Now that the “secret is out” regarding the success of influencer marketing, more brands are flooding the influencer space. And as more businesses take advantage of influencer partnerships, many are trying to cut corners using transactional relationships and influencer agencies.
But authenticity – the critical attribute that powers influencer marketing success – comes from nurturing long-term brand-influencer relationships. As a result, leading influencer marketers are curating an influencer team of top performers, otherwise known as an influencer community.
These influencer communities accomplish two things:
Some influencer programs are so robust that each influencer is passionate about the brand they represent and have successfully passed their excitement for the brand onto their audience.
When a brand nurtures genuine, long-term relationships with a growing team of high-performing influencers, they have successfully built an influencer community.
Creating an influencer community is time-consuming. The amount of influencer vetting, relationship management, and performance tracking is not for the faint of heart. That said, those brands that commit to building and maintaining a vibrant community of long-term influencers achieve success in their influencer campaigns and see a strong ROI.
Short-term, or one-off influencer relationships are not a bad thing. In fact, they can play a pivotal role in scaling your influencer program.
Short-term influencer relationships allow brands to try new types of influencers and new campaign ideas. These one-off relationships can also act as part of a broader influencer recruitment strategy.
One-off influencer relationships inform your marketing team of influencers who are a good fit for your brand. They can also expand your audience into new segments or increase the effectiveness of other marketing initiatives, such as an experiential marketing campaign.
That said, when you find a great brand-influencer connection, you’ll know it, and you’ll want to strengthen that connection.
Top performing influencers that love your products/services, maintain strong engagement with their followers, and showcase your brand brilliantly are prime candidates for your influencer community. When you find those influencers, don’t let them go. Instead, nurture that relationship and use it as a model to find influencers with similar qualities.
Influencers generate marketing ROI because of their authentic connection with their online communities. Those fans look to them for inspiration, lifestyle goals, and product purchases.
Brands that nurture influencer communities often refer to their influencers as brand ambassadors. Instead of the occasional brand mention, these ambassadors can frequently and organically incorporate their favorite brands in many posts over a long period of time.
Influencer communities are stronger assets to your influencer campaigns, because their excitement results in natural brand mentions and product showcases. This approach to brand promotion does not feel off-putting to followers, and the authenticity motivates consumers to act.
Members of your influencer community generally have better engagement metrics than their peers. These influencers don’t just get more likes, they generate consumer comments, questions, direct messages, post shares, and more.
Influencer engagement increases the number of post impressions. This means that more people are seeing those posts that promote your brand.
Long-term influencer relationships often create better brand awareness because the quality of post frequency and impressions are higher. More impressions means that more consumers saw your influencer’s post. Increased quality impressions leads to more engagement.
The ultimate goal of any marketing campaign is to increase your sales. You want consumers to feel more confident in your brand.
For example, you want to see those that were on the fence about committing to a purchase to take the plunge. Additionally, you want fans that only recently learned about your brand to need less incentive for future purchases.
If you compare your short-term influencer relationships with your long-term influencer relationships, you’ll notice that posts from your long-term relationships have a greater impact. That’s because the authenticity resulting from your best influencer relationships builds trust with consumers, and they feel excitement about your brand.
In other words, your sales grow when quality brand-influencer relationships expedite the buyer’s journey for your audience. Short-term influencer relationships are less likely to make long-term impressions on your audience or motivate them to act.
Influencer communities nurture trust between brands and influencers. This trust allows the brand-influencer relationship to be more creative and collaborative. The brand trusts their influencers to put their products/services’ best foot forward. Similarly, influencers know that the brand appreciates their work and cares about them as team members.
In some cases, influencer communities allow influencers to partner with one another to celebrate the brand they love. These influencer-to-influencer partnerships further extend your brand awareness.
Members of your influencer community also have a significant amount of experience with your brand, and they know how to use your products/services optimally, because they have uncovered the most effective ways to showcase your products/services to consumers.
Following influencer relationship management best practices can help you grow a community of long-term influencer partnerships.
Influencer communities are carefully-vetted members of a brands influencer team. Each influencer has a unique style, voice, and set of skills.
When vetting influencers, you can separate fake influencers from real influencers by reviewing the quality of their engagement. Fake influencers manufacture a following, and they lack genuine comments on their posts.
