Brand Community Building Lessons from Creators
What marketer doesn’t want to build brand community? Tapping into the influence that content creators have to reach engaged audiences is powerful, but building a brand community means you have your own audience too.
Ask any content creator though, and they’ll tell you that attracting an audience is one thing, engaging an audience is something else entirely.
Our own EVP of Marketing, Alex Montas, says confusing audience size with audience intent is the biggest mistake he’s seen marketers make when it comes to influencer marketing.
Building Brand Community: Audience Size ≠ Engagement
Follower count is the simplest way to measure clout, but it’s imperfect. Mega influencers with follower counts in the millions can command big bucks in brand sponsorships. It’s logical that brands would look to the biggest influencers when hoping to grow their own brand community.
It’s not the big creators marketers need to watch when building brand communities though. It’s the smaller creators. The micro creators, mid-sized creators, and even the nano creators are the ones truly engaging audiences and building communities.
That’s not to say that the lessons MrBeast offers around growing as a content creator can’t apply to brands. They certainly can. But the more intimate, community-oriented approach to content creation of smaller creators is where the best brand community building lessons lie.
No doubt growing audience will always be a top priority for creators and brands alike. However, the general attitude toward social media is slowly starting to shift. With the quiet rise of community chat apps like Geneva and Discord, private group messaging within tight-knit communities online is taking hold among Gen Z; the emerging generation.
So how can brands evolve alongside this new community-oriented approach to creator content? Is there a way for brands to connect with people the same way content creators do, to build true brand community?
Well yeah… This would be a pretty short article otherwise.
Here are a few key lessons marketers can borrow from the content creator playbook to build brand community, grow audience, and drive meaningful engagement.
Working with the right creators for your brand is a great place to start.
Building Brand Community with Unfiltered Content
Social media platforms are built on our inherent need to connect and interact with others; our desire to build genuine connections.
But genuine connections are harder to find on social media. Taking the interaction real-time can help.
Tactics like livestreaming removes a lot of the filters. Instead of the sanitized, asynchronous social feed, livestreams can foster real connection in real time.
As creators grow their platforms, they often find it difficult to maintain the closeness they once shared with their early followers. Creators might hire photographers and video editors, for example, to up the production value and scale their efforts. While this enables creators to deliver more high-quality content, losing the casual charm of their less filtered record-and-upload videos can be lost.
But even creators with the largest followings can maintain their authenticity by regularly sharing unfiltered content. Going live on Instagram or streaming on Twitch are effective ways for creators to interact with their followers in real time and foster a feeling of genuine connection within their communities.
And there’s no doubt that this feeling of community also translates into livestreamed brand-creator collaborations. 72% of Twitch viewers agree that brands improve the livestreaming experience, and 58% say they’re more likely to consider brands that support the Twitch community. Moreover, people actually watch live video 10 to 20 times longer than on-demand content.
In other words, livestreaming can be an “attention hack,” and deserves consideration as part of a larger influencer marketing or brand content strategy.
Building Brand Community: Take a Creator-Driven Approach
Brands need to offer strategic guidance around each campaign (a great creator brief will help) but creators need the freedom to produce the content they know will connect with their audience.
With this balance, brands are set up to build a more genuine connection with audiences. Brand messages feel like part of the content, not a disruption within the content.
Think of it this way: there’s a reason some creators have a following. It might be some specific talent, a unique knowledge of their subject matter, a teacher’s ability to explain, an empowering outlook on life, or whatever. They know how to capture their audience’s attention. As marketers, that’s what we need to tap into.
Giving creators the autonomy to engage their audience with content that works lets the creator’s personality shine through. The result is more engagement, and a more genuine, less disruptive brand messages.
This is an important lesson when building brand community too.
Take video game company Square Enix, for example. BENlabs AI matched the brand with aligned gaming creators who had their target customer’s attention to launch “Life is Strange: True Colors.” In this narrative-driven video game, the protagonist’s storyline is directly shaped by player choices, creating new plot twists to keep participants fully engaged.
By allowing creators to independently stream their gameplay during the first four days following the launch, Square Enix ran an effective creator-driven campaign that resulted in completely unique live streams for each collaboration, based on individual player storylines. The campaign approach emphasized the thrilling, unpredictable nature of the game and allowed creator personalities to take center stage.
Today, 60% of Gen Z say online community is very important to them, compared to only 48% of all other generations. It’s more crucial than ever for brand-creator collaborations to add to this feeling of community rather than take from it.
Taking a more casual, less filtered approach to content and leaning on the power of personality to engage creator audiences, brands and creators can drive real, genuine engagement within online communities.
Smart Creator Matching
BENlabs AI-powered Smart Creator Matching uses cluster analysis to surface and stack rank content creators who align with brand values and who have your target audience’s attention.