via: Bruno Coutinho
With more than 55 million photos shared daily and almost 9,000 likes happening each second, Instagram is among the most engaging social networks and changing the way that brands are engage with their consumers and influencing their purchasing decisions.
While the act of taking and sharing photos is hardly a new one, Instagram has evolved this process significantly by allowing users to share enhanced photos instantaneously with all of their friends and family. The simplicity to both share and view photos and videos is what has made the app so popular, and why it has achieved such astronomical usage rates in its short existence.
Our agency, J Public Relations, primarily works with travel and lifestyle brands and has found that the benefit for hospitality brands active on Instagram is two-fold.
First, Instagram is an easy way to beautifully share different aspects of your brand with a diverse community. Travel, food, and hotel photos are commonplace on Instagram, making it easy to gain followers and garner engagement.
But more importantly, having a presence on Instagram allows travel brands to engage with users that are sharing photos about them. Brands on Instagram are not only liking, commenting and following users sharing photos about them, but also re-sharing the best of these photos on their other social channels (with user permission, of course). This allows brands to tap into beautiful, real-time photography, without having a full-time staff photographer. In addition to the real-time benefits, these photos are ‘real life’ and the consumers on Instagram love the marketing-free look into destinations, hotels, spas, attractions and more. Everyone wants a ticket backstage; images you post can offer your followers a behind the scenes experience with photography that intrigues them and prompts them to book their next trip.
However, like any social channel, a brand cannot benefit from an active presence on Instagram without a solid strategy and dedicated resources. So, to help you get started on the right foot, here are some tips and tricks that you can use to help your client get the most out of their Instagram social strategy.
5 tips to maximize your presence on Instagram:
1. Use hashtags: Grow your followers by researching relevant, popular hashtags and engage with photos from anyone already sharing about your brand. You’ll also want to create a dedicated hashtag for your brand and include it in all marketing materials to encourage other users to tag you. Make sure you check hashtags before you adopt your permanent one to ensure it’s not already being associated with another meaning. And, most importantly, you’ll want to incorporate hashtags in your captions (ideally 3-5) with a mixture of location and general tags.
2. Value picture quality over quantity: Not all pictures garner the same amount of engagement. Interesting angles, weird perspectives, bright colors and high quality images will always perform better. Consider utilizing a camera with WiFi to take a higher quality photo and import into Instagram, instantly making your photos stand out from the crowd. Also, spend some time playing with different filters and editing tools within the app to perfect the picture before sharing
3. Captions matter: Sometimes a less than perfect photo can be salvaged by a creative caption. The key is to keep captions fun and short and steer away from anything that could be misinterpreted as marketing copy. Since users are scrolling through these images on their phones you want to make the caption easily digestible
4. Identify influencers: Both locally and industry wide, you can find influencers who have thousands of followers and the respect of the community for their photography. You’ll want to know who these people are and work to build a relationship with them. Engage with their pictures, follow their followers, and closely monitor their content to see what you can learn from them. For top influencers, consider offering them VIP experiences to get them to share photos about your brand to their communities, spreading your reach on the platform exponentially.
5. Watch frequency: You may have the most beautiful resort or the most popular brand in the world, but it’s important to remember that ultimately the average user is using the app to see photos from their friends and family. As a brand, you want to walk the fine line of staying top of mind without over-running their streams. A good rule of thumb is 1 post a day (2 at most) to maximize engagement.
Ali Lundberg is JPR’s Vice President and brings more than 10 years of experience in public relations, marketing and communications to the team. At JPR, Ali oversees the public relations and media strategies for top tier hotel clients and leading spas. Her efforts in the industry have garnered national media placements in publications including Travel + Leisure, Cond Nast Traveler, Departures, Food & Wine, Organic Spa, USA Today, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Robb Report, as well as recent segments on the Today Show, Good Morning America and the Travel Channel. She is the recipient of many awards for her public relations and marketing efforts, including the prestigious PRSA Copper Anvil & PRSA Edward L. Bernays awards in the category of media relations. In 2011, she was elected to the Board of the Public Relations Society of America’s Travel & Tourism sector. Follow her on Twitter @alilundberg