How to Evaluate the ROI of a Hotel Social Media Influencer
These days, hotel marketers are inundated with requests for complimentary accommodations, meals and more from self-dubbed social media “influencers,” promising to expose properties to the influencer’s “network of followers.”
NB: This is an article from Tambourine
As tempting as it may be to jump on every opportunity that presents itself, it’s a much better idea to spend some time investigating these self-anointed gurus and the actual ROI of working with influencers, then make informed decisions on which requests to approve.
Above all, always remember: Influencer marketing is not the end-all, be-all solution to every one of your marketing needs. It’s simply one channel, and as such, it should be evaluated the same way you evaluate all other hotel marketing channels.
To begin your analysis, experts explain that one must first consider the goal(s) of the partnership and the corresponding metrics for those objectives.
“It should be goal-oriented. Consider what your goals are, and exactly how you’ll define success,” said Tom McDermott, director of content marketing at Tambourine. “If it’s brand awareness, then there will be different KPIs. If it’s engagement, it’ll be different. Is it revenue? That’s an entirely different KPI. It’s important to determine what your goals are and then have measurable KPIs for those goals.”
To that end, here are the four main goals of most hotel influencer programs, as well as the most meaningful KPIs for each, to consider when measuring success:
KPI: Cost Per Booking
If driving bookings/revenue is your main goal in partnering with social media influencers, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.
Influencer marketing is typically a top-of-funnel tactic best suited for raising brand awareness.
“If your goal is revenue, you shouldn’t be doing influencer marketing,” said McDermott. “For example, the inability to link from Instagram doesn’t allow you to send users to a booking engine to take or track immediate action. Also, these posts aren’t reaching users at the point of decision. So, if you’re looking for revenue from these posts, you’re going to be hugely disappointed.”
In most cases, a much better approach for generating real revenue through social media is through paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram strategically directed toward the bottom- to mid-funnel users.
“If your goal is revenue, why are you wasting time at the top of the funnel?” said McDermott. “You’ve got to go aggressive against the OTAs, with offer-driven promos powered by social ads. There’s a whole different methodology to that. The point of measuring these campaigns is to determine when they’re useful and when you should be using them.”
2. Brand Awareness
KPIs: Impressions and Reach
If driving brand awareness through partnerships with social media influencers is your goal, start by determining your CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions). For example, if you paid (or comped) an influencer $500 for a post, and you received 50,000 impressions in turn, your CPM was $10.
“You can determine, based on how much you paid for that influencer—whether that’s how much you gave away at the hotel bar for them to take pictures, or how much you paid to have them physically come and stay at your hotel—then you can come up with a cost per impression,” explained McDermott.
From there, compare that result to the average CPM of your other marketing channels, so you can then make decisions on where to best place your marketing dollars and determine if influencers are a reasonable amplifier to you optimal business mix.
“The only way to really know if the CPM is good or bad is to compare it to your other advertising/media investments,” said McDermott. “Then you can start to at least say where it falls in your media mix and how well is it performing. That’s an important piece when looking at brand awareness.”
KPIs: CPE (Cost Per Engagement) and ER (Engagement Rate)
Another potential goal of some hotel social influencer programs is engagement, which measures the public shares, likes and comments that influencers (and specific posts) receive. Measuring that begins with determining CPE, or cost per engagement; so, if your hotel spent/comped $10,000 on influencer marketing and received 10,000 engagements in return, the cost per engagement is $1.
“With influencer marketing on Instagram, hotels are not getting a lot of web traffic from this, because there are no outbound links on the influencers’ organic content,” said McDermott. “You’re really limited to your engagement KPIs. That’s a real hurdle for attributing actual revenue.”
CPE is particularly useful for comparing influencer investments with your other hotel social media campaigns, especially when contrasted with engagement through paid hotel social advertising campaigns through your own social channels.
“For a lot of hotels, when they start to compare influencers to their other marketing investments, they’ll be surprised at how their own marketing efforts are outperforming these influencers,” said McDermott. “You have to identify really clear KPIs and hold influencers accountable; otherwise it’s a mystery box.”
4. Quality Content
KPI: Cost Per Asset
A fourth and final primary way to measure ROI from social media influencer campaigns is to quantify the value of content that your hotel can use in the future to market the property, such as unedited photos and video. In some cases, an influencer may be able to provide high-quality images and other assets that would be more difficult and/or expensive to create via other photographers/videographers.
To evaluate an influencer partnership from this perspective, consider how many fresh assets the hotel will acquire from the influencer, and then determine the resulting cost per asset.
“If the influencer is generating quality content, even if they have low engagement, they still might be worth working with, because you’re going to walk away with really interesting, fresh assets,” said McDermott. “If that was your goal going in, that should be your goal coming out, too. Assign a dollar amount to the number of assets you acquired and see if that makes sense in the context of your overall hotel marketing budget.”