By Dalene Heck and Catherine Reed
When you want to dive into influencer marketing, choosing the right influencers to partner with is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. There are so many factors to consider, and you will spend a ton of time reviewing metrics to try and find the best fit.
The issue is that you might run into a situation where you have to make a choice. You may have to decide whether you want to partner with influencers with massive potential reach or those who are smaller but very closely aligned with your niche.
Since your goal is to achieve a positive ROI and drive purchases or spur interest in your destination, you can’t take that decision lightly. Otherwise, you might not make the wisest choice when it comes to spending your influencer marketing budget.
Luckily, this choice is actually pretty simple once you learn a bit about what each option means. If you’re trying to decide if you should focus on reach or niche when selecting an influencer, here’s what you need to know.
Relevance is the Key to Success
When you’re looking at mega-influencer accounts, you might be thinking, “A bigger audience is sure to produce results.” The issue is, that isn’t always true.
Sure, a lot of social media users or blog visitors might learn about what you have to offer. But that doesn’t mean those impressions are going to drive real interest. A large percentage of people who see the sponsored post or another form of marketing content may not be your target market. They may have zero desire to learn more about what you have to offer, no matter what an influencer says about it.
Making sure the audience cares about offerings like yours is important. They have to be interested in the content. Otherwise, they won’t buy-in, no matter who’s talking about what you’re trying to advertise.
A Look at the Reach Approach
Think of it this way, Ryan Reynolds (the actor who is known for roles like Deadpool) has over 34.9 million followers on Instagram alone. That’s a ton of reach.
But users don’t follow Ryan Reynolds to learn about travel destinations. They mainly follow him because he’s funny, and/or to learn about his upcoming projects.
Even if you were able to make an arrangement with him to market your location, product, or service, it probably wouldn’t resonate with a significant amount of his audience. His followers are incredibly diverse. Unless what you’re bringing to the table has mass appeal, your ROI on the arrangement probably wouldn’t meet your expectations, especially considering what it would probably cost to secure even a single post.
What the Niche Approach Offers
Now, picture this instead. You partner with a travel micro-influencer (usually an account with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers) who is incredibly involved in your specific niche. They create content about your industry or area consistently and don’t tend to deviate much from that topic. And that’s what their followers are after; they want to see content like that.
With that arrangement, you are reaching a smaller audience, but it’s one that actually wants to learn about products, services, or destinations like yours. That influencer is usually considered a travel subject-matter expert; their followers trust their opinion about offerings in that category.
Plus, while they are an influencer, you won’t have to break the bank to get them to partner for a campaign. While you need to offer some form of compensation (probably), it won’t be near as much as it would cost to snag a mega-influencer.
Choosing the Right Influencers as Partners
While this isn’t universally true, typically, the larger the following, the less focused that audience tends to be on any particular niche. Greater numbers lead to more diversity, so a ton of reach isn’t guaranteed to drive additional interest or lead to a positive ROI.
To put it simply: you don’t want to partner with a mega-influencer who doesn’t connect with your niche. Even a macro-influencer (one who usually has between 100,000 and a million followers) isn’t a smart move if they don’t relate to your industry.
Your goal should be to identify strong contenders by looking at their area of expertise and why their followers are interested in what they have to say. If you find a travel-oriented account with an audience that’s incredibly interested in what it has to say, keep it on the table, no matter its size.
While the smaller size and narrow audience might seem less beneficial when it comes to achieving your goals, the opposite is often true. Those followers are more likely to care about what you have to offer, increasing the odds that they’ll be genuinely interested.
Once you find influencers in the right niche, it’s critical to take one additional step; look at the engagement rates. You want to find an influencer with an active community, especially when their followers got involved in travel-oriented campaigns for other companies. That shows that the account’s followers aren’t just skimming the posts; they are taking in the information and then taking action. Usually, this means your chance of converting them into customers is higher.
Looking at the Financial Side of the Partnership
While micro-influencers usually cost less than macro- and mega-influencers, that isn’t always the case. Every influencer can set their own rate, so you never know what one might ask for or require.
However, cost alone isn’t the most important metric here either. That award goes to ROI.
Before you determine which influencers to use, see if you can find out more about their success rates. In some cases, you can ask the influencer for certain metrics from their past campaign involvements. However, you can also do a bit of this research yourself.
See how much engagement those posts achieved and whether it looks like there’s been repeat business. That can give you a strong indication of their potential value, allowing you to factor that into your decision-making process.
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