If you’re interested in using travel influencer marketing to promote your business or destination but wary of the overhyped und under-tracked promises of Instagram influencers, I have an untapped opportunity for you:
Yeah, blogs are boring and old-school, but their results may be anything but. They can be surprisingly impressive. And impressive means impressions and impressions mean customers, which is what you want.
As we’ll see with a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, a blog post from an unknown site can quite possibly compete with (or even beat) an Instagram post by an established influencer with 100,000 followers.
It’s impressive stuff.
How Much is An Instagram Post Worth?
When you pay a travel influencer you’re buying their audience’s attention. The more of their attention you get, the more you can sell. So the question then is: how much attention are you really buying, and at what price?
Let’s do a quick calculation to find out.
The Value of the Post Itself
If you want an influencer with 100,000 followers to do a single sponsored post for you, you can expect to pay about $1,000.
That doesn’t get you 100,000 people’s attention, though. Because Instagram is so crowded these days, only about 30% of those followers (30,000 people) will ever have the post cross their feeds. And even if you manage to pick an awesome influencer with an audience that’s twice as active as average, only 5% of them, 5,000 people, will actually stop scrolling long enough to like or comment on the post. Hopefully, they’ll see your brand and not get lost in the scenery, bikini, food, or other distractions.
If we estimate these 5,000 people each spend on average 3 seconds liking or commenting on your post—and we also assume these are all real people and not bots—your $1,000 bought you 15,000 seconds of attention (5,000 ppl x 3 sec/ppl). That’s 250 minutes.
But that’s not all you get.
The Carry-Over Value
Of the 5,000 people who liked or commented on the post you paid for, some will click through to your own Instagram page. If 10% (500 people) do so, that would be a pretty rousing success.
And if you’ve got awesome content on your Instagram account (a big if), maybe 50% of them, 250 people, will decide to follow you. That’s great for you, because you no longer need to pay someone else for the attention of those 250 people. They’re “yours.”
Even so, they won’t see or engage with your every post. Let’s be generous and assume they engage with 20 of them. Again assuming 3 seconds per engagement, that means you get 60 seconds of attention per new follower. That means total carry-over attention of new followers you got from your travel influencer’s Instagram post is another 250 minutes.
The Total Instagram Post Value
When you add the 250 minutes of attention you got from your influencer’s post to the 250 minutes of carry-over attention, you end up with 500 minutes of attention.
And since you paid $1,000 for it, the effective cost of attention is $2 per minute.
Now let’s use this number to see what this means a blog post could be worth to you.
How Much is Being Featured in a Blog Post Worth?
Compared to an Instagrammer with 100,000 engaged followers, the blog I run with my girlfriend, The Unconventional Route, is nothing. We only have about 360 Instagram followers.
But even though we have 0.3% of your Instagram influencer’s following, when it comes to getting attention, we can put up a decent fight.
A decent but not cornerstone post of ours, say this one on 8 Only-in-Vancouver Dining Experiences, gets about 500 page views per month. And, according to Google Analytics, those viewers spend just over one minute skimming through the post on average.
A minute per viewer multiplied by 500 views per month… that’s 500 minutes of attention right there, the same as you got for your 100,000 follower Instagram post!
But wait a second…
Unlike the Instagram post you paid $1,000 for, our blog post isn’t 100% promoting any single brand. We recommend 8 places, so only 12.5% of the post would be about your brand. And if we remove the intro and conclusion, it’s less. Maybe 10%.
So you’re only really getting 10% of the 500 minutes, 50 minutes, specifically for your brand.
But wait a second…
That’s 50 minutes in one month.
Unlike Instagram posts, blog posts stick around for a long time, especially if they’re well written (like, ahem, ours are). In ten months, our blog post will match the 500 minutes of attention you got from your influencer with 100,000 followers.
It’s likely that traffic to the blog post will grow over time, especially if the site you work with is up-and-coming. So while our example blog post might get your brand the same attention as 100,000-follower Instagram post in 10 months, in the next 10 months it could get you the attention of an additional post on a 200,000-follower post. Or more!
Better yet, small-time bloggers like us definitely don’t charge $1,000 per post. Not even close.
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Wait, There’s More!
Before you empty your wallet onto bloggers’ laptops (if you’re a marketer) or sign up for a WordPress account (if you’re an influencer), it’s worth considering some nuance I left out of the above analysis:
- Level of influence: An Instagram influencer may have a stronger relationship with their followers than a blogger does with readers who stumble on their site from a Google or Pinterest search.
- Quality of attention: People go on Instagram to zone out on sexy, cute, funny, and gossip-worthy photos. They go to blogs (via Google or Pinterest) for answers to specific questions. Advantage, blogs.
- The value of discovery: Consumers may discover some brands on Instagram that they’d never think to search for online and find on a blog.
- Different audiences: Some people spend tons of time on Instagram and prefer not to read. Others are the opposite. Marketers may want one demographic over another—or both.
- Images versus text: Since “a picture can say a thousand words,” the value of attention focused on images (Instagram) may be higher than that spent reading blogs. Blogs have images too, but generally not to the extent of Instagram.
- Through traffic: A blog post typically includes a link that will bring a slow, steady stream of traffic to the brand’s site. An Instagram post will only very briefly (if at all) include a link on the influencer’s profile.
- Attention doesn’t matter: At the end of the day, attention doesn’t mean squat if people don’t buy, so you could argue this whole analysis is moot and all that matters are click-through and conversion rates. I’d argue blogs have the advantage there, since influencees are fewer clicks away. If you have any ideas on how to compare the influencer marketing value of blogs versus Instagram on CTR or conversion please enlighten us in the comments.
Why This Matters to You
In case you “suck at math” or got bored by my analysis, here’s the important takeaway:
Doing influencer marketing with bloggers instead of Instagrammers is likely an untapped opportunity…
Eventually—well, hopefully, for us bloggers!—marketers will realize the value of blog posts and start bidding up their rates until they’re on par with those of Instagrammers.
But that hasn’t happened yet. Now is marketers’ opportunity to take advantage of this untapped opportunity to get more attention for less money.
What About Magazine Ads?
Have You Been Influenced?
Brand marketers, does this compel you to work with bloggers more? Or what are your doubts, questions, or concerns?
Influencers, what do you think? Do you agree with my super biased pro-blogger analysis, or do you think I’m being a “jealous hater”?
And how would you improve this analysis?
Contribute to the discussion in the comments below.