Working with Bloggers, Influencers and Travel Brands, insights from Tourism Upgrade – LIVE event.
Welcome to Tourism Upgrade the podcast unpacking marketing trends from travel, tourism and marketing leaders. I’m your host Holly G and this episode was recorded at a Tourism Upgrade LIVE event in Sydney. I chat with panelists Sophie Baker from Wanderlust Union and Jayne Gorman from Girl Tweet World about why travel brands should consider working with digital influencers, what value they bring to each other and how to measure and value these sorts of campaigns/relationships. We talk about to pay or not to pay and how brands can assess which influencers are a good fit for them.
Here are some pics from the night….
Thank you so much for coming along to Tourism Upgrade LIVE, it was a fantastic response and I think it’s a great timing to be talking about the relationships between the brands, bloggers, content producers and digital influencers. I know tonight we’ve got less than half an hour to chat through which is something that is quite a complex topic but we will do our best and see how we go.
To introduce myself, I’m a marketing consultant my name is Holly Galbraith and I work in the tourism, and agri tourism and food industry and I’ve been running these free events in Sydney since 2011, so for 5 years. It used to be called Tourism Tweet-up and now we had a rebrand and it is called Tourism Upgrade. I also have a podcast and I would really encourage you to download the podcast through iTunes or your preferred podcast player.
I will move and introduce my two panellists tonight; we will have a third panellist up at the end. First to my left here, we have Sophie Baker. Sophie runs her own consultancy called Wanderlust Union and she’s worked with a lot of brands and PRs for 15 years, predominantly with luxury brands and destinations like Hamilton Island, qualia, and some beautiful champagne brands. And so she works with many digital influencers with the campaign and the clients that she works with at the moment so I’m really excited to tap into that experience today.
Then we have Jane Gorman. Jane has been blogging professionally for 6 years, or over 6 years, and you can find her blogs at Girl Tweets World. Jane manages content and communities for both herself and large corporations and she has worked with a huge array of travel brands including Lonely Planet, SkyScanner Australia, Flight Centre and Cathay Pacific.
So the reason these two panellists are here is because I really want to pick their brains on the topic of working with bloggers. And to tap into the experience that these people both have, I want to start asking –
What is the value for a brand of working with a digital influencer or blogger?
Sophie: For me I think probably, the thing that I notice with Wanderlust Union for brands wanting to work with influencer, the really unique thing is obviously being able to tap into any influencers — (4:45). And that is kind of invaluable, and that’s what makes this bigger cause, this platform, really special and quite dynamic. So I think the benefit for a brand is working with an influencer that has obviously — (5:04), and it needs to work for both brands but it’s really about being able to tap into very trusted point. And not try to control the message so much. I think, sometimes, brands get quite caught up in the way they want their messages to deliver. I think it’s mostly acceptable to outline your deliverables and know your key messages that you would like to be explained. But I think you have to leave it up to an influencer to really interpret that how they will and share that with their trusted audience because otherwise, I think these days, all of us included, were way too savvy not to allow something that we see as a bit BS. And I think that really great influencers really value that trust that they have in that audience. And so yeah, it really goes back to ground fit, but I really think benefit brands astronomically, and obviously it work with the influencers as well.
And Jayne do you want to add to that and talk about, I guess, what’s the value for a digital influencer working with a brand?
Jayne: Okay sure, actually she already said it, the trust we have with your audience is number one. And my favourite blogger-reader relationship or experience I have was a lady, I went to the group with a friend and I covered what we did on social media from the balls, museums, top house where we stay, and Arita happened to be back 2 weeks later, and she was like – Jane this is great, you have my taste, and we have the exact same style, how could you ever think you did? And she did, and she — (6:45) and she sent me her holiday photo album and some may find it weird and scary but for me that was the sweetest moment I have with Arita. In terms of having the audience that understand your style, I think they trust your opinion but afterwards they replicate exactly what you do. But for me, I think, for bloggers but also digital influencers they contact producers. We’re producing content for multiple channels many times a day. When you work with a blogger, you not just need to know who it is because you actually have the potential to work so you can produce content and you need compassionate content for your channel. And I think it’s a fair point to say that some brands — (7:28) are often, I work with companies and they send me off to do my thing and the content just sits in my channels, it’s not being shared and it’s not utilised from there. I think that’s a massive thing that the subs sometimes miss out. And then finally, there’s also that application and another content that I write, my readers, they share it and some of them are either bloggers, their friends. Some of them are the connections they have in the industry — (8:00) planet, or Sky Scanner who I worked with. And also just my general readers. If they like my post they have to reach out in their networks. So when you work with me you’re not just — (8:15) when you work with us, you’re not necessarily just reaching my audience, that’s something that’s just a starting place for the potential people you can reach with your message.
