Influencer marketing involves a lot more than celebrity endorsements and that’s great news for resorts and travel destinations of all sizes. With its focus on personal experience and recommendations, influencer marketing is a great fit for tourism marketing campaigns.
A recent study from Google found that “78% of leisure travelers haven’t decided what airline they will travel with, and 82% haven’t chosen the accommodation provider they will book with when they first start thinking about a trip.” The visual nature of social media sites like Instagram and Facebook make it a perfect starting place for people dreaming about their ideal vacation. Influencer marketing is a powerful way for resorts, travel companies and DMOs to promote themselves to vacation planners early in the process.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing, also called influencer outreach marketing, happens when companies promote their destination and activities by partnering with an individual with a large and active social following.
At its heart, influencer marketing is a partnership. Influencers need a great deal of content to keep their channels moving and active. Travel and hospitality companies both large and small have the opportunity to work with influencers to create content and in exchange have their destinations introduced to thousands of potential customers.
An Influencer is an active social media user, often with an audience of at least 2000 people. These influencers can be active on any social media channel—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube—and many are active on more than one. Influencers usually have a specific niche they post about which can be anything from adventure travel to travelling with kids. This built-in audience is where the strength of influencer marketing lies. In an influencer marketing campaign resorts have the opportunity to speak directly to people who have already indicated they are interested in the influencer’s area of expertise.
How does it work?
In an influencer outreach strategy, a DMO or travel company partners with an influencer to create a piece of content that is sent out to the influencer’s audience through their own social channels. Because the content is matched to the interests of the existing audience and carries the trusted endorsement of the influencer, it is a very targeted form of marketing that often sees great results. How effective is it? These stats from ION tell a compelling story.
- On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing
- 70 percent of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities
- 86 percent of women turn to social networks before making a purchase
- 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference
There are essentially three ways an influencer can share content about a destination with their audience:
- The influencer can create a piece of content. They can write a blog post, or create a video, or post something to Instagram that specifically features the tours and activities the company wants to promote. Sometimes these are round-up posts that feature several brands at the same time. Others could include review posts, or Instagram photos taken while experiencing a tour or event. These posts are often labelled as being “sponsored content”.
- The influencer can talk about a company in their social channels. These posts are particularly well suited to travel and resort campaigns where the influencer notes where they are and what they are doing in the photograph. They can also be a slightly more subtle form of marketing where it appears the influencer is mentioning the location in passing, as part of their vacation instead of specifically pitching it.
- The influencer can allow a company to post a guest post on their channel where the company has full control over the piece that is created and the audience knows that the content is not coming directly from the influencer.
How to create an influencer marketing strategy
Like any good marketing strategy the first step in creating an influencer strategy is defining the campaign goals. What kind of audience the campaign is trying to reach? Who are they? How do they like to travel? What kinds of activities and tours are they interested in? Are they travelling as a couple or as a family with kids? Be specific. Second, what is the desired action the audience should take after they see the content? Is this a brand awareness campaign? Should audience book a tour? Request a brochure? Enter a contest? Follow the company’s social channels?
Once the audience has been defined and the goals are set, it’s important to put together a KPI – a Key Performance Indicator. This chart will track what happens in the campaign, and show if it is going well or where it needs to be adjusted. The KPI may be different for each campaign, it all depends on what is being tracked.
You can see a sample KPI here. This sample also includes a chart for tracking the communication process with each influencer.
Influencer outreach marketing sends your message to an audience that is already primed and ready to hear it. You can find more information on how to find the right influencers for your campaign and what to say when it’s time to reach out to them on Stir Marketing’s blog.
If you’re ready to add an influencer outreach campaign to your 2017 tourism marketing plan, Stir Tourism can help. Contact Stir’s social media experts for a free consultation or project proposal.