This November, I’ll be giving a keynote Q & A at the mbt Meetingplace in Frankfurt (20th of November) and Munich (27th of November) regarding a highly popular topic in the MICE industry: influencer marketing. Consumer brands use influencers to tap into their target audience, usually the young and tech-savvy demographics, but the MICE industry has been slower to adapt. To prepare for the talks in November and give you a little teaser, I was interviewed by Michael Heipel on behalf of the mbt Meetingplace regarding the topic. It was a Facebook live interview in German, so here I provide you with an English translation of our Q & A. I couldn’t resist and added a few more comments to the original interview!
In some industries, influencers can no longer be avoided in order to reach target groups. What is the situation in the MICE industry?
In general, event suppliers (convention bureaux, venues, DMCs etc.) can also reach their relevant target audience of buyers in the MICE industry without influencer marketing, for example through Hosted Buyer Programs and Familiarisation (FAM) Trips. However, adding influencer marketing can help the suppliers reach larger audiences and generate higher revenue in the longer term. Additionally, influencer marketing in the MICE industry can strengthen the message and is a great way to complement traditional sales and marketing channels, such as the two mentioned above. By integrating influencers’ pre -, during and post online event coverage, it can help the brand extend event duration and event life cycle.
Very important is also to look at the demographic side, as more and more younger people spend time on social media. For example, according to my analytics, 46% of my Instagram followers are between 25 and 34 years old. This is a very important audience that will be among the decision-makers in the next few years. Hosted Buyer Programs and FAM Trips will continue to exist. However, people will discover a destination or an event first via the online channels, and by being present online, influencers can create a desire to travel to or attend an event already early on.
What tips do you have to find the ‘right’ influencers?
In my opinion, the best way to look for and contact influencers is on social media. The brand can start the search for suitable influencers at trade events via the event hashtag, or use a general industry hashtag, such as #eventprofs. After this preliminary selection, the brand should engage with the influencer on social media. This way, it can also get a good sense of whether that’s the right influencer for future collaboration.
Another good way is to ask friends and colleagues who they consider to be an influencer, and whom they follow online, or are ‘being influenced by.’
What is the best way to cooperate?
For cooperation with influencers, it always depends on the goal. In my opinion, long-term campaigns (four months and longer) are very effective because then the ‘message’ is repeated several times and covers multiple social media channels, thus reaching a wider audience.
As a result of the prolonged campaign, the brand can build a stronger relationship with the influencer community (the influencer’s own community is also growing month on month; therefore, the brand will be continually noticed by a new audience). Some examples of social media activities include: live event coverage, FAM-trip coverage, case studies, interviews, twitter chats and speaking engagements at events.
When is someone considered an influencer? What makes someone influential?
A digital influencer is someone who shares content on a daily basis on social media and is considered a trusted source of information. There is a distinction between someone who is influential in the events industry, with years of experience and a large network, but who is not active in the digital space, compared with someone who is a digital influencer, posting daily on social media channels, has a dedicated blog, vlogs etc. and has gained a loyal following and trust through social media. In my opinion, a social media influencer in the MICE industry has to bring a combination of all the following elements: have solid industry experience, be well connected with a strong network offline and be actively online on a daily basis on their social media channels and blog. After all, MICE is a face-to-face business, and therefore online engagement must drive offline sales to be successful.
What do you think about influencers who have a big following but their community is not engaged?
Don’t be put off if the community is not engaged enough because there are other ways to find out whether the following is authentic and relevant. In general, it takes time to grow an engaged online community, especially in the business-to-business (B2B) area, and very often, many people are passively consuming content online. Brands can use online tools to check whether the followers are real or to spot irregular behaviour (high number of followers in just a few days, massive follow/unfollow activity etc.). The two tools that can provide these insights are Social Blade and Twitteraudit.
When the followers are genuine, the brand should check manually who the followers are, who likes the photos and who comments on those photos. Are these followers your target audiences? Equally important is not only who engages in the Influencer’s profile, but who the influencer engages with on other profiles or in industry groups. Don’t hesitate to ask for screenshots of engagements and demographics. And lastly, apply common sense. If something is unclear in the online performance, ask for clarification.
How important is the mbt Meetingplace for you? What are you looking forward to?
It will be my first time attending the mbt Meetingplace, so I’m very excited about it. In addition, I know from several colleagues that they are also attending, so that we can meet again and catch up on our news. I further plan to listen to some of the other education sessions, and learn about the various topics.