There is no doubt that social media has transformed travel trends, and thus, travel marketing. Research over the past few years has ascertained the ‘why’ behind social media’s influence. As expected, it has much to do with millennials and technology. Millennials are emerging as the largest consumer demographic, and they are significantly contributing to integrating technology with travel. According to Expedia’s study on The Future of Travel, 49 percent of millennials book travel on their smartphones, and 40 percent of them engage online whilst travelling. Additionally, a Forbes study has confirmed that consumers, and millennials especially, trust in crowdsourced knowledge—in the form of reviews, tips, and advice blogs—and wish to learn about travel from travellers. The natural outlets for such knowledge are—of course—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram.
Instagram, in particular, is well-suited for inspiring travel plans. The platform’s ubiquitous nature has raised the standards of what makes a like-worthy post. We caught up with Sedge Beswick, Managing Director at Seen Connects at the Hotel Indigo London Kensington – Earls Court, who remarks, “The interesting thing for me is that 12 months ago, it was all around, like, a lo-fi shot that anyone could kind of take on the go. And now it is, kind of, a platform for polished content.”
As such, social media influencers have higher standards to uphold in order to make and maintain a considerable loyal following. At a glance, these ‘social media stars’ embody several common qualities: they were early adopters, they occupy specialised niches, and they strive for authenticity.
Today, everyone is on Instagram and other social platforms, so what separates the influencers from the crowds is longevity. The leading influencers were pioneers in their space, and they have an invaluable backlog of content that is not replicable. Many of the leading travel bloggers and personalities like Kate McCulley (@adventurouskate) and travel duo Dave & Deb (@theplanetd) boast more than 1,500 posts—you can’t build that overnight.
Of course, originating a trend is one thing, and maintaining the lead is another. In order to stay ahead of the pack, these influencers must also define and own their niches whether it’s being the scuba guy or a luxe traveller extraordinaire. Before an influencer can grow a community, he or she must first define that community by finding a group of people who share in the same interests.