What are Influencer Communities? The Ultimate Guide

Influencer Marketing

6 MIN READ
What are Influencer Communities? The Ultimate Guide

Have you ever wondered how much impact a creator has with their followers? You're not alone. What you're trying to find out is if an influencer's followers actually represent a thriving influencer community. 

What is an Influencer Community?

An influencer community is a group of people who find genuine connection while engaging community influencer posts. These people don't just follow an influencer - they draw deep personal satisfaction from viewing a creator's content and interacting with other highly-engaged followers.

A creator's biggest fans make up the influencer community. And the larger that influencer community, the greater that influencer's impact.

How Followers Become Members of a Community

Just because someone follows a creator doesn't mean that they are members of an influencer community. Celebrities have millions of followers, but you won't always find deep connections forged with and among celebrity fans like you will with community influencers.

Influencer community members engage a creator's posts regularly and engage other dedicated fans. In most cases, the community influencer pours years of effort into nurturing community online.

There's not really a formal distinction between regular followers and influencer community members. But it's a mistake to think that an influencer's follower count and community size are one and the same.

How Do Influencers Build a Community?

There are a number of ways that creators build a powerful sense of connection among people sharing similar values, interests, and goals.

Not just anyone can be a community influencer (spoiler alert: not every influencer is a community influencer). The best community influencers usually do one or more of the following:

  1. Become subject-matter experts who educate 
  2. Promote a specific set of values
  3. Give audiences a consistent, behind-the-scenes look into their growth, discoveries, challenges, etc.
  4. Organize events for like-minded people (online, in person, or both)
  5. Develop a unique expression that resonates and gives hope to others

In short, influencer communities come around creators who deliver value beyond posting visually-appealing content. Additionally, these communities usually develop around niche interests. The more niche, the better.

"With the fallout from COVID-19 forcing the global economy into greater uncertainty, digital communities have an important role to play as individuals look for answers, inspiration, and support." - Tune

 

Why Influencer Communities are Better for Brands

When online communities are tightly bound (socially speaking), trust is much higher. As a result of that trust, people exchange information and recommendations, specifically to help each other become smarter buyers.

Over 80% of buyers depend on opinions from people on social media to inform their purchases. - CIPIO.ai, 20 WOMM Stats

 

By partnering with community influencers, brands can piggy-back on that trust and enjoy powerful engagement online. That engagement clues brands into consumer sentiment and which marketing tactics are most successful at driving conversions.

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Paid ads, celebrity marketing, and other traditional marketing tactics have their place, but marketers strain to achieve the quality of impressions and number of positive engagements that only consumer communities produce. This is due in large part to ongoing trends in consumer ad avoidance.

How Brands Can Verify Influencer Communities

"There’s a difference between an audience and a community. An audience is where one person has a microphone and you’re speaking to a bunch of viewers; a community is when everyone has a mic and we’re all talking to each other." -Nadya Okamoto, August Cofounder

 

Once again, follower counts do not equal influencer communities. So just because a creator has 500k IG followers doesn't mean that they've successfully nurtured community among members of their audience.

However, there are things you can do to distinguish between vanity metrics (easy-to-imitate numbers like followers and likes) and the size of a creator's community.

Audience Authenticity

It's hard to build community with bots and fraudulent profiles. Unfortunately, some aspiring influencers try to buy their popularity, often unaware that the people they buy followers from are going about it in underhanded ways.

community influencer communities audience real or fakeImage Source: Screenshots from CIPIO.ai's Cindex Report

So if your task is to "verify influence," the first thing you should do is check that creator's audience authenticity. Cindex Reports are free within CIPIO.ai and can tell you what percentage of a creator's followers are real people rather than suspicious accounts or mass followers.

Follower Comments/Shares

Speaking of mass followers, the next challenge is figuring which of a creator's followers are truly engaged. This means separating engaged followers from mass followers. Mass followers typically follow any and every profile they can. Though these people are real users, their feeds are too congested to see most of the content posted by the accounts they follow.

After looking at an audience authentication tool like CIPIO.ai, you can also take a closer look at the influencer's post comments and shares. 

First, grab a sample of 5-10 posts that seem to represent the creator's content well. Next, scroll through the comments. What you're looking for are meaningful conversations with and among followers. If comments lack thoughtfulness or substance, then followers may not be that engaged.