How is success measured with a brand blogger campaign? What sort of metrics should brands be looking at? How would they know if a campaign is going to be more successful?
Sophie: My business which is actually one of the last who work with brands and obviously influencers. so we represent quite a few number of influences and I think what’s really important is that deliverables need to be set in the outside, and I think it helps both the brands and it’s important to know what needs to be dealt with. So obviously you need to go through all these deliverables and see if they were achieved, whether that’s the number of posts that came out of the famil or whether it’s based on engagement, how many people you are engaging in particular clothes, people who are tagging in friends and if they are to replicate that specific itinerary I think it’s also a really good measure. And obviously if there is a call to action that is again a really good measure of how successful something is. The other thing I would say is that professionalism is something that can be forgotten about with some bloggers and obviously no one in this room but it really is for both the brand in terms of what they expect and having really realistic expectations of what an — (9:57) can do and provide, but also for the influencer to deliver to deadline. I think there are probably a lot of bloggers out there who promise the world, take them out, and then never end up producing what they promised they will. So I think from a tourism point of view, from a hotel’s point of view, you’re giving a couple of nights at — (10:20) then you want to see the results. I think that needs to be done and really timing better.
On that topic of professionalism, how to brands know what bloggers they should be working with? How do you know if a blogger is professional? Or how do you know If they have bought followers?
Sophie: I think Holly that’s a really great question. I think obviously, depending on your brand, you kind of know what you’re looking for and you start to do your search on what influences to work with. What I would say is don’t be afraid if they have knowing of less than a hundred thousand. I think sometimes we get caught up in the number of followers that we forget that it’s really about engagement and it’s also about the content they produce. So if they’re producing really amazing content, they inspire you and you know it all resonate with your brand audience and people who are looking to buy your brand. And I think it’s a really great reason enough to work with someone. I also think that you can obviously go back from their feed, see when they probably gone on famils or nurture the brand and see what they delivered on. More often than not they will give you a really great indication, I think other things are whether they use the hash tag, whether they tagged a hotel or a destination and it sort of is a little tick that say they’re not playing bull I guess because they are certainly deliverables that some influencers — (12:06) so it’s really about going back to their feed and saying what we’ve done and how they’ve interacted with the brand.
Jayne: I think the best way to find out whether it’s the influencer or whether it’s legitimate is to stalk them professionally. The best sort of relationship I’ve had with my brand is the marketing manager of PR has — (12:31) for several months or she’s dedicated the last 24 hours and shed come to me and say – Jayne I want to work together because I see what you do, I like what you do, and I also have a good idea of what you do in those post. And I think the most creative and collaborative campaigns come up from those conversation. And it’s just the best you can — (12:53)
HollyG: And I will also add to that, be a network or we’ve been a circle of bloggers and influencers. I’ve known Jayne for a number of years by attending different blogger conferences or by attending different meet up and things like that and really immersing myself with all the bloggers and I really get to know who’s who and who’s — (13:21) that. Just like you would from a PR perspective, your network with travel writers and other — (13:29) is exactly the same wit bloggers and digital influencers –
To pay or not to pay. I’m not exactly sure the question to ask but I guess should the influencers be paid to attend famils, launches, I am not sure what questions to ask but you know where I am getting at. Let’s talk about it.
