Archive for the ‘Guides’ Category
The World Cup kicks off today, and with other exciting sports events on the horizon- the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, US Open, and more World Cup this weekend alone- we thought we’d expand our 9 tips for watching TV on Twitter to include, specifically, sports events:
- Definitely announce ahead of time if you’re going to be live-tweeting a game so your followers who can’t watch in real-time can mute you or avoid Twitter as a whole. Sports fans do not take kindly to being spoiled on events they plan to watch later.
- Related: “Do not tweet spoilers” is a trickier rule with sports events; after all, how else can you talk about what is going on if you’re not referring to the plays that are being made and how that can or is affecting the game? With enough warning ahead of time that you intend to live-tweet, and use of official hashtags so your followers can mute event-related tweets, you should be fine talking about everything that’s happening in the game.
- Check for an official hashtag. These days it’s rarer that a big event won’t have its own hashtag already set up; check official accounts to see which ones they’re using to talk about events and excitement leading up to the big game. @FIFAWorldCup is keeping it simple with #WorldCup this year for the event as a whole, but they’re also using other hashtags for individual matches: #BRACRO for Brazil vs. Croatia, for example.
- Mention official accounts for the teams playing, individual players, the organizers, or even the event itself, if applicable. You never know when you might get a retweet, and those accounts often have a large following. (You can find them by searching Twitter for the show name and choosing the official account that pops up with a verified checkmark, or by going to a team or organization’s website – social profiles are usually prominently displayed.)
- If you already have a large following for something unrelated to sports- you’re popular YA author John Green, for example- you might consider setting up a second account for live-tweeting sports events, so those who follow you for the latest news about your book-to-movie adaptations won’t have to mute you every time a game comes on, and you can even potentially reach new fans who are sports fanatics.
- Interact with other people talking about the game to enrich your conversation, which should help you find new accounts to follow related to your favorite sports teams, events, organizations and more.
- That said sports talk can be contentious, so don’t be afraid to mute someone who is especially volatile, or even block them if they become excessively aggressive or rude.
- If you’re having a party to watch the game with friends, consider posting pictures of your setup, and include guest’s handles in your tweets. Some event sponsors have contests around using their products in watch parties, so check those out ahead of time to see if you can win something for a party you were planning to throw anyway!
- Share your content to other networks like Tumblr and Instagram. If you’re trying to build a following around live-tweeting games (something you could translate into writing articles, perhaps) you might consider condensing the best of your live-tweets into a story and putting them on your Tumblr, or using Instagram to share a visual live-tweeting of your watch party. But be careful of auto-sharing everything you post elsewhere; those who follow you in multiple places might get bothered by the redundancy and decide to unfollow you. It’s great to cross-post some, but be selective.
- Related to that: See what the conversation is like about these events on other networks. What’s the World Cup conversation like on Tumblr, or Instagram? Seeing how people talk about it in those places can give you new outlets to discuss your favorite sports, new ideas for how to talk about them, and new accounts and people to connect and share with.
Do you tweet while you watch sports? Got any tips we missed? Tell us how you do it in the comments below!
With Memorial Day approaching this weekend, summer travel is on the minds of many, and the resources to plan and execute the best trips for business or for pleasure lie within the social sites you know and love. Last year we looked at the Top travel resources on Twitter: Accounts to follow and chats to attend as well as the 10 best travel resources on social media and beyond. So what does the travel landscape look like on social in 2014?
All of the travel advice and perspective accounts from our Twitter travel resources post are still active and providing information on everything from amateur and budget travel to high-end luxury accommodations; skim the list to find and follow the users that fit your needs.
As for the travel chats, read over the transcripts to get an idea of which ones would be worth joining in on before you plan your next trip:
- #MexMonday (all day Mondays): Check this one out if you’re planning a trip to Mexico
- #TravelTuesday (all day Tuesdays): Chat about all things travel-related
- #CruiseChat (2pm EST Tuesdays): Whether you’re a veteran cruiser or new to boat-bound travel, find out all you need to know in this chat
- #NUTS (Not-so-usual-therapy-session, aka travel and specifically roadtrips) seems to be used more as a generic hashtag than a travel related chat, but you can still check out the session recaps on their site.
