Accusations of “fake news” fly fast and easy these days. Not surprisingly, consumer distrust has grown, especially when it comes to information found online. But while it might initially seem counter intuitive, the cynicism is increasing the power of influencer marketing — at least, when it comes to community-based social marketing.

With consumers on the hunt for reliable information sources, a new kind of influencer is becoming a go-to for brand strategists. Highly specialized influencers, known as community influencers, build strong relationships with their followers based on shared passions and a heavy local focus. In turn, these locally centered influencers have authenticity that’s attractive to consumers and brands alike.

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Enter the Community Influencer

Community influencers are a growing subset of micro-influencers, who have been giving A-list celebrity influencers a run for their marketing money in recent years. In fact, micro-influencers, with their smaller sets of followers, can generate engagement rates up to 60 percent higher compared to higher-profile influencers with much bigger follower lists.

The local influencers may not have instant name recognition, but they make up for it by going deep in a narrower niche. With smaller followings — usually somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 — community influencers interact more with their followers, establishing close, more personal relationships.

When a community influencer chooses to recommend a brand, it’s a genuine, highly believable endorsement. The reach may be smaller, but the increased credibility can prompt more followers to take action. Even better, the investment is typically significantly lower compared to more mainstream, higher-profile endorsements.

Influence in an OmniLocal World

With the help of influencers, even the biggest brands can create a local connection. Millennial and Gen Z consumers, with their cellphones in hand, are redefining local to include shared interests, experiences, and culture, not necessarily tied to a geographic location.

Mitchell’s study “The OmniLocal Consumer Report” examines the new definition of local and the implications for brands. Our research shows that 74 percent of Millennial and Gen Z consumers don’t consider geographic location when defining “community.” Instead, more than half say “local” is anywhere they’re connecting with others who share their interests.

This broadened perspective means the potential impact of a community-based marketing strategy is almost limitless, enabling brands to build consumer connections through multiple focused community strategies. The key is authenticity. For brands to join a local community, they must demonstrate understanding and relevance. Community influencers can provide the introduction that credibly connects the brand to local interests.

Today’s OmniLocal buyers are looking for connections — and local influencer marketing is opening the door for brands to build relationships with them.

Want more information on OmniLocal consumers? Request the full report here.