As a hotelier, Instagram is one of your most powerful marketing and online distribution strategy tools.
NB: This is an article from Cloudbeds, one of our Expert Partners
The popular social media platform can help you reach new audiences, drive engagement with your followers, showcase your property, and, as a result, drive revenue and direct bookings. Here are the Instagram features that can help you get bookings and how to use them to your advantage.
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Feed posts are one of Instagram’s main features. Images and videos on Feed posts appear on your followers’ feeds and on your profile. Feed posts will always stay on your profile unless you delete them manually. For this reason, you should make sure they are a good representation of your brand, or how you want the general public to perceive your property.
This is the ideal place to post your core content, for example, the best images/videos of your property, local attractions, photos past guests have ‘tagged’ you in, special promotions, and more.
Best practices for Feed posts are:
- Keep a consistent voice in your captions
- Use high-quality images/video
- Add appropriate hashtags (we recommend doing hashtag research)
- Always think about the purpose of your posts before making them public (the purpose could be brand awareness, engagement, educating your followers on your amenities, or a special promotion, etc.) to give you more direction
Afterward, you can ‘promote’ these posts by turning them into ads – this is a paid feature that allows you to reach a wider, more targeted audience.
Instagram Stories are featured at the top of the Feed page, rather than in the Feed itself. This feature lets you post content (images, text, video, polls, quizzes, etc.) for a 24-hour period. It’s a brilliant feature for engaging with your followers – and you can see who has viewed them.
There has been some exciting news in the Instagram world this year. The platform has started allowing clickable website links in Stories for everyone, even accounts with less than 10,000 followers. That means that when you create Stories, you can link to your website to drive even more direct bookings.
With that in mind, make sure that your website is fast, user-friendly and up to date. If you don’t have a website or yours needs an upgrade, look for a hotel website builder that can create an excellent website design for you, seamlessly integrating your hotel software for ease of booking.
If you want your Stories content to live on your profile, you can use Highlights. The Highlights feature lets you feature your Stories in one place on your profile, even after a 24-hour period has passed. You can use Highlights to showcase your property, amenities, food, and brand as a whole.
A great way for hotels to feature Highlights is by category. You could create a Highlights category for your bedrooms, reviews, pool, restaurant, gym, and even your local attractions. Organizing your Highlights by category lets your viewers choose which ones to watch based on what they’re most interested in.
The Shopping feature allows you to sell products through Instagram. You can tag products in your posts so that users can click on them and buy online. This feature benefits eCommerce businesses but may be useful if you sell branded merchandise, such as t-shirts to mugs, at your property.
You can use Messenger to interact with your followers via direct message. You can expect to get questions about your property, feedback, requests from on-site guests and customer service questions through Messenger.
People expect quick responses to their messages so it’s worth dedicating a select few of your staff members to reply to customers via Messenger and help travelers book or respond to guest requests.
Instagram Live is a feature that lets you live stream video content to your audience. The biggest benefit of Live is you can engage directly with your audience in real-time. They can ask you questions or respond to you in the comments section and you can respond back immediately.
When you’re using Live, engage your audience as much as possible. Ask them questions and address them directly. Instagram Live is a great place to make announcements and show off your property.
Live content is still accessible once you’ve ended the session which is a really good perk, but you and your viewers won’t be able to interact in real-time when the live stream is over.
Reels is an engaging and fun feature that allows you to create and edit video clips between 15 and 60 seconds long. The videos on Reels can include text, AR filters, and music and sounds. There are new Reels trends emerging all the time (much like TikTok), and this feature generally attracts a younger audience.
Your Reels will be accessible on the Reels tab on your profile and they can be featured on the Explore feed.
IGTV is used for long-form video content. Think of it as an episode of a TV show or a Youtube video. While IGTV content can take more time to plan and execute than Stories and Reels, you may see an increase in reach and engagement.
A few examples IGTV content hoteliers can create include behind-the-scenes activity at the hotel, a meet the team series, videos on activities/sights in the local area, and tours of your property. Having in-depth content like this can help drive conversions.
Explore acts as Instagram’s ‘front page’ and displays users content that the platform thinks they might be interested in based on algorithms. Everyone’s Explore page is personally customized to them.
You can strengthen your chances of being featured on the Explore page by creating consistent and engaging content, especially video content, and also by engaging with (liking, commenting, sharing) accounts related to your property and guest type.
Instagram is one of the most important social media platforms that you can leverage as part of your inbound marketing strategy, and each of the Instagram features described above are user-friendly and simple to use. Still, some hoteliers don’t have enough time on their hands to make the most out of them! If you hire an experienced hospitality marketing agency, they should be able to take on Instagram management for you.
You don’t have to use all of these Instagram features to run a successful account that drives direct bookings. Try using a handful of them and doing it really well, instead of spreading yourself too thin across them all. You should start to see the fruits of your labor in the form of added followers, more engagement, and more guests within a few weeks of consistent use.