Skift Take

Retelling the holiday story every year in a different way is challenging, but worthwhile.

Destinations dressed up their content with holiday flair but didn’t go too overboard with tinsel and lights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube.

The chart below on the Top 10 Destinations on Social Media for November 2014 contains both traditional destination marketing organizations and two park systems — Disney’s theme parks, and the U.S. National Park Service, as represented by the Department of the Interior. They’re grouped together based on how travelers experience and interact with them online rather than traditional categories that could see them listed separately.

The top 10 are calculated using our Skift Score, which takes into account social media performance on an absolute basis, as well as relative to a company’s specific industry. It compares metrics across platforms and provides an intelligent measure of competitive edge.

Top 10 Destinations on Social Media for December 2014

Destinations December 2014 Skift Score Facebook Likes Twitter Followers Instagram Followers Youtube Video Views
Tourism and Events Queensland 813 1,172,001 74,363 126,286 3,123,442
Walt Disney World Resorts 811 15,077,512 903,945 890,622 189,972,767
Tourism Australia 805 6,319,867 189,118 1,045,523 20,828,249
Visit Philly 743 437,874 90,408 31,453 720,739
U.S. Department of the Interior 733 88,644 260,526 436,773 760,506
Visit Florida 720 632,470 86,966 10,670 11,680,183
Visit Argentina 714 577,611 24,233 2,617 2,881,150
Visit Colorado 714 476,200 99,653 26,832 2,638,863
Explore Georgia 712 270,855 52,581 13,879 66,587
Discover Los Angeles 710 1,145,758 99,322 69,473 1,541,249

Source: SkiftIQ

The same three destinations that were at the top of the list in November are here again this month, but Tourism and Events Queensland stepped over Tourism Australia and Walt Disney World to a number one position. The other return players include Visit Philly, U.S. Department of the Interior, and Visit Florida. Visit Brussels, Travel Alberta, Pure Michigan, and Visit Abu Dhabi were knocked out this month by Visit Argentina, Visit Colorado, Explore Georgia, and Discover Los Angeles.

Surprisingly, the top ten destinations weren’t more proactive on social media than the month before. Audience growth on Facebook was negligible — with the exception of the U.S. Interior — while Instagram showed the most promise in acquiring new fans.

Visit Philly was the only tourism board that polled its audience on social media and incentivized participants with a free one-night stay at a Kimpton Hotel, quite good timing for year-end.


Although the reach game has changed for brands on Facebook, destinations have not backed down from posting multiple times a day. Discover Los Angeles updated its Facebook Page 62 times, while Visit Argentina finished the month off with 16 updates. In December, an average of 40 posts were published and ranged from 18 to 62 posts.

Walt Disney World published 11 out of 12 videos directly on its Facebook page — they were a mix of sassy video memes, New Years dedications, winner announcement animation, and two imagination-filled short films directed by two 13-year-olds. Out of all the destinations, Disney was the only one that really milked Christmas, New Year’s, and winter for their cultural significance.

On the subject of video, U.S. Interior published posts with eight videos. They were not all different videos, though. A montage of 2014 moments that featured various departments and agencies that they work with greeting the audience was posted five times. The other videos included two lo-fi videos; a time lapse of the cloud inversion in the Grand Canyon and a falcon looking for a meal in a pintail flock.


Similar to Facebook, the growth in Twitter followers was trivial. Noticeably, user-generated photos from Instagram users drew the most interactions. These tweets included incredible images of beaches and nature from users, and ended the captions with “Photo: @lifecatchme (via IG),” for example. Mentioning the user and Instagram raised the visibility of Tourism Australia’s Instagram account, in addition to garnering the most retweets from any other content type.

Visit Florida published 42 tweets with YouTube video links, Walt Disney published 13, Visit Argentina published 7 in Spanish, while the rest published under five videos in December. There were a few videos that profiled businesses owners and locals while over half of the videos were for sightseeing teasers.


Discover Los Angeles’ night shots ranged from cityscapes to city streets and drew the most likes among its posts. Similarly, Explore Georgia’s city snaps and photos of nature also did well in comparison to its other posts. Visit Philly worked on an Instagram takeover with professional photographer Conrad Benner on a series of houses with holiday lights and festive city streets.

Although Tourism Australia posted about sweeping vistas and overhead shots of beaches and animals hanging out in the wild in various regions, it was the atypical shots that got the most likes in December. Photos from community members included a truck on dunes lit by a fuchsia-gold-lit sky, a bird’s eye view of the Bondi baths, and a pair of kangaroos in motion on a white sand beach.


Visit Argentina’s promotional video about all things in Argentina hundreds of thousands of views. Visit Colorado promoted its social media contest with a video that it also published natively on Facebook and YouTube. “Share Your Pics To Win Big This Winter! #ColoradoLive” garnered three times its 60-day average video views. In addition to the holiday and winter content, Visit Philly produced a video about “How To Order a Philly Cheesesteak (in Philadelphia)” that audiences just ate up.

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Tags: australia, disney, explore georgia, facebook, instagram, queensland, social media, twitter, us interior, visit argentina, visit florida, visit philly, youtube

Photo Credit: A guest Instagrammer @StreetsDept captured the shared holiday spirit among neighbors. Visit Philly / Instagram