Influencer marketing is one of 2017’s hottest trends and a powerhouse of opportunities for hotels looking to increase revenue and ramp up average booking values. We’ve already made the business case for influencer marketing in our previous post. Anything that is capable of generating 11x more ROI than traditional advertising formats is worth a second glance in our book.
Now you have the green light and are ready to get started, follow this step-by-step guide to finding, connecting and collaborating with the right influencers for each of your properties.
Step 1: How to find the right influencers
Every all-star influencer marketing campaign begins with identifying the right influencers. Makes sense, right? Even if you’ve carried out influencer marketing before or partnered with a local celebrity to help promote your hotel in the past, it’s important to recognise that each campaign is different. You’ll need to select influencers based on the audience you’re looking to reach and the objectives for each particular campaign.
The computer firm Dell works to a pyramid of influencers, which it created to help it identify and define those it wants to work with.
Image source: http://www.traackr.com/blog/its-a-content-world-after-all-5-things-from-cmworld-2016
If you’re serious about making influencer marketing an ongoing part of your digital marketing strategy
it’s worth taking the time to create something similar. Having this hierarchy of influencers to refer to will make it easier when it comes to knowing where to look for them, how to reach out and appropriate means of collaboration.
Creating a hit list of influencers you want to work with, who match your visions and goals and have the ear of your target audience is no easy task but there are tools to help.
A search and reputation management tool like BuzzSumo is a good first port of call. Simply drop a search term in – e.g. things to do in New York if your hotel is located in Manhattan – and it’ll churn out all the most popular blogs and posts on that topic.
You can mine this data to create a shortlist of people achieving the biggest spread. It even has a handy influencer tab to take some of the leg work out of your task.
There are also specialist tools such as Klear, which have free and paid subscription models, to make light work out of influencer finding. A specialist tool like this is ideal for niche campaigns. Klear collates over 60,000 categories and 500 million profiles across blogs, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and gives lots of useful data such as average engagement levels, influential topics, true reach potential and quality content fit.
Of course, you can also do it the old fashioned way and manually search through Instagram hashtags, Twitter followers and Google search for blogs in your field and then rank them manually but, this can be time consuming and without the benefit of the analysis a professional tool provides, risks being hit-and-miss.
Step 2: How to reach out and effectively connect with influencers
Once you have your shortlist of potential influencers to form part of your new influencer marketing
campaign, it’s time to reach out. Not everyone will want to work with you and not all will reply so perseverance is key. Don’t lose heart if your top picks decline. There are plenty of other influencers out there, with emerging influencers and powerful micro-influencers rising every day. To have the best chance of success, you need a good outreach strategy.
The most obvious initial step is to put together an outreach email. Don’t make the mistake of giving this to one of your junior team members. The initial outreach needs to be strong and it needs to show an awareness of the industry. You might want to mention a recent post that really resonated, share a story to create synergy or send an invitation to come and try your new hotel spa, cocktail bar or themed suite. You could even invite the influencer to an event such as a blogger breakfast or relevant pop-up.
The tactic you use should be determined by the individual contact, and that means studying their blog and social media channels to identify what they post about most regularly and what their day-to-day content looks and feels like. If their Instagram feed shows they work with other brands for example, study how that relationship works through the type of content that’s shared.
Step 3: How to collaborate
You may already have an idea about the direction you want your influencer collaboration to take. Common tactics are to invite the blogger or personality to enjoy a free stay in return for a review or a free dinner at your hotel restaurant or bar. Other typical options include things like guest blogging and social media takeovers. These are all fine and depending on the influencer, their reach and your budget, might be the most appropriate solution.
When it comes to being more creative however, consider stepping back and giving the influencer more freedom. They have built their audience and won trust by virtue of the content they post. The influencer therefore knows what works best for their own community of followers. Let them bring that insight to the table and suggest authentic ways to collaborate. They will often be able to suggest a natural fit rather than a blatantly obvious “I-was-paid-to-post-this” review. This freedom will add a more authentic edge to your influencer marketing.