Post it on social media, or it didn’t happen!
In the Digital Age, advertising has made its way into social media, with businesses now display themselves using Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and other sites. It’s so widespread now that any businesses not found online or participating social media run the risk of being considered obscure, murky, or un-noteworthy. Not only is it free marketing, but businesses can observe their audience’s preferences, geo-target consumers with ads, and promote their products or services to a potentially unlimited number of clicking customers.
They will also incentivize popular Instagrammers, Twitter celebrities, and YouTube stars to market their products, whether it is testing and reviewing them, featuring the products in their photos, or even just a shout out to the business. This method works because these social media “influencers” have already earned a loyal following that are more than likely willing to pay attention to information feeding from that channel. In addition, businesses can easily target their most potential customers by gravitating toward accounts that naturally promote similar disciplines.
One prime example is the adventure industry. This could be a camping store paying a popular Instagrammer traveler to feature certain products in their photos, to sponsoring photographers, to entering into partnerships major with brands such as GoPro or Red Bull. This benefits the social media spokesperson because now they have better resources to produce better content, resulting in more followers and attention. It also benefits the advertiser because they can provide the resources in exchange for well-targeted advertising – advertising that they might have to pay a lot more for somewhere else to reach their intended audience.
So what does the business of adventure create on social media? One perspective is it displays a “highly curated and idealized version of our everyday lives.” This basically means that one’s understanding of reality exists solely through a compressed montage of Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and tweets. While it is occurring across the entire spectrum of industries, the business of adventure is perhaps one of the most influenced.
It is best explained in this writer’s words: “Instagram culture is actually changing the way people travel and plan their trips. Instead of thinking about the experience they want to have, people are thinking about the photos they want to post.” This attitude can minimally affect a casual traveler’s trip, or it could do so much as to cost a life. Rather than enjoying the view from a distance, posters are testing the limits to see if they can grasp that “once-in-a-lifetime” shot. The business of photography is becoming idealized, rather than doing what photos are so good at doing: depicting reality. Another writer makes this statement: “…the never ending need for us to build a running, visual history of how we spend our time is done at the expense of the experience itself.
The crazy thing is that social media careers are often born from such exposure. The greater the online attention, the more willing a company is willing to hire or sponsor you. So then, where is the line drawn between wanderlust individual in free adventure and entrepreneur searching for extreme documentation for instant gratification or extra cash? Well, to the average follower, few will tell you the difference. Whichever it is, we cannot deny that social media is encouraging the “adventurer” in all of us to transform our platforms into a form of self-promotion, and circling back around to challenge the notion of what adventure truly is, and how we live it in our everyday lives.
The important thing to remember at the end of the day is that no matter the size of your audience following, the style of your branding, or the paycheck that comes from a partnership, no amount of recording or media documentation can replace the act of adventure itself. Allow your gratification to come from being present in that moment of exhilaration and awe of nature, rather than the approval of others through Instagram or Facebook likes. Some of the greatest benefits of travel exist in the experience, not the image of it.