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How not to suck at social media

social media travel

Is it just me, or do people tend to have a love-hate relationship with social media?

Many times when I tell people what I do over here at Young Adventuress (blogger, social media whore and coffee enthusiast) I’m met with a response that’s usually along the lines of “wow, that’s different, personally I hate that internet stuff.”


I even have a love-hate relationship with all my social media profiles. I love them because instant gratification rocks, I like to overshare EVERYWHERE and I have a lot of virtual friends (is that weird? actually don’t answer that). But I equally dislike the whole social media scene because it’s now my work, I hate feeling pressure to respond and reply, it can be stressful and it’s also turned into an addiction. One minute checking Twitter can lead to an hour lost watching cat videos on Youtube – or is that just me?

social media travel

However, the benefits of social media far outweigh the bad. Apart from getting to follow my dreams and getting paid to travel the world and live in New Zealand (hello, does it get any better than that?) it also connects me with cool people and interesting information around the world I might not encounter otherwise, and sometimes it even gets me paid the big bucks. Woot woot!

So if I have learned anything over the years on social media, it’s that it’s dynamic, feisty, complicated and occasionally ruthless. It’s hard to tame the beast but once you do, it’s a fun and exciting field to be involved in. You’ve been warned.

However, since everyone and their mother (not mine, thank god) has hopped on board the social media train in recent years, it has become increasingly hard to make a name for yourself and get noticed out there. How do you stick out among billions of users?


Social media is a work in process and what’s successful and what bombs changes all the time, and what has worked for me might not be the same as what will work for other people. Please keep that in mind before virtually yelling at me.

However, scout’s honor dictates that I must answer truthfully and honestly on here, and since I get heaps of questions and pokes all the time asking me things like “how do you get more followers,” I feel required to finally answer.

So here you go, my 10 best tips for not sucking at social media. Enjoy. 

social media travel

1. Understand the value and point of different platforms

There are so many social media platforms out there, it’s overwhelming. I STILL get overwhelmed with it all, but if you are looking to build a job or profession in the social media world, not only do you need to understand them, you need to prioritize and pick your battles. 2 years ago I started a notebook with monthly social media goals and numbers, and I’ve actively worked on building them and promoting them day by day.

Participating in Twitter chats helped me out in the beginning, though now I have come to believe that Twitter is pretty useless, and doesn’t really drive traffic to my blog. A lot of bloggers like to quote TweetReach as evidence of their super powers on Twitter, but in my opinion, that stat is total BS and people only use it because it’s generally in the millions and therefore looks good on paper. Tweetreach doesn’t accurately track how many people *actually* see a tweet, which is the whole point.

For someone who really does get the whole Twitter thing, check out Jodi from Legal Nomads. She has incredible post here about the importance of curating content.

social media travel

Instagram is probably my favorite social media platform at the moment. It has more than double the level of engagement as Facebook and far more than Twitter. This means people will interact with your stuff on Instagram much more than anywhere else. It’s also been growing rapidly and used by people in my target audience (25 to 34 year olds).

While Instagram doesn’t really drive traffic to my blog, I have been able to create a community of around 20,000 loud and loyal followers who listen to my travel tips and suggestions, which is what big brands and tourism boards want to see. It’s the new big media and in places like Australia, which has the most bomb Instagram of them all, has given rise to a whole new group of “professional Instagrammers.” I’ve been honing and focusing on my Instagram for over a year now, and I am happy to report, it’s one of the main reasons I get trip offers and paid offers, which is what we all want.

For examples of awesome travel Instagrammers who really get it, check out PaulyVella, ZachsPassport, and Wisslaren.

social media travel

Facebook Pages are a deep black hole that unfortunately we are all enslaved to until further notice. Unless you run Facebook ads, your page will be show to roughly 5% of your followers WHICH SUCKS THE BIG ONE. That being said, I am cheap and thrifty, and I’ve found through my own page as well as pages I’ve built for other businesses that you can still create a good community and get people engaged without spending money.

The most important number on Facebook is NOT the number of likes but rather the “talking about number” next to it. PR firms and big companies will look at that and your demographic much more than the number of followers. I have around 10,000 fans and my “talking about” number hovers around the 1,500 mark with my most popular city alternating between Brisbane, Auckland and Wellington and 25-34 year olds – EXACTLY who I want to be listening.

There are many sneaky pages out there who run super cheap ads in countries like India and Pakistan because the “cost per click” is much cheaper and people are much more likely to click and follow. I can think of a few who have 100,000 fans yet their “talking about” number is the same as mine and their demographics are 16 year old boys in Karachi and Bangkok. Businesses and PR people aren’t stupid and check those stats, which are public. It’s important to cultivate a community that fits with your brand goals and ideal demographics. 

Check out Finding the Universe for a Facebook Page that’s done amazing things.

social media travel

Pinterest is a tool that I really really need to start using more and more. It is visual, easy, and used by totally normal people a lot. It has the potential to go viral much easier on here and is a great way to drive traffic to your website. I am kicking myself for not putting in more of an effort until now.

Check out YTravel Blog for a page that has done amazing things on Pinterest.

Google + to be honest, I don’t really get it, and from what I’ve gleaned so far from it is that it’s mostly used by photographers and other social media nerds, so I am not sure how effective it is to build an audience of people who will follow my travel advice or as a tool to drive traffic to my site. That being said, I’ve only started frequently posting on it over the past few months so maybe my initial judgement will change. I’ll keep you posted. On G+.

Check out Trey Ratcliff for someone who really “gets” Google +.

