant PSA about online bullying, #IAmAWitness.

The AdCouncil worked with influential YouTubers who read aloud the hurtful, bullying comments leveled at them. Hearing influencers they admire like Brittani Louise Taylor and Amanda Steele share their own real experiences with bullying created a powerful connection with the target audience of 11 to 17-year-olds, and drove massive engagement and action.

The campaign generated more than 30 million video views and won a 2016 Cannes Lions Award. Most importantly, the ‘I Am A Witness’ emoji, which teens were encouraged to use to stop online bullying, was shared more than 190,000 times.

Tapping into influencers who had a genuine connection to this cause left audiences with no doubt about the authenticity of the call to action, which is what made the campaign so effective.

Identifying the right influencer for a cause campaign means so much more than looking at reach. By taking the time to find influencers who have authentic connections to your mission, you can drive results far beyond readers simply hitting the “Like” button, and inspire your audience to get engaged and support your cause.

  • Pictured: Amanda Steele in the #IAmAWitness video
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