By now we have talked a lot about digital marketing for the food industry, especially for restaurants. We have published a lot of tips to get the best out of a restaurant’s social media and other digital marketing efforts, but now, we’re going to look into how hotel marketing can make the most out of their Instagram feeds. Hotels, like food brands, have something very visual they can share with potential customers. That makes Instagram a great place to reach their audience.
In this post we will showcase our top 10 tips to get the best results when using Instagram to promote a hotel. Though there are basic aspects of social media marketing that are usually valid to all industries, we’re going to pay special attention to the challenges for hotel marketing strategies to be successful on Instagram.
Why is Instagram good for hotel marketing?
There are many social channels to choose from, and depending on resources and a hotel’s target market, one of the most interactive and inspiring for a destination-specific business like a hotel to use is Instagram. The magic of Instagram is that it is the perfect platform for visual storytelling. Its platform is focused on high quality photography and video content with both short and long form copy, so it’s perfect to appeal directly to your potential guests looking to let their imagination fly.
Apart from that, Instagram provides all the essential tools needed to convert followers into bookings and customers, allowing contact information and buttons to be added so that the marketing team can track all clicks. Instagram is the perfect addition to any content marketing plan.
And speaking of tracking, Instagram provides you with actionable data about the performance of your posts and stories. These insights are priceless if you want to have control and understanding of the growth of your profile and how it translates into sales.
Now, let’s take a look at some tips that will help your hotel’s online marketing take advantage of Instagram better!
1. Have a strong marketing strategy
Avoid going in blind. The first step to success in social media and all marketing channels is knowing the newest marketing trends and knowing what your competitors are doing. Being prepared means you know what goals you’re aiming to achieve and, specifically, how Instagram makes them happen? What steps are you going to take to ensure this final result? What are you going to do if it doesn’t work?
Apart from these questions, you need to know who your ideal hotel guests are and have clearly defined roles for everyone involved in each marketing campaign. Don’t rush the process. Take time to write a detailed social media plan to ensure you won’t be wasting time or money, or even better, let our marketing specialists take care of that for you!
2. Research and write customer personas
Making customer personas is part of what makes a successful marketing plan. This is true for Instagram too. In order to really know your customers, you need to stop guessing and gather real, verified data about them. This includes anything from demographic information to behavioural data. You need to know who they are, what they like, do they use a computer or a smartphone, where are they from, and do they use platforms like TripAdvisor to make decisions on where to book.
A great place to start is right from your current hotel website. If you have Google Analytics set up then you will be able to access a lot of that data already.
Customer personas are semi-fictional profiles of your ideal customer and the result of that research process. Collecting this data is a bit easier for the hotel industry because direct contact with customers is a constant occurrence. By giving quick surveys to guests, you can gather quite a lot of information used to formulate the best marketing strategy.
3. Customers want a story, give them one
When a person travels, they aren’t just thinking about moving from point A to point B, they’re already imagining all the things they will do when they arrive. Even business travellers put some thought into how to enjoy the hotel and the destination. Putting your storytelling skills to work becomes essential to an effective communication between your hotel and your guests.
Focus on the experience and the emotions that your guests associate with it to post visual stories they can connect with, and don’t forget the power of user generated content. The good thing about Instagram is you can share content from other profiles. If a guest posts an online review, share it. If they post a photo of their stay, share it.
4. Quality over quantity
It might be tempting to post 4 different photos of the hotel every day with 8 stories of people jumping into the pool, people love that right? Sure, they probably do. But they also love the 20 recipes, 150 baby pictures, and 2000 cat videos they find every hour scrolling down their Instagram feed.
Your goal here should be to differentiate your content from the crowd. Aim to publish one high-quality post instead of four mediocre ones. This way your content can become a breath of fresh air to relax from an overcrowded feed.
5. Work with influencers, but do it wisely
Influencer marketing is an excellent way to reach wider audiences, increase brand awareness and get more customers. But not all influencers will get the expected results for all businesses. It depends on both of your audiences and current goals. Check your customer personas again and compare them to the influencers you find. Does it make sense that your audience and their audience overlap?
Do your homework with influencers because we have all heard horror stories of influencers that aren’t really all they claim to be. Check their followers, their engagement levels and their content for suspicious characteristics. A big following is great but it isn’t necessarily a sign that it will get you more followers, you need to pay attention to their posts and the engagement rate from the past 14 days.
6. Leverage trends and seasons
This one goes without saying, seasonality is essential to all businesses in the travel industry. Local businesses know their on and off seasons, and you can use this to predict customer behaviour and adapt accordingly. This should include your Instagram profile.
The same goes for social media trends and hashtags, pay attention to what your audience is doing and with your customer persona at hand participate in social media trends in a way that makes sense to both your brand and audience. Loyalty programs, for example, can easily be utilised to draw in more followers.
7. Stand out with video content
Video content is being used more and more, and there are good reasons for this. Video is an effective format to capture the attention of your audience and many marketers agree that it produces the best ROI (return on investment) compared to other common formats like images or pure text. Check out software like Lumen5 for easy ways to make video content.
Video is a great way to tell a story, and you have plenty of options to try. Use Insta Stories to share brief moments, and IGTV to use longer videos to tell a more detailed story. Feel free to get creative as long as it makes sense. You spent a lot of time coming up with a branded look to your website design, so make sure your videos don’t stray from your brand image.
8. Be ready to invest in ad campaigns
Getting new followers and increasing your reach on Instagram by organic means is still possible. Just like word of mouth still works for promotion of a brand, organic growth is still a powerful tool. But to reach as many people as possible, paid ad campaigns are still the best. Instagram gives you different formats and options to use their ad platform to expand your reach and convert customers.
You don’t have to spend thousands on ads, but be aware that for some things like special promotions, you might need to keep a good balance between organic and paid efforts to get the conversions you want.
9. Listen carefully
Social listening consists of observing the conversations and mentions around your market through social media channels. This can be how you are mentioned in relation to local tourism and local events. It is a convenient way to gather priceless information about what your target audience perceives as interesting. It also shows how they perceive your brand.
It’s useful to prevent a crisis, expand your reach, develop a positive image, improve your service, find influencers and gather ideas. Use social listening tools and keep an eye open to the conversations people are having about your hotel, then you can use your discoveries to improve your Instagram strategy.
10. Measure and optimise
Last but not least, one of the most important things you can do on a regular basis is tracking all your activity to have an in depth understanding of how everything you do is bringing you closer to (or keeping you away from) your goals.
Use Instagram analytics or a third party app to find trends, monitor progress, measure performance, fix problems on time, and uncover opportunities. If you don’t have the experience to analyse all the data, let Forager help you.
Every hotel business is different, and it’s up to your creativity, your goals and your knowledge about your audience to know what is the best way to use your Instagram profile. Whether you are a boutique hotel or an international hotelier, following a few basic tips will give you a good starting point. Remember to track your activity and really understand your hotel needs to be able to experiment and improve week by week. Eventually you will discover what works best for you and your audience.
If you want more help, feel free to get in contact with one of our marketing specialists.