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Betsi Hill is a blogger how knows how to build relationships online that lead to free tripsTo entice people to read your blog, you need to lure them in. 

Just like fishing, it takes skill. You set the right bait on the hook, cast the line, and the fish will find it and bite. And when you learn the ropes, tourism boards and travel companies–who offer free trips for bloggers–will seek you out, too. 

Tourism boards and destinations—both at home and abroad—want to work with bloggers who will use their influence (social media and blog following) to focus attention on their locale. 

In 2016 and 2017, harnessing the power of social media, I was able to turn influence into complimentary travel and activities.

Here’s what you need to know to do it, too…

A consistent marketing plan = free trips 

Tourism boards, hotels, and resorts are wising up.  They no longer look at the number of followers you have on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter as much as they look at your engagement –how many people “like” your posts, comment or engage.

My husband and I love the benefits that come through our blogging and high audience engagement. High engagement on social media attracts destinations and public relations firms to follow you and possibly lead to press trips.

On Twitter and Instagram, destinations love to see the interaction of people with your tweets and posts. Interaction can be comments on your posts or likes on your posts. This interaction is referred to as engagement.

The more eyes you have on your posts and tweets, the more opportunity you have for interaction with your audience or followers. The more interaction or engagement you have means more potential clients for a destination. 

For me, the magic number was 10,000 followers on Twitter. My fans interacted with my tweets. Many of my tweets were retweeted, which meant that my tweets were reaching a larger audience, through my followers. 

This turned into a snowball effect. The wider the audience, the more followers I gained, the more interaction my tweets received, and the greater the audience became for the destination. That makes me more valuable to PR firms and tourism boards.

The quid pro quo from bloggers

The role of social media is to influence an audience so that they will visit a destination or buy a product. You are the influencer, persuading your audience to visit a locale. To ensure you keep receiving complimentary trips, you need to share your blog posts far and wide. 

Here’s an example…

While we were in Bimini, Bahamas, we swam with sharks. I tweeted about our experience while on the experience, then continued for months tweeting about our adventure. 

I wrote a blog post about our experience and sent the post out on all my social channels multiple times. I posted pictures on Instagram and I took the time to learn and use appropriate hashtags. 

Before, during, and after my travel, I create a series of tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram posts and stories. Then I use software called Meet Edgar that broadcasts my posts for me at the times I designate ahead.

Doing this has opened doors to complimentary stays and activities in Barbados, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Florida, Georgia, and Missouri. 

My husband and I chronicle everything we do on social media when invited on a complimentary trip. We take lots of pictures, both with our phones and with our camera. We shoot food, restaurants, downtowns, activities, drinks. We post our pictures to social media, creating a buzz about the destination before writing the blog post

That’s what we do as travel bloggers. We put the spotlight on the destinations we visit, the attractions we go to, the food we eat, and our accommodations. We are the scouts who share our experiences with our audience.

Using the bait and casting the line will bring you a wider audience and increase your value to destinations. Before long, it will be you getting the rewards.

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