One thing that all destination marketers know is that having an authentic social media strategy is crucial to make audiences feel connected to your brand.
Good storytelling on social media can bring people closer together, which is why it’s imperative for travel brands to prioritize thoughtful experiences and conversations on social media on the daily.
Planning your social strategy for the coming months or even next year? Here are a few emerging social media trends and high-performing favorites worth doubling down on.
1. DIY storytelling trumps traditional advertising
Travelers can sense when something isn’t authentic, especially in our hyper-connected world where user photos, reviews, and hashtags are pre-baked into the travel planning process.
Before making decisions, travelers tend to take a multi-touch approach to ensure their vacation experience is 100% as advertised. In fact, 79% of people say user-generated content (UGC) has had a highly effective impact in their decisions.
Destination marketers and travel brands, take note.
If your DMO or travel business is marketing your destination as perfectly Instagrammable, UGC should also evoke that. For today’s traveler, anything less than authentic will turn them off from your marketing.
2. Video will continue to reign supreme
In the travel industry, videos have long been an indispensable marketing tool. They show off destinations and hospitality businesses in their full glory. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that 75% of Instagram users take action after viewing a video ad.
“Consumers, on average, spend about 323 minutes per week watching video content, and that is on mobile phones alone,” said Mackenzie Bromley, the Director of Social Media at MMGY Global.
We strongly encourage travel marketers to lean harder into video creation — and that doesn’t have to equal big budget productions. Again, DIY videos appeal to travelers looking for an unfiltered opinion on the destinations they’re researching. Consumers will likely expect travel brands and destinations to meet them exactly where they are. Today, that’s on mobile and online.
3. Surprise — travel brands see a lot of success on TikTok
“TikTok is not social media. It’s an entertainment platform,” said Beril Gutierrez, Senior Manager of Social Media at Discover The Palm Beaches.
Plus, according to Gutierrez, TikTokers spend an average of 61 minutes per day on the app, which is 50% higher than platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Brands on TikTok have the opportunity to see higher engagement rates and keep audiences glued to their phones with entertaining content.
And it’s not all about Gen Z, either. About 23% of Gen X travelers have accounts on TikTok, so prepping a TikTok strategy for your destination could have a big payoff with multiple demographics itching to travel again.
The bottom line? Your brand can’t ignore TikTok’s audience of two billion (and counting).
If your state is experiencing government bans for TikTok, check out this blog post and our tips for working around them!
4. More and more travel brands will try micro-influencing
73% of brands actively use influencer campaigns as a powerful arm of their marketing machine, and there’s no doubt that trend is here to stay.
Often, we get stuck in the trap that expensive, big-name influencers = better ROI, but that’s not always the case. Micro-influencing can be just as…well, influential as working with content creators with a huge follower base.
Partner up with content creators who have a unique POV that aligns with your mission, rather than a mega-influencer whose content casts a super-wide net (we’re bias, but our solution, CrowdRiff Creators is a game changer in this department!). For example, want to highlight Indigenous lands and experiences within your destination? Partner with Indigenous content creators. Looking to showcase your destination’s food scene? Work with a foodie micro-influencer who already lives, breathes, and eats in your community.
5. Social analytics are more important than ever
Year after year, the need for insightful analytics grows. At-a-glance dashboards can be overwhelming at first, but the exciting part about raw data is that, eventually, that data becomes a story. Here are a few things you should keep a pulse on when you’re looking at social media analytics:
- Engagement rate. How are people engaging with your content? Are they commenting, saving, and sharing, or merely scrolling past? If you have a million followers but only 1,000 of them actually interact with your marketing, that’s not a great return on your effort.
- Reach. How many new audiences are your accounts reaching week over week or month over month, and is this number stagnant or growing? Ideally, your brand should aim for steady growth, not stop-and-start jumps every few months.
- Reviews and ratings. How is your destination or brand viewed by travelers? The value of positive reviewer sentiment can’t be understated, especially when travelers have a handful of tabs open researching your destination on Google, Yelp, Instagram, and Facebook.
Putting it all together
There are dozens of touch points on social media that your brand can leverage to get people hyped about your destination — like entertaining videos on TikTok, or powering your paid ads with authentic UGC that makes potential travelers feel like they’re already there.
Some trends have staying power, but remember: you know your audience better than anyone. Take inventory of your best performing social content in 2023 and use that as inspo while you’re prepping for 2024.
To keep yourself on track and plan ahead, check out content calendar template and let your creative juices flow!