“How to become an influencer” is one of the most searched keywords on Google and in the face of this type of research, I was amazed when I realized that, instead, “ how to find the right influencer ” has an average of only 20 monthly searches.
I find it odd that everyone cares about finding new influencers, but few really care about how to select and choose them for the promotion of their business or product.
Personal considerations aside, influencer marketing is a topic that is very close to my heart. Not only because in my parallel life as a travel blogger for passion I happened to come into contact with this reality very closely, but above all because in the company where I worked before becoming a freelance, part of my tasks was precisely to identify potential ” influencer “.
I decided to link this topic to the tourism sector, simply because it is the area of specialization in which I am most experienced and on which I could give exhaustive answers.
To ensure that this article is truly rich in information, which derives mainly from direct experience with the world of influencers, I asked Simona Sacri , travel blogger and honorary member of Visit Usa Italy , some questions on the subject.
Simona is an example of integrity and professionalism in the world of travel, which I had the opportunity to meet a few years ago, when I still dreamed of turning my passion for the web into a job.
Let’s start with the questions.
1. Who is the influencer?
Easy to say, but not to do. Everyone calls themselves influencers – often on the basis of nothing or some inflated number of analytics – but very few really are. Let’s try to give, first of all, a clear definition of influencer.
This is, in fact, the first question I asked Simona:
The influencer is a person who has not only managed to develop considerable competence in a certain sector but who has also over time attracted and cultivated a loyal audience and above all really interested in that competence and everything that revolves around it.
A complex activity that passes through social networks, of course, but also and above all through the authority of a name and a valuable website, well positioned in the Google SERP.
From my personal experience, I am referring to the world of travel blogging, likes or engagement – true or presumed – of a social network are not enough to be an influencer, quality, content, specialization, “niche” and an audience attentive to the subject of storytelling, not just to the influencer itself.
2. Why should a company think it is dealing with an influencer? What are the pros and cons?
The answer may seem obvious, but it is not, because we often do not consider the risks of a marketing operation of this type, if you invest in the wrong influencer .
In other words, when a company evaluates the possibility of starting a collaboration with an influencer, it must pay close attention to a wide range of factors and not just the numbers in its mediakit.
Simona answered me like this:
The question is not so much whether to choose an influencer or not, the key thing to evaluate for me is the ability to select the right influencer to reach the goal set by the company in a given campaign.
Once you have found the right person, with content and audience in line with the subject of the promotion / storytelling, the advantages are considerable. I’ll give you my example.
I have built over time a credibility made of trust, experience (twenty years for what concerns the USA) and contents, creating around me a consistent network of readers / travelers who are really interested in everything that revolves around the United States universe, itineraries, flights, ground services, locations (and more).
Consequently, those who read me and follow me do so because then they really go to the United States, often following my instructions.
The practical proof of the effectiveness of my work, the Roi to put it in technical jargon, are the hundreds of monthly emails I receive and which I then catalog in reports, emails from people who ask me for information even more detailed on what I talk about on social networks, on the blog, on the radio and that then, upon returning from their travels, they thank me, providing me more and more often complete reports of the experiences made at my suggestion.
You understand that making a mistake in choosing the influencer could damage your own brand . I’ll give you a concrete example in the field of travel.
A few years ago, the company I worked for received a request for collaboration from an Italian blogger, who asked for free accommodation in a European city, in exchange for an article by her on her blog.
Attached was the mediakit.
If I had stopped at that endless series of numbers, the collaboration would probably have started, but doing a deeper analysis I found that:
- the numbers inside the mediakit had been inflated
- that engagement on its social channels was at very low levels
- who stated in his own blog that he was not on target with the type of accommodation made available by my company
By making these careful assessments, which do not assume the use of any paid X tool, it allowed me to better understand who I was in front of and how collaboration would not have been possible .
How could a blogger who is not completely targeted , because she is used to travel other than those offered by the company, have benefited my company? In no way, on the contrary.
As Simona rightly said, an active community and a well-defined niche are essential for choosing the right influencer.
3. The blog tour question: yes or no?
Blog tours, a sort of press trip for bloggers, are frequent within marketing operations in collaboration with influencers. I myself had the (dis) pleasure of participating in one.
On this, however, I leave the floor directly to Simona:
For blog tours my answer is no, especially for the way they are managed, bringing together people who often and willingly – and I always talk about my sector, travel – with that type of travel they have nothing to do, which maybe have the “high numbers” (real or bought, it doesn’t matter) on Instagram, and often only those.
But who guarantees then that those numbers will be converted into results , especially if the catchment area, even if real, is focused on the character and not on the destination?
There are many good professionals in my world with distinct focuses who are able to produce excellent reports on their own and ensure the interest of a defined and targeted audience based on the objectives required by companies.
It is therefore essential that the latter learn to carefully select the right influencer for their campaigns, based on what has been said, and not just by following the number of followers on a social network.
Simona touches a sore and interesting point: who guarantees then that those numbers will be converted into results?
When working with an influencer, the ROI always seems to boil down to mere visibility. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not the case.
I bring you the example of the Oasi Hotel , which has established a collaboration relationship with an Italian blogger, perfectly in target, to whom it recognizes a percentage of sales, every time the bookings arrive through the dedicated article on his blog.
Or again, the number of requests for information on a particular place on which the collaboration has taken place, the number of messages received in chat on that particular product , the number of clicks on the property link.
As Simona rightly says, the contents must be well positioned, so the influencer I choose will have to demonstrate that they know how to position themselves in the SERP, with previously written articles. But that’s not enough, because it’s easy to rank for unwanted words with few results.
An additional focus also on the number of monthly searches and search results, relating to the keyword with which it proves to be positioned.
It would be useless to commission an article that then goes where no one sees it: on the second page of Google (or worse).
4. What are the characteristics for identifying a good influencer?
To conclude this article on choosing the right influencer in the tourism sector, I asked Simona to list the characteristics that she recommends to keep in mind, in order to select the future collaborator. Here they are:
- Contents (which remain), so that they rank well within Google searches
- Industry expertise
- Credibility, gained over the years and consolidating a close-knit and seriously interested community
- Level of storytelling: in the specific case of tourism, the way in which the journey and the experiences lived are told
- Engagement: on social networks, but also on the blog (through user comments)
To these I personally add the veracity of the numbers relating to: unique visitors to the blog, followers on Instagram (check that they are not fake) as well as fans on Facebook.
Finding the right influencer, who is able to promote our product or service, our destination or our structure in the right way, is certainly not easy, simply because it takes time to do it.
But for an excellent result, it takes painstaking research, but that will surely bring a result.
Have you ever started a collaboration with an influencer? Tell me about it in the comments!