Launching an influencer marketing program is no easy feat. As a new store or up and coming brand it can feel like the odds are stacked against you from the start.
You might be thinking how can I compete with big brands, with big budgets? And if I can’t pay competitively or reciprocate high social impressions when regramming their posts, how can I ever attract top names to work with me?
Well, luckily for everyone - from brands, to influencers, to consumers - the whole of influencer marketing is evolving. One off posts with macro influencers are becoming less of the norm as influencers (from micro to macro) and brands alike look to build more long term, authentic partnerships instead.
As a small brand or new store, creating and growing an influencer Community is the perfect place to start. By inviting and accepting members who believe in your brand and your products, your influencer Community can become your main vehicle to drive those long term, authentic partnerships. Not only that, creating your Community can help you grow your brand awareness and overall sales, and those relationships you foster can help define your brand’s position and perception.
So what does an influencer Community involve? Well, our Shopify app Community, encompasses an array of marketing strategies like rewards, sampling, influencer marketing, gifting, affiliates, beta testers, and more. Our tool essentially gives you the ability to customize your influencer Community to make it exactly what you want it to be. Affiliate and referral programs can feel so transactional on their own, so we created Community to help you foster deeper relationships with all types of influencers (from macro to micro, to fans, to top customers) who love and want to help you promote your products (while still giving them the bonus of earning commissions).
Still not convinced? Here’s our top reasons why, even as a new store, you should start building your own influencer Community with Dovetale:
Tap the Audience and Customer Base You Want
Is there an influencer you think embodies your brand and target audience perfectly? From their niche, to their feed, from their personality, to their other branded content? Their followers are likely the perfect fit for your brand as well.
By inviting that influencer into your Community you’re already reaching one potential customer with your branding - the influencer themself. And if they accept and become an active member, you then have the opportunity to reach their whole follower base - that means a whole new batch of potential customers.
By tapping into that influencer’s “authority,” you can earn not only awareness but a favorable brand perception from their follower base as you are now affiliated with their positioning as a trusted source. As your Community members share, promote, and tag your brand, their followers will get to know who you are and what you sell. They’ll likely then begin to check out your brand’s social pages and Shopify storefront. This increase in brand awareness and potential growth of your own social following will give you a larger audience to speak to in both your organic social media messaging and advertisements.
And as those members share any affiliate offers or promo codes you give them they will eventually start converting that awareness into sales as well.
Many Voices Spread Faster than One
If there is one influencer you think could be a great partner, there are likely countless others. By utilizing the reach of many, you can exponentially drum up awareness and sales for your brand.
To help you visualize this - imagine you partnered with one top tier influencer for your latest product launch. Because of their rates, you are only able to pay them for one Instagram post. But, that one post has a substantial impact on your brand. You see an increase in followers on your own social channels after their post goes live and the promo code you gave them proved to drive sales. All in all, it’s a success. Unfortunately though, because the cost for one post was so high, you can’t scale this type of program long term. You only see those benefits a few times per year when you are able to allocate enough budget. And in those months between posts, you lose all the social momentum you gained.
Now imagine, you could recreate those results on a smaller scale everyday, with a significantly smaller budget. The reach of a whole influencer Community (even if they’re mostly micro influencers) will likely end up being more beneficial to you and more cost effective than that one macro influencer post in the long run.
Having anywhere from 20 to 250+ influencers speaking about your brand on a weekly basis could help spread your name like wildfire. And with those Community members sharing their affiliate links and codes, you could be acquiring new customers daily. The constant sharing of your brand name and links to your Shopify storefront will help you gain more and more social and sales momentum.
Anyone can be a Micro Influencer
By building an influencer Community with a range of super micro to larger macro members, you can tap a wide range of customers and see what works best for your brand.
If you’re a young and relatively unknown brand, it’s especially beneficial to unlearn what you think of when you hear the word “influencer.” Someone with less than 10K followers may actually be a perfect fit for your influencer Community.
