How to use Instagram to promote your hotel and attract guests

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Instagram is one of the most effective social media marketing platforms available to hotel owners in today’s social and digital environment.

It offers a simple, clean feed, it’s completely mobile, and it makes everything look great.

And the good news for hoteliers is that it’s particularly popular with travellers and holidaymakers.

The keen and observant social media fans among you will have noticed the recent refreshed Instagram branding, including a cleaner user interface and brand new sunset-inspired logo. Love the new-look brand or hate it, there’s a lot more to this social platform than its branding.

Here’s what else is noteworthy about Instagram (aside from the logo):

1. Advertising for brands is available
Recently there’s been a rollout of advertising for brands on Instagram which is exciting, not only because the channel has over 400 million users, but because its owner Facebook has integrated Instagram within its own tried-and-tested advertising platform. This means that any hotelier who has ever created a Facebook ad can create an Instagram ad. It’s cheap as well.

2. Facebook-style newsfeed algorithm
Also new is a Facebook-style algorithm. Gone are the days when Instagram was a free-for-all: based purely on chronological order.

Jane Bond, senior social executive at digital marketing agency eight&four, explains: “With clear commercial targets in mind, the team at Instagram have now enforced an algorithm, to bring the platform in line with its older sister Facebook. Instagram itself says you can now ’see the moments you care about first’, through the help of a highly complex algorithm determining which content Instagram believes a user would like to see.

This is based on 1) ‘likelihood you’ll be interested in the content’, 2) ‘your relationship with the person posting’ and 3) ‘timeliness of the post’. As vague as it sounds, this could actually be beneficial to hotel groups.

Travel ranks within the top trending topics on social – human beings just love to get inspired, share and brag about beautiful holiday destinations! Content is king. If hotels provide the high quality, aspirational content that Instagram users are looking for, the Instagram algorithm could actually be highly advantageous.”

3. Growing in popularity among older users
Don’t assume that Instagram users are outside your target demographic. Although skewed towards the young, it is growing in popularity among older age groups.

A survey from Piper Jaffray back in 2014 found that 83% of teens in wealthy US households were on Instagram, ahead of even Facebook (Business Insider, 2014).

While teens may not fall within your target market, they frequently influence family vacation decisions and can become long-term loyalists. At the same time, Instagram is growing in popularity among older age groups, too.

Here are 4 simple ideas to help you create Instagram-worthy posts

1. Highlight your hotel’s facilities
Instagram allows you to create a lifestyle around your hotel. Make each post complement your overall brand story. Share content that will boost your property’s urban image or confirm your hotel as a peaceful retreat. You can enhance images with filters, but a beautiful picture shouldn’t need it. Highlight your facilities, but keep content attractive and entertaining to show the dynamic life at the hotel and capture its atmosphere.

2. Give your staff selfie sticks
Go behind the scenes to give followers a glimpse of the hard working staff that help make a guest’s stay as stress-free and fun as possible. Share images of new menu items being prepped in the kitchen, and staff on a night out, and guests enjoying themselves (ask permission first). Encourage guests to take selfies and make selfie sticks available. You could even stage ‘selfie spots’ with signage around your hotel.

3. Go beyond your hotel
Promote your destination by sharing content of your local neighbourhood, scenery and attractions, to give followers a sense of place beyond the hotel. Engage with the posts of other travel operators in the area. When uploading imagery, be sure to use the photo map feature and specify your location so that photos are searchable.

4. Use hashtags
Hashtags will make your content searchable. They are important on Instagram because you can’t add links to posts. Instagram users often hashtag brands in the hope of getting a response. Search for people hashtagging your hotel, like and comment to create a conversation. Create hashtags for your hotel and campaigns and include them in posts. Start with three or four per post and ramp up.

BONUS TIP: Make sure that prospective guests visiting your website can find you on social media channels, such as Instagram, and click through to follow your hotel’s profile and posts. If you’re thinking of updating your website, our A-to-Z guide on creating a beautiful hotel website is a great place to start. Download it for free today!

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