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Frank Belzer

. Mar 24 . 2 min read

Yes, Brands Can Avoid Embarrassing Collaborations with Influencers.

Maybe you recall this news story from 2017. Disney, a very family focused vacation brand, had partnered with an influencer named PewDiePie and after learning some unsavory things about him decided it was time to cut ties.  The story was big news because the disparity between the brand and the influencer was so disparate and extreme- everyone was asking "how could they have partnered with someone who is so out of alignment with their brand persona?"

The short answers is that in the world of influencers and public figures the process for vetting has been difficult if not impossible.  The reality is that they probably felt they were aligning perfectly with their audience and their brand when they made the selection and contracted with PewDiePie.  It was only after this fiasco that the skeletons started falling out of the closet. 

The big challenge for any of us in the tourism and travel business, is that influencers are probably the best was to get your message across.  We do not just market and sell a simple product, it is a complex and detailed experience, and they require stories that are delivered with some passion to move the needle.  Nobody is better at relating the scope of the experience, the excitement of the destinations and the feel of a resort.  There is also a long-held belief that influencers can better target the right audience, the right segment and the right tribes.  But as the Disney news story illustrates most of that information is usually based on gut feel or a recommendation from an agency that is basing their choice of influencer on their gut feel.  Had the known ahead of time about these extremely negative associations would they have proceeded anyway? Obviously not. 

So there sits the conundrum, the Gordianknot of modern marketing for travel and tourism.  We on one hand need to utilize influencers to reach the right people and convey the depth of our offering but at the same time we face numerous risks when we operate based on feel and not data.  And by the was, being associated with racist commentary is only of of those risks there are a plethora of others.  Many of these additional risks do not involved the big scandal of the PewDiePie story however they can be just as negative.  When selecting an influencer have you ever wondered:

  • How many of their followers are real followers?
  • How many of their followers are engaged?
  • How often do they use profanity?
  • Who are their typical followers?
  • Where are most of the followers located?
  • What age are the followers?
These are just some of the surface questions that when push comes to shove no agency can provide any concrete answers on, no hard data.  They will however answer the questions, it will just not be verifiable.  It will be based on what the influencer says they describe themselves or from having an intern review some of their most recent social traffic and content.  Contrast that approach with the data point below taken out of a real Kyndex report:

Now since we started this post by discussing the potential risk for a Brand using an influencer. This represents just one data point out of many on the Kyndex report. The Brand Safety Dashboard would have allowed a Brand like Disney to prevent any association with an influencer that not only did not fully represent their brand but actually represented the very opposite. 


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