Why You Should Update Your Website Visuals Regularly

As a DMO, you always make an effort to update the information on your site, so that everything is fresh and relevant. But what sometimes gets overlooked is the visual information you’re conveying.

Consumers today are visual decision makers. Visuals make an impression even before they’ve had a chance to read what’s on a web page.

Keeping outdated visuals on your website is like wearing a 70s jumpsuit to give a presentation in 2017. You can say all the right stuff, but people can’t hear your words over your outdated (albeit rockin’) old-school style.

So don’t neglect your visuals! Here are the top reasons why you need to update your website visuals regularly.

Relevant visuals resonate

Think about the visuals you showcase on your homepage.

Now, how many would you say are generic, one-size-fits-all, year-round photos?

These are by no means bad, but don’t forget the value of targeted, relevant visuals.

Case in point: this past holiday season, Explore Branson unveiled a fantastic Christmas themed website, complete with Christmas activity guides and a holiday photo gallery on their website.

Small Destinations Doing Big Things with Visuals branson-homepage

Anybody looking for a holiday vacation in Branson would be showered with relevant holiday content that spoke exactly to the experience they were looking for.

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And while you don’t have to refresh your entire website design to the scale that Branson did to stay relevant, what you can consider is this: update your website visuals with the seasons, so that your site’s look stays current and fresh every time of year.

Visit Telluride also does something creative to keep their visuals relevant to web visitors.

Telluride is a small but popular ski destination in Colorado — meaning travelers are looking for drastically different experiences in winter vs. summer.

So, on their website, they allow you to toggle between “winter view” and “summer view”.

telluride-winter why you should update your website visuals regularly

The website magically transforms to show visitors the specific seasonal visuals that are relevant to them.

telluride-summer why you should update your website visuals regularly

Update your website visuals and ensure your photos reflect what travelers want to see the most at the right time.

You can show that you’re on top of the latest that’s going on in your destination

In the digital age, people expect to get the most current information in real-time.

If someone comes to your website and it feels outdated (the pictures are always the same or they don’t look like they were taken recently), they might decide to look elsewhere for a source that looks more updated.

So how can updating your visuals regularly help you stand as a plugged-in source?

Travel Portland has a great way of doing this. On their homepage, they have a “Happening Now” section where they feature photos that locals and visitors alike are taking in Portland “now”. These photos are always within a week old.

portland-happening-now why you should update your website visuals regularly

This says to travelers, “We’re always looking through photos people are sharing here, and curating the best to show you.

Even if it’s adding one new photo to an existing photo gallery, that shows visitors that you’re paying attention and making an effort to keep all your information fresh.

[Pro Tip]: If you use an image slider on your website, try add upcoming events to it. It’s a great way to keep people excited about what’s going on at your destination – and show them the latest happenings right from the get go.

E.g. This was Victoria BC’s Valentine’s Day themed slider image:

victoria-bc why you should update your visuals regularly

You’ll rank higher on Google

If you are trying to improve your DMO’s search engine rankings, updating visuals can help.

You are likely already optimizing your site for keywords and putting a content strategy in place to help travelers find you. One SEO tactic that you probably didn’t know before is — you guessed it — refreshing your visual content.

Google smiles upon sites that keep updated with fresh, new content. And that includes your visuals.

Whether that means switching out autumn’s homepage image to one better fit for winter, or swapping your regular homepage photo gallery to a themed one, Google’s site crawlers will see this as an update.

When you update your visuals regularly, it doesn’t just offer web visitors a better experience — it lets Google know you’re up to date and deserve to be ranked up top.

See how these DMOs are keeping fresh and creative with their visual content.

Updating your website visuals regularly isn’t always the easiest thing to do. We have lots of experience helping DMOs do just that, and we’ve learned a thing or two about keeping visuals fresh.

So we rounded up 10 amazing visual influencers, including Visit Stockton and Yakima Valley, that are using their visuals in really unique ways in this free eBook. Get it here and get inspired!



10 DMOs Getting Creative with Visual Content - Visual Influencers




How to Create Neighborhood Guides that Speak to Travelers

Travelers today don’t want to travel like tourists.

Some don’t just want to visit that landmarks that everyone goes to see — they want personalized experiences too.

They want to explore different neighborhoods, wander the streets, and experience a destination through the eyes of a local.

A DMO’s neighborhood guides can help travelers do just that. While a Google search might list out some must-visit spots, your guides can show them these spots in curated groups, and give them a taste of what each area has to offer.

Here’s how to create helpful neighborhood guides that’ll get travelers bookmarking your website (and destination!), and clicking “Book Now!” sooner.

1 | Brainstorm some key places you want to highlight in each neighborhood

In addition to the most popular attractions in each area, think about things visitors might not otherwise be aware of. 

Is there a fantastic hole-in-the-wall joint most tourists overlook? A cafe that offers hosts performances every Thursday? Or maybe you can highlight that Insta-worthy wall of street art people like taking photos against.

These are the sort of unique tidbits of information you can provide people, that are really helpful and let you showcase your knowledge as an authority of your destination.

This is also a great opportunity to think given your tourism partners a boost. Are there some smaller or newer noteworthy businesses that you could send foot traffic to? Include them!

2 | Reach out to locals for recommendations

You don’t have to come up with everything yourself — ask locals for suggestions!

How? To start with, send out a call for recommendations on social media.

Give locals a chance to highlight the secrets that are so good they don’t mind sharing.

The best part about asking people who live and work in each neighborhood for their suggestions is that you then have direct quotes (and possibly pictures) that you can include in your neighborhood guides.

You can also browse social media to see where people are posting pictures — and therefore where they’re hanging out the most.

“There’s so much going on you find little nuggets of things that are happening in town, new public art, new murals, new stuff happening… you can have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on.”

Wes Rhea, CEO of Visit Stockton

3 | Look for great visuals to feature

So you’ve got your ideas — now to showcase them.

People make decisions based on the visuals they see. That’s why it’s important to have plenty of amazing visual content to sprinkle throughout your guides, and exert some visual influence!

Now, you probably already own some photos to use in your guides, but chances are, they’re not enough to create a true visual experience. Where can you go to get more photos?

People are taking and sharing thousands of great photos in your destination every single day.

