There’s probably no better way to market your small hospitality than by hiring an influencer. If you’re not familiar with this digital-age promotion strategy, then stop right now and click over to my post about influencers and why they’re critical to your hospitality’s success. Then, come back here to find out exactly how to choose the perfect influencer for your business.
Choosing an influencer isn’t an easy task. There are now hundreds, maybe thousands of influencers out there. They thrive on every conceivable social media platform. While influencers will often work for you in exchange for a free stay, you can only do that so often before you start losing money. That’s why it’s important to choose wisely when you reach out to a social media star. Luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take to choose the influencer who will make your business shine.
Find someone who specializes in what you do
Your ideal influencer cares about great hospitality. They’re not just in the business for a free hotel stay. You should be able to see from their profile and history that they recognize quality service. As Forbes points out, an influencer with expertise is an influencer with clout. Their followers will trust their informed opinion. Sometimes, social media users will trust influencer recommendations more than they trust direct testimonials from their friends.
When you’re hiring an influencer, don’t be afraid to look for someone who specializes in your niche, even if their follower count isn’t overwhelming. If you’re a gay-friendly hotel that hosts an annual Pride event, for example, then your ideal influencer may be a member of the LGBTQ community. The same goes if you happen to be famous for your plant-based cuisine – hire an outspoken vegetarian!
The followers of influencers whose niches line up with yours are more likely to be members of your tribe. Your chance of converting them is good. Plus, the influencer themselves will be inclined to show your property in its best light if your interests match theirs.
Now, if you’re completely new to the world of influencers, you may be wondering how you find these people in the first place. Don’t worry! They want to be found.
Synup.com recommends starting with local influencers who know and care about your area. Getting onto the same social media where you want to be featured can help. Look for hashtags appropriate to your business.
To follow up on a previous example, a Scarborough-based vegetarian-focused hotel might consider following #vegetarian and #Scarborough on Twitter. Popular accounts that tweet to these two hashtags simultaneously often could be good influencers for that business.
Look at their record
Influencers live their resume. You’ll quickly be able to see if they’re a good photographer, a competent writer, and an active producer of content. You’ll need to take a number of factors into consideration when you’re reviewing an influencer’s history:
- How long have they been an influencer?
- Do they engage actively with their followers?
- Is it common for their followers to comment on posts?
- Are they professional online?
- Do their posts show good cross-engagement with customers and other influencers?
Jeff Bullas’s blog, which I recommend, suggests trusting the numbers when hiring an influencer. Using a metrics analysis tool, or just the past 20 or 30 of the influencer’s posts, it should be possible to determine how effective they are, what demographics they target, and whether their following is legitimate.
Establish that they’re a real influencer
You may be wondering about that last part. Believe it or not, there are people out there who pose as influencers by artificially rounding out their follower counts with bots or dummy accounts. Why do they do this? Well, it turns out that some people just want free stuff. Here’s how to sort them out.
- Watch out for influencers who gain a tonne of followers all at once. For example, an influencer who goes from 50 followers to 5000 followers overnight may not have gained those likes honestly.
- Influencers whose mass of followers don’t engage may have fewer real fans than they let on. Dummy accounts don’t talk back. Anyway, you want an influencer with an active fanbase. Don’t waste your time if the people who supposedly like them won’t talk to them.
- Look for real comments. Commenting with a link, spamming, or just tagging another account isn’t content. In fact, these are the hallmarks of robot accounts! Any influencer whose comments sections are full of bots is not useful to you. Don’t hire them.
Remember, there are hundreds of influencers out there. Trust your instincts and move on to the next one the minute you get a fishy smell. ReferralCandy lists a few tools you can use to spot fake accounts, including TwitterCounter. Look for organic growth that fluctuates, but grows steadily.
If you choose your influencers carefully, you could see a tremendous return on your investment. Better yet, you have a chance to make a great, possibly long-term marketing relationship out of the deal. Who knows? The influencer might even come back someday…as a paying customer! Meanwhile, they represent a great way to draw crowds of your ideal customers right to your door.
If you need more guidance on influencer marketing, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.