- #TTOT (5:30 am/pm EST Tuesdays): standing for Travel Talk on Tuesdays, you can check out the topic ahead of time on their Facebook page.
- #LuxChat (2:30pm PST every 3rd Wednesday): While #LuxChat doesn’t always cover travel, keep an eye on the month’s chosen topic if treating yourself while you travel is your goal. You can find recaps of their chats on their Tumblr.
- #TourismChat (2:00pm CST bi-weekly on Thursdays): Check the @tourismchat account for topics and transcripts.
- #FriFotos (all day Fridays): You can find out each week’s theme from @EpsteinTravels
Other chats to check out:
- #TWChats (Travel Weekly Chats; monthly, see @ChatsTW)
- #TravelTuesday and #TT
- #TNI (Traveler’s Night In; Thursdays)
- Keep an eye out for specifically themed travel chats from Travel + Leisure (#TL_Chat)
- And check out this list from @AmateurTraveler for even more chats!
Other social media travel resources
All of our holiday travel tips from last year still hold true, and if you’re looking at how to get the most out of travel blogging on Tumblr we’ve covered that too. (You can see all of our travel-related Tumblr posts here.)
We still recommend Pinterest for planning what you’re going to pack, what sites you want to see at your destination, and more. Instagram is an amazing way to catalog your travels that lets everyone at home follow along with you and avoids overwhelming them with an album of 200 new photos to parse when you get home.
But what about using Instagram for inspiring and planning your next trip? Stay tuned. We’ll have that for you soon!
If you’ve got any social media travel resources we missed, leave them in the comments, or let us know on Twitter.
Photo courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery.
One of the highlights of using Instagram for brands is that once you’ve uploaded a post, you can quickly share it across several other platforms once you’ve connected your accounts: Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and Twitter.
It’s important to know the details of how exactly Instagram posts translate to each platform before you hit the share button; that way you can tweak your posts to get the best results across all of them.
Instagram posts on Twitter are shown as a link in the tweet, and they pull in all the text and the hashtags used to caption a post before the allotted 140 characters are used up. Here’s an example of this post as it was shared to Twitter, below:
— Union Metrics (@UnionMetrics) May 14, 2014
Captions longer than 140 characters are truncated with an ellipses, as above, and if all of your hashtags are at the end of a long caption, none of them will translate to Twitter. If you want the full caption and hashtags to show up, keep it short; a short caption and no more than two or three hashtags (three will probably only work if you’re using shorter hashtags like #TBT). Remember that some of the characters will be used up on the link to the Instagram post itself.
Instagram will also translate another Instagram user’s account name that you’ve tagged in a post to their Twitter account username, if they’ve connected their accounts. If they haven’t connected their accounts, the tweet will show the person’s Instagram account name and will remove the “@” symbol so it doesn’t tag anyone on Twitter.
However, if you use the incorrect Instagram username when you tag someone in a post and it doesn’t match any Instagram users, it will translate to Twitter using the “@” symbol. Another reason to be sure you’re using the right account name (you should see it pop up while you’re typing it in, as in the photo below) when you decide to mention someone in a post you plan to share.
For more tips about using Instagram as a brand, head over to the Union Metrics blog.
For more Twitter tips, or tips specific to TweetReach, check out our master post from last week.
Whether you know someone just getting started with Twitter as they’re launching their new business, or you want to brush up on some of the basics yourself, we’ve rounded up all of the Twitter and TweetReach tips and best practices we’ve written up and tested and put them here for your convenience.
Twitter Best Practices
Twitter Quick Tips
Got any good tips we missed or questions you want answered? Leave them in the comments, or find us on Twitter. We’re always happy to answer your questions!
Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery.
