Instagram is one of our favorite tourism marketing tools. Not only is this social media platform a powerful way to build relationships and inspire travelers, it’s also just plain fun! After all, we’re in the business of travel—one of the easiest industries in which to tell stories though stunning images and visuals.
But apart from just having an account and throwing up photos here and there, how can your tourism business creatively harness the power of Instagram?
Start with these 10 tips and you’ll be well on your way to a winning tourism marketing strategy:
Our Top 10 Tips To A Creative + Effective Instagram Marketing Strategy
1. Get Insta Organized
If you really want to see results from your Instagram marketing, then the last thing you want to do is haphazardly put up a photo here or there whenever you think of it. However, unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t make it easy to schedule posts ahead of time. So what’s a busy business owner to do?
Don’t worry—there are a few work arounds.
First, collect at least a week’s worth of photos. Remember to diversify the photos you post in order to better tell the full story of your service or offering. Go ahead and write captions for these photos and decide the day and time you will post them.
Now, you have a few options. At the very minimum, keep your photos organized in a folder so all you have to do is have someone on your team copy and paste to Instagram at optimal times. If you want a tool that keeps things organized and then pings you when it’s time to post, try Latergramme. We also love Mosaico for the ability to drag and drop photos until you get an aesthetic appeal you love.
If you prefer the ‘set it and forget it’ method, then your best option is ScheduGram. We’re also keeping an eye on Buffergram. They are still working out a few kinks, but like ScheduGram, this Instagram tool doesn’t use any tricky hacks that go against Instagram’s posting policies.
While you’re getting organized, we also recommend keeping a note on your phone with the optimal times to post each day, along with a note that already has your primary hashtags compiled in one place.
Insider Tip: To save you even more time, instead of flipping back and forth between the Instagram app and your hashtags note, you can set up a text replacement shortcut. With this shortcut, when you type a specific sequence of symbols (like #ig1), then your phone will automatically transform the symbols into your designated list of hashtags. Here’s how to set it up in more detail.
2. Designate Time To Engage
Instagram is just like any other social media platform. Not only should you engage with people who are commenting on your business’ photos, but you should consistently take the time to engage with potential travelers who don’t yet follow you. Just five minutes a day can significantly build your brand, followers and customers in the long-term.
Where most business owners go wrong though is that they waste time engaging with Instagram users who aren’t in their target market. Remember, you want to build a tribe of people who genuinely want to see your posts! Numbers alone mean nothing.
We recommend starting with key hashtags that are relevant to your niche and ideal customer, and then leaving genuine and helpful comments on those Instagram posts.
For example, if you’re a tour operator in Austin, Texas, then it would make sense to follow the hashtag #VisitAustin. You could then keep an eye out for posts where you could leave helpful, engaging and relevant comments. We recommend applying the same technique to locations. We go more into this below.
3. Keep The Tone Of Your Images Consistent
If you’re just getting started on Instagram, you might be tempted to use every single filter available. Instead, we suggest choosing one or two that best represent your brand and style—and sticking with those.
When your followers go to your Instagram profile, you want all of your photos to look consistent and cohesive. If each Instagram photo tells a piece of your business’ story, then ensure those pieces seamlessly fit together to show the big picture.
4. Only Post High-Quality Photos
This action item is a non-negotiable. In fact, the quality of your Instagram photos is SO important that we’ve included a free downloadable at the end of this post with Dan’s top tips to taking better Instagram photos.
You don’t need a fancy camera or professional experience to take stunning Instagram photos you can actually be proud of. Be sure to snag that guide below before you go!
5. Embrace User-Generated Content
User-Generated Content (UGC) should be a crucial part of your tourism marketing strategy. If it’s not, go read this in-depth tutorial we wrote to getting started with harnessing the power of UGC.
UGC is a perfect complement to any Instagram marketing strategy. Monitor your brand hashtag and location tags, and re-gram (share) those guest photos that capture a unique perspective of what you offer. Create a fun and creative campaign that encourages your customers to upload their own photos to Instagram. Get more inspiration here.
6. Use Hashtags Appropriately
Hashtags seem to be a tricky concept for many business owners. You absolutely want to use hashtags that are relevant to your business and offering—but you don’t want to spam your followers with hashtags, either.
As mentioned above, we recommend keeping a note with all the hashtags you use on a consistent basis. Then all you need to do is paste them into your photos or set up that keyboard shortcut.
Keep in mind that the same hashtags may not be applicable to all of your images. We recommend saving around ten of your most common hashtags, and then adding a few more specific ones before posting.
Everyone will tell you a different number for exactly how any hashtags you should be using. We typically use around 15, and we put them in the first comment on the photo so that they don’t clutter the image description.
Don’t forget to create a unique branded hashtag that you use on your photos as well! You might consider featuring this one in the description that accompanies your image, and then putting all the other hashtags in the first comment.
7. Don’t Be Afraid of Instagram Stories and Going Live
With Facebook recently rolling out a function that is extremely similar to Instagram Stories, we believe that sharing ‘disappearing’ snapshots from everyday life is only going to continue to increase in popularity.
Instagram Stories is a great place for those behind-the-scenes photos that aren’t necessarily strong enough photos to stand alone in your feed, but still offer a great snapshot of your business. The same goes for Instagram Live. If you’re not sure where to start, read our introduction to Facebook Live. The platforms might be different, but the principles behind them are largely the same.
8. Don’t Forget About Location
It’s absolutely critical that you tag each and every one of your photos with the correct geo-location. This is a great way for travelers to find your business, whether they’re looking for inspiration for their next destination or in the planning and booking process!
We also recommend engaging with those users who are posting photos near you. When someone tags a photo at your regional airport, leave a comment with your top suggestions on what to do while in town. Provide unexpected value, and people will want to check out who you are and what you offer.
9. Always Come Back To Your Audience
What do your social media followers want to see from your Instagram feed? It’s likely not promotion after promotion. While using Instagram to sell and share special offers is fine (and important) on occasion, remember that the power of the platform is in the visual storytelling.
Take note of which photos perform the best, and then actually use this information to tweak your strategy. Get creative, ask your team, and continually try to deliver fresh new photos and videos that continually build your brand + relationships.
10. Try Partnering With Influencers
Once you’re feeling confident in your Instagram strategy, why not try to take it a step farther by partnering with Instagram Influencers? Before you do, be sure to brush up on our guide to working with Influencers to ensure you avoid common pitfalls in the industry.
Working with Instagram influencers is not a substitute for having your own Instagram marketing strategy, but it is an excellent complement to it—if you implement it well.
As Instagram continues to grow in popularity, more and more travel businesses are going to realize the power in harnessing an effective IG strategy. Get ahead of the competition by implementing these ten tips in your tourism marketing strategy today!
Learn How To Take Stunning Instagram Photos
Now that you know some creative ways to up your Instagram game it’s time to turn your Profile into a beautiful canvas that paints the picture of your brand. Learn how to take stunning Instagram photos!