Travel supplement: Our global neighbourhood - Social media and travel

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IMA consider the impact that technology could have on the travel industry.

How could we have guessed that we would be able to access far away locations (almost) as if we were really there, but without actually having to do anything other than connect to the internet and boot up Google Street View? Let’s face it, this technology has already been around for a while, yet it still doesn’t fail to impress us. But “impressive” is not its only quality: it is also changing how real life works. Let they who never used Google Street View to check on that low-priced hotel when booking a holiday trip cast the first stone.

We constantly see ourselves changing and rethinking important decisions like where to live, where to go or where to stay, after seeing how a street or a neighborhood really looks like in Google. Not to mention that the other end of the equation is also affected since businesses now have to be more careful about their facade’s appearance, especially in the housing and hospitality markets.

Social media is another invention that has revolutionized the way we travel. Different places, cultures, people, and events can be explored in the palm of our hands. We don’t have to go anywhere to access what’s going on in a different location.

Another perspective

What makes social media special and distinctive from search engines is that it not only enables people to have access to photos and videos of new countries, cities, and locations, but it also provides a unique perspective of travel itself, because each person shares content in a different and exclusive way.

For instance, if two different people travel to the same city, the places or events they go to within that city might differ. Nonetheless, even if they go to the same specific places, the perspective they offer when choosing what and how to share belongs to that person and that person alone. This means that when people watch their friends’ travel posts, they are not getting general photos and videos of a specific place but rather being inserted into a whole particular and exclusive point of view of the content creator. You will not be able to find the same content anywhere else.

In this sense, it’s safe to say that when people share videos of their trips, they are taking their followers along with them. Followers are introduced to that particular trip and no other else. Social Media enabled audiences to explore new countries, new cities, new spots, without having to go anywhere and through the unique perspective of the content creator.

Influencing influencers

This notion is even stronger when we talk about Influencers. These are people that get invited to exclusive events and have the opportunity to travel to several different locations, making their content much more diverse. Just think about Coachella, for example, a festival that many can only dream of attending. But still, audiences get to participate if they follow an influencer who’s already there.

Another example would be Paris Fashion Week, an event that for so long has been depicted only through the lenses of the mass media, yet is now being shown through the different angles of the influencers who are attending. People now have the option to choose which of these perspectives they prefer, or whose trip they want to join and take part in.

And it doesn’t stop there. Because influencers get to participate in these events and have the opportunity to travel so much, followers are also being exposed to many different destinations that perhaps they were even unaware of. This can provoke the desire to leave yet another trip to Disneyland on the table for the time being, in favour of visiting different locations. Therefore, influencers not only connect audiences to different locations, but they also bring options, diversity, and possibilities to audiences’ tables.

Just in case you are still not convinced that influencers take their audiences to travel along with them, and bring awareness to places and events that otherwise would remain unexplored, we are going to illustrate with a case study of an influencer campaign we recently ran in collaboration with Justdiggit.

Justdiggit is a non-profit organization that kick-starts ecosystem restoration projects in degraded areas to have a positive impact on the climate. It was looking for a partner to create noise around their projects in Africa. IMA selected Influencers from different nationalities (U.S., Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, U.K.) to fly to Kenya and Tanzania and join this partnership.

Through their social channels, the Influencers were able to bring their followers to travel along with them and explore together Justdiggit projects, encouraging audiences to take action to cool down our planet. In this campaign, we generated 32 million impressions, with a worldwide reach. Followers gained awareness of this project and were eager to participate - something that wouldn’t have happened without the advent of social media and influencer marketing.

Emilie Tabor, chief marketing officer at IMA.

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