The industries that have moved more slowly to embrace the social media world have, understandably, been the more highly regulated industries such as law and healthcare. But as social has moved from what some saw as a quirky new marketing fad into a steady part of our daily lives, so too have these industries followed– and now they’re playing catchup. After all, the percentage of Americans alone who turn to social media- and trust it- for health information is growing.
The first step is making a plan to figure out what metrics are going to be important to measure on each of the social sites you decide to have a presence on, such as Twitter. So what metrics should healthcare companies focus on?
1. Decide what your goals are
Healthcare companies or professionals using social media will obviously have very different goals with their accounts compared to businesses in the beauty, travel, or other industries; there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to social.
By figuring out what you want to accomplish you’ll know what it is that you need to measure. Here are a few ideas of what a social presence can mean for a healthcare company:
Provide health resources
Provide support by answering company-specific questions
Provide support by hosting chats with qualified professionals to answer health-related questions
Communicate new information; for example, explaining recent changes to your company, or explaining what the new Affordable Healthcare Act means to those using your services
A combination of some or all of these
Many of these things will spread awareness of your brand and amplify your brand voice, particularly if you decide to participate in or host tweet chats. (If you want more information on building or establishing a brand voice, go here.) Tweet chats also lead to higher engagement with your audience. Which brings us to our next step.
2. Measure based on those goals.
If your goal is to increase awareness of your brand, you’ll want to look at share of voice, or specifically metrics like volume, reach, exposure, and amplification relative to the volume, reach, exposure, and amplification of your closest competitors, if they’re on social media. If they’re not on social media but your target audience is talking more about them than you, you need to really ask what they’re doing that you’re not. Here are more resources to break down how to measure each of these metrics specifically:
For share of voice:
For a breakdown of volume, reach, engagement, influence and share of voice: 5 essential & easy social media metrics you should be measuring right now
For more specifics if you’re kicking things off with a campaign: The 5 easy steps to measure your social media campaigns
Amplification is definitely tied to share of voice- most metrics have some manner of overlap- but it’s also important to look at how others are helping to amplify your voice or your messages, which means looking at engagement as well. Retweets, annotated retweets (think the classic retweet, with commentary before the RT), link shares from your website, etc. The above resources cover much of this as well.
3. Rinse, repeat.
Social media is a constantly changing landscape, which can make it daunting to tackle, but the best way to go about it is just to jump in and listen, then start swimming. Establish a time period for regular evaluations- compile specific monthly metrics, schedule quarterly metric revisions- and investigate and change whatever isn’t working.
Social media basically consists of constant experimentation and adjustments, but with the right information it’s more of a fun and exciting project that a terrifying task. And as always, we’re here if you have questions.
Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery
A strong and authentic brand voice is more important now than ever in the age of social media; you want to be approachable, human, and responsive on your social accounts while still matching the overall tone and messaging of your brand. Accomplishing all of that can seem incredibly overwhelming, and there are several circumstances where building from the past can be especially helpful: taking over from someone else who built the voice for a brand (or even created it), creating and establishing the voice of a brand yourself, or wanting to build something bigger and better than your brand- or a competitor- has built in the past.
So just exactly how do you go about doing this? Let’s break it down.
Taking over a brand’s voice.
As your predecessor most likely won’t leave behind a checklist of how they went about establishing a brand’s voice and what you should do to maintain and further build it, that burden falls to you.
Depending on your resources- just you, or a team and branded documents that provide guidelines, etc- there are a few ways you can go about doing this. Obviously a good start is reading over recent posts, but sampling from accounts such as Twitter a few different times throughout the brand’s history is the best way to really learn how the voice evolved– and if and when it ever derailed. Sampling from specific campaigns will give you an idea of how a brand’s voice was meant to reach larger audiences, bring in new customers, and interact with them.
Here are some good questions to keep in mind while you work:
- Is the existing voice appropriate for our audience? This is the most important question to ask, because it should inform your entire plan.
