Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks today. But, should this social platform be part of your hotel, restaurant, bar or event venue’s marketing strategy?
Instagram was released in 2010 and bought by Facebook in April 2012 for $1bn, with just over 30 million users. The platform now has over 600 million users – 100 million of which came in the second half of 2016 alone! This is largely linked to the fact that the platform has put a huge emphasis on product development in the last six months.
As with the other social platforms, Instagram is growing and evolving constantly. In the last six months alone we have seen the introduction of Stories, Live Video Broadcasting and Shopping Tools integrated within sponsored posts.
What Instagram offers and how it benefits you
Promote your brand with an active, young audience
We’re talking Millennials. The Millennial generation is larger than its predecessors (Generation X and even the Baby Boomers) and is starting to move into its prime spending years. They are the tech generation that has grown up with the internet and the technologies it has conceived.
Being the first native digital generation, they are the most active demographic on Instagram and as such, make up the majority of the audience. Social media is the way Millennials are choosing to interact with the brands that they use and hashtags are the method of connecting through Instagram.
Hashtags and what they can do for you
Hashtags are terms that you link to your posts in Instagram, much like Twitter. These terms can then be searched for by anyone, who will be looking to see posts related to those terms.
We know that people are increasingly doing their research online before spending their hard earned cash. You need to recognise that the generation that has developed the hashtag is going to use it to help make their buying choices. They will search for terms like #LondonBar and #NewquayHotel on Instagram to get visual inspiration for places they may like to visit.
If they already know of your brand, they may search your company name directly and they will be looking for images and videos that will influence their buying decision. This is where previous posts will appear (if hashtagged correctly). With enticing visual content you can influence your potential customers that are considering booking a stay at your hotel or a table at your restaurant.
Hashtagging your images about the latest services your hotel, spa and resort offers can reach a new audience on Instagram too and create brand awareness. But, be aware that you need to post regularly as results are shown chronologically. Depending on the popularity of the term and competition, a post can shoot down the results pages beyond the point where the attention span of the user may find it.
FREE promotion from guests
If you provide a great service, your guests will want to share their experience at your hospitality venue with their followers. Social media platforms have become tools of vanity for many users, wanting to show they are making the most of their lives. They will share their highlights with all their friends and followers, adding hashtags and location information to their posts as appropriate.
In the world of the consumer, when better to do that than during your experience at a luxurious event, restaurant or hotel? This will generate free publicity for your hospitality business and give an authentic representation of your services that you can’t create operating as the brand yourselves.
As with all social networks, you will need to monitor Instagram for mentions of your brand, to ensure that posts are positive and to act on any negative feedback. Even if you receive negative posts, your quick response and the manner in which you deal with the complaint can turn it into a positive experience for your business.
Social monitoring is also another opportunity to interact with your potential customer base. Following the posts of existing customers and qualified leads can give you an insight into what matters to them.
Sponsored Posts (advertising in Instagram)
Instagram have been developing their advertising options since sponsored posts were launched at the tail end of 2013. The original launch was with retail brands, but it is a great platform for driving awareness of your hospitality services. With the recent development of Instagram’s shopping tools, it is now also capable of driving sales through your website.
Instagram provides a range of sponsored post options that appear in your target audience’s feed. From these sponsored posts they can then click through to “learn more” revealing the comments and a link to your website landing page, where you can convert them into a customer. Here are the options with some simple case examples for the hospitality industry;
- Photo – A clean and simple professional still image showing your restaurant’s signature dish.
- Video – Share a video up to 60 seconds promoting the experience of attending one of your luxury events.
- Carousel – Create a group of images each representing the variety of rooms available at your hotel.
- Stories – Similar to the video option that appears on the main feed, these videos appear within the Stories feed on instagram, showing seamlessly between the videos of the people and brands that the user already follows.
You can target the audience that your sponsored posts appear to based on;
- Custom Audiences (Existing customers based on your linked database of emails)
- Lookalike Audience (Potential Customers with identifiers similar to your database of existing customers)
With these targeting options you can be sure you are displaying your visual content to the right audience to achieve your hospitality marketing goals.
To answer the question should Instagram form part of your hospitality marketing strategy moving forward? Simply put, yes it should.
If for no other reason, your potential customers are already using it to share their experiences with their friends and followers. These are some of the most qualified potential customers you can find for your business, so it is essential you have an active presence that also monitors and connects with these people in order to develop your overall marketing strategy and ultimately develop more sales. However, as with other social platforms, you need to approach it strategically and have the resources and tools dedicated to it in order to successfully use it.
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