Throughout the previous four years there have been two perennial questions we have been asked:
Can a SME travel organisation like ours really benefit from working with travel bloggers?
If so, how should we choose the right travel blogger for our projects?
Working with travel bloggers presents a travel SME with a unique, cost effective marketing opportunity which provides a multitude of benefits. Such as an increase in brand engagement online, brand awareness, effective content marketing and perhaps more importantly an increase in bookings or visitors.
Throughout our five travel blogger conferences and three year partnership with World Travel Market, we have proven this through a series of industry leading panel discussions and talks.
Proving that it works is no longer the challenging task it once was. The greater challenge for travel SMEs now lies in choosing the right travel blogger for their project, and in turn their brand.
Your marketing campaign
1. Clear objectives: Have a clear understanding of your campaign and the objectives you want to achieve. This is crucial in order to provide a strong foundation when planning any blogger project.
2. Structure: Is the blogger project part of a multi-channel campaign or is it a standalone activity in it’s own right? This could effect certain decision and choices surrounding social media amplification, engagement and promotion that you ask the bloggers to provide. For example, is there to be a standardised hashtag used?
3. Establish your blogger goals:
What do you want from the blogger/s?
Should they focus on pre or post trip coverage?
What about real time coverage during their trip?
What content do they need to produce?
Do they need to create photos or videos and if so, how are they to be used?
Will they only be used on the bloggers site and their social media accounts? Or will your organisation need to use them too? If so, where?
How many articles do they need to write?
Your answers will have an obvious impact on the project’s budget, they also make finding the blogger that bit easier.
Where to find the bloggers
4. Social networking events: Travel bloggers can be found at free networking events like Travel Massive and TBU Socials. Those present are often from the travel trade and related digital/social media practitioners. Travel bloggers are also always there too.
5. Twitter: Use the search facility to find those using particular terms or hashtags that are important to you. eg Luxury Travel Blogger or #luxurytravel. If you use a dashboard like Hootsuite you can create streams that automatically track a search term or a list that you curate. You might like to create a list of luxury travel bloggers and just follow their activity online to see if any fit your brand?
6. Facebook: There are a multitude of groups on Facebook with travel bloggers, with some that are open but you may find that most are “closed” and who in turn require you to join before you can post or interact. It might be an idea to read the about page for any guidelines to being a member of that group. Some groups are more general in nature, whilst some focus on a particular niche or demographic.
7. Pinterest: A cursory search for the term “travel blogger” on Pinterest brings up a mass of results, with the option for you to filer results by individual “pins”, “boards” or “pinners”. It might be worth trying the boards option on Pinterest.
8. World Travel Market: The presence of travel bloggers at WTM is now well established, after what is now a four year collaboration with TBU. The are typically a variety of resources and opportunities to connect with travel bloggers, from 3 – 4 networking evening events to online opportunist to promote your stand or client as being “blogger friendly”.
9. Travel blogger conferences: Travel blogger conferences are an ideal opportunity for you to meet with multiple travel bloggers in a relaxed, professional environment that lends itself to collaboration. They provide you with the chance to sit down and meet with influential bloggers that can benefit your business and potentially work on your project.
Determining blogger credibility & suitability
Having clear objectives, a coherent structure and blogger goals help you when determining a bloggers suitability for your project.
You know your business better than anybody and you should trust your gut instincts when selecting bloggers to work with.
10. Dig deep: Once you have chosen a blogger you wish to consider, start out by just following them online.Try a quick google search to see if any complaints or negative connotations arise for that blogger.
11. Look at their blog: Do you like the look and feel of the blog? Your brand will primarily be represented on here, so does it fit your brand? Would your target audience also read the blog? Is the design of sufficient quality?
12. Check their writing style: In the same way as the look and feel of a blog, does the the writing style match your brand? Are there any curse words or phrases that would be a big NO NO for you? Is correct grammar employed and are there any spelling mistakes? Sometimes mistakes are not necessarily a problem. Readers appreciate the authenticity a blogger provides and a small number of mistakes can add to this.
13. Follow the blogger online: Pay attention to their Facebook page, does their appear to be a lot of engagement? Are many people liking, commenting and sharing their updates? This is important to check as this could be your brand that users are (or are not) engaging with. Similarly with Twitter, are you comfortable with how the blogger engages with their followers? Is there anything said that is contentious?
14. Media Kit: Does the blogger have an easily accessible media kit that can be download or at the very least requested by email? This is a resource that can save you a lot of time. It should tell you more about the blog by including:
– site stats
– readership demographics
– previous case studies
Whilst large scale blogger campaigns may attract a lot of attention, I believe there are in fact more examples of bloggers working with smaller companies or a singular SME brand on a project.
It needn’t be left to large brands like G Adventures or social media savvy DMOs like Visit Britain to work with bloggers. There is no reason why a smaller brand like Haka Tours or Visit Cornwall couldn’t develop their own blogger campaign.