- Is there a lot of turnover in the voice, or consistency? If there hasn’t been consistency in the past, pay attention to the interactions during more experimental times to take note of what worked and what didn’t. Use that information to build out brand voice guidelines, both for yourself and any teammates you have now or in the future.
- What about cross-platform consistency? Did tweets get automatically shared to Facebook? Or Instagram posts? Was the language the same in each place, or were messages tailored to each platform, but matching in tone? The latter is definitely what you want to aim for.
- Which formats have been most successful? Does the brand Twitter account, for example, only tweet in proper English? Has it used popular abbreviations in the past, seriously or as a joke? (And were these jokes well-received?) What about photos and videos; if those are used, do they match the tone of the tweets or did they clearly come from another team with little communication?
- How many interactions and how much sharing has there been vs. straight promotion? If the brand hasn’t been answering questions, interacting with fans and followers, and sharing useful content from other sources in the past, these are good practices to implement immediately. They make a brand friendlier, more human, more approachable.
These questions will help you establish consistency in brand voice, which makes you instantly recognizable to customers, potential customers, and fans.
Building a brand voice from scratch.
Starting from scratch is always both terrifying and liberating, and fortunately there is also the example of those who have come before- both good and bad- to lead your efforts.
The list of questions in the previous section can still apply to you; simply build guidelines of your own based on them. The most important question is still the first one: Who is my audience, where do they spend time, and how do they speak to each other and to or about brands in that space? Nothing other than listening can address this question and help you build from there. It doesn’t matter how clever and helpful the voice is that you establish if it doesn’t reach the right people or is reaching those who aren’t interested in what your brand offers.
An additional strategy involves looking at past tweets from campaigns of brands you admire or that are your competition. These can give you invaluable insight into how to build things for your own brand moving forward. Ask:
- What did well? (Or badly.)
- And for whom?
The simplest questions are often the most important ones. Address details like cross-sharing on platforms, tailoring messages, frequency of posts after you’ve established the foundation of your voice. These things are still important and still inform the overall presentation and reception of your brand.
So what’s my next step?
If you’re interested in gaining access to old tweets and Twitter campaigns, then our premium historical analytics are for you. We have ability to reach all the way back to the first public tweet posted in March 2006 – we have access to the full archive of historical Twitter data from Gnip – and we can search anything and everything you can think of. This goes beyond the scope of basic Twitter search and anything that can be pulled with Twitter’s public API; the information you can get from those sources is limited to about a week back. But the historical archive includes the full archive from Twitter itself, and you cannot get that just anywhere.
There’s more here about the specifics of how it works and you can also request a quote. Historical analytics start at $49. Pricing is based on report duration and tweet volume.
Got any more questions? Shoot us an email.
Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery
Over the last few years we’ve watched the handwringing over social media and its usefulness evolve into campaigns with large social tie-ins, and stand-alone social campaigns. One of the industries that embraced this early- with both success and failure- was the automotive industry. Cars are seen as a necessary purchase for many households, particularly in cities where no reliable public transportation exists.
While Millennials are buying fewer cars right now, that doesn’t mean they won’t be doing so in a future of improved economic prospects. Smart automotive companies are targeting the next generation of car buyers on the social networks where they hang out.
Who has done it right?
One of the earliest and most comprehensive social campaigns came from Ford- an overall early social media embracer- and was centered around the launch of their new Ford Fiesta in 2009. It was successful enough that they’ve “remixed” the campaign for the 2014 Fiesta. The key to Ford’s success in this campaign was reaching out to their target customers where they were already hanging out- in this case, courting successful YouTubers- and giving them content for compelling storytelling: a car to use and take on adventures, and give honest reviews about. This strategy was designed to benefit both Ford and the vloggers, and it did, as per this Businessweek article discussing the campaign’s results:
“Fiesta got 6.5 million YouTube views and 50,000 requests for information about the car—virtually none from people who already had a Ford in the garage. Ford sold 10,000 units in the first six days of sales. The results came at a relatively small cost. The Fiesta Movement is reputed to have cost a small fraction of the typical national TV campaign.”
