OPINION: Influencers and community – what you need to know

Taavi Kotka

Taavi Kotka, CEO and CO-Founder of KOOS.io, explores the rapidly changing world of influencers and what it means for marketers.


You’d have to be living in a cave not to understand quite how dramatically the world of marketing is changing. We all know that in reality, technology is at the heart of that, but even then that’s too broad to know where to start. In my observation, there are three key trends shaping the future of marketing:

the growing importance of influencer relationships, the rise of community-driven brands, and the role of technology in facilitating these connections.

The power of influencer relationships cannot be overstated in today’s digital landscape. Social media personalities have become trusted voices in their respective niches, with the ability to sway consumer behaviour and shape brand perceptions. Similarly, social media has granted everyone a voice and empowered them to use it.  A study by Influencer Marketing Hub found that businesses earn an average of $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach. To capitalise on this trend, businesses must focus on building authentic, long-term relationships with influencers who align with their brand values and target audience.

One brand that has successfully leveraged influencer relationships is Fashion Nova, a fast-fashion retailer that has partnered with a diverse range of influencers, from mega-celebrities like Cardi B to micro-influencers with niche followings. By collaborating with influencers who resonate with their target audience, Fashion Nova has been able to generate massive buzz and drive sales, with some influencer posts reaching over 1 million likes on Instagram. The key to their success has been fostering genuine relationships with influencers and allowing them creative freedom to showcase the brand in a way that feels authentic to their personal style and audience.

Alongside the rise of influencer marketing has emerged community-driven brands. These are companies that prioritise building and nurturing a strong sense of community among their customers, fostering loyalty, advocacy, and a sense of belonging. A prime example of this is Glossier, a beauty brand that has built a cult following by actively engaging with its customers on social media, soliciting feedback, and involving them in product development. By creating a two-way dialogue with their community, Glossier has been able to create products that truly resonate with their customers’ needs and preferences, leading to a highly engaged and loyal fan base.

Another example of a community-driven brand is Peloton, the at-home fitness company that has built a thriving community of users around its interactive workout classes. By fostering a sense of camaraderie and competition among its users, Peloton has been able to create a highly engaged and motivated community that not only uses the product regularly but also actively promotes it to others. In fact, a study by the company found that Peloton users who engaged with the community features of the platform were 40% more likely to stick with their workout routine than those who did not.

Technology plays a crucial role in facilitating these connections and enabling businesses to better understand and engage with their audiences. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics can help marketers gain deeper insights into consumer behaviour, preferences, and sentiment. For example, Starbucks uses AI-powered chatbots to handle customer service inquiries, freeing up human agents to focus on more complex issues. By analysing customer interactions with the chatbot, Starbucks is able to gain valuable insights into common customer pain points and preferences, which can then inform future product development and marketing strategies.

Another example of how technology is enabling deeper customer connections is through the use of personalisation. By leveraging data on customer behaviour and preferences, brands can create highly targeted and personalised marketing experiences that resonate with individual customers. Sephora, the beauty retailer, is a prime example of this. The company uses data from its loyalty program to create personalised product recommendations, email campaigns, and in-store experiences for each customer. By making each interaction feel tailored to the individual, Sephora is able to build deeper connections with its customers and foster a sense of loyalty and trust.

To adapt your marketing strategy and capitalise on these trends, it is essential to focus on authenticity, value creation, and long-term thinking. Specifically, it’s important to get to know your community members and understand their challenges, motivations, and interests. Most CMOs would have “get to know your customer” pretty much tattooed on their arm, and normally that’s for lead and revenue generation. But this is more than that. It’s not enough to know thy customer, now you want to be friends with them, too, and they want to be friends with you.

It’s worth noting that no brand is ‘too big’ to build authentic relationships and engage in influencer activity. For example, take Dior, a luxury, established brand, which, in 2020, launched an influencer campaign called ‘67 Shades of Dior’. The campaign was focused on launching their new inclusive Forever Foundation, which comes with 67 tones of foundation to match different skin tones. As the name suggests, the brand partnered with 67 influencers to launch the campaign, with each influencer required to have high engagement levels, proven past performance, an audience interested in beauty, and in geo-targeted areas. The campaign won an award for best influencer campaign of the year and generated over 600k engagements.

As influencer relationships, community-driven brands, and technology continue to shape the marketing landscape, businesses that adapt and embrace these trends will be well-positioned for success. By focusing on building authentic connections, fostering a sense of community, and leveraging the power of technology, marketers can create more engaging, effective, and sustainable campaigns. As we move forward into an increasingly digital and interconnected world, staying attuned to these emerging trends will be essential for any business looking to thrive in the competitive marketplace.

The future of marketing lies in the ability to build genuine relationships, harness the power of community, and leverage technology to create meaningful connections. By keeping a close eye on these emerging trends and adapting your strategies accordingly, you can position your business for long-term success in an ever-changing marketing landscape. As I often say, building your brand together with the community through the fact that you truly value them, not just transactionally, is the new plug.

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