Within only 60 seconds of posting an Instagram photo to their feed, top social media influencers receive hundreds of organic engagements, instantly opening the door to authentic dialogue with target consumers – a feat that few travel brands can achieve on their own.
So, what’s the key factor in the success of these social media moguls that makes them so attractive to marketers? The answer is trust. As social media has proliferated and become a primary channel for brands to digitally engage with their audiences, it becomes more challenging for consumers to differentiate between advocacy and advertising. Consumers are oversaturated by digital content, and they are increasingly forced to identify which content sources they genuinely relate to and trust. That’s where influencers play a critical role in how consumers organically engage with content. Alongside user-generated content, consumers are turning to digital influencers to identify brands and services that resonate with their unique lifestyles.
1.Outline your goals and successes before the campaign
Having a strong understanding of your digital influencer campaign’s goal and key performance indicators is, arguably, the most critical step in building a successful campaign. Is your brand looking to increase brand awareness or attract a new target market? Or are you aiming to drive traffic to a landing page or develop high-resolution imagery and video for your own social channels and website? Whatever the goal, communicating a clear desired outcome is the pivotal first step in creating the foundation for a campaign with a strong return on investment.
2. Identify your key segments and the digital influencer who dominates that space
You wouldn’t seek medical advice from your waiter or food recommendations from your doctor – just as you wouldn’t source an outdoor adventure blogger for a culinary campaign. Finding and vetting key influencers across target verticals is critical in creating a message that will resonate with the consumers who most care about it.
Using social listening, marketers can identify which influencers are the leading voices in their respective sectors. Social listening can range from basic hashtag searches to using more advanced, third-party tools such as GroupHigh or Influence.co to search for keywords.
3. Create and track a custom campaign hashtag
A hashtag unique to your campaign is not only a best practice for brand awareness but also a key part of analyzing your campaign’s success. Once your organization establishes a campaign hashtag, the influencers you work with should use it in their content. At the end of the campaign, tools like Rival IQ, Hashtracking or KeyHole can show you which influencer produced the most content for the campaign and which posts yielded the highest overall engagement.
4. Play to their strengths and your weaknesses
While many content creators have strong social presences on all platforms, they generally have a more dominant platform that reigns supreme in terms of reach and engagement. If the goal of your digital influencer campaign is to produce more written content about your destination, your organization should target influencers with editorial-style blogs. If your brand lacks high-resolution photos and videos, it makes more sense to source photographer influencers on Instagram. A strong influencer strategy starts by evaluating what assets most benefit your brand and finding the right influencers to meet those needs.
5. Don’t forget about micro-influencers
Brands are easily drawn to the allure of influencers with millions of followers – and with good reason. These “mega-influencers” receive tens of thousands of likes and shares as well as a seemingly endless sea of comments on each post. While these types of influencers can provide brands a great return on investment, the strongest consumer loyalty lies with “micro-influencers,” who have fewer than 50,000 followers. On average, micro-influencers yield higher engagement rates and a more organic following than mega-influencers. An ideal influencer strategy works with both types of influencers: mega-influencers with a large reach to target broad audiences and micro-influencers, a more trusted content source for consumers.
6. Don’t forget about Instagram Stories
As of September 2017, TechCrunch reported that Instagram had 500 million active daily users. At the time, about half of all businesses on Instagram had used the Stories feature. What used to be considered a fun add-on to Instagram is now a key tool in driving traffic and increasing brand awareness. With recent additions to Instagram, including its “swipe up” feature and Story Highlights, brands can maximize their influencer efforts on the platform.
Influencers with a business profile on Instagram and over 10,000 followers can now include a call to action in their Instagram stories to swipe up directly to a landing page, making it easier than ever for influencers to drive traffic to their sponsored posts or for brands to cross-promote their content on influencers’ platforms.
To extend the life of an influencer’s Instagram Stories beyond the 24-hour window, brands can request the digital influencer to “highlight” the stories on their profile. On mobile devices, highlighted stories will appear on their profile indefinitely.
7. Use custom Google shortened links to direct content
Since marketers are often unsure how digital influencer content will affect and direct consumers, quantifying the results can seem like a daunting task. However, using custom UTMs (urchin tracking modules) shortened by Google, marketers can track exactly how much traffic each influencer’s various platforms drive back to a specific landing page.
After you create custom UTMs for each influencer and their individual platforms, influencers can put the UTMs in their content to function as a normal link. When the influencer inserts the UTM, it acts as a tracking code for Google, letting the marketer see on the back end how much traffic each influencer drove by platform. To learn more about UTMs, including how to create them and how they work, click here.
8. Repurpose digital influencer content
So, the campaign is over, and all of the posts are up. Now what? According to our recent study, 60% of influencers note that DMOs are not engaging with them after their campaign concludes, and 79% of influencers report that DMOs “sometimes, rarely or never” repurpose digital influencer content once their campaign has ended. Not reusing influencer content on your organization’s own social channels diminishes the value of having influencers as ambassadors for your brand. Retweeting, reposting and resharing that content solidifies your relationship with influencers and adds value to the content months after the campaign has concluded.
Want to learn more about what content creators say drives them to work with DMOs? Check out our How to Work with Influencers series. What’s your best tactic for boosting your influencer strategy? Send us a tweet at @aboutdci to share!