CommunityInfluencersThe importance of communities is growing steadily, which is why more and more brands are trying to activate their power, and have an impact on our view of influencer marketing: In future, decision-makers should no longer ask themselves: "Which person is the right one for me", but rather "In which community do I want to take place and which person can help me?"

Many studies show that a purchase decision is significantly influenced by the values that are important to a person and their motives for action. So, if a company succeeds in conveying the value system, the language, and the attitude towards life of a community in a credible way, and proving itself to be a long-term supporter, they show the members “We understand you! We are on your side” thereby creating a long-term bond. If this is done, the network kicks in, spreading topics and trends quickly, so that content and campaigns can more easily generate relevance or be actively shaped by the community.

Followers are not yet a community

In recent years, the term community has been used so inflationary that its meaning has been devalued. Therefore, let us start with defining that we are talking about a real community of people who share similar values, who have a common goal, who feel connected and care for one another. People do not stumble in by accident, but actively seek exchange. They know that they belong to the group and appreciate the added value that it offers. In such a community a culture of its own is developing with communicative patterns and codes. In other words, it is less the socio-demographic characteristics such as age, gender and income that determine the composition of a community, rather common motives and personality factors that lead to similar attitudes and actions.

Empathy and perseverance are crucial

To communicate credibly within a community, the value system of the brand and the community must be a match: it must be clear which personality traits the brand has and what it stands for. The more detailed and unique you ask, for example: Who are we? What are we doing? Why are we doing it? What values do we stand for? How do we approach others? What tonality do we use to communicate? How does our product improve people's lives? the easier you find the community that fits to your company/brand. And the clearer a brand is committed to a certain attitude and culture, the sooner it can translate these into stories, and the easier it is to be accepted as part of a community.

Once the values are defined, there are various ways to get active in the community.

1. Collaborating with important opinion leaders (influencers) within a community can be an important lever for brands to find legitimation and access to a community. Social media influencers who do their job well are true masters of sustainable community building themselves. With a lot of work and discipline, they managed to develop consistent and sustainable communication that attracts a committed and trusting audience. But not every person is able to do this, and classic influencer marketing still finds it difficult to correctly assess the quality of the community behind a creator. Mistakenly, reach is often equated with commitment. In the future, brands will have to examine more closely which values an artist stands for, how they deal with their followers and whether they truly manage to create a community with a real human bond from a loose group of users that offers the brand added value.

2. Building your own community is one of the most difficult disciplines in marketing, since creating a new community and gathering it around a topic requires a lot of time, energy, and resources. It is crucial to derive a topic or purpose from the brand essence that is relevant to people so that your own community can also act as an important source of feedback and provide valuable insights for product development.

3. Cooperating with existing communities could be an interim solution since professional online communities are often open to brand cooperation. However, positioning yourself in social subcultures and interest groups is also an option. Certainly, not every brand is born into a community, meaning that it can take years of real participation and a large portion of intrinsic motivation and empathy to fully penetrate a complex community. An intensive, open dialogue at eye level and continuous interaction are essential since those who are not serious are quickly exposed.

Before you start in a mad rush, risking mistakes and turning a group against yourself, you should invest time to observe and learn. Any form of community engagement requires a real interest in the community, empathic and human communication, as well as enormous perseverance.

By Daniela La Marca