YouTubers don’t just spend time on YouTube either; they use platforms like Twitter to increase their exposure, find new viewers and subscribers, and connect with fans new and old– along with other YouTubers and brands.
Reason enough to remix it.
Other notable campaigns include an effort from AutoTrader, who put the fate of a car hanging over the Thames in Twitter’s hands, and more recently Toyota, who partnered with The Muppets around their latest movie Muppets Most Wanted to let the public know their Toyota Highlander has #NoRoomForBoring. Launched around this year’s Super Bowl, the ad campaign featured massive social tie-ins, with related tweets and posts to Instagram from both companies.
— Toyota USA (@Toyota) February 1, 2014
— The Muppets (@TheMuppets) February 1, 2014
From Toyota’s Instagram.
From The Muppet’s Instagram.
We took a look at their Super Bowl results after the game (along with other brands), and partnering with lovable, family friendly Muppets was definitely a wise choice for Toyota. They’ve continued the brand partnership and campaign through the premiere of Muppets Most Wanted.
— Toyota USA (@Toyota) March 12, 2014
How do I plan this?
Before you start planning a social campaign, there are important questions to ask yourself. These will help you figure out what you’re going to measure as well (which we’ll get to in a minute):
Who is my target audience? Specific demographics tend to spend more time on specific platforms. Do the research and go where your people are.
Where do they hang out? Obviously whichever platform that is, is where you’ll want to be. If you’re a luxury vehicle brand, you might want to use Instagram to show off stunning visuals of your vehicles, tapping into the aspirational among Instagram users.
How do they talk in that space? Pay attention to how your target audience speaks to their friends, to brands, and just about brands. The golden rule of social media marketing is always listen first.
How do you, as a customer, like to be approached? Everyone has had good and bad customer experiences. Reflecting on your own can help in building a good experience for others.
Once you’ve answered those questions, plan to:
Talk to your audience and with them, not at them. This is why listening is so important.
Present your content in a beautiful and compelling way. Looking and listening can also inform the storytelling you’ll be doing on any platform. It should be high-quality, compelling, useful, and beautiful in form and function. When you’re approaching someone on a space they use for social interaction with their friends and family, be respectful of their time and attention so they won’t resent your presence and think of it as an unwanted invasion.
Involve your audience. The successful campaigns we referenced earlier have been interactive and smartly researched. The campaigns involving user-generated content that have backfired didn’t take the time to understand the audience they would be involving– and the audience shot back.
What should I measure?
There is no one right answer to this, because every company’s goals are different, as are the goals of every campaign. A lot of this is going to depend on how you answered the questions in the previous section; certain tactics will be more successful with different demographic groups and on different platforms.
Twitter is “especially appealing to 18-29-year-olds”, but there are “no significant differences by gender, household income or education” according to Pew Research via Marketing Charts. The same survey found Instagram to be especially appealing to women of the same age group. Do your research and use demographic information like this to tailor your campaign message for each platform, speaking to your target audience in the platform’s native language and to whomever you’re trying to reach there.
Further, look at what kinds of storytelling do best on each platform and let that inform your measurement goals: Will visuals on Instagram help raise brand awareness, while you tailor your message for Twitter to bring in sales? The most important question to answer is: What does success look like to you and your brand? That will tell you what you need to be measuring. For example:
- If brand awareness is your goal, share of voice measurement will be important to monitor before, during and after your campaign
- If you’re looking to drive sales, bring your sales team onboard to decide what success will look like and how you’ll measure the traffic driving it
- If you want to gain new fans and followers, share of voice will be important alongside paying attention to the reach of your campaign; don’t just concentrate on vanity metrics like the number of followers you have (though these are good baseline indicators).
- If you want to see how a new Twitter campaign has improved over past campaigns, you’ll need historical Twitter data.
Need more references and help? Check out The 5 Easy Steps To Measure Your Social Media Campaigns, or shoot us an email to see how we can help. We’re always here.
