Back to work, back to school, and back to daydreaming about travel.

Performance by travel brands on social media this week noticeably surged from August. Brands were content-rich and their social activity soared across all platforms. Airlines led the charge but two media hybrids surfaced and joined the top five, with engaging photos and video. Also, new contest formats excited the community and drew new fans.

Each Friday, we call out travel brands that have stronger than usual activity on social media. Using SkiftIQ, we’re able to track current performance versus past (60-day averages, unless otherwise noted) as well as notice spikes in activity that demonstrate a brand either has a viral hit on its hands, or a public relations mess to clean up.

Learn More at SkiftIQ

The latest social activity on SkiftIQ for the week ending September 12, 2014:

1. KLM on Facebook

This sheep on KLM’s Page was extremely popular. This photo garnered 11,153 Post Likes, 475 shares, and 404 comments. It was a great lead into the next post on the same day about an interactive contest to promote Pack&Go deals. Fans are virtually brought to street level of a city — via Google map — on the left of the screen of the microsite. On the right side of the screen they are instructed to pinpoint that place — seen on the left — on the map for a chance to win a pair of roundtrip tickets to that city.

The following day, KLM bookended its post with behind the scenes crew photo from Instagram. Although the contest didn’t make it to its Twitter feed, the sheep and crew photos did, and got a decent engagement. Over the course of two days, September 10 and September 11, its Facebook Page Likes grew by 230%, totaling 32,000 new fans. The activity trickled to Instagram and its Followers increased by 30% from its 205 Followers/Day Average.

KLM_FB_TracethePlace

2. Matador Network on Instagram

A dose of extreme awesomeness hit Matador’s Instagram community. On September 7, they announced a new contest that encouraged its fans to hashtag photos of their choice destination for real adventure with #ArticSwell. This contest is in collaboration with the launch of travel, surf, and lifestyle photographer Chris Burkard’s new film, “Artic Swell,” hence the hashtag. For the next couple of days, Matador uploaded an incredible series of images that gives the community a glimpse what it’s like to surf in frigid temperatures. Its Instagram account boosted by 145 Followers/Day for three days, a 207% jump from its 70 Followers/Day Average.

3. RoadTrippers on YouTube

A 2-minute and 49-second emotionally-stirring timelapse video with cuts at normal speed of Chicago’s sites did well on RoadTrippers’ YouTube channel. The video was published on September 8, and in four days, it accumulated 10,775 views, a 190% increase over its 1,400 daily view average.

4. British Airways on Twitter

Despite only tweeting about its daily morning weather forecast at Heathrow, Gatwick & City airports, British Airways attracted 1,470 Followers. The next day, it moved even higher to 2,182 Followers with the announcement that the airline will be providing 24-hour Social Care on Twitter. The tweet was retweeted 253 times and favorited 300 times. British Airway’s Twitter account doubled on September 10 and September 11.

5. Virgin America on Twitter

On weekdays, Virgin America tweets three to four times. Last week, it engaged its fans with well-curated content that included a fill in the blank question, livery and first-class meal photos, announcements about its service changes, a good cause shot-out, and its first place win for the best in business travel. For each of the four days — excluding the weekend — there were 261 new Followers. Virgin America’s Twitter account grew by 70%.

Learn More on SkiftIQ

Photo Credit: A sheep in the airfield meadow amidst a KLM flight takeoff. Feike Westenbroek / Facebook