Northern Ireland is a prime tourism destination, filled with many beauty spots and lots of local charm. Whether it be a city break, a staycation or a road trip – there’s so many travel opportunities that Northern Ireland has to offer.
But how can we get inspiration for our next adventure? Often, people look to social media sites, the main one being Instagram.
Instagram is visual-led, with image squares holding so much power and influence over decisions and plans. When it comes to travel, many people seek out their favourite travel influencers for information and inspiration.
In Northern Ireland, you can expect travel bloggers to give you the best food establishments, Instagram-worthy backdrop spots, and their honest recommendations. If you’re a travel and tourism business, these influencers are a great way to leverage both online traffic and footfall.
But who are the best? In this blog, we have tallied up our top 4 best travel influencers that you can find in Northern Ireland.
Conchur Moore – @documentbelfast
Conchur’s blog Document Belfast covers the best places, stories and history within Belfast. Conchur’s posts include a mixture of his own content and user generated content, where other people use the hashtag ‘#DocumentBelfast’ in the hope to get featured on his page. This gives every visitor and resident of Belfast the chance to have their unique content seen. Plus, it shows the best of Belfast in many different lights.
NI Explorer is a free, independent, online resource to help individuals create their own adventures in Northern Ireland. The blog is focused on idea and story sharing, covering everything from road trips, experiences, events, outdoors, walks, wildlife, dogs, short breaks, arts and culture, food and drink – and just about anything that leads to great memories.
NI Explorer also works with other bloggers and local businesses, enabling them to feature on its dedicated ‘Guest Adventurers’ blog series. In this, readers get a detailed insight into what is offered in Northern Ireland, from a range of viewpoints.
Francesca McKee – @frans_travels
Fran’s Travels is a travel, lifestyle and fashion blog, where she showcases her immaculate outfits in front of Northern Ireland’s best backdrops. On her blog, you’ll find pro travel tips, and an endless list of countries she’s visited, along with information on her experience and recommendations.
Francesca is also gluten-free and has a handy list of Belfast’s best gluten-free cafes, restaurants, takeaways and bars. She has worked with a number of different travel and tourism businesses, including Mullins Ice Cream and Coca Cola.
Insta NI is a group-owned blog that focuses on showcasing the beauty and talent of Northern Ireland, with its own hashtag ‘#Insta_NI’ to feature user generated content.
Ran by Sasha Ferguson, Naid Kelly, Stephanie Wiggans and D. Sheppard, the girls offer tips, opinions and suggestions of where to visit in Northern Ireland. They also manage the hashtag: ‘#Insta_NIDogs’, featuring great places in NI to take your dog.
By collaborating with one or even all of these travel influencers, you can share your expertise and insights to inspire others to visit your business in Northern Ireland. There’s many opportunities available, like guest blogging, or even inviting an influencer to enjoy the experience you provide. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll be sure to put your business on the map thanks to influencer marketing.
Everyone knows that we are living in the age of social media, or rather to say, an age where social media connects almost all of us in some ways. When you hear the words ‘social media’, it brings many different connotations with it; the negative effects it can have in the worst scenarios, the big companies behind the apps, the sheer number of people who use social media every single day. However what we don’t tend to think about so much is the power of social media as a set of marketing tools that can be invaluable for businesses of any size. This article will explain how exactly social media can be used in this positive way, and how influencers are a key part of this process.
What Is An Influencer?
It’s likely you’ve heard of social media influencers, but you may be wondering at this point who they are and what exactly they do. There is actually no one definition of what an influencer is, but essentially we can say that on social media they are someone who exerts influence over their ‘followers’ to encourage a certain type of behaviour in them. This can mean anything from product placement and generating sales, to trendsetting and circulating new fashions. A social media influencer is someone who has both the power to change the purchasing decisions of their followers, and a good deal of knowledge and experience about the product or experience they are trying to promote. Often, their power to change their audience’s habits comes from having a relationship with that audience, and this is usually through prior knowledge of the influencer (celebrity/ someone who is familiar through culture), by engaging with the followers, or a combination of these methods.