Third, click on post shares (if the platform lets you). Shares are one of the best ways to uncover influencer communities. When followers share creator posts that align with their values and goals, you know that meaningful connections exist.

Private Events and Virtual Spaces

A growing trend among influencer communities is to add private meeting spaces. More and more community influencers are using WhatsApp, private groups (including messenger groups), Slack, Discord, and more to connect on a deeper level with their followers.

In these private meeting spaces, people engage with greater intensity. Influencer communities thrive within these channels.

That said, not every community influencer nurtures private channels with members of their audience. But if they do and thousands participate, then you can guarantee that that creator's audience is top notch.

Expertise

Misinformation has become a real concern in the last three years. As a successful brand, you have first-hand access to accurate industry information. To determine the credibility of an influencer, you should ensure that they actually know what they're talking about.

While some lifestyle and community influencers have formal credentials, most do not. As such, it's always a good idea to grab a sample of their posts and verify any information that they pass on to their followers. If you find out that a creator likes to promote ideas that don't match up to reality or peer-reviewed research, be very careful about working with that creator.

Creators that promote fake or suspicious information usually have difficulty creating large communities. More importantly, the communities they do create are often highly toxic.

Product Endorsements

A final way to verify that a creator nurtures community is to see how and how often they endorse products. Community influencers only promote products that they use and love.

When they genuinely love the brands they promote, you'll be able to tell in their endorsement posts. These posts should feel organic and inline with the rest of their content. Furthermore, you should notice excitement from the creator's followers in the form of likes, comments, and shares.

By contrast, followers are less likely to feel a sense of community when the creator only promotes products. The influencer's content just looks like a bunch of ads, and few followers will actively engage their content.

Influencer Communities in Community Commerce

ROI-from-influencer-marketing-550x344Image Source: Smart Insights

Community Commerce is the heart and soul of business growth in the 21st Century. While paid advertising can get you in front of new audiences, community is what actually drives consumer purchases.

That's why consumer communities are more valuable than ever. Community Commerce is a business approach that tries to understand and tap into the power of consumer communities, most of which are led by community influencers on social media.

Consumer Communities

A consumer community is a group of consumers who engage one another on a regular basis. Reasons for coming together could be anything - like hobbies, interests, professional connections, or religious beliefs. Even HOAs are a type of consumer community.

The largest and most vibrant consumer communities exist on social media. Facebook Groups and community influencer followers are the most common type of consumer community.

Community Influencers

A Community Influencer is anyone with authentic social media influence and a willingness to promote a brand only when it adds value to members of their community.

 

As brands activate their Community Commerce strategy, community influencers become the linchpin to growth.

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Brands that learn how to forge deep relationships with the right community influencers are the most successful Community Commerce brands. And those brands are poised to outperform their competitors, regardless of the state of the economy.

Brand Communities

A Brand Community is a group of people that have a relationship with or affinity to a brand. These people include customers, employees, social followers, partners, complementary brand customers/followers, and more.

 

In a brand community, brands partner with community influencers to create space for members to grow. This means that Community Commerce brands aren't always trying to drive conversions. They actively invest in their audience's quality of life.

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In most cases, brands spend most of their resources equipping community influencers and creating a seamless feedback loop between themselves and their most passionate fans. Community members follow the influencer's lead in various initiatives, including branded and non-branded events, contests, and more.

Why Connection Drives Smarter Buying

Word-of-mouth increases someone's willingness to buy by 400%. - CIPIO.ai, 20 WOMM Statistics

 

In a world where programmatic ads interrupt the user experience, privacy is paramount, and political polarization is high, trust is difficult to come by. Consumer trust has been particularly difficult for brands in the last decade.

By contrast, community nurtures trust. Brands that learn from influencer communities are the ones most likely to succeed today. 

In Conclusion

Influencer communities represent one of the finest displays of authentic connection among real people on virtual platforms. Technology is making it possible for like-minded people around the world to connect and grow with one another in ways that no one thought possible.

Within these communities, brands are welcome so long as they engage with a willingness to learn and add value. As the influencer marketing industry grows, experts can understand and quantify the power of connectedness in today's Community Commerce world.

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