4 Tips for Using Influencers to Grow Your Travel Brand
From the explosion of travel Instagram accounts, it’s easy to see that the travel influencer industry is booming and is growing society’s wanderlust.
Your brand may assume that partnering with a travel influencer is a great decision to support some of your marketing goals, but influencer partnership isn’t ideal for every brand. Even if you decide that it’s right for your brand, you’ll want to make sure you avoid common mistakes when executing your campaign.
How to Decide If A Travel Influencer Is Right for
Before you decide to jump head first into partnering with an influencer, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve set yourself up for success. Want to make the most of your travel influencer campaign for your brand? Cover bases by looking into these four areas.
Identify what you want the partnership to do for your brand
Assuming that influencers are going to show immediate growth for your brand’s marketing is a huge mistake. All marketing campaigns have their risks, and influencers are no exception. The first step into working with a travel influencer is to figure out what goals you want the influencer campaign to help you reach.
There are a variety of goals that can be set for an influencer campaign. Don’t try to tackle every goal with it, but instead, choose one or two which will help guide how you develop the campaign. A few goals of influencer campaigns are:
- Growing brand reach: A common goal for influencer campaigns is to grow the amount of individuals that are aware of your brand.
- Increasing followers: It’s simple, but an influencer campaign can help increase your follower amount on different social media channels depending on what channel you run your campaign on.
- Drive traffic to specific pages: Your influencer campaign can be designed to drive traffic to specific pages such as your homepage, partner pages, or a booking page.
- Creating more user-generated content. Working with a travel influencer provides your brand with user-generated content that can be repurposed across your marketing materials. Having an influencer host a photo contest with followers’ posts is a great way to build up the content in your back pocket.
- Grow engagement on social: Similar to growing your follower count, an influencer campaign can be created to find more engaged followers that have higher chances of engaging with your published content.
- Increase sales: If you’re looking to increase direct bookings or ticket sales, it may be wise to partner with an influencer to promote a specific property or travel experience You can have the influencer stay a free night, offer a giveaway, or even have a unique discount code to drive sales.
- Foster current customer relationships: A great way to reconnect with your followers or customers is to remind them of your brand. Using an influencer can bring your brand back to top of mind for your customers and can encourage a repeat purchase.
Having your goals top of mind is crucial for each step of working with an influencer and introducing it as a part of your marketing plan. By defining them early, you’re more likely to partner with an influencer that is right for your brand and ensure that you’re jumping into the campaign for the right reasons.
Find the right influencer
Influencers are all over the web from every social media site to YouTube to their own blogs. Deciding to work with an influencer is easier than deciding which influencer to work with.
How to find influencers
There’s plenty of ways to find travel influencers. We’ve broken down some of the easiest ways to find an influencer to partner with for your travel brand. When searching for influencers, remember to create a list of all potential influencers that you’d work with instead of just finding one.
A quick search of travel influencer will bring up a variety of results for different travel services. However, it’s ineffective to target such a large group of influencers since you’ll spend a great amount of time simply vetting through the influencers.
Complete Google searches for influencers that are relevant to your brand. If your niche is targeted towards the outdoors, consider searching “adventure travel influencers” or “outdoors travel influencers.” More on the luxury side? Search “luxury travel influencers.” Female oriented product better describe you? “Solo travel influencers” or “female travel influencers” can help! Swap terms such as “influencer” and “blogger” to vary the results that you’re pulling.
A Google search is especially useful if you’re looking to partner with an influencer that uses a blog. Consider looking up reviews of a specific attraction or location in order to find their blogs.
If a social media influencer is more of what you’re looking for, take advantage of hashtags on social media.
Once again, you’ll want to tailor your hashtag searches to the type of influencer that you’re looking to target. Hashtags such as #solotravel, #travelholic, #wanderlust, #familytravels, and #travelingladies will all bring up different posts. Explore what travel hashtags are the most relevant to your brand.
A great way to find more hashtags to use is to find an influencer that you’d consider working with. Look through all their posts and see what other hashtags they’re using. There might be some more out-of-the-box ones that you haven’t thought of that could be a gold mine.
