What you need to know to use Instagram effectively.

Instagram has been around for a good few years, quickly picking up traction thanks to almost everybody’s passion with mobile photography. But if you’ve been turning a blind eye to it – or posting haphazardly – it’s time to change that. Here’s what it’s all about, and why it can be an excellent marketing tool, that’s quick and easy to use once you know how…

What is it?

Instagram is a social media platform made for sharing photos and videos from a smartphone. Similar to Facebook or Twitter, everyone who creates an Instagram account has a profile and a news feed. When you post a photo or video on Instagram, it will be displayed on your profile. Other users who follow you will see your posts in their own feed. Likewise, you’ll see posts from other users who you choose to follow. Just like other social networks, you can interact with other users on Instagram by following them, being followed by them, commenting, liking, tagging and private messaging.

Why use it?

Study after study shows that millennials continue to travel more than any other generation. Most Instagram users are millennials, and most millennials post photos online when travelling. At a quick search, there is something like 300,000,000 Instagram posts tagged with the word “travel”. If there’s one thing that’s popular on Instagram, it’s beautiful travel images.

Travel photos evoke a sense of wanderlust and spark holiday dreams. Through a single photo, a guesthouse or B&B can encourage someone to finally book that trip they’ve been waiting for or come back for more. The bonus of course is that images don’t require translation for global visitors and can be quickly liked and shared, in other words, your followers do the marketing for you.

How to use it?

Once you’ve created an Instagram account, the idea is simple: Post a photo, give it a great filter and share what you and your property are about.

Of course there are a few more things to consider…

1. Post images full of personality and colour
Instagram isn’t the place to post a simple photo of a generic room at your lodge – these are for your business website. Rather, post a photo that suggests your lodge’s personality, or unique offering. And tell the story behind the image – show potential guests what the experience is like at your lodge. Post images that evoke some kind of emotion – happiness, humour, or even nostalgia. Good-quality photos with a lot of colours tend to get the most action on Instagram.

You can also highlight activities, top local restaurants and other attractions for guests to explore. It gives travellers even more reason to visit.

In addition to these stories, you can incorporate posts about upcoming packages and promotions that will drive direct bookings for your property.


2. Use hashtags well
Hashtags make your posts searchable, and are a good way to increase your reach on Instagram, encourage more engagement and even attract new followers. But keep the number of hashtags used to a minimum and keep them relevant. Popular travel hashtags include: #travel, #travelgram, #wanderlust, #instapassport, #traveldiaries.

Consider creating a hashtag specifically for your property, and encourage your guests to use it. Guests who take photos at your property often share their experiences, allowing people to view your hotel through the eyes of their peers, which is a good organic channel for traffic.

Tip: Take advantage of the feature that allows you to add hashtags and profile links in your bio – it’s a great place to promote your branded hashtag, which is also possible to follow as well. Click on “Edit Profile” and find the “Bio” section.

3. Post regularly and interact with your followers
To keep your audience engaged, it’s important to be consistent in posting. Start with every three days, but the ideal would be to reach once a day. Instagram has a newsfeed that works similarly to Facebook, and you can use the algorithm to your advantage. Post frequently to remain timely and relevant.

By the same token, don’t ignore your loyal followers who regularly like and comment on your photos. Make them feel valued by replying to their comments or even going to check out their account and liking a few of their photos.

Millennials are perennially elusive, but with a strong presence on Instagram you have the chance to gain a long-term and loyal following. Use the authenticity and uniqueness of your property to appeal to those with wanderlust, and get started now.


Photo by FancyCrave on Unsplash
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