Winning the Internet

Turbo-charging Your Campaigns via Online Influencers

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

Cheryl Contee

Cheryl Contee

As we get ready for Netroots Nation 2015, we’re taking a closer look at some of the convention’s most exciting training sessions. We’re interviewing the trainers and taking you inside some of online activism’s most popular and elusive topics.

Today we’re interviewing Cheryl Contee of Fission Strategy, who’ll be leading Turbo-charging Your Campaigns via Online Influencers.

NN15 Training Session

Turbo-charging Your Campaigns via Online Influencers
Kanye and the Kardashians are not the only online influencers with the power to change the world. The most powerful communications come not from nonprofits themselves, but from everyday supporters with passionate voices who have the ability to reach broad audiences to drive powerful action. These supporters, known as influencers, are passionate, have the ability to mobilize an audience that trusts them. In fact, our research has found that the top 5% of your database, on average, has a reach 200 times larger than your entire email lists. Join this dynamic workshop if you’re ready to learn why leveraging the true power of your network is a game changer and exactly how you can do this. We’ll share actionable ideas of how you can identify and target your own influencers so you can launch promotions that drive engagement across your marketing channels.


Q: Tell us about yourself and your experience working with influencers.

A: I became an influencer myself unexpectedly through launching JackandJillPolitics which had a lot of impact as one of the most popular political blogs targeting an African-American audience during the 2008 and 2012 elections. That led to a lot of unexpected attention, millions of page views, a high Klout score and thousands of twitter & facebook followers. YearlyKos – the first Netroots Nation – is what inspired my co-founder @Baratunde Thurston to launch the blog actually! We were both electrified by the new ability for ordinary people to have their voices heard and connect with other like-minded people who previously felt isolated and silenced.

Today, I am the co-founder of Fission Strategy, a digital agency that specializes in helping the world’s leading non-profits, foundations & social enterprises to use the internet more effectively to great global social change. We work with amazing organizations to engage people online who may not be famous on tv but might have real influence in their communities online and off to support great causes. From that work sprung, our growing startup that has attracted over $2million in seed capital. is pioneering cloud-based software that helps organizations find the influencers within their email lists and engage with them in more powerful ways. It’s work I’m really proud and excited to do – helping level the playing field so that individuals have more parity partnering with larger entities and organizations.


Q: In your opinion, why is targeting influencers important?

A: Today, someone can become a sensation and e-influencer almost overnight with a great Vine, Instagram or Snapchat account. A single tweet can reach the world’s most powerful people. It’s a new world and if you want to get people’s attention  – including mainstream media and decisionmakers – you need to understand & interact with those who now have the power to change things.

We’ve known for years that organizations have influencers on their lists and that those folks have a large reach. So recently we took a deeper look at our own clients at  — 90 nonprofit clients representing nearly 20M supporters. And the result was clear: Nonprofits can massively extend their reach through the social networks of their supporters (see our infographic).

We found that the top five percent of influencers (those with the greatest reach) on an organization’s email list can reach an average of 34 million people, or 85 percent of the network’s total reach. This is 200 times greater than the number of people sitting in the organization’s CRM. As such, influencers should always be a factor within the marketing mix because they are best positioned to drive action with your call to action and content.


Q: Is connecting with influencers realistic for resource-strapped campaigns? How so?

A: While bigger groups are at an advantage because of their resources and larger email lists, smaller organizations can still leverage influencers AND it’s basically free beyond your time. Every group attending #NN15 has a handful of influencers who could dramatically extend their network reach. We created to bring tools that big corporations are using today into the hands of smaller nonprofits tomorrow.

While much smaller groups may not be able to afford state of the art influencer tools like, with some leg work, they could segment their lists to evaluate active supporters, then use a free tool like Hootsuite to find those with more than 500 connections. From there, groups will find they are working with a small number of influencers as it’s a quality not quantity game, so it’s quite manageable. After your influencers are identified, it’s all about the approach and your ask, which we’ll cover in my workshop.


Q: Why should folks attend your session at Netroots Nation, and how can they connect with you?

A: I believe in making professional development fun, so come on down to my workshop if you want to laugh and learn at the same time! I’d love folks to contact me with any thoughts on what you’d like covered or any questions – @ch3ryl or cheryl(at)fissionstrategy(dot)com. Here’s a few more reasons why you should attend.

  1. You’re ready to learn why leveraging the true power of your network is a game changer (and want some practical steps on how to do this).
  2. You want actionable ideas on how you can identify and target your own influencers so you can launch promotions that drive engagement across your online channels.
  3. You’re getting sick of paid ads and are concerned about the decline of organic reach. You want real relationships with authentic community leaders online.


To attend this training, or one of the 39 others at Netroots Nation 2015 in Phoenix, register now.

About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.

, , , ,

Comments are closed.