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Ten best practices for working with digital influencers

By Kristen Bonilla 09/04/2018

The rise of digital influencers has revolutionized the way marketers – especially destination marketers – operate. Social media platforms have provided another layer of marketing channels to entice, engage, influence and convert visitors to a destination, and working with digital influencers offers an authentic voice on these channels to tell a destination’s stories.

As with media, hosting an influencer in-destination is the most effective way for them to create unique content for their channels that will be both inspirational and impactful. However, influencers and media should not be considered the same in terms of needs or wants on a hosted FAM trip. Depending on the influencer’s main social platform, work style, niche and the goals of the campaign, each hosted trip will be different from the last.

Start the process with a conversation to set goals and expectations and follow these 10 best practices list for hosting digital influencers:

  1. Flexible and Free Time: Avoid planning too many activities back to back and resist jam-packing the itinerary. Instead, selectively plan the best experiences that suit an influencer’s audience and help achieve your objectives. Leave time for influencers to edit and curate content at the end of each day and ask for their preferred “free time” hours. Outline reservations and expectations for arrival time on the itinerary. Provide contacts for each activity in case they are running late.

  2. Itinerary Advance Delivery: Provide your itinerary at least seven days in advance of the trip to the influencer to allow time for feedback and to make changes.

  3. Itinerary Customization: Start with a conversation. Ask and offer options as you create the itinerary. Align experiences, hotels and restaurants to mirror what is on their current platforms. For example, avoid hosting a luxury influencer at a subpar hotel. Consider what special arrangements can be made: Can a culinary influencer meet the chef or have a table with the best natural light? Can a tour be private so there is time to create content without aggravating vacationers? Does the influencer want to shoot at sunrise or sunset? If so, provide location suggestions, ideal times and maybe even special access to locations (i.e., a park after it closes).

  4. Beware of Hashtag Overload: Select the most important hashtag to request the influencer to use. Consider if organization and location tagging can be used instead of hashtags. Many influencers prefer to use generic destination tags as these are more popular for search than DMO hashtags: #california #sonoma #sandiego.

  5. Objectives: Communicate with partners about who the influencer is and their overall objectives while in destination. Advise partners that it is typically not appropriate to request specific items be captured or hashtags that the influencers must use while in destination unless already discussed.

  6. Welcome to the Destination: Provide a welcome package in the hotel room upon arrival and if possible, meet the influencer for coffee or a drink to personally welcome them. Keep in mind that influencers need time to capture content and don’t want to appear rude, so avoid scheduling too many meetings with multiple partners.

  7. Reservations and Payments: Confirm reservations and payment details for hosted activities in advance. Partners should know who to expect and when so everyone is on the same page.

  8. Be Reachable: Keep in contact (either by text or email) with the influencer throughout the trip. This will allow them to feel comfortable flagging any hiccups or issues with you during the trip and also let you know if deliverables are not being met during the trip in real time.

  9. Engage: Engage with the influencer during the trip via comments and likes, and also share their content on your platforms. Always provide credit to the influencer when sharing content. 

  10. Assets: Visit California will collect assets following the trip and distribute to partners as terms allow.

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