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Bike touring influencers have more influence on you than you think

And one study says business and brands should be taking advantage of their sway

Photo by: Patrick Hendry/Unsplash

Whether it’s on Instagram, YouTube or TikTok, as a cyclist you’ve probably come across some content created by a bicycle touring influencer. A video of a beautiful road or a  photo of a fully loaded bike will cause most cyclists to yearn for a chance to take a cycling vacation. But just how much “influence” on you do these influencers have? According to a new Current Issues in Tourism study: A lot.

Influencers in the cycling world

Social media influencers (sometimes known as content creators) are individuals who have a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field. They typically have large social media followings, and will commonly engage in influencer marketing, which involves paid product endorsements and product placement.

There are influencers in pretty much every area you can think of: beauty, vloggers, gamers, activists, photography, micro-influencers, macro-influcencer, the list goes on. In the world of travel and tourism, influencers are often posting about experiences, destinations and travel tips.

Bicycle touring, which encompasses bikepacking, mixed terrain touring, day touring etc., is considered a “special interest” area of tourism. Touring influencers hit a specific market of social media users engaged in travel and cycling products. The niche area generates a surprising amount of content, and, as it turns out, that content can be extremely valuable to businesses and brands.

We trust them

The Current Issues in Tourism study found that cycling traveller influencers inform their followers about destinations, travel procedures, routes, cycling, and equipment and are overwhelmingly seen as a reliable source of information. Not only are they useful for destination selection, they also help with technical issues, such as travel formalities and equipment. The first-hand experience they provide, coupled with their perceived expert knowledge and cycling-specific content means they are widely accepted as credible sources.

The researchers also found that followers were motivated to go on cycling tours themselves by viewing the influencer’s content. Followers felt that these influencers were role models, posting impressive rides and adventures and “broadening their horizons by going beyond the usual limits of life.”

Influencer marketing

The researchers found that the powerful level of trust and admiration held by followers of bicycle touring influencers meant that influencers can create new micro-niche markets thanks to the content they produce and influence consumer behaviours.

Even if these influencers aren’t cooperating with businesses, they have enough sway that “businesses and brands may still need to follow travel influencers and the trends they set.” The study says that it is therefore important that brands and businesses understand cycling travel influencers and invite them as partners in their marketing efforts.

The influencers might even be generating demand for new destinations through routes they’ve created and shared. They can be useful in the development of a new destination and tourism products. According to the researchers, cycling influencers could be “important collaborators in participatory tourism planning.”

As tourism slowly returns, and cyclists pack up their saddle bags, these influencers will likely only gain more followers and motivate even more riders to get out on the road.