My absolute favorite travel social media platform is called Trover. All the rest don’t actually help me plan and execute a trip, where Trover does just that. I’ve written about it here, and it combines all my favorite aspects of different platforms into one, but the best part is the community on there, it’s filled with friendly likeminded travelers who are forward thinking and interested in sharing their stories. Because it’s an app by travelers for travelers, you don’t have to shift through the millions of BS content found on other platforms. Thank god.

I don’t actively use any other social media platforms so I feel like I am not qualified to have an opinion about them.

If you want to learn more about how to effectively use social media with the nitty gritty details, consider joining me over at Travel Blog Success.


2. Don’t be boring!

Actually, this should probably have been rule number 1.

The beauty of social media is that it’s instantaneous. That means you have approximately half a second to catch someone’s attention online. Make it count.

With so many other people sharing, liking, posting, tweeting, instagramming, pinning, and commenting, it can be really hard to stand out, especially in an area like travel that is already very saturated. If you are a social media newbie with a small following (nothing wrong with that) it’s going to be impossible to get noticed if you post really boring, white bread stuff that much bigger brands and bloggers already do. Lonely Planet can get away with sharing very standardized posts like “Japan’s Best Eats” because they have a million fans and they are the number 1 travel authority (more or less). Newbies can’t afford to compete on their terms or play the same game.

Stand out. What makes your opinion worthwhile? Why should I care what you share? What are you an expert in? Figure that out and then start both posting your own content about it in an interesting way and also curate and share other content that is 100% relevant to it.

Be interesting, be creative, be brave. And for god’s sake, don’t be boring!

social media travel

3. Don’t be afraid to be honest

Along with not being boring, it’s equally important to develop your own voice and be true to yourself. This should ring as a blinding flash of the obvious, and yet, everyone seems to struggle with it.

It absolutely baffles me, but for some reason almost every travel blogger I’ve come across is convinced the way they are going to “make it” is by pretending to be a guidebook. How do I put this delicately? I hate those blogs. A lot. That is also not the point of a blog. Usually.

I also notice now with many bloggers who take sponsored trips somewhere, every single place is “the most beautiful, exciting, delicious and friendly” place in the entire world. While I don’t doubt that that might be true occasionally, my skeptical eyebrows start to go up when I see it every other week on their social media channels. Why can’t people be more honest?

In my opinion, one of the best ways to gain followers and be successful is to be honest about EVERYTHING.

social media travel

I’ve worked with enough people now (with some HUGE announcements coming soon) to learn that most of them don’t care exactly if you occasionally say something negative. In fact, they understand that your audience probably trusts you MORE if you are honest all the time. Well, this is what they’ve told me. People like honesty. I like honesty.

Just because you say Thailand is humid and stinky doesn’t mean I won’t go there myself. I will know to plan accordingly and not be caught by surprise with not enough deodorant and light quick-dry shirts. Don’t be afraid to be honest.

For an extreme example, Xiaxue is Asia Pacific’s top blogger with more than 40K visitors on her site a day. She’s also crazy, She is brutally honest in everything, picks fights with other people online, does heaps of sponsored posts, and still does really well. I’ve followed her for a while because she is SO entertaining and she doesn’t give a fuck about what people think. Also because she’s crazy, which I’m pretty sure why everyone follows her. Girlfriends doing something right though. Just maybe we should emulate in small doses.


4. And please don’t be a sellout

Following my own advice and being perfectly honest here, once you amass enough followers on social media, you can leverage that into making some money. And there is nothing wrong with that as you long as you do it ethically.

By ethically I mean either disclose it and make sure whoever you are working with fits with your branding and image and it’s a product you can actually endorse. My rule of thumb is to ask myself, would I buy this on my own dime? Is this something I can recommend without hesitation? Do I actually like this? Then proceed with caution.

It should integrate seamlessly into the page and not stand out and look like you sold out for a couple hundred bucks. It’s also important to space out sponsored content, otherwise you run the risk of pissing people off and looking spammy.

I get massively annoyed when I see a lot of hotel photos on travel bloggers Instagram pages. Tone it down. I feel the same way when everything that’s being posted is from a sponsored trip. It’s important that your content is original and not always sponsored, otherwise you are just a vehicle for advertising aka a sellout.

social media travel

5. Post regularly and at optimal times

I think one of the hardest things about social media is to keep up with it. I frequently feel myself being hit by a wave and tumbled over and sometimes I don’t want to get back up again. This week I’ve been absolute crap with my Twitter. Actually, I’m always crap with Twitter. It happens.

But over the years it’s important to keep up with posting fresh, new content on your social channels. As a general rule I try to post 3 times a day on my FB page. 3 to 4 times a day on my Instagram, once a day on G+, and tweet as often as I can.

Once you get the hang of it, you can figure out what times are the best times to post and when you reach maximum eyeballs. Sites like Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) can help tell you this info. For example, I find my best times to post on FB in New Zealand is at 11pm, 5am, 8am and noon – New Zealand time. That way I reach all my target audiences.

social media travel

Remember, scheduling is your friend. You can schedule out pretty much all your content everywhere in advance, except Instagram. I schedule up almost everything on Facebook in advance using the FB scheduler – it’s so easy, and I use Hootsuite for Twitter.

Also remember to be careful and don’t be spammy. Nobody likes a spammer. By spamming, I mean linking all your social accounts together. Like people who post their tweets on Facebook, shudder, that looks like shit and warrants an immediate unfollow. I think the only one that is acceptable is posting an Instagram to your Twitter, though it’s much more effective to post a tweet directly than with a link to the image you want to share, and this way has a much bigger chance of being retweeted.

