The power of social media to influence was vividly demonstrated to me recently in raffles to benefit two nonprofit organizations. 

In the first case, a therapeutic riding center, whose mission is to serve Special Needs individuals and others suffering from various mental and physical issues, especially military veterans, was fundraising by selling $10 raffle tickets to win $500.  A woman whose son rides there posted a brief Facebook message, but not a solicitation, about the raffle and within 30 minutes 120 of her 1,100 Facebook “friends” bought tickets.  After three days, her friends purchased about $2,200 in tickets.

In the second case, a woman whose son attends an all-boys Catholic high school posted on Facebook about a raffle to provide scholarship funds to the school.  The tickets were sold by students at the school and went for $5 each; the prize for winning was $50,000.  The school streamed the drawing and a viewer could see students carrying in box after box full of raffle tickets that were loaded into a raffle drum.

Neither of the women in these instances come close to being social media influencers…but they certainly were influential on a small scale.  Social media influencers have a large following on sites like Twitter, TikTok, and Byte.  They might be celebrities but more often are just everyday people who have attracted a huge following and whose opinions are valued by their followers.  Influencers, for example, have been able to drive up the prices of so-called meme stocks.

Prominent brand marketers have teamed up with social media influencers to engage audiences that they are interested in cultivating, particularly in reaching out to younger consumers.  Horse racing businesses and nonprofits routinely use social media but I do not know how actively they have pursued forming partnerships with influencers whose audience members are not already fans of racing.  Doing so (forming partnerships) should be a key component of developing new fans and customers. 

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