Social media usage surged during lockdown – and so did engagement on sponsored posts. According to Shareablee, interactions reached 57 million in July 2020, nearly five times the amount from March 2020.
During this surge, content shifted away from the product itself to brand values, and deeper relationships between brands and influencers have emerged.
There’s never been a bigger opportunity for working with influencers – but here’s what you should know before you invest.
1. Know what you want to achieve.
Before you start to think about WHICH influencers you want to work with, you need to think about WHY you want to work with an influencer – to reach more guests? To build trust in your brand? To sell a specific service, or grow your following?
Defining your goals early on will help you build an influencer campaign aligned to your overall marketing strategy.
It will also indicate the metrics you should monitor to measure the success of your campaign (more on that later).
2. Ask the questions:
Do we share the same values?
Choose an influencer that you can see as an extension of your team IRL.
They need to fit with your brand’s ethos and personality. See your research as a chemistry test.
Be careful though; an influencer’s content may reflect your brand’s style, but do their followers share similar values? Would their followers book a stay with you, or book your adventure itinerary? We’ve seen too many travel brands obsessing about well known influencers with huge followings – but the followers are often young, aspirational girls. They would never book a posh hotel. (Note to all Italian travel brands: stop obsessing about Chiara Ferragni – have you ever analysed her followers properly with a tool like Spark Toro?!).
Do we share the same audience?
The right influencer will have an audience that aligns with yours, so you’ll need to know who you’re targeting first.
At Lemongrass, we take our clients through a social analytics audience profiling workshop to develop an insight of key audiences (new and existing), building their profiles and finding out what social media platform they are active on.
Using social analytics tools such as Spark Toro can help you identify how to reach those audiences. It can share insights to behaviour and attitudes – and beyond that, what those audiences are tuning into, the articles they’re reading, the content they’re posting.
3. Tools to help you make the selection
There are lots of valuable social listening and analytical tools to help with the selection process. These are our go-to top three:
- Google Similar Pages Chrome Selection (this is free)
- BuzzSumo (particularly helpful if you want to find out what content has the potential to go viral without paid budget)
- Spark Toro (helpful if you want to find out if followers are aspirational or true, potential customers for your brand. Also good to find “hidden gems” = high engagement/low follower numbers)
Human evaluation in organic research is fundamental. Trust your agency recommendation. We have worked with influencers for over 10 years – we know what works and what doesn’t. Hint: the glossy veneer often does not work!
When we launched W Dubai – The Palm, we developed a social influencer marketing campaign to engage with consumers through their shared interests, including fashion.
To bring the fashion pillar of the brand to life, we partnered with Bonnie Rakhit, former editor of Grazia and Elle, and with an engaging network of fashion–conscious followers.
Her campaign resulted in over 150,000 impressions by the time we wrapped up the campaign, and generated incredible fashion content set at the property.
4. The power of the nano and micro influencer
Let’s debunk the myth that more followers are better!
Macro influencers (1-10 million followers), often celebrities or household names, have the numbers to wow you – but their audience doesn’t necessarily always trust them. They also come with a sizable price tag.
A large following is good for visibility, but micro influencers (5k-100k followers) usually have a much more engaged audience because of their authenticity and trusted ‘word of mouth’ effect.
Authenticity builds trust and their followers are more likely to engage, swipe up and book!
HubSpot reports that micro influencers, on average, have 22.2x more conversations than macro influencers. This percentage is even higher for nano-influencers.
Don’t forget about nano influencers (1-10k followers) who are even more authentic, have even higher rates of engagement and an even more impactful word of mouth effect. They’re great partners for a highly specialised offering you want to draw attention to.
Our client Martinhal wanted to promote its portfolio of hotels as a year-round holiday destination.
This meant building awareness around shoulder season and targeting families with preschool children. We used Global Web Index to build an audience and to understand how to target them through their attitudes and behaviours.
We developed a targeted micro influencer campaign that delivered a 160% increase in web traffic to the group website, total social reach of over 1.4 million parentsand a36% increase in total engagement with social media content.
5. Choose the right channels for your campaign
Find out where your target customer spends most of their time online.
Tools like Global Web Index, Semrush or Sysomos help you identify which social channels your customers are most active on.
Typically, when a customer is planning for travel, they take to the most visual platforms: Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. This can vary depending on demographics and specialist interests.
When you create a campaign with an influencer, it’s important to work with them to create video content for all those channels. Be mindful that each channel requires a different format – but we recommend video content as a must. We then amplify that content via Programmatic, Paid Social or via pitching video content to the press. Your buck goes further!
The demand for video continues to rapidly increase. According to Wyzowl Video Marketing Statistics 2021 Report, “People watch an average of 18 hours of online video per week”.
6. Product vs payment
As a general rule, working with influencers should be viewed as paid for media – just as you would pay for advertising.
Reimbursing influencers for the work they do is crucial in order to develop and nurture your relationships with them, but how you do it can differ depending on the relationship, expectations and content deliverables.
In travel, you will find that by creating truly engaging experiences, you have a valuable asset to negotiate for a smaller investment. Also, by providing visually appetising content for their audiences, you will likely entice influencers to share more than contracted.
7. Cultivate genuine relationships
Build long–term, authentic relationships with your influencers. If the audience believes your brand has a genuine relationship, you will build trust with them and acquisition will be easier.
Great relationships also lead to working with influencers as part of a bigger strategy – where they become brand ambassadors and develop audience-specific marketing material such as video content, testimonials, or even commercial affiliation programmes.
We always advise drawing up a legal contract between you (the brand) and the influencer, so it’s really clear what the deliverables are. This should always be explained and handled delicately, but experienced influencers are familiar with these contracts.
It’s really important to measure the results of your influencer campaign. How you measure is determined by the goals you set at the beginning of the campaign.
Here are five ways to measure success of your influencer campaign:
As simple as how many followers the influencer has.
2. Website Traffic
The traffic that comes to your website from the link in the influencer’s profile or account. Make sure to include a UTM code so you can track a campaign.
Measure the number of clicks, likes, comments, reactions, shares, brand mentions
and saved posts. For Instagram, you can do this by asking influencers to provide you with their post insights. For other social media channels, you can use social measurement tools, like BuzzSumo.
4. Trackable links
Customise and generate trackable clicks for your influencer to use, to see how much total traffic influencer marketing is driving back to your website or landing pages.
Tip: create different links if working with multiple influencers, to see who has the most impact.
Using visits from trackable links, see how many led to bookings or another conversion KPIs like newsletter subscriptions, form downloads etc