What if you could tap into that? Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking. If you spot a photo you’d like to use, ask for permission to borrow it. For example:

hammock-coast-instagram-2

Our customers typically see a 60% approval rate in their rights requests. That means for every 5 people you ask, 3 of them will say “yes please!”.

If you use CrowdRiff galleries, you can showcase the original social photos straight on your website, without having to download the photos first.

The great thing about user-generated content is that it really adds that authentic local “flavor” travelers look for and trust.

4 | Putting it all together

Now that you’ve got all your pieces, how should you stitch them together?

Create a layout that puts your visuals first

Of course, your neighborhood guide’s exact layout will depend on your brand design, but one thing to keep in mind is this:

Make visuals the center of your neighborhood guide. Captivate and inspire everyone who reads your guide, with great photo and video content.

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Your average reader might only read only 20% of a web page, but they’ll view every photo.

So step back and let the visuals do the talking for you.

Tell a story

While we recommend visuals being the main driver of your neighborhood guide, text helps anchor your guides.

Travelers don’t just want to know where to go. They want to know why they should go.

Instead of just listing where to find each spot within a neighborhood, try throwing in some backstories and interesting tidbits about each place.

How did this popular family restaurant come to be? Is there a top-secret sauce? A remarkable line-up to boast?

Just like how visiting Buckingham Palace would be significantly more exciting after you’ve watched The Crown on Netflix, charming your readers with stories makes a visit more meaningful (and your neighborhood guide a more interesting read!).

5 | Adding the calls to action

Now you’re almost done! The last thing you need to do is make your guide actionable.

After you’ve charmed and delighted them with the content of your neighborhood guide, don’t leave your inspired traveler hanging. Give them calls to action so they can take the next step.

If you’re talking about a restaurant, give them a way to make their reservation.

If you’ve shown them a great local theatre, provide the link to where they can buy their tickets.

If you’ve told them about an awesome bike trail, a simple “Learn More” linking to that park’s website can give them the information they need and help prolong their interest.

effective-with-visual-content-love-bev-hills

Some DMOs like Beverly Hills and Hammock Coast overlay CTAs on their photos. So as people explore and engage with their galleries, they’re prompted to take action.

This kind of CTA makes a lot of sense, because people engage with visual content more than text.

With these CrowdRiff CTAs Hammock Coast was able to drive 20% of their traffic to their tourism partners.

Need some inspiration?

Here are some great neighborhood guides to get some ideas from.

Visit Denver
how-to-create-neighborhood-guides-that-speak-to-travelers-denver
Airbnb

how-to-create-neighborhood-guides-that-speak-to-travelers-airbnb

On the Grid

how-to-create-neighborhood-guides-that-speak-to-travelers-on-the-grid

Now it’s your turn.

As a DMO you have a unique advantage over sites like Instagram, Yelp, TripAdvisor.

You have a wealth of insider knowledge you can translate into your guides, and the ability to curate the photos your locals and travelers are sharing.

Pair your little-known backstories with authentic photos and actionable inspiration, and you create a neighborhood guide speaks to the way travelers want to experience your destination.



Get a preview link CrowdRiff




Header photo creds: @cascadia_pacifica

20 Visual Marketing Statistics You Need to Know [Infographic]

Let’s say it’s the end of your work day.

As you unwind before your commute home, you take a few minutes to scroll through your Instagram… and there it is.

One of your co-workers recently posted a shot of a mouthwatering burger. Everything, from the perfectly toasted bun, to the crisp lettuce over the beef, looks flawless.

You check the location — it’s from the new cafe that opened up right down the street from your office!

The next day at work, when your stomach starts rumbling for lunch? You remember the cafe… and head right over to grab a burger of your own.

In doing so, you’ve actually just carried out a very specific consumer behavior. We call it visual decision making.

Every day, people are making decisions like what to do, where to go, and what to buy based on the visuals they see.

For brands, this trend opens up a world of opportunity to attract, engage, and inspire more people to take action.

Visual decision making is happening now, and these are the stats you need to know.

20-powerful-visual-decision-making-statistics-thatll-change-the-way-you-do-marketing-hq

Feel free to share and embed this infographic:

<a href="http://bit.ly/2k9wk21" target="_blank"><img src="http://crowdriff.com/wp-content/uploads/20-Powerful-Visual-Decision-Making-Statistics-Thatll-Change-the-Way-You-Do-Marketing-jan-17hq-1.jpg" alt=“Visual Decision Making Statistics CrowdRiff Infographic"/></a>

(Skip to next section: How Marketers Can Capitalize on this Trend)

Visual Marketing Statistics

43% of consumers are influenced to purchase by photos they see on Instagram. (Source)

People who shop on their phones say images are the most important feature. (Source)

Instagram users are 70% more likely to purchase a product online. (Source)

Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers. (Source)

46% of consumers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by Pinterest photos. (Source)

The brand Adore Me saw a 4000% increase in Pinterest-referred revenue after using Promoted Pins to reach new customers. (Source)

88% of consumers have purchased something they’ve pinned. (Source)

64% of women say images influence their purchasing decisions when shopping for apparel on mobile. (Source)

67% of product users say images are very important when making a purchasing decision. (Source)

Using a video on a landing page increase conversions by 86%. (Source)

63% of consumers said good images are more important than product descriptions. (Source)

53% of consumers found images more important than ratings or reviews. (Source)

60% of consumers are more likely to consider a business whose images appear in local search results. (Source)

Including a photo next to an item on a restaurant menu increases its orders by 30%. (Source)

Colored visuals are proven to increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. (Source)

Only 10% of heard information is retained three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, 65% of the information is retained three days later. (Source)

90% of information sent to the brain is visual. (Source)

65% of people are visual learners.  (Source)

The average person reads only 20% of a web page, but will view every image. (Source)

How can marketers capitalize on visual decision making?

Your audience is being inspired by visuals: therefore, you need to build your brand’s visual influence.

Tell your story and market your brand with visual content, and connect with your audience through the language that speaks to them most.

Must-read articles on visual influence: 

CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform helps hundreds of brands optimize their visual content to cater to visual decision making.

Discover the visuals people are using to make decisions about your brand right now.

Show me!


