How Well Do You Know Your Influencers?

Psst! This study was so popular and controversial that it inspired us to compile the data for 2019. Click here to read our updated findings!

Here at HMI, we’re endeavoring to do something we haven’t seen done before. We’ve taken a dive headfirst into a pile of social media data as it relates to the world of travel. We have spreadsheets that are bursting, formulas that are humming, and if I’m being honest, eyeballs that are twitching.

Why do all of this?

As bloggers ourselves, one of our goals is to encourage the travel industry to strengthen its relationships with new media in ways that are meaningful and that will produce the best results for all of us. And as those who hire influencers for campaigns, we want to be sure we bring our clients only the very best.

It’s not a perfect analysis, by any means, given that it is only based on what is available to the public and not a deeper look behind the scenes. (And those pesky social media platforms can be glitchy, even on their best days.) But as we filter through the scores of data we have gathered on North American travel bloggers, Instagrammers, brands and destinations, some trends and insights are emerging. Our first lesson is that the advice we give in our ebook (How To Work With Travel Influencers) on digging deeper and looking beyond the superficial numbers is strongly reinforced.

Here’s one example based on an analysis of Facebook engagement. Note that these numbers represent 136 Facebook pages that belong to North American travel bloggers who vary widely in size and niche. Their numbers were tracked over a two week period.

36% of travel bloggers are ABOVE the average.
36% of travel bloggers are ABOVE the average.

If we take this to be an acceptable source for what is considered “good” engagement, then overall, travel bloggers are within average, some have a lot of work to do, and then there are also a few obvious rockstars.

However, there is also the one highlighted at the top that stands out as highly suspect. Upon digging a little further, we learned that we were entirely right to be skeptical. This page, with less than 500 followers, was racking up a significant number of “likes” per post given its small size. And once we scrolled a little further down the page, we noticed that it was the exact same people liking every post every single time. And that they were all fellow bloggers.

(I should also note that there were “suspect” practices detected and noted on other accounts, but their results were not as outlandish.)

Intensive data analysis isn’t necessary to uncover such schemes, but a deeper look is. So many influencers claim to have an “engaged audience”, but what does that really mean? If an influencer is involved in what appears to be a like-for-like system with others, does that benefit them? Does it benefit you? Likely not. In considering work with any influencer, one should never be satisfied with what is first presented. A scan of the blog and relevant platforms can reveal so much.

We’ve also taken a deep-dive into Instagram. Read more here.

Want to know more? We’ve written an entire ebook about how to find the right influencers to work for you, and to set up your campaigns for success. Go here for your free download.

You may also want to read:

How Well Do You Know Your Influencers? (Part 2)

The Truth about Influence on Instagram

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