Tomorrow marks WTM London’s first influencer speed-networking event, sponsored by Whalar. The company’s James Street and Amelia Perrin talk about the impact of this new type of digital marketing.
The concept of the “influencer” has always been around – from elite celebrities profiled by glossy magazines to famous household names, these people have fan bases and an influence over their followers. “Digital influencers” are today’s celebrities, who have found their fame not through the stage, the television or the catwalk, but through the internet. The public loves them for their relatability, and brands love to work with them because of the organic followings they have cultivated and the results that their exposure can bring. The influencers Whalar works with will have originally had blogs online about their passions, which have since spread across their other social channels. Our mission is to “liberate the creative voice”.
Digital influencers can work with brands either by speaking to their own followers and endorsing products and services on their own social channels, or by creating amazing content, which the brand then uses for its own campaigns. The use of influencers therefore works across all sectors, because all brands are looking to market their brand to a specific sector, and all brands and sectors need targeted, relevant content. I can’t see the digital influencer disappearing.
Influencers inspire their followers, and we all look online for inspiration about lifestyles, fitness, what to wear, what to eat and of course where to go on holiday. In fact, when considering which destination or hotel to travel to, don’t we all furiously check online reviews before making any sort of commitment? Digital influencers promoting travel works particularly well as holiday photographs are a normal focal point for a social media profile, so it feels natural. Promoting a certain location or hotel also puts that destination into the consumer’s mind when it comes to booking their own holiday. It’s like a more aesthetically pleasing TripAdvisor.
And its results are not just up in the air, either. You can look at the reach an Instagrammer has, and how much engagement the post receives to measure how effective influencers will be to your company or product. With Whalar, you can then re-use the content to power your own paid-for social campaigns. To choose an influencer, you need someone whose following matches your target audience and the quality of their content. Their price (in general) depends on the reach and influence they have, and can range from just $100 to thousands. On Whalar specifically, we provide two prices: a price for the creation of content and a price for posting.
For example, we work closely with the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, which is one of the first travel brands to embrace influencer marketing as a core part of its marketing strategy. Many travel brands are aware of influencer marketing, and may designate a small percentage of their marketing budget to it, but this out-of-date attitude is rapidly changing, and more brands are embracing it, dedicating more time and budget to it. Why? Quite simply – because it works.
Whalar is a tool to help brands execute their influencer marketing campaigns, cost-effectively and at scale. You can use Whalar as a discovery tool for new influencers. It stores all the content produced for your campaigns, from which brands can re-use these assets whenever they like. Brands receive the stats back from every campaign and post, which can help with market research. There are multiple options for campaigns, either self-service or campaign managed, meaning that you can do as much or as little work as you would like. In other words, you can leave it to Whalar; you’re in safe hands.
Because Whalar has the best, most creative influencers from around the world on its platform, the company wanted to sponsor the speed-networking event. It will give influencers a chance to meet travel brands who are interested in forging some amazing partnerships in 2018.
Comment: Rachel O’Reilly, head of communications, Kuoni
“Kuoni is highly selective about the digital influencers it works with, focusing on premium content – luxury style, travel and honeymoons. We also put a firm emphasis on working with the digital editors of specialist media brands such as Brides, which we’ve hosted on a number of trips.
“We’re very much at the premium end of travel, so we’re looking for lifestyle content, amazing images on Instagram and Twitter, inspiring blog posts and, if possible, video content. While we’ve hosted a number of destination experiences, we also look to build relationships and create newsworthy and sharable content ourselves. For example, we produced a honeymoon report earlier this year and launched it at an event on the roof garden of John Lewis in Oxford Street and invited wedding and honeymoon influencers along. They were posting news and highlights about wow-honeymoon experiences around the world, which created a huge online buzz.
“Chosen carefully, those with a loyal following have built trust and know exactly what resonates with their fans that love the lifestyle they lead and want to emulate it. You need to be careful about choosing those who are genuinely influential in the market space you operate in, but there’s definitely credibility that comes with a recommendation from someone who’s built authority.”