#MICEInfluencers – the biggest trend of 2018?

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All trend predictions say that influencer marketing in the MICE industry is going to be big in 2018. Nothing new for leisure tourism, food, fashion and many other industries, but the MICE industry has still many question marks, some of which we aimed to answer at the recent #EventPlannersTalk Twitter chat about MICE Influencers.

I reached out to the global event community on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to suggest the topics they would like to discuss and got the most important and urgent questions that the industry wants to know.

This post is the collaborative effort of everyone who participated in the online discussion. I edited all the tweets to form them into an article and would like to thank everyone for their contribution! You can see all the individual tweets here.

How do you identify and qualify your true influencers? Via @DahliaElGazzar

This depends on the topic so first of all the company should make their research. They should look at what online conversation MICE influencers engage in and what content they have been generating or similar campaigns they have participated in – past experience is always a key indication of influencer’s capabilities. Influencers can be also identified by the content they produce along with the engagement with their audience.

Additionally, companies should look at who follows them and whether they have any industry rankings.

Sometimes, the distinction between social media influencer and opinion leaders or experts is not clear. These two groups create content for different reasons and generate different responses. Although some thought leaders and speakers can be social media influencers, very often influencers become speakers and recognised as thought leaders because of their influence.

Numbers are important, too. Companies should look at their social media following and quality of followers, demographics, what content they create, how often, organic engagement rates, on what online platforms they are active, do they have a blog or are they “micro-influencers” etc. Last but not least look at whether their tone matches the brand.

What is the added value of an influencer campaign for e.g. a destination? Via @goetze_kim

Influencers are storytellers and able to share their personal experience. This makes it easier to connect to a destination on a personal, peer-to-peer level via human experience in the digital age rather than via traditional marketing.

By engaging with MICE influencers, destinations can tap into their wider network, in a more cost effective way. Another way that influencers can create value is by creating new and original content for the destination and distribute it across their social media platforms, where it’s seen by their loyal community of followers. Furthermore they engage and educate their community about the destination.

Lastly, destination can benefit from their unique perspective in highlighting a different side of a destination and cutting through the noise with a trusted voice.

What kind of ROI can we expect from an influencer marketing campaign? Via @johnDmartinez

This will depend on the objectives, which can be anything from creating exposure to generating actual leads and sales. But, rather than ROI, brands should look at the Return on Engagement (ROE) instead. Not focusing on the investment but the experience. If the content is engaging it can spark a great reaction from the audience.

Influencers should be able to provide measurable data, closer audience interaction, content that the brand is able to repurpose and real and honest feedback. The ROI takes time to achieve, therefore the brand working with influencers should think long term, it doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes the ROI is hard to judge/ measure. Furthermore, long term campaign creates genuine influence and results rather than a one off short term activity. Further aspects to consider include how many influencers are involved in the campaign, influencers engagement rates and social media tools such as videos, blog posts, livestreams. These can all be measured… even in seconds!

What are the potential challenges around influencer marketing? Via @johnDmartinez

Because influencer marketing is new for the MICE industry, the potential customers need to be educated and embrace this new method of marketing. There is the fear of the unknown and therefore one of the biggest challenges is get a traditional audience to be on board with this. So here, convincing the bosses is one of the first challenges.

Most of the time an immediate ROI is expected and not everyone believes in long term gains. ROI can be hard to measure from influencer campaigns, but that doesn’t make them any less important or valuable!

The lack of endorsement of the input by the destination itself is also seen as a challenge – it is after all merely personal opinion by the influencer. The destinations have official stats, money and knowledge to back them.

Here, careful coordination on message and goals is needed and can’t have influencer and traditional marketing conflicting or competing for attention. Influencer marketing is a long game like traditional PR or marketing with ROI measured in impressions and engagement and shouldn’t be mistaken for a sales replacement. Convincing some of the established industry players who are comfortable with doing things the same and “traditional” way is still a challenge.

Another important challenge is avoiding the over commercialisation of influencer marketing in the event industry once it has become more established.

What are the requirements to the influencers? Do we need to make sure they have a specific education, background etc.? Via @EventAnne

Influencers should have experience, produce high quality content, have good quality of followers and big follower pool size and demonstrate use of varied technology tools.

