Hotel marketers are always looking for new ways to engage with prospective guests. Some are turning to social media influencers, and this is rapidly becoming more and more common. In a poll of 125 marketers conducted by online promotions firm Tomoson and reported in AdWeek, marketers rated influencer marketing as the fastest-growing online customer acquisition tactic, beating organic search, paid search and email marketing.
Need some evidence to help make the case that influencer marketing is worth investigating for your hotel?
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing happens when marketers create lists of influencers: regular people—not movie stars— who have blogged, videoed, and podcasted themselves into social media stardom. These influencers have proven credibility among and even sales to a specific target audience. Examples include fashionista Chiara Feragni (3 million Twitter followers), YouTube makeup video blogger Michelle Phan (7,600,000 subscribers) and John Lee Dumas of the Entrepreneur on Fire Podcast (923,000 unique listens in December 2014).
While these stars have grown so big they actually have sponsors (advertisers who pay to put ads on their content), they also act as influencers for others in their industries. When Chiara Feragni reviews a shoe or accessory, she’s looking to provide information her audience wants. The product brand doesn’t pay for her comments. These days, influencer marketing is connected to social media stars as the influencers.
Young audiences trust social media stars over TV stars
Who do you think has more influence with teens: Seth Rogan or PewDiePie? Never heard of PewDiePie? He’s the king of video-gaming content, with 34 million subscribers and over a billion total views. Not bad for someone in his early twenties who simply films himself as he plays video games.
Variety magazine found PewDiePie comes out on top, beating comedic actor and writer Seth Rogan by eight spots. It conducted a study measuring 1,500 teens’ perceptions of social and Hollywood stars’ approachability, authenticity and a wider range of characteristics considered to have the highest correlation to purchase influence. Six of the top 10 highest scorers were YouTube stars, not Seth Rogan or other glitterati. Variety’s top 20 most influential stars may surprise you.
Other studies have confirmed Variety’s findings about the influence social media stars hold over teens. DEFY Media’s Acumen Report: Constant Content polled 1,350 13- to 24-year-olds and found that 62% would try brands recommended by a YouTube celebrity. Just 49% would act on a Hollywood’s star’s recommendation.
It’s interesting to examine just why a less-successful social media star could have more purchase influencing power than a highly successful and very wealthy Hollywood star.
The key—for the group studied, those under 24—lies in which group is more relatable or closer to the consumer’s life experience. DEFY Media explains:
YouTubers are described as: just like me, understands me, someone I trust, has the best advice, doesn’t try to be perfect, genuine.
Movie stars are cherished for their other-worldly beauty and features that seem superior to the average person’s.
This change in perception could be a dramatic paradigm shift. Younger consumers clearly operate from values different from their parents’ when they choose whom to trust. Where older populations put more faith in success and glamour, clearly their children perceive those with less money and maybe even more scruff as more genuine and honest.
Currently, most of the U.S. population with money to spend still seems to trust Hollywood celebrities’ pitches. Those under 24, however, are opening up a whole new path to stardom for those who prefer to perform via YouTube channels in unique fashion.
Young Audiences Consume More Social Media than Television
It’s no wonder that social media stars are taking center stage when it comes to brand pitching. Younger audiences are on their computers and devices more than the family room television or the movie theater. Electronic devices just fit better into their on-the-go lifestyle. As they complete their homework, they take a break with a quick show on Netflix. Stuck in the car, they see what their friends are doing on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.
Social influence marketing platform Crowdtap, along with marketing research firm Ipsos Media, found in their study titled Social Influence: Marketing’s New Frontier that those ages 12 to 32 spend 30% of daily media time consuming “user-generated” or “peer-to-peer” content. In comparison, they spend 13% of total media time watching live television and 10% watching shows they recorded.
So much time devoted to user-generated content rather than television and movies prompts Crowdtap and Ipsos to boldly declare:
Brands looking for consumers to trust their marketing can no longer rely on traditional media to communicate their messages to consumers. In today’s landscape, it’s peer-created content or consumer-to-consumer marketing that drives trust.
DEFY Media’s study came to similar conclusions, although they measured in a different way. They found 96% of 13- to 24-year-olds view online content through social media channels or YouTube at a rate of 11 hours weekly. Eighty-one percent watched 8 hours weekly of scheduled television and 56% watched recorded television for an average of 7.5 hours. The consumption of content through social media channels has given rise to the social media star.
Influencer marketing in your hotel
It is becoming increasingly important for hotel marketers to find new ways to engage with guests and prospective guests. Influencer marketing is one avenue every hotel can test, simply by finding potential influencers that already exist. Your chosen influencers don’t have to be heavy hitters like Ryan Higa or PewDiePie. The right influencers for your hotel might be incoming guests. For example, if your hotel has a large volume of business travelers and is located in a tech-heavy region like Austin, Texas, a venture capitalist with a large Twitter following might be a good bet for you.
Think about your location, your amenities, and the types of guests who typically stay with you when searching for influencers. If you have the resources it’s a great idea to reach out to all guests with large social media followings. Your next influencer may just be waiting to be discovered!
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