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Your Influencer Marketing Strategy Is Likely Outdated

From our partners at Reddit

 

Community engagement is key as consumers experience product placement fatigue



The challenge Influencer marketing has been a staple of overall marketing strategies for more than a decade, yet many brands are still treating it as an emerging way to connect to audiences. While many marketers are still wondering whether influencer marketing is here to stay or how to add it to their media mix, modern social media is already evolving to its next stage.

Let’s level set: Yes, online influencers have amassed enormous followings, while luring brands to try and capitalize—so much so that the line between editorial and advertising has blurred without most consumers being aware. As the share of branded content continues to grow, consumers are increasingly catching on to influencers and growing tired of social feeds filled with endorsed products. Additionally, creators often promote the same type of products for a variety of different brands. The more an influencer stands for everything, the less they can credibly advocate for anything.

Influencer marketing is quickly losing its edge and turning into a reach play more akin to more traditional, CPM-based ways of generating awareness. Because of that, brands today cannot solely rely on the traditional strategy of influencers endorsing their products or services—for many, influencers hawking products has become the sole purpose of creating content. Think QVC for social media.

In 2022, brands have an opportunity to regain trust with their audience in a more authentic way: by engaging community influencers who truly care about a product or service and sharing genuine experiences. The process At a high level, influence in a purchase decision is most easily achieved when the information we seek is authentic and trustworthy. If you start attending yoga classes and you’re in need of a new mat, you would probably start by asking other people who do yoga what mats they would recommend.

This is the foundation of online communities: members sharing a deep trust with each other. The culture of the community is based on shared values, interests and honest experiences. There is no hard sell, and no sponsorships are lost because someone decided to share a rave review of a competitor’s product.

A community’s relevance is decided by the value that it adds for its members—not by the reach it generates. An example of this behavior is the authority that the r/skincareaddiction subreddit commands. People turn to this highly engaged community when they are searching for product recommendations. Searching for “Reddit” in Amazon reviews of trending skin care products quickly reveals how many people openly cite listening to—trusting—the advice of community members as a reason to buy. The general satisfaction of products purchased based on community recommendations validates this trust.

This is where a brand can step in to make itself known to the community and show them that it shares their values. Highly visible and active members of these communities represent a growing cohort of micro influencers. Listening to their opinions and engaging them in an authentic way can yield benefits for a brand trying to connect with new audiences or build awareness for a new product.

When a brand is able to truly invest in and enrich a community, that’s where the magic happens. Brands are much more likely to gain lifelong customers within trusted communities than through paying an influencer who might endorse a different yoga mat brand every other month.

The takeaway The influencer economy is growing more rapidly than ever, and it’s shining a light on high-trust communities. And while influencers have established themselves as key players in the media mix today, brands are still trying to figure out how to find the right match for them. When thinking about your brand’s long-term influencer marketing strategy, authenticity—not follower counts—needs to be at its core. Because of their authenticity, online communities reach people who are truly interested in a topic, product or service and inspire them to act based on the authority they foster. If your influencer strategy is primarily focused on high reach, low CPM partners or follower counts, you may want to rethink your approach. Influence based on authority and trust is increasingly hard to exert as the number of individual influencers competing for attention keeps skyrocketing. It’s time to realize the most impactful influencers are communities, and they should be a central part of your media strategy.