Partnering with an influencer marketing agency or software
The easiest way to find an influencer that checks all your requirements is to partner with an influencer marketing agency or use an influencer marketing software. These agencies have a database of influencers that they work with that target a variety of demographics.
Although this may seem like the easy way out, these influencers may have higher costs due to having a middle-man involved. Additionally, you may not be able to customize your campaign as much as you like as the agency likely has set standards. Decide what is best for your brand, and move forward from there!
Choosing the right influencer
Partnering with the right influencer can make or break the success of your influencer campaign. You may have a lot of influencers in mind and it may be hard to choose just one. However, just start with one that you think best fits your brand and you can always expand to more influencers as you expand your influencer marketing strategy.
There’s a few steps that you need to take in order to pick the right influencer:
- Figure out your budget: Although this doesn’t necessarily relate to the influencer, you’ll need to establish your influencer marketing budget before doing outreach. There are three different tiers of influencers that all come with their associated pricing: micro-influencers (2,00-50,000 followers), macro-influencers (50,000-1,000,000 followers), and mega-influencers (1,000,000+ followers). The reach of your campaign will be determined by how much you can spend. There are benefits and disadvantages to each group, but it’s important to note that less followers usually lead to higher engagement.
- Vet the influencer: Before signing a partnership with the first influencer you like, make sure to do some background research on their own personal branding and messaging. See who they’ve worked with before and ensure that you’d be proud to have this individual represent your brand.
- Dive into their followers: The great part about influencer marketing is that you’re able to better target your ideal audience. However, if the influencer that you work with doesn’t have the same audience as you, then you’re just shooting into the dark. Dive into the demographics of the influencer to ensure that you’re targeting the right group.
- Identify engagement: You’ll want to pick an influencer that has actual influence over their followers. Therefore, it’s important to look at an influencer’s engagement rate. If people are regularly commenting and engaging on an influencer’s post, they’re more likely to believe what the poster has to say compared to someone with a high amount of followers but no engagement.
Once you’ve found the right influencer for your program, follow them from your account if on social media! Start naturally engaging with them on social media. After a week, slide into their DM's and propose a partnership. You may get a no, but that’s okay! Work to make sure that your influencer campaign will benefit both of your accounts.
Outline campaign expectations
Once an influencer has agreed to partner with your brand, you’ll need to outline what is expected from the campaign. There’s a variety of ways that you can customize your campaign, honestly the world is your oyster. Below are a few major areas that should be clarified before finalizing the contracts.
Choose your platform
An important decision that you need to clarify with the influencer you’re working with is to decide which platforms the campaign will take place. It’s likely that the influencer will have a presence on several different platforms, but there is likely one that receives the most engagement. Additionally, make sure that you’re using a platform that your target audience is on to ensure success.
Amount of posts
Another area of focus that you’ll need to define before the campaign starts is the amount of posts that will be apart of the campaign. Will this be a one off post or will it be a series of posts spanning normal posts and stories? This part is completely up to you, and it’s recommended that you talk with the influencer to see what they’d be interested in as well.
Types of posts
The types of posts and content in the post is an area that you should discuss with your partnered influencer, but it’s not something that you should dictate completely. If you dictate the copy, it will see artificial to followers and they’re unlikely to believe the message that is coming out.
However, you can give guidelines for what types of posts you’d like to see. Want a specific hashtag for your product included or want your account tagged in the photo and the post? Say that early on and include it in the agreement. Being upfront with what your brand wants will avoid confusion and ensure that both parties are satisfied in the end.
Have them report their metrics
The only way to measure how an influencer campaign succeeded is to look at metrics and how they performed. When pairing with an influencer, make sure that you’re working with one that is willing to report their metrics for the campaign.
If you’re having the influencer promote a specific link, make sure to use a UTM code so that you can track the performance behind this specific campaign. This data can help prove to upper leadership that your influencer campaign was successful, so don’t be afraid to ask upfront what you are looking for.
Cover image: @Ian Schneider
Want more tips, tactics and strategies for growing your travel brand? Read our comprehensive on how to improve engagement, bookings and conversions with visual marketing.