Another feature that might define a social media influencer is that their following will be in a specific area, relating to their own expertise or career. For example, a famous athlete’s followers will be made up of people who share in this interest, and so their influencing capabilities will be particularly potent in the marketing of sports products or brands. So you can see that social media influencing is all about matching the advertiser’s expertise to the audience.
It is also important to remember that a high number of social media followers does not automatically equate to audience influence and influencer status. There are many other considerations and signifiers as to whether a person is influencing their audience’s behaviours. This might come down to how many of their followers actually follow and share the links they post, engage with the pages and brands they promote, or use their discount codes for example.
This explanation of what an social media influencer does is actually contrary to the common use of the word ‘influencer’, which people often use to describe people with many followers, who document their everyday lives and occasionally advertise lifestyle products such as clothes, makeup and brands they themselves use. It is true that this generates sales for these companies, however this is not the essence of influencing. A true social media influencer is someone who actually engages with their followers and has a decent level of expertise on the product area.
Celebrity status or familiarity with wide audiences is often confused for true influencer status on social media. For example, a reality tv star may have millions of followers, but if she/he does not engage with them, or promote brands and products that would actually appeal to those followers, they might not be influencing any consumer habits at all and therefore, they are not true influencers. People are more likely to take advice and make decisions from influencers who have more expertise, as this is easier to trust.
So, the key points you need to remember about who influencers are and what they do:
Expertise and experience in the products they are promoting
Specific following – doesn’t necessarily have to be large!
Engagement with their followers
The Influence Market
Social media influencers are essentially the advertisers within a specific market, and this specific type of social media marketing is known as influence marketing. Essentially, the influencers endorse products, also known as testimonial advertising. Social influence is a very useful tool for brands and companies because it can be used to make trends and encourage influencer’s followers to buy their products. Brands often love to use social media influencers to market their products as social media is such a widely used platform, and many people will see the influencers’ endorsements.
It is useful to think of this market as a straightforward advertising market. We can see that the companies who make use of social media influence are the product providers and that the social media influencers are essentially their own advertising agencies. Of course, the bigger the following they have, the more likely it is that a social media influencer will actually have their own agent who will negotiate any marketing deals for them, however the smaller ones are less likely to. Therefore, we can say that this is a fairly straightforward market once you understand that the product that is being paid for is the influencer’s expertise and their engagement with their audience. The aim of the brand is that these will equate to more sales for them and more engagement with their own company.
How big is the influence market?
Considering that an amazing 3.5 billion people globally actively use social media and growing, it is safe to say that the influence market is equally exponential and already considerably large. The influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth an incredible 15 billion dollars by 2022, showing that it is very much an up and coming area of growth in the online world. This is one of the fastest areas of growth on social media, and there is much evidence that suggests businesses get a very high level of return on investments they make into this process. It is also worth noting that Instagram is generally seen as the social media platform that social influence is most successfully conducted on.
Another particularly compelling statistic is that over 92% of people turn to someone they know when they need advice. Nowadays of course, when we follow someone online and engage with all their material, it is easy to think that we know them somehow, and we are much more likely to take advice from them than a complete stranger. This has led to a situation where most people’s behaviour is influenced at least a small amount when they spend time on social media, even if they are not aware of it. Naturally this means that across the industry there is a considerable opportunity for people to be influenced in their consumer trend behaviour.
What does this mean for small businesses?
For a small business or company who hasn’t used influencers before, there are a few things to bear in mind when thinking about approaching one for a marketing opportunity.
Firstly, there are many different types of social media influencer. They can be categorised by number of followers for example: mega, macro, micro and nano influencers. It is worth remembering that micro influencers can actually be more influential than macro influencers since they reach a very niche and engaged set of followers when they post product endorsements.
It is also important to note that these individuals are not merely marketing tools, but rather social relationship assets with which brands can collaborate to achieve their marketing objectives
Yet another thing to consider is the fact that you will need to make sure the influencer you choose to approach aligns with your business values and ethos. This is a vital step in making sure the branding and messaging to your audiences is not confused or compromised by someone else’s values.
These are just some of the ways in which influencers can be a useful tool to businesses, and are a connecting presence on social media. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how social media influencers can connect a brand to new audiences, and what exactly the social influence market is. You should also be able to see now that social media can be a fantastic tool for businesses and small companies when it comes to consumer influence.