Now let me share an awesome secret and introduce you the marvelousness that is IFTTT – If This Then That. On IFTTT you can create custom recipes and triggers so if you post one thing on one site, it will be shared on another site usually without any spammy links or add-ons.

This is our little secret, deal?

social media travel

6. Keep it relevant and be professional 

Once you get an idea of your brand, it’s important to stick with it and not stray too far away, especially if money is involved. You’re doing your followers an injustice.

You also don’t have to be limited to what you are interested in sharing, social media is dynamic and evolves a lot, and in order to keep bringing in new followers and fresh eyes, it’s important to switch it up. If you market yourself as a budget backpacker, don’t be posting 5 star hotel photos on your pages when you get offered a free night trying to sell it. You can’t be a budget and luxury blogger at the same time, that’s NOT how it works.

Personally I find it incredibly annoying when travel bloggers start posting about their love lives online, but maybe that’s just my bitter 26 year old heart speaking. That works if you run a personal blog and sharing that kind of information is the norm, like with many fashion and lifestyle bloggers, but when market yourself as a professional photographer and you don’t usually appear in front of the lens, it doesn’t work in the same way and you come off looking like a lovestruck teenager.

social media travel

Another pet peeve of mine are girls who’ve branded themselves as “solo female travel bloggers” and yet they haven’t taken a trip alone in at least a year. If 90% of your travel is on a group press trip or with your man, you are not a solo female travel blogger anymore. You aren’t doing yourself or your readers (or legit solo female travel bloggers, cough cough, ME, any favors). End rant.

Finally, it’s important to remember to use social media for good instead of evil and to be professional and remember you represent a large group of people – I’ll add what’s professional to you is not the same as it is for everyone, you have to find your own voice. While I have no qualms about calling out big brands who’ve messed up online, I put a lot of thought into it first because of my large following. If it’s something small, I’ll handle it quietly, if it’s something big I think it’s worth my followers hearing, I shout – like that one time Qatar Airways almost killed me.

Don’t use your following to manipulate people into getting what you want. That’s not cool, and it paints bloggers and influencers in a really ugly light. We need to stick together to move forward and to get recognition and value. Being an unprofessional jerk only pulls us all backwards.

social media travel

7. Only share the best of the best

In this digital age with so many people on social media, it’s important to only share the best of the best, especially with your own content.

This means check for typos, rephrase if you need to, and don’t put up crappy photos, please!

Travel is inherently visual. We go places to see, to experience. As travel curators and people who share for a living, it’s important to post top notch photos. If you are trying to build a following on any social media platform, sharing photos is key – don’t drive away followers with ugly shots.

By all means you don’t have to be a professional photographer, but do put a little effort into your images. This means edit every single photo you share before posting. You are a visual ambassador. Straighten the horizon. Boost the color. Sharpen the details. Fix the exposure. DON’T add an Instagram filter and is there really any point to putting a watermark on Instagram? Nope unless you are trying to annoy people.

My favorite photo editing app on my phone is Snapseed, and Lightroom on my computer. If you think your images need improving, work on improving them – they aren’t going to fix themselves. I am always trying to take better photos, and I am proud when I look back at my crappy shots and how much I have improved since.

Finding the Universe has great tips here, as well as Canvas of Light here and the Polar Route here, or even this great post on Lifehacker about mobile photography.

8. Do try and get the attention of bigger brands in a non-douchy way

One way to gain *engaged* followers is to get featured or shared by bigger brands and names (remember numbers are less important as engagement – it doesn’t matter if you have a million fans if no one is listening to what you say).

Try to reach out and build virtual friendships with brands you like, use and trust. For example, I wear TOMs a lot, you know the hipster canvas shoes. I don’t work with them (I find their religious affiliations dubious) but I love the shoes. One time I snapped a pic of my feet hanging out by the lake in Queenstown and tagged them. They eventually reshared it.

I’ve done this with a lot of my stuff, and occasionally it pays off. If you are traveling in a country with a tourism board that’s active on social media, be sure to follow them and use their official hashtags which might get you reshared. I’ve been featured on the Australian Instagram page a couple of times which has led to new followers.

Also Pro Tip, note that Instagram only shows you 80 notifications at a time – if you get a lot of notifications, like me, I don’t usually see when people have tagged me in a comment, so you need to tag a big page in the image itself as well as in the comments.

On Twitter whenever I write a post about something, I’ll share it with pages that I think match it. Like a New Zealand post will get shared with the New Zealand hastag, ect. But I certainly don’t spam out every travel account I can think of, except for Lonely Planet – who occasionally shares my stuff yippeee!

social media travel

9. Build a loyal community

Before writing this I actually questioned myself if I am even qualified to be making such a longwinded and elaborate post. I have roughly 50,000 followers across social media, which in the big scheme of things, isn’t all that much. Most of my followers are right here on my blog (if you don’t have a blog but would like to start one, check out my post on 10 Tips for Starting a Kickass Travel Blog, where I break it down step by step!)

Over the years I’ve made the executive decision NOT to push my social media channels on here, and only include them where necessary. Let’s be honest, pop-up “like my Facebook page” make me want to punch a baby and the “please subscribe to my million channels” in the beginning, middle and end of every post sounds whiny.

I go by the belief that good content and honesty will bring followers, and if you want to find me, you’ll find me.

social media travel

This means that the people who end up on my social media pages want to be there. At least that’s what I tell myself when I barrage them with weird and bizarre information I find relevant. Or overshare about, well, everything.

So while I don’t have as many followers as a lot of social media gurus out there, I do pride myself on the fact that I have quality followers who match my target audience exactly and who are really engaged with the content I am sharing. This means they keep coming back, post after post, year after year.

