Since its advent in 2010, Instagram has come about to being one of the most popular social media tools. Today, it has over 800 million active monthly followers and 25 million business profiles, creating a global platform that generates content that’s endearing and visually appealing. More than half of the users of the platform visit it daily and another 35% say that they check it several times a day. Among the services and businesses to which Instagram becomes indispensable, are the ones to whose marketing, visual imagery is crucial, and the first amongst many of them is tourism.
Instagram makes sharing travel experiences easy and with it, making any user who travels and puts up pictures of a place, a potential influence on his or her friends’ or family members’ choice of their next trip. Instagram has become a personal, instantly accessible tourist guide, quickly replacing brochures and pamphlets and other conventional means of tourism marketing. Content captured on Instagram is perceived to be having a personal touch, giving a real, matchless insight into the place and its various attributes like the weather, scenery, architecture, landscape, among others. According to a survey conducted by Instagram, the platform acts as a reference, for about 48% people who get inspired by it to choose a place to visit.
Instagram has led to a trend in which content related to travel has become more humanized. Content like this, has greater emotional relevance and strikes a chord with the audiences’ desire to travel, making Instagram a brand new tourist agent or tourist officer that provides a complete array of content and communication, covering the entire gamut, right from branded to user generated, in the form of photographs, videos, ephemeral videos, among others.
So let’s take a look at why this platform, among others, has become central to tourism marketing and why attributes of the platform, facilitate this trend?
The nature of the medium:
Instagram gives the power to a tourism brand, to truly give an insight to the place it wants to market. It lets the brand showcase the scenic beauty, terrain and landscape of the place, with élan and in real-time. Moreover, content on the medium, can also be shared as experiences, through stories, high-lights and IGTV videos. These features make the content shared on the site, decidedly innovative and varied.
The very visual appeal of the site, make users heavily engaged to the content posted by the brands and pages they follow. Instagram enjoys a 2.3% rate of engagement per follower, in comparison to Facebook’s 0.2% per follower and Twitter’s 0.3% rate. This high rate of engagement leads to users interacting in greater measures with the content by means of ‘liking’, ‘reposting’, ‘commenting’ and ‘tagging’.
Searching via hashtags and geo-tagging:
Searching via hashtags, lets users find a million posts related to the hashtag, at the touch of a button, from across the world. This could be a mix of content posted by brands and pages, as well as user-generated content. In addition, the feature of geo-tagging, helps a user look for a location and find all posts related to the location, with ease, on the site. This feature lets users find content that’s relevant and accurate, helping them get an unhindered view of the places they wish to visit.
Spontaneous and real-time:
Instagram helps users and brands share content with tremendous spontaneity and in real-time. This spontaneous nature, lets users observe events as they happen, creating greater interest in the brands and people who share content. These interactions, help derive unique insights, letting users immerse themselves in the destination they are interested in.
Instant book buttons:
Instagram has now added new features – to make the platform more relevant to tourism marketing. Users can now, not just look at content but also take a decisive step towards their dream vacation or trip through ‘book buttons’. This feature gives immediacy to their plans, translating the enthusiasm of viewing the pictures and videos of a place to booking their trip, all at the touch of a button.
Young, On-Pulse and Happening:
Instagram makes for an excellent platform to market to millennials as most of the audience on it, is below the age of 35. This makes for an effective target audience as an interest in tourism entails that one be raring to go, experimental as well as keen on discovering new places.
Let’s now delve into the best practices, the steps that marketeers can take to capitalize on Instagram’s power to build a tourism brand that’s more robust and popular, achieving its target goals in reaching its audience.
Use Images: Images are crucial to marketing on Instagram. Images that are well-shot, clear, captivating and display variety, are likely to draw more engagement. However, it’s crucial to remember here that only images of products, will not draw attention or traction and that it’s important to mix and match, to create a narrative that’s interesting, endearing and unique.
Here are the types of posts that you, as a marketeer, can create for your Instagram page.
Influencer post: An influencer post uses the fame of a celebrity or a key-opinion leader to promote a brand. These posts often have the influencer using or interacting with the brand. The key takeaway of an influencer brand is that it helps gain the attention of the audience, with immediacy.
Educational post: An educational post, gives an insight into the destination being promoted, what its USPs and attributes are – such posts help users familiarize themselves with the location and its various nuances.
Re-posts from employees: Re-posting from employees helps create content that’s more varied, unique, authentic, has a human touch and is an insight into the people who help create your business. Such posts give a never-before understanding of the brand and make it more relatable, even helping create a bond between the employees and the audience.
Create User Generate Content:
User generated content (UGC) comprises collated content that’s curated and posted, from posts created by fans and followers. Tagged posts, and posts with hashtags, make for great sources of UGC. It has been found out that users tend to trust UGC more than branded messaging, creating greater rates of conversation, making it a source of information and content that the audience looks forward to viewing.
Focus on Videos:
Videos are ruling the roost in social media marketing as they are in the world of Instagram marketing. A well-edited, interesting, informative video post, about a beautiful locale, along-with a catchy caption, shall certainly gain a lot of traction.
Explore with Boomerangs:
Boomerangs are three second, looping videos that play forward and backwards. These videos are quick and instantaneous and make for excellent variation in content.
Hyperlapse is a format that allows one to condense videos into shorter renditions. This creates smooth, time-lapse videos that are easy-to-post and draw attention of the audience, owing to their succinct formats.
Stories make for an ephemeral format that allows brands to posts content, with high frequency, without clogging the brand’s page and causing boredom because of posting too much content, too frequently. Content posted, via Stories, can usually be more organic, given its short life-span. Content posted via this medium doesn’t have to be as polished as what is posted on the Instagram feed.
Product introductions, reveals, chat-sessions and Q-A discourses, are best conducted on Instagram Live. Content shared on Instagram Live, is real-time, exciting and engaging.
IGTV or Instagram TV is Instagram’s new video-offering. It allows the viewing of video content in a vertical, long-form format. Videos of length of 15 seconds to 10 minutes, can be uploaded on IGTV.
Other means of gaining traction on Instagram would be to use a well-crafted caption, with a discernable call to action; using geotags – this has been found to increase engagement by 79% and is especially relevant for tourism marketing; as well as using hashtags and creating an Instagram strategy that shall work for your business.
Moving on, we introduce you to some quick, run-through pointers – 4 golden rules that shall be extremely relevant to Instagram marketing, for your tourism brand.
- Post content at optimal times on Instagram — the best time to post content has been found out to be at all times of the day, Mondays to Thursdays, except for the hour between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., in the afternoon.
- Link your Instagram page to your Facebook page — this helps increase the number of viewers for your Instagram posts.
- Re-arrange your filters in such a way that you place the filters you use the most often, before the ones that you barely use. This helps increase productivity and post images quickly.
- Create a collection — as you navigate Instagram, you will find a lot of content that’s relevant to your business — save this as part of your ‘Saved Images’ – these can be used later, to promote your tourism brand.
There is no denying the prowess of Instagram marketing when it comes to social-media marketing and especially so of a tourism brand. Instagram makes for an impactful, immersive experience, helping a brand carve a strong visual identity and is especially relevant for a market such as tourism that primarily rests on drawing attention through the power of the visual. High-value content and features like geo-tagging, ephemeral videos, IGTV, make the platform, a perfect fit, for a tourism brand, helping marketeers reach brand new milestones when it comes to factors like reach, relevance, and social media conversation, making their endeavors go places in an increasingly cluttered social media sphere.