If you go on vacation and didn’t post a #selfie, did it really happen?
User-generated content (UGC) in the travel industry is a "goldmine hidden in plain sight," says Adweek. In fact, social content influences travelers’ destinations more than any other type of advertising. For this reason, travel businesses need to shift their marketing focus towards UGC.
Sharing user-generated content on your social networks is one thing; using your guests’ social content strategically is the real challenge. How can travel marketers maximize the impact of their customer photos? Social media influencers are about to become your best friends.
Brand influencers play a key role in the distribution and dissemination of UGC. With hundreds of thousands (and even millions) of engaged followers, influencers enable brands to reach audiences worldwide.
In this post, we’ll explore the ways influencer marketing can help your travel brand reach millennial customers.
1. Reach Millennials through visual channels
Travel is all about immersing yourself in a culture and landscape that is aesthetically striking and different from yours. Storytelling through compelling visual content lends itself to capturing the allure, emotion, and first-hand experiences of traveling.
Visual content-sharing platforms Instagram and Snapchat are the most important social channels for travel brands, says travel influencer Drew Binsky of The Hungry Partier. It’s about letting travelers tell their unique stories – through personal photography on Instagram; and through live, unedited video content on Snapchat. Drew's Snapchat shares his experiences from city to city in a way that is authentic and engaging for his millennial-aged followers. His photos inspire them to visit new destinations. Snapchat is already the #3 social app among millennials, and Drew predicts that “in the next three years, [it] will become the single most important marketing tool for the travel industry.”
2. Create more authentic marketing
Studies show that 92% of customers trust online content created by peers above all other forms of advertising, and this is especially true in the travel industry. Millennials now look to their favorite bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers, and YouTubers for their next travel inspiration, rather than traditional advertising.
Factor in that a brand recommendation from an influencer carries more weight than a celebrity endorsement, and you will see why so many travel businesses are partnering with influencers to boast their destinations’ allure and strengthen their value proposition.
3. Save on content creation costs
The good news is social media influencers want to work with your brand just as much as you want their endorsement. Influencers are constantly seeking to grow their audience through positive publicity- and partnering with reputable companies is the smartest way to achieve this.
A popular tactic is for brands to collaborate with an influencer to do a social media takeover. For example, Drew has done “Snapchat takeovers” for Yahoo and TripIt, where he posts his own travel content on the company’s Snapchat story for one day. The outcome is mutually beneficial: an influencer’s trusted content validates a company’s brand, while generating publicity and recognition for the influencer.
So how can you incentivize influencers to partner with your travel brand? Give them rewards other than cash and they’ll be more than happy to work with you. Spokesperson roles, brand ambassadorships, and other PR opportunities legitimize an influencer’s reputation while growing their audience. Add to that to the costs you’ll save on ad spend, and you’ve scored a real win-win!
What’s your next step?
User-generated content is a powerful marketing tool in the travel industry. The question is no longer whether businesses need to use social content, but how to maximize the impact of this content.
Social media influencers have a large hold on where millennials travel. If your brand has the resources, partner with notable travel influencers to validate and strengthen your brand. If resources are limited, tap into the valuable social proof from everyday influencers.
Still stuck on how to leverage influencer marketing for your brand? Our marketing strategists at Pixlee [now Emplifi] are here to help guide your UGC campaign. Request a Demo below and we will get you started.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on pixlee.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.