This post was contributed by travel influencer Meg Cale, who recently hosted a webinar on How to appeal to the growing millennial travel market.
What’s an influencer? An influencer isn’t the same as a brand’s hype girl. An influencer is a content creator with a large social media following who’s considered an authority in their niche.
They’ve got a loyal following of folks sharing their content. They’re invited to speak at events and have publishing credits under their name. Everyone wants to work with folks like these who have their ear to the ground.
But how do you get involved with your favorite influencer?
The best way to find travel bloggers is to research their blogs on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook - in that order. Yes, there are influencer networks that you can use if your audience isn’t very narrow. The best way to find niche influencers is to research them on different platforms.
Once you find one, you’ll be able to see who they’ve partnered with and how their past collaborations are structured. You can also see the other bloggers in their network. That’s the kind of deep dive you’ll never be able to uncover with a Google search.
Keep in mind that influence doesn’t just mean they’re popular. A true influencer will be able to sell products and persuade their audience to take action.
Find Natural Collaborations
I’m a travel blogger, I get pitches every day and I strive to turn most of them down. Why? Because my audience is my currency and if I release a bunch of boring ads as content, they go running.
Last week, I got an offer to write a sponsored post on house plants. Sure, I could have pocketed the couple hundred dollars they were offering and released something, but it might seem off to my audience that a nomadic travel blogger was praising the virtues of plants I don't have a home for. Brands need to find collaborations with bloggers that are natural and not forced.
If you’re offering luxury private yachting experiences and the bloggers you’re targeting only write about backpacking or budget travel, chances are high that it won’t be the right fit. The better the fit, the better the partnership.
Fully vet your influencers, but trust their instincts
No one knows their audience better than an influencer. Allow them to be creative and do what they do best. One way that you can help is by offering a narrative story for the larger campaign. Allow them to create content around that narrative story and watch their creative juices fly.
Include knowledge about the influencer in the intro email
When you’re pitching an influencer directly, include some specifics about their brand in the initial email. Taking a few seconds of effort so they know their content is important to you is the best way to grab their attention. The extra 20 minutes it takes to go to their blog and read a few articles to get a vibe for their style will really help in identifying if they’re a good fit. When you reference what you like about them in the introduction, it lets the influencer know that you’ve done your homework.
Be realistic with your goals
It’s unreasonable to expect one influencer to double your followers on a platform or have a sales rate that’s equal to their page views. Establishing goals that are realistic is key to your success.
Determine before the campaign what the industry standards are for your measures of success and determine what is an acceptable result. Some influencers will sell more than the average and some won’t sell at all. When you put an ad on the radio or TV for a product, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll sell product either. The more reasonable you are while establishing your goals, the better your campaign will be.
A running joke in blogging communities is about the amount of emails we get from brands with 100 followers promising “exposure” for our work. Yup, reposting and engaging with our content is always helpful and appreciated, but it can’t be the only thing you provide. In any partnership, it should be an even exchange.
Get everything in writing
Much like any industry, there will be good influencers who keep their word and bad influencers who don’t. Have everything in writing. Provide the influencers with a page listing all the details and responsibilities involved. It will help keep things organized and ensure all parties are on the same page.
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Written by Meg Cale
Meg Cale is a travel influencer and community educator. After finishing her MPA and research practicum, she moved to South Korea and started her blog and the rest is history. Four years and hundreds of thousands of pageviews later, Meg now focuses on the intersections of travel, culture, and new media. Meg’s first book, “Slacktivist: Using Digital Media to Create Change” will be released in 2017. Meg’s subject matter expertise has been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, Go Magazine, Out Traveler, Gay Star News, Matador Network, Elite Daily, Korea Observer, and India's The Quint.