6 Proven Instagram Strategy Plans for Top Travel Brands
Not surprisingly, visual storytelling is a strong point of the travel industry.
Gorgeous images of travel destinations and things to do and see when you get there is the norm across social media platforms. But travelers don’t follow brands just for beautiful pictures. One of the main reasons travelers visit travel industry social media channels is that they want help, and they want help now. Also, today’s consumers want authentic experiences, and they’re willing to pay for them. According to a study by Harris Poll, relative to total spending, the share of U.S. consumer spending on experiences increased 70% since 1987. 1
How will you evolve your marketing strategy without leaving travelers stranded? Start by taking a journey through these six tips in our Instagram Strategy for brands:
1. Share Authentic Experiences
Sharing beautiful vacation photos on social media to make our friends jealous is as much a part of traveling now as baggage fees and limited legroom. In fact, 76% of travelers post vacation photos on social media networks. 3 Nearly half of all Instagram users use the app to help them choose a travel destination.4 Bottom line, social media now significantly impacts how travelers plan for a trip and what they do when they get to their destination. Your brand can benefit from this travel trend by inserting yourself into the conversation between vacationers and their followers on Instagram.
- How to: Ask your clients to share their authentic travel experiences with a unique branded hashtag. Norwegian Cruise Lines cruisers have posted #cruiselikeanorwegian nearly 30k times, there are 43k posts with Texas Tourism’s #TexasToDo tag, and Southwest’s #SWApic has been used over 50k times.
2. Set a Course for Stellar Customer Service
A recent study by Lithium (now Khoros) on the State of Social Engagement in the Travel & Hospitality Industry found that, similar to brands in other industries, most travel brands focus their social content on education and entertainment. However, the main reason travelers visit a brand’s social channel is for immediate support and direction — they need help and they need it now. Response times are critical, and failure to respond to consumers’ posts quickly could result in stranded travelers.
- How to: Twitter is not the only social customer service channel. Don’t cast away people who try to connect via other networks like Instagram. Overall, brands have to do better to engage customers and provide support via social, not just offer educational and entertainment content. It’s more important than ever that your organization deploy a social monitoring and engagement management tool that manages social response at scale. Critical features include post prioritization, translation, and conversation threading — regardless of the social platform.
Learn more about customer service best practices with our Digital Customer Care Playbook.
3. Escape with Everyday Influencers
It’s no secret user-generated content (UGC) is the most trusted type of content available. Sharing UGC by “citizen” not celebrity influencers gives your brand authenticity and credibility.
- How to: If someone tags you, uses your branded hashtag, or shares a post that’s relevant to your audience, share it through a 3rd party app like Repost for Instagram and Repost on Iconosquare. Be sure to get permission, don’t edit their post, give them credit, and clearly note that it’s a repost. This is an excellent way to interact with your influencers and provide the trustworthy, authentic content your audience is looking for.
4. Explore Advertising
Instagram is no longer just for travel voyeurism. With dynamic ads and “Shop Now” links, Instagram has become a shopping channel where consumers can take action to buy products and services. Also, some travel brands are turning to 3rd party apps that make their entire Instagram feed “shoppable.”
- How to: For hotel brands, check out Instagram’s dynamic ads for travel which show relevant messages to people who’ve expressed interest in traveling to specific destinations and during specific dates. Or, explore the power of video ads to tell your brand’s story. Lastly, offer the option to shop or book directly from your feed like Airbnb has done with their Like2Buy gallery.
5. Offer an Insiders’ Journey
Instagram stories provide a platform for your advocates to tell a richer story about your travel brand. By handing the reigns over to an influencer to stream real-time adventures, you’ll get more brand awareness, and your customers will get an authentic peek behind the scenes at your product or service.
- How to: Give an influencer a free trip, stay, or voucher in exchange for hosting an Instagram stories takeover for a weekend. Set a minimum of the number of stories they need to post in that 48 hour period and ask that they promote the takeover on their social networks.
6. Promote Instagram as a Destination
Instagram may be one of the fastest growing social media platforms for young adults, but according to Pew Research Center, Facebook is still substantially more popular. 79% of all online Americans use Facebook — that’s more than double compared to Instagram. With 95% of all Instagram users also on Facebook 5, cross-promoting your channels should be a no-brainer Instagram strategy for brands.
- How to: Tell users what value they will get for following you on Instagram. Promoting exclusive content, special deals, or behind-the-scenes stories are ways to get more cross-platform reciprocity. Post a gallery of your branded hashtag photos on your website and Facebook page to attract new fans.