You have to give your audience a reason to give a shit. This fact is not lost on the people who are interested in working with me, and I make sure to point it out in my proposals too. Quality will always beat quantity. 


10. Don’t expect instant gratification and don’t give up

I’m often asked how to get more followers online, and I often hear complaints from people that their pages aren’t growing as fast as they would like.

My first response is focus on the engagement not the numbers, and my second response is Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It takes a big commitment to build a brand or blog on social media, you have to put in the time and the hours. In the beginning you have to keep going even when no one is listening, trusting that if you keep trying new things and working hard, your profiles will grow organically.

It’s taken me 4 years to hit 10,000 Twitter followers, 2 years to hit 20,000 Instagram followers, and 2 years to hit 10,000 Facebook followers.

It took me less than a year to average 100 comments a blog post – that’s my most important number.

Are you into this whole crazy world of social media? Are you interested in growing your following? Have any tips, opinions, or contradictions to add? Did I miss anything?

social media travel

PS. some of these links are affiliate links and help foot the bills

112 Responses to How not to suck at social media

  1. Empty Rucksack July 7, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    Great article, you have presented a very nice blend of how to use but not overuse social article. Especially the part about following and throwing like buttons in the face 🙂

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      Yeah I mean a call to action works but there’s a time and a place, and that is NOT all the time haha

  2. Katie @ The World on my Necklace July 7, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    Great tips Liz. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Social Media – I was only on facebook before I started my blog now I am on Pinterest, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Instagram – it is exhausting! Although I do engage on SM I mainly just focus on my content and putting out something that I am proud of. I may not have many followers at this early stage but the followers I do have enjoy reading my blog and I have received lots of encouraging comments – that is why I do it so I try not to worry about my numbers too much.

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      then you’re doing the right thing! Comments are really important! Oh Stumbleupon, I tried and tried to use it but gave up months ago haha

  3. Mikeachim July 7, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    Thumbs up. (And glad you linked to Jodi’s curation page – that’s pretty much a guide to how the smartest people are using Twitter.)

    I reckon #8 is key. It’s key because everyone starts small, and when you’re small you can’t act like a social media celebrity, broadcasting in all directions to your followers, because you *have* no followers. If you want to get heard, and you’re still creating the work that will put you on the map, you have to seek out influencers and get amplified by them – in a non-spammy, non-skeezy way. This is partly why qualityb curation is so effective, because it’s a way to get noticed and spark up conversations with the people you’d go all Wayne’s World at the feet of, if you ever had the chance of meeting them.

    If your circle of influence is modest, if your engagement is tiny and if you’re not getting heard, admit it to yourself, and make friends in high places. It’s how to climb that ladder.

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Love that, and agree wholeheartedly. Jodi’s post is so helpful, I need to follow her advice more.

  4. Satu VW / Destination Unknown July 7, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    “Post regularly and at optimal times” – oh how crap I am at that (well, I’m bad at the other points too but this is the worst…)!! I go through periods when I’m all over the different social media platforms, and then I just disappear for a while…. I know I shouldn’t do that but other stuff just takes over… Instagram is my favourite though too, I love the community there although it’s quite separate from my blog. Excellent excellent article, I should really take some of this on board!! 🙂

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:23 am #

      I love the Instagram community too and I love that it’s separate from my blog as well, fresh eyes. Just schedule stuff out, so much easier. Then come back to New Zealand and hang out with me 🙂

  5. Dave July 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    Fascinating read, keep up the good work 🙂

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:27 am #


  6. Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon July 7, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    Again brilliant article, both in written content and some of the most helpful links ever. I’m a very technologically challenged newbie blogger. I was only on Facebook before I started my blog and that was only because my friends at Uni had complained until I gave in and signed up. It still took an embarrassingly long time for me to find out the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook profile – and maybe that was the reason I couldn’t get my Facebook box to work. (duh)
    I also didn’t know about the # in Twitter for ages. 🙁 Everyone kept talking about participating on Twitter chats. I was always confused. How? It’s like a conveyor belt!
    This post was enormously useful post. Thank you so much. Maybe I will suck a little less. 🙂

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:29 am #

      Haha sounds like you don’t suck at all, as long as you keep true to yourself on social media, it’ll work out 😀

  7. Rachel of Hippie in Heels July 7, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    I tried to go all social media pro and tweet this article, I did.. and forgot the URL link.. deleted it.. retweeted it.. I really do #SuckatTwitter ughh #fuckit

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:29 am #


  8. zaby July 8, 2014 at 12:30 am #

    Am a big social media addict, this is mainly due to me getting relevant information from different sources other than the mainstream stuff. this way i get a real time feed back from an unbiased person like me

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:30 am #

      Love the real time aspect of social media

  9. Shaz Lake July 8, 2014 at 12:33 am #

    I’ve tried with Twitter but have never really gotten into it… I also just don’t see the value. I feel like people like it because you can grow a big following pretty easily, but for me it doesn’t convert traffic to my blog as much as other medias even though that’s where I have the highest numbers. Facebook pages is very frustrating when you’re new but thanks for your tips. My reach is so low it feels pointless to even post on there. Instagram and Pinterest have always had the highest engagement for me, which is great because I also love these platforms the most 🙂 Muchas Gracias, Liz!

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:30 am #

      I don’t see the effectiveness of twitter on my own stuff, but people like Jodi at Legal Nomads really do a good job at it and are worth checking out. Ultimately it’s what works for you best and your style

  10. Caitlyn July 8, 2014 at 1:36 am #

    Great article Liz! Really useful and practical tips. Totally agree bloggers need to remember not to be a sell out. Definitely important to ensure content is relevant to the theme of the blog/blogger. Glad to have such an honest opinion in this crazy digital world thats becoming a major part of our everyday lives. Going to try to apply your photo tips to my own content sharing outlets. Keep up the great stuff 🙂

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:31 am #

      thanks, glad to be of help!

