4 Keys to Understanding Influencers

By Tiffany Braun, CHSP, chief strategy officer for Kinship and a member of HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board

The barriers to becoming a social-media influencer are practically nonexistent — anyone with a presence on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other free platforms can do it. If anyone can be an influencer, how do you know your brand is getting a good one? I moderated a discussion about this on a recent call for HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board (MAB). Here are four key takeaways for hospitality marketing professionals: 

1. Choosing your focus. First, what does a hotel use social-media influencers for? To share their experiences at the property with their followers in an authentic, engaging way. MAB members have had success using influencers to share high-profile events like hotel openings and destination weddings as well as cocktail lounges, spa services, and dining.

2. Finding an influencer. MAB members suggested a variety of platforms to help identify or vet potential influencers, including rewardStyle, IZEA, BuzzSumo, Right Relevance, InfluencerDB, AspireIQ, and TapInfluence. “Some are free and some are a serious promotional market, almost like a speakers bureau, so they’re out there fighting for the influencers to get top dollar,” an MAB member said. “Those can be positive in terms of getting really good people.”

3. Defining success. “Having contracts with influencers and defining what we expect from them — that’s probably been the most helpful thing,” one MAB member said, “because then you start weeding out the ones that are in it just for the free room versus ones who are there to give you something in return. Depending on their publication or where they’re going to put it on their blog or how many posts they’re going to do, then you learn if they actually have a story spot or if they’re just looking for a story.”

What should you include in your contract with an influencer? The member explained: “We define, ‘You’re going to get a one-night stay on this date,’ or ‘You’re going to get a two-night stay,’ and then define what they’re going to give us in return. It also allows us to put in our different social-media handles and how we want them mentioned.”

4. Getting visual. “Obviously, we try to find the influencers who are going to give us a lot of visibility,” an MAB member said, “but we also try to find ones who are really good photographers. And when they take photography, as part of our contract with them we get rights to use those images — hopefully in perpetuity but at least for a period of time, so that we have this really high-quality UGC [user-generated content]. Once we sent an influencer to Fiji fully paid, but we ended up with 10 times value in image assets and video and drone footage and all this cool stuff they were doing anyway that they let us use for our website and social channels. That was in addition to the potential visibility” of the influencer’s own social-media activity.

Social-media influencers will be on the agenda at HSMAI’s 2019 Digital Marketing Strategy Conference in New York City on Jan. 23. Learn more here.

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles