Opinion: How to build digital communities with micro+nano influencers & alpha-consumers

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Digital Communities

Shreyansh Bhandari of Lyxel&Flamingo talks about building digital communities with the help of micro and nano influencers, the role of alpha consumers in the ecosystem, and tips on how to achieve the said communities.

The evolution of digital communities in the past decade is a testimony to them playing a wider role than what was initially perceived to be an avatar of a web forum or a Q&A platform. The realm which was created with Orkut Communities, followed by Facebook Groups and Pages came with its own ecosystem of social communities. However, recently the arena of communities have evolved and expanded to Instagram profiles and YouTube channels managed by millions of creators with subscribers varying from hundreds to millions.

These subscribers clearly bond with the creators based on their individual choice and preferences - with the majority of these preferences being an offshoot of their own aspirations and desires. As of Q1 ‘21, India was home to 448 Mn social media netizens as compared to 350 Mn in 2019. D2C brands, rightfully so, are leveraging the exponential growth and stickiness of social media in their larger efforts towards brand discovery and more engaged & targeted marketing.

India has over 600 D2C brands targeting the same cohort today, making discovery and recall value a challenge for these brands. Of the many factors compelling D2C brands to adopt a more holistic and customer-first approach, it is the rise of alpha consumers in India whose distinct personas make them stand out. They are ones who put their faith in brands once they’ve experienced a product or service and hence are an important  type of influencer in the growing segment of digital D2C brands.

They are the risk-takers, willing to  try new brands and are quite vocal about their perspective on various aspects of life including fashion, lifestyle, automobile, food, fitness, travel etc. No wonder, they are the ones who have the capacity to disrupt the decision making thought process of their friends and peers. Interestingly, it is this consumer category’s experience with a product or services that compels brands in defining the best optimized solutions for their current and future customers.

With global communities being created and nurtured on social media, D2C brands are striving to strike a chord with alpha consumers by building a narrative that focuses a lot more on building value , trust and meaningful engagement with this user segment. It is against this background that their engagements with micro and nano influencers via content integration amongst other tactics is helping them move in the desired direction. According to GlobalWeb Index, 54% of social media browsing is done for product-related brand research and it also helps to gather the data analytics of the customers.

Also Read: Bharat Sethi of Rage Coffee on the role of Instagram marketing in the third wave of coffee

Digital-first D2C brands building communities with the help of micro + nano influencers must take five strategic guidelines into account-

  1. Selection of an influencer: Ironically, even today only a limited number of brands understand the type of audience they are looking to tap into with the help of influencer marketing. While the location, demographics & gender ratio does help in the final selection; brands cannot afford to ignore the type of content that the creator makes and whether or not it resonates with their existing consumers or potential audience.
  2. Refine & Build: Once they have selected the right set of micro and nano influencers, the next step for a D2C brand is to continue building upon and refining this list for long term association, based on the content & engagement quality. The process of adding more influencers should continue and the selection for long term association should also be done parallelly in order to grow the core influencer & audience community that resonates best with the brand’s targeting.
  3. Recall: Brands need to make sure that the flow of good content is present on their shortlisted influencers’ platforms on a regular basis for at least a duration of one to two years. This is how they can build the trail of brand lovers by reaching out to them in different ways again and again via a personality/influencer whom they appreciate.
  4. Direct: Brands can follow varied routes in case they wish to pull communities from influencers on their own platform. Depending on the type of consumer engagement programs i.e. loyalty programs, giveaway portals, inbound marketing platforms (websites & apps), referral programs etc. brands can indulge their consumers in many different ways they bring them into their community ecosystem.
  5. Indulge and Grow: Community building is not a short term process; it requires a lot of organic input from the audience itself. In order to reach that level of awareness, recall & affinity, brands need to continuously be in touch with their customers & potential customers while helping them, educating them and entertaining them. There is a huge bouquet of skill and talent- influencer marketing has yet a lot more to offer in order to indulge and entertain the audience.

The article is authored by Shreyansh Bhandari, Co-Founder & COO Lyxel&Flamingo.