Welcome to our first Talk Social With Me interview with content creator Christina McEvoy of @macs_explore!
After spending years on the road traveling with her family and documenting their travels on Instagram, Christina McEvoy steadily built her online community through the platform. Now back stateside, she now uses her expertise to help other travel content creators build their online community and learn how to shift in the ever-changing environment of social media.
We chatted with her for our Facebook Group, The Social Hub
, about how she got started, where she sees the industry going, how to pivot in times of change, and how she uses Flick to get the most out of her Instagram account.
How did you get started in the world of social media and content marketing?
Christina: I’ll try to give you the very, very short Cliff Notes version, but I have been a travel content creator for about five years. Full-time for about three years. I’m a travel content creator and my expertise is adventure travel specifically for families.
We have two boys, who are teenagers now, but when we started, they were much younger. We do a lot of adventurous types of trips all over the US and the world. We actually just returned from traveling full-time. We spent two and a half years in Central and South America, and we just got back to the States two months ago.
So we’re still figuring this out and getting back into a totally different norm as the boys have returned to school. And, we’re just trying to keep the business going and still have the flexibility to work remotely, but just from a home base in the states.
As you were stuck in Central and South America during COVID, did your content creation kind of change while you were there?
Christina: I wouldn’t say so because we were already full-time before that. We’ve been working with different brands and destinations. We work with tourism boards, travel brands, travel companies, hotels, guides, and stuff like that. Our niche is kind of outdoor adventure travel. So we work with a lot of product brands as well. We didn’t work with as many product brands this past year because it was really difficult to get products in [South America], but we worked with a lot of local companies within the countries that we were in and it was awesome.
I think our partnerships kind of changed, you know, during COVID because obviously tourism was affected massively everywhere across the world. And especially, in those developing countries that were really hit hard. We ended up just paying our way for a lot of different things that we normally would not have to pay for. That was really the only thing that really changed for us other than our travel plans. But other than that, our content didn’t change. We were still creating content all the time.
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You work as a full-time content creator, but you also help others get into the world of content creation. Can you explain that a bit?
Christina: I also teach an online program and I’ve been doing this for about two and a half years now, which is crazy. I started my program right after we left the states and I basically teach travel content creators how to monetize and build their online presence on Instagram, specifically, and how to work with tourism boards, travel brands, how to partner with them, and how to create long-term relationships with brands.
I have a lot of travel bloggers in my community that is like, “I have the travel blog good to go, but I’m struggling with social media, specifically Instagram.” And Instagram is a huge piece for content creators. It’s the number one platform for any kind of content creator specifically in travel.
I think YouTube can be big too, but in terms of brand partnerships, you’re going to find a lot more work through partnering with brands on Instagram. Brands know the power of Instagram and they know that if they can find the right partners to work with then they can really leverage that in a positive way and see a positive ROI.
What’s funny is that I was really worried that when COVID happened it would really affect my business, but my business doubled last year.
I was talking to somebody else about that recently and they were saying that social media completely took off last year because so many people are realizing that to connect with people, they need to have a presence online.
Christina: There were a couple advantages—there were disadvantages too because a lot of travel content creators were freaking out because they weren’t traveling so much and wondering what they were supposed to post. So I kind of pivoted. You don’t have to always be posting current content. You can post past content, but you can also leverage where you currently are because everybody in the world is in the same boat as you.
That means wherever you live, whether it’s Canada or in the States or Europe or wherever, there are people in your area that are looking to get away, even if it’s close by for the weekend. And so leverage trying to help your audience find more local, regional, or domestic types of adventure.
That’s how I helped kind of pivot my group when they were struggling with that. But what I found is that more and more people were online during the pandemic. And so, because people weren’t traveling as much, they were able to focus on actually building their presence a little bit more on Instagram, and then Reels happened a year ago and that leveled everybody up, you know? It gave people another way to produce content. That could reach different people in their ideal audience. And I mean, Reels has completely changed the game for so many people, including myself.
Instagram is such a powerful tool. It definitely builds my ideal audience. It’s powerful at being able to connect to the right brands and destinations and to be able to build that strong sense of community and build that trust factor with your audience, so that if you want to sell products (whether it’s a physical product or digital product or affiliate marketing), Instagram is the best platform.
I wouldn’t be where I am today with our business, without Instagram, hands down. Instagram is such a crucial piece in my business. That sense of community is so good on Instagram.
Christina: I love Flick. I’ve used a lot of different hashtag tools. And so far I have not found one that is as robust as Flick. The way that I approach it is that I first figure out what the content is about. The most important thing is relevancy. Your hashtags have to be relevant to your content and they have to be specific, especially if you are a smaller account. If you’re using these big, broad hashtags and you’ve got less than a hundred thousand followers then you’re kind of wasting your hashtags, you know?
For example, I just posted a Reel yesterday about terrible Instagram advice. I’m talking about, like, this is, you know, these are Instagram kind of tips, you know, or, uh, building your online presence or, you know, so I always figure out what is, what is the content about?
And then I determine what hashtags are most relevant and specific for this Reel or post. Then I look at the size of that hashtag. If it’s in the millions, forget about it, I’m not going to use it. I try to use a variety of hashtags of different sizes. I might use 4-5 hashtags that are between 1 and 2 million. But that’s the max. I won’t go more than 2 million for my size account. Now, if you’re a smaller account, you would want to lower that range a little bit because that might be too big still.
Then I might use up to 10 hashtags that are more mid-size between 250,000 to a million. Then I’ll use the rest of the hashtags between 50,000 or 300,000. So a little bit smaller. However, before I look at the size, I always look at the relevancy first, it has to be relevant. It has to be specific!
Why I love Flick is the ability to do a couple of things:
I love that I can go to the hashtag search and I can click on a hashtag. I like to preview the hashtag in Instagram because you want to look at the other posts that are performing in the top nine or 12 with that hashtag and ask: “Does my post fit in with those?” Because if it doesn’t, then likely you’re not going to rank with that hashtag. So always make sure the content fits with that hashtag first before you select it. Because even if it’s specific for that content or niche, if it doesn’t fit in with the other ranking posts, likely it also won’t rank.
I also love the competition and potential reach score. I kind of try to find that balance of really good high-potential reach, but not super high competition. And, and then, of course, I always look at the recent top-performing hashtags that are doing well with hashtags I used recently.
Of course, I only select the ones that are relevant to my content. So I’m not just going to reuse hashtags that have performed well unless they’re relevant to my content first. So that’s really important too. You can’t just post something and be like, oh, well, all of these hashtags did really, really well on this post, so I’ll reuse them all! Nine and a half times out of 10 that does not work. You’re not going to get the same reach.
We had a post once that went totally viral, like crazy viral. And it was like a simple iPhone shot at an airplane window. But I think the reason why it went viral was that it was such a unique view. The hashtags just went nuts. And so three months later, I was like, I kind of want to experiment with this. I’m going to post a very similar photo because I took a couple of different angles in that airplane window of the same view. Right? So the photo was very, very similar. And I use the same exact hashtags because they obviously performed really well the first time.
And it didn’t even do half as well. So you have to know that just because one post does really well with your hashtags doesn’t mean that even if you do pretty similar posts or the same exact photo, it’s going to be the same exact way. It could be the timing and it could just be who was online at that time.
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