8 Actionable Ways to be More Effective with Your Visual Content

What’s the simplest way to connect with your audience?

If you’re thinking “visual content,” that’s spot on.

Consider that most people only remember 10% of information they hear after three days. But when a relevant visual is presented alongside the same information, people will remember 65% of it.

So if you can leverage visuals to the fullest, you have access to the most powerful forms of influence: visual influence.

Here are eight actionable ways to make your visuals go further:

1 | Add text to say more with your photos

While great visuals speak for themselves, adding text to photos allows you to say even more with the images you share online.

Choose striking visuals that will grab your audience’s attention to overlay with relevant text. That is, use showing and telling to convey your message more quickly and clearly.

Take this tweet for example:

Embedding Amrita’s quote into the image allows us to say more without cluttering up the tweet.

And this isn’t just restricted to social media. Visit Pensacola does an amazing job creating photo buttons for their navigation.

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Tools like Pablo make it easy to combine stunning visuals with text to get the most from your visual content.

2 | Get creative with collages and photo grids

Collages and photo grids are an excellent way to showcase a variety of images on your website and social media pages. Presenting a range of visual content in one place offers your customers a more immersive visual experience of what your brand’s all about.

Visit Franklin does this well with a curated photo gallery on their home page

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Another opportunity to make visuals more effective on social media is to simply include multiple photos in a single tweet or Facebook post, like Destination Cleveland does here:

Why include only one photo in your tweet, when you can include four?

3 | Combine calls to action with images

Now, you’ve probably made use of images as buttons, but how about the other way around? Why not put more of your visuals to work by embedding links in your photo grids and collages?

When you display lots of visual content, people tend to get inspired. Seize the moment by using your visual content to lead website visitors to take the next step. 

For instance, DMOs can embed links to relevant local businesses, like Love Beverly Hills does in the photo gallery on their hotels page, so as people explore these photos and get inspired, they’re easily guided to take the next step.

effective-with-visual-content-love-bev-hills

Interested in CrowdRiff’s CTAs?

4 | Include keywords in filenames and alt tags

Image filenames and alt tags are only visible behind-the-scenes, but they still impact the effectiveness of your visual content.

Include the name of your brand or organization, along with relevant keywords, in alt tags and filenames, and you’ll rank higher in search.

Paying attention to naming conventions for image and video files will help search engines identify and categorize your visuals more effectively. This is important for SEO and makes it easier for more consumers to discover your content online.

5 | Balance authentic and aspirational content

Pairing professional content with user-generated content (UGC) boosts the effectiveness of your visuals by 28%.

The secret to this success lies in the combination of authentic and aspirational visuals.

Showcase the professional photos you already commission next to the real, everyday shots from your fans on your website and social media channels. These aspirational visuals show potential customers what they could be experiencing, while curated UGC offers a look at the authentic experiences of your current fans.

This is the best way to build visual influence, which will help you inspire more people to take action.

6 | Don’t be afraid of video

Did you know that 92% of mobile consumers share video content with others?

Branded videos can help build relationships with viewers, encourage engagement, and score more social shares.

Tara Hunt shares her insights about video for travel organizations:

 

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See full-size image here.

The influence of video content is still growing. In fact, Cisco projects that global consumer internet traffic from videos will account for 80% of all web traffic by 2019.

7 | Embed Pinterest “save” buttons in your photos

Adding Pinterest buttons to photos on your website helps spread your content across multiple platforms. Although it might not make sense for all your visuals, allowing visitors to pin images from, say, your blog is a great way to expand your reach.

The option to pin a picture can spark interest from website visitors that might not otherwise engage. These ‘Pin It’ buttons make it easy for anyone to save and share your content – and can even inspire would-be travelers to start a Pinterest board for your destination.

Check out this guide to see how it’s done.

8 | Reuse visuals across different marketing channels to create a consistent online presence

Let’s say you have a really great photo from a recent event you hosted. So you share it to Instagram. But that same photo can also work on other social channels like Facebook or Twitter, and perhaps even on your website.

If you’re working with a user-generated photo, you can consider creating a gallery (like we mentioned in point 2) especially for showcasing authentic social photos for your website.

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This is a gallery featured on the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis‘s website, for example.

Sharing your best visuals across multiple platforms not only extends the lifecycle of your content, but it also helps establish a consistent and recognizable brand presence.

A visual marketing platform (like CrowdRiff!) will simplify this process and make it easy to be consistent across all your marketing channels.

Now over to you

Don’t miss out on the full potential of your visual content! We hope these tips have been helpful going forward with your visual influence strategy.

Visual content can be so influential, and in the hands of a savvy visual marketer, infinitely powerful.

Want to learn more about getting the most out of your visuals? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in visual marketing, UGC, and visual influence sent straight to your inbox.

How to Find Micro-Influencers Using CrowdRiff

Influencer marketing has become one of the biggest marketing buzzwords lately.

Most of the time, marketers approach this strategy by reaching out to people with large followings.

But we’ve actually found that the companies we work with have grown their audiences and engagement by activating the micro-influencers.

They may only have 200 followers, not 2000, but a lot of the time they hold even more influence with their connections, than big-time bloggers.

These are the everyday people excited about your brand, and sharing photos online for their families and friends — people they have real, personal relationships with.

If you activate enough relationships with these micro-influencers, you can reach the same size audience as you would with traditional influencers — with a potentially better return too.

CrowdRiff can help you find the right micro-influencers

CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform pulls in photos from all over social media, and arms you with powerful search, sorting, and organization functionality.

It’s so much easier to find the active users, large or small, that are sharing photos about your brand with CrowdRiff, than manually scouring the web.

This is how you find micro-influencers using CrowdRiff:

Step 1 | Add strategic tracking terms

CrowdRiff brings in photos to your collection by tracking hashtags, geolocations, and users that you choose.

But besides tracking your brand hashtag, there are more unconventional terms you can track in order to pull photos from micro-influencers into CrowdRiff. Try thinking outside the box with these prompts! 

“Insider” photo-op spots

You know your destination best — where do people like taking photos? Think trendy local spots — not just commonly known tourist attractions.

Within your location, there are specific spots that people who are active on Instagram flock to — whether that’s an aesthetic coffee shop or a wall of street art. These locations become trendy within the Instagram community.

