Maintaining and growing your social media presence is an essential part of being a travel writer. It’s one of the key factors in whether your stories attract readers. And if you’re writing for publications, your editors are going to expect it–it’s also a great way to promote your writing.
However, it can also be the most confusing and frustrating part of being a travel writer. Follow these basic dos and don’ts and it won’t be long before you’re growing your following, attracting more readers, and working with more brands.
Saying the right thing
One of the biggest mistakes travel writers make on social media is the “post and run.” This is when you post just the link to your story and nothing else. Although it may look nice because it pulls in your headline, photo, and probably also a short description of the piece, it’s likely not enough to entice a reader to click.
DO write a great tease when you share your story on social media.
The best way to learn teases is to listen to the radio or check out the tabloids when you’re in line at the grocery store. Radio programs use teases at the end of every segment to entice you to stick through the commercials to hear what’s next. Tabloids use teases on the front cover to convince you to pick them up and flip through. Start paying attention to those, and you’ll quickly learn what makes a great tease.
Generally speaking, you want to tell readers what to expect—but don’t give it away, they have to click and read to get the payoff.
DON’T post and run. A link alone will get you nowhere.
Promoting early and often
Self-promotion can be tricky to navigate. You want to support your own work and make your editors happy, but you don’t want to annoy your followers or feel like you’re constantly saying, “Hey, look at me!”
DO post multiple times about the same story, especially on Twitter. Because the feeds on social media channels move so quickly and there’s so much content from users, the average tweet lasts only 18 to 24 minutes. For Facebook, the average post stays in the feed two-and-a-half to five hours, and for Instagram it can be up to 48 hours.
The best advice is to post each of your stories a minimum of one time each on Facebook and Instagram and three times on Twitter. When you do post multiple times about the same story, space out your posts across the day and even into multiple days.
DON’T say the exact same thing twice on the same platform, however. The algorithms will catch that and decrease the reach of the second post. You need to write a new tease each time.
Growing the right way
Perhaps the most frustrating part of social media is figuring out how to grow your following on the various platforms. In the beginning, it may feel like you’re shouting into a void and it’s easy to get discouraged and want to give up.
You can’t give up, though. Leveraging the power of social media is one of the most important steps to becoming a successful travel writer these days. Not only will it help you find readers, but the hotels, restaurants, and other brands you work with will all expect you to share on social media both while you’re visiting and when you publish your story.
DO practice patience as you grow your social media following. The best way to do this is to post engaging content—something people want to comment on or click to read more—on a consistent basis. You should be posting on each social media channel at least once a day. That might sound like a lot, but given how quickly the content disappears from your readers’ feeds, it’s necessary if you’re in growth mode.
A good suggestion is to plan out your social media a week—or even a month—at a time and use a scheduler like HootSuite, Buffer, or MeetEdgar to post for you.
DON’T fall victim to all the “get followers quick” schemes out there. Unfortunately, there is no fast-track to getting real followers that generate the engagement brands will be looking for when choosing whether to partner with you or offer you comps and perks.
Automated bots and agencies that allow you to buy followers in bulk are seemingly everywhere you look. While they can boost your followers quickly, the travel industry has grown wise to their methods and software exists that can show them whether you have real followers who engage with you, read your work, and are influenced by your recommendations.
If you always remember to be patient and consistent and ask yourself with every post how you can engage your audience, you’ll not only be successful at growing your social media, you’ll also be a successful travel writer.