Working in influencer marketing, we often talk about the power of peer recommendation and the momentum that can be brought to a brand campaign. Influencer marketing is a way to access large audiences and deliver a message authentically. After attending a talk with charity Sustrans, we got thinking about social change and what might happen if more influencers got involved in social change in the same way they advocate brands.
Sustrans are a UK charity that run infrastructure projects to make it easier for people to walk and cycle. They work with ’individuals and communities to find ways to make walking and cycling easier and an everyday choice’. To initiate these conversations, or at least create a dialogue as to how and why these projects should gain endorsement, they ‘make a case for change by showing what can be done and influencing decision makers’.
The subject of the talk was based around infrastructure, how cycling can change people’s mentalities as to how cities are planned and engineered, and what the result might be for the public health agenda. Everyone in the talk was unanimous that, at least in London, cities need to adapt to get increasing numbers of people active. However, the finances required and the political backing needed to push through projects and change legislation is still a major impediment to the cause. How to combat that and affect change was a big topic and the dialogue swayed from consultancy to public protest.
Which got us thinking about the potential for influencers to translate their experience from working with brands, to the endorsement of campaigns for a broader social good. Often activism or ‘campaigning’ in large numbers can be the shift in momentum that can make change happen. From an awareness perspective, a social influencer has a directly transferable skill-set when it comes to the advocacy of good causes. They have the audience, their message is authentic and ultimately they have similar goals to organisations like Sustrans, namely the power to influence.
We use the word activism, what we are advocating when considering social cause isn’t necessarily activism on social media, for example boycotting or even just getting angry about something on Twitter (see this article for more on that definition). What we think would translate well for social influencers, is ambassadorial work, and participating in a grass routes movement of influential figures coming together to be part of a positive cause.
The awareness that a campaign can gather thanks to an influencer harnessing their social reach and engagement can be significant. For example, the ‘107 campaign’ by Chris Hall. Chris rode 107km everyday for 107 days to raise awareness (and approaching £10,000) for The Pace Centre charity: http://www.chrishallrides.com/.
Similarly, we have worked on several campaigns on the Freestak platform. British Cycling’s ‘Ride Social’ campaign gets more people cycling, for free, safely. We ran an awareness campaign that reached over 200,000 on social media and excellent conversion in terms of visits to the Let’s Ride website.
Freestak also works with Cancer Research UK to help them partner with endurance sports influencers, create greater awareness, promote race entries and ultimately raise the necessary funds to help beat cancer. The Tough 10 campaign on the platform reached over 600,000 on social networks and, more recently, Freestak are working on the Race for Life campaign #RaceLace.
We feel there is real value in the authentic, positive PR that working with ambassadors delivers. Whether or not a charity like Cancer Research, or a social movement like Ride Social, is endorsed by social influencers via Freestak, we hope that the general sentiment amongst athletes and others with social influence, is that their collective voice can really help build awareness and affect change for positive cause.
We love working with organisations that offer routes into endurance sport, be they the companies outfitting people for their next challenge, or those organisations looking to mobilise people through events. Our mission statement is ‘To get more people outdoors and into endurance sports’. We try and do that by partnering with influencers who are as passionate about endurance sports as we are. If they are passionate about causes like ours, then all the more reason to work with them, ask for their advocacy and harness that collective power, to talk about your own.
To discuss further, please feel free to get in touch on social, or drop me an email!
Alex, Brands Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org