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There's no question that one of the best ways for tour operators to connect with customers is through visuals: stunning photos and exciting videos that inspire wanderlust and compel viewers to take action. But to effectively reach their target audience, tour operators must have a strategy in place for choosing the right image, the right format, and the right message.

To help you give customers a picture-perfect experience engaging with your brand online, here are five things they want from your digital marketing.

More Photos on Twitter

Last year, Twitter reported that tweets featuring an image generate 35 percent more retweets. Consumers have come to embrace these "visual tweets," and brands can effectively attract their attention by offering a steady stream of photos.

That doesn't mean the photos you use have to be brand new. Rather, businesses can take advantage of social media trends like #ThrowbackThursday (#TBT) to post historical photos, customer memories, or vintage ads and dramatically expand their pool of visual assets.

A Personal Touch

When it comes time to make a purchase decision, people often select the business they feel the most affinity for. Marketing yours with a personal touch in the form of staff photos can go a long way toward forging a customer connection that lasts. SITA World Tours took this approach by posting an image of one of its employees on its Facebook page for "Employee Week"—and even leveraged #TBT to do it. The company regularly shares pictures of its team, including its parachuting CEO.

Authenticity

One of the key aspects of visual marketing is authenticity. Consumers considering a purchase want a sneak peek at the experience you're offering, and if that doesn't come off as genuine, they won't carry on down the path to purchase. One study conducted last year found thathonest communication is what customers want most from brands, and opening your doors to them through visuals demonstrates a real sincerity. Businesses don't have to be as concerned about high production value as they used to be. Supplement your glossy professional photos with candid Instagram shots that provide the behind-the-scenes look customers crave.

Quicker Clips

While the ideal length for a brand video depends on both the nature of the content and your campaign objectives, studies reveal that the shorter the clips, the more views they garner. To leverage this marketing opportunity without breaking the bank, cut your existing video footage down to create a series of animated GIFs using a free online tool like imgflip or Make A Gif and post them to Tumblr and Twitter. You can also edit videos into 30 to 45 second clips for Facebook. Just be sure that your message is clear whether or not the viewer has turned on the sound. Facebook's autoplay functionality provides very little time to engage audiences before they move on, so every second counts.

Traveler Participation

When they've had a great experience with your business, travelers want nothing more than to share it. Make sure your customers know to tag their social site photos with your ready-made hashtag of choice by posting it right in your company profile, and let user-generated media supply your social feed indefinitely. Research shows that content created by consumers can perform up to 50 percent better than stock photography.

There's more to marketing with visuals than meets the eye, but understanding consumer behavior and preferences will significantly boost your ability to make an impact. Photos and videos can enhance marketing messages like nothing else. And that's a beautiful thing.