Top tips on leveraging influencer marketing

Founder of Word of MICE founder Mariska Kesteloo shares her tips on how to leverage influencer marketing ahead of a talk at IBTM World’s new immersive zone, IBTM Accelerate.

What can we expect from your ‘Influencers of MICE’ session during IBTM Accelerate?

Influencer marketing is a broad and reasonably new topic. A lot of people have heard or read about it, in relation to the Fyre Festival, for example, but using it in our sector on a B2B level isn’t yet as commonplace as it should be, and it’s something that can easily by misunderstood’ which is a pity. Education is needed and there’s no better way than to ask the influencers themselves why influencer marketing is so important with so much potential in our industry.

How would you explain influencer marketing and why does it have so much potential for the MICE industry?

Influencer marketing is all about sending the message from an expert point of view to your desired target audience through the right channels. Every day you can be in touch with your desired target audience; it’s not just one picture or one blog, but also video, teasers, podcasts and webinars. All activities, both online and offline, can be aligned with your strategic plan to reach your goals.

In short, influencer marketing helps you be and remain top of mind among your desired target audience. Our industry has so many unique opportunities to connect and interact with influencers. Influencer marketing is a strategic choice, which can be aligned with other marketing activities, mainly online but offline as well. Don’t forget a younger generation is entering the workforce with a totally different mindset to searching for and selecting venues and destinations.

What makes an influencer?

First of all, we are all influencers these days, there’s no doubt about it. We all influence our surroundings, but we are also influenced by others. The second thing is we have a lot of experienced people in our industry, with large networks, but who don’t necessarily ‘work’ as influencers.

Influencers are, in our definition, key opinion leaders (KOL) who have carefully built up their audience of followers, their experience and expertise within their niche. They are passionate experts who are on top of the trends and developments of social media and our industry.  These KOLs are in general above 30-years old and have worked hard for their status. Their background and experience can be very diverse and that’s what we need, because it reflects the fact that our industry is very diverse.

Why is the sector reluctant towards influencer marketing and how will this change in the near future?

The first reason is about control; suppliers only want to show the positive side of their destination or venue, which I completely understand. But that’s not the reality. At most events something goes wrong, right? It would be great to put a positive spin on this and show how suppliers would handle certain situations. I know this is challenging but it’s one of the things that event planners would appreciate, in combination with other topics like accessibility, capacity etc. A balanced view can make your message much more authentic and powerful.

And the second reason is data and measurement. Have you reached your desired target audience? Who are your ambassadors? How did your competitors do during your campaign? What were the comments on your posts and videos? These are just a few examples of a long list of questions that can give you valuable insights about your target audience and beyond.

Thirdly, there’s an underestimation of the knowledge and experience of the influencer. We still have a perception that influencers are having a great life, which is partly true! You must see the other side, it’s hard work and often seven days per week. It’s very intense and the salaries for now are extremely low.

What are your top tips to get the best out of this form of marketing?

Define your target audience and your goals. The more precise you are, the better you can measure the results and the success of your campaign. Being more specific also helps you find the right influencer.

Do your research. A mistake a lot of people make is to look at quanity but it’s more important to look at the quality of the followers that the influencer has. We don’t work with celebrities, we work with experts who have the right match with your desired target audience. Always check their profile and personality before you start.

Cost effective – B2B influencer marketing is still relatively affordable, but it will change soon. Take advantage now and be the first mover in your market.