  11. Candice @ The Let's Go Ladies July 8, 2014 at 1:54 am #

    I love how instagram seems to be your most popular social network. It hasn’t been over-saturated with brands and ads, maybe that’s why there’s so much engagement.

    Also, your last bit of advice really brought home for me one simple fact: I need to stop checking Google Analytics obsessively. I know some people recommend only checking once a week or even once a month, but here I am, logging in multiple times a day. Craziness. I need to just give it time.

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:31 am #

      yeah don’t do that! Just focus on quality content and reaching the right people and your numbers will grow

  12. Jessica (Barcelona Blonde) July 8, 2014 at 2:49 am #

    Awesome article, Liz! I’ve been working on improving my social media skills, so this is super helpful. Thanks for sharing your tips. Gotta get on that optimal posting time thing… 🙂

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      Yeah its important to post when people will actually see it haha

  13. Jan Ross July 8, 2014 at 3:18 am #

    Social media can absolutely be an exhausting time-suck if you let it. Pinterest is the only one I use only to post because I know if I spend any time at all looking at the stuff, hours will pass. One you didn’t mention that I have started using a lot lately is LinkedIn. I had a travel writer tell me they get most of their sponsored press trips from this site and I have found it to be true as several PR companies, etc. have found me there. It’s definitely worth signing up for and is not too time consuming.

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      Pinterest is a massive time suck for me, I go on there and 5 hours later I’ve only pinned recipes, dream houses and inspirational quotes. I am trying to get better about using it for my blog, Oh yeah I need to get on the LinkedIn parade. I’ll add that to the to do list haha

  14. Mat July 8, 2014 at 3:40 am #

    Great article! This is something that hopefully will be spread into non-travel sites. It applies everywhere.

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:34 am #


  15. Jenny @ A Thing For Wor(l)ds July 8, 2014 at 4:11 am #

    Thank you for writing more about blogging, even though I know a lot of travel bloggers (maybe yourself included) are hesitant to branch out of their niche and metablog. You still manage to make it just as engaging as a post about kiwi-talk or hobbits, #killinit.
    Social media has been my biggest fear/resistance in growing my blog, but Bloghouse calmed me down a bit and made me see the value in it. (Except Google +. Whyyyyyy.)
    One more thing, the quotes you get for most of your posts, but this one in particular, are perfect (and hilarious). Do you just spend a lot of time pinning, and then using the ones that fit? Do you search specifically “social media quotes?” Any go-to websites?

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Thanks! just go with it and work hard but don’t let it control you. It depends, I have a massive quote collection on Pinterest but this time I just googles and searched “social media quotes” and used the pin feature with similar pins for ones I liked xx

  16. Kate July 8, 2014 at 5:19 am #

    I have to disagree about PTAT it’s an easy to manipulate number that can be inflated with the right photo posts as well it doesn’t always mean people on your page talking about you, but also anyone on FB at that moment. In terms of FB my goal is to always increase shares and comments without that the page is pretty sad. I’ve seen pages with a 30K PTAT, but almost no engagement. I run social media accounts for brands for a living and people’s YouTube channels as well so I know how and which numbers to inflate for advertisers so I know how to get the PTAT up for them since they usually only care about that and number of likes when sponsoring content. In the mean time I have to ask why haven’t you ever put anything up on YouTube? It’s still a good platform to pull in extra content and fans from granted it can be taxing on time since you have to edit videos, but still worth mentioning since at the end of the day it’s still a social network even if people don’t always see it that way.

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:41 am #

      That’s a good point but I don’t know how relevant it is to personal and travel blogs – it sounds likes something used for bigger brands that have large advertising budgets. I’ve not come across that on any travel blogs on FB but I stand by what I said that for those types of pages, the talking about # can give a good indication of engagement.

      I didn’t include youtube because I was only writing about platforms I actively use. I do have a channel and use it occasionally, especially when I partner with videographers on projects, but it’s not a key part of my brand or goals. I tried last year to get involved on it, but I found it was not an effective use of my time and I prefer writing than making videos. I also see it more as a content generating platform in and of itself as opposed to a secondary social media site. Like you are either a blogger or a youtuber, not usually both. But there are some great travel profiles out there on youtube and I bet they can give better advice or insights into building a channel as a network than me 🙂

  17. Neysha July 8, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    Hey Liz,

    Great article! Thank you for all of the useful info. I noticed you’ve been using Trover as well, but didn’t mention it. Has this social media platform been helpful at all?

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:43 am #

      I updated and added Trover, total mistep on my side. Trover is an incredible community for travel. It’s basically a travel social media page, and it’s the perfect tool to help plan trips. Eventually I might start to use it more for building a following but for now I enjoy it to help me organize and plan 🙂

  18. Sammy @ Days Like This July 8, 2014 at 6:59 am #

    Thanks for this Liz! Really interesting read. I find your Facebook page really engaging. It always pops up on my feed and catches my eye!

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:44 am #

      Yay thank you, glad to hear that!

  19. Christy July 8, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    I’ve spent a lot of time creating a following on Pinterest and it’s definitely paid off with targeted and engaged traffic in addition to a huge amount of followers. I haven’t done much on G+ either and have never seen any real benefit to it, even as a professional photographer. I really wish I had spent more time building my Instagram following, so that’s where I’m putting my effort now (although I’m feeling like I’m a little late to the party). This post must have taken you forever to write!

