How to Boost Your Brand by Partnering With Influencers
The dos and don’ts of sponsored social media.
Over the past few years, the term influencer has come to describe someone with a significant fan base online and on social media. Just as people keep up with celebrities, many pay attention to what influencers do, say or wear, suggesting that they can move their followers to action. In fact, according to 2016 research by Twitter and tech consultancy Annalect, 40 percent of 300 online users surveyed purchased an item after seeing an influencer use it on social media.
Resorts that partner with influencers can potentially attract a new audience, and once secured convert them. However, because the role of influencers is a new one, the rules, laws and best practices of a proper brand-and-influencer relationship are still being defined. Adrienne Callandrello, director of social media at RCI, takes us through the dos and don’ts of influencer partnerships for vacation ownership.
Find the right fit.
First, identify an influencer who relates to your brand and audience. “When selecting who to work with, it’s important to keep your goals in mind and align with influencers who are on-brand,” Callandrello says. Resorts should approach influencers who share the brand’s ethos, whether that’s family-friendliness or a focus on adventure. For example, to highlight a spa, find an influencer interested in wellness and pampering, not someone who posts about road trips and camping.
The more followers an influencer has, the greater their ability to help grow a brand’s social following, but that bigger boost usually comes at a price. In influencer-marketing company Liqia’s report The State of Influencer Marketing 2017, most marketers spent between $25,000 to $50,000 per influencer-marketing program in 2016 and expect costs to double this year. “While influencers with larger followings will require a budget to work with, many smaller influencers (known as micro influencers) may work with your resort in exchange for a free stay or gift certificate,” Callandrello says.
Don’t go it alone.
Especially for those new to the field, Callandrello recommends working with an agency that specializes in influencer marketing to help manage budgets and negotiate costs. Partnering with an agency can also mitigate risk: “It will allow you to test the waters and ensure you are following all of the necessary guidelines,” Callandrello says. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating influencers and brands that don’t explicitly state that a post made in partnership with a brand is sponsored. In Liqia’s survey, 12 percent of marketers admitted to not complying with FTC guidelines. “You should be giving instructions to anyone you hire to represent your brand to adhere to FTC disclosure guidelines,” Callandrello says. An agency can help monitor partnered posts to ensure they follow the rules.
Build a Relationship.
Finding someone who can represent your brand time and again is more valuable than a one-off. Ongoing partnerships can strengthen the perceived worth of your brand and reach potential consumers multiple times throughout their travel-planning process. The Influencer Marketing Manifesto, a 2016 report by marketing-software company Tapinfluence, found that 71 percent of marketers believe ongoing ambassadorships are the most effective form of influencer marketing. Callendrello agrees, “Look for influencers who can help you with ongoing content creation and provide an authentic view of what visitors can experience on-site and in the surrounding area of your resort.”
Set Reasonable Expectations.
“Sales should not be the indicator of a successful partnership,” Callandrello says. “Timeshares are a significant financial investment, so most influencers aren’t going to be able to sell timeshares for you with one social activation. But over time, they can help build brand momentum and shed a positive light on the industry.” Instead, look at engagement and brand mentions as key performance indicators. You may find that you’ve attracted a more valuable set of consumers. Consultancy Tomoson’s 2015 Influencer Marketing Study found that 51 percent of marketers believe they reach customers that are more likely to spend and share their experiences with friends and family through influencer marketing because the relationship started with trust in the influencer.