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How to make travel content that goes places on social

By   |   December 20th, 2017   |   Reading time: 8 minutes Brands, Digital Journalism

social media analytics, social media strategy

How can travel publishers and brands make sure that their content goes big on social? We look at the data behind the top travel content trends. 

With 2018 right ahead of us, there’s also the long and looming winter stretching out in front of us in the northern hemisphere. What better time could there be to think about far-flung destinations and start some travel plans?

Given the inspirational and visual nature of social media, it’s the perfect place for travel content to thrive.

That’s why we pulled together our latest report of social trends: Travel on Social: Trends and Insights.

Looking at social media data from September through November, we examined the top trends in travel content across the web, Facebook, and Instagram.

Our report took a look at:

  • The top platforms for travel content
  • Which publishers created the most viral travel stories and posts
  • The impact of current events in top travel content
  • How travel brands are creating buzz on Facebook and Instagram
  • Which travel influencers are top on Instagram

So what should you know about the most viral travel content? Here’s a peek at the top content trends.


Yes. Cute animal stories are still dynamite


In case you were worried that there was a vertical that cute animal stories weren’t relevant to — fear not, travel is not that vertical.

"2,5 years ago, I quit my job and sold everything to travel with my cat willow in a campervan"

Posted by Bored Panda Animals on Friday, October 13, 2017


Unsurprisingly, Bored Panda had two notable travel stories that had an animal focus. This web article above, about a person selling their possessions to travel with his cat, drove more than 271,000 engagements across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Tiny hedgehog goes camping, and his pics are the best thing you’ll see today:

Posted by Bored Panda on Tuesday, October 17, 2017


This story from BoredPanda, while not directly related to a trip, still sparked some travel-related buzz.

The creativity of these stories is notable. It sets them apart from other, more straightforward content in the various platform newsfeeds.


Don’t shy away from current events


Obviously, use discretion as to whether you can create content that’s appropriately linked to the current news cycle. Advertising a trip to California while wildfires are raging through the state? Not a good content move.

Instead, look for where you find genuine storytelling moments that would resonate with your audience.

“Given that many Floridians are struggling to get out of harm’s way, this is welcome news.”

Posted by Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, September 6, 2017


This story around JetBlue and Hurricane Irma drove more than 303,000 engagements, primarily on Facebook.

Capitalizing on current trends can do well too. For example, futuristic travel tends to be a compelling topic, our data has revealed. This article was the top shared for LinkedIn in our travel analysis, with nearly 20,000 shares:

And it would even stop in Ottawa along the way!

Posted by Daily Hive Toronto on Thursday, September 14, 2017


Millennials are another topic that tends to get people buzzing. This story on Millennials’ vacation habits was also one of the highest shared on LinkedIn, with around 13,000 shares.


Find the human interest elements


Why do sports do so well on social? Part of it is that sports content has natural heroes that fans can follow along with.

This was another winning tactic of top engaging stories. Social media followers can relate to human interest elements in stories and have an emotional response to them.

Italy's last sea silk master

Byssus, or sea silk, is one of the rarest and most coveted materials in the world – and this is the last person on Earth who still knows how to weave it.Full story:

Posted by BBC Travel on Thursday, September 7, 2017


This story about Italy’s last sea silk seamstress drove more than 120,000 engagements on the web article. The video above has driven more than 12.4 million views.


All that was needed was a guitar, an accordion and a group of enthusiastic people waiting to fly home.

Posted by CBC News on Tuesday, November 21, 2017


This quirky story drove more than 211,000 engagements on its web article. Again, a human interest story, one that is relatable to anyone who has dealt with airport hijinks.


Point out the weird and wonderful


Rather than a straightforward travel guide, find what makes a destination stand out from the ordinary.

This New York Times story about Ethiopia’s budget churches was our top tweeted travel article. The powerful visuals, paired with a story that stands out in the news feed, made for socially compelling content.

Ethiopia is one of the more exciting places to visit in the world right now.

Posted by The New York Times on Thursday, November 23, 2017


Superlatives are another tactic to pair up with destination-focused content. This Guardian article about Scotland being deemed the most beautiful country, drove nearly 142,000 engagements.

A walk through Rough Guides' most beautiful country in the world.

Posted by The Guardian on Saturday, September 9, 2017


The article was fleshed out further with historical and geographical highlights that make Scotland more interesting than people might know.


We don’t (necessarily) hate brand stories


If you’re a brand, you don’t need to necessarily sneak your company into content. Nor do you necessarily have to be a Disney World or otherwise instantly exciting brand.

This has been the year of the “woke” brand. Brands are embracing their corporate citizenship, showing social media followers that they are passionate about the same issues and concerns.

As we saw above, travel brands created some solid social media wins through their philanthropic efforts this year. This story drove 431,000 engagements on its web article. Another article showed Southwest rescuing displaced animals.

Royal Caribbean canceled an upcoming cruise in order to send the ship to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on a rescue mission to save stranded hurricane victims.

Posted by The Hill on Thursday, September 28, 2017


Today’s consumers expect brands to be more than silent institutions, rather, they want brands to show some humanity on social media.

I'm begging for this guy to be on my next flight 😂

Posted by InspireMore on Wednesday, November 15, 2017


This story from Inspire More, showing Southwest employees having a bit of fun, drove more than 303,000 engagements on the web.


The top travel trends and brands on native


What else do you need to know about travel content, especially when it comes to which travel-focused accounts are top on Facebook and Instagram? Which formats are the most engaging?

What about influencers? What about specific airlines and hotel brands?

We cover it all and more in our report. Check out our guide to Travel on Social and get inspired.

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