Originally, I wanted to compile a list of Top Ten Tips from travel bloggers. Then, I thought it would be special and more fun to focus on just four travel writers for this round. I already met Annette, from Bucket List Journey, July 2018 on a voyage with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises . I also met Jenn, of Coleman Concierge, this past spring working on a project in Philadelphia. I’m hoping to meet other bloggers in the near future, wherever our journeys may take us. Thank you all for taking the time to share your valuable insights.
Here are the two questions I asked to start the conversation: “What is the question that you get asked the most on social media?” and “How do you respond?” Following up, I requested sharing tips and tricks and “What was your Aha! moment on social media?”
Social Media Strategy: Pinning is Winning
A simple and highly effective tip on keywords — I love it! What do you think?
Here’s what Jenn says: “I am always asked how I get Pinterest views. My answer is simple. Continually pin high-quality Pins, both my own (about 60-70% of total pins pinned) and from all around Pinterest. Sure, the algorithms love that, but it’s more about providing value to real humans. Readers know there is always something fresh and exciting on my boards and bloggers love the love and the shares. My Pinterest page continually refreshes with new and organized content to keep bringing people back again and again.
When I choose a Pin to share, I put myself in the shoes of my readers. Is it something they would like to pin themselves or even click through. I always look for visually stunning photography with catchy headlines and a solid story underneath. My Aha! moment came when I looked at my Pins and realized I didn’t have a true keyword rich description on my Pins, just a meta-description linked to my blog post. Once I learned this and implemented the change (you can do this with coding, or make it easy and get the Tasty Pins plug-in), my account really begun to grow.”
Strategize Content for Your Readers
Focus on helping, not SEO-ing. If search engines could talk, what do you think they’d say about Mrs. O Around the World’s strategy?
Mrs. O Around the World suggests: “Write content for your readers. I have started a blog in order to share with friends and family the places that I have been to and could be of interest to others, and now available to tens of thousands of like-minded people 24/7. And that means writing without an agenda — I write not for SEO, or for affiliate links but for the readers who read my blog and have done so year after year and act on my advice. I share my trips on social media and on my blog with one purpose only: to help someone else have a better trip. It truly makes my day when someone goes to a hotel, a restaurant or books a seat on a plane and they associate that experience with me. And I love that people take the time to then send me a photo of such experience. Makes all the hours that no one sees totally worth it.
I work with brands and destinations — but they have to be of interest to my readers (and myself most of all). So that means declining 90% of brand work, at a significant cost, but it means I can sleep well at night. One thing I never do — accept invitations for events or experiences that my readers could not book themselves. That is not inspiring in any way — and it has been commented on more than a handful of times.”
Using the “Golden Rule” as a Social Media Strategy
Christine, aka The Uncorked Librarian, does unto others what she wants them to do — conversation, community, and more. Have you tried the same?
Christine’s point of view: “Although I have a smaller following across social media channels, one of the biggest and most flattering questions I’ve been asked is, ‘How do you receive so much sincere engagement?’
These days, you will find few single emoji responses on my pictures—although this practice still happens to even the best of us. My secret: Instead of spending time in engagement pods or Facebook groups playing the follow-for-follow games, I just do ‘me.’ I put out in the world what I expect to receive in return: Conversations, constructive dialogue, conscious travel, community, and relationship building. I spend time on my captions and talking with my followers. I get to know everyone who takes the time to consistently engage with me.
But the most important part of this relationship is that our conversation is natural and sincere—we hear this all of the time and ignore it. Most importantly, as a blogger, writer, and traveler, my main goal is to provide value to my audience. My platforms are not about me. If you provide endless value, tips, tricks, and advice and give it away freely without a ‘buy’ or wanting something for yourself always attached, your true followers will come. Our motivations, goals, and sincerity are more transparent than we know.
Even on Pinterest, a visual search engine, I usually receive around 1+ million monthly views that translates to hundreds if not a thousand blog hits a day. By having attractive, rich pins that are SEO keyworded with strong headlines telling readers how this post will brighten their lives, I find the most success. Readers come to your channels and blog looking to have a problem solved or their lives enhanced. They want to connect with a real breathing human—and a good person. Provide free value and engage like everyone is your good friend. Maybe, one day, they even will be.”
Be You. You are the Strategy
Annette, of The Bucket List Journey, boils the strategy down to a single element. You. Do you pass the authenticity test?
Annette recalls, “My biggest Aha! moment with social media was realizing that you just need to be yourself—don’t try to copy what someone else is doing. If you don’t wear frilly dresses or pastel pink in your everyday life, then don’t do it on your accounts! Also, your captions are another opportunity to include your own personality and flair—don’t use words or phrases that you would never say when talking to your friends. True fans come from feeling connected to the person, they want to feel like they can trust you and you are real. In order for them to do that you need to “do you” and nobody else.”
Summing up the Social Media Strategies
I love how these four bloggers share the philosophy of making it about helping the readers. There’s an underlying theme of being the best possible you and make it about the followers. That certainly has a lot to do with their successes. Jenn’s practical advice of a true keyword description on her pins, versus meta-description linked to her blog post, is an easy fix, don’t you think? And the results are impressive.
For the record, I am 100% aligned with The Uncorked Librarian’s take on pods and follow-to-follow and will stick with authentic and organic engagement versus pod engagement. (You can read more specifics here.)
The Final Aha!
My Aha! moment was when I wanted to monetize my expertise on social media. I shared my lessons on Entrepreneur.com and numerous other publications. I was quite busy that year with writing, and that year, I made Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencers. More on how this led me to my path as a travel writer .