Social Media & Tourism: Connecting the dots with photos

Have you noticed an increase in the amount of people who freely share photos of their most recent travel destinations on social media?  Okay, I admit, I’m am one of those people who freely share photos on social media of beautiful places that I have visited, or in the case of San Diego, reside in.   The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is very true.  There is something intrinsically moving about a photograph and especially when it is shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Whether it be two people holding hands while walking on the white sandy beaches of San Diego at sunset, or a picture of a pina-colada cocktail with a pineapple and an umbrella, graphic images call us to action.

Social media within the travel and tourism industry is on the rise as people have grown accustomed to sharing their destination photos and travel experiences with others online. This is great news for the travel and tourism industry and especially for tourism agencies, cities, and states who have implemented social media strategies into their marketing plans.  Social media is not only vital, but is a cost-efficient way to promote tourism, engage with visitors/tourists, and increase the number of visitors.  Businesses within the travel and tourism industry are now beginning to utilize social media and they are connecting the dots with photos—visual images.

Did you know?

  • Social media has a huge influence on travel bookings. Of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original travel plans
  • 33% changed their hotel
  • 10% switched resorts
  • 10% changed agent/operator/website
  • 7% holidayed in a different country
  • Post-vacation, 46% of travelers post hotel reviews
  • 40% post activity/attraction reviews
  • 40% post restaurant reviews
  • 76% post vacation photos to a social network
  • 55% “liked” Facebook pages specific to a vacation

For more statistics, checkout the 2012 & 2013 Social Media and Tourism Industry Statistics, as reported by Stikky Media.

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Welcome to Voyage San Diego BLOG!

It’s official!  Voyage San Diego (aka, me, Darla) is now blogging about beautiful San Diego, “America’s Finest City”.  For those of you who currently follow me on social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, you already know how passionate I am about living in this great city and being surrounded by sparkling white sand beaches, aqua blue Pacific Ocean, pristine coastlines, breathtaking panoramic views, spectacular romantic sunsets, perfect year round temperatures, diverse cultures, amazing cuisines, and so much more.  I must say, the beauty of Southern California, specifically San Diego, has definitely inspired me to not only pick up my camera to capture every moment, but also to write a blog to share some travel insights, for those who are planning on visiting San Diego, and to discuss how the travel and tourism industry can benefit from using social media.

What is Social Media?

Merrriam-Webster Dictionary defines Social Media as forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).

Social Media Tools

So, you have an upcoming special event but you’re not sure as to how you should go about promoting it.  You’ve considered using traditional marketing such as print advertising, direct marketing, TV and radio, however, you are now interested in adding social media to your marketing campaign.

With there being a sea of social media sites, where does one begin?  Facebook and Twitter would be a great start for promoting your special events while interacting with consumers/tourists.

Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular social media tools—Facebook #1 with 900 million unique visitors per day, and Twitter #2 with 310 million unique visitors per day—according to eBizMBA’s ranking which averages each website’s Alexa Global Traffic Rank and U.S. Traffic Rank.  Although both social media sites are free to set up as well as fairly easy to access and have some similarities, they are very different in how the tools are used.

What is the Difference?

Facebook’s platform is designed for users to connect with family and friends while engaging in ongoing discussions, constant status updates, sharing photos, milestones, and other information.  Facebook can also be used to directly interact with consumers in two-way conversations via personal pages, fan/business pages, group pages, as well as to share important updates/news, build relationships, and increase brand awareness.  Facebook is a great tool for consumers and brands alike.  While brands promote their products, services, and special events, consumers have an option to “like” brand pages, join groups/conversations, and post comments.

Twitter’s platform is designed for users to create content that is 140-characters or less, stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends.  Users can follow, interact, and retweet posts as well as “tweet” updates in real-time.  Twitter conversations are more so “happening now” and followers are able to stay abreast of what is going on. For example, many people use Twitter to receive the latest news, promote their favorite sports team, artists, celebrities, brands and/or to simply promote whatever they are interested in (hobbies, careers, affiliations, etc.).  By posting “tweets” or “retweets” in Twitter using either mentions (@) or hashtags (#), your tweets will reach a greater amount of other twitter users, especially if your tweets are set to “public” where others can view the tweets without having to follow you.

Facebook and Twitter are powerful social media tools that should be integrated into your marketing campaign.  If you use both tools, together, you’ll have a greater opportunity of reaching an abundance of people.  To learn how you can use Facebook and Twitter to reach more customers, checkout “Practical Tips to Reach More People on Social Media” by Ann Smarty.

What are your thoughts about social media?  Which platforms do you prefer?  Feel free to leave a comment.