While influencers help many brands break into communities they want to reach, travel brands shouldn't forget that ordinary travelers also post millions of photos and videos that help people decide where to book their trips.
As more travelers get trip inspiration from platforms like Facebook and Instagram, travel brands have linked arms more aggressively during the past year with the people that help make these platforms appealing — the influencers that travelers identify with.
Influencer marketing takes many forms but one thread runs through all of them and that is brands’ desire to speak to travelers that value what an influencer has to say and, in turn, respect their opinion of a brand.
Nearly half of U.S. marketers, for example, will increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2017, according to influencer marketing agency Linqia. At the same time, this year travel marketers will consider if influencers have actually yielded a return on investment. “I think that 2017 will be a year of reckoning for influencer marketing,” said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson during a “Behind the Numbers” eMarketer podcast episode in December.
When working with influencers, travel brands face ethical questions and the challenge of how to tell their own stories when the marketing mix must balance story-sharing and storytelling. This week’s five startups aim to help brands find the right social media celebrity to work with but will also connect them to regular travelers without large audiences who share a passion for adventure and are skilled in composition.
SkiftTake: Remember, with influencers it’s not always about how many followers they have. It’s about how loyal their followers are and how relevant that influencer is to their followers. Don’t forget about the micro-infuencer — someone who might not have thousands of followers but rather someone with a targeted audience that values what this person has to say and someone that a traveler feels they can relate to.
Contiki, a tour operator that organizes trips for 18 to 35-year-olds, recently launched a campaign to encourage all travelers to become influencers using Contiki’s platform, for example.
Crowdriff is a visual and social marketing company aggregating relevant user-generated photos and videos for destination marketing organizations and other travel brands’ social media channels.
>>SkiftTake: Rather than seeking out influencers, sometimes they — or other ordinary travelers with loyal followers and great photography skills — will come to you. Understanding how to harvest that content is half the battle before your brand even starts to work with an influencer.
Tinflur matches tourism brands with influencers who speak to their potential customers. The startup analyzes and creates a tourism board’s ideal customer profile from its marketing goal and uses it to match the bloggers based on interests, content, location.
>>SkiftTake: Many tourism boards spend too much time and money with social influencers who may not be the best fit for their target markets and need to locate the right people to work with who meet their existing marketing goals.
Outfluential connects some of the world’s most popular LGBT influencers with travel brands to help brands tell stories about LGBT travel.
>>SkiftTake: Getting as specific as you can with influencers is what’s needed to get the end result you want. That’s why working with niche influencer agencies such as those specializing in LGBT travel helps ensure that your brand is communicating with people that actually matter and influence a particular community.
Klippit is an influencer marketing platform that helps brands build and launch campaigns with social influencers on Instagram and Facebook.
>>SkiftTake: Like Pour, Klippit rewards influencers for participating in marketing campaigns and connects parties on both sides of the equation. Klippit, however, is focused on getting video from influencers and many travel brands have made video a priority for content marketing.
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Photo credit: This week we look at startups helping travel brands connect with influencers. Pictured is Instagram influencer Ben Brown on a trip in Alberta, Canada. Instagram