If you’re stumped on which locations to track, do a quick search on Google — “most Instagrammed places in [your destination]” — and add those locations to start pulling in those photos.

You can also keep an eye out on your existing visual collection in CrowdRiff, to keep your finger on the pulse of what and where people are sharing photos, and get a sense of what’s trendy.

Crowdsourced accounts

A lot of Instagram accounts out there are now created with crowdsourced photos (or user-generated content).

In other words, their feeds are made up of reposts from other active Instagram users.

crowdriff micro-influencers-toronto

crowdriff micro-influencers-markham

These food-themed accounts, for example, curate photos different people have taken all over these cities. You can also find fashion accounts, photography accounts, etc. Most of these accounts source their photos based on location.

If you explore these crowdsourced accounts for your location, you can find the names of these talented photographers and micro-influencers in the captions. These are people you can consider reaching out to.

You can also consider looking into related destination marketing accounts for your location. 

If you’re a state DMO, track the accounts of your cities. If you’re a city DMO, consider tracking your state or county’s account.

By tracking these crowdsourced accounts, you can discover the micro-influencers other accounts have already found.

Step 2 | Sort each tracking term by likes

Now that you’ve pulled in a good collection of photos, it’s time to sort them by likes to surface the photos taken by micro-influencers.

You can do this in two ways:

  1. Sorting your entire collection at once
  2. Sorting within each tracking term

We recommend clicking into each tracking term and sorting through there. It narrows down your search, so there’s likely less sifting and scrolling you’ll have to do.

By clicking on a photo in CrowdRiff, you can see how many likes and comments the photo has on Instagram, as well as the number of followers the user has. What you want to look for is a low ratio of both likes to followers, and likes to comments. 

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Traditional influencers tend to have significantly more likes than comments — but since people who follow micro-influencers typically know them, they have high engagement in both likes and comments.

Step 3 | Explore influencer accounts

People who are active on Instagram are usually connected with other active users. That means that if you know how to look, one micro-influencer will open up a pool of other active Instagrammers for you to explore.

This is how you do it: Search a known micro-influencer’s username in CrowdRiff to see who else has tagged them in photos. Those other names are likely active Instagram users. 

What’s more, Instagram has “suggested accounts” next to the Follow button on each profile. If you’re on an influencer account, you’ll be able to discover many similar accounts through that feature.

By delving into a micro-influencer’s account, you can also see which niche hashtags they’re using. For example, in Hong Kong, the hashtags #hkig and #hkfood are popular, and in Toronto, #torontoigers. If they’re using these, other active Instagrammers are likely using them too.

You can search these hashtags in CrowdRiff to pull up the other photos tagged with these hashtags, and also add them to your list of strategic tracking terms to pull in more.

Step 4 | Organize photos to keep track of influencers you’ve found

Create a folder called “Micro-Influencers” in CrowdRiff. Then, you can tag each with keywords to sort and label the micro-influencers you’ve discovered.

We recommend sorting them based on their niche (photography, food, fashion, etc.) and/or stage in your outreach (to contact, contacted, working with, etc.). Since you can assign multiple keywords to one photo, you can cross-sort and organize to create the system that best works for you.

Choose one photo from each influencer and label it with your desired tag. Now whenever you want to see the accounts you’ve found, you can search that keyword in CrowdRiff to pull up all the photos (and therefore micro-influencers) tagged with it.

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Now it’s your turn

With these tips handy, it’s time to try it out for yourself.

Find the everyday people that love your brand, that hold visual influence with their friends and followers.

Partnering with them will help you amplify their voices, and complement your own visual influence strategy.

From narrowing down Instagram photos, to strategically sorting and organizing them, CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform helps marketers like you surface micro-influencers.

To see what CrowdRiff can do for you, drop us a line! We’d love to hear from you.

 

Header image courtesy of: @janiewanders

Further reading:

Small Destinations Doing Big Things with Visuals

Does it feel like the large destinations are always getting all the spotlight?

Sure, they’re doing some creative things, but sometimes that makes it seem like you need their large budgets and resources to keep up.

Today we’re here to prove that with a splash of creativity, a bit of resourcefulness, and the right tools, destinations of any size can do big things with visual content.

These are five small destination marketing organizations (DMOs) that are standing out and inspiring travelers with visuals.

1 | Tupelo, Mississippi 

The proud birthplace of Elvis, Tupelo is a hotspot of American culture, tradition — and cheeky humor. Population: 35,800

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The first thing you see when you land on Tupelo’s website? A colorful and rowdy action shot of who else but the King of Rock doing what he does best, across a backsplash of bright orange, yellow, greens, and blues.

With bold visuals, Tupelo is a small DMO that has a strong, enticing destination brand story. And yes, Elvis is a huge part of it.

Almost every page of their website, and on all their social feeds, you see photos and videos of Elvis. In fact, their Twitter personality is one of our favorites ones!

And beyond fun Elvis fandom, their website has a section where users can explore Tupelo through photos locals and visitors have shared:

Small DMOs Doing Big Things with Visuals tupelo

Though their destination size might be small, they have no shortage of user-generated photos to display. Their secret: tracking more than the brand hashtag.

Tupelo uses CrowdRiff to uncover thousands of photos being taken at local restaurants, parks, attractions (such as Elvis landmarks, of course), as well as the ones tagged with #MyTupelo.

Through their creativity with visuals, they’re not only able to show what their destination looks like, but also their culture and values, in a very real and likable way.

2 | Telluride, Colorado

Once a mining town, Telluride is a now a premier ski destination nestled in Colorado’s Rocky mountains. Population: 2,300

Weather and climate are always things travelers consider (especially ski conditions!). Visit Telluride has found an ingenious way of showing interested visitors a (literal) window into their destination:

Small DMOs Doing Big Things with Visuals telluride

Their website hosts webcams that show live photos taken in Telluride throughout the day, so you can see exactly what conditions are like. With your mouse, you can scroll through a time-lapse of these photos. This is the webcam that shows their Main Street.

And it doesn’t stop there. You can toggle between winter and summer themes on their website, which will change the video you see on their homepage. Whether you’re a ski traveler or a regular summer vacationer, they’ll show you what experience you might get through targeted visual content.

