Sustainability has become a vital component of many companies’ strategic plans. Amid climate crises and environmental concerns, we live in an age of conscious consumers. Many people want to do their part to help the environment, including supporting businesses and organizations that do the same.
Championing sustainable and ecologically-ethical business practices starts from within. Internal efforts will vary by industry, but some common entry points include:
- finding ways to improve energy efficiency;
- limiting or eliminating unnecessary printing;
- Sourcing compostable or recyclable products, where possible;
- Partner with suppliers and vendors who commit to sustainably sourcing their wares.
Many companies also opt to offset their carbon footprint by donating to charities that plant trees or undertake similar efforts to restore the planet. However, you can take things one step further with sustainable marketing – including working with green, or eco-conscious, social media influencers. If you’ve never directly worked with influencers before, it’s essential to know what you’re getting into and how they might benefit your brand and help you reach new audiences.
Let’s talk about how influencer marketing works and how you can build up your brand’s sustainability mission through such a partnership.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing has seen massive growth in popularity over the last few years. Most people are used to seeing celebrity endorsements for certain products and services. Influencer marketing is similar but performed via different social media platforms. They’re people with massive followings online, usually covering various niches. There are influencers in almost every industry imaginable, from beauty and cosmetics to health, pet care, and food. Because of the popularity of these individuals, influencer marketing is predicted to generate over $16 billion in 2022.
However, influencers aren’t just popular social media icons.
They represent the next generation of digital community leaders. More people are becoming part of “virtual communities,” and successful influencers serve as community leaders. With that in mind, not everyone has what it takes to become an influencer.
Some of the characteristics needed to be a leader in a specific niche include:
- Technological literacy
- Streaming etiquette
- Cultural sensitivity
- Public speaking skills
- Organization and vision
It’s essential to find the “right” person to be an influencer for your business, so these characteristics should be as important as popularity or virality.
💡 Additional community-building ideas, this way!
Partnering with A Social Media Influencer: The Search
An influencer can make or break your marketing strategy, so you must know where to look. You wouldn’t partner with a supplier or another brand with the promise of a sustainable relationship if you didn’t know their background or what they were doing to help the planet. You shouldn’t blindly link up with an influencer because they claim to be eco-friendly, either.
Finding the right influencer to work with starts with clearly identifying your goals. What sort of presentation style fits best with your brand? Which influencers share your audience? Who are your competitors, and how are they leveraging influencers to expand their reach?
Where should you start looking once you have a firm idea of the type of influencer that’s right for your brand?
Checking out your competitors is a great place to start. While you don’t want to “steal” the people they’re working with, perform a thorough analysis of particular niches and industries. Consider searching specific hashtags on social media platforms, including things like #sustainability, #green, #eco, or #ecofriendly.
Influencers are entrepreneurs. They want their videos and posts to be viewed as often, and by as many people, as possible. Therefore, they usually have excellent marketing skills and will use hashtags to be easily found.
💡 Psst: More top-rated marketing tips here.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to seek out influencers specifically focused on an eco-friendly niche. Partnering with a wide range of influencers can expand your audience and improve your credibility. Consider working with people involved in markets or interest areas tangential to your mission.
For example, working with a minimalist influencer who specializes in home design tips for simple living would make a lot of sense. Minimalism and sustainability often go hand-in-hand, and they would be able to market your product while still staying on-brand with their efforts. You could also consider influencers specializing in homesteading, prepping, or gardening/composting. Sometimes, the less obvious choice can positively impact your brand due to having a more broad audience.
💡 #trending: this viral + sustainable brand!
Partnering With a Social Media Influencer: The Relationship
After an influencer agrees to work with you, the first thing you should do is send them your product. This way, the influencer will be able to try it out for themselves and can then offer an honest review and opinion. However, sending welcome swag is a token gesture that only scratches the surface of a successful influencer partnership!
Sending sustainable swag is a good start, but your swag strategy can’t start and end there! Swag helps you build connections with customers and influencers, right?
It will likely take more than one positive review from an influencer to encourage their followers to try your product or service. Repetition builds awareness, and supplying your social media influencer with the different swag or services you offer will educate their audience and help build trust in your brand. Another way to leverage an influencer’s audience? Giveaways!
Consider sending your influencer multiple swag packs so they can host giveaways. This gesture will allow the influencer’s audience (and your potential customers!) to interact with your brand. For maximum impact, why not sweeten the deal by offering a simple starter pack to delight loyal followers, plus a special gift, like a larger sample of your products, to your influencer. Demonstrating your appreciation for their efforts will surely be appreciated, and the opportunities provided by additional potential product reviews may make them eager to work with you again.
💡 Considering your sustainable swag strategy? 🧑🏼🚀 Our swag experts can help!
Partnering with a green/eco-conscious influencer shouldn’t be considered a quick, low-effort sustainability win for your business. Using an influencer is one way to “humanize” your efforts, but you have to put in the leg work! The best strategies for change are incremental, measurable, and aligned with your company’s values. The best advice? Make sure that your brand lives up to the hype because people will do their research. Some of the easiest ways to showcase your sustainability efforts include:
- Working with eco-friendly charities
- Using sustainable packaging materials
- Discussing your energy-reduction and waste-reduction efforts
- Utilizing sustainable suppliers
While many of today’s consumers are eager to work with sustainable businesses, they also want to frequent brands they can trust and companies willing to form relationships rather than focus on making sales. That includes keeping your website updated with the latest information, talking about your sustainable practices on social media, and concentrating just as much on a relationship with your audience (especially as it grows) as your influencer.
Whether you’re new to the idea of influencer marketing or you’ve been holding off on it, now is a great time to give it a try. Do your research until you feel comfortable and confident in the right person for the job, and you might be surprised by how quickly your target audience starts to grow.
Explore more sustainable company swag:
🚀 Build a pack here, and get a quote and mockups fast, with no commitment.
🧑🏼🚀 Our swag experts are standing by and would love to help you bring your next project to life!
🚀 Want more? Subscribe to our blog newsletter, Swag in the Wild, for all the latest updates.
About the author: Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.