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    Top 6 Reasons Why Every Traveler Should Embrace Social Media

    The ever-changing digital landscape is without a doubt revolutionizing the way consumers travel. From customer service issues to safety information, it seems like there's no problem that can't be solved with the aid of social media.  Auto Europe has compiled a list of our favorite reasons why every traveler should love social media, and how it can work in their favor if used the correct way.

    6. Helps You Easily Spot (and Avoid) 'Eccentric' Tourists
    We understand that the powers of the internet are vast and mighty, and the urge to document every waking moment of your trip will inevitably be a strong one, but resist the urge to let your social media obsession take over during your next vacation. Make a conscious effort to live in the moment, take pictures of your day as it's happening, but make a commitment to wait until later to share your experiences with friends and followers. Take it from this distracted tourist  in Australia who accidentally walked off a Melbourne pier last month because she was so engrossed in her Facebook newsfeed.

    5. Acts as a Virtual Lost & Found
    One of the most heartwarming social media campaigns of 2013 resulted after a young girl lost her stuffed bear on an East Coast train at King's Cross Station in London. The bear, which actually turned out to be a stuffed lion, was recovered by a kind-hearted rail passenger who created the hashtag #lostbear in hopes of reuniting the toy with its owner. Her message was re-tweeted thousands of times, picked up by several lost property websites and numerous media outlets. The thread was finally seen by the father of the little girl who had lost the animal, and the lion was then sent home.
    Social Media Informs Travelers
    4. Lets You Know When it's Safe to Go in the Water
    Sharks in Western Australia have taken Twitter by storm. No, they're not down there sending out Instagrammed pics of their lunch, or chiming in with their thoughts on the Golden Globe Awards. Researchers from Australia's Shark Monitoring Network recently tagged over 300 sharks with electronic devices designed to send out a tweet to the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter account (@SLSWA ) whenever one swims within a half-mile of a beach. Knowing the breed, size, and approximate location of a shark in real-time, allows officials and beachgoers time to avoid potentially fatal attacks. This effort is a forward-thinking approach to keeping surfers and swimmers safe, while also protecting the curious sharks that happen to amble too close.

    3. Allows You to Proactively Prepare
    If you find yourself stuck at the gate, use that time to mentally prepare for what you might find when you get off the plane. The Twitter feeds of local governments (both city and state) of where you're traveling should be on your radar, as they often tweet updates on road conditions, snow removal, traffic updates and other important safety information. Some helpful handles to follow are @FlightStats  (real-time delays and flight tracking), @BreakingNews  and @WeatherChannel. Tourism outlets like @VisitBritain, @Sweden, and numerous Convention & Visitors Bureaus throughout the United States, provide itinerary ideas and inspiration for your upcoming trip. Organize trusted tweeters into lists; this will make sorting through your feed a simple task, and help you gain easy access to the information you need.

    2. Provides Speedy Solutions to Customer Service Queries
    Facebook and Twitter are usually among the first to break news of flight delays and other disruptions. Our recommendation is to keep a list of relevant Twitter handles for your airline and all airports you'll be traveling through. That way, if your flights are disrupted for any reason, you know exactly who to tweet for help. In my experience, I have gotten quicker responses by sending a tweet or Facebook message than by calling a phone number, an interesting, yet not uncommon phenomenon.

    1. Gets You Free Stuff
    Clever travel companies around the world are paying attention to what's being shared on social networks, and in some cases, are rewarding vocal users with free upgrades, special deals, and other advantageous promotions. Although freebies aren't always on a company's agenda, you're usually never more than a keystroke away from reaching a live person, and countless individuals will tell you that it never hurts to share your positive (and negative) experiences. So help spread the word about your favorite travel companies! (Hint Hint: @Auto_Europe!)

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