  20. Hannah Wasielewski July 8, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Another extremely useful post that’s relevant to my life! It’s refreshing to hear you say that honest content is better than selling out. I’m seeing too many blogs about “luxury on a budget”. No, it doesn’t work that way. Normal people can’t afford 5 star hotels, and normal people don’t get someone else to pay for the hotel. These luxury travel blogs are fine, but don’t lie and say you can do it on a budget! This gives me and my little blog a confidence boost in that we do have a chance in the future 🙂

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:45 am #

      you can do it!

  21. Tracey July 8, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    Your post was just the kick in the pants I needed to delete my facebook page and stop splitting my focus. I’ve just started my blog and was completely overwhelmed by all the social media fluff that went along with it. I started the blog as a way to get all my thoughts down on paper, create a record of my travels and hopefully help others with their trip planning along the way. So now I’m just going to get back to basics and focus on creating good content. Thanks!

    • Tracey July 8, 2014 at 11:13 am #

      Oh shoot, that sounds like I don’t care about Social Media! I don’t mean that at all – just that when you’re just starting to blog, trying to keep up with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc can all be a bit too much at first and may be best left until later. 🙂

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      uh oh, you deleted it? I guess that’s ok haha! Don’t be overwhelemd, you need to make a plan, outline some goals and get started. But the number 1 rule is generate good content, and if you think social media and stuff is getting in the way of it, put it to the side until you’re ready, good luck xx

  22. Claire July 8, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    So helpful! I always struggle with knowing when to post things; thanks for that resource. Grover has become my favorite tool as well! It’s just everything I’ve ever wanted in an app – Pinterest-y, travel tips, and FOOD.

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      LOVE Trover!

  23. Angela Travels July 8, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Some great advice here. I am still learning and am now doing social media as a profession and for my blog. There are so many articles out there on what works for people. I do what my time allows. I agree that you have to be who you are and let it shine. The more I started to do that, the better my writing progresses. I am still finding my blogging voice but have been enjoying the learning process. Thanks for all the tips and tricks 🙂

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:48 am #

      It’s all a learning process and it will always change. Keep it up xx

  24. Heather @ TravelingSaurus July 8, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I’ve always shunned social media, until I recently started a blog and realized that was not going to work anymore, so I really appreciate your honesty about the love-hate relationship, even someone as socially-media savvy as you, has with social media. These tips are great, and something that I’ll keep coming back to as I (hopefully) grow. Thanks!

    • Liz July 8, 2014 at 11:50 am #


  25. DJ Yabis | Dream Euro Trip July 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    I agree with most of the things you mentioned here, specially about Twitter. TweetReach is TOTAL BS. Unfortunately, brands and DMOs still fall for plain numbers as some bloggers with “huge” following on Twitter still get sponsored trips because of their Twitter numbers. When you look at their twitter feed, no one is retweeting, favoriting nor replying to their tweets. I probably have better engagement and I have like 1/10 or so of their following.

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      yeah that massively annoys me

  26. Ben @ Road Affair July 9, 2014 at 4:08 am #

    Very informative post. We are just starting out with the whole blogging and social media thing and I must say that I am overwhelmed at times, especially with twitter :D. Thanks for all the cool resources and recommendations. I just downloaded hootsuite to schedule my posts better, let’s see how that goes.

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

      Hootsuite is great!

  27. Jenna July 9, 2014 at 6:00 am #

    Thank you SO MUCH–I just launched a website and these tips are way more helpful than a lot of a the generic social media how-to articles I’ve read lately. Honesty is so important and like you said, high engagement among the followers you do have is way more valuable than huge numbers of disengaged followers.

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

      Nowadays engagement is key!

  28. Bethany ~ twoOregonians July 9, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    I’d rather read/see/browse something with spirit and candor than a spit-shined version of la-la land. Thanks for encouraging more people to go with their unique perspectives rather than spin (boring) yarns just for the sake of press trips and fitting in with the “it” crowd. I’m consistently impressed by your stuff, Liz. Thanks for setting the bar for others.

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

      excellent use of “spinning yarns!” thanks!

  29. Tracie Howe July 9, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    This is great stuff! I’ll be bookmarking it.

    You would think as a photographer, I would have started using Instagram earlier. I guess I didn’t like the idea of phone photography, but I have grown to love Instagram over the last few months and found tools like Snapseed to help with the phone shots. My following has increased dramatically, because I produce great content and more often than before. I still struggle to have a consistent focus, but hopefully that will work its way out soon. Thanks for the heads up on tagging big names on Instagram… I didn’t realize that.

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      It’s never too late!

  30. Justine July 9, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    I’m new the the blogging/social media world and this article was super helpful to read. It’s definitely an art that will take a long time for me to master. But this post gives me hope and you definitely give some great advice. I’ve definitely been a bit baffled and disillusioned with Facebook since I’ve started my travel blog and I’m not a fan of pandering for likes. So it’s nice to know likes aren’t the only stat I should be looking at on FB. Anyway, thanks for such a detailed and honest overview of social media!

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      Post good stuff and likes will come!

  31. yvonnelaura July 10, 2014 at 7:13 am #

    Informative post!

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm #


  32. Arianwen July 10, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    It’s almost midnight and I just read this. I think I need to bookmark it and come back to it again later. There’s just too much great advice to process in one sitting. Thanks!

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

      hahaha thanks!

