I’m not sold on influencer marketing, but if you must do it, follow my tips.
There’s a marketing term getting a lot of buzz recently, and I’ll freely admit that I groan every single time I hear it—influencer marketing.
It’s a marketing strategy that many brands and hotels use, where they partner with “influencers,” often social media personalities who have successful blogs or social media accounts with lots of engaged followers. Through these partnerships, the influencers mention the brands, talk about them, promote them in subtle ways to their audience, and the return on investment is apparently huge.
An article this week from Marketing Insider Group touts the ROI of this trend, citing absolutely out-of-this-world return numbers.
We’ve written about the trend as well:
- “Influencers, advocates increasingly vital for hotels”
- “Indie hoteliers work with media, bloggers to tell story”
The pros, according to many hoteliers who work with influencers and marketers who measure influencer success, is that the message is more authentic at the end of the day when it comes from a trusted source. Put it this way: A potential guest of your hotel is going to believe a blogger she trusts who says the beds at your property are really comfortable, more than she’ll believe an advertisement your hotel runs online, promoting your ultra-comfortable beds. Money better spent equals better ROI.
I can see how tempting this tactic can be. Mommy bloggers, food bloggers, travel bloggers, fashion bloggers, pet bloggers—it blows my mind the audience these people have cultivated and how absolutely perfect they appear. They all seem to have 100 hours in the day, fantastic cameras, huge kitchens and perfectly well-behaved children who eat spinach, like, all the time. The travel bloggers all have tiny lightweight suitcases, perfect hair and outfits that don’t show a drop of sweat when they’re skipping across the Great Wall of China.
That’s annoyingly perfect when it comes to the façade of their brand, and I’ve found in some cases it masks poor writing, obnoxious behavior and nonexistent ethics.
Consider it this way: Every time one of our Hotel News Now reporters returns from a trip or a brand conference, I know exactly what they’re implying when they say with a sigh, “there were … lots of bloggers on this one.”
First, a disclaimer: I want to be mindful of making generalizations here regarding all social influencers in the travel space. I follow many of them, many of them follow me, and I know the universe is huge. I’ve also traveled with quite a few of them and heard several speak at conferences.
What I’m saying here is that before you—as brands and hotels—get ROI stars in your eyes and heap endless attention and resources on influencers, do your homework. At the end of the day, you are partnering with and paying these people to provide content about your brand to their audiences.
And just like you should expect traditional media outlets like Hotel News Now to be fair and unbiased and ethical when it comes to content, you should have those same high expectations of bloggers and social influencers. Hell, you should expect it more from them, since you’re compensating them!
So here’s my list of things to keep in mind when you’re vetting social influencers for your hotel or brand:
- Make sure they know how to spell and write well, for goodness sake. These bloggers and influencers are not necessarily journalists, and their writing often reflects that. Don’t assume that because they have a content portal, they also have a journalism degree. Look for concise, lively, good writing. It’s content, after all.
- Do they know about and practice good ethics? For example, when you provide a free trip and they write about it, they better let their audience know who paid. That’s authenticity and transparency.
- What’s their goal as their own brand? Are they people who truly believe in what they’re offering their audience, or are they in it for their own social success (and free travel)?
- Can they prove their metrics? Again, these are people, not media brands. They may have millions of Instagram followers, but how much do they know about those followers and their engagement habits?
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.