Not sure if everyone has heard the story of Ella Darby and The White Moose Café. I feel like I have to share this one not only for all the influencers out there but also for all business owners.
Social Media Influencer vs. The White Moose Café
Ella Darby is a British social media influencer who works in the fashion and lifestyle niche. She approached The White Moose Café offering social media exposure and coverage in return for a four-night complimentary stay. Like I said, Ella Darby’s niche is mostly lifestyle and fashion, not travel and food.
The owner of The White Moose Café & Hotel sent an open letter of response to Ella, not naming her or remotely linking to her social media platforms at all.
To take a few key quotes, Paul Stenson’s response looked like this;
“If I let you stay here in return for a feature in a video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room?
‘’Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?”
In ways, Stenson makes a fair point. Whether he went about this in the right way… I don’t think so. You shouldn’t talk to people like that, but at the same time, I understand that sometimes you just need to publicly share your frustrated opinion.
So, now you know what happened. Some of you might agree with Paul Stenson, and some might take the side of Ella Darby.
Let’s get this straight. What the hotel did was totally wrong; it was rude. Whether you wanna get influencers on board or not, there is no need to publicly humiliate.
Hotels and restaurants must be getting hundreds of requests like this from influencers each month. To be frank, some of these influencers may not even have an organic following or their following may not even match their niche. Hoteliers and restaurateurs deal with staff, guests, reviews, and social media output of their own that they probably don’t have time to deal with what sometimes feels like people just blagging a freebie.
However, to post something disrespectful like that in public doesn’t make the hotel look any better. The influencer sent a business proposal which can be rejected, accepted, or ignored.
But wait, am I saying that the influencer Elle Darby did nothing wrong? Nope. Her following was not exactly a perfect fit for The White Moose Café. Although exposure through her page would bring benefits, she’s from the UK and the café is in Dublin; she’s into fashion and lifestyle, not food and travel. You could argue that there’s an overlap in the target market, but she still wasn’t the perfect influencer for the business.
Should you still become a social media influencer?
Now that you know how businesses could react to influencers, should you still become a social media influencer yourself?
At face value, it may seem like influencers are people who get shit for free and live the dream. This is not the case! Getting free products or experiences is not the end game. To be able to grow their own brand and following, influencers have to work hard to consistently produce content, engage on social media, pay for their website upkeep, regularly upgrade their gadgets, equipment, and software, pitch themselves and their services to the right companies, and fund much of their operating expenses as a business entity.
Yes, a business entity. Influencers operate their own businesses from wherever they are and pay taxes, too! This only means free products or experiences will not be able to pay rent, taxes, and other expenses. The end game here is to be able to monetize your following.
If you are up for this challenge, then you can definitely test the waters and work your way up there to succeed. It is especially challenging now that influencers are aplenty. But remember, know your audience, or else, you might just end up like Ella Darby. Don’t go endorsing meat products if you’re a vegan, okay?
Note to business owners
A quick side note to business owners reading my blog and are still on the fence about hiring influencers:
Influencers can still endorse you, and you can still reap the benefits. Equally, they can slam you, too, and this can affect your business. If you are keen on engaging into influencer marketing, I suggest you make yourself an Influencer Policy listing out the types of influencers you are willing to work with, the minimum following they must have, what you expect from them, and what you are prepared to offer in return. You may also put in place a monthly or yearly budget for this kind of marketing.
With this in place, when an influencer approaches you, and this person is not right for your company, you can politely refer back to your policy and put the conversation to bed.
If you don’t want to work with influencers at all, then write a standard response and send it to all who approach you explaining why you use other methods of marketing for your business.
So there you have it, I like to weigh in on these arguments! What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Reach out, let’s start a discussion!