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How Instagram is Changing Travel Advertising by Utilizing the Authority-Giving Abilities of Hubs

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/travel/instagram-hotels-parks.html

This article explores how Instagram is changing the way that people pick and plan vacations and how the travel industry is adapting to this change.  Nowadays, many travelers design their travels around Instagram destinations or start with Instagram when looking for travel inspiration.  The curated visual nature of the content makes Instagram more like a “modern magazine” than the larger Facebook, ephemeral Snapchat, or text-based Twitter.  Hotels, resorts, and tourism bureaus find that “Instagram bait” like murals, skylines, and absurd foods serve as particularly strong draws and have been forced to adjust their strategies to provide these types of appealing images.

These relationships are examples of hubs and authorities, which we discussed in class.  Influencers act as hubs, linking to a specific hotel though a location tag or @ mention.  A super-popular influencer posting with a high hub score will confer a lot of authority to a destination.  But Instagram’s aggregation methods themselves act as hubs.  People might explore the hashtag #travel or #Australia when looking to vacation.  Looking at the page of a location (the collection of public photos tagged at a specific location), or the hashtag of a hotel such as #HotelFigueroa that has more posts will give planners more confidence in that destination.  Even if each individual post comes from less famous accounts or just regular people, a lot of hubs with lower hub scores linking to a node will confer authority.  Different places take advantage of different strategies: some offer free trips to popular accounts in exchange for favorable posts, while others try to feature insta-worthy views and activities that many people are more likely to post about.

Sometimes, the hub can give too much authority to a node.  The article mentions an ultra-popular hashtag #thatwanakatree celebrating a unique tree in New Zealand.  This has created such a large draw that the health of the tree is now in danger.  Too much traffic can be undesirable, especially when internet posts translate to real-world foot traffic.

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