The pandemic has shaken up the influencer marketing industry. Some of the trends that we are seeing in social media are here to stay. Keep up or prepare to lag behind.
On the rebound
The low phase sullied by high-profile scandals, fake followers, and bot technologies is the past. Influencer marketing has re-emerged with a vengeance, with a paradigm shift from follower size and popularity to personalization and authenticity. It’s a growth clearly powered by a surge in online consumer spending during the pandemic. The rebound graph is definitely moving north.
Influencer endorsement is bringing in big bucks as celebrities with massive followings lead the way. But more interestingly, the playing field is turning strategic, and it’s getting more niche. Micro, nano-influencers, kidfluencers, gaming influencers, and virtual (computer-generated) influencers are gaining more traction.
Smarten up influencers
A 2020 survey by Oberlo indicates that 80% of consumers purchased a product after seeing it in an influencer’s post. A similar study by Morning Consult concludes that influencers are the new travel agents for millennials and Generation Z, with 84% of respondents who follow travel influencers admitting that they’ve turned to them for recommendations.
According to Linqia’s ‘State of Influencer Marketing 2020′ report, marketers are taking their attention beyond metrics like engagements to measure actual sales and influencer campaigns’ ROI to better justify their spending. Marketers are seeing the connection and reaping the rewards.
Micro-influencers are frequently approached by followers, friends, and family for trip recommendations and booking assistance, as they are seen as experts with inside knowledge, which the hotel brochures and guide books cannot offer. That translates into a massive, untapped business opportunity for influencers. But does the influencer end up with a fair share of the travel sales? Far from it… most settle for a free upgrade and, if you are lucky enough, even a free room night at the property.
Crack the monetization code
The business angle for most influencers remains restricted to regular social media activity. Across the board, Instagram is the favorite medium to inspire followers and directly impact travel purchase decisions of hotels, destinations, flights, tours, and experiences. The general impression is that influencers make easy money by living the life of their dreams. The reality is quite different.
While brand partnerships are the most significant revenue stream for most travel influencers, it is only a tiny proportion of all influencers who can generate ongoing commercial payoffs.
Monetization trickles in sources like affiliate marketing, sales of physical or digital products, and blogsite ad revenue, but sustainability remains a concern for most travel influencers.
The commercial payoff, for influencers, still comes mainly from ‘marketing’ not from ‘sales’. And while this might be fine by the macro-influencers, those with maybe 1+ million followers, everyone who is on that journey to validation and acceptance as an influencer is left behind. The internet is filled with those now-micro-influencers who could have made it big but gave up somewhere in the journey because of the lack of feedback.
But now, what if they could find a way to generate direct revenue from the booking decision of their ‘followers’?
With the advent of current trends like social tipping, influencers and creators will have more innovative alternatives to directly monetize their communities. Emerging travel influencer platforms may change the shape of things in the coming future. Pathfndr‘s Invite Only Program for Influencers is one such AI-powered travel recommendation platform, which can be used to create a personalized travel site with all required functionality in less than 15 minutes.
Travel influencers can book travel products at extremely low prices and add their own markup to sell travel to their communities across the globe. From planning itineraries and multi-city trips to finding flights/ hotels by user ranking, an entire gamut of offerings can be made available for customers. With Pathfndr’s trip-building capabilities, influencers have options to create day-wise trip itineraries with recommended activities and experiences. Users can book a complete trip from scratch, without the headaches of heavy research and endless time comparing available alternatives.
Imagine if every blog that you published about a travel experience or every Instagram or Youtube post that you put up, also had the link to that very same travel experience on your own travel website. And every booking made from that further added to your income. How cool would that be?!
Pathfndr bundles the convenience of an OTA and the personalization of a travel advisor with the tech-savvy of a futuristic platform, like no other.
Travel influencers and content creators will need to reinvent the wheel and expand their platform strategy to crack the monetization code. In a rapidly changing digital market, the early bird will catch the worm.
3. Linqia – State of Influencer Marketing 2020