Interval International’s Shared Ownership Investment conference held last month in Miami, Florida came with opportunities for hoteliers and timeshare owners alike to take home valuable lessons on topics including, ‘Maximizing Your Resort’s Profit Potential’, ‘Thriving in Today’s Timeshare Industry’, and ‘Creating Powerful Social Media Strategies For Winning Content’.
Though the latter presentation was directed at brands involved with the hospitality industry, there was lots to learn about leveraging social media, and how industry partners could collaborate with influencers and brand advocates for amplified reach (PR and marketing) and increased sales.
On the panel for that particular session were David Calvert, Director, Brand & Communications, Vistana Signature Experiences; Leanette Fernandez, Storyteller, Digital Influencer and Adventurer; Evelyn Macki, Social Media Manager, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Abdul Muhammad, Vice President, Digital Development, RBB Communications.
Panelists recognized that social media influencer campaigns were the order of the day and could determine the success and relevance of one’s business.
Unfortunately, there was “no magic Tinder app” for selecting the right influencer. Thus, the panel conceded that identifying an influencer for a particular project was dependent upon the type of campaign or programme that was being embarked upon, whether that be “big, small, internal or external.”
Size certainly mattered, and choices for representation included celebrities and other mass influencers (1M+ followers), micro influencers (1,000 – 100,000 followers), influencers in micro segments of a business: industry professionals, industry writers/bloggers; customers, employees and organisational partners.
The general consensus was that the fastest way to identify influencers was to “look to see who was already talking about you”. According to Abdul Muhammad, “When it comes to finding the right influencer to align with your brand, authenticity wins every time.”
Evelyn Macki, Social Media Manager for Norweigian Cruise Line spoke about her social media successes during the session. Success stories were shares, and other strategies to generate positive social media exposure.
Leanette Fernandez, an influencer herself, spoke about the importance of understanding what each individual influencer valued, at which point the panel zeroed in on the criteria for influencers which was dependent upon followers, social activity/ engagement, and brand alignment. For businesses getting into influencer marketing for the first time, however, it was important to “crawl, walk, and then run”.
While it was recommended to start with micro influencers, it was important to find an influencer who had a strong reach within the desired target audience, and was trusted by that audience. It was also vital to find an influencer who created content others already shared out, and created updates that drove actions and discussions.
The ideal influencer also needed to be an active participant online and offline in the target audience’s industry – someone who “aligned with that particular brand voice, or not!”
Then there were compensation considerations. The question was: should influencers be paid? Panelists agreed that it was best to decide what was ideal for individual brands, but urged participants to consider a case-by-case approach. It was also worth considering various forms of payment.
When it came to paying influencers, the costs varied. Businesses were encouraged to use a contract, but some of the costs associated with influencer marketing were US$25,000 – US$100,000 per influencer, free product, exposure via cross promotion, compensation per post or content piece (flat rate), CPE: Compensation Per Engagement (like shares, comments) per piece, CPC: Compensation Per Click by the consumer (link clicks), and CPA: Compensation Per Acquisition.
On the influencer side of things, Leanette urged participants to “be specific about what you want, and don’t assume that my content belongs to you”.
The long time digital influencer also underscored the importance of not overbooking an ambassador’s itinerary, so there was still time for postings.
“Let it be authentic,” she said. “Trust that we know what we’re doing, and that we know our audience.”
In the end, there were a few questions that could be asked to determine the success of an influencer programme. These included whether guidelines were met, what was the quality of content and inbound traffic, audience reactions, and other aspects.
It could not be stressed enough by the panel the importance of a properly established contract, which not only ironed out details and expectations, but also put protections in place in the event that an influencer “went rogue”.
The session came to a close with David Calvert sharing one of his company’s success stories – Vistana Signature Experiences had increased their following by over 11 percent due to an IG takeover by an influencer, testament to the true power of collaborating with social media ambassadors and brand advocates.