As nice as followers and like counts are, influencers that have deep connections with members of their audience have plenty of post comments and shares to prove their authenticity. These connections translate easily into conversions.
Once you’ve determined that an influencer is genuine, examine their style and voice. What you’re looking for is compatibility. Not every influencer will be the right fit for your brand. But by leaning into those brand-influencer relationships that are a good fit, you’ll grow your influencer community quickly.
Brands that create influencer communities are focused on clear communication. From the first outreach email to post-campaign conversations, these brands work hard to be direct, concise, and clear with their influencers.
Influencers appreciate this approach, because it helps them understand what’s expected of them and when their efforts are a success.
If you can clearly define your campaign goals for your influencers, your influencers will know what to do. You should disclose to your influencer any specific vision you have for a particular campaign.
If you’re straightforward with your influencers and then invite them to offer feedback, you will find this balance and improve collaboration with each new campaign.
While campaigns are in progress, it’s a great practice to engage an influencer via comment, direct message, or email to let them know that they achieved certain goals or KPIs. The positive reinforcement helps them focus on posts that work and can help them further optimize content for your brand.
When an influencer performs below expectations, troubleshooting those campaigns can adjust your expectations and help the influencer better understand what to tweak within their posts..
The most challenging and important component to building a thriving influencer community is all the tasks associated with influencer relationship management (IRM).
IRM is the process of keeping tabs on your influencers and monitoring their performance. This process is critical because it allows you to track the success of your influencer program and identify your top performers.
Doing IRM well means collecting and organizing lots of information. Successful brands track as much information as possible and maintain meaningful relationships with their influencers. Many brands start their influencer programs using spreadsheets. But before long, it’s necessary to upgrade to influencer-specific automation software. Using the right influencer platform can greatly enhance a brand’s influencer community and save time.
In recent talks on Brands Working Remote Talking Influencers, we asked a few expert influencer marketers to share how their influencer communities are such as success.
Organifi exists to help consumers achieve health and wellness with dietary supplement products. The brand has partnered with influencers since its inception and credits its influencer program with the brand’s success.
What they’re doing
Organifi calls its influencer community the Collective. The marketing team keeps close tabs on their brand ambassadors and does everything it can to support Organifi’s influencer community.
For example, Organifi assigns a manager to each region of brand ambassadors. This approach allows team members to devote more time to their ambassadors and develop a deeper understanding of the regional audience.
Another key ingredient to Organifi’s influencer community success is their dedication to analytics. Using GRIN’s reporting tool, they track influencer posts, impressions, engagements, sales, and more. Paying close attention to the numbers allows managers to positively reinforce influencer performance.
Why it works
Organifi’s process places a premium on attention to detail and long-term influencer relationships. By managing each influencer relationship carefully, influencers post with greater authenticity, and the marketing team can reach their marketing objectives more effectively.
Tentree is passionate about environmental sustainability. That’s why they plant ten trees for every dollar that a customer spends. They’ve planted nearly 50 million trees to date.
What they’re doing
Tentree built an influencer community with shared values about protecting the planet and environmentally responsible apparel. These shared values have allowed them to nurture deep connections with their influencers.
Originally, tentree focused on generating revenue through their influencer campaigns. However, COVID-19 prevented the design team from producing the same volume of social media content as they had before. Tentree turned to its influencer community for help.
Because of the quality of brand-influencer relationships, tentree successfully pivoted its influencer marketing to merge with its social media strategy. Not only is tentree’s influencer marketing producing better results, but its overall social media strategy is also more authentic.
Why it works
Tentree effectively communicated its marketing objectives to its influencer community. With greater clarity on what they were looking for, influencers shifted quickly and effectively.
And because tentree’s marketing team tracked influencer activity over GRIN, they were able to successfully integrate their influencer marketing with their social media marketing, “killing two birds with one stone.”
The overwhelming benefits of influencer communities – brand-influencer trust, flexibility, creativity, authenticity, and more – work because they nurture long-term relationships with influencers.
As you scale your influencer program, you will achieve maximum ROI by building brand love through influencer communities. By carefully vetting your influencers, communicating clearly campaign objectives, and tracking influencer performance, you’ll quickly build a team of top performers.
Learn more about influencer marketing: Influencer Marketing 101
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