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Aspire in NYC: Building a Sustainable Creator Community

Industry experts discussed how to build a sustainable creator community in the new era of influencer marketing.
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On April 27th, Aspire held another meetup in New York City, gathering like-minded brand builders and marketers from all over the city. Attendees sat in on two insightful panels:

  • The 2023 state of influencer marketing hosted by Allie Arnott, Senior Campaign Manager at Aspire
  • Growing a global community at the GRAMMYs hosted by Marlon Fuentes, Social Media Manager at Leia Inc. and former GRAMMY Genre Manager

In case you missed it, we put together a short summary of their panels and the must-know insights they shared. 

The 2023 state of influencer marketing

We’re living in a new era of influencer marketing — one in which there are blurred lines between different kinds of creators. Follower count no longer defines who has influence, and who doesn’t. Instead, today’s consumers crave authenticity and want to see creative content and deep storytelling from any creator — no matter if they’re a seasoned social media influencer or just a loyal customer of a brand. 

This new era of influencer marketing brings new opportunities to tell your brand’s story in a unique way. Our very own Allie Arnott, Senior Campaign Manager, discussed 3 ways of doing so.

1. Use familiar faces to stop the scroll.

The modern consumer is investing heavily into brands that can stop their incessant scrolling. To do so, brands need to provide attention-grabbing content that consistently shows up on users’ social feeds. While your products or messaging can change, focus on building a brand that is easily recognizable, identifiable, and reliable. 

Here are two ways to build a consistent brand identity: 

  • Create an ambassador program with relevant creators to be the key “face” of your brand.
  • Implement a creative brand guide to creators to ensure there is consistency within the content they’re creating to represent your brand. This can include text styles, emojis, colors, etc. 

2. Build a brand for the conscious consumer.

In the age of the conscious consumer, people want to know what your brand can do for them and their community. Whether it’s a social justice initiative or an environmental solution, consumers want to hear about your brand’s values and the initiatives you’re supporting.

In fact, 90% of consumers stated they’d be willing to pay a premium for items that meet an environmentally sustainable criteria, and 64% would buy from or boycott a brand depending on their social or political stance. 

When it comes to influencer marketing, you can win over the conscious consumer by:

  • Working with influencers to raise funds and relay your messages of support for a sustainability initiative, community program, or non-profit. 
  • Opting for eco-friendly packaging when gifting products to influencers. Move away from overconsumption by conducting a thoughtful and personalized gifting campaign, instead of a “spray and pray” approach. 

3. Create “phygital” relationships.

Take influencer relationships to the next level through immersive experiences and interactions, where digital meets physical.

Influencers who feel deeply connected to a brand create more authentic content — and it shows. Audiences are quick to see when an influencer has a genuine relationship with a brand, versus just a one-off #sponsored post.

To build these “phygital” relationships with influencers, you can:

  • Plan quarterly calls. Don’t just be a bot behind your laptop screen. Schedule calls with creators to discuss new campaign ideas or future partnership opportunities. 
  • Make PR packages into an experience. Don’t just send influencers some products in a brown box and call it a day. Try creating more curated PR packages that lead to an experience. For example, if you’re a cosmetics company, gift influencers a “Girls Night Out Kit” that includes your makeup products, snacks, and a gift card to a local restaurant. 
  • Invite creators to your HQ. In-person experiences have proven to strengthen influencer partnerships with brands. A trip to the HQ will allow creators to meet the faces behind the brand and perhaps a behind-the-scenes look at how your products are made. 

As consumer behavior evolves, your influencer marketing strategies should as well. Using the strategies above, build meaningful relationships with creators to tell your brand’s story in a way that truly resonates. 

Growing a global community at the GRAMMYs

When Marlon Fuentes worked as a Partnerships Manager at the GRAMMYs in LA, he quickly realized that he needed to build a community to move the needle on inclusivity and diversity among the organization. 

Contrary to popular belief, “the boss” doesn’t pick who wins the GRAMMY. It’s based on votes from members of the Recording Academy, a public organization for recording creators, music businesspeople, and those aspiring to a career in the music industry. 

However, when Marlon managed the World Music category, he noticed that there were a lot of global artists that were being unrecognized. Although their music was popular globally, many were not nominated for awards and not celebrated. So, Marlon had one mission: encourage people to become voting members of the Recording Academy to show up for these underrated artists.  

Taking notes from the Social Identity Circle, a concept shared in a book called The Business of Belonging, Marlon’s community-oriented approach included: 

  1. Staying close to the culture: Creating a presence in the community means going to the source — not hoping they come to you. For Marlon, this meant casting out a net of opportunities for people from each diverse community to join and participate in campaigns. 
  2. Building empathy: Communities need to see themselves reflected in the image of the organization. Working across departments, Marlon amplified the diverse voices of leaders in the community. That way, The Academy would never miss a beat and discover better artists, which in turn informs product strategy as well. 
  3. Communicating value: Marlon served as a constant reminder in the community that The Academy is a public benefit organization offering an opportunity to stand up for recording artists and their craft.

How can you put these practices into your own community building initiatives?

  • Grassroots outreach and identification: Leverage your platform to project and model the community you wish to build. But instead of simply hoping to attract them, reach out and be a visible advocate in the industry. 
  • Participation: Get involved in what creators care about and empower them to become voices for your movement. Help creators feel like they’re part of the movement through immersive experiences and participation. 
  • Validation: Use data to back up your movement further and report results back to your stakeholders.

Interested in attending our next NYC meetup? Join our Slack community, The Coffee Shop, to stay in the loop.

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