In addition, this is another small destination that has tapped into the power of user-generated content with a section dedicated to “fan photos”. They have literally hundreds of visitor photos people can scroll through and explore.

Small DMOs Doing Big things with Visuals telluride-social-hub

3 | Pensacola, Florida

With sunny weather and protected beaches, Pensacola is a popular waterfront destination off the coast of Florida. Population: 52,000

Pensacola’s website visuals do a fantastic job of illustrating their brand. From the blues and sandy colors, you know at once they’re a beachfront destination.

Pensacola’s done a great job of designing their homepage navigation in visual grids:

small-dmos-big-visuals-pensacola

The visuals capture your attention and draw you in to click deeper into the site. And putting video into that grid is really creative — it’s a small element that really stands out.

They also feature interactive photo galleries on many “Things to Do” pages on their site:

small-dmos-big-visuals-pensacola

Featuring multiple visitor photos like this gives interested travelers a better picture of the activity, and the gallery format gives them something they can click into and explore.

But Pensacola’s strength is its video strategy. On their YouTube channel they’ve produced over 100 videos, to show tourists the kind of vacation Pensacola can offer.

Notably, they have a fun video series Three-Minute Adventures, where in each video, they explore a different activity you can do in Pensacola — in three minutes. They’ve covered skydiving, paddleboarding, parasailing, and ziplining to name a few.

These quick videos are genius because it’s easy to consume multiple in one sitting (especially with their playlists). But also on the DMO side, they won’t break the bank.

Just goes to show: you don’t need a major destination’s budget or a documentary crew to be effective with video!

4 | Branson, Missouri

Branson is a destination popular with families and known for its vibrant theater culture. Population: 11,000

While Branson might be a small destination, they’ve dedicated a lot to making their website’s visual experience shine.

Small Destinations Doing Big Things with Visuals branson-homepage

What they’ve done exceptionally well is keeping all their visuals up-to-date and relevant. Right now in December, as they’re catering to holiday travelers, Branson’s homepage visuals are completely Christmas themed.

It’s not just their own branded visuals — with the help of CrowdRiff, Branson has curated enough Christmas-specific photos from locals and visitors to fill the (expandable) photo gallery on their homepage.

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And with the call to “Share Your Branson Story,” at the bottom of each photo, people grab the chance to get their photos featured on Branson’s official website by sharing even more.

A lot of people might think that smaller destinations don’t have as many user-generated photos available, but Branson completely throws that misconception out the window. With the way they’ve used such a variety of visual content, in our opinion, Branson has created one of the best user experiences we’ve come across.

5 | Franklin, Tennessee

From their culture and history to their music scene, Franklin is proudly “Rooted in Americana”. Population 69,000

Franklin is one destination that centers their marketing around visuals — and they’re doing big things.

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When you land on their homepage, an immersive photo of Franklin fills your screen. Below it, you find a stunning collage of visuals, with over 3000 photos you can scroll through.

Their website features 19 of these photo galleries, all showcasing authentic photos from locals and tourists. From web pages to blog content, Franklin proudly lets its fans support their visual marketing.

Franklin, like Telluride and Tupelo, has a social hub where they display visuals people have shared in their location. You can keep scrolling and clicking “Load More”, but you’ll never reach the bottom: that hub hosts more than 77,000 photo and videos!

To power these giant visual galleries, Franklin uses CrowdRiff to track over 100 terms (including hashtags, geo-locations, and users) to bring in content people are sharing from all over the web.

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In their guides and Things to Do section, Visit Franklin liberally fills their pages with large, relevant visual content. Their attractions shine when they let their visuals do the talking.

Some might consider Franklin a “small destination,” but with the big way they’re leveraging visual content, they’re definitely a leader in visual influence.

We enable smaller DMOs to do bigger things with visuals

Today’s traveler is a visual consumer — meaning they make their decisions based on visuals.

CrowdRiff enables both large and small destinations to inspire the most people to visit your destination, with a powerful visual influence strategy.

In other words, we help DMOs do big things with visual content.





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Step Up Your Destination Newsletter: Inspiration from 5 DMOs Doing it Right

What’s a good way to stay on top of a traveler’s radar?

Social media, of course, is one way – and then there’s your destination newsletter.

Your newsletter is the perfect opportunity to show off your destination’s highlights and keep in touch with the people that have signed up to get updates from you.

Send an amazing newsletter and these potential visitors will keep discovering more about the unique experiences your destination has to offer.

So, what’s the secret to sending an “amazing” newsletter?

The best destination newsletters are able to inspire people to come and provide the information they need to plan their next visit.

Let’s take a look at these 5 destination newsletters, and see what they’re doing right.

1 | Visit Franklin

We really like the creative use of visuals in Visit Franklin’s newsletter. Even the subject line incorporates fun, eye-catching emojis – and a lot of personality:

Fall in #FranklinTn is calling and it looks good on you!??

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Visit Franklin has achieved a good balance between images and text: the layout gives equal weight to the visuals and the descriptions that accompany them.

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Best of all, the focal point of the newsletter is the cinemagraph of pouring whiskey at the top. The movement draws readers into the newsletter, creating a sense of realness and immediacy that brings the distillery – and Franklin – to life.

2 | Visit Jacksonville

Short and sweet, this example from Visit Jacksonville is a different kind of newsletter. The single-page layout is simple, clean, and to the point.

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It only includes the essentials: their logo, a short message, and a single call-to-action. And the photo collage that follows speaks  the rest.

Overall, this newsletter reads like a personal invitation. The recipient is addressed by name and the message is signed Patty, Jax Lover. In fact, the copy repeats Jacksonville’s nickname, Jax, three times.

Using local lingo and personal language invites your reader to feel like a special guest with insider information – especially when combined with tips about free local activities.

3 | Tourism Toronto

For an awesome example of how to create a more in-depth newsletter, look no further than Tourism Toronto. It’s packed full of content, but doesn’t feel long or cluttered. It includes articles, calls to book now, as well as fun facts, and upcoming events.

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This newsletter appeals to a wide audience and showcases events ranging from the Grey Cup to the Toronto Christmas Market. Broken down into easy-to-skim sections, every piece of text is coupled with a relevant visual and a link to more information. 

