Social media is an entire world of its own. So much so that we even have an entire blog category dedicated to it! We’ve discussed before how it’s worth learning the ropes of several platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Of course, these posts merely scratch the surface of an entire society whose intricacies could likely be best described by Gen Z-ers, but we’re going to take a crack at it. On the docket today: influencers.
Even if you’ve only recently completed your foray into the social media sphere, you’ve likely heard the term “influencer”, most commonly on Instagram. Otherwise known as an Internet celebrity, an influencer has acquired a certain degree of fame through their use of the Internet. Becoming an influencer takes time, patience, and focus; though many aim to curate a “carefree” lifestyle (at least on their Instagram profile), it takes serious dedication and effort. One of the main tips—provided by a variety of listicles on how to become an influencer yourself—is to define your niche. How does this apply to you as a tour operator (especially one who isn’t looking to be an influencer any time soon)? This is another target audience that you can extend your offerings to, as influencers in travel niches are slowly incorporating themselves into the tourism industry.
We know that influencers are a new addition to your target audience, but they aren’t like your run-of-the-mill tourist. Depending on the size of their following (the top 8 travel Instagram influencers in 2019 had between 1.2 and 4.2 million followers according to MediaKix), influencers can be an incredibly effective avenue for marketing. Pauline Cabrera of Post Planner provides even more reasons to work with influencers:
- They increase credibility. They are another part of the industry and may be more in the public eye than your business is. By working with them, you show that you’re up to date and know what you’re doing.
- They add a fresh perspective. Another person can give you new ideas that you hadn’t thought of yet.
- They can provide referrals and even an affiliate program. With something in it for them (maybe a hugely discounted, luxury experience?), the inclination to recommend your business to their fans increases wildly.
- They offer great exposure. Just like other avenues of marketing, this is another way to get your name out there to more potential guests.
But how does influencer marketing work?
To put this simply, think back to your high school English classes and the modes of persuasion you learned about: pathos, logos, and ethos. You’ll recall that pathos persuades by appealing to emotion, logos by appealing to logic, and ethos by appealing to character. A classic example of persuading using ethos is Michael Jordan selling a specific brand of basketball shoes. As a consumer, you would be inclined to buy the basketball shoes that Michael Jordan recommended because he was an authority in that sphere. He knew what he was talking about, so the shoes must be great, right? When an influencer recommends a brand or company (within their niche, of course), their fans are that much more likely to trust it simply because said influencer recommended it.
But how do you entice an influencer to work with you and promote your tourism business? This really depends on your business, your creativity, and the influencer in question (and maybe their creativity). Here are a few ideas to get you started on making friends with influencers:
1. Ask them to write a review blog post.
After taking one of your tours (and ideally, their own photos), the influencer you’ve asked to take a tour with you agrees to write a blog post. Apart from the exposure generated by the sheer number of people who are likely to see this post, an article like this can provide a great deal of SEO value for you. As long as they use your main keywords and link to your site (ideally, a couple of times), you’re set.
2. Work with them to create a giveaway.
Many influencers do giveaways every now and then to promote a product or experience. This is a way to more directly market your business, as their fans will be competing for a chance to go on a tour with you, and the influencer is there to facilitate the giveaway.
3. Have them make a video on one of your tours.
One of the daily responsibilities influencers have is content creation, so it’s likely they dabble in a variety of media, including videos. Maybe you work with them to shoot a promotional video for one of your tours that they can then post to their followers. It’s up to you!
The main takeaways
Social media influencers are more numerous every day, and they can be a new way to grow your business. Our biggest tip when it comes to working with influencers is this: stay flexible, but make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial. Influencers tend to be young, creative individuals, so don’t be alarmed if you find one coming to you with wild ideas. At the same time, make sure that both parties are benefitting from the agreement—the terms need to be as clear as day, as with any professional deal.
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