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Influencers In the Wild

I recently spent two days on a luxe trip with some of the country’s top travel content creators and one thing I am certain of is that the life of an influencer is not for the faint of heart.  

My five-star Instagram adventure started at OR Tambo International Airport where the team from Discovery eagerly awaited to give our group a taste of the Vitality Travel experience. Naturally, we skipped the queues at security, thanks to Discovery Bank Fast Track access and found ourselves in the South African Airways Premium Lounge.  

The meet and greets started and before we could go any further in getting to know each other (in real life) we were exchanging Instagram handles. “I’m not here as myself,” I threw in as a disclaimer. “I am representing a publication I write for.” This was me making sure my 600+ follower count wouldn’t raise any eyebrows.  

I know it sounds lame but when you’re in a room with people who have 600 000 followers (I’m looking at you Shandor Larenty) you need to remove yourself from the playing field as quickly as possible. So, how exactly does one get so many followers? Content of course. While I was on the trip to take in the joys of travelling with Vitality Travel, I was thrilled that I finally got to see how all that drool worthy content was created. Here is the run-down of what I learned.  

Document everything  

First things first if you’re going to document a trip, you need to document the whole trip. This means everything from your arrival at the airport, to the flight, your arrival at your destination, all meals, snacks and literally anything else you can think of (yes even your bath or shower) Waking up? Capture that. Going to sleep? Capture that.  

You don’t want any gaps in the story you’re trying to tell and if the location is insta-worthy, like our first destination, Kruger Shalati – The Train on The Bridge, you’re going to want all the material you can gather. The top shot list includes, swimming pools, amazing views and anything else that screams luxury.  

South Africa's first Bachelorette Qiniso Van Damme directs her beau Gareth 'Gaz' Ehret for the perfect Instagram video pool shot

South Africa’s first Bachelorette Qiniso Van Damme directs her beau Gareth ‘Gaz’ Ehret for the perfect Instagram video pool shot. You can watch the behind the scenes video as well as the final product on Instagram. Photo: Liesl Frankson

The comings and goings 

Content creators love videos and pictures of themselves getting in and out of stuff so be sure to get someone to take some snaps of you getting on and off the plane. This includes pictures of you embarking or disembarking any cool vehicles, like game drive vehicles.  

While we’re talking about game drive vehicles be sure to capture yourself casually standing near one or sitting on the hood. This is also the perfect opportunity to highlight the place you’re staying at so make sure the name of the vehicles is visible in some of your shots.  

Thobie Rose shows us the right way to disembark a safari vehicle. Photo: Liesl Frankson

Thobi Rose shows us the right way to disembark a safari vehicle. Photo: Liesl Frankson

Be brand savvy 

If you’ve received any cool gear or gifts from the brands that are hosting you, be sure to capture plenty of pictures and videos of them. You’re also going to want to use any relevant hashtags, phrases or anything else that the brand is using on social media to help make the connection so get those upfront.  

My attempt at capturing some of the cool branded gear we got on our trip. Photo: Liesl Frankson

My attempt at capturing some of the cool branded gear we got on our trip. Photo: Liesl Frankson

Find the light 

Lighting is everything so know how to find good light and make the most of it. Sunsets and sunrises are another fan favourite so you’ll want to include any contemplative or fun moments of yourself soaking up the rays or enjoying the landscape. They call it golden hour for a reason you’ll get some of your best shots when the sun is doing its going down thing. 

It's all about capitlising on golden hour. Photo: Liesl Frankson

It’s all about capitalising on golden hour. Photo: Liesl Frankson

Have fun and be yourself  

Above all else have fun and be yourself. Authenticity is a quality people value and in today’s time it seems like it’s a stretch with all the perfect pictures popping up on our feeds. The reality is that it’s the authenticity that comes through in the work of these creatives.  

Why do you follow the people you follow? It’s because the content they’re serving resonates with you on some level and that is something that can only be achieved with some degree of authenticity.  

After spending time with all of these very different people, seeing how they create their content and then viewing the final product I can see a little bit of who they really are in the content they create. These travel influencers are more than carefully curated feeds and flattering filters. They are storytellers weaving together visual tales that are aspirational and inspirational. 

Shan and Jemma having some good old fashioned fun. Photo: Liesl Frankson

Shan and Jemma having some good old fashioned fun. Photo: Liesl Frankson

So as someone who sits in the Instagram audience enjoying the content influencers produce without actually knowing how much work, editing and energy goes into creating it, what can you do? Start by being kinder. Like what you like, leave what you don’t and if something doesn’t resonate with you that’s fine. There are over 1 billion people on Instagram, find something that does resonate with you, and if you can’t then go out there and create it.  

You can check out some amazing content from our trip to Kruger Shalati- The Train on The Bridge and The Marly on these awesome accounts.

@Thobie_Rose

@Shanfourie.co.za

@shandorlarenty

@travelgirlboss

@senz_m

@jemmawildsafaristyled

@mmanaka_

@c_a_b_i_n_s_e_e_k_e_r_s

@kelly_Kikx

@qinisovandamme

@garethehret_

Words: Liesl Frankson (@lilikesthings)

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