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One of the best things about this newsletter is the seamless use of UGC. Tourism Toronto features “Social Finds” straight from Instagram and promotes the #SeeTorontoNow hashtag to encourage even more engagement from visitors.

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4 | Visit Austin Texas

This destination newsletter is certainly easy on the eyes. All the visuals are bright, interesting, and show off the many sides of Austin’s charm.

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We love that a simple heading – “Autumnal Eats” – overlays the main image, both of which appeal to the reader’s craving for seasonal comfort food.

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By accenting one section with a red background, Visit Austin Texas draws attention to local discounts and free activities. Highlighting event dates and details is an effective way to motivate visitors to book for a specific time.

The newsletter includes three simple calls to action: book now and save, click for more info, and plan a visit – all of which make it easy for someone to go from reading your email to planning their trip.

5 | Choose Chicago

The moment you open this email, you’re captivated with a vibrant photo of the Windy City.

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This entire newsletter is black and white, aside from the images, which really makes the visuals pop. Choose Chicago uses stunning UGC found on Instagram to promote its attractions.

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The direct call to action to “join the conversation” inspires a sense of community and visitors are asked to participate by using the hashtag #mychicagopix.

On top of being super visual, we like that this newsletter provides tons of ideas and tips to help travelers plan their next visit. It features blog posts, guides, a calednar of events, and links to deals at local businesses.

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Plus, Choose Chicago offers their free official visitor’s guide for download right in the newsletter – making it easy for visitors to discover more about the city.

Takeaways for Your Destination Newsletter

Crafting an effective newsletter that inspires and excites your readers requires following the classic writing rule of “show, don’t tell.”

The best way to show readers why they should visit your destination is to start with on-brand visuals and create a newsletter around the visual experience – rather than vice versa.

Whether your destination newsletter features professional photographs, lifelike cinemagraphs, or UGC, visuals allow you to tell stories of your destination’s distinct personality, local events, and seasonal highlights. 

Start with how your newsletter looks, and your readers will see why your destination is the perfect place to plan their next getaway.

We have a newsletter too! Subscribe to get the latest in visual marketing, UGC, and visual influence sent straight to your inbox bi-weekly

Visual Influencer Spotlight: Bill Sycalik and #runningtheparks

Bill Sycalik is the Founder and Chief Running Officer of the National Parks Marathon Project. He’s on a mission to bring people together and experience nature through running. He’s running a marathon in all 59 American national parks and documenting his journey in photos and on his blog. We interviewed Bill earlier this year to learn how he uses social media and visual influence to connect and inspire people all over the country

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Mission statement from the National Parks Marathon Project website

We love what you’re doing with the National Parks Marathon Project. Can you tell us about the moment you realized you were going to bring this idea to life?

I was most recently living and working in New York City. While I do love the energy of the city after five years I realized it just wasn’t feeding me anymore. I longed for easier access to the outdoors and nature.

My lease was up in May 2016 and I was planning to move to the Denver area. I was going to take some time off before I settled but hadn’t determined what that would be. I wanted to do something experiential and not just about drinking cocktails on a beach.

As I was surfing the ‘net one day I came across info highlighting this year being the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. My first thought was that I would visit some of the National Parks on the way to Denver.

But that itself wasn’t compelling enough for me. I wanted to experience the parks differently.

I enjoy running long distances completing both marathons and ultramarathons up to the 50-mile distance. I thought that it would be amazing to run 26.2 miles in every national park. That would be an incredible way to see the parks, challenge myself, and inspire others to really get into the parks, not just see them from the overlooks.

Thus, the National Parks Marathon Project was born.

What inspired you to start running marathons in the first place?

I ran my first marathon at the age of 33. I will be 45 years old on 8/17 so while I’ve been running for 12 years I can be considered a late starter to running. I never ran in high school or college and always thought I would hate it. But, I was living in Detroit and wanted to do something to get in better shape and tick “run a marathon” off the bucket list.

Like many I felt it out of reach — something only extremely fit people do. But, I thought, if Oprah can run a marathon so can I.

On October 29, 2006, I completed the Detroit Marathon in 3:49.08. Once I finished I thought to myself, “Oh, I can do better than that….” And that started my interest in marathons which then expanded to ultramarathons.

Any favorite trails so far?

Of course I don’t want any of the National Parks to feel bad because they are all different and amazing in their own right. I will say that Theodore Roosevelt National Park was the most difficult to date. Everything from navigation issues, heat, elevation, water crossings, animals and complete solitude challenged me thoroughly. TRNP is extremely beautiful, diverse and remote.

The sunrise and sunset at Badlands National Park ended up being beautiful despite choppy clouds.

Sunset over @badlandsnps #runningtheparks #southdakota #parknut #nationalparks #sunsets #nps100 #findyourpark

A photo posted by Bill Sycalik (@runningtheparks) on

Had any crazy experiences on the trail?

At Wind Cave National Park I fell. Just tripped and did a roll. Bruised my shoulder but otherwise came out unscathed. I figure that if I fall like that every seven marathons plus 21.5 miles I’ll take it.

I’ve also had to avoid bison on the trail there, and at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (three times!). I’ve also seen bears at Grand Teton and Voyageurs National Park.

Voyageurs was interesting. I had highlighted a trail that I was planning to run. When I asked the ranger about it, she said that the trail is on the map but most of it is underwater. Between the recent rain and the beavers building dams, I wouldn’t get too far before I would have to swim. She suggested another route which required me to hire a water taxi to take me 35 minutes across Lake Kabetogama to another trailhead.

We see you’re posting a lot of photos of the parks, and your runs on social media. How’s sharing the journey been going?

I’m now a little over seven weeks into the trip. I am still trying to find that balance between sharing and enjoying. I want people to realize through my example that it is OK to take some time off. It is not crazy to stop working for a while and enjoy nature, enjoy life! I don’t want people to live vicariously through me. I want them to create their own experiences.

@yosemitenps trails in fall. The beauty you see #runningtheparks. #findyourpark

A photo posted by Bill Sycalik (@runningtheparks) on

I hope my photos and reports can help do that. I also use HootSuite to schedule posts. When I have good internet I schedule a bunch of posts so that I don’t have to do it every day.

