Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing channels, with over 92% of marketers considering it an effective form of increasing sales and brand awareness. However, with any channel, there are a number of issues that can arise when failing to properly plan and execute your influencer marketing strategy.
One of the most common issues that marketers can experience is identifying influencers who will actually achieve results. This is especially tough for hotel marketers, as travel is one of the largest niches for influencers, which in turn means there is an abundance of choice when it comes to finding someone who can help promote your brand.
It takes a lot of effort to find a worthwhile influencer for your hotel, as you need to search for someone with a relevant audience and sufficient influence to help you achieve your campaign goals.
Making the incorrect partnership can be costly, with 25% of marketers losing money or barely breaking even on influencers this year. That’s why we’ve come up with this handy guide for evaluating an influencer’s effectiveness, before you invest your budget.
1. CHECK FOLLOWER AUTHENTICITY
Followers are often the first hurdle that hotel marketers fall at when developing an influencer strategy. Many people make the mistake of looking for an influencer with the highest following and partnering with them, without looking at any of their other metrics.
Theoretically, this should make sense – as a large audience means a larger reach, which in turn means more business right? Wrong.
Without a doubt, one of the hardest parts of influencer marketing, beyond deciding to go with a celebrity, mega, macro or micro influencer, is establishing who is a real person of influence and who has inflated their following through low-cost follow/unfollow services.
With a plethora of cheap apps and services that allow you to artificially inflate your following on social, more and more people are becoming overnight influencers without ever having to build an audience.
Thankfully, with tools like socialBlade, you can quickly evaluate the authenticity of an influencer’s audience.
The above example shows that this influencer is likely trustworthy, as there are no sharp increases in follower count. Look out for sharp spikes where followers increase by hundreds or even thousands in a single day.
2. LOOK AT ENGAGEMENT RATES
Engagement rate is perhaps the most important factor when evaluating the authenticity of a social media influencer, as it clearly indicates how many people are regularly interacting with their content.
An influencer could have an audience of 100,000 people yet regularly only get around 100 likes on their posts – achieving an engagement rate of around 0.1%, whereas another social media influencer with 5000 followers could get 100 likes and receive an engagement rate of 2% – 20 times higher than the first influencer.
In this example, the first influencer may have a larger reach, but their audience is far less engaged than the second influencer. Depending on your goal, your budget may be better spent on smaller, but more engaging influencers like the second example.
One of the easiest ways to calculate engagement rate (rather than manually checking posts) is to go through tools such as HypeAuditor, which do all the legwork for you.
3. EVALUATE THEIR AUDIENCE’S TRUST
For an audience to follow advice and engage with your hotel, they need to be able to trust the influencer that is promoting you. If their sponsored posts look overly salesy or entirely different from their usual brand of posts, their audience is extremely unlikely to engage with your business.
It is the authenticity of an influencer that makes their audience trust them, so if their sponsored posts clearly look like something they are only posting because they’ve been paid to do so, it’s likely that your budget will be going to waste.
4. ARE THEY INSPIRING?
While a good social influencer doesn’t need to be inspiring revolutions or commanding political change, they do have to be convincing and authoritative enough to inspire others to convert for your business.
Look for influencers with original, unique content that is likely to create a lasting impact on the minds of their followers, as these are more likely to convert.
5. UNDERSTANDING AN INFLUENCER’S NICHE
You could pick the most influential and inspiring influencer in the world with an audience in the millions, but if their niche isn’t related to hotels or travel, then it’s both time and money wasted for you.
An influencer who operates in the travel or hotel niche is far more likely to convert into room bookings for your hotel, as their audience already has intent by following them. Don’t waste time on influencers out-with your niche as their core audience is unlikely to engage with your sponsored posts.
6. UNDERSTANDING YOUR CORE AUDIENCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Similar to the point above, it’s important for your hotel to understand who their core audience are, and who is most likely to book a stay. Are you a family friendly hotel, or an adult only luxury escape? Understanding the difference in audiences is just as important as understand the different niches of an influencer.
Travel is the third most popular niche of influencers, and that makes it difficult to know who exactly you should be working with. With such a wide variety of choice, it’s important that you understand your specific niche and find an influencer catering towards that.
Once you understand who your core social audience is, and who is most likely to engage with a sponsored post, you can then find an influencer with a much more specific audience and create targeted content with the influencer to promote your hotel.
7. EVALUATING INFLUENCER ACTIVITY
The level of activity an influencer has normally correlates with the level of authenticity they have. Before engaging an influencer for your marketing strategy, it’s important that you look not only at how frequently they are posting, but how often they are engaging with their audience I.e. liking posts/ replying to comments etc.
An influencer who posts regularly but largely ignores their audience is unlikely to inspire individuals to complete a room booking as the audience won’t feel as engaged by the influencer. Consequently, an influencer who is very engaged with all aspects of social media is far more likely to be a better partner for your brand.
8. REVIEWING ENGAGEMENT QUALITY
With spam bots and follower-buying accounts getting increasingly clever, some now offer the option to boost engagement on posts as well. This may mean that fake influencers end up with incredibly high followers and engagement rates by faking it.
One way around this is to check the comments of the influencer’s posts for spammy comments, the below screenshot shows an example of a post with multiple bots commenting. While most influencers will receive at least some bot comments, those with an inflated follower count are likely to receive a majority of their comments from bots.
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