In the ever changing industry of digital marketing, social media platforms are now encouraging users to leverage visual storytelling.

Companies like Facebook are even rewarding users who implement Facebook Live by serving the post up to more users than an average post would. Instagram has implemented stories, taking their cue from Snapchat because of its great success. And then there is of course Youtube.


Paws Up Montana River Rafting

River Rafting in Montana with The Resort at Paws Up.

Tell Your Story

So how can your adventure tour company leverage visual storytelling to its fullest capacity? Here are a few pointers that those in the film industry suggest mixed with our own customizations for adventure tour audiences.

  1. If you can’t afford a video team, not to worry, you can use your smartphone. Facebook Live was designed for the smartphone. Yes, you can use it on your laptop as well but for those who are in the adventure tourism industry, simply using your smartphone to build your visual story is enough. Using your smartphone to Instagram is almost a necessity (unless you know the work-arounds like we do) but if you want to show up in Instagram stories, you are going to have to do it yourself, in the moment.
  2. Decide on the focus on your story before film it. There are a number of topics you can choose from when laying out your story. You should brainstorm them and put on your editorial calendar. Also decide if you want to use video or a series of images. Topics could include:
    1. Give a sneak peak of a new trip or destination
    2. Show a behind the scenes view of a trip (guides setting up camp, preparing gear)
    3. Show off a tour
    4. Highlight a guest’s experience
    5. Highlight a guide and their life
    6. Educate your audience.
  3. Show the benefits of your service, don’t tell people – and don’t be slow about it. Show don’t tell. Quickly display your tour’s high points from the beginning of the video and maintain a fast action showing of benefits. An example would be people laughing, children on a trip, safety wear, safety checks, views, gear, delicious food and drinks. Rather than telling people what they get on their adventure, show them. Edit out all slow shots and keep the action moving!
  4. Provide context. A great storytelling trick is to show hidden context. An example would be a zoomed in shot on someone’s face that appears to be fearful. Then, zoom out and show how the person just performed a great feat and their expression is one of pride and wonder.
  5. Tell stories of people rather than things. When possible, talk about people’s lives and how they have changed in some way, or tell their story. Talking about people rather than a product or service resonates more with a reader.
  6. True stories are powerful. People want authenticity and true stories. If you are able to interview one of your guests, tell their story on film.
  7. Show conflict. Conflict is a major part of a story arc when writing a movie. Even if you are building a very short video, introduce conflict, such as someone who is bored from their 8-5 job and needs to spice up their life. They fantasize about adventuring with your company and then viola, they are there. Conflict resolved
  8. Reveal hidden things. People love the idea of something hidden, then revealed. Talk about unexplored territory that demonstrates what most people wouldn’t even know exists nor would they unless they were with your company. Or, show people something that happens behind the scenes that isn’t normally witnessed on a tour such as the long hours guides put in to prepare everything perfectly, permits that have to be quickly acquired before they run out, volunteer work your company may do on the side.
  9. Stay on point. Develop a focus point of your story and stay on that point. Don’t aimlessly go on and on about all the great qualities of your trip or adventure. Pick one point and stick to it. You can brag about your company in another video or set of images.
  10. Don’t be obvious. Audiences like to be surprised. As mentioned above, when zooming in on what appears to be a frightened face, only to discover somebody who just accomplished something quite challenging for them, is a surprise to the audience. You can get creative here.
  11. Teach something. If not conveying a message picked from topics above, remember you can always use your visual story to teach people something. For example, if you have a white water rafting company, maybe you want to teach your guests what types of shoes are best used in and out of the water and for hiking when on shore.
  12. Be authentic. Use real photos and real people. Even if your photos may not be the best, nor professionally photographed, people will appreciate your authenticity far more than if you used stock photos with gorgeous models. Stay real, stay true. Some of the grainiest, shaky movies are often the most popular. People expect mistakes when they know you are filming but are less forgiving for staging something that is fake.
  13. Draw out your scenes on a handwritten story board. Before you go out to film, you can quickly sketch out your scenes. Sketching your scenes will help keep your message focused and short.  In all my authenticity, I drew out a storyboard with my terrible art (no you don’t want me on your Pictionary team) and some quick notes about potential scenes.
visual storytelling story board

You don’t have to be an artist, as you can see, to put together a visual story board.

Last, remember to keep your videos relatively short. Facebook Live can plan for up to four hours but a typical video that is viewed all the way through is around 55 seconds long. As for Instagram stories, a video can only be 15 seconds long, which will require a lot of creativity and thought.

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of visual storytelling or live video. Remember, you don’t need to be a pro, just announce you are giving the whole thing a shot, interact with your audience and get your message out.

Free For You: To receive your free copy of Let’s Get Booking: Digital Marketing 101 for Adventure Travel and Tour Companies, visit this link and download your copy right now.