Remember the wanderlust you felt while under lockdown in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic? You and everyone else were scrolling through Instagram, gathering inspiration for the day you’d be able to travel again.
According to Facebook, 67 percent of people use Instagram to find inspiration for new journeys and 61 percent find things to do on Instagram while they're traveling. For many, it’s become a visual travel resource and the start of many new travel and vacation plans.
Instagram is an opportune way to let your audience know about everything your destination has to offer through visuals. More than that, it puts you in touch with a global community of people who love visiting your destination and can help promote it for you.
As you hone in your destination marketing Instagram strategy, here are some guiding principles to help you get the most out of the platform.
Make Sure Your Photography is Dialed
Instagram is all about the visuals. Don’t expect to successfully execute an Instagram strategy without a substantial library of quality images. This usually means investing in some professional photography, whether that means contracting a photographer or sending someone from your staff out with something other than an iPhone. High-quality imagery makes all the difference in attracting the attention of those scrolling through the gram.
When it comes to photography, play into the strengths of your destination. It might be picturesque scenery, local art and funky murals, a bustling downtown bar scene, or activities you can’t do anywhere else. Promote what people come to your destination for.
Create a Brand Hashtag
Create a unique hashtag that users can use to be featured in UGC (user generated content). By unique, we mean something other than the name of your city, state or region. For our client Visit Bozeman, for example, we use #onlyinbozeman. Once you come up with a few good options that align with your brand, search for them on Instagram to make sure they aren’t being used already by other organizations.
We’ve found UGC to be especially effective for our destination marketing clients. Generally, it’s much easier for your target audience to relate to real people who visited your destination as opposed to some frustratingly perfect stock photo models. Plus, it may save you time, allowing you to build a library of content that you don’t have to create from scratch. Plus, the value is worth it. UGC will help you spur interactions and boost engagement with your brand.
There are several ways to collect UGC from your followers. If your Instagram account is already well-known, people may already be tagging you in their photos, seeking a reshare. If that’s not the case, we recommend hosting a contest to encourage visitors to create content for you. Run a campaign prompting your followers to share photos of their visit to your destination, their favorite meal they had, or the best viewpoint they found. Ask them to use your hashtag when they post, and offer a reward incentive for those who share.
For more tips about how to utilize UGC in your social strategy, check out this blog.
Interact With Your Audience
People love following their favorite brands on Instagram because it’s an opportunity to interact with them and create more personal connections. So when someone comments on one of your “What are some great places to eat in this city?” it’s an opportune time to establish your brand as the expert resource by responding. Generating Instagram stories is another great way to stir engagement, utilizing tools like polls and questions to start conversations.
Partner With People, Organizations and Businesses In Your Area
Tap into your community. Partner with influential people, nonprofit organizations and businesses in your destination who align with your goal to draw more visitors. Promote each other, and you’ll both reap the benefits. This can be as simple as posting about local restaurants, bars and outfitters and tagging them in your posts. They’re likely to reshare or return the favor in some way. Or it can be as involved as partnering with an influencer or well-known figure from your destination and having them create content for you.
Invest in Paid Social Media
If you really want more people outside of your followers to see your content, you need to invest in paid social media advertising. Posting organically is simply not enough to grow your followership and drive new visitors to your website. Quite frankly, everyone is using paid advertising on Instagram, so it’s hard to be competitive without spending some money.
But the money is worth it. With the ability to segment your ad’s audience to people’s habits, likes, interests, demographics and geographical areas, you can find new potential visitors who are a good fit for your destination. Read our blog “How to Utilize Social Media’s Paid Advertising Capabilities” for more tips on executing a paid strategy.
With more than one billion users worldwide, you’re right to be using Instagram to draw new visitors to your destination. By following the steps above, you’ll set yourself up for success. Looking for a partner to help you create and execute an Instagram strategy for your destination. Talk to us here at PRIME.
If you enjoyed this edition of PRIME Pulse, take a look at some of our other related articles:
- Why Blogging is Key to Destination Marketing
- 5 Reasons Your Website is Never Really Done
- 9 Types of Paid Advertising to Use for Destination Marketing
- 4 Questions to Ask When Branding a Destination