Yikes… if you've not seen the recent situation between rising social media influencer Elle Darby and Paul Stenson, owner of Dublin’s the White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge. When Elle Darby decided to go on vacation, she reached out to several hotels she might be interested in staying at to see if they might provide a stay in trade for some publicity via her social media audience.
No one is asking for my two cents, but I want to provide it. I believe there's a takeaway for both Ms. Darby and Mr. Stenson:
- For Mr. Stenson – Ms. Darby is quite upset that she's not recognized for the work that she accomplishes online for her customers. I agree – people don't often find value in the work and that content providers do. Nor do people often recognize the length of time and effort it actually it took to reach any level of influence. Mr. Stenson didn't need to go public and attack Ms. Darby.
- For Ms. Darby – I've known and been friends with several inn owners. It's a thankless job where you work 7 days a week and are expected to provide 5-star service for what's sometimes 0-star income. Imagine working for years to acquire the place of your dreams only to be solicited over and over by people who want to trade hard work for exposure. While you recognize they have vastly underestimated the value you could provide them, I believe you may be undervaluing the effort they took to build their authority and credibility in their highly competitive industry.
Mr. Stenson appears to be doubling down on the opportunity to keep in the headlines, invoicing Ms. Darby for the media exposure to a tune of $6.5 million. Oh, and he's launched a line of clothing as well.
I don't believe this is a situation where the credibility of social media influence is in play or whether or not it's a credible industry. This is simply two parties that don't recognize the value of each other's offer. As both an influencer and a business person, I pitch and get pitched for engagements like this. My response isn't actually unique, but it continues to help my reputation. Here it is…
Yup… that's it. No feelings hurt, no invoices, no public exposure, no attack by the social justice warriors… just a simple, polite, response.
That said, I'm also not appearing in 114 articles across 20 countries.
My take on this is that Ms. Darby and Mr. Stenson may still want to go out and celebrate with one another, they've both gotten more than their value in publicity for their efforts. That said, I'm not sure that either party generated the empathy, respect, nor admiration they may be thinking they did. Judging the situation in hindsight, as I'm doing, is always easy so I'm not criticizing either party… just providing some feedback for influencers and hotels who might find themselves in similar situations.
Hotels and Influencer Marketing
The stats are pretty clear that influencer marketing can be quite effective for hotels. Rhythm One found that for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, $2.26 in earned media value was returned. Too further support Ms. Davis' offer, 63% of European consumers found that opinions posted online and recommendations were the two most acted upon formats when it comes to hotel stays[/button]
My personal approach to influencer marketing is quite different than most, but saves me from the situations above. My pitch to companies is this – let me put the word out there and then we'll see how it works out. With hotels, that's a bit different in that your stay was of expense to the hotel. Perhaps an agreement could have been put in place where Ms. Darby offered to pay for the stay – but wanted to inform them that she had influence in their industry. Then she could have offered a rebate or refund based on the response. Something like,
“The community I've developed over the years is pretty responsive to my updates and many of them are bound to vacation nearby your lodge. If you're interested, I'd love to write about my stay and if it generates additional business for you perhaps we can coordinate a discounted or free rate in the future. Goodness knows I'm always up for a stay in Dublin!”
Not hard at all, right? No harm, no foul… just an up front contract that sets expectations and asks for a response. And a “No, thanks.” is a totally appropriate response.
How does a Hotel Measure the ROI of Influencer Marketing?
This infographic from The Europe does a masterful job of helping Hotel Marketers understand the return, the process, and how to measure the impact of influencer marketing. Mr. Stenson may want take a look! After Ms. Darby posted, he could have waited a few weeks and compared the results to other marketing efforts he was paying for, closely watching:
- Engagement – the number of likes, comments, and replies with the influencer.
- Virality – how often the content was shared and re-posted.
- Followers – growth or acceleration in the number of followers after being mentioned.
- Occupancy – occupancy rates over time.
- Traffic – traffic to the hotel website.
- Reach – how many people total saw the post(s).
Disclosure: I received nothing for sharing this great infographic from The Europe! Nor have I been in touch with Ms. Darby or Mr. Stenson.