Your visitors are increasingly turning to social media to see what your destination has to offer. The Internet offers hundreds of listicles about the world’s most Instagrammable destinations; the most popular beaches and spectacular monuments are on display in vibrant, perfectly filtered photos, thanks to the professional and amateur Instagrammers who have fuelled this trend for the past few years.
How is this affecting visitors? One study released in 2017 claims that, among millennials in the UK, “how Instagrammable the holiday would be” is the number one factor in choosing a travel destination. In a twist of irony, the results place Instagramming far above the importance of actual sightseeing, which took fifth place.
The importance of these particular results are up for debate, but it points to a trend that has implications beyond Instagram.
Here’s why your destination should stop to consider the power of social sharing:
1) Traveller photos influence the entire visitor journey.
According to Google’s research into the five stages of travel, 60% of visitors find travel inspiration through social media. Instagram photos influence the dreaming and planning stages, which brings new opportunities. As a destination marketer, you need to do more than create better visual assets for your own channels, you also need to amplify recommendations from the people who visit. For example, see how Travel Oregon curates Instagram photos to bring visitor stories to the forefront.
Why are these visitor-generated stories so important? According to research, recommendations from peers remain more credible than other types of advertising. Besides, sharing travel stories is an important motivator for some visitors, and platforms like Instagram provide an outlet for the humble brag. Destinations can encourage visitors to share experiences during and after their trip, and then repurpose those posts to influence new visitors. The impact of word of mouth continues to grow as today’s visitors provide the inspiration and motivation for tomorrow’s travellers.
2) Your destination lives and breathes the Experience Economy.
Though an Instagram photo is only a snapshot, it provides a window into the experiences your destination offers. These experiences taken together are much more valuable than the sum of your destination’s goods and services. When travellers visit, they purchase admission to a memorable event full of moments to share. Instagram has become an important platform that travellers use to collectively document those memories, as well as your destination’s most visually captivating experiences.
3) Instagram shows no signs of slowing down
By almost any measure – active users, photos sharing, engagement, or advertising revenue – Instagram is becoming an increasingly important part of your potential visitors’ social media habits. Can you find a destination that isn’t being shared this way? Users can easily organize photos with hashtags or geotagging; almost 2.5 million #explorebc photos (and counting) show the tremendous volume and participation happening in some destinations like British Columbia, Canada today.
Is your destination helping visitors tell their friends about their travel experiences through social media? Tell us about it in the comments.