Should the public and third sector embrace influencer marketing?

Public Sector influence marketingB
Influencer marketing has traditionally been paired with the private sector. Popular social media influencers are commonly paid big bucks to promote consumer products in advertising deals that go on to attract big profits for corporates the world over. With so many markets changing due to the new COVID-19 landscape, an interesting trend has emerged. More so than ever, influencers are beginning to partner with public and third sector organisations, as well as companies in the private sector looking to shift their image to a more socially aware one, to promote social good causes.

According to Forbes.com, influencers are currently turning to ‘social good causes’ for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a requirement for influencers to find alternative revenue streams as marketing budgets are cut globally and fewer opportunities to promote #sponsored products and services arise. Secondly, there is a growing desire amongst members of the younger generations to associate themselves with brands and products which stand for something, socially.  This is important to influencers, their followers, and their earning potential.

A recent survey by influencer marketing firm Markerly, polling 115 influencers from the company’s network, found that 52% of surveyed influencers had posted #BlackLivesMatter content; 56% have worked with or would work with causes and nonprofits that they believe in at either a discounted rate or for free; and 58% posted educational, supportive content and resources surrounding coronavirus.

It may not always be comfortable for public and third sector organisations to consider an influencer marketing approach given this sort of strategy is traditionally private sector-based. We do, however, believe that savvy social good teams, if they really want to reach new and younger audiences, must consider it.

Here are a few examples of influencer marketing involving social good causes.

The Texas Department of State Health Services

To help spread public health messages regarding staying home during quarantine, this US-based public sector organisation utilised sponsored posts on social media featuring the likes of  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III,  former Ultimate Disc League player and YouTube personality Brodie Smith and Olympic gymnast Nastia Luikin.

Content was featured across Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and even TikTok.

Check out one of Robert Griffin’s amusing social media offerings here

Likewise, athlete Nastia Luikin promoted the benefits of wearing a mask in her TikTok video

Victorian Government

This Australian state government wanted to educate parents/carers on never leaving kids in cars through its summer Never Leave Kids In Cars campaign.

To ensure the message was received loudly and clearly, it enlisted the assistance of various social influencers including popular radio host Becc Jude, who has more than 80k followers on Instagram, and more niche fashion influencer Caitlin Marwaha, with around 8,000 followers. As both mums who actively post about motherhood on their socials, these were no doubt two impactful choices by the Victorian Government.

Note though that the Australian Government has since banned the use of influencer marketing due to the expenses occurred and conflict of interests that can occur (e.g. influencers also promoting alcohol products, etc.).

#GirlsCount charity campaign

To boost awareness of its #GirlsCount campaign for girls’ education globally, charity One.org harnessed the power of actress and beauty and lifestyle YouTuber turned actressTanya Burr, who has millions of followers across her social platforms.

Burr is also an advocate for advocacy group UNHCR Regional Representation for Northern Europe via her socials.

UK Government

Similar to the above example in Texas, the UK Government has also partnered with a variety of influencers to help spread accurate public health messages about the Coronavirus.

Some influencers chosen included:

  • Bianca Gonzalez, a health expert and YouTube vlogger from the Philippines with over 7 million followers on Twitter @iamsuperbianca
  • Dr Jahangir Kabir, a Bangladeshi health expert and popular TV presenter with over 1 million Facebook followers @DrJahangirkabircmc
  • @KlikDokter – An Indonesian health blog with over 4 million Facebook followers

The UK Government says that the aim of the program is to help spread accurate health information “and to reach younger online audiences that are more susceptible to fake news”.

The Ministry of Safety and Justice, Netherlands

Dutch YouTuber Kaj Gorgels was hired by this Dutch government body to launch a national campaign focused on the certificate of conduct (VOG in Dutch). The idea behind the “What the VOG?” campaign was that a lot of employers ask their employees for a certificate of conduct when a young person applies for a job. With this campaign, they tried to avoid misunderstandings and answer questions about the certificate of conduct.

Although it’s in Dutch, you can check out the general look and feel of this campaign here

Clearly, there are various benefits to public sector, third sector and other social good organisations embracing principles of influencer marketing, especially in resonating with younger audiences. As the case in Australia shows us, however, social good organisations must very carefully consider their choice of influencers and do a robust risk assessment to ensure conflicts of interest and questionable brands associations are minimised.