Influencer Marketing

Today’s consumers are data producing machines; mobile operators know every phone call an individual makes as well as how long each phone call lasts. If signed up for their rewards program, the supermarket where an individual shops knows what foods she likes to buy and what type of shopper she is. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express know where their cardholders like to drink and dine. Tivo and Netflix know which movies their subscribers prefer to watch. Company databases across the world house vast amounts of data about their consumers and this data can help advertisers and marketers shape unique marketing campaigns to target specific individuals with individualized offers.

All of this data falls under the umbrella of “customer analytics” and social media is the new frontier for making sense of this data.76 Here, “customers are influencers, not just generators of sales transactions as seen through point-of-sale and e-commerce systems.”76 By sharing their opinions, feelings and disappointments on social networks, customers can “influence each other by commenting on brands, reviewing products, reacting to marketing campaigns and product or service introductions, and revealing shared buying interests.”76

In the hospitality industry, Marriott has taken the lead in implementing a highly social media-savvy and YouTuber-based marketing strategy.[i] According to a company press release[ii], Marriott teamed up “with the Emmy-nominated, multi-platform Internet and pop culture media brand What’s Trending and host Shira Lazar to produce and release content videos that showcase the power of mobile check-in from Marriott.”203 Empowering travelers to experience more in cities around the world, the videos took a tongue-in-cheek approach to capturing the social influencer’s personal journeys thanks to Marriott’s mobile check-in system.203

One of the YouTube videos, which has been viewed over 4 million times, chronicles a hotel lobby dance party surprising the millionth Marriott mobile app check-in user.202 In another video, YouTuber Casey Neistat, shares his Marriott travel experience.202 This resulted in a very organic and genuine campaign that resonated with Casey’s audience.202 As opposed to a traditional advertising measures, marketing with Neistat ensured “a beautifully captured, day-in-the-life of experience as opposed to a scripted commercial.”202 In an interview with David Beebe, the VP of Global Creative & Content Marketing for Marriott International, advises that “rather than dictating the topic and type of content you want from the influencers, let them come back to you with a concept that plays to their strengths and social credibility.”202

The ad specifically showed how mobile friendly Marriott properties have become, even to the point of making the check-in process mobile. What shouldn’t be lost on the reader is the fact that the use of mobile check-in is actually a win-win for both parties involved. The guest doesn’t have to bother with one of the industry’s big pain points—waiting in the check-in line and it reduces labor needs considerably. The Predictive Casino should be able to understand when rooms become available, i.e., reservation staff gets alerted once the room is cleaned and then the room can be doled out to the most valuable/important members of the hotel’s loyalty programs. If no loyal patrons are waiting, the people who aren’t in the loyalty program but who have provided the hotel with their mobile numbers can be serviced. This would be a recognized customer service upgrade by most patrons. This also allows the casino operator to track the speed at which its maids clean the rooms, which could prove valuable in its own right.

In its article The 5 Different Types of Influencer Marketing Campaigns, Mediakix claims that there are probably a limitless amount of ways for brands to create effective influencer marketing campaigns, but, in general, these campaigns fall within one of the following five subcategories[iii]:

  1. Product Placement—this involves incorporating a company's product, services, or logo into a digital influencer's content just as it has been done in the film industry for decades. Just like actors in films, social media stars have earned the trust of their followers, so product placements are an excellent opportunity for brands to gain valuable exposure to millions of engaged consumers through the influencer’s YouTube, yy.com, Instagram, Viner, or Snapchat account.
  2. Contests, Giveaways, Sweepstakes—Hosting social media contests like giveaways, sweepstakes, or best-of contests, such as best photograph, video, or blog competitions can generate buzz about a casino brand, as well as foster goodwill among consumers. These contests compel social media users to take a specific action (like following the brand’s channel or increasing company exposure by using branded hashtags). Aligning with a social media influencer, an IR can promote a contest that will leverage the social media star's large follower base and ensure that consumers participate in the campaign.
  3. Theme/Hashtag Campaign—Hashtags are great ways to build a theme around a campaign. Focusing each influencer marketing campaign around a central theme or hashtag that is leveraged throughout all of the social channels helps build cohesion and encourages consumers to get involved by using the brand's hashtag in their own content. As Mediakix recommends, “Developing and implementing an influencer marketing campaign around a memorable branded hashtag is one of the best ways brands can facilitate a genuine social conversation and increase brand exposure, especially if the hashtag happens to go viral.”204
  4. Creative Influencer Campaign–These give the social media star much more freedom to create content and these campaigns usually center around a specific concept or idea. Done right, these campaigns allow the digital influencer to interpret themes to create unique brand-sponsored content, leading to increased levels of engagement from the social media influencer's followers and/or subscribers.
  5. Campaign to Build Social Followers—casino brands can invite social media influencers to expose new audiences to their brand's social media accounts. Snapchat Takeovers—having a social media influencer "take over" a brand's Snapchat account for a set period of time—is one of the most effective ways for businesses to reach thousands or millions of new followers as well as organically grow their own Snapchat follower base.

