The rise of influencer marketing on social media has been noticeable this year. Word of mouth is a dream for companies in the travel sector and as a result, influencers are eclipsing other methods of advertising. With the power of social media platforms, influencers give the travel sector a loud voice and a wide reach.
Although the top digital influencers are celebrities and maybe out of reach for most travel brands, social media influencers do not have to be on the A-C list. As a matter of fact, the majority of digital experts are typically bloggers that have developed a skill for creating quality content.
The top travel influencers have been working through social networks for years and publish great content that attracts a large volume of traffic through search engines. They are adept at building an audience that trusts their judgment and know how to compel their audience to take action.
Modern culture dictates that consumers will research businesses before they try them. Unsurprisingly, cafes, restaurants, and hotels are the business types consumers research the most for customer reviews. A recommendation in a feature-length article published by an influencer holds more sway than comments left on peer-to-peer review sites. The inconsistency of reviews makes these sites less trustworthy.
Although word-of-mouth is still the strongest form of advertising, consumers still want authenticity. Reviews can be faked. But readers of influencer websites rely on the information they are provided because influencers have to be honest in order to maintain their integrity and reputation. Furthermore, influencer content is impervious to ad blocking and on average is viewed seven times longer than standard digital ads.
Now holiday seekers are using social platforms to plan their trips, travel brands that collaborate with digital influencers have a higher chance of attracting customers. Influencer content focuses on highlighting aspirational experiences and includes photos, videos, product features and an honest assessment of what travellers can expect. And 97% of consumers use the internet to find businesses.
Social media influencers drive revenue
In essence, influencer marketing relies on user-driven content. And with 88% of consumers saying they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family, travel brands have a great opportunity to increase trust and authority with both consumers and search engines.
Statistics reveal that businesses investing in social influencers are recouping $6.50 for every dollar spent. It’s hardly surprising then that 97% of marketing experts trust the power of influencer marketing and 59% of marketers intend to increase their efforts with this strategy over the next year.
There is little doubt that digital influencers expose your brand to a wider audience and encourage more prospects to convert. But before reaching out to potential influencers, work out a content strategy and consider the three R’s that make influencer marketing work:
The influencers you approach should have a following of travellers that are likely to be interested in your travel experience. Most travel brands will have a varied audience, but you also have to consider cost. Influencers that are world travellers don’t stay in 5-star hotels.
Likewise, if your travel brand offers niche activities, the ideal influencers are bloggers that share the same interests. A mountain climber will have a following of travellers that like outdoor activities whereas a mother blogger travelling through Europe with her family in a camper van probably won’t have many readers that are interested in scaling a rock face.
The best influencers have a loyal band of readers that follow their blog and social media activity online. Anyone can have over a thousand followers in social media, but how many of their ‘friends’ are engaging in the conversation. Before approaching influencers, research actual engagement on their social accounts and blog comments.
The success of influencer marketing depends on the level of trust readers have towards the opinions and advice of the influencer. Content that resonates with an audience is closely tied to relevance, but also depends on the quality of content published by influencers. If their remarks about the experience your brand offers does not excite the reader, travellers will not be compelled to take action.
Influencers in travel
Digital influencers are making an impact in almost every sector of industry. According to Double-Click, influencers are driving an average click-rate of 2.8% compared to the 0.05% of standard display ads. As a result, Statista reports businesses are willing to splash an extra 48% of their marketing budget on influencer marketing.
In the travel sector, brands covering price ranges across the board have opportunities to recruit influencers. For example, budget traveller, Kash Bhattacharya, looks for innovative ways for travellers to save money and still have a good time by challenging people to have a creative mindset when travelling on a budget. A video diary he pieced together about 48-hours in Madrid received impressive engagement figures on YouTube.
VisitRenoTahoe.com took advantage of travel blogger, Kiersten Rich, aka “The Blonde Abroad. The brand took a mobile-first approach to highlight Lake Tahoe through imagery, including photos and videos. Although the company only launched their website in July 2017, they received a 194 percent increase in referrals, 61 percent of which came through mobile users.
Brands should also consider teaming up with reputable magazines to work with influencers. A recent example saw lifestyle and fitness blogger, Chinae Alexander @getfitbrooklyn, partner with ElectricfyMag and Freepeople in an expose of Mexico. Chinae shared her adventures through images and video content on Snapchat and Instagram Stories before publishing an article in the respective online travel magazines.
Influencer marketing cannot be underestimated and with a wealth of top travel bloggers that publish persuasive and authentic content, there is no shortage of opportunities for travel brands to raise brand awareness and leverage profit. When done well, influencer marketing can be the cream of your online marketing strategy – and if you can pull in a TV celebrity, you will even have a sprinkling of cherries on top.