In the era of technology and social media, influencers are key to building a powerful online brand community and more personal consumer connections to drive business growth. Having engaged brand communities is essential to humanize the brand, drive awareness and increase conversions. Influencers already have a genuine relationship with their followers and a powerful community with higher engagement, making them a powerful tool for brands to build more personal consumer connections.
With 12-24 million e-commerce sites globally, a high level of competition, and e-commerce global sales expected to reach $7 trillion by 2025, it has become challenging to boost revenue and establish consumer relationships that feel genuine and personal. Having a strong brand community is critical to driving brand growth, especially for DTC or e-commerce brands, whose main way of interacting and building customer connections is via social media channels. Leveraging social media and influencer collaborations are key to creating personal consumer relationships and an engaged community to achieve brand objectives.
Social Media is the Place to Be
With the rise of Social Shopping opportunities, social commerce and social media represent the main online shopping trends and ways of truly reaching consumers. With social media being the most effective paid channel, marketers are planning a 53% increase in social media spending by 2023, and in Europe, 42% of brands are already creating more ways for customers to interact with the brand. Therefore, brands must be available to the consumer on social media, authentic and transparent in their communication while leveraging their community to boost awareness and engagement.
Influencer Collaborations Win for Brands
Influencer Marketing is considered to be a valuable and rewarding experience by 71% of marketers, with 66% planning to increase their influencer marketing budget as the influencer marketing industry is expected to reach $13.7billion by 2022. Moreover, 48% of marketers ran influencer campaigns and 50% of brands working with influencers are e-commerce stores, with younger generations like Gen-Z and Millennials being the most influenced by influencers in their purchase behavior. Thus, having an influencer marketing strategy by partnering with influencers is a powerful tool to reach a younger audience, build an engaged community and boost brand growth.
3 Reasons Why Influencers are Key to Building Online Brand Communities
1. Influencers help increase brand awareness.
Influencers and content creators are active on multiple social media platforms and thus have a wide and diverse audience. 72% of influencers use Instagram, followed by TikTok and Youtube, with some sharing content across all platforms simultaneously. Moreover, 90% of influencers on the platforms are Gen-Z and Millennials, aged 18-34 years old. With brands turning to target most Gen-Z and Millennials, it is worth mentioning that the TikTok platform leads in terms of Gen-Z influencers (79.3% of Gen-Z influencers are on TikTok), while Instagram is the leading platform for Millennials Influencers. Thus, leveraging influencers gives your brand access to new audiences who only could be interested in your product, but also share the same values, increasing awareness, reach, and the likelihood of conversion.
2. Influencers help brands build more personal consumer connections
Influencers are not only relatable but already have a genuine relationship with their followers based on common interests, values, and trust. Social Media Platforms have allowed ordinary people to share their opinions on products and services and build their own brands, thus creating valuable entertaining content and generating engagement. And depending on the influencer category and number of followers, each tier brings different benefits for brands. With a smaller following and higher engagement rate on platforms, the majority of Nano Influencers dominate Instagram, while now TikTok dominates micro, macro, and star influencers. Regardless, due to their normal roots, these new influencers are more relatable to everyday consumers and are seen as more transparent and honest than traditional celebrities, thus having a loyal and engaged following base. With 71% of consumers trusting opinions, product placement, and advertising from influencers rather than brands, leveraging influencers with loyal communities’ brands could build more personal consumer connections.
3. Influencers help generate engagement and conversions
Influencers can influence consumer sentiment and behavior due to their common interests, values, and already established bonds. At the same time, they offer the opportunity to deliver the right communication and marketing messages to a specific target audience in an authentic way. While influencers’ recommendations, 49% base their decisions on recommendations made by influencers, and 40% purchase something after seeing it on social media. Therefore, an influencer opinion and recommendation along with a strong brand identity and presence on social media can boost customer acquisition and brand trust, thus driving consumers to interact with the brand and purchase the product, ultimately generating higher engagement and conversions.
5 Ways to Leverage Influencer Collaborations for your Online Community
1. Influencer Collaborations & Brand Ambassadors: partner with influencers and content creators. The success key is to select influencers who are representative of your brand and audience, have an affinity for your industry, brand, and products, have an engaged community, and share similar values.
2. Mind your goals: when partnering with influencers, select and develop your influencer marketing campaign based on your brand objectives, community-building goals, platform, and audience. For instance, Instagram and TikTok have different algorithms and audiences, therefore each platform requires tailored strategies for content creation and community building. Similarly, depending on the platform, you might need to activate different influencer tiers. For instance, for engagement, nano influencers on Instagram and micro-influencers for TikTok might be more efficient.
3. Embrace their opinions: Allow influencers to be genuine and share their honest opinion. Do not just ask them to share positive aspects about your brand and product or give them a script, but instead ask for feedback: what is their opinion, what do they like and dislike, and what could be improved. A guideline and brief in terms of what aspects to review and consider is a great idea as long as an honest opinion is allowed. That is because both positive and negative aspects are important and contribute to humanizing the message. Genuine feedback will always be better received by the audience and seen as honest, transparent, and relatable, thus boosting emotional connection, brand trust, and image.
4. Leverage influencer content in Stories and Livestreams: use influencers’ content, opinions, and reviews to engage the community on social media. Do not only reshare it in form of posts and videos on your platform feed but create stories: start polls, ask for feedback, engage back with the audience and gain insights into product development. Similarly, start discussions with influencers in Live Stream Events and engage the audience in the conversation.
5. Build genuine relationships with influencers: when you collaborate with influencers, don’t just see the collaboration as a transaction to bring revenue, but nourish the relationship. Engage the influencers in more campaigns and turn them into brand ambassadors, especially if they are brand lovers and enthusiasts of your products.