Influencers and thought leaders – digital peer pressure.

For South African destinations, Influencer marketing can be cost effective. However, it’s important as with all marketing relationships, to be clear on expectations so that both parties gain value from the relationship. As more and more establishments gravitate towards this form of collaborative marketing, it’s important for boutique products with smaller inventory and budgets to keep key points in mind to ensure a good fit.


You can all relate to the email which lands in your inbox stating it’s your lucky day because Online Influencers will be in your region and would love to come and stay. Best of all they’ll be sharing their experience with 120K followers!

Sounds just peachy! Right? And so you scramble around getting everyone’s opinion on whether this is a good idea, but do you really know for sure? You have a quick browse through their online profiles, check the quality of their Instagram photos and then make a ‘hopeful guess’.

Have you considered the following?

  1. Are those 120K followers within your target audience? They may have high engagement but is your content/product relevant to them.
  2. Does this targeted exposure fit within your greater marketing plan
  3. Are those all GENUINE followers (yes we know they have pretty profile pics) read here.
  4. Do their voice and brand align with yours?
  5. What type of reach are you after? Drive traffic to your website / increase online followers / increased mentions.
  6. Do you know what type of feedback other properties have had from that Influencer’s visit? What are your measurables?
  7. Can the Influencer supply key statistics to help guide your decision making – this includes website statistics, examples of past campaigns, referrals from other establishments.
  8. Do you have a document in place outlining your key expectations, social media handles, relevant hashtags?
  9. Will the Influencer know who to contact with queries? Have you provided them with fact sheets or relevant info? This ensures accurate information is shared on instant platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
  10. Can you afford to allocate peak season nights in a small boutique establishment for Influencers? If not, consider having them stay over your Winter period, or put together an attractive Mid-week offering. The reality is that some bloggers, even the impressive sounding internationals, cancel. They get another offer or change their itinerary, and it could mean you’re left with empty bed nights. Be clear on your expectations and availability.
  11. Influencers have a set style, tone and approach when dealing with their audience. When they report back on your brand, remember that it will be through their filter. This is what their audience loves about them, and why they engage. Do not expect an Influencer to merely regurgitate your press release or deliver your marketing message in your tone. You need to be comfortable that you are engaging with them with the understanding that it is their view that will make up the content shared. Legitimate influencers will share content in a professional manner, sensitive to the establishments they visit.

It takes years and lots of hard work to build a genuine audience. An engaged audience within a key demographic holds great value, and this is where the exchange comes in. If you are expecting to tap into the hard earned audience of an influencer and expect them to generate favourable content- they need to be compensated. You want these online ambassadors to feel valued and rewarded for their work.

  1. Trade exchanges are great, and there are many online Influencers who are happy to work as part of a full or partly bartered agreement.
  2. Professional influencers and travel bloggers – this is their day job, and as such may request a fee for their services. There is, however, a fine line between paying for their time and paying for their endorsement. Creating a sense of paid endorsements contradicts what you are trying to achieve, and transparency is key here. If they blog about your lodge, a good practice is to state that their trip/stay was compensated.

The Influencer is taking the time to research you before approaching your establishment, do the same before you reply. Go through the steps and ensure you’ll be a great fit for each other. Read some of their past blogs, ask for information if you need it and be sure you understand what both expectations are. A good resource to start engaging with the right influencer is through an influencer facilitation service such as:

A good resource to start engaging with the right influencer is through an influencer facilitation service such as:


Smart Octopus:


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