We’ve written before about the five questions you should be asking your social analytics provider, and we wanted to make it clear what you’re getting when you choose TweetReach Pro. If you still have questions after you read this, feel free to share them in the comments below, or drop us a line. We’ll be happy to help answer them!
Does Union Metrics have access to the Twitter firehose for TweetReach?
This is a question we get fairly often, and although we address it in our help docs, we also wanted to address it here as it’s a little more complicated than it might seem. The short answer is yes. As for the long answer…
Twitter has two licensed data resellers - Gnip and Datasift - who can provide access to the full Twitter firehose to third parties. The full Twitter firehose includes full-coverage, real-time streaming access to all of the data from Twitter. In most cases, direct access to the full firehose is unnecessary, not to mention very expensive to consume and store. After all, as of last fall, Twitter has 215 million monthly active users, 100 million daily active users, and sees 500 million tweets per day.
So companies like us here at Union Metrics work with one of these data resellers, who have built powerful filtering tools on top of the Twitter firehose to provide high-quality access to the data we need. This makes it more efficient in both time and money for us provide the detailed, comprehensive Twitter analytics our customers want. We’ve elected to work with Gnip, and in fact are part of their Plugged In to Gnip partner program, which means they recognize that we can deliver you the highest quality Twitter data available through licensed access to the full Twitter firehose. This means you don’t have to worry about missing any data.
Our TweetReach Pro Trackers are built on Gnip’s real-time PowerTrack stream, meaning we have full access to all tweets as they are posted – with no rate limits! – for any keyword, hashtag or account you want to analyze. Similarly, TweetReach premium historical analytics are built on Gnip’s Historical PowerTrack product, and provide complete access to the Twitter archive, dating back to March of 2006. Both include full tweet coverage.
To sum up: TweetReach Twitter analytics are built from licensed access to the full Twitter firehose through Gnip.
What about Union Metrics’ other products?
Union Metrics is a certified Plugged In To Gnip partner, which means we have commercially licensed, full-coverage access to both Twitter and Tumblr data. That’s reliable, reputable data you can count on, both now and in the future. Here’s the breakdown of the data source for each of our products:
- Our TweetReach Pro Trackers have Gnip PowerTrack access – that’s full coverage of all public tweets in real time for any search terms you enter. That means no missed tweets and no sampling.
- Our TweetReach snapshot reports use the Twitter Search API, so they’re great for quick estimates of recent activity, but are limited to about 1500 tweets from the past week.
- Our TweetReach premium historical analytics use Gnip’s Historical PowerTrack. That gives us full access to any public tweet in Twitter’s history, dating back to the very first tweet posted in March 2006.
- Finally, with Union Metrics for Tumblr, we consume the full Tumblr firehose. That means we process 100% of all public posts, notes and other Tumblr activities.
If you have any other questions about our data access, please just ask!
Keep it simple with TweetReach snapshot reports! Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re running a snapshot report:
1. Snapshots will analyze tweets up to one week old. Snapshots pull tweets from up to 7 days ago, so be sure you run them as soon as you can after your event. Older tweets are only available through our premium historical analytics.
2. Full snapshots will include up to 1,500 tweets. Due to restrictions from Twitter’s Search API (more on that below), a full snapshot report is limited to about 1500 tweets from the past week. If your topic or hashtag had more tweets than that, we’ll go back until we hit that limit, but won’t be able to pull them all into a snapshot report. For higher-volume topics, try our historical analytics or ongoing Pro Trackers.
3. A snapshot report is just that – a snapshot. We use the Twitter Search API for our snapshot report data, and it operates more on relevancy than on completeness. This means it will pull everything that Twitter considers most relevant to your search query from the past seven days, so some tweets or users might be missing from your results. For more complete results, try our Pro Tracker, which has access to the full-fidelity, real-time Twitter stream.
