With an infinite wealth of cat videos, celebrity pouts and awkward status updates at our fingertips, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd on social media.
Luckily, travel is a topic that resonates with even the speediest of scrollers – if you get it right. Avoid the common pitfalls of posting your life online and enthrall your audience with these golden rules.
Do… choose quality over quantity
The rise of social media has all but led to the death of the post-trip debrief between friends. It’s unfortunate, but let’s face it – when you (virtually) check in to every godforsaken airport, chain hotel and restaurant you so much as breeze through, tweeting your every move and Snapchatting every step of the way, by the time you get back everyone is seriously over it. We don’t want to hear about that wild night in Ibiza again – we were practically there with you the first time.
Pro tip: Sharing a few highlights that encapsulate your trip works out better for everyone; you won’t be spamming your friends’ feeds and you’ll still have a few stories up your sleeve upon your return.
Don’t… manipulate the truth
Remember: you’re on holiday, not shooting a travel brochure. And nobody’s fooled by Instagram filters these days. In our perfection-seeking society the temptation to enhance your images is intense; a tweak or two is forgivable, but when you find yourself airbrushing off your love handles and blurring out clouds it’s time to take a long, hard look at your priorities in life.
Pro tip: Cast off social pressures and keep it real. A candid capture of your sweaty, sunburned self having fun is far more interesting than a painfully posed poolside selfie.
Do… resist the temptation to humblebrag
A shot of sun-bleached sand on a tropical beach, into which are etched the words ‘how’s your Monday looking?’; a snap of your lunchtime cocktail alongside a trashy novel and a pair of designer shades, captioned, ‘It’s a hard life, but someone’s gotta do it’; a screenshot of the weather forecast where you are, cruelly contrasted with the storm warnings of home. The final twist of the knife: #sorrynotsorry.
Pro tip: We get it. You’re loving life. Tone down the taunts, pronto, or expect to be ‘unfriended’.
Don’t… think social media activity counts as staying in touch
Broadcasting your breakfast to the world can seem like the ideal way to touch base while travelling; everyone can see that you’re still alive and enjoying yourself – with a muffin the size of your face. But this one-to-many mentality just doesn’t cut it, particularly on long-term trips.
Pro tip: Make sure you set time aside for Skype calls and personal email updates so your loved ones don’t end up feeling like fans instead of friends and family. Your mum wants a postcard, not a Facebook poke.
Do… opt for originality
Before you cast another careless titbit into the online abyss, at least make it creative. Find a way to slice through the white noise: an unusual perspective on a place beats the leaning tower of Pisa trick hands down, and hair-raising views trump hot-dog legs any day. Have fun and don’t feel pressured to strip off on a mountain or divulge the details of an oh-so-average meal just because everyone else is doing it.
Pro tip: What quirky discoveries have you uncovered on your adventures? Share the unusual details and lesser-known sights, or depict the showstoppers in a new light.
Don’t… succumb to hashtag fever
Ah, hashtags. Designed to aggregate global conversations, essentially tracking the zeitgeist, they soon devolved into a means of adding cheeky asides and ironic quips to our tweets… #guiltyascharged. These days, anything goes, but adding 50 hashtags to your sunset shot isn’t going to make it stand out from the other 93 million on Instagram, so why bother
Pro tip: Go for the less-is-more approach: tag destination names so your followers can find more content from that region if they wish and drop the #funtimes #wanderlust waffle.
Do… master your medium
The best social media posts inspire or entertain their intended audience. So whether you’re sharing six-second clips on Vine, curating your travel snaps on Facebook or liveblogging your trip on Twitter, the goal should be the same: strive to make it better than the guff that the majority of the population are spewing into cyberspace.
Pro tip: Hone your craft – see social media as an art form; take a photography class or read up on video editing; follow influencers who inspire you and attempt to inspire others in your own way.
Don’t… experience your travels through a screen
Reaching for our smartphone the instant we encounter something spectacular has become second nature for today’s tech-savvy generation but it can leave us feeling detached from our experiences.
Watching whales breach through a lens diminishes the magic of the moment, while the stress of capturing the perfect shot to share with your friends eradicates all enjoyment. When social media commitments start to feel like chores, it’s time to switch off and live in the present.
Pro tip: When you spot an Instagram-worthy view, pause and count to 10 before framing your shot. Soaking up the scene is more important. If more extreme measures are required, read our traveller’s guide to digital detoxes.
Do… upload your ‘wow’ moments
Sometimes it’s impossible to keep schtum on social media – and that’s OK. Rewarded with an epic panorama after a tough hike? Go ahead. Found the world’s best gelato? Let your friends in on the secret. We don’t want to go all Zuckerberg on you, but this is what sharing your travels is all about: celebrating the world, telling stories and starting conversations.
Pro tip: Captioning is key. Expressing joy and positivity online is most likely to engage your audience. As we’ve already covered, showing off – even if tongue-in-cheek – is alienating and quite frankly, old.