Instagram is, in many ways, the ideal social platform for hotel marketing. Instagram is a place where visuals rule and distractions (outbound links, invitations to play Candy Crush) are kept to a minimal.
Instagram followers are also proven to be more easily engaged than followers on other platforms, possibly because of the lack of distractions. Analytics company Forrester went so far as to crowned it “the king of social media”: their research reveals that Instagram delivers 58 times more engagement on average than Facebook, and 120 times more than Twitter. That’s pretty dramatic.
Instagram’s focus on visuals gives you plenty of opportunities to show off your hotel and wow potential guests – ready to get your Insta game up to scratch?
Here’s 6 strategies to use your hotel Instagram to attract more bookings, create a sense of community among your followers – which will help create feelings of loyalty and repeat guests – and increase your hotel brand’s reach.
1. Slot Instagram into Your Marketing Funnel
Having thousands of followers on your social channels can be a victory in and of itself, but in many ways it’s a vanity metric – a KPI that, while it looks good, doesn’t guarantee more bookings.
To make sure the attention you’re getting on Instagram is translating to revenue, you need to get creative about the way you bring your hotel Instagram account into your marketing funnel. Make it part of a functioning whole. Your Instagram should be working with your other campaigns and platforms to constantly send bookings your way.
How can you make that happen?
- Tailor your ad’s landing page and offer content towards Instagram followers. Try building a campaign that’s specifically tied to Instagram, e.g. a competition that involves using your brand hashtag or participating in a photo contest . One hotel even offers a free stay to anyone with over 10,000 followers, virtually assuring themselves of some good free press.
- Ensure your campaign echoes the same brand message as your hotel Instagram page. If you’re using more saturated images or panoramic views on your Instagram to take the platform’s visual nature into account, that’s fine! However, your landing page’s content must match that in tone for your efforts to create real results. Use the same images and text on both your Instagram ads and images and your landing page, or risk confusing potential prospects.
Here’s an example of this from a shoe store, FrankandOak:
They didn’t just throw up an image of shoes that they don’t sell or an image of all their shoes at once and invite people to buy. Instead, they focused on showcasing a specific product, and inviting users to click on a targeted landing page. They also invite users to use their brand hashtag, and use other hashtags in the post to widen the message reach.
This approach is a good idea to increase bookings for a specific offer, event or room type. Post one of your best pictures (no stock photography, please!) and create a targeted landing page for it. This also applies to special offers: instead of a picture that could apply to any special offer, try a rose on a pillow for a Valentine’s Day Special, or a meadow for your summer packages. These should also be tied to landing pages.
2. Reach a Bigger Audience with Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts from high-powered Instagram influencers are a great way to expose your hotel to a larger audience… as long as you don’t make a mistake like this.
Start by finding large Instagram accounts that cater towards your hotel’s demographic. If your hotel promotes itself as a spa retreat, you’ll probably want to reach out to popular health/spa profiles. For a less specific approach, try large Instagram travel profiles. There are even hotel Instagrams for people that love hotels out there that are worth looking into.
Webstagram is a good place for this initial step, along with searching on Instagram itself. It allows you to search for related hashtag keywords and display the top Instagram accounts for those keywords.
Once you’ve found a few Insta users you want to target, email them and ask their rates for promoting your hotel or your hotel’s posts. Also, when you’re choosing your influencer, be sure to take a close a look at the quality of their followers, not just quantity. Look at the amount of engagement they get in ‘likes’ and comments on their posts.
A word of caution about sponsored posts: They can backfire if the posts seem too different from an influencer’s usual posts, or if they’re of poor quality. One way to avoid that problem might be to invite a few influencers to stay with you in exchange for a few posts about your hotel.
3. Dive Into Ads on Instagram
You can create three different types of ads on Instagram: photo, video and carousel ads. These are all visual formats – it just depends on how much or how little you want to show off of your hotel. Take a gorgeous picture (or three) of your hotel, or create a short video (no more than 30 seconds) of your hotel and its surroundings to get started.
Instagram’s ads cater to different goals in the same way ads on Facebook or through AdWords do. You can optimize your ad to get people to click through to an offer page on your hotel site, to watch a video, or to get as much reach and exposure for your hotel as possible with their ‘mass awareness’ campaigns.
To get a thorough how-to on Instagram’s ads, here’s a guide. Also, all Instagram ads run through Facebook’s Power Editor, so if you’ve got a good handle on that you’re well on your way to Instagram fame!
4. Boost Engagement with Photo Contests
Instagram photo contests are an easy way to get user generated content, while boosting your credibility and guest engagement.
In an Instagram case study from Dylan’s Candy Bar, their first photo contest yielded a 240% lift in follower growth. They also got an invaluable set of 75 user generated images from it, which they can use for individual posts or for an entire campaign.
Photo contests supply you with plenty of material for future use. They also pack more important benefits: they spark a conversation between you and your followers, and act as powerful forms of social proof.
When hosting a photo contest, have a specific theme in mind to encourage followers to take part. Is Easter coming up? Hide a few eggs around the property and ask guests to take a picture with them when they find them! Your hotel Instagram will be full of spring pastels in no time.
To get the most out of your contests, combine your theme with a popular trend or hashtag for additional exposure.
5. Take Advantage Of Local Ties
You probably already have relationships with local businesses that serve your guests, right? Why not “share the love” with them on Instagram?
If you have partnerships with local restaurants, leisure centres or other businesses, you could offer to promote them on your hotel Instagram page and they can return the favour.
Cross-promoting your hotel with local businesses means higher exposure and more leads for everyone involved. Give it a shot!
6. Track Your Traffic
How do you know if your hotel Instagram account is driving potential guests to your website?
One of the less glamorous – but most important – parts of growing a business is tracking the success and ROI of all your marketing activities. Where are your hotel’s guests coming from, and how did they get there?
You can’t get from A to B if you don’t have a clue where “A” is. For your digital marketing, that’s usually where Google Analytics comes in.
Unfortunately, Google Analytics doesn’t accurately track traffic when users visit your website from your Instagram account. So how do you observe traffic and click rates?
One way is to build a unique link with Google’s URL Builder – the kind that looks like yourwebsite.com/?utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=profile. That’s not very pretty, though.
To hide that, you can use customized link shorteners in the URL of your Instagram bio.
You’ll be able to monitor how many followers click over to your site on the link shortener site, and can adjust your Instagram profile accordingly. One potential downfall here is that many spam accounts use link shorteners too, to hide the real URL destinations.
How can you track users while keeping it classy?
An alternative path is to create an Instagram-specific landing page on your hotel website that no other campaign links to. You can be pretty sure that all the traffic to that page is coming from Instagram, and it also lets you make sure your campaign message matches perfectly across platforms.
If those sound like too much trouble, you always have the option of not tracking your hotel Instagram specifically, while keeping an eye on your overall traffic and other KPIs – but we wouldn’t recommend it!
Instagram is a great tool to boost credibility with user generated content, strengthen your hotel’s reach, get creative with ad campaigns, and increase bookings. However, to drive significant numbers of direct bookings on your hotel Instagram, you need to ground yourself in the current Instagram trends and have a solid understanding of your guests’ needs.
Do you use Instagram to market your hotel? Show us!
Words by Tayor Smariga