In conversations with clients, talk of ‘Influencers’ inevitably comes up. It is often emphasised (especially in social media and PR circles), how important Influencers are for achieving business goals. We all really, really want and need them and we seem to all really, really love them.
However, in order to fully maximise the potential of influencers, it is important to ask yourself some key questions about what influencers can really mean for your vacation rental business. Then you can start to develop a successful influencer strategy.
Influencers for a vacation rental business will likely include: travel writers, travel bloggers, celebrities, travel magazines and online titles; local, regional and national tourism bodies; local and regional tourism ‘champions’; individuals with a real passion and interest in your region; industry partners and thought leaders.
How do you identify Influencers and then how do you work with them?
Firstly, ask yourself why you want to know who your influencers are? What is the purpose and ultimate goal? Is it for relationship building with the potential of opening greater channels to more contacts? Are you looking for ambassadors for your vacation rental business? Is amplifying the reach of your content your primary aim?
Secondly, ask yourself, how do you plan to develop relationships with your industries relevant ‘influencers’? Question what you will be bringing to the table that is an unmissable opportunity. What do you hope to get out of the relationship yourself?
Two fundamental reasons why Influencers can be crucial to the success of a campaign are:
- Influencers can amplify the social reach of your content to your audience, as well as audiences that you want to reach but do not have access to by your own resources.
- Influencers can provide links, mentions and other online exposure that can be helpful for search engine optimisation and the ranking of your vacation rental website.
Within any discussion about influencers, Twitter tends to be included in the same breath. Sometimes the importance placed on Twitter can be confusing as perhaps your actual customer may not be a Twitter user, ever likely to be one, or even be active on social media at all. So why so much emphasis on Twitter?
Twitter may not be a channel of primary importance for your customers, but it is (usually) a vitally important channel for your influencers. Your influencers know how to reach your customers through other channels (the ones that they are getting their information through) so it is often the first point of research and / or contact – although Instagram is hot on its heels.
There are several online tools available for finding and analysing influencers on Twitter.
Buzzumo is a helpful search tool that tracks content on all social networking sites and ranks influencers based on the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. Buzzumo monitors content by topic or user and uses: an advanced search engine to deliver accurate results.
Results can also be filtered by type, so if you are just looking for journalists or bloggers you can easily find them. Your search results can also be filtered by relevance, page authority, number of followers, domain authority and average number of retweets.
Followerwonk, is an alternative to Buzzumo and is essentially an advanced Twitter analytics tool. It allows you to search Twitter profiles and bios for relevant keywords.
Both Buzzumo and Followerwonk offer similar analytics power, however they both bring up different results so it is definitely worth checking and pulling data from both lists. Also – use relevant #Hashtag searches to see who and what comes up.
Perhaps the most obvious and often undervalued ingredient to sourcing influencers, is your own local and industry knowledge and using some plain common sense. Don’t automate everything or leave your whole strategy to analytics, but manually take a look at key profiles and blogs. See who’s tweeting what. What are your targeted influencers actually writing about, who they are engaging with? Does what they say sound interesting to you and your own audience? Also – who do you personally know who is an important player in the vacation rental industry or in your region’s tourism circles?
Spend time reading the blogs and online articles of the names that come up. Do they fit with your own guests and do their messages resonate with your messages? Do a Google search for your keywords and see which bloggers and journalists come up. If their sites have good SEO then that is a positive sign that they are worth developing a relationship with.
One group of influencers not to ignore, are up and coming influencers and new thought leaders in travel and tourism, as well as the vacation rental industry. Building relationships with these ‘growing’ influencers whilst they are still building their profiles, blogs and reputations can be mutually beneficial in the long run.
Now that you have found your influencers, what do you do with them? The key to a successful influencer strategy for your vacation rental business is in relationship building. In order to foster and develop relationships you need to build trust. Building trust requires being authentic in your approach, sharing valuable content and consistent, interesting and well thought-out content.
All influencers need a constant flow of new and fresh content to share. If you are able to provide them with good, interesting and relevant content that will make them look good, then you increase your chances of them amplifying your content reach through their blog, media title and social networks. However, it can take more than providing good quality content to pique an influencers interest.
Influencers also need to get to know and trust you, so the more active and engaged you are, the more likely they will be to notice you and engage with your content. If you happen to have a relationship with them on other platforms such as Instagram or LinkedIn and perhaps a relationship offline, even better.
If you get your influencer strategy right the results can be far reaching, with an increase in visibility for your vacation rental business, expanded message reach and growing a trust built with potential guests.
If you would like to speak to us about your influencer strategy or any other aspect of your PR and social media, then please get in touch with the Abode PR team. We’d love to help.