Micro-Influencers

As Yuyu Chen explains in her article The rise of ‘micro-influencers’ on Instagram[iv] there is such a thing as being too popular:

“It turns out that once a social media influencer reaches a critical mass of followers, audience engagement actually begins to decrease. A survey of 2 million social media influencers by influencer marketing platform Markerly showed that for unpaid posts, Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a like rate of about 8 percent, while those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers have a like rate of 4 percent.”

According to Yuyu, as an influencer’s following base increases, the like rate decreases.205 “Instagram influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers see a 2.4 percent like rate, compared to 1.7 percent for those with 1 million to 10 million followers and more. Comment rate follows a similar pattern.205

“The findings apply to sponsored Instagram posts, too, which suggests the sweet spot for maximum impact is an influencer with a following in the 10,000 to 100,000 range. Call them ‘micro-influencers’,” Yuyu argues.205

Kyla Brennan, the founder and CEO of HelloSociety, an agency that connects brands with influencers for specific campaigns, concurs in the Adweek article Micro-influencers Are More Effective Than With Marketing Campaigns Than Highly Popular Accounts.[v] “Just because an influencer has hundreds of thousands, or millions, of followers doesn’t mean that the specific campaign will be more effective than if a marketer or brand works with an influencer with fewer followers,” Brennan warns.206 In many way, niche players can be much more influential because, “Followers of influencers who post about a niche topic, like interior design, care about the way they decorate their table” 206, not about the celebrity hawking a particular product. Experience is key here.

“Influencer marketing is still effective when they’re looked at as peers,”206 said Brennan, adding that: “When it comes to celebrity accounts, who have maybe millions of followers nobody actually believes that a celebrity is a real fan of a product they’re trying to sell,”206 said Brennan.

HelloSociety has found that “micro”-influencers, or accounts with 30,000 or fewer followers, are more beneficial for marketers to gain exposure.206 According to the agency, “60 percent higher campaign engagement rates are driven by micro-influencers; those campaigns are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with larger followings, which makes them more cost effective; and micro-influencers drive 22.2 times more weekly conversations than the average consumer.”206

The power of micro-influencers is being recognized at other agencies as well.205 Fergus Thomas , co-founder of the social marketing agency Irban Group “used the term ‘power middle influencers’ to describe social media users who typically have around 100,000 to 200,000 followers.”205 For these micro-influencers creating content for a brand is still a secondary endeavor as most have full-time jobs, so they post sponsored content less often than social celebrities, which, naturally, makes their postings feel more authentic.205 “With the same amount of budget, brands can collaborate with 20 or 40 ‘power middle influencers’ to reach different demographics and see better engagement, compared to one or two celebrities,” Yuyu adds.

Social ad platform Gnack defines everyday social media users with fewer than 10,000 followers as micro-influencers.205 “Their followers usually consist of their friends and family, so their posts are much more trustworthy and engaging,” Yuyu notes. Since Instagram recently changed its algorithm to favor quality content, “micro-influencers” should become more visible because content from friends and family members is often prioritized above everything else.205

Micro-influencers can be found on social channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Klout, SnapChat, Instagram, YouTube, in Facebook Groups, as well as at influencer tracking sites like Keyhole and Inkybee. Brand24, the social media monitoring company, has the following advice on how to find micro-influencers[vi]:

  • Find micro-influential fans from your follower list
  • User Google search to find top local bloggers
  • Use relevant hashtag research
  • Use tools like Markerly, HYPR, Insightpool and Ninja Outreach
  • Research top accounts

Since IRs are massive properties, with different events going on all the time, casino marketers can look to help market these events with micro-influencers who are influential in their niche areas.

 

[i] How Travel & Hospitality Brands Are Marketing With Social Media Influencers http://mediakix.com/2015/08/travel-hospitality-brands-marketing-with-social-media-influencers/#gs.rw8hqKw

[ii] Marriott International Partners with What’s Trending and YouTube Stars to Develop Original Content Series. February 6, 2015. Marriott.com.

http://news.marriott.com/2015/02/marriott-international-partners-with-whats-trending-and-youtube-stars-to-develop-original-content-series/?aff=MARUS&affname=10l1110&co=US&nt=PH

[iii] The 5 Different Types of Influencer Marketing Campaigns. March 30, 2016. Mediakix.com. http://mediakix.com/2016/03/influencer-marketing-campaigns-5-examples/#gs.Lz0k6B4

[iv] Chen, Yuyu. (2016, 27 April). The rise of ‘micro-influencers’ on Instagram. Digiday. https://digiday.com/marketing/micro-influencers/ (accessed 26 August 2017).

[v] Main, Sami. Micro-Influencers are more http://www.adweek.com/digital/micro-influencers-are-more-effective-with-marketing-campaigns-than-highly-popular-accounts/

[vi] https://brand24.com/blog/who-are-micro-influencers-how-to-find-them/

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