Post-lockdown, will influencers be kings of the castle or revealed as the emperor’s new clothes?

July 9, 2020

This is the question everyone is asking, from tourist boards to tour operators, hotels through to attractions and experiences. How do influencers and content creators fit in the marketing mix and how can their talents be utilised to support tourism campaigns to reach target audiences?

During the ‘Post-lockdown, will influencers be kings of the castle or revealed as the emperor’s new clothes?’ webinar we held on 6 July 2020, the panel shared their musings on ROI, engagement, post-lockdown opportunities, and what travel brands should be planning right now.

Exploring how travel brands and creators can work together and flourish in a post-lockdown world, the panel included Shu Shi Lin @dejashu, London-based vlogger, BBC presenter, writer and videographer; Freddie Strange, co-founder and director of content creation and influencer marketing agency Komodo; Kash Bhattacharya, travel blogger @budgettraveller, author and charity campaigner; Lloyd and Yaya, travel bloggers @handluggageonly; and was moderated by Amy Skelding, senior partner in our travel practice.

Some of the key takeaways from the session included:

Adapting to the ‘new normal’ - Both brands and influencers must adapt with the new landscape to thrive through the pandemic. Content creators must resonate with the current situation by shifting the type of content from their usual routine, but at the same time get creative to seek new opportunities during uncertain times. Some of the content creators highlighted have been posting nostalgic pictures, recalling favourite destinations, or changing their focus to their own interests like cooking or at-home workouts.

Second thought on influencers – Influencers are more than the glamourous appearance on their social channels. Besides from utilising other skills such as videography or public speaking, content creators now extend beyond the traditional marketing mix to inspire people to travel better or even solve travel problems, which can benefits destination in multiple ways.

Brands should carefully select influencers who are passionate and experts in their field and are compatible with brand’s image. Content creator partnerships should be treated as a marathon more than a sprint. Long-lasting relationships can deliver more consistent messages to audiences and boost long term engagement.

Redefining ROI - From a brand perspective, it is inevitable to be conversion-oriented and needing to justify every penny spent. Traditional calculations are based on likes, comments, views or link clicks, but it is becoming more difficult to quantify influence, as engagement can be measured beyond numbers.

Instead of focusing on data, when creating any strategy, marketers should first outline their brand KPIs such as sales increase or brand advocacy, thus identifying which creators strategically fit within the planned campaign and objectives.

To determine success, marketers have to re-evaluate the meaning of the existing metrics and focus on quality engagement and content before backing up with data.

Spice up the authenticity with TikTok – TikTok’s usage has surged since March and has changed from targeting Gen Z ‘zoomers’ to a wider audience. The unpolished ‘realness’ of videos is more connective and relatable to audiences, unlike Instagram’s curated posts with layers of filters. Through short burst video clips influencers can unleash their creativity and go beyond the grid to engage and create resonance with their viewers.

Breakout opportunity to reconsider brands’ strategies – Advertisers and marketers have cut costs on marketing channels due to the current pandemic, but it is also a golden opportunity to plan future approaches.

Brands can seize the chance in reviewing past collaborations and examine if prolonged to long term partnerships. Marketers should consider including them throughout campaigns, from creating the brief, delivering (and adapting) the campaign and of course the post-campaign evaluations for a complete ecosystem in fostering the message delivery and a better outcome.

Both influencers or companies can also explore other content forms and collaboration strategies. For example, exploring affiliate opportunities and brand ambassador schemes that can link influencer’s own community to the brand.

It is also crucial to work hand in hand in promoting responsible travel after the pandemic and the new economic era. To avoid unforeseen situations such as trip cancellations or event postponement, it is a must to keep an open and honest dialogue to be transparent with each other in communications and contracts.

The outcome - In a post-lockdown world, it is becoming increasingly clear that now is the time to be strategically discussing content creator partnerships and identifying those whose talents can be utilised to support successful tourism campaigns to drive future bookings.  Gone are many of the so-called blaggers that gave bloggers, turned influencers, turned content creators or publishers a bad name.  Many of the influencers and content creators of today have been honing their craft for many years, they have travelled further than most, have developed impressive writing, filming, photography and digital skills as a result of hours of work which has resulted in their significant and loyal followings.  Once scorned by media and marketers, this multi million pound influencer marketing industry is clearly holding onto its crown in the royal marketing mix.

To watch the webinar please click here and use Password: 7h*VD^0g to access the recording.


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