Best of Digital Summit 2020: Royal Caribbean’s Thea Neal & Post-COVID Influencer Strategies


We’re celebrating and spotlighting some of our favorite, highest rated sessions from our Digital Summit at Home events from 2020. In this recap, we feature Thea Neal, who runs talent management and marketing for Royal Caribbean. Her talk, Tactics for Leveraging Influencer Marketing: The Impact of COVID-19 and What Lies Ahead, was a huge hit from our Digital Summit at Home November event.

Despite the challenges that 2020 has thrown at businesses and marketers alike, the opportunities to make an impact are still abundant! There is perhaps no area where this is more evident than influencer marketing and relations.

Thea Neal heads up talent and influencer marketing efforts for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. At our Digital Summit at Home event in November 2020, Thea reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted industries like travel and hospitality, and shed light on ways marketers can still leverage influencer content, maximize money spent on influencer campaigns, and understand the differences between individual content creators and influencer agencies.

The State of Digital Post-COVID (7:00)

Digital consumption habits have changed dramatically throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with large increases in mobile content consumption, video content engagement and e-commerce.

How to Leverage Influencers in a Post-COVID World (9:25)

With people spending a lot of time at home, more time is being spent on social media and engaging with influencer content. For marketers, there is value to be had since many influencers are not currently able to work with many of their traditional brand partners in industries like travel and luxury products. Now is the time to shine for brands in specific home-centric industries, such as home goods, exercise equipment, essential products, etc.

PRO TIP: Influencers are able to provide exposure to large targeted digital audiences for less money than traditional marketing methods, and micro-influencers are the least expensive authentic advertising out there.

PRO TIP: Content produced by influencers in “less sexy” industries, such as insurance or healthcare, performs better than many consumer brands. Seriously!

Influencer Platforms on the Rise (21:45)

As consumers are spending more time with media on their phones, it’s time for marketers to pay serious attention to upcoming mobile-centric platforms like TikTok and Twitch.

PRO TIP: Video content performs better than most static content, so keep this in mind when developing partnerships with influencers as you evaluate what platforms they are active on.

Influencer Agencies vs. Individual Partnerships (24:00)

As brands explore ways to partner with influencers, there are two main avenues to be explored: 1) Influencer Agencies and 2) Individual Partnerships, each of which offer different pros and cons.

Influencer Agencies:

  • Best for brands with a large budget
  • Ability to reach more influencers
  • No personal interaction between marketing and the influencers
  • Have associated agency fees

Individual Partnerships:

  • Best for brands with a small budget
  • No agency fees
  • More control over content and timelines
  • Less “bang for your buck”

Tips for a Modest Influencer Spend (27:00)

As Neal discusses throughout this session, brands don’t need to spend $1 million on an influencer campaign. In fact, she provides tips on how influencers can be engaged for as little as $100 (watch the full video above for more of those details!).

PRO TIP: When large money is not involved, influencers want to feel empowered to make the content that they see fit with your brand.

The time has never been better to dip their toes into the waters of influencer marketing, with more people consuming content at home and expanded influencer flexibility. Whether it’s through individual partnerships or larger programs with influencer agencies, the possibilities are great.

To hear from experts like Thea and hundreds of others that teach at Digital Summit, check out our 2021 calendar of virtual and in-person events.

Kick off 2021 with a bang and join us on January 27 for Digital Summit Go!, a FREE 1-day online event featuring 12 of our best speakers. Hear 12 rapid fire talks on Content, Social, Email, and SEO with tons of actionable takeaways to help your marketing soar in the new year. Did we mention that it’s FREE? 🙂