By now, virtually every brand knows that influencer marketing is the key to success as consumer demands and market competition grow. But as more brands leverage the power of influencers, that also means leveling the playing field.
Table of Contents
- What Is an Influencer Community?
- Who’s Part of an Influencer Community?
- Brand Ambassadors
- Is a Community Better Than One-Off Relationships?
- The Benefits of an Influencer Community
- Better Engagement
- Improved Revenue
- Increased Brand Awareness
- Stronger Brand Partnerships
- Dedicated Virtual Space
- How to Build and Manage an Influencer Community
- Influencer Vetting
- Audience Motivation
- Clear Communication
- Goals and Objectives
- Relationship Management
- Influencer Communities Take Influencer Marketing to the Next Level
The core component of influencer marketing success is the authenticity in this marketing tactic, and this comes from long-term partnerships between brands and influencers. In the process, brands can build communities of dedicated top performers that are devoted to the success of the brand and its campaigns.
If brands want to build a community of influencers – which can then evolve into a community of loyal advocates and fans – it’s important to understand how to do it right.
What Is an Influencer Community?
When brands nurture long-term relationships with several influencers, rather than working with one or relying on influencers for one-off campaigns, they have the makings of an influencer community.
Creating an influencer community can be time-consuming. There’s a lot of vetting, performance tracking, and relationship management of multiple influencers and the community as a group. But in doing so, brands can build vibrant groups of lasting, genuine, and passionate influencers that form a group that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
For example, this is a community group on Facebook for the clothing brand Blackmilk, which is comprised of fans, influencers, brand ambassadors, and brand employees:
Who’s Part of an Influencer Community?
An influencer community has the following groups:
Customers are the core of an influencer community and form the audience. They are usually already familiar with a brand and may have already made a purchase. These are the customers that have potential to be brand fans or influencers themselves.
A brand’s community influencers are influencers that have worked with a brand or represent a good fit for a brand. They have a target audience that aligns with the brand and sway over that audience to share opinions and recommendations.
Brand ambassadors can be long-term influencers or especially loyal customers who have had a positive experience with a brand and are eager to share that with others. They may post reviews and recommendations, promotional posts, or other content.
Is a Community Better Than One-Off Relationships?
One-off relationships with influencers for individual campaigns can certainly be advantageous. Brands can test out new ideas, types of influencers, audiences, and channels to see what works as part of a broad influencer strategy.
Another benefit of one-off relationship is brands seeing, through trial and error, what influencers are a good fit and how they want their professional brand-influencer relationships to work. They also create opportunities to venture into new segments or markets, complement other marketing initiatives, or experiment with new approaches.
Still, a one-off campaign can’t quite compete with an authentic brand-influencer connection. When brands “click” with the right influencers – ones that are also focused on performance – it can form the foundation for a stronger connection.
These influencer relationships are the ideal choice for an influencer community. Brands should nurture that relationship and look for similar influencers that can offer these attributes.
The Benefits of an Influencer Community
Brands that nurture influencer communities may refer to their influencers as brand ambassadors. Instead of working with one-off projects, these influencers often advocate for their favorite brands with their audiences.
With the right strategy, influencer communities offer benefits like:
Passionate brand ambassadors within an influencer community offer stronger engagement metrics than one-off campaigns overall. These influencers are true brand advocates and make an effort to interact with their audience directly, rather than just posting content and moving on to the next campaign.
Influencer marketing can have different objectives, but the overall goal is to increase sales and revenue by building brand trust, confidence, and word-of-mouth referrals.
When brands have a community of influencers, they can rely on an authentic group of advocates promoting their brand and its products or services frequently and organically. Over time, this keeps a brand top of mind with the audience, builds trust and authority, and generates buzz among consumers.
Increased Brand Awareness
Influencer engagement increases the impressions, which means more people are seeing the posts for a brand. Long-term influencer relationships boost brand awareness because of greater post frequency and impressions.
Stronger Brand Partnerships
Though a lot of positive results can arise from influencer marketing, but not every brand and influencer are a good match. It takes time and effort for brands and influencers to develop trust in each other and gain and understanding of each other’s expectations and values.
As this trust grows, the relationship becomes more collaborative and creative. The brand can rely on their influencers to promote their products and services with the appropriate messaging and a great first impression, and influencers understand that the brand cares about them as team members, not just content creators.
Better yet, influencer communities facilitate relationships between fellow brand influencers. These influencers may find collaboration opportunities together to create truly unique and innovative content that extends brand awareness.
Dedicated Virtual Space
A growing trend among influencer communities is private space for the members. This allows influencers to connect on a deeper level with followers and engage with greater intensity. It’s also an opportunity for influencers to share giveaways and private events for loyal brand followers, rather than their entire audience.
Influencer communities can exist anywhere in the virtual space, from Facebook Groups to Discord servers to Reddit subs. Some channels offer benefits over others, so it’s important for brands and influencers to work together to determine the best channel for the audience.
When consumers recognize brands as thought leaders, they have a deep trust in the information and recommendations they’re providing. With influencer communities, that extends to the influencers within the community.
How to Build and Manage an Influencer Community
Building an influencer community takes upfront work and ongoing work to ensure it’s serving a brand’s goals. Here’s how brands can get started and maintain a strong community.
Brands don’t simply group together one-off influencers to create a community. Each influencer is vetted to become part of the community – often with prior relationships and campaigns.
The vetting process also includes thorough research to ensure influencers are not artificially inflating their numbers to gain more brand partnerships. These are manufactured fanbases and performance metrics – the opposite of the authenticity that communities rely on.
Because of this, many influencer communities have micro-influencers or influencers with a smaller, but highly dedicated, audience. These influencers pay attention to their audience and genuinely care about their needs and opinions, and they show that by replying to comments and answering questions.
Still, there’s more to a brand fit than an influencer with the right metrics and engagement. They must also be compatible with the brand and aligned with its values, or else the messaging will ring false.
It’s important for brands to recognize what brings their community together, both influencers and fans, and what they’re looking for. This provides an opportunity for brand ambassadors to build stronger communities.
From the start, influencer communities require clear communication to succeed. Brands must have direct, concise, and clear communication with their influencers in every interaction to ensure that they’re represented in the way they want.
Influencers also benefit from this communication and having an understanding of what’s expected of them.
Goals and Objectives
Like any other marketing strategy, an influencer community must have campaign goals and objectives to define success and guide the campaign strategy. Brands must share their vision with influencers, as well as the larger goals for the campaign and the key performance indicators.
Together, the brand and the influencer can strike the right balance and create truly innovative and authentic campaigns that generate results.
An influencer community is not a one-sided relationship – it thrives on collaboration. Brands need to invite feedback from influencers to inform campaigns, improve engagement, and achieve marketing goals.
Together, the brand and the influencer can adjust ideas, elevate campaigns, and form robust strategies for future success.
Brands must manage their relationships within the influencer community. This means keeping tabs on influencers, tracking their performance, and understanding the dynamics of the group on a whole.
To do this, brands must track as much data as possible and identify patterns or trends. There are software tools to help, especially as the community becomes larger and more challenging to manage.
Influencer Communities Take Influencer Marketing to the Next Level
Building an effective influencer community is a long-term strategy that takes more work and time than a one-off campaign, but brands that invest in this process can reap the benefits of a dedicated community that can weather the market shifts.