Indentifying the impact of Insta influencers

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Last year, a survey revealed that 40% of millennials choose a travel spot based on its ‘Instagrammability’. While I’m not typically a fan of generalising the behaviour of an entire generation, even as someone who very much fits that millennial bracket, I can admit that my travel bucket list is becoming more skewed by the gorgeous images I see friends and influencers posting from around the globe.

That said, with a background in PR, insight and strategy, I will always question surveys done by brands for PR exposure.

In an attempt to unpick this trend, our insight analyst, Joe Mountford, and I took a look at a few data sources to understand how individual countries performed on the ‘Instagrammability Index’. We used travel figures and trends from the Office of National Statistics’ Travelpac Survey, took the top 20 countries and used Brandwatch to find out how many tourists have shared holiday posts on Instagram from those countries this year.

By looking at tourism levels versus Instagram posts from tourists, we can learn why the top performing countries were so ‘Instagrammable’ and what that means for travel brands. And we were also able to see the impact of influencers on the sector.

Of all the Instagram posts we analysed through the research, 5% used the #travelblogger hashtag, while 3% used #followme highlighting the steady flux of Instagrammers who either label themselves as influencers or aspire to be one.

Working with our many travel clients, we’ve also seen a growing trend of influencers (self-proclaimed or otherwise) requesting free trips in exchange for posts and stories on Instagram.

Clearly there is value in working with truly influential personalities, but brands should know what they’re looking to achieve to ensure freebies aren’t just a costly marketing exercise.

They should consider the following when working with influencer requests, either inbound and proactive ones:

  1. Social reach: It may sound obvious but if you’re footing the cost of a trip, you want the output content to be seen by as many eyeballs as possible – and for them to be seen by genuine followers not just dormant or spam accounts. The Independent released a report in the US recently that concluded that almost 10% of Instagram accounts could be spambots. They suggest looking out for the #followforfollow hashtag as a way of catching out influencers who might be artificially inflating their followings. Real influencers don’t need to barter for followers! There are also a number of tools available that allow you to analyse the rate an account grows its followers over time, which should flag any sudden spikes.
  2. Social engagement: it’s worth looking at engagement rates as this will highlight the influencers who have a deep relationship with their followers and will give some indication of how likely they are to drive bookings). There are a number of tools and engagement calculators online, but for simplicity, you can use the following calculation: the total number of likes + the total number of comments/the total number of followers.
  3. Domain authority: The SEO metric is important to master if you want to maximise investment and enjoy cross channel benefits. Download Moz’s free toolbar and assess the DA score for your potential influencer. It gives you a score out of 100; and for context’s sake, the highly-authoritative Guardian site has a DA of 94. Bloggers, on the other hand, should aim for a score above 30.
  4. Website traffic: This is only relevant if you’re going to work with someone who has a blog, as well as their social accounts. Use a tool like SimilarWeb to get a sense of their traffic figures to see how many people would view your coverage.
  5. Audience affinity: This is a metric we’re using increasingly more. Tools like Hitwise’s AudienceView enable the crossover or affinity between visitors to your brand’s website and the website of any influencer or media. Ensuring that the right audience is going to see your coverage – as opposed to a high number of people who might never go on to book with you – is very powerful.
  6. Location: If you’re a travel brand with a strong high-street presence, then keep in mind the value of engaging local influencers to drive footfall into key stores.

Sophie Coley, audience strategy director, Propellernet

This article originally appeared in The Drum Network Travel Special. For more information on how to get involved, please contact tehmeena.latif@thedrum.com

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.

Come on in, it’s free.

This isn’t a paywall. It’s a freewall. We don’t want to get in the way of what you came here for, so this will only take a few seconds.