Influencer marketing has become a mainstream marketing & PR strategy. Yet, still there is no one “formula” or black and white ROI model in its application. Over the past 5 years I have participated in many discussions, brainstorm and panel discussions about this topic. Especially in the Tourism Industry and specifically the destination marketing organizations (DMO; formerly known as Tourism Boards) have been wrestling with this. The main discussion point almost always boils down to: “how can I quantify and report ROI to my head office”.
In the past it was pretty straightforward. Many communication plans included the, now, classic press trip. Journalists from renowned media would travel to a destination, write a piece and you calculate the media value of each article that was published. Then, along came the bloggers. Many DMO’s used, and still use, the same “classic” approach. Last year, the association of DMO’s in The Netherlands hosted a group discussion about this with a blogger and Instagram influencer as guest speakers. You can read my takeaway from that session in this article
One of our latest Influencer cooperation resulted in a media value return of 1:32. Besides that we received new and authentic content, which we could re-use on our other marketing activities. The Influencer, Marco Borsato, who is a famous Dutch singer/songwriter, was following a photography course. And we provided and facilitated Aruba (the destination) as the setting for his master class by an awarded Professional Photographer, Raymond Rutting. A win-win for all parties. The exposition can be visited till August 27, 2017 at the Artotel Amsterdam
Having worked with influencers and many projects for a couple of years now, I can share the following tips:
1. Have clear targets
If you know what you want/need it makes it easier to choose or determine with whom you want to work as an influencer. If your goal is to increase general awareness or something specific or niche, will influence your choice of Influencer.
2. Determine your audience
It makes a big difference if you want to reach the general public or a certain customer segment. Even influencers who have vast amount of followers can have a positive impact on a niche or “small” product you are promoting. It is important to make sure your influencer resonates with what you promote. Then you can determine based on a balance of amount of followers and their engagement (influence) which influencer is best for that particular project.
3. Calculate if the investment you are making will help you achieve your goals (soft ROI)
Before making the final step in choosing your Influencer, make sure that your available budget will be enough to generate the output you envision. Whether it is reach, engagement % and media value return or any barter deal combination, you must have this determined before you enter negotiations.
4. Make sure your proposal is a win-win for both you and the influencer
One of the main critiques on Influencer marketing is that it is perceived as being fake. The Influencer gets paid to promote your product/service. Therefore it is important for the win-win factor. This will increase the enthusiasm and authentic efforts the Influencer will make. Your customers, their fans, will know it is for real (especially Millenials).
5. Solid execution of the mutually agreed on plan
Many organizations tend to rely on the skills and professionalism of the Influencer. It is never a good idea to micromanage an Influencer. Working as equal partners is much more effective. This increases engagement during the project as well as enthusiasm and effort towards a common goal. Don’t forget, the reputation of the Influencer is also at stake when participating on your project.
6. Spread the results on all relevant marketing and communication channels available
Besides the channels used by the Influencer, you also want to share the results yourself. It is important to provide some space on your own website propagating/exposing the content of the project. Do not limit spreading this via social media only, but also do some “old school” PR pushing the press release and content to your media network. Make sure your entire team is on board and act as advocates and ambassadors. If it is necessary, consider investing in some online advertising to push the content (on your website).
Influencer marketing can be approached on a broad level. Therefore it is not limited to working with celebrities and people with a large number of online followers. It can also be your best customers. Just think about the string and positive impact reviews have. In my opinion the most important factor is that the Influencer must be a fan of what he/she is promoting. This will increase the (already) authentic vibe of the message.