Last week, I revealed why pay to play is a game-changing trend this year as part of a series to discuss the top 7 trends your travel company needs to know to win social media in 2018 and beyond. These trends, if done right, can propel your brand into the hearts and minds of the more than 3 billion social media users around the globe and help your small travel company keep up with the big dogs without millions of dollars to invest in a digital marketing plan.
Here’s why social media trend #2 is key for travel brands to succeed and the best practices your brand can implement into your social media strategy today:
Micro Influencers Can Be More Impactful Than Major Influencers
Influencers with the right following and an engaged audience can tell the story of your brand and share their unique experience, while exposing your brand to a target audience you might not otherwise reach. But as organic reach declines, micro-influencers will become your new best friends in 2018.
Who are micro-influencers? They’re anyone who is a fan of your brand and can act as a brand ambassador, whether they have 10,000 followers or less than 1,000. They’re the guests who have experienced your trips or stayed at your lodge, they’re locals or the community heroes within your destination, they’re your employees – anyone from expert guides to the housekeeping crew. As advertising increases on social platforms like Facebook, people are more drawn to user-generated content than ever and therefore they are more drawn to following people. They want to hear the stories of your employees and your guests, and even your CEO.
Why use micro-influencers? The stories of people are organic, they’re authentic to your brand, and regardless of the size of their social following, using their own voices, they can tell your brand’s story and organically engage your audience the best.
Unlike major influencers, micro-influencers have a following that generally consists of friends and family, which means their content is viewed as more trustworthy and engaging. A study run by Experticity looked at a large group of micro-influencers and found that when they recommended products it resulted in 22.2 times more conversations than average and 82% of consumers said they were highly likely to follow the recommendations made by a micro-influencer.
They also open the door to provide you with more bang for your buck. While major influencers can reach a larger audience and are great resource if your goals are to raise awareness about a new product or campaign or to grow your brand’s following, the cost for a single post can be expensive. Influencers who have small following charge less per post and are more budget-friendly for most brands.
For example, 84% of micro-influencers charge less than $250 per branded Instagram post and 97% less than $500 .
Alternatively, travel brands can reach out to consumers who are already fans of their product and leverage user-generated content (UGC) to increase social posts from micro-influencers at almost no cost.
One example is to encourage guests to use your brand’s hashtags on their social media posts and to feature these posts on your feeds. This can create a two-way conversation between your brand and consumers. If the content is engaging, it’s likely other fans of your brand will use the hashtag in their own posts, growing your organic reach and engagement.
Who’s rocking this? @HelloBC
Destination BC’s consumer social media channels are a prime example of showcasing micro-influencers to tell their brand’s story. On Instagram, they regularly feature content from #guestgrammers with a larger following (10k and up) as well as micro-influencers whether it’s locals from somewhere in BC or travelers with a following around 1k. They also encourage users to tag their photos with #exploreBC and feature their favourites.
Each post tells the story of that user’s experience and features high-quality images that remain true to Destination BC’s brand.
How do you identify micro-influencers? Here’s best practices to start with:
Look at who their followers are. Does this audience match the target audience your brand is trying to reach?
Turn fans into brand ambassadors. If they’re already a fan of your brand, they may be already promoting your product. Approaching a fan to become a brand ambassador will feel more like a natural partnership and organic to their audience. Some fans may be willing to promote your product for little to no cost or in exchange for the product.
Dig into whether or not their audience is genuinely engaged. A highly engaged audience outweighs a large audience hands down. Is the micro-influencer able to generate two-way conversations with their audience? Look for posts that receive comments from followers such as, “Wow, looks like you had a great adventure. I’m always jealous of your travels.” versus comments like, “Wow cool,” that sound more general or could be automated by bots.
Does the content they produce fit with your brand’s story? Take a look at the quality and style of content they post. Does it fit with your brand’s story and image? Would your target audience find this content engaging? Which platforms do they post on and are these the right channels to engage your target audience?
As micro-influencers and user-generated content becomes key to organically telling your brand’s story and winning your target audience’s trust and engagement, it’s clear travel brands don’t need a mega-budget to get creative and stand out. The exciting opportunity to tell your brand’s story through people and engage in two-way conversations can’t be missed.
Next week I’ll cover why you need to go mobile or go home and how to best implement this into your social media strategy.
Want to know more about digital marketing trends and how to best implement them into your social media strategy? Stay tuned! Over the next few weeks we’ll continue the discussion on the top trends and reveal best practices to help you win social media in 2018 and beyond.
Looking to improve your travel brand’s social media strategy? Find out more about how we can help you here.