Instagram fever: Do you travel just for likes?

Instagram fever: Do you travel just for likes?

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Do you follow the herd or are you an exclusive hipster? Instagram and Facebook influence where you spend your holidays more than you would expect

Every day it seems like our Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of pictures of our friends travelling – it turns out they may just be seeing the world for the likes you give them.

The success on our social media profiles influence if and where we travel — Shutterstock InstagramThe success on our social media profiles influences if and where we travel — Shutterstock

Social media is increasingly affecting what we do in our free time; and travelling makes for a huge part of it. A new study has revealed that many people decide if and where to travel just to gain likes from their followers, and increase their social capital.

Researchers from the University of Georgia surveyed 758 U.S citizens who decided to travel to Cuba in upcoming 1, 5 or 10 years. They selected this particular country because of its remaining inaccessibility since there still are many restrictions for visitors from the United States. This gives the place a sense of novelty, making it more interesting – as do the cigars.

The study aimed to examine how sharing “tourism experiences” on social media sites affects the way people pick their next destinations. The researchers measured a “social return” factor that was meant to describe “the amount of positive social feedback that one’s social media posts will generate,” as explained in the study.

InstagramPeople can either hop on a bandwagon or decide for the exact opposite than the majority; in a hipster way — Shutterstock

Participants who cared more about the factor were more likely to visit Cuba in the next year in comparison to people who planned it in 5 or 10 years, who considered the social media outcomes far less important.  

The study also offers possible explanations based on the Bandwagon Effect and the Snob Effect, two phenomena that influence our decision making unconsciously. People might hop on the bandwagon and visit a country based on the frequency with which it pops up in their social media feeds.

The Snob Effect suggests the opposite, that some people avoid a specific destination just because it has become too popular. The snobs – or hipsters if you will – seek the places that are exclusive, out of the mainstream, that will give them a sense of prestige and improve their status in their social standing.

“Destinations with high social media potential could take advantage of the Bandwagon Effect and the Snob Effect as they wax and wane in popularity and, in turn, the resulting social value,” the researchers explained.

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