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How the Travel Channel Wins by Catering Content to Google+, Instagram, and Beyond

TravelChannel_blogAccording to recent research, the average Travel Channel viewer:

  • Takes four domestic vacations each year (one more than the average non-viewer).
  • Spends approximately $2,625 on a typical domestic vacation or leisure trip (38% more than the average non-viewer).
  • Lists sightseeing and heading to the beach as their most popular vacation activities.

Even more notably, the research found that Travel Channel is considered an authority on where to travel among both viewers and non-viewers (79% and 74% agree, respectively): “Viewers cite Travel Channel content, including both the ads and programming, as a resource which has inspired them to visit a specific destination or attraction.”

How does the Travel Channel use this information to think about what their social audience wants to see from them? The Travel Channel has active accounts on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube — but what are they doing with them?

I’m a busy lady, so I wanted to see how all the Travel Channel’s social accounts were doing at once, instead of having to run individual reports. I wanted to compare strategies, look at strengths, and suss out opportunities for growth.

So I ran a cross-channel report, looking at the Travel Channel’s social activity for one month, from August 1 to August 31, to see how they’re excelling and discover the strengths of each different social network they’re active on. The results were surprising, and indicative of the vast potential that the social sphere (especially visually-heavy networks) has in store for any media brand.

They’re Seeing the Most Off-The-Charts Audience Growth on Google+ 

This chart, pulled from the Simply Measured Cross-Channel Social Performance Report, shows the Travel Channel’s audience growth over time between August 1 and August 31, 2014 on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

At first, I thought that the drastic difference between audience growth on Google+ and the other social networks the Travel Channel is active on might be because they joined Google+ more recently than the other networks. Qualitative research (AKA, a whole lot of scrolling) showed me that this isn’t true. What gives, I wondered? What’s the Travel Channel doing right on Google+?

So I clicked over to the Google+ Posts tab in the Cross-Channel Social Performance report (click to zoom).

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 1.54.36 PM
This list, pulled from Google+ Posts tab of the Cross-Channel Social Performance Report, shows the stats for the Travel Channel’s top Google+ posts between August 1, 2014 – August 31, 2014.

I re-sorted the list to show me the top posts during this time period by total number of reshares, as this is the greatest way to amplify content and raise awareness of brand presence on Google+. As you can see, most of the top posts by reshares were “Today’s Daily Escape” posts, featuring gorgeous, color-saturated images and a link back to more information on Travel Channel’s website.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 12.25.11 PMMore interactive posts that asked Google+ users questions or more show-specific posts did not perform nearly as well, indicating that the Travel Channel finds sharable, audience-expanding success on Google+ with content that:

  • Doesn’t directly ask to be shared.
  • Features gorgeous, monotony-busting, professional-quality images.
  • Includes very little text.
  • Shares a link to the Travel Channel site and further information on the locale in question.

They’re Seeing the Fastest Audience Growth on Instagram 

This chart, pulled from the Cross-Channel Social Performance Report, shows the Travel Channel’s audience growth rate between August 1, 2014 – August 31, 2014.

The Travel Channel might be plucking the most new followers off Google+’s vine, but the Instagram vine is growing faster than all its other networks. Why? Because the Travel Channel is doing an admirable job of getting discovered by users on Instagram.

This was due to a combination of factors. First, there’s this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 4.15.56 PMThe Travel Channel is seriously reppin’ its Instagram presence on other social networks.While this post wasn’t accompanied by a noticeable uptick in followers, it did sit in the middle of a steady, positive follower growth period during August.

Another reason for the Travel Channel’s Instagram audience growth during August was the heavily Facebook-promoted #TASelfie campaign, an offshoot of the Travel and Adventure Show, a travel industry conference sponsored by the Travel Channel.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 5.11.03 PMAnd, a final and more permanent theory is that a visually-centric brand like the Travel Channel is predisposed to attract users who actively seek their presence on a visual-centric social network like Instagram, since their mediums and the content people seek from them — inspiration and eye-pleasing images —  overlap quite a bit.

They’re Seeing the Most Engagement on Facebook 

In August, the Travel Channel saw an average of 2,600 engagements per post on Facebook, with Instagram coming in second at 1,400 average engagements per post. Like all posts on the Travel Channel’s social network presences, most were photos: 

This chart, pulled from the Cross-Channel Social Performance Report, shows which post types drove the most engagement for the Travel Channel by network between August 1, 2014 – August 31, 2014.

Not only did Facebook win for engagement — it also took up all the slots for top 10 posts by total engagement:

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 5.27.30 PM
This chart, pulled from the Cross-Channel Social Performance Report, shows the Travel Channel’s top 10 posts by total engagement between August 1, 2014 – August 31, 2014.

For many brands, this top ten list is a potpourri of different channels. For the Travel Channel, Facebook rules the roost. What worked for Travel Channel on Facebook?

  • Daily Escape posts (a common thread between all Travel Channel social properties) cleverly linking back to the motherboard, the Travel Channel website.
  • Bret Michaels’ on-the-road mobile uploads.

A bulk of the Travel Channel’s current social strategy involves cross-pollinating The Daily Escape content on all its social networks. They’re hitting paydirt with this content everywhere, but gleaning the most engagement from it on Facebook, by far.

Where Can Cross-Channel Measurement Take You?

F0llower count growth and engagement levels are your primary metrics for gauging success or, ahem, opportunities for growth. Do you prefer to look at these all-important metrics from a qualitative or quantitative perspective? Let us know in the comments, and for help with cross-channel measurement and more tactical advice, click the button below to download our full guide.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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