  33. Jenn @ Two Weeks in Costa Rica July 11, 2014 at 4:13 am #

    This is one of the best posts on social media I’ve ever read–seriously! We’re in the midst of trying to turn our blog into a “real” business and it can often seem like things are going so slow. I think you’re right that with the million different social media platforms, it really does just take time and practice to figure it all out. So many people are focused on just the number of Likes and followers and don’t pay any attention to engagement–it can be frustrating and make you feel behind even if you’re not. Getting people to care and be engaged takes time but that’s the end game, right? You have a new subscriber, thanks for the honest post 🙂

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

      thanks! It does take time but it’s worth the effort! If you need help with it, check out Travel Blog Success, it’s great!

  34. Wandering Carol July 11, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    This is the most mature article on social media I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a lot. Ironic, as it’s the Young Adventuress writing, rather than the wizened old social media guru. More power to you!

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

      hahaha thanks!

  35. Chris July 12, 2014 at 12:10 am #

    Hi Liz, great article. I’ve been working in social media for professional sports organisations since, well, Facebook started! And I still make rookie errors you’ve pointed out here. I agree twitter is overrated for driving content, but I love it and it did drive me to your post. From experience Instagram is a far far more engaged audience, and growing rapidly. I just wish you could add clickable links! After reading your post we’ve decided to be less vanilla with our posts, and a lot more honest in our articles. Keep up the good work.

    • Liz July 13, 2014 at 11:50 am #

      Cool! I wish I had gotten involved sooner, I bet it was so cool to watch social media transform over the years!

  36. ger July 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    Very nice and honest post on SM, Liz. Thanks a lot for this precious and wise work. I learned a bunch of useful tips (especially for a starting blogger as I am) and agree with you “intuitively”: quality will always make a difference. There are so many boring, pointless, self-centered and purely commercial messages out there… And this type of communication is so new, so unexpected in its evolution, so organic and dynamic, guidelines change all the time. All the best for you and your project!
    PS: I’m very impressed you take the time to answer all the messages you get on your blog!

    • Liz July 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

      thanks! I try to at least all the messages on here, my email is a different story haha

  37. amelie88 July 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Helpful post breaking down all the social media platforms. It’s not hard to understand why a lot of travel bloggers have a lot of success with Instagram. It’s a visual platform and the captions are kept to a minimum. People want to see pretty pictures and not 10 paragraphs of text. As the old saying goes, one picture is worth a 1000 words! One blogger I follow (2 Summers, she blogs about her life in Johannesburg, South Africa and she takes the most amazing pictures) has had a lot of success with Instagram. After her South African boyfriend sadly died (which is why she moved to SA in the first place), she started doing Instawalks around Johannesburg with other Instagrammers and this really seemed to help in her healing process, connecting with the Johannesburg Instagram community. So social media can have a very positive effect in that aspect too.

    One popular social media platform that is very popular in the industry I work in is Tumblr. I’m not sure how much travel bloggers use Tumblr, if at all. But it’s definitely a very important tool for the creative folks such as artists, illustrators, photographers, painters etc. For example, the very successful blog Humans of New York is hosted on Tumblr, which is mostly photo blogging. A lot of businesses use Tumblr to reach out to customers, such as my company. I’ve been trying to figure out Tumblr’s success because it is pretty interesting.

    • Liz July 31, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

      I definitely want to learn more about Tumblr!

  38. Alana - Paper Planes July 15, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    I would be just fine if social media was never invented…

    • Liz July 31, 2014 at 8:39 pm #


  39. Clay July 16, 2014 at 2:49 am #

    Great post! I have just recently gotten into social media for my new travel blog and it’s been pretty overwhelming. I’m pretty much rock at Twitter and Instagram, but Facebook and Google+ I have hardly looked at. Pinterest is doing okay, but hasn’t driven any traffic. I think if you’re looking to drive traffic, put your articles on StumbleUpon. Like I said, I have a new blog and so it’s a good day if I bring in 20 hits to my website. Well, I put a few pieces on SU and I brought in nearly 50 within an HOUR! That’s just a small wave of people too, i’ve heard of SU bringing in over 100,000 people to one post.

    • Liz July 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

      Ah cool! I tried Stumbleupon for a while and failed, so confusing!

  40. Ruta July 17, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    Heyyy! I checked your blog today for the 1st time. Its so interesting and it really caught my attention! Keep doing a great work, you are so inspirational 🙂 .

    • Liz July 31, 2014 at 8:45 pm #


  41. Victoria July 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Such a good post Liz and this is why I like you ‘cos you’re not afraid to tell it as it it. Very refreshing!
    I like Nr 2: Don’t be boring and Nr.3: Be Honest. It speaks volumes!

    • Liz July 31, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

      I wish more people paid attention!

  42. Charlie July 30, 2014 at 1:11 am #

    Great post, I genuinely really enjoyed reading this. I also struggle with Twitter and feel that though my audience is growing it’s mostly just other travel bloggers tweeting their content and ignoring everything on their Twitter feeds – is that really useful?

    When I started out using social media, I also saw a couple of other bloggers being kind of spammy and thought maybe tweeting to all the big companies was the way to go, have since realised that being selective is a better way to achieve a share or retweet than that – as you say. Golden advice.

    • Liz July 31, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

      it works!

  43. Kara July 30, 2014 at 2:11 am #

    I am in no way a professional travel blogger (nor am I trying to be one) but I do blog about my travels and use social media platforms. Thanks for sharing what seems to be very solid advice!

    • Liz July 31, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

      You’re welcome! Works for everyone I suppose 😀

  44. Abhishek Behl July 30, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    Great article Liz & thanks for sharing. I have started using communities in Google+ and think its a very strong platform. Most of all social media platforms are strong – the main point lies in what we can do with them wisely. Thanks for sharing & giving good information / advice.

