Using a combination of social networks and media sharing sites, you can easily put social media to work for you while traveling and get “real-time” information and tips on transportation, accommodation, activities, food, safety and more. As I am six months into an around-the-world trip and am not carrying a single guidebook, I depend on the internet, particularly social media sites, to plan almost every aspect of my travels. I am currently in Thailand for one month so will reference it in my examples on how to use social media to do trip research.
FacebookFacebook status updates are another way to solicit travel advice, whether by simply mentioning where you are or where you’re going next, or by directly asking for recommendations. You also have the option of making your updates visible to all Facebook users or even to specific groups of users (see Lists below), thus creating a target audience. As there are no clear instructions for this in the Facebook Help Center, here’s how: 1. Compose your status update in the “Status” box. 2. Click the lock on the lower right of the box next to “Share.” 3. Click “Customize” in the drop down menu. 4. In the pop-up window select “Specific People” from the box next to “These People.” You can type in specific friends’ names and/or type in the name of one (or several) of your Lists. Alternatively, you can Hide your update from certain people. 5. Click “Save Setting” then “Share” your status update.
TwitterThe process is similar on Twitter. Have you ever considered that a video could sway you one way or another regarding your travel plans? When deciding what class of train to book for an overnight trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, I watched videos via links from The Man in Seat Sixty-One of Thai trains posted by travelers on YouTube and ultimately decided to save money by taking a second class sleeper. There are many travel-related videos on the internet and you can subscribe to YouTube channels like Lonely Planet or browse other video-hosting sites like Travelistic if you are researching a specific destination or activity.
Example of your TripAdvisor home page when you log in using Facebook Connect.For example, several of my friends have visited Thailand in recent years. Until I started using the TripAdvisor/Facebook Connect application, I didn’t realize how many. So, in addition to reading reviews on places to stay, eat & go by total strangers, I was also able to ask my friends what they recommended. Based on their feedback, I decided to travel to Chiang Mai and liked it so much that I ended up staying even longer than I expected!
Example of privacy options for Facebook status updates.General Travel Sites Many travel-oriented businesses, official tourism websites, embassies & consulates, etc. have some combination of a blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed. Once you “Like” a Facebook page or “Follow“ a Twitter account, you can add it to a list to more selectively check updates relevant to your travels. I have general travel sites like Concierge, Gadling and World Nomads in one list called “Travel Info.“ I created a separate list for Thailand and Asia-specific sites. The point is that you can create the lists to best suit your itinerary and travel needs. Not to mention when you Like or Follow travel websites on Facebook and Twitter you are eligible for social media-only contests, discount codes and other money-saving offers. Here are instructional links for creating lists on both sites: