INNOVATE: Instagram and your hotel – the big picture

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Digital marketing consultant Carole Luck offers an Instagram insight, with a nod to the hotels proving to be hits on the photo-sharing network, such as Oz’s 1888 — the world’s first Instagram hotel

Instagram is very much the new kid on the social-media block. Having celebrated its third birthday last month, it’s proving to be the new social-media network to watch and engage with — if you’ve got the resources.

The history
Bought by Facebook for around US $1b last year, Instagram announced in September that, globally, it had 150 million users and that represented a 15% increase in just two months.
The most significant point of difference between the other more familiar networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is that Instagram launched solely on mobile devices as a photo-sharing application.
Instagram’s early adopters came from the Apple customer base as originally the Instagram app was only available to download from the App Store; that changed in April 2012 when an Android app was launched and towards the end of the same year Instagram became accessible via desktop PCs.
Growth in Instragram is mirroring the current growth in mobile web access and the increasing usage of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Although Instagram has recently introduced desktop access it will continue to be a mobile communications tool.

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The opportunities
Why is Instagram important to the hotel marketer? Firstly, it’s a new, truly mobile social media and secondly it’s far more about pictures than words — it’s a photo-sharing network, providing exciting opportunities for engagement with existing and new customers.
Food and travel have always been popular subjects for all photographers — both are perfect for sharing and have hotel relevancy. One of Instagram’s unique features is the range of inbuilt filters which help to improve photos, and it has a fast image upload speed. Plus, this summer Instagram introduced video as another way to share stories. It is for these reasons that Instagram has been embraced by many travel bloggers as a new social media of choice.
Instagram shares the term ‘followers’ with its more established competitor Twitter. Like Twitter, and more recently Facebook, Instagram enables the use of hashtags to make connections and group posts; in fact, up to 30 hashtags can be included in any one post.

The frontrunners
The clever marketer looks for relevant and targeted opportunities for social sharing via the use of hashtags. For example, during October Marriott’s Edition Hotels (editionhotels, 2308 followers) used the hashtags #frieze #london to connect with the buzz surrounding the Frieze Art Fair (friezeartfair, 13,000 followers) in London this autumn, a targeted and relevant association with a local and global audience.
Wherever your property is located, working in partnership with relevant local attractions or events can deliver new and increased reach for your product. Despite its small following Gleneagles in Scotland (thegleneagleshotel, 60 followers) demonstrates the right approach to Instagram in its attempts to engage with other relevant profiles and hashtags like #Jaguar, #Smithawards and this Ryder Cup example: “A year and counting. #gleneagles is proud to host this iconic #golf tournament. #YearToGo #2014rydercup #RacetoGleneagles”.
Engagement and customer interaction is a common theme for all social networks and many brands introduce the concept of “Instagram contests” as the network’s focus on images works particularly well. A good travel-industry example is run by the National Trust (nationaltrust, 4012 followers), its #NTchallenge invites entries into a weekly photography competition — the best five will be posted every Monday.
The growth of Instagram has been taken seriously in Australia by boutique hotel group 8hotels (8hotels, 1330 followers) with its launch of “the first Instagram hotel” — the 1888 Hotel in Sydney, named after the year when Kodak first patented its box and roll cameras.
This 90-room hotel is positioned to appeal to Instagrammers because “every level has a view”, there’s free wifi throughout and even a launch contest which offered free stays to Instagrammers with more than 10,000 followers.

Industry eye
As with the other social-media networks, looking outside the hotel industry view can often provide new insight and ideas on how to engage with the newly-established and growing Instagram audience. A good example is Burberry (burberry, 1.04m Intagram followers), a global brand which extends its reach by sharing images of particular interest and relevance for its contemporary and design-savvy market.
The immediate Instagram challenge for hotel marketers is the question of involvement and commitment. Despite its mobile heritage there are desktop tools to help you monitor, measure and manage Instagram — for example Statigram provides excellent analytics and can be viewed from a desktop.
Tools and opportunities aside, all social media demands time, and needs to be integrated into an overall communications strategy encompassing all online activity including website content and links, email campaigns and the usual off-line tools and activities.


CHECKLIST 

• Listen constantly to your customers and your competitors on Instagram
• Instagram bio — include a link to your website
• Remember this is a truly mobile social network
• Always select good-quality, interesting images with ‘sharing’ potential and choose relevant accompanying hashtags
• Engage with your followers, comment on and like their Instagram images, introduce exciting contests and have a
daily Instagram engagement activity plan.

 

 

 

 

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