Furthermore, they should have varied backgrounds to give different perspectives (each influencer can find their niche), a responsive audience, knowledgeable, interesting and informed content plus a whole lot of motivation to market the MICE sector as a voice of the industry. Background and experience in what they do is possibly very important. They should “walk the talk”, especially in the B2B sector, also must have multiple social media networks and able to create different pieces of content – text, images, video, long/ short form of content etc.

An influencer should have experience and knowledge of the industry that they are influencing otherwise that influence is not authentic and it can become more about reach/broadcast rather than engagement. Before engaging influencers, companies should have a checklist and do a reference to confirm if they have done anything like this before. Also discuss what happens after the event is over.

Some suggested that there are no qualifying factors, your audience trusting you is all you need.

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Is there a case study where an influencer campaign has worked for MICE? Via @Caleb_Parker

There are currently two campaigns we know of that took place this year. The first one is #BizinFrance conducted prior to IMEX where Atout France worked together with The MICE Blog and Eveos blog to promote their partner destination and increase attendance at their stand at IMEX.

The campaign is now complete and there are few lessons to learn from this campaign. Firstly, marketing budgets are moving from print and other forms of advertising to digital. Secondly, destinations are ready to give greater voice and freedom to their community to create content and the destination is happy to support and share this content across their channels. Lastly, working with influencers and conducting long term campaigns is an effective way to extend event life cycle (such as IMEX). These activities will increase reach and maximise the ROI of the trade-show spend and reach both online and offline audience.

Further insights can be found in this article by Skift.

The second campaign by Visit Denmark is called #EverythingIsCloser and was just launched at IBTM last week. The MICE Blog filmed a destination spotlight video to promote the message that everything is close and accessible in Denmark, and showcased some of the most unique and innovative venues in Copenhagen. You can watch the video below and learn about the campaign here.

Is event industry already recognising micro-influencers or are they still perceived as party crashers who are there for free stuff? Via @nakutaviciute

Just as the industry still hasn’t fully embraced content marketing, they haven’t embraced influencers as well. First we need to agree on the definition of micro – influencers. In the event industry, we work with all speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and even attendees of a certain event and they all have different level of influence. It is crucial for MICE influencers to embrace accountability and transparency because inevitably someone will try to take advantage and discredit legit influencers. If research is done to select the right influencer then the industry will be able to identify those who offer a professional input.

Influencers can be also segments into 5 categories:

1. Educators

2. Innovators

3. Networkers

4. Spammers

5. Fame-seekers

How can influencers join forces to create an even bigger influence so that people view it on a professional level and can maybe generate some rewards and even pay better? Via @SandeepRaiDrums

Influencer marketing in MICE is still in infancy stage and is lagging behind other industries, therefore, need to convince a lot in the industry. To change the sometimes negative mind-set influencers should work together and exchange knowledge at regular round table discussions and brain storm ideas. In fact, many already do this by amplifying each other’s voices. Later, some of these conversations about values and best practices could form the basis of an association to further advance this growing field.

On the other hand, do influencers really need to join forces? Real influence can be established with content that matters.

The advantage of influencers joining forces is the ability to create better quality and more content and compliment skills, e.g. photography, video, text etc. When influencers join forces the diversity of skills and topics will encourage professional development opportunities.

What are the top 3 things that require improving in the events industry and what can influencers personally do to positively influence that top 3? Via @AlanRNewton

Environmental sustainability, diversity (especially on industry panels) and tech adoption are just some of the topics influencers can support and champion/share examples of best practice. Furthermore, usage of event tech can be improved via influencers who encourage downloads and adoption. Having the marketing for new event tech come from an influencer gives it a human feel that encourages attendees to adopt the newer technologies quicker.

What’s the length of a campaign with an influencer that lets you gauge success? @NickBorelli

It can be anything from a few months to a year. Brands can’t expect instant ROI and it takes time. It also depends on the campaign objective and the activities involved. E.g raise awareness of a hotel/venue launch is a shorter term objective than attracting conference business to a destination.

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