Just a trend or a sustainable development?

2018 is the year of influencer marketing, and the word social media influencer pops up everywhere. But what does it exactly mean for our industry and is it just a ‘trend’ or a sustainable development within  the MICE industry? In what way can influencer marketing can contribute to your business goals, and how to implementate this new approach in your company? When do you make the decison if influencer marketing is the right ft?

Let’s start first with the definition of influencer marketing before we proceed :
*Influencer marketing is creating and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships with the top minds in your industry.
Influencers are not new, in fact in a way we are all influencing other people sometimes without notice. Just the way we spread our message through the different social media channels is different and new. It’s more powerful is someone else recommands you, than you have to promote yourself, It’s word of mouth through new channels with more reach.

Integral part of your strategy
Influencer marketing is a part of your strategy, it has to contribute to the goals of your company and besides it has to match with other online and offline marketing activities on your calender.

The goals
The biggest misunderstanding, it’s not only about sales! If you have identified the needs in your company you will discover that perhaps your current image or reputation is lacking confidence, even before you can focus to sell your product or service. Or that you want to attract a new audience, or market to your destination, or you want to start on Twitter and fill the content by an influencer?
For example, the city Naples suffers from a bad reputation mainly due to a garbage strike 10 years ago and still this image stucks in the heads of may planners. Therefore we need to take a step back, and start a campaign to focus on the reputation of the city, the cleanliness, instead of sales. Infleuncer marketing offers many options and creativity and authenticity are key to achieve your goals.

Be specific! We repeat it again and again. Who is your current audience? Or perhaps you want to reach out to a new audience? Where is your audience based, which country, which language do they speak and on which channels are they active? The more information the better. In this way it’s easier to find the right influencer.

Now we get to the final part, the influencers. Let us be clear we are talking about ‘experts (yes humans)’ and it’s all about relationships. You can search for influencers yourself but it’s very time consuming to find the right profile and match. Choose upfront; do you have someone in your company who can follow-up the campaign and has this specific knowledge, or do you prefer to outsource the work to a specialised agency? Important: involve the influencers from the first moment in your campaign, and create a long term relationship and collaboration.

To pay or not to pay
If you have pain in your teeth, do you go to your neighbour or do you go to the dentist? You call an expert who can assist you with fixing the problem. Same as for influencers, these people (yes, still humans) are active on a daily base on social media, they are experts in their field have build up carefully a network of interesting followers, planners, decisons makers, entrepreneurs, etc. You want to reach out to a specific audience in a country where you are not familiar and don’t have a large or related network, call an expert. Don’t focus on the number of followers, focus on the audience you want to reach. A micro-influencer is in our sector often a better fit. A micro-influencer has less followers than a macro-influencer but is more authentic and has more credibility. We say, an influencer are the eyes and ears of your company online.

Long term campaigns
In our dynamic industry we are overwhelmed with information. If you start a campaign don’t expect to see immediate result from day 1, it takes time. Of course you can measure the impact of a post but before the message creates an impact and if you have a call to action, you should repeat the message over a longer period of time and repeat. That’s the biggest difference between a B2C campaign and a B2B campaign. In general we recommand campaigns of 6 months and longer.

The largest advantage is that influencer marketing is measurable. You can evaluate how your posts are being read, have you reached your current audience, and have you reached your goals? What was the reaction of your followers? But perhaps more imprtant; how is your competitor doing?
Influencer marketing is not a complicated proces but you have to be aware that’s time consuming proces and after a thorough preparation you are able to create a succesful campaign. For a lot of companies influencer marketing is already a common part of their strategy, unfortunately not yet in our industry but we are convinced that it will come soon. Just remember that influencer marketing is a perfect way to promote your product or service by experts in a creative, authentic and innovative way as long as it’s an integral part of your strategy.
Article by:

 Mariska Kesteloo
Founder Word of MICE
* Rachel Miller, influencer marketing manager at Toprank Marketing