Inviting your top customers, friends, family, and social followers to join your Community regardless of their social clout is a great way to expand and get a range of members. Giving an affiliate offer to someone who already purchases your products and talks about them regularly with their friends and family could prove to be a huge success. They may not have the reach of a marco influencer, but as a micro influencer, they do have the trust and loyalty of their friends and family. And because they were a fan of you from the start, someone with 1.5K followers may end up selling more with their affiliate links and codes than someone with 100K+!
Affiliate Commissions Take the Guesswork out of Payments
If you’re starting off with a limited budget for influencer marketing, paying an influencer to do a one off Instagram post, may be too costly. You also might not know what types rates are typical. But offering affiliate commissions to Community members takes away the guesswork and allows you to pay them only after sales are made. With the added incentive of getting more commission each time they speak about your brand and share their affiliate links and codes, your Community members are likely to continue posting and sharing and getting sales. And their resulting commissions will continue to pay for themselves.
Community Gifting Doesn’t Just Benefit Influencers
While sending a physical gift to an influencer obviously benefits them (they are getting a free product afterall), it also benefits you as it creates more opportunities for organic content around your brand. Whether it’s unboxing videos, clothing try-ons, live product reviews, recipe guides, or just a tagged photo, your Community members are likely to show off their gift.
Sending your top Community members pieces from your latest collection or new product launch, along with a specific launch day affiliate offer, is another way to utilize gifts and your Community to your benefit. While you’d likely need to pay extra for true sponsored posts (with photo approvals, etc.), sending gifts to top Community members is a great way to get them excited to share and tease new products organically. And by pairing their gift with that specific launch day offer, you give your Community members even more value to share with their followers. This not only helps with Community member engagement but is also a way for you to do a cost efficient launch!
You can also use gifting as a way to send prototypes or new products to your top Community members for feedback. Having a pool of people who know your brand well and know what their followers (your potential customers) would like, is a great market research tool. They can test your latest styles and give you beneficial feedback. And since you can seamlessly connect your Shopify store to your Dovetale Community, you can send any gift from your inventory with just a few clicks.
Mentions + Tagged Posts = Easy Content
As we mentioned, gifting creates great opportunities for user generated content (UGC). With your Community members posting about your product, you will not only get increased exposure but you’ll also have more to re-post.
With their permission, using Community member’s images to fill your social media feeds, gives your posts variety and also gives you more authority as a trusted brand with products people care about. For a new customer coming to your social channels, being able to see influencer re-posts right there in your feed or in your stories could persuade them to not only hit follow but also make their first purchase.
Also if you’re a boot strapped team, wearing many hats, taking some social media content creation off your plate is another win!
Community Can Give You Another Channel to Communicate With Customers
If you have a new message you want to disseminate about your brand, tapping your influencer Community could be just the thing to make sure word spreads. In addition to your own marketing channels (like your owned social media, email newsletters, SMS programs, etc.) sharing anything noteworthy with your Community Members in a weekly or monthly newsletter is a great way to feed them info to share with their followers.
Since they benefit from promoting your brand and you’ve built a relationship of trust, whenever you have something noteworthy for them to share with their followers, they likely will! Having something new to relay to their followers will also give them a new reason to repost and share their affiliate links and code. So not only do you get your word out, but potentially get a spike in sales as well!
Long Term Relationships and Loyalty
Whether you are personally inviting influencers into your Community or accepting applications from brand fans who’ve applied, it’s good to look at your Community as a mutually beneficial relationship. Your members benefit from free gifts and affiliate offers that bring value to their followers and a commission to them. And you as a brand benefit from increased brand awareness and subsequent sales. Like any relationship, when both parties successfully work together and deliver, both will feel a sense of loyalty and commitment.
And as an added benefit, as you grow your loyal Community and identify your top members, you then have a clear pool of partners to turn to for larger collaborations or campaigns. Since you already have an ongoing relationship and their followers already know of you, those subsequent supplemental paid collabs or partnerships could prove to be much more successful (and much easier to put together) than those you run with any influencers outside of your Community.
So the moral of the story? Building an influencer Community is a no lose scenario. By building your Community you not only can build up your overall brand awareness and affiliate sales in the short term, but initiate impactful long term partnerships that may be the perfect way to take your new store from small to established.