The Abbi Agency Reveals Three Key Factors that Damage Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Jun 25, 2019

Though many travel brands regularly employ social media influencers, The Abbi Agency (TAA) noticed that there is currently no standard way to carry out and measure the success of social media influencer campaigns—specifically with Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). Additionally, as more new influencers enter the fluid market and become social media sensations seemingly overnight, the ever-changing and increasingly saturated field has become harder to navigate for both DMOs and influencers.

A new study released by TAA, a fully-integrated marketing firm at the forefront of travel and tourism marketing, uncovers that DMOs and influencers possess disparate opinions on how to navigate and measure the success of social media influencer campaigns. The study suggests that unclear communication channels, muddled expectations, and creative differences are directly affecting the ROI of these marketing campaigns.

The Abbi Agency surveyed and interviewed 50 travel influencers, ranging from nano to macro influencers, over a one-month period in Dec. 2018 and Jan. 2019. The survey sought to understand better ways to leverage influencer marketing by asking travel influencers what DMOs are doing right and what they are doing wrong. The results of the study suggest that as DMOs attempt to replicate the powerful proximity principle of word-of-mouth-marketing, they may be undermining influencers’ hard-earned authentic relationships with their audiences. In the study, influencers repeatedly emphasized that DMOs must stop undermining influencers’ efforts by improving communication, setting forth clearer expectations and working to be more empathetic and flexible.

Below are three key findings that illustrate the current climate of the travel influencer marketing field.

Unclear Communication Channels are Diminishing the Potential of Influencer-DMO Relationships

From building itineraries and negotiating influencer contracts to implementing travel considerations and booking reservations, working to curate hosted trips for a travel influencer campaign can lead to a contentious string of emails and phone calls. As marketing teams work through the complicated dynamic, they may lose sight of the importance of incorporating empathy and appreciation in their relations.

TAA found that many influencers are frustrated by a lack of clarity and empathy from DMOs that leads to a disintegration of trust in the relationship. From the study, it is apparent that DMOs have a tendency to disregard the amount of planning, work, time and resources that it takes for an influencer to create a single post. Influencers feel entitled to earning fair pay, not just trade for their work-intensive content, but many say that they regularly face push-back from DMOs when attempting to garner proper and timely compensation. The contentious communication may result from a lack of clarity, empathy, and trust.

Muddled Expectations Reveal DMOs’ Lack Of Understanding When it Comes to Influencer Marketing Campaigns

According to the study, there is a substantial gap between the performance metrics that are deemed valuable by influencers and those that are acceptable to DMOs. Confusion between both parties results when DMOs fail to produce contracts with clear metric specifications. The study points to the reality that DMOs aren’t exactly sure which metrics to use when measuring the success of an influencer campaign.

Findings suggest that influencers prefer to share KPIs that are easiest to measure. Influencers commonly use page views, likes and conversions to measure engagement. However, these metrics don’t always translate to the exact goals of the destination. DMOs must decide which success metrics will most accurately predict an increase in visitors to the region, or in other words “heads in beds.”

Influencers emphasized that clear and accurate contracts are vital to establishing a foundation of understanding and trust. Contracts should include metric specifications in addition to granular details like content rights for images and the content’s lifetime on the platform.

By Withholding Creative Freedom from Influencers, DMOs Risk the Authenticity of Social Media Marketing Campaigns

A successful influencer marketing campaign, according to influencers, requires a precarious balance of clearly defined guidelines and flexibility that allows room for the influencers to exercise their creativity. Influencers suggest that itineraries should allow time for curating photos, spontaneous exploration and any travel mishaps. DMOs should realize that though they may be experienced marketers, only social media influencers understand the effort that goes into developing a genuine connection with a highly engaged audience. Influencers are always aware that a single, inauthentic post can destroy the trusting relationship that they have worked so hard to develop with their audience.

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