Most hoteliers have now learned the power of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In fact, new generation hoteliers are already running social media campaigns on these platforms. But there’s something else out there where your brand name is probably mentioned many thousands of times and, if you are like most hoteliers in Europe, you have not yet begun to harness it’s power. I’m talking about Instagram. In case you’re not familiar with it, Instagram is a social media platform for people to tag and share their photos. There are already 16 billion photos shared with another 55 million new ones uploaded daily. 150 million people log in regularly.
Some forward thinking hotel groups are already promoting their brand via Instagram. Are you? Learn more in this interview with Taylor Short. Taylor is a hotel management analyst at Software Advice, a website that reviews hotel technology systems.
Why should hotel managers consider incorporating Instagram into their marketing strategies?
The sheer number of active users on Instagram is a clear opportunity for hotel marketers to leverage the platform, especially due to its visual nature. Sharing striking photos and engaging with potential guests in an authentic and unique way is effective in gaining new followers, who will then be more likely to book with you or recommend the hotel to others.
How should an Instagram campaign differ from a campaign launched from another social media platform?
Marketers running an Instagram campaign should be, first and foremost, focused on posting colorful, varied and interesting photos that help reach their goal, whether it’s driving direct bookings or showing off a new amenity. Text isn’t quite as important as on Facebook or Twitter, but writing a snappy description and encouraging the use of hashtags can help a great photo gain more attention.
How can smaller hotels with smaller budgets generate similar interest in their Instagram account?
Small hotels should absolutely take the time to develop a strong Instagram account, which is free to create. Some hotels don’t have the personnel to constantly handle social media, but posting a photo or two each day should be a feasible commitment for a general manager or marketing manager. It’s an investment that may take time to develop, but Instagram seems to be here to stay, so it’s a great time to start.
Besides promoting campaigns, what other ways can hotels use Instagram?
Hotels can also use Instagram to engage with other users who have mentioned or tagged your hotel or your brand. Use a website like Webstagram to search for variations on your brand name, and interact with those users. Maybe they asked a question that you could answer. Or maybe they’re choosing between your hotel and another. Use this occasion to swoop in and entice them to choose your property by offering incentives or telling them about your best amenities.
How can hotel managers get their Instagram followers to cross the bridge and become actual customers?
Authentic engagement. Like I mentioned before, Instagram users know that these platforms allow for interaction with big brands, so give them what they want. Converse with users casually, like you might do with friends on Facebook, while still maintaining a professional attitude. Avoid hard selling on Instagram; the more your account fits naturally with the rest of the content, the better your brand will be perceived.
In your research, have you come across any hotels that are excelling at using Instagram?
The Four Seasons is arguably the most social media-competent hotel brand today, with well-crafted accounts that feature localized and consistent content. They excel at posting photos that not only show off features and amenities, but also give guests a behind-the-scenes look into the operations, which tends to make guests feel more involved and endeared to your brand.
Read the full report on Software Advice