4. Narrow your snapshot search dates with filters. If you want more specific results for a snapshot report, you can include date filters. The since: and until: operators allow you to select a specific date range within the past week for your search. For example, let’s say you want to see all #TBT tweets for December 12, 2013 through December 17, 2013. Search for #TBT since:2013-12-12 until:2013-12-18 (use the YYYY-MM-DD format, which is tied to 00:00 for each date). Like this:
5. Tweets in our snapshot reports are displayed in the Universal Coordinated Time zone (UTC). This is to simplify and standardize our reporting across all time zones. If you need help converting UTC to your time zone, try this converter.
Friday was expected to be the biggest travel day of the year, but a lot of you are still headed home for the holidays and maybe still scrambling to book last minute New Year’s plans. Whether it’s something fairly local, or that big trip abroad you’ve always wanted to take that you’re finally booking as a New Year’s resolution, we’ve got some tips and resources to help make traveling easier on you:
Your network: Get information about experiences from those who have been there that you trust by talking to your network on Twitter, Tumblr, and more to see what you should splurge on, what you should skip, and what to expect in different cities and countries. A Twitter friend might even offer to show you around, or point you to someone who can help with local recommendations. (Want to grow that network? Check out our list of Twitter travel resources.)
Check out the social accounts of locals: Headed to Paris, or Perth? Check out the accounts of some locals to get an idea of the kinds of non-touristy activities and places to eat and drink around around your destination. Strike up a conversation and ask questions if they seem open to it; a lot of people love to share hidden gems of their own town so visitors enjoy themselves.
Connect with companies: Is the place you’re staying on Instagram? Is the rental company you’re getting a car from on Twitter? Does the airline you’re flying on have a Tumblr? Get familiar with their services through these channels– and you might even stumble onto a social-media-only deal or two!
Utilize Pinterest for Planning: Start a Pinterest board for ideas for your trip: sites you want to see, things you don’t want to forget to pack, places you want to eat. Search the site to see if anyone has made such a board already, and you might pick up some unexpected and handy tips. Same goes for boards from locals; their fashion board might tell you more about what to pack than any weather report could.
Catalog: Instagram is a great way to share snapshots of your trip as you’re on it. Limit yourself to one to two photos a day so you’ve got a little something to let friends and family know what you’re up to without distracting yourself from enjoying the moment.
Save some pennies: Couchsurfing and Airbnb have both become popular alternatives to hotels. Couchsurfing in particular is a free service, where hosts give travelers a place to stay out of the kindness of their hearts in the spirit of travel. Airbnb lets you choose from a variety of accommodation options that give you a more local feel than a hotel. If you decide to use either service, be sure you check out the reviews of the host and/or space to make sure you know what you’re getting into
YouTube Travel Channels: If you like your travel advice in video form with the possibility of inappropriate jokes, then YouTube travel channels are just for you. The channel Maila AuParis has a series on CouchSurfing in addition to a lot of other travel videos. The Expert Vagabond and Mashable both have roundups of YouTube travel channels to inspire, instruct, and more. And don’t forget about the big guys: Lonely Planet and The Travel Channel both have YouTube channels of their own.
Traveling with pets: BlogPaws has a travel category with safety tips and more for traveling with pets. Keep track of pet-friendly hotels at PetsWelcome, and be sure to check the TSA guidelines for flying with pets if that’s in your plan. You’ll want to see specifically what your airline says about traveling with pets as well.
Traveling with children: Last year the New York Times covered innovative travel products to ease the burden of packing for and hauling around quick-to-tire small children. The CDC has health and safety tips while the TSA goes over what is expected of your child in airline security lines. If you’re sending a minor unaccompanied on a flight, check with your particular airline to see what the procedures and expectations are.
Apps to check out: CNN has a whole category on their site covering travel apps of all descriptions. If you’re a lover of travel guides, check to see if they offer apps to go along with them. That way you’ll have information on the ground without carrying around the guide itself, and many also have a social component. Also consider downloading a few language apps if you’re traveling to a foreign country, so you can practice common words and phrases.
Got any tips we missed? Leave ‘em in the comments, or tell us about them on Twitter. Safe travels, and happy holidays!