Sophie: I think it’s a great question but it’s been asked because there can sometimes be a murky water. What I would say is first if you want to work with an influencer that’s your number one starting place. After that I think you have to decide what influences interest you think could really relate and resonate with your brand. And then it all comes down to whether you need to pay them or you don’t. And I think the really kind of easy way to differentiate that is I think probably on the deliverables that you’re looking for. And also, how many followers do they have and what is their engagement. If they’re sitting at 500k followers more than likely they’re more than going to expect payment for something. N saying that, it depends completely on what you’re offering. If it is a complete brand fit for them and it’s something that is so irresistible that they can’t say no, more often than not and having worked in both sides and continue to working on both sides, they will absolutely focus because its content for them and they want to create amazing content. So if you have something that is an incredible experience, an amazing destination, a fabulous hotel, then I think you need to put it out there and so you can see what they come back with but I would always start with that first. Secondly, I think if they do want to be paid, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be paid, but I would say it’s more about the measure in terms of what they will bring to you and what the return is on your side. So more often than not, brands will be able to facilitate a famil that covers all cost but creates this amazing content. But, you know, for an influencer, that time out of their day to day work; it takes them a day for them to be able to do other things. So there are always variables to take into account. But I think they say it’s really about finding an influence, going to them with an amazing collaborative idea, and seeing how you go from there and what expect that you deliver to make your deliverables too from the brand perspective. So I think it’s very open — (16:20) I think my reminder is for many influencers they have the amount of followers that their entre magazine have reached. Whilst we all are familiar with — (16:35) and obviously they’re unpaid but they’re getting fantastic audience reach. One person can have tis reach and some because of the ability to add follower’s messages to their folders. I think sometimes we expect it all for free and I think for smaller brands there’s a really great opportunity to work the influencers that have the lesser amount of followers but it doesn’t mean that their audience isn’t just as important. They can be very niche engaged audiences that your brand, or you don’t have a big budget I would still encourage you to go out there and certainly work with influencers who really kind of have an engaged community and might be less in terms of numbers but very engaged and still deliver incredible content.
Jayne: From the blogger perspective, I have a set of — (17:34) in my mind of the fee that I charge for blog post or social media services. If what’s being offered to me in terms of complementary travel, hotel, or flights or have you has a higher value than that than I’ve got paid. It’s simple song on IG, and if however, the deliverables they are looking for are number of post higher than what I would normally deliver, they want substantial social media coverage, they want social media take over’s, they want images for their Facebook page, all of things that I convinced them to buy then of course I will charge a rate. And for me the best companies I’ve worked on have been paid and that’s simply because they’ve been far more creative, and they were actually a collaboration between myself and the brand. And they weren’t just a case of sending me on a — (18:26) trip or — (18:30) so they’ve competitively trying to filter the best content first and for me it doesn’t always fit my audience, fit my brand, I wouldn’t want to let anyone down by taking a familiar — (18:40) 10% of my audience. So I want to have a very open conversation about what learn about, what my readers are interested on, we come up with a scope itinerary and we then discuss another post that might be for my blog or perhaps also for their blog, for their website, for their in-store magazine. We really try to think of a full service campaign and for that it’s something that I do charge but it also has five reader results than just the simple blog post that will cost us a lot.
HollyG: Just sticking to that theme a little bit longer, Jayne you’ve done a lot of campaigns with Travel Brands in the UK before you move to Australia, and I know we sort of have some discussions around that when you move to Australia, things, the way you work with travel brands needed to change because things were a little bit different here. Can you talk about the differences of working in Australia versus the UK?
Jayne: Definitely. The type of campaign I just discussed I have been working on for the last 14 years in the UK. And — (19:50) is part of a brilliant collective and when together we will, each of us will have niches and we work together to probably work this on several different angles. Many brands in the UK because — (20:07) you often get approached for campaigning now and we would like to go to X what is your day rate. I want to tell Australian bloggers that all influencers that are gasped over the email — (20:20) wants to engage in that’s what they start with. And here it’s educational and I get that the market is different. In the UK, you can send us to a lot of European countries much more cheaply than you can go anywhere else in Australia. So, I do get that we are from different market and different budgets but I think we need to have more of these conversations of just get out more than wonders. When I came to Australia, there was one thing I was asking was how many instagram followers you have which I am getting some fantastic instagrammers. It’s not actually what I do, to ask that question is the point of what I produce in the relationship with half of my audience. So there’s basically different audience here but I hope there’s going to be more coverage on what creativity and I think it’s a more young type of structure when we already seen some promising — (21:23) because they have much more of a closer connection to their audience. It’s actually about more than just the numbers.
I wanted to ask, so when we’re researching bloggers and we’re looking, we might ask those bloggers and influencers about reach and things like that. Is it okay to ask about reach? And then what other sort of signs are we looking for to know if it’s going to be a good fit for us as a brand?
