Growing Your Event Business with Social Media Influencers

Growing Your Event Business with Social Media Influencers

Andrea Broadman (not her real name) is a locally well-known event planner in a Midwestern city. She’s smart, popular, and active on social media. Shout-outs from her on Instagram can do for photographers, florists, and venues what an all-star quarterback’s endorsement does for Nike. Maybe even more.

Andrea is an influencer, and one of the reasons why influencer marketing has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Her 30,000 followers trust her and her recommendations. She won’t compromise that trust. But if you have a venue that she can honestly recommend, she’ll tailor your brand message to her followers and share it with them for a fee.

And many studies suggest that her fee is well-spent. Influencer marketing can generate 11 times more return on investment (ROI) than traditional marketing—meaning, it pays to find influencers to work with you on your next marketing campaign. But where can properties begin? Learn everything you need to know about growing your event-driven business with social media influencers below.

#1. Identify potential influencers

Influencers come in all sizes and varieties. Celebrity influencers can have millions of followers and cost lots of money. Nano influencers with specialized niches can have as few as 1,000 followers and cost a lot less, but have a very engaged following (lots of likes, comments, and shares relative to the size of their following).

We recommend you start your search for influencers on Instagram. With its emphasis on beautiful photography, video, and aesthetics, Instagram is the 800-pound social media gorilla in the event industry. Here’s how to begin:

Look at Who’s Already Following and Engaging with You on Instagram

If the same user frequently comments on your posts, they already have an affinity to your venue. If they’re tagging you on stories and their own posts, even better. These people are ready to share your message and brand story with their followers.

Look at Your Competitor’s Instagram Accounts

Identify the posts on their profile that are from influencers and see if that content aligns with your property’s brand. You’ll get a good idea of what they’re doing and how they’re working with influencers. You may also see that many of these influencers follow other venues as well. Event venues don’t necessarily compete in a zero-sum game. A good fit for a competitor may also be a good fit for you.

Let the Platforms Recommend Influencers

Find influencers whose brands align with yours and follow them. The platform will then suggest other profiles to follow. Many of those influencers, too, will align with your brand. Now check out their audiences.

It's worth noting that there are several third-party platforms that help you find influencers and manage influencer campaigns. Some like MightyScout, SocialBook, and Fohr can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. They’re ideal for large companies that work with dozens of influencers across dozens of campaigns, but not all event venues fit that bill.

#2. Narrow the list

After completing this preliminary research, you should have a list of influencer candidates. Now you’ll want to filter that list further to make sure your influencer budget is well-spent.

Make Sure Your Candidates are Verified and Have a Real Audience

Nobody has to tell you that there are a lot of spam bots on social media. Most real influencers have little blue checks next to their names. These assure users that the people who are posting are who they say they are. Verified influencers who meet your criteria are worth contacting. Influencers who don’t have the blue check, but have high engagement rates (see below) may also be worth contacting.

Make Sure The Influencers Have an Engaged Following

No matter how many followers someone has, they’re not an influencer unless those followers interact with their posts. Generally speaking, the smaller the following, the higher the engagement rate you want to see.

To calculate the engagement rate, look back over a month’s worth of an influencer's posts and count the total number of likes and comments they received. Then divide that total by how many followers they have. The result, expressed as a percentage, is your engagement rate.

For influencers with 10,000–50,000 followers, the engagement rate should be at least 2%. If you’re considering a nano-influencer with 1,000 followers or fewer, the engagement rate should be about 5%.

Do They Reflect Your Brand Values?

Charly Cheapo (another made-up name) may have lots of followers on every social media platform, but he’s not the right influencer to reach upscale couples sparing no expense for their dream event. Go back to your brand story and make sure the influencer’s image matches yours, and that their audience is one you want to target.

#3. Reach out to potential influencers

Everything you’ve ever heard about first impressions is especially true when you’re reaching out to influencers. Everybody knows who they are. They’re always getting spammed and are constantly on the lookout for bots. Also, they have reputations to protect and they’re not going to work with a brand that may not be a fit.

The best way to reach out to an influencer is through direct contact. That is email (if you know you have the right information), their “work with me” page on their website (if they have one), or (last resort) a direct message on the platform. Never reach out by commenting on a post—it can make you look like a bot.

Keep your message brief but informative. Here’s an annotated example of what a letter can look like. (The annotations are explained below the letter.)

Hi Influencer Name!

(1) My name is Sandy Smith and I’m the Social Media Manager for Grees Country Club. (2) We’re running a campaign this summer to help us promote the upgrades we’ve made to our ballroom. We’re looking to co-design pieces with 2-3 event influencers and believe you’d be a great fit. (3) We notice that you’ve worked with elegant event venues here in the Springfield area and are big fans of your content, especially your well-curated Reels. (4) I’d love to discuss what this paid partnership looks like in greater detail. (5) Let me know if you are interested and the best way to contact you.

Sandy Smith
Email address
Phone #

1. Introduce Yourself
The best influencers receive lots of letters like yours; they’re more likely to respect a direct, professional approach and know it’s an actual person reaching out.

2. Explain Why You’re Reaching Out
Be specific. Even if you haven’t worked out all the details of your campaign, let the influencer know there are or will be specifics, and that you’d like to work with them.

3. Why This Influencer
It’s not enough to say that you think the influencer is a great fit. Nor should you be using empty flattery. Demonstrate here that you’ve done your homework and recognize the unique talent or appeal that this influencer has.

4. Offer Payment
If it’s a paid opportunity, or if you are offering some complimentary services—like a room at your property—let them know. You will likely get a faster response.

5. Suggest Next Steps
Though you haven’t mentioned objectives, timelines, and rates in this note, don’t send this letter until you’re prepared to discuss this with them. And are prepared to negotiate.

How much should you be prepared to pay an influencer?

Influencers negotiate per-post prices based on any number of factors. You need to consider more than just how much money they charge per post. You need to be able to evaluate how much bang you get for your buck.

Follower Numbers and Engagement Rates
These are the two biggest factors in influencer rates. Often, influencers with smaller followings have higher engagement rates (percentage of followers who, like, share, or comment) than those with large followings. So, on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis, an influencer with 50,000 followers may cost more than a celebrity with millions. And still deliver a better ROI.

Creative and Production Costs
A video post will likely cost more than a carousel of photos. A carousel will cost more than a single post. Timelines and rights may affect fees. Most professional influencers also charge different prices depending on the platform, since each platform has its own challenges, audiences, and creator tools.

Paid Partnership or Brand Collaboration Tags
On Instagram you can include a paid partnership tag on an influencers post. If you are paying them for content, it’s best for them to include this, along with the #ad hashtag. Be sure to ask your legal department for the right guidelines. Also, you can ask your influencer to make the post a brand collaborative post by tagging your property’s profile as a collaborator. This will push the influencer’s post right to your property’s profile when it goes live. You will share the engagement, and likely generate more impressive numbers to share with your team!

Right now, the event industry is experiencing a post-pandemic boom, so influencers are in-demand. You may pay up to $500 per post for an influencer with around 1,000 Instagram followers, and $3000 per post for someone with up to 15,000 followers.

However, these numbers change all the time depending on the deliverables you want them to complete. The best way to negotiate is to talk to several influencers about their followings and engagement rates, and see what they each have to say. At that point, you’ll have the information available to make an informed decision.

To learn more about how ROH can help your property group or hospitality brand drive increased revenue, conversions, and collaboration, schedule a free demo.