The Essential Guide to Instagram For Hospitality Businesses in 2021

by | May 11, 2021 | Blog

Chances are you’ve already witnessed the wonders the internet could do for your hospitality business. With the ease of online bookings, access to reviews, and efficient customer service, there’s no reason not to set up shop online. 

And if you’re a savvy, forward-thinking business, you’ve probably already dabbled in some form of social media marketing and want to expand into other platforms. Consider this magic little platform called Instagram. We think it’s the perfect platform for businesses like yours that are big on visuals and represent a desired lifestyle. 

Why your business should be on Instagram

Instagram is widely known for its stunning photos and the ability to create FOMO- the fear of missing out. This is because what gets posted on Instagram is usually photos of good food, great views, and luxurious experiences- it’s like the hospitality industry’s dream social network! It’s an approachable and playful platform for your products and services to be discovered by a predominantly younger audience, since Instagram’s key demographic is Millennial and Gen Z users.

Users on the platform value aesthetics over anything else, so much so that they coined the term “Instagramable” to refer to a photo’s worthiness to get posted on the app. So if you’re a business with envy-inducing eye-candy products or services, you may want to read on to know how to make Instagram work for you. 

How to create an account

We know that 4 billion people are on social media and know how to create an account, but we’re including this just in case you didn’t know how to make a business account! Business accounts offer a whole lot of features that wouldn’t be accessible to personal accounts. 

To switch to a business account:

1. Sign up for an Instagram account with a username and password. Then go to settings and tap on Account. You’ll find an option that says “Switch to Professional Account”. Once you tap, pick a category that best describes your business, then select Business. And you’re good to go!

Having a business account lets you add your business contact info, run paid ads, sell directly on the app, and get real-time insights!

Creating content for Instagram

What exactly should you post on Instagram? While it’s tempting to cross-post from Facebook, tailoring your strategy to Instagram can pay off in the future. Before any content goes out, you should have a strong brand identity that serves as your strategy’s foundation. If you don’t have one yet, social media agencies like us can handle that part too!

Based on our experience, users engage more with content that gets them either craving or dreaming of their next vacation. So pull out all the stops and boast your business’ best features.

For a hotel, your content pillars could look like this:

  • Facility highlights (interiors, design, features of different suites, amenities)
  • Hospitality features (the restaurant and bar, specialty food)
  • Events (upcoming events and venues)
  • Destinations around the area
  • User-Generated Content (reposting photos from guests and influencers)
  • Guest experiences (people enjoying your facilities and services) 

For a restaurant your content pillars could look like this:

  • Food (food specials, new dishes)
  • Restaurant Family (highlights of the people that make the restaurant)
  • Exterior and Interiors (location, scenery, detail)
  • Testimonials (what your customers think about your restaurant)
  • User-Generated Content (reposting photos from guests and influencers)
  • Events (announcements, event highlights)

Remember, Instagram users place visuals in high regard! To succeed on the platform you have to make your content instagrammable and irresistible. It’s always a good idea to employ the help of a photographer and/or graphic designer. 

Strategy Tips

Post regularly, don’t under or over post

You’ll want to establish that you take your social media presence seriously. You want to post enough that customers won’t forget about you, but you don’t want to post too much that they’ll feel compelled to hit the unfollow button. There is such a thing as too much posting, after all. For hospitality clients, we recommend posting around 3-5 times a week. 

Repost content from guests

Lucky for you, Instagram thrives on people sharing their enviable experiences, so they’re likely to post about your business for free! And when they do, it’s important that you acknowledge their posts and feedback. You can get a lot of amazing content from your guests when they tag you in a photo or a story. Just head onto your tagged photos and make sure to credit the user if you end up reposting.

Collaborate with influencers

Instagram is the influencer platform. You can leverage this by finding influencers that suit your brand and cater to your target audience. Collaborating with an influencer means promoting your business to their followers and garnering interest in your brand. 

Before inviting them over, agree on what you’re both willing to give in the collaboration. In exchange for a branded post, some influencers might ask for services and products and some for compensation. Every influencer is different and it’s always best to ask. 

Take note of the content that works and what doesn’t 

Not all your posts will be a smash hit, so it’s helpful to take notes of the ones that are so you can emulate them in your future strategies. For example, for a certain client we found that user generated photos of food perform better than professionally captured photos. It’s different with every brand and audience so we encourage you to keep experimenting and observing. 

Optimize your link in bio

Your bio is prime real estate. Users are going to look to your bio for more information about your business, and you want to make sure they can access all of it in one click. You can link your website, but it’s going to take the customer a few extra steps to get the info they need. Using tools like LinkTree can help condense all your helpful resources into one link. 

For example, you can direct the first link to your booking website, and the second one to your homepage, and the third one to your current offers. 

Using Instagram’s features to promote your business

Hashtags

Hashtags make it easier for people to discover your business. Once you put a specific hashtag on a post, it will appear with all the other posts under the same hashtag. For example, if someone is trying to discover restaurants in Melbourne, they can find a plethora of relevant posts under the hashtag #MelbourneRestaurants. This way, your content can reach people who don’t even follow you, increasing your discoverability with audiences beyond the ones you already have. 

You have to make sure that the hashtags on your posts and stories are relevant to your business. A rule of thumb is to start with broad terms then narrow them down. You can only use up to 30 hashtags in a post and 10 in a story, so consider using a variety of hashtags with different degrees of popularity. You can gauge the popularity of a hashtag by clicking on it and seeing how many times it’s been used. 

