Volunteer Tourism Organizations are Leveraging Social Media

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How Volunteer Tourism Organizations are Leveraging Social Media

Have you ever considered traveling abroad to volunteer? The term “voluntourism” refers to a form of tourism in which travelers participate in voluntary work, typically for a charity.

It’s an excellent way to combine a desire for travel with a desire to give back to communities or worthwhile entities.

There are a variety of businesses that focus on these kinds of trips, and many are using social media to spread the word.

Here are a few case studies of travel-volunteer brands doing just that:

A Broader View

I came across A Broader View via social media a few years ago, and they have continuously caught my attention as setting an excellent example of a social media presence.

One thing that sets them apart from many other travel-related entities is that they post frequently on LinkedIn. Travel tends to rely heavily on visual platforms, especially Instagram and Pinterest, and, of course, Facebook and Twitter.

We don’t tend to see many travel folks leveraging LinkedIn, but A Broader View does it well. I’ve contended with doing a volunteer trip myself, so seeing their posts pop up frequently in my LinkedIn feed makes them stand out and reminds me that I may want to take a trip through them. Such is probably the case for the 500+ other individuals connected with them on LinkedIn, too.

A Broader View uses their LinkedIn profile to feature useful resources like a guide to volunteering, steps to do so, as well as a sample application. They list all the different causes one might pursue, along with an array of testimonials and videos about the various destinations represented.

a broader view linkedinOf course, they also have an active presence on other channels. Their Facebook page is similarly full of photos, videos, and first-hand testimonials.

One thing that sets this organization apart is that they do a great job of “walking the walk” rather than simply “talking the talk,” both in terms of what they offer as well as in regard to their social presence.

They have mastered the difficult art of “selling without selling” – of letting the ‘product’ (or, in this case, the experience) speak for itself.

Finally, their still presently-active Google+ page, which, despite Google+ being allegedly near-death, has garnered nearly 15,000 followers and 1.6 million views.

The Bamboo Project

Another similar organization to which I was recently introduced is The Bamboo Project. In addition to nurturing an active, diverse presence on Facebook and Twitter, they also leverage video substantially.

Boasting both a YouTube and Vimeo account, The Bamboo Project has been able to leverage the first-hand experiences of their volunteers to literally showcase what it’s like to be a part of their organization.

They also created a social-based campaign called #WalkAmongstThem. The new venture is focused on how they approach their volunteering with regard to elephant conservation.

By using the hashtag #WalkAmongstThem, they hope to bring awareness about elephants and to encourage literally walking amongst them as opposed to on them.

Carnival’s “Social Impact” Cruise

In June of this year, Carnival Corp. introduced a new cruise brand called “Fathom” intended for travelers who would like to volunteer for three days among residents of their destination as part of a week-long trip.

According to an overview in The Huffington Post,

Carnival calls the new offering “social impact travel” and expects it to appeal to millennials, parents who want to engage in a meaningful experience with their children, and baby boomers looking to help others beyond writing a check. Carnival predicts 40 percent of Fathom travelers will be cruise first-timers.

The cruise line will partner with proven, trusted local organizations at each specific destination. So far, arrangements are in place with the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Carnival, who is no stranger to navigating social media, has developed a distinct social media presence for the Fathom brand including “Fathom Travel” Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles.

Since they don’t yet have video case studies or testimonials like the formerly-mentioned groups do, they’re focusing so far on raising awareness for the trips they will offer and causes specific to Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

A useful tactic they’re employing on Instagram is integrating both their #ImpactTravel hashtag as well as their Fathom logo to the bottom corners of their photos. Incorporating these elements onto the photos themselves is a wise move in general, and especially for a brand that’s new to the marketplace.

Platforms like Canva now make it remarkably easy for businesses to edit their own photos, allowing for the integration of logos and hashtags.

This means when the photos are being shared by others, even though someone may not manually tag the originator, the logo will remain on the photos themselves.

Many businesses can take note of some of the tactics these voluntourism organizations are incorporating into their social tool boxes. Have you noticed any other volunteer travel organizations on social as well?

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Volunteer Internet mapmakers ‘improve outcomes’ in Nepal disaster relief




The night after the earthquake hit Nepal, people feared to sleep in their homes, worrying about powerful aftershocks toppling the few buildings left standing. They slept instead in tents, in the street or in city parks.

Meanwhile, it rained and rained. The storm soaked people’s possessions and chilled those without shelter. But it also kept Kathmandu from being seen from above — and this was more of a problem than it might seem at first.

It’s become a regular occurrence: Whenever there’s a natural catastrophe, a team of “crisis mappers” activate around the world. These volunteers use crowdsourcing tools to turn satellite data into digital maps, which are then used to make decisions on the ground. Read more…

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