5 Tips for Hotel Marketing Mastery on Instagram

by:
on October 19, 2017

Instagram is the most effective channel for hotel marketing. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some facts:

As a result, more than 60 percent of travel companies now use Instagram as part of their core marketing strategy—and you should too.

With so many visual attributes to highlight, independent hotels have a great opportunity to attract new guests with stunning photos that convey the exclusivity and authenticity travelers desire.

With expert guidance from Gartner (content available to Gartner clients), we offer five keys to effective Instagram hotel marketing.

1. Put Your Best Foot Forward With Engaging Content

With Instagram, marketers must pack their message into one image (a handful at the most) or a short video. That’s why it’s so important to make your content count—this platform is made for quick scrolling, so the more powerful the image, the better chance travelers will stop and gawk at your hotel.

Shots like these show off a property, but not the brand’s personality

It’s tempting to take photos of your rooms, restaurants, pool and lobby and call it a day, but those alone aren’t enough to make you stand out.

Gartner’s Elizabeth Shaw urges marketers to complement these standard photos with images or videos that convey the experience, not just the room:

“…brainstorm about how your products and services show up in the lives of your customers. Be sure to show audiences through the use of imagery what that looks like. Tell those stories.”

South Congress Hotel tells a Christmas Day story with one image

Instagram’s algorithm now prioritizes content based on high-performing posts, so companies need to be even more creative to get attention on the platform.

 Takeaway:  Complement your standard hotel shots with images of organic guest moments, which help potential guests imagine the experiences they can have at your property.

2. Harness the Power of Instagram Influencers

Influencer marketing is massive on Instagram—Nearly 100 percent of influencers say the platform is the best place to connect with their audience and brands.

That level of domination is unheard of in an age of highly fragmented content sources. Influencer marketing is so big on Instagram, it’s spawned individual companies to help users find influencers.

But you don’t need LeBron or Beiber to grace your property, just someone with an existing audience that shares interests with your brand.

Hilton’s post drew more than 1,000 likes and urged users to visit The Main Hotel in Norfolk

For example, Instagram influencer Liza Herlands works in travel PR and has almost 40,000 followers. While Liza worked on travel guide content in Norfolk, Virginia, Hilton snapped a photo of her surrounded by breakfast items and linked to her profile.

Liza’s thousands of food-obsessed followers now get a personal view into the Hilton’s room service offerings, boosted by the influencer herself.

Influencers for your market can be local figures who have a strong following. Gartner recommends using three key factors that characterize your hotel’s best Instagram ally:

  1. They have reach to amplify your message to a large or a desirable niche audience.
    1. They have relevance, or a strong connection to that audience.
      1. They have resonance, meaning they can help drive followers to act.

      There’s no shame in paying influencers as long as the messaging feels organic to users. However, if you’re truly offering a great guest experience, influencers will want to share your story.

       Takeaway:  Map out your hotel’s best attributes and find local Instagram influencers with relevant audiences to help share your brand’s experience organically.

      3. Facebook Ads Manager Makes Advertising More Efficient

      Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram made ads work double-time. Now, any Facebook ads can be optimized for Instagram images or videos simultaneously, giving companies additional ad-spend efficiency.

      Delve into your hotel’s collection of guest data and loyalty program members to create a hyper-targeted campaign. With Facebook’s custom audiences service, that campaign can reach both your customers and similar users.

      A recent Joie de Vivre Hotels ad aims to spread brand awareness on both platforms

      When creating an ad, Gartner advises using content designed to drive a single result, like boosting followers or promoting a new service or property.

      Each type of ad can be most effective when paired with a specific purpose:

      Ad type What is it? What is it good for?
      Photo A square or landscape photo Best for simple, compelling images to drive awareness and encourage likes, follows or shares
      Video A square or landscape video up to 60 seconds Allows for some level of storytelling with video and sound using Boomerang
      Carousel Three to five images and links in a rotating slideshow users swipe to view Great for calls-to-action—”Book Now” or “Call Us”
      Stories Up to 15 seconds of vertical full screen photo or video, but with lower reach Similar to video with a more immersive full-screen view. Only viewed in Stories.


      Measuring the success of ads can take more effort when you want to track conversions from both Facebook and Instagram, but marketing software for social media management can help hotels tie campaigns to revenue.

      These ad models on these platforms can change frequently, so we recommend following @InstagramforBusiness, which offers updates, case studies and best practices for using ads.

       Takeaway:  Pair your campaign goal with the appropriate type of Instagram ad, then use marketing software to track the specific metrics that convey success (likes, follows, conversions etc.).

      4. Use Your Organic Presence as an Incubator

      Instagram claims 80 percent of its users follow brands—A strong statistic for marketers because it shows consumers are willing to engage with companies on this specific platform. But the most popular brands on Instagram also make sure posts feel natural and avoid overt sales tactics.

      A sometimes-overlooked but major benefit of Instagram marketing is testing new ideas, formats or services with the 700 million monthly active users on Instagram.

      National Geographic is one brand able to test new ideas with millions of followers

      But you don’t need millions of followers to gain insights and feedback. Take note of how each type of post performs with your audience, and translate successful concepts over to paid advertising, email marketing or online content.

       Takeaway:  Use your existing Instagram audience to test and gather feedback about what types of content they respond to, then spread those successful ideas to other marketing channels to capitalize on what drives engagement.

      5. Use Hashtags and Captions with Purpose

      The only thing worse than saying “hashtag” in real life without irony is using too many, irrelevant hashtags on Instagram.

      Here are some hashtags to avoid: #YASS #soblessed #lovinglife #cantstopwontstop #hardcore #sorrynotsorry #YOLO—None of these will impress your potential guests.

      There’s a real risk in alienating your audience by hijacking news events as well. Social media users respond critically when a brand’s post feels opportunistic or inauthentic.

      Here are a couple good examples:

      The language and hashtags in W Hotels’ post are concise and complement the image

      Less is more. Your captions should be brief and reflect your brand’s voice to complement the image and message, and the hashtags should focus on the action you want the audience to take.

      Hotel Indigo highlights their key hashtag in the text and the image

      These example posts have different goals but share similar elements:

      • A caption that complements the image
      • A handful of relevant hashtags
      • Appropriate use of emojis

       Takeaway:  With these tips, and some conservative use of filters and editing tools, your posts can reach more people and drive more desired actions.

      I’m Ready to Post! Now What?

      Start snapping interesting images and creating campaigns following these tips! And remember: Many modern hotel management systems offer tools to manage social media campaigns and track mentions of your hotel online.

      • Give our advisors a call at (844) 688-1783 for a free consultation—They’re available to help you narrow down a list of the best products for your hotel marketing needs.

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