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Evolving Your Influencer Strategy Using Influencer Affinity (Not Follower Count!)

A gif illustrating Tribe Dynamics’ four influencer community groupings based on a six-month posting history.

A how-to guide on segmenting your influencer community into Retained Fans, New Fans, Potential Fans, and Lost Fans based on their existing relationship to your brand, and building an influencer strategy around each group.


Authenticity is Key

Influencers want to work with brands that engage with them authentically. In order for brands to build these relationships in a scalable way, they must segment their influencer communities into groups based on each influencer’s existing relationship to the brand.

A photo of a white brick wall with the phrase “We Like You, Too” printed on it.

How often and how recently an influencer has posted about your brand should be the leading indicator of what your next steps are for engaging with that influencer. For instance, brands should celebrate their most passionate fans in a way that communicates the depth of those relationships, while approaching potential fans who have never posted about them in a more introductory way. Think about it this way: you would approach a dinner date with your best friend of 10 years very differently from a first Tinder date. Segmenting your influencer community by posting habits is a powerful way to inform your community-building activities. Below, we’ve outlined some guidelines used in our software for identifying core influencer groups within your community, along with best practices for how to engage with each group. 


The 4 Core Influencer Community Groups

The most straightforward way of segmenting your community based on existing brand affinity is to take a look at each influencer’s six-month posting history and ask, “Over the last six months, how many times did this influencer post about my brand? In which months did these posts take place?” Good news—Tribe Dynamics’ software automatically detects an influencer’s prior brand mentions and organizes your community into these four groups:

Community Groups Final

Retained Fans: First, and foremost, you have your community of content creators whose enthusiasm is undeniable. They have mentioned your brand consistently over the past six months. They vibe with what your brand is all about and are usually the most excited for your brand’s successes. These are your “Retained Fans,” and they are essential. Relationships with Retained Fans take a lot of TLC, so activating these advocates will take time and energy and form the core of your influencer marketing efforts.

New Fans: Next, you have the group of influencers who just started posting about your brand in the last three months. Whether this represents a new discovery or a rediscovery for the influencer, we would categorize these content creators as your “New Fans.” The name of the game here is reengagement! They are hooked, or at least interested, and it’s your job to put in the time and energy to foster deeper relationships and convert them to Retained Fans.

Lost Fans: You will likely have a group of influencers who created content about your brand four, five, or six months ago, but have not posted recently. They have demonstrated some brand affinity, but this enthusiasm has waned over time. These are your “Lost Fans.” Don’t worry, there’s still hope for these relationships—the influencer might just have found a new favorite product, or wanted to shake their routine up a bit! Your goal with this group should be reigniting the spark: remind the influencer why they were interested in the first place, and bring them back into your community of New Fans.

Potential Fans: Finally, you will have influencers who have not posted about your brand at all in the last six months. All these influencers have in terms of brand affinity is potential, so these are your “Potential Fans.” Your goal in engaging these influencers should be a warm introduction to your brand—a first date that grabs their interest or reignites a former spark and turns them into a New Fan.


How to Activate Your Influencer Community Groups

By segmenting your influencer community based on proven brand affinity, you can develop targeted activations for each community group. Additionally, you can establish goals and KPIs for each activation based on moving a portion of one group into another. For example, you may host an in-person event with the goal of turning 40% of your New Fans into Retained Fans, and Tribe Dynamics’ software will help you track that campaign’s success. Here are some examples of ways leading brands have engaged with different community groups, and how you can use these success stories to inform your own influencer strategy.


Retained Fans: A Group to Share Over-the-Top and Special Experiences With

Late last year, NARS brought a squad of its Retained Fans to picturesque Bora Bora for a luxurious beach getaway. The trip included a visit to Motu Tane, an island owned by brand founder François Nars. Two attendees, Karen Gonzalez and Angel Merino, had posted about NARS an average of 5 and 6 times each per month, respectively, in the six months leading up to the trip, proving their status as NARS' Retained Fans. An activation like this, especially one infused with a brand’s history or evolution, is one of many ways to activate your Retained Fans. Though a trip to Bora Bora is extravagant, nurturing relationships with these valuable influencers doesn’t necessarily have to be. Your goal in activating your Retained Fans. Other opportunities, like a visit to your lab or an intimate dinner with your brand founder, are less resource-intensive ways to reach the same goal. Getting creative with your activations here is key to encouraging your Retained Fans to keep you top of mind.

A photo of several shelves full of Pixi Beauty products.

New Fans: A Group to Recognize and Encourage

Early last year, Pixi Beauty gifted influencers bottles of its beloved Glow Tonic facial toner, with each unique bottle emblazoned with the blogger’s name. The recipients featured their personalized bottles in a variety of content, from skincare routines to makeup tutorials. A personalized refill of a product that an influencer favorably featured in an “empties” post is a great way to give your New Fans a warm welcome, or in some cases a reintroduction, to your brand. It communicates that you see their feedback and are actively engaging with their content, and that you are excited to have them in your community. By recognizing their content and expressing appreciation, you can encourage continued posting from these influencers and hopefully turn your New Fans into strong Retained Fans.

A woman applying Too Faced’s Damn Girl mascara.

Lost Fans: A Group to Re-energize and Excite

Too Faced recently sent its new Damn Girl Mascara to influencers who hadn’t posted about the brand in the last three months, prompting re-engagement among some of these Lost Fans. Gifting newly-launched products is an effective way to spur renewed excitement about your brand. It’s a way to say, “Hey, we are constantly evolving and innovating, and we want to share that with you!” In addition to product sends, you can host in-person activations for Lost Fans to remind these influencers of the real faces behind your brand and reinvigorate these relationships. 

A woman applying Bliss eye masks under her eyes.

Potential Fans: A Group to Reintroduce Yourself To

Potential Fans are who you turn to when you want to expand your influencer community. Early last year, Bliss held a brand relaunch, introducing new products, distribution channels, and price points. The brand hosted events and sent new releases to a huge community of influencers who had not posted about them previously, effectively expanding its community by 17% compared to the previous quarter. Of course, a buzzy introduction especially makes sense when your brand is launching or relaunching, but sending a “warm welcome” suite of hero products to Potential Fans is also a great way to convert them to New Fans. Tanning brand Loving Tan has sent onesies along with their products—a cheeky gift that sparks a laugh from the recipient might also spark an interest in building a lasting relationship with your brand!

Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide to Influencer Marketing Campaigns and learn more about influencer marketing best practices.

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