Some hashtag ideas according to Instagram:

  • Hashtags related to what you do
    • Your product or service, e.g. #bartending or #mojito
    • Your speciality in your industry, e.g. #sundaypotroast
    • The location of your business, e.g. #sydneybar
  • Community hashtags
    • Phrases relevant to what you do, e.g. #cookingsteak
    • Instagram communities that are important to your industry, e.g. #savehospomelbourne
    • Trends or inspirations related to your business, e.g. #hotelinteriordesign
  • Descriptive hashtags
    • Hashtags that use acronyms, e.g. #qotd (quote of the day) or #ootd (outfit of the day)
    • Hashtags that include emojis, e.g. #🌵

After deciding your relevant hashtags, rotate between them and mix it up from post to post. Keep testing by adding and removing hashtags. You can use Instagram Insights to learn how your hashtagged posts performed. On the post, tap on View Insights to see the number of people who viewed your post via a hashtag. Once you’ve determined which ones are the most effective, you can use them in your next posts and stories. 

If you’re adding a lot of hashtags and you don’t want them to distract readers from your post, you can put your hashtags in a comment after posting. It’s a neat way to section your post. 

Location tags

Other than just a helpful tool to let people know where you’re based, location tags are a great way to increase your visibility.  Just like hashtags, you can view all the posts tagged under a single location.

Stories, reels, and IGTV

It’s more than a photo-sharing app. You can pretty much find the features that Tiktok and Snapchat are best known for under Instagram’s roof. 

Instagram stories are bite-sized clips or pics that are available for viewing for only 24 hours. They can be found by tapping on a user’s icon if there’s a gradient circle surrounding it. They serve a different purpose from posts since they’re fleeting, interactive, and short-form. They’re perfect for showcasing behind the scenes, asking your audience questions, and personally getting in front of the camera to promote your brand. Features like the ‘order now’ button and ‘support local business’ button, and ‘swipe up’ link are a wonder for brands to use. Most businesses use IG stories to show that they’re engaging, human, and authentic. You can add your stories to your Highlights, which are stories that are available for viewing any time on your profile. 

Reels is Instagram’s newest attempt to ride the Tiktok hype (let’s be honest here). It’s a new way to record and edit 15-30 second clips, often made with music in the background. Although it doesn’t have all the features Tiktok has, it’s a great tool to start making experimental creative content without having to hop onto another platform. You can also showcase products and tag them directly if your IG shop is activated.

IGTV is made for longer-form videos (up to 1 hour long!) and was intended for users and brands to upload series-like video content. If you want to create videos on hotel tours, menu tastings, travel highlights, uploading on IGTV would be your best bet. 

Instagram Direct 

Through Instagram direct, you can build stronger relationships by having real-time conversations with your customers and followers. Some millennials prefer to inquire on Instagram rather than call via phone or message on Facebook, so it’s essential to expand your customer service to this platform. Try their ‘quick replies’ feature where you can send an answer of a FAQs with a single tap.

It’s a common practice to reach out to other businesses, creators, and influencers by sliding into the DMs.

How to advertise on Instagram

Creating an ad 

Wouldn’t it be amazing If all your quality posts went viral? Sadly, the algorithm (and human behaviour) doesn’t work that way. So if you want your context to maximize its reach, you can advertise on Instagram. 

You can turn any post or story into an ad. If you’re not running a campaign on Facebook Ad Manager yet, you can do it on the app manually. Go to your profile and select the story or post that you want to advertise, depending on your business goals, and tap the promote button. If you want to promote a story, tap More at the bottom and then tap Promote. Select top-performing posts and/or those that attractively feature a popular product or location. 

Next, select where you want to send people when they click on your ad. You can choose from your Instagram profile, direct message, or your company website. Then decide how long and for how much you want your ad to run. Instagram recommends that you spend at least USD 45 on a 7-day campaign, to give you enough time to assess how well your ads are performing. Tap ‘Create Promotion’ and you’re good to go!

Insights

You can access your Instagram insights by either (1) tapping on ‘View Insights’ on your individual posts or (2) going to the sidebar menu and tapping on Insights to view metrics on your activity, content and audience.

The activity section gives you information about your profile visits, website clicks, ‘get direction’ clicks, reach, and impressions. You can use these metrics to learn about how many people have seen your content and what actions they take from your posts.

The content section informs you how your posts, stories, and ads are performing. Instagram lets you filter these metrics by content type, date range and type of metric.

The audience section lets you learn about your followers’ demographic information. You can view insights on their locations, gender, age, and even what day and time they’re most active on the platform. 

These metrics all together help you determine what content works best, when to post them, and what kind of audiences your content attracts. 

5 hospitality Instagram accounts that are killing the game

@crowneplazasydney -Crowne Plaza Sydney

@acehotel – Ace Hotel

@melbournemarriott – Melbourne Marriott

@vuemonde – Vue De Monde

@entrecotemelbourne – Entrecôte Melbourne

We can help you with all things social…

We’ve helped several hospitality businesses like yours get more people through the door by executing a scroll stopping social media strategy tailored to achieving your business goals. Send a message to hello@eightclients.com.au or fill out this form to get started on your social media journey with us.

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