Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Miappi, Toby Britton, explains how your SME can adopt an influencer loyalty marketing strategy to in a bid to keep up with competition and cultivate a strong customer community.
With influencer marketing exploding in recent years, it’s now tough for brands to, a) to differentiate their own influencer marketing and b) to keep things cost effective. The practice now has become increasingly expensive as self-labelled influencer’s already have an idea of how much they think their posts are worth. In a bid to keep up with competition, brands are jumping in headfirst, prioritising mainstream influencers for PR value, when authentic, loyalty alternatives are getting left by the wayside.
But the biggest downside to working with self-labelled influencers is the authenticity they lack in their posts. After all, they are paid to create and it’s hard to tell whether they are truly loyal to your brand. There’s nothing stopping them working with other competitive brands. So, is this a sustainable way to influence consumers on social? Probably not.
Instead brands need to establish a way to develop meaningful and lasting relationships with loyal content creators and incorporate this into their marketing strategy. This all starts with how the brand recruits said creators. It is paramount that brands use the right criteria for selecting creators to work with and that they are rewarded in the most ethical way possible (not financial).
How do you find these loyal influencers?
Initially it may seem daunting and unclear as to who your loyal brand advocates may be. Not to mention why these influencers / enthusiastic creators would willingly work with you to promote your brand for what seems like a small return. It’s easy to view influencers as people who are only willing to be seen with your brand if the price is right. The key to harnessing the power of micro influencers or super fans is by knowing and selecting the right influencer for you and your brand.
If you can find people who already have an existing positive relationship with your brand, they are more inclined to be inspired to work for you and create an authentic and loyal response with your customers that is likely to leave a positive impact on them. Research shows that more than 50% of consumers want a brand to tell them what type of content to create and share (Merkley & Partners). And if you identify the right fans, your most engaged creators will happily produce user-generated content for you organically, reviewing and showcasing your business in an authentic way. Research from Nielsen shows that 92% of consumers trust earned media more than traditional media. So, what’s stopping you from getting started?
Thanks to technology nowadays, brands can now discover already vocal customers who create great content related to your products and services and then inviting them into a community experience. All this is simple to implement through platforms such as Miappi. If the brand can establish that these creators truly love their brand without being paid to say it, based on what they have already created un-provoked, only then does the brand have a chance of establishing an army of loyal creators.
Once appropriate influencers have been found that resonate with your business, many larger brands already have separate, integrated brand communities up and running in order to engage them. Marketing trends show that brands using community marketing believe that this style of marketing is making a huge difference to their bottom line, with 80% of marketers indicating that building brand communities has increased traffic (Hubspot). What’s more, once a community of creators has been established, many marketers find that this kind of community flourishes with very little intervention. To hit this magic sweet spot, community technology is key, but don’t worry it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
Build creative communities and increase your earned media
One way that brand communities increase the social share of voice is through encouraging the creation of user-generated content (UGC) and other earned media. UGC is content by engaged customers, which can take many forms: written or video reviews, product demonstrations, tutorials, and many more creative applications besides. In return, brands can reward hard work by showcasing UGC on their socials and elsewhere along the purchase path. More than 50% of consumers want a brand to tell them what type of content to create and share (Merkley & Partners), so don’t be afraid to set challenges with clear instructions.
Lego’s Ideas community website is a neat demonstration of how a brand can collaborate directly with their community in order to shape their business direction. Within the community, anyone can submit new Lego designs to a community vote, with the winning designs standing a chance of being turned into a commercially available Lego set where the designer earns 1% of royalties.
According to media agency UM, despite its influencer marketing growing in popularity with brands, only 4% of customers trust paid influencers. So how can a brand cultivate authenticity at a time when trust is at an all-time low? By moving to community-based marketing, brands can benefit from the trust that people-centric marketing builds. Research from Nielsen shows that 92% of consumers trust earned media such as reviews and recommendations from family and friends, more than traditional media.
The benefits from these deep and authentic connections run both ways. By humanising the interaction between consumer and brand, and by cultivating trust, the customer experience is greatly enhanced. According to GlobalWebIndex report, community site members felt that communities were better than social media sites for getting their voice heard (19% higher). This is reflected in the bottom line: In CMX’s 2017 Community Value and Metrics Report, it was found that during the buying decision-making process, 27.3% of customers used an online community dedicated to the product or service.
Most brands are fortunate to have willing customers / influencers ready and waiting to collaborate with them, they just need to be discovered via the content they share to social media. Luckily, technology has evolved to enable brands to leverage social listening capabilities to discover their most vocal community members and invite them into a brand-owned community experience. Team up with a digital platform that allows you to cultivate strong brand communities, and you’ll unlock a powerful wealth of UGC, lasting customer bonds and a cost-effective influencer marketing strategy that can weather fast-changing global situations and remain loyal.