Much has been written about the importance of using authentic and compelling photography to sell your destination to potential visitors. Our Stamp Insights repository alone contains six blog entries focused on creating and collecting images to share on social media or utilize in your marketing efforts. Check out some of these examples including Building Authentic Imagery Using the Four Cs and Instagram Strategy for Your DMO for thoughts on harnessing the power of photography and videography to attract new visitors.
A history of sharing experiences
The reality is that visitors are sharing photos of their travels today much the way previous generations sent postcards from every stop along their way—but multiplied millions of times. Capturing the truth. Recording the experience. And much like the picture postcards sent by mid-century travelers, visitors are sharing where they’ve been for a variety of reasons.
Launched in October of 2010, as of September 2017, Instagram had more than 800 million active users and 10s of billions of photos have been shared on the platform. “Clearly, we have an appetite for imagery, and it’s influencing our travel decisions…” says Carrie Miller, a New Zealand-based writer, traveler, and storyteller for National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Top motivators for sharing travel content
An interesting DATA POINTS infographic published in the August 7, 2017 issue of Adweek used information gathered in the analysis of more than 2,000 travel images posted to social media. The findings, compiled by Olapic and Kantar Added Value, revealed the top motivating factors for sharing vacation images online. While not surprising, the motivations cited provide a framework destination marketers can use to learn more about the places that visitors find most shareable.
Adweek’s Emma Bazilian states the top 4 motivations for sharing visual content areas are:
- 38% Discovery—Unique and off-the-beaten path experiences. The top 3 most shared images from this category came from hidden urban gems (untapped side trips and sights in a city) 44%; parks, mountains or forest 40%; dining, shopping and eating like a local 17%
- 23% Wellness—The process of unwinding and recharging. Images photographed and shared featured: bodies of water 33%; mother nature 27%; sunsets 25%
- 21% Status—Aspirational, high quality and creatively engaging. Images found in posts considered “status motivated” frequently capture special moments—not everyday life. Famous landmarks, cities or big events 54%; living the high life 21%; a view from the sky 20%
- 18% Fun—Showcasing entertaining experiences. In the category of fun, most shared images contained: 34% ocean, pool or blue sky; 32% tropical props; 17% posing with friends
The power of user-generated travel content
Curating user-generated visual content (UGC) is marketing gold. Travel and Leisure magazine reports that 52% of Facebook users say their friends’ photos inspire their travel plans. And 48% enjoy watching user-generated content as opposed to business-created content. So for travel and tourism marketers, one thing is certain, your presence on social media from Facebook and Instagram to Snapchat should be a priority of ever-increasing importance.
Provide ways to make it easy for visitors to share their experiences. Employing strategies like branded hashtags, social media contests, maintaining community filters, and actively engaging with user travel content will strengthen your reach in earned media and can be leveraged as an asset in your traditional marketing efforts. What kinds of pictures do people share when visiting your destination? Think about their motivation and how it compares to your marketing messages and beliefs about who your visitors are. Are they compatible? The insights gained could reinforce your marketing strategy, encourage a slight change in course or cause you to rethink it altogether.