Occasionally when I am scrolling through Facebook, I am astounded by the amount of connections of mine that span all over the world. At any given time, I can have friends travelling through Thailand, exploring the beaches of Australia, hiking a remote mountain in Nepal or attending a music festival in Iceland. What strikes me about these connections is the way that social media not only allows me to visualize these places, but connect with friends who are currently experiencing them. Social media platforms such as Facebook allow everyone to visualize new places, receive instant feedback about them and provide constant travel inspiration. Would I have known and desired to have visited that remote beach in Bali if a connection of mine had not posted those gorgeous photos? It’s interesting to think that platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have the capability to expand my visual geography.
I recently read this article about an American man who was perplexed when pictures of what appeared to be a foreign country began to appear on his iCloud photo stream. After explaining his predicament to a couple friends, they came to the conclusion that the photos were coming from a phone that was stolen over a year ago and that had been resold in China. As his iCloud stream contained more than a few pictures of the new owner of his phone, a movement was born in order to connect these two men who probably had nothing in common except for accidentally sharing an iCloud photo stream. Once pictures began surfacing on the internet through Twitter and Weibo (basically a Chinese version of Twitter), strangers began pouring tips into the comment section attempting to connect these strangers. Long story short, the two men were connected and an amazing friendship was formed. In this case, Weibo and the social communities of both of these men were able to connect them from across the world and facilitate a visit to a village that the author probably didn’t even know existed beforehand.
If it were not for social media, this unlikely friendship would definitely not have formed. I sometimes catch myself recommending activities or hotels in cities that I have never stayed in, strictly based on the social media activity of my friends. Have you ever felt inclined to visit someplace new or try a different restaurant based on a connection’s photo or status update?
The impact of social media on the travel and tourism industry has been very positive. According to statistics, 92% of people rely on media, word-of-mouth, and recommendations from their social community. Social media also has a heavy influence on actual travel bookings as only 48% of people who researched through social media after booking kept their original plans. As i’m sure many of us can attest to, 78% of people posted photos of their vacation online. This data can be found here. Social media has become a platform for vacation and travel recommendations and inspiration. Through reviewing shared photos and status updates, I am constantly learning about new destinations, and expanding my understanding of the world’s geography.
Have you ever learned about a new destination or culture through social media?