How Influencers Can Reach and Draw Your Hidden Audiences
Influencer marketing done well can be a powerful tool, effectively scaling targeted messages to levels that could only be dreamed of decades ago. According to a study by RhythmOne, “destination and tourism brands’ earned media value is $12.50 for every $1 spent” on influencer marketing.
So how do you do it well and achieve a similar return on your investment? The key is to define success upfront, then create a strategy and plan of action.
What Destinations Can Use Influencer Marketing?
Any destination big or small can benefit from influencer marketing. Even a well-known destination like Las Vegas has seen the power of influencers to reach specific audiences. To reach Millennials, they partnered with Twitter influencers to create short-form videos. By aligning the content with the influencer and interest of the audience, they generated excitement and maintained authenticity. For example, an influencer known for adventure created content about exciting helicopter rides and other adrenaline-pumping activities. In another campaign, a culinary-focused influencer worked with local chefs and showcased dining experiences. The campaign resulted in 79 million total Tweet impressions to an audience that otherwise might not be exposed.
Planning for Success—What You’ll Measure
Before actually committing to and engaging influencers, decide what you want to accomplish and measure. This will impact the influencers you choose for your campaign and what needs to be established beforehand. Five common KPIs include:
- Views/ImpressionsHow many times has the effort been seen? What is the ratio of views to the next step in the customer journey?
- Social Shares/EngagementActually interacting with your post is a critical step. Social shares multiply your impressions and can be a key step to expanding your audience. Likes and comments all add up to more exposure and potential business.
- Click-through rate (CTR)How many visitors click your call to action and/or to your website? On some platforms this requires a special tracking URL.
- Referrals to your website from theirsThis relates to all of the website users that have visited your website from the Travel Bloggers site.
- Subscribers/follower movementDid your audience grow? This can be one of the biggest benefits of an influencer campaign long term.
Once you’ve identified what success looks like, determine which audience you want to reach and look for influencers that speak to that target. Your own native social platforms are a great place to start your research for influencers—and don’t overlook your current followers. You could have a built-in advocate and influencer in your midst already!
Start by searching related keywords and topics to get a feel for both the platform and audiences that exist. Beyond the platform, several tools are available to make this process faster and more systematic. Two of the most established are Followerwonk (a Moz app integrated with the Moz.com SEO platform) and Buzz Sumo, which include sharing analytics and influencer identification in one dashboard.
When you are evaluating influencers, don’t assume that a bigger audience is better. If you are looking for engagement, an influencer with a tight-knit and rabid audience could help you achieve your goals better than one with a bigger but less enthusiastic group. Remember, people trust those that they know. By going smaller you can be very specific with the selected audience and personalized messages that resonate.
Five Criteria for Evaluating Influencers
Actually selecting influencers to partner with can be one of the most subjective and confusing parts of the process. After all, there are more than 330 million active Twitter users and 800 million Instagram users—only a small percentage of those are viable influencers. Consider the following when evaluating influencers.
- Relevance and StyleFirst and foremost, the connection has to make sense and be a natural fit for both you and the influencer. That includes from a tone and visual style where appropriate. Think of it this way: would you naturally associate together? If not, pass.
- EngagementDoes the influencer have two-way interactions with followers as peers? Are they leading a tribe from on high with one-way communication? Consider your goals and what you need for your brand.
- FrequencyHow often do they post? Is it infrequent but high-value, or a raging stream force of nature? Consider how your content will look to the audience and how much attention it is likely to receive.
- AuthenticityWill the influencer’s audience believe the connection? As Convince and Convert has noted, often those “who have a smaller ratio of sponsored content tend to be more trusted and appear more authentic. Personal stories that include a genuine use or mention of a product, service, or brand are more trusted than straight product reviews.”
- Cross-PlatformWhile some influencers concentrate on one platform, many have multiple outlets, multiplying your exposure. Influencer marketing third-party standardized measurement company SYLO found that YouTube videos that were cross-promoted scored 47% higher in their measurements than those that weren’t. Create a shortlist and dig into their background. You need to know their history with their audience and opinions, in addition to what their experience has been with other brands. Once the post is out there, you’re ultimately responsible because it’s your brand on the line.
Keep Transparency and Embrace Different Perspectives
Building your audience and expanding your network is smart business. That’s why treating everyone with trust and transparency is key to a successful influencer marketing campaign. That means treating the influencers you partner with as professionals and never disrespecting them or your audience. Establish how they’ll be rewarded or compensated up front and be sure to give credit where it’s due. Last note: using a third-party measurement from an unbiased source provides transparency and a verified view into metrics. This can alleviate disputes down the road and ensures that no one is grading their own work. The last thing you want is an angry and motivated social expert. They have a megaphone to the world and they know how to use it professionally.