Influencer campaigns need to be just as targeted and measured as today's interest-based Facebook ads.
Instagram is a breeding ground for influencers who push awe-inspiring shots and junkies who are addicted to them.
Influencers are creatives who capture the attention of millions of people and these culture and lifestyle peddlers’ online presence is more valuable than some of the oldest and largest travel brands. Kinda sad but true.
Professional photographer Murad Osmann’s 2.9 million Instagram followers are only 130,000 followers shy of beating out Walt Disney World’s 1.4 million followers and Tourism Australia’s 1.6 million followers combined.
Bellagio Las Vegas came to terms with this reality and went all-in to welcome and host 20 carefully selected influencers to take part in its latest campaign with Beautiful Destinations called #UltimateVegas. Beautiful Destinations creates digital content for travel and lifestyle brands and describes itself as “the world’s largest travel influencer on Instagram.”
Bellagio’s influencer campaign is not a typical one where a travel brand hosts influencers to take pretty pictures of the destination or property and posts them on their Instagram pages and call it a day.
Ultimate Vegas Campaign Structure:
The campaign used a multi-pronged strategy to maximize acquisitions and it lasted eight weeks. There were five components:
- Audience and influencer impact data analysis from Beautiful Destination’s database
- 20 curated influencers with diverse interests who have a presence beyond Instagram
- Content-generation contest that excited professional and amateur photographers with exclusive access to its property and entertainment offerings
- Cross-promotion of content on Beautiful Destination’s Instagram accounts that drives 5.5 million followers to @Bellagio and influencers’ accounts
- Original on-property content created and published on influencers’ Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter accounts that have a combined reach of 55.8 million followers to amplify the brand and discover the conversation
Beautiful Destinations’ audience and influencer data allowed it to find influencers who had the stats to bring awareness and momentum to the campaign. From there, Beautiful Destinations tapped into its expertise in culture and lifestyle to present a diverse group of influencers whose audience may have an affinity with Bellagio and Las Vegas’ entertainment, gaming, and ostentatious design and architecture.
“It [campaign] starts with selecting the audience of the people that you want to send the message to and quantifying the impact of influencers on its following,” said Jeremy Jauncey, founder of Beautiful Destinations.
Inviting a diverse set of people — obvious to obscure — who attract masses of like-minded people and engaged followers was integral to the breadth of this campaign. “We brought Markiplier to Vegas who is the second biggest YouTube gamer in the world. He actually hit 8 million whilst he was in Vegas [on the assignment]. His audience and him as a person, you never ever ever would thought of in a travel conversation,” said Jauncey.
“He said himself, 95% of his working life is in his room playing video games, cutting, editing, and pushing out his videos. And then you think about the guys who are following him. They are avid gamers and there’s a whole competition element to what they do, so obviously the attraction of Vegas is great for Bellagio.”
Granted there are hybrid influencer advertising agencies out there like Niche, Stay and Wander, and Tinker Street that pair brands with influencers, but the difference here was Beautiful Destinations’ immense community, vertically organized distribution channels and ROI focus. Burj Al Arab’s Ultimate Instameet drove a 38% lift in online bookings during the campaign period.
Campaign Reaches Goal and Earns Online Visits:
Taking a closer look, not all the influencers spread the word about Bellagio consistently. For example, @FashionKids — a photographer whose work focuses on child models — has the largest Instagram account amongst the participants at 3.2 million Instagram followers. The photographer only posted one shot from a Maverick Helicopter thanking Beautiful Destinations and Bellagio and at-mentioning everyone; @Rudymancuso — musician and Vine heartthrob — uploaded a 6-second loop on Vine in a nondescript hotel driveway without any copy.
“We’ve never been this vulnerable in this space [influencer marketing]. We suggested and nothing was mandated. We planned the itinerary, we tried to provide these people unforgettable experiences. We knew that if we delivered that to them, everything will fall into place,” said Elizabeth Harlow, vice president of hotel marketing at Bellagio.
Bellagio’s Instagram account had 51,000 followers at the beginning of the campaign. Six weeks into it, the hotel’s followers grew by 100% to 103,000 followers. Bellagio grew its engagement by 175% from 1,500 likes per image to 4,400 likes per image. In this same time frame, 45,000 pieces of content were published, according to Beautiful Destinations.
“Our travel planning cycle is six to eight weeks out,” said Jon Wanamaker, director of interactive marketing at Bellagio. “During the three-week activation, when influencers and contest winners were on-property, we experienced double-digit growth in site traffic to Bellagio.com from our identified key markets, U.S., Australia, U.K. and Mexico.”
When asked how this was quantified, Bellagio told Skift that it didn’t run any paid media and other social media efforts at all and only published content related to the #UltimateVegas hashtag during this time frame to better track the activity.
As far as tying the people who were impacted in this campaign to booking, Wanamaker said, “We don’t have a 100% certainty that this campaign drove sales activity because we don’t have any specific links. What we can look at, is the lift in organic traffic to our website and putting that up against sales.”
He continued, “I think tying in social profiles and tracking their actions online is the holy grail.”
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Photo credit: Recently wed Instagram influencer duo, Murad Osmann and Natalia Zakharova sharing their iconic experience at Bellagio as part of the Ultimate Vegas campaign. Murad Osmann