“OK,” you say, “I’ve posted pretty pictures. Now what?”
It’s true – whether you’re a boutique hotel or a regional DMO, hospitality marketers understand that a strong Instagram presence requires compelling visuals. There are other things you can do, too, though, and with time spent on Facebook down and time spent on Instagram up, the younger, fast-changing platform demands your attention. If you see Instagram as a place to re-post your Facebook content, you’re doing it wrong. The good news? There are new tools in place to let anyone (even those of us with little time to spare) put together an engaging Instagram marketing strategy.
Here, we profile some of the best ways beyond the PPP (posting pretty pictures) method that can make your hotel or destination stand out on Instagram to potential new and repeat visitors.
1. Enrich Your Stories with Visitor Posts
Many of the people who follow you do so because they want a little glimpse into what’s happening on-property (or in a destination) at this place they care about – either because they’ve already been there and hope to return, are visiting soon for the first time, or are thinking about visiting someday. The right sort of pictures can transport them for a moment and allow them to daydream about their next trip. Who better to get these inspirational photos from than visitors in the thick of experiencing your destination? For example, if you’re responsible for a DMO social media strategy, and you get tagged in a post (or someone uses the hashtag for the destination), Instagram now lets you quickly add that post to your story – just tap the messaging icon on the post and select “Add to Story.” This is a low-effort way to keep your story filled with interesting, relevant content – and you’re also free to annotate the person’s post with text, GIFs, or other stickers to help give your followers some context.
2. Make Instagram a Two-Way Channel
Social media can often feel like a broadcast medium, so it’s notable that Instagram has introduced ways to hear from your followers (in more sophisticated ways than the old standbys of likes, comments, and messages). Three quick examples: The polls sticker lets you pose a this-or-that question. It’s a quick way for you to engage your followers, who can’t help but choose one of the answers so they can feel heard and see how many agreed with them. The emoji slider helps you gauge how strongly your followers agree with something. The slider works by dragging an emoji left to right, making it bigger in size, and lets you stop somewhere to indicate how much you agree with (or like) a statement or picture. Finally, the questions sticker gives your followers the power to ask you a question – when you answer, your response shows up to your entire audience, and the person who asked is made anonymous.
3. Use Story Highlights Like a Mini Brochure
Make it easy for those who visit your Instagram profile to find what they’re looking for and maximize the time they’ll spend there. Creating and organizing Story Highlights as if they are the pages of an immersive brochure spares your visitors from having to sift through your feed to find what they’re looking for. For example, if you’re building a hotel social media strategy, and you have an amazing rooftop pool with sweeping panoramic views, make one of your story highlights “Pool,” making sure to include the best shots of the view in there. You could do the same for your rooms, the restaurant, spa, the destination, and so on. Now, when people visit your profile in a quest to get a feel for your hotel, they’ll be able to explore some of the main elements that best define your property. Last tip: Keep the names of these Story Highlights short – never more than one word. You want people to be able to read them from the profile view.
4. Make Smart Use of Your Profile
You don’t get much room to tell your organization’s story in your Instagram bio – which is why it’s so important to maximize the space that you do get. The goal is to give visitors context – if their first point of contact with you is your Instagram profile (which, in 2019 and beyond, it very well could be) are you doing a good job sharing the essentials? Start with your Instagram name (not your username, though that’s important, too.) This should be the full name of your organization. When it comes to your bio, remember: you only get 150 characters. You don’t have to use every character, but consider how you can best use the space to share your greatest value proposition. Remember to include a hashtag. Finally, use that link box religiously. It’ll become your best friend, and you may change it frequently, depending on promotions, or content you want to share – at least until you hit the 10,000-follower threshold required for posting links within stories.
5 Take an “All-of-the-Above” Approach to Growing Your Following
Many of our clients are eager to grow their Instagram followings. You can do so organically –
by following these guidelines and other Instagram best practices – but if you want to spend to get there, know that there’s no specific ad unit for growing an Instagram following like there is on Facebook. However – you can run ads to people on Facebook (maybe your followers and their friends) and Instagram in an effort to entice them to tap over to your profile and then follow you there. The bottom line: To grow your following, make your existing followers happy (they’ll like, comment, and share), cross-promote on channels where you have more followers, and, if you can, put aside some ad dollars (or work with us) to develop a campaign designed to show a targeted audience why they should follow you.