Introduction to Influencer Marketing
What is Influencer Marketing?
In influencer marketing, a person who has a large following online will be paid to post about a brand on social media to their followers. There are many different levels of influencers, and the amount of money it costs to hire an influencer is dependent on their follower count and reach.
The idea behind influencer marketing is similar to word-of-mouth. We know that people trust their friends and families more than any other source when it comes to making buying decisions. For many, celebrities and online personalities are like a trusted friend. Social media allows people to connect with their followers in a more “real” way.
Benefits of Hiring a Social Media Influencer
Influencer marketing on Instagram alone is over a billion-dollar industry, which could more than double in the next two years, according to Mediakix. There’s a reason why: influencer marketing works. According to research by Twitter, nearly 40% of Twitter users have made a purchase directly as a result of an influencer’s Tweet. Influencers are trusted almost as much as friends for making recommendations.
According to eMarketer, 88% of PR and marketing professionals find influencer marketing effective at raising brand awareness and 87% think it is at least somewhat effective at driving sales.
The Right Way to Publish Influencer Content
There are set rules on how influencers must disclose their relationship with a brand when they endorse a product. The audience must be able to clearly understand that there was some exchange (such as monetary compensation or a gift) for the influencer to be promoting a product.
For example, you may offer a local blogger a free night stay and ask for them to post about your hotel on their website and Instagram. The blogger needs to clearly state the relationship – simply adding #sp (sponsored) or #ad in a string of hashtags isn’t enough, since many people would skip reading the hashtags. Instead, the Federal Trade Commission says the poster would need the post text to make it clear that there was an exchange for their post.
Here’s an example by Pittsburgh blogger @marandaflamm who received a free stay at a Kimpton hotel. We highlighted the part that would clue in her followers to the fact that she received some kind of compensation from the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh.
To fully comply with FTC guidelines, the relationship between company and poster should be acknowledged in the first 3 lines of the text. This is because when a user is scrolling their feed, anything after that will be cut off unless the person taps “…more,” as seen here:
You can read the full FTC guidance on endorsement disclosures at their website. Now that you know what a sponsored post should look like, we’ll explain how to get started.
How to Hire an Influencer
If you’d like to test hiring an influencer marketer to share your hotel, here are the steps you will take:
- Identify influencers
- Initiate contact
- Agree on terms
- Measure results
Find people who are relevant to you, and don’t just look at their numbers. A high fashion blogger may not be as good of a fit as a family who shares their travels with their followers or a local photographer. As mentioned, the cost of a sponsorship is usually dependent on the person’s following. One rule of thumb is that on average, influencers are compensated $10 per 1,000 followers.
Influence.co released their stats with average post costs based on followers: $82.60 for accounts with fewer than 1,000 followers, $107.50 for accounts with 1,000-9,999 followers, $240.20 for accounts with 10,000-99,999 followers, and $763.30 for over accounts with over 100,000 followers.
If you are offering a $150/night hotel stay, you could target influencers with 10,000 – 20,000 followers. Accounts with fewer followers often have a higher engagement rate than accounts with a more robust following.
Open Instagram and tap on the magnifying glass on the bottom of the screen. Type [city] [keyword] – such as “Orlando photographer” or “Houston blogger” and tap “People” at the top. Start looking through the results to find someone that seems to have a strong following, quality photos in their posts, and people interacting with their posts in comments and Likes.
Once you have a shortlist of people you would like to work with, start reaching out. Check their profile for a link in their bio that provides a website with a contact form. You can also visit their Instagram profile and tap Message to reach out through Instagram and ask for an email address to correspond with.
Let the person know that you like their content and would like to inquire about hiring them to publicize your property. If they are interested, clearly state what you’re offering and what you would like to receive. For instance, you could say that you will provide a complimentary night at your hotel in exchange for a 300-word blog post reviewing their stay and an Instagram post tagging your hotel. Both parties can negotiate from here.
Agree on the Terms
Once you and your chosen influencer are ready to work together, send them a contract. Not only will this protect both parties by legally binding you to deliver on what was agreed upon, but it will also help you to get the most out of your arrangement. You could specify that the Instagram post is published without mentions of other brands or set guidelines that their blog must link back to your reservation website. The American Marketing Association provides some helpful tips on influencer agreements. It’s best to check with your legal counsel before sending an agreement to any influencers.
When setting your terms, don’t forget to communicate with your influencer on what metrics you intend to measure. Set a date for the person to send you final numbers, such as 15 days after an Instagram post is published and 30 days after a blog goes live. Here is what you should ask for:
Key blog post metrics for influencer marketing
- Page views: how many people read the post
- Clicks: how many people clicked a link to your website
Key social media post metrics for influencer marketing
- Reach: how many people saw the post
- Likes: how many people tapped the heart on the post
- Comments: how many comments were added to the post
- Engagement rate: total number of comments and likes divided by follower count
For social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, also ask for the number of link clicks. Instagram does not offer the ability to add links to posts, unless you’ve negotiated a feature in their Instagram Story or they use a third party link tracker. Finally, include the minimum amount of time that a post about your brand needs to remain publicly visible on their accounts and website. This prevents them from deleting or archiving your post after a few days.
As with any addition to your hotel marketing toolkit, you’ll want to measure results. You can provide a special code to your influencer to share to offer their followers a discount. This way, you’ll be able to track reservations that came directly from the influencer post. Website traffic via clicks from their social media or blog are the strongest indicator of an effective post. Other metrics are important, but harder to track a direct ROI.
Much of a company’s social media strategy includes an element of improving brand recognition. You can’t track being top-of-mind for someone, but they may make a reservation with you weeks or months later after learning about your hotel from a social media post.
Now is a good time to encourage your followers to connect with you on other networks or join an email list so you can keep in touch. Check your company’s own Instagram business tools to track what content is working for your audience to keep them engaged.