As people turn away from traditional advertisements, savvy digital marketers are adapting by finding influencers to boost their content’s reach and build brand awareness.
What’s an influencer? Influencers are individuals who have an engaged following relevant to your brand. They can be journalists, celebrities, or just everyday people.
According to a study from McKinsey, a recommendation from a trusted source is 50% more likely to lead to a conversion. Another study, from Variety, found that teens identify more with famous YouTubers than celebrities. For some brands, like food, travel, and fashion, influencers are especially impactful.
As it’s Spring Break season, let’s take a look at how travel brands are wooing tourists via influencers and explore how to find influencers for your own campaigns and outreach, no matter what the industry is.
As non-TV screens becomes more the primary screen than ever, this trend will continue to grow—the age of the digital influencer.
Why Use an Influencer?
Influencers have already mastered social media and what catches people’s attention. They can create a compelling range of content—photographs, anecdotes, and videos that all fit into their own personal narrative that people become attached to.
Those people make up a built-in, devoted audience. Influencers’ fans already look to them for recommendations of where to go, what to pack, and what to do while traveling.
Tuula Vintage, or, Jessica Stein has more than 2.2 million followers on Instagram. Her travel photos regularly get upwards of 40,000 likes. She took part in a campaign last year with airline Cathay Pacific.
Since influencers are usually everyday people, and not a polished PR team, their voices tend to be genuine and authentic. They address real traveler concerns rather than glossing over them. Influencers’ social media accounts reflect everyday lives.
They make travel accessible while still inspirational.
As the war on ad blocking continues, brands and publishers are looking more to native content and influencers for organic content that resonates with their audience.
Sounds Great. How Do We Get Started?
Determine your goals—what do you want your influencer to accomplish? Boost brand awareness? Link building? Set tangible goals and KPIs before you look for your influencers.
There’s a variety of tactics to go about achieving your metrics: guest posts, interviews, product reviews, social media campaigns, to name a few.
We can take a look at the current influencer landscape in Spike. Spike shows us the trending stories published from a one hour to one month view. But knowing what the world is sharing is only one part of the equation. For the best view, we need to know also who is doing the sharing and content creating.
Look at all that social engagement on these travel stories on Spike! Let’s find out the influencers and creators driving up that velocity.
Ephraim Hillard of PR firm Fleishman Hillard told us that they “use Spike to see what news stories are turning into powerful social conversations … and then see Influencers specific to those situations.” We can use discovery in Spike for each step here.
Start with a List
We don’t need to begin at square one. Is there anyone already engaging with your content? Any super fans you can approach?
Potential influencers that you already know are more likely to say yes to working with you. They’re already familiar with your brand and their enthusiasm and loyalty is genuine.
There are a few things we want to find in our influencers, including credibility and an engaged social following. Are they trusted in the community as an authority on their subject? Do they have any skills, whether it’s creative like video media or practical like good SEO practices?
Casey Neistat, who has 2.4 mil followers on YouTube, teamed up with Marriott to do a Snapchat takeover in Rio De Janeiro.
In Spike, we can delineate between what we call Influencers and Authors. Influencers are defined by their content-spreading ability. For any set of filters–keywords or publications or topics–Spike will show the Twitter users that got the most retweets of this content.
Meanwhile, the Authors tab in Spike shows you a ranking of the most-shared content creators for your topic. You can drill down to see all of an author’s relevant stories, over specific time ranges. You can rank the stories by total interactions through different social media metrics and platforms. Or look at the most-shared/tweeted authors from different publications.
A 12-hour view in Spike of authors with most Facebook interactions on their content
Why might you want a Author? Authors have a knack for writing and engaging an audience on social media. If you’re looking for creative content or collaborative pieces, you may want to look to the Authors tab.
For travel brands, Instagram and Twitter both are platforms that command a high amount of influence. We can shift focus to the Instagram tab to find who’s leading the charge in likes and comments there.
A 24-hour look at travel Instagram accounts shows up that influencers drive enormous engagement in just a day’s time.
We can also save any of these searches as Spike Alerts and Digests, which will keep us aware of the new people and publications to add to our list. Try a demo of Spike so you can start finding the trending conversations around your brand and industry.
A Spike Alert that sends trending Travel stories on Facebook straight to the inbox.
Pitch Your Campaign
Like any content you produce, your communications to the influencer should clearly present a value to them. Do your research—what else do they like? What have they published? NewsWhip Analytics can show us a historical view of their content and mentions.
The content table of travel Instagrammers ranks who’s scoring the highest engagement on specific posts
Like in Spike, we can see the authors with the most shares, but here, we can go even more granular and get a wider scope of time. We can discover what they’re passionate about and where their influence is the strongest.
From there, introduce yourself. Why are you contacting them? How do you want to work with them? And why would they want to work with you? Personalize your message—while starting with a template is okay, make sure each communication is tailored to the individual and personable.
If they agree, great! Follow up and make sure you keep in contact with the influencer through the timeline of your campaign. These relationships can last if they’re maintained and be activated again for future endeavors.
We can track the results of influencer campaigns by using NewsWhip Analytics for regular reports. You can build a panel of all of your influencers to track their social metrics against one another, or follow the content produced for a campaign.
This is a panel of seven hot travel tastemakers’ Instagrams. If we were using a hashtag certain phrases, as Las Vegas’ Bellagio did in their #UltimateVegas campaign where they selected 20 influencers and hosted a giveaway, we could narrow our scope to include only relevant Instagram posts.
Engagement on Instagram around the Bellagio really spiked during the campaign in both likes and comments, and has stayed higher since.
We could also look for all posts with the hashtag, not just from our influencers. To date, there’s been over 40,000 Instagram posts tagged with #UltimateVegas.
The campaign’s most popular post came from photographer Murad Osmann, who became a viral hit last year with his photos of his wife on their travels.
According to Skift, Bellagio increased their Instagram followers by 100% and their engagement per image by 175%, just six weeks into the campaign. Endorsements that feel organic go a long way.
The Power of Persuasion
By now, you may have thought of ideas for your own influencer campaigns. They’re a powerful tool as people increasingly value authenticity as opposed to obvious advertisements. Influencer campaigns foster genuine interactions with your brand that people remember.
Tracking the success of your outreach will make sure you stay on top of your KPIs and success. You’ll be able to spot any emerging trends, or surprising growth around campaigns. Beyond that, you’ll be able to cultivate lasting relationships with your influencers and their fans.
With all that in mind, there doesn’t seem to be a reason not to try influencer marketing. Til next time.