Sophie: I think for a brand perspective it’s absolutely okay to ask for figures. I think it both touched on, it doesn’t necessarily just mean the audience mean amount of followers. I would look at the engagement levels. I would look at how many people during a campaign tag in their friends, that shows really high and big amount of engagement, investment, and trust that someone has given over to the brand and influencer. I don’t know if there is any way to legitimately find out if they’ve got big followers, I think you just probably need to look at their content, look at the engagements above and beyond the number of likes. I mean, likes are fantastic but I would encourage everyone to look at their comments and how that audience are engaging the influencer. And it think if there’s really strong engagement there then that’s fantastic. Unfortunately also, I think the influencers, you end up getting some followers who are going to be from anywhere and possibly not relevant but I think the core audience and the true engagement by the number of comments and interaction is a really good indication.
Jayne: Yeah, I agree and I’m not asked this often and I’m surprised. These days with google analytics and the insights of Instagram and Face book, I can tell you exactly who my audience are. I can tell you their age, their location. I can tell you a lot about their habits, and I think that’s a lot of important information for a brand. If you’re targeting a very niche specific group then if you find the right blogger then you’re talking directly to them.
HollyG: Yeah. I think that’s a really good point there, the analytics are getting more and more so the professional bloggers will know exactly who their audience are and happy to share that with you.
I will, at this point, get Ange to come up and join us. Pretty much everyone in the room knows Angela, Regional Director of Travel Media. Travel Media has sponsored tonight so thank you very much. I wanted to get Ange up tonight because we’ve had lots of conversations and it’s one of the conversations triggered this evening about sort of the connection between traditional media and bloggers and sort of moving away from maybe a traditional way famils into accommodating bloggers on famils and things like that. And there was a lot of questions and a lot of discussions around the ethics of paying a blogger and that they can’t necessarily be ethical because they’re being paid.
I wanted to ask you about that in some of the conversations you’ve have on that topic of ethics.
Angela: I think definitely I get a lot of feedback from — 25:16 that I work with on their views on working, how they feel about working on famils with digital influencers. I think I’d be like if I say tis not an issue but I think it also happens between digital influencers. I was sitting with a blogger the other day who was expressing her views on going through her launch in Instagram. She feels that she’s doing a lot of work, going back to write a big feature article and sharing that through her multiple channels and I suppose as I was sitting next to her taking aside how long have they spent building their Instagram following, she would say that the value is the same. I think that that’s where the problem comes in, it’s when people see that it’s not an equal value in their offering. I think it’s really important to get around that, it’s the digital influencer and the influencers as well as to show what your benefit is or your return on investment is for the people, for the travel brands and they should really be upfront about that. From an ethical point of view it’s about just being honest. Having the media, having stats on their website so that information is there for travel brands to access really easily. Traditional Media are working across every channels as well so people who are going on famils, it’s on like they’ve got a travel brand these days with their limited PR but trips can afford to send somebody away so they only have one commission. Traditional Media have already embraced working somebody across different channels — 26:40 I think a fantastic example of someone who is working across content, traditional journalism, doing your own channel, you’ve got your own app, I mean you’re really covering all bases because you know that that’s something for a traditional journalist to do these days and that comes back to return on investment for a travel brand again.
Do you have comments on ethics?
Jayne: This question comes up every time, I feel like it’s a personal attack. But it really comes down to the ethics of the person. I don’t see it being much complicated and in question than that to be honest. I mean, everybody does this slightly differently, I can tell you in teaching this I already had two experiences where I was on a hosted trip and it didn’t go well. And for me what I did was just had a private conversation with the PR offline and I had a bad flight basically with the airline that had sponsored the trip. So before everything I read about the destination, I’ve heard that the destination is fantastic but I thought the airline was pants, I wouldn’t want my friends to fly with it and if I would recommend it to my friend, I would recommend it to my reader. We just had that conversation offline, they accepted the fact that they weren’t getting any coverage so they’re going to get some ranting blogger problem because that’s not my style and I’ve got him to investigate and blow things up. Everybody has a different approach to it but it still surprises me that it comes up because I do believe that, because I’ve been an a lot of trips with journalists and nobody asks them what they’re going to write, so it’s a personal thing.
Yeah, I would think that definitely if you’re an influence you’re having a really comprehensive media kit is key to be able to deliver the brands and obviously that outlines your google analytics as we were talking about before. And it also just show a level of professionalism and how many channel that you’ll be able to amplify the message over. And again I think it’s really kind of up to the individual to deliver on that.
Thank you so much, a big round of applause to our panellist.
Tweet me with any comments or feedback @hollygalbraith or email is good too holly (at) hollyg.com.au
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