How do you think platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can help Americans value and appreciate their parks more?

Social media allows people to share ideas and information more easily than any time in our past. I have received and given recommendations to other travelers and visitors to the national parks.

Social media is a great way to learn from others’ experience and mistakes. And best, social media enables connection in person easier than ever.

All the people who have run with me on this trip I met through social media. It is a way to bring people together around a subject or activity they care about, in this case running and our national parks.

You can also use social media to learn about issues concerning the parks like proposed construction, logging, pipelines, etc. You can help take action where you feel inspired to help protect these fragile places. The National Parks Conservation Alliance is my recommendation for learning about how you can help.

All that said, it is very easy to get caught up in social media. Putting limits on checking and posting when in or around the national parks is a good idea. That way you don’t get distracted from the experience.

On so many of your posts, you’re inviting people to run with you, or just spend some time in nature with you. How’s the engagement been from this offer?

I’ve had people run with me at six of the nine parks. For three of those parks I had someone do the entire marathon with me. Those are strong runners! It looks like I should have some company for Yellowstone as well.

In addition, at Badlands, someone I met through Instagram wanted to run with me even though he wasn’t going to be there for the marathon day. He and his family were staying in the same campground so we ran our own off-trail route around the buttes and spires near the visitor center. Despite loving both distance running and our National Parks, he said that he would never have gone on that run if I had not been there but was so happy he did. He said he’s definitely going to try to run at future parks as he can.

This is what it’s about — meeting new people and experiencing our National Parks through running.

You mention on your website that one of your core values involves “contribution and impact”. What impact do you hope to make with this project?

There are three things I would like to contribute.

  1. I want to serve as an example to those who might feel trapped by their job, location, or lifestyle that it is possible to make a change. I want people to recognize that it is OK to take some time off and you don’t need a lot of money to do so. I want people to know that recognize their happiness is not measured by the number of things they accumulate.Trying to keep up with what other people have is exhausting both for the person and their bank account. Have what you need, save prudently and use the rest to experience the world.
  1. I want people to be inspired to get out of their cars and see our national parks on the ground. Even if they don’t run, I hope people will at least get out and do a long hike. I want people to see that moving in our national parks is possible for everyone. By getting closer to nature, hopefully people will recognize why these places need to be protected.  
  1. I also want people to see that a plant-based athlete can accomplish great things. One of the very few things that an adult human has full control over is what they eat.It is time for the country to take ownership of what we eat, reach out to organizations which can provide less crazy dietary guidance (like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) and become collectively the healthiest nation on earth. We are far, far from that.

So, what happens next? You talk about being a “recovering management consultant”. Do you ever see yourself going back to corporate America after this?

While I never say never, I don’t see myself ending up in another traditional consulting or corporate position.

My current thinking is that I would like to work in product development and marketing in the outdoors or athletic industry. This could be gear, footwear, clothing, or nutrition for instance. I would like to work with athletes and users of the products to make them stronger, faster, better. I would also like to leverage my running coaching certifications so maybe I’ll pick up some clients as well.

The other option, which I could do in parallel, is to be an educator in diet and exercise. I choose to eat fully plant-based (vegan) and I feel it would benefit most people to eat the same. I can be an example of what is possible.

However, I know that it is a process to get to that point and my feeling is that we’re lacking proper education. I used to think people just chose to make bad decisions. Now I’m beginning to believe they don’t know any better — which is an education problem, not a willpower problem.

Thanks for taking the time to answer all of our questions, Bill!

You clearly have such a passion for what you’re doing, and that really comes across. We love your vision behind the National Parks Marathon, and especially the way you’re bringing awareness to it with visual influence. Your photos and blog are inspirational. Best of luck!

Connect with Bill

Follow his progress! Yellow pins mark completed parks, and red are still to go.

CrowdRiff is a visual marketing platform that helps brands take charge of their visual influence strategy. To find out how CrowdRiff can help your brand find people like Bill, drop us a line!

 

Header image from the National Parks Marathon Project website

5 Ways CrowdRiff Helps DMOs Be Better Visual Influencers

You’ve heard the saying, “Looks aren’t everything.”

And in most cases, we’d agree!

However, when it comes to spreading the word about your destination (to attract new tourists and fans), visual influence matters more than ever.

As a DMO, you want to stand out as the visual influencer (or authority) for your destination, and inspire potential travelers with powerful visual stories. You want to be the first place people go to when they want to find out what kind of travel experience you can offer.

CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform helps DMO’s, attractions, and museums become better visual influencers, to spark powerful engagement, and stand out as the go-to experts in their field.  

These are five ways CrowdRiff helps brands take hold of their visual influence, and be better visual influencers.

1 | Finding your destination’s best UGC photos with powerful tracking and search functions

Every day, people are sharing photos of your destination all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter (and more). CrowdRiff helps you easily tap into this growing collection of visual content, by sourcing relevant photos into the platform.

Each time someone shares a photo or video tagged with a hashtag or location you’re tracking, it appears in CrowdRiff.

That makes it easy for you as a visual influencer, to stay up-to-date on what people are sharing in your destination. By browsing the photos CrowdRiff pulls in, you can discover the local coffee shops locals are frequenting, the attractions that make the best photo-op spots, and the latest trends in your destination.

“There’s so much going on you find little nuggets of things that are happening in town, new public art, new murals, new stuff happening…you can have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on.” 

Wes Rhea, CEO of Visit Stockton

And one of the best parts about your CrowdRiff collection is that the thousands of photos in there are all searchable and sortable. Our industry-leading search lets you search more than just hashtags and keywords.

CrowdRiff discovery visual marketing platform

So whether you know what you’re looking for, or just want to discover something new, CrowdRiff can help you find the photos to be the best visual influencer in your location.

2 | Storing all your visual assets in one organized hub

User-generated photos of course aren’t the only visuals you have — you probably have photos from professional shoots, images you’ve taken yourself, event pictures, and such.

CrowdRiff’s visual marketing platform is a hub for all of these. Besides pulling in user-generated photos into your collection, you can also upload any owned visual assets, so that all your visuals are stored in one place.

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CrowdRiff also makes it simple to sort and organize all your photos. You can tag photos and sort them into folders, so that while your collection might be huge, everything remains easy-to-find.

