In the age of influencers, it can be hard for destinations and attractions to figure out how to capitalize on this trend. Local influencers are existing members of your community that have built an audience and thought-leadership around your destination – they’re the best brand ambassadors you may not know yet. Being a community member provides an advantage; there’s no cost to host them, nor do you have to spend as much time on education. Working with them provides a unique opportunity to speak to an audience that is interested in what you have to offer but may not follow you. Cultivating this relationship starts with knowing how to find local influencers.
How to find local influencers
Identifying influencers in your community can feel like the biggest hurdle to overcome. First, define what an influencer means to your organization- is it 2,500 followers? 5,000? 10,000? Is it important for them to be on multiple channels, or is Instagram enough? Once you’ve figured this out, the search begins.
- Search by top posts on Instagram. Look under “places” to find geotagged locations, or “tags” to search by your own hashtags or similar/relevant hashtags.
- Google them. There’s a good chance your local news has covered one or more influencers in your area. The search results for “Rochester NY influencers” yields lists of influencers in the area from aggregating websites and local news channels, reddit threads and more.
- Use influence.co to filter by location, number of followers, platforms, reach and more.
- Ask around! Who do your coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family follow in the area? What do they like about them?
- Look at your own followers. As a destination or attraction, local influencers may already be following you!
Also consider local groups or individuals that may be part of your target market and have influence or clout in the community. A networking group of executives? Maybe a foodie group exists or craft beer club. Keep the search going on Facebook, LinkedIn and Meetup – all popular sites for getting together.
Starting the conversation
Cultivating a relationship is key to any partnership and influencers are no different. Start the conversation by supporting their work or letting them know how much you appreciate what they’re doing for the destination.
- Engage with their work. Like or comment on their posts to show support for what they’re doing. Make sure that your comments are genuine and valuable- not repetitive or canned. This added engagement is good for their metrics, so it’s win-win.
- Repost their photos (with permission!). Comment or DM them and ask to share their work. Most influencers are happy to share and show their work to a new audience. These photos, videos, or blogs are great user-generated content (UGM) for your channels.
- Send them a message. A short and sweet note that says how much you love the work they’re doing in the area is all it takes. Everyone likes to be recognized!
- Send them destination swag. A branded pen, notebook, or reusable bag is a great way to show your appreciation. You might even get a post out of it!
Once you’ve initiated a conversation, the next step is showing them how you can add value to their content and audience. An influencer’s brand is themself, so authenticity is key above all else. They want to provide value to their audience in the same way you do. Offering them something exclusive or special is a great way to do this. For groups and other individuals in the community, it’s still about value and often about content, too.
- Ask them to do a takeover of your blog or social channels. A guest post or day-in-the-life creates variety for your content and pulls in a new audience.
- Invite them to an event as a special guest. If you’re attending a festival, celebration, or exclusive event, consider adding them to your invite list. Any kind of special showing or behind-the-scenes peek is great content for their channels. Maybe it’s a soft opening of a new restaurant, backstage tour at a concert, or VIP area at a festival.
- Take them on a mini-FAM. They already do a great job promoting the area, but you know it better than just about anyone else. What hidden treasures can you show them they may not be aware of?
- Cultivate a partnership. What opportunities for an ongoing partnership can you offer? You can offer value to them through the platform you provide, payment, or whatever works best for you. They can offer authentic reviews, a different perspective and a fresh audience. Examples include:
- Speaking at a local event
- Producing a video series highlighting things to do around your city
- Partnering with a stakeholder to host a VIP event
Curious to learn more about working with influencers? Check out our Influencer Marketing eBook, with 30 pages of tips, tricks and advice based on our experience.