    • Liz July 31, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

      I need to put more effort into the G+, sigh.

  45. Katie@From Shores to Skylines August 6, 2014 at 2:01 am #

    Liz, this is so helpful! I watched your latest instagram talk over at TBS, and it was also immensely helpful. SM is so difficult to understand, and I think the hardest part is that it’s so dynamic and trends keep changing. As soon as I think I’ve got it figured out! 😉

    • Liz August 6, 2014 at 10:08 am #


  46. Tom @ Waegook Tom August 6, 2014 at 2:55 am #

    Amen to ALL of this, Liz, especially the part about honesty. I’ve unfollowed a lot of blogs in the past year or so, because I started to notice that literally EVERY post was sponsored. It made me wonder – do they REALLY want to go there, or are they just going wherever they can get free stuff? Like backpackers who’d suddenly write about luxury hotels, or adventure bloggers trying to sell some of the most boring looking destinations on the planet as the new number 1 adrenaline rush…side eye. As for other things, I know my followers expect me to overshare, hear tidbits about my dating life, and about how I spend way too much time in Starbucks. I think they’d get skeptical if I started posting photos of myself in hotel suites and eating 7-course micro-gastronomy meals at Michelin-starred restaurants.

    I think I need to improve on my photos, but then again, they’ve never been my main focus and I don’t sell myself as a photographer whatsoever…yet as you mention, it can be a great way to work with brands. Agh.

    As for the community thing, YES to that. I’ve managed to build up a great relationship with my readers, and been able to get readers that aren’t other travel bloggers just after some link juice. Yet they’ll usually message me in private rather than leave comments, which is absolutely fine with me. Jodi from Legal Nomads did a great talk on building community at TBEX Toronto last year, with Annemarie Dooling – if you can find notes online about that anywhere, it’s well worth a read, if only to build on what you clearly already know.

    • Liz August 6, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      I tried to go to her talk and the room was packed and I couldn’t get in, if I remember right! Awesome though, I am so glad you feel the same about the honesty part, as well as the community aspect, those are the most important things for me!

      • Nick August 22, 2014 at 3:31 am #

        Yay for honesty! I love reading both your blogs as you both have engaging writing styles that actually tell a story rather than just spewing out some facts or plugging a product or service. Even on occasions where stuff has been sponsored it is obviously something that fits in with you – it was only when I got to the bottom of your island on a lake etc post that I saw you’d been hosted. I’d never have known if it you hadn’t mentioned it as it was obviously something that fitted in with who you were as a person and were passionate about. I read a post yesterday on a blog written by someone who’d never even been to the country she was now giving advice about regarding financial matters via a sponsored post. I left a comment with an alternative company I’d actually used for that service that was cheaper and, long story short, ended up being accused of working for the company I recommended and engaging for a “battle for exposure” with the original sponsor in the comments section of her travel blog (coz that’s how big financial institutions work!). Despite basically coming out and saying that she thought the sponsored company were resorting to underhand tactics in her comments section she still kept the post, and instead deleted the comment informing her readers of a cheaper alternative. It inspired me to not only remove her from my Feedly, but also cull a whole bunch of other bloggers who’ve started going down the route Tom mentioned above.

        I guess basically I wanted to say thanks to both of you for keeping me entertained while I bust a gut saving up for my next big adventure, and now that my feed is pretty empty I’m looking forward to new posts from you guys even more than I used to!

  47. Tamara (Globe Guide) August 8, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Great article Liz! That photo of the G+ (Google employees who eat donuts) cracks me up! So true!

    • Liz September 18, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      haha me too, me too

  48. Song Hunter August 10, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    Absolutely a great article! I took so much from this. Very interesting personally as a traveler, with dreams of doing something with my travels and love of fruit, and professionally, running all the social media for the non profit I work for.
    Thank you, looking forward to reading many more of your pieces.

    • Liz September 18, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

      thank you!

  49. September 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark
    your blog and check again here regularly.
    I’m fairly sure I will be informed many new stuff proper here!
    Good luck for the next!

  50. Kristin from MN September 27, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Great post with loads of useful advice! I am just starting a travel blog of my own. I need to set up social media for my blog. Do I have to create completely new accounts with new login info, or is their a way to create joined accounts (FB, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter)? Thanks!

  51. Song September 28, 2014 at 6:17 am #

    Hi Liz,

    You mentioned you use Lightroom for photo editing. I’ve tried a few different version, but none have actually let me edit my own… Can you send a link to the version you use? I’m very interested.



  52. Hunter December 5, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Loved this post! Thanks for your honest and helpful tips!

  53. Bryn April 15, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    So helpful – thank you! I think it was the title of the post that really brought me in!

  54. Nicole August 11, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    Thanks for this hilarious post! I started a blog about 6 months ago to write about my travels, and assumed that probably only my Mom would read it, but I do get the occasional comment from a non relative/non friend IRL. But the social media thing makes me well wanna punch a baby in the face like you said about the follow me on social media pop up. What a pain in the arse. I’m trying to use social media to promote or whatever but honestly I hate it, well other than insta. Still like insta. I hate the whole follow/unfollow thing. I don’t got time for that shit. And I feel like social media in the travel world is just a travel blogger circle jerk. Seems helpful to network, but at the same time it’s just an industry back scratch orgy. It makes me feel at least slightly less jaded towards social media reading this at least!

  55. Anastasia October 14, 2015 at 3:13 am #

    Thank you, Liz! I wanted to ask – do you know any good articles/books/courses about effective use of Pinterest? I really like this platform 🙂


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