What’s more, using artificial intelligence, in the form of Google Cloud Vision, every photo you upload is automatically tagged with relevant keywords — meaning your entire CrowdRiff collection is searchable.

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Having everything in one place makes it easier to keep on top of all the assets available for your use, so you can get creative with your visual influence campaigns.

3 | Simplifying rights management for UGC photos

A part of being a powerful visual influencer involves curating and showcasing the photos that tell your brand story best. And since others are always sharing photos in your destination, having a system in place to get rights to use UGC photos is a must.

When you’re looking for a variety photos to use on your website, typing out individual comments (“I love this photo! Do we mind if we use it on our website?”) can take a ton of time.

CrowdRiff simplifies the rights management process in two ways:

  1. It allows you to request permission at scale
  2. It keeps track of who’s given permission to which photos

You can select multiple photos in your collection and send out customized rights requests with just a click — saving you hours of manual searching and typing. And once someone responds with permission, the photo automatically becomes available for you to download.

For the brands that require another layer of protection, our Advanced Rights Management feature lets you link users to an actual terms and conditions document. Watch it in action in our ARM announcement.

4 | Helping you give actionable inspiration with Calls-to-Action

Visual influence is all about inspiring people to action through visuals — and a part of being a visual influencer is enabling both the inspiration and the action.

CrowdRiff’s Call-to-Action (CTA) feature allows you to insert relevant links within photos. So when someone finds a stunning picture of a historic theatre, and suddenly feels inspired to visit, you can make sure there’s a link to that theatre’s website for them to take the next step.

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Linking to a partner’s listing on your own site or directly to their website boosts your role as a visual influencer and authority because you can offer all the information people need.

After implementing CTAs to their photos, Hammock Coast was able to drive 20% of their web traffic to their tourism partners. Read the full story here.

And as your follower count and engagement grows, so will your opportunities to share the successes with businesses within or around your destination by helping filter some digital and foot traffic their way. This solidifies your standing as an authority on your brand.

5 | Extending your visual influence to every channel

A lot of brands are already doing great things with visual influence on social media — reposting and curating popular photos to their own feeds — but it doesn’t stop there.

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CrowdRiff makes it easy to be a visual influencer across all marketing platforms — your website, your social channels, and in out-of-home advertising too. Being consistent with the story you share will cement your position as the visual influencer of your brand to visitors wherever they go.

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Go To Louisville, for example, is a fantastic example of a DMO who’s embraced visual influence on multiple channels. They’ve become the top visual influencer for Louisville, Kentucky.

When you find a photo you like in CrowdRiff, you can put it in a gallery on your website, download it for use (after getting rights) in a visitor’s guide or other print ads, or schedule it straight into Buffer to share on social. Or all three!  

CrowdRiff can help your brand become its primary visual influencer.

Visual influence isn’t just a way to hold sway over your market. It’s the way to share your story, the best parts of your destination, and create a lasting, powerful bond with your audience and visitors.

With CrowdRiff’s robust visual marketing platform, you can rise to the top as the visual influencer of your brand, to reach and inspire more people to visit your unique destination.

We’ve found thousands of photos taken in your destination! Request a preview link to see what CrowdRiff can do for you.

Header image credit: @ribbonaj

What is Visual Influence? And Why Should Marketers Care?

 

Every day, people are constantly being bombarded with the (seemingly) hundreds of photos their friends take in every place they visit.

Whether it’s from the Facebook friend who’s sunbathing in Hawaii, or the Instagrammer that’s coffee-shop hopping all over the city — these are visual stories of experiences

People love and seek experiences. And to find them, they’re following visuals.

People are already making decisions based on visuals.

Consider: When was the last time you made a purchase from a Craigslist or eBay ad that didn’t show photos? When was the last time you went to a restaurant you found on Yelp that didn’t have any photos of their food?

Chances are, not lately. Or at least not as recently as when a photo compelled you to do something.

Social photos, from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, are particularly influential.

You might see a photo on Instagram of a particularly intricate work of latte art, for example — and that cafe is now on your list of spots to visit on the weekend.

And when you decide to take your next holiday in Hawaii — due to that travelling Facebook friend of yours — that’s visual influence at work.

At its core, visual influence is tied to the way people take action based on the images they see of places, products, and experiences.

For marketers, the pursuit of visual influence holds an opportunity to captivate and attract more tourists and customers, as well as being the go-to authority of your brand story.

That means showcasing all the great things you have to offer a visitor, and inspiring them.

If you ignore visual influence, other people will tell your story for you.  

Sometimes, that’s a good thing — like when your happy visitors are sharing their photos with their friends and networks. But because there are so many photos that exist out there, your main story can get diluted.

People are bound to share photos that are unrelated to your destination’s travel potential — things that aren’t going to particularly attract people to come. That’s why it’s the DMO’s job to rise above as the main visual influencer.

For example, Waterloo is a region in Ontario, Canada that’s home to the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. So it goes without saying that a lot of the photos tagged in Waterloo depict student life.

 

The thing is… exam stress “studying-in-the-library” photos aren’t exactly catalysts for travel inspiration. Nor are house party photos.

Knowing this, the DMO Explore Waterloo Region has honed in on their visual influence strategy. On their website and Instagram, they’ve curated specific photos people are sharing in their location, that tell a story of their destination that goes so much further than “university town”.

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Because Explore Waterloo Region has positioned itself as the main storyteller — or visual influencer — of their destination, interested visitors go to their website or Instagram account to investigate what Waterloo has to offer.

So in addition to its bustling student activity, visitors can see the local cafes, farmers market, and small town charm that defines Waterloo.

Taking hold of your visual influence puts you back in the driver’s seat of your reputation and story.

You are your brand’s curator.

Along with to your own branded photos (aspirational visuals), showcase the authentic (user-generated) photos that other people have taken about you.

As a marketer, you can’t control everything about your brand’s image. But you can curate the visuals that are out there, to tell your story and share your culture. 

Visuals are influential. And when you take hold of your visual influence, that’s the best way to inspire more visitors and travelers to come see what you can offer.

Want to learn how to be a better visual influencer for your brand? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest tips sent straight to your inbox.

 

Further reading: