I have a confession. I am obsessed with Instagram. But, not just the everyday “living the best life” photo. I’m completely fixated by travel Instagrammers. If I don’t get my daily fix of pictures from snow-capped Alaska, tropical Bali or the mountain passes of Cape Town, I find myself in a rather peculiar mood. What makes my online obsession more of a passion is because I’m truly fascinated with the art behind these Instagrammers' work. If you think that snapping the perfect travel photo is just about playing around with your iPhone settings, adding a VSCO or Snapseed filter and putting it out there, you’re completely wrong. There’s so much that goes into the perfect travel account, and that’s what makes it so interesting from a strategy perspective.
The truth is that being an instagrammer, especially those specialising in travel, is a full-time project and is far more intricate than what the eye sees. Here are a few reasons why I admire travel Instagrammers and why I think other social strategists should too.
Following their passion
It’s one thing to have an Instagram page that your friends and family like. And, it’s another to have an account which you treat as a business. Following your passion for travel is extremely inspiring and something any creative wishes they could do. It takes a certain type of person to break away from the norm and completely give themselves up to travelling. As an outsider, I love watching a travel Instagrammer’s growth and how they find and distinguish their own style. One Instagrammer I have been glued to is Jack Morris (@doyoutravel). Over the past year, he has completely turned his Instagram account into a travel account with a very specific style. While we might think following your passion for travel is as simple as opening an account and travelling, the truth is you have to be an incredibly organised and business-minded person. The majority of the time, you are checking emails, responding to brand collaborations, researching locations, pulling analytics, staying updated with Instagram changes and rushing between airports while still coping with jetlag and photo editing.
Another aspect of travel Instagram that I absolutely love is the technical side. Instagram is an art form. If you’re standing in front of a piece of art in an exhibition, what you see is colour on canvas. What an insider sees is the work behind that piece of art. The hours behind creating the piece, the various brushes and stroke techniques used, the significance of the red used with the story behind the piece. This is exactly the same with a travel account. A post needs to be thought out and then the correct equipment must be used to get that shot. Spend five minutes on South African-based Dean Cothill’s page (@Deancothill) and you’ll understand what I mean. He incorporates various photography styles and blends them in smoothly to keep his style. A while back he visited Faroe Islands and incorporated a lot of drone footage in his feed. You felt as though you were a bird soaring over the majestic island. Another local travel enthusiast making the most out of various types of footage is Heinrich Knoetze (@instacptguy). His incredible use of footage taken from a helicopter – showing off Cape Town’s mountain passes and beaches – will make anyone want to hit the coast. He has good insight into various types of cameras and knows exactly how to get the shot he wants.
You can’t simply put all travel Instagrammers in one box. You get those who travel the world and work mainly with the country's tourism department or hotel brands. Then you get those who focus more on travelling local and work closely with local destination groups, clothing and camera equipment brands. A globe trotter that I absolutely adore is Australian creative, Emilie Ristevski (@helloemilie). She focuses on working with tourism companies to portray various destinations. But it’s her flowy hair, oversized checked shirts and love for floppy hats that make her stand out. Lennart Pagel (@Lennart) is another traveller that makes my heart skip a beat. Scroll through his feed and you’ll see he uses the colour red to pop out on his feed every six posts or so. This is well thought out and shows how standing out needs strategy, initiative and structure.
Key learnings for social strategists include understanding the art behind the work and how their social strategy is a huge part of what makes them who they are. Gone are the days of just posting whenever it suits you. It takes passion, knowledge and the ability to make your page stand out.