The role of Instagram in the hospitality industry
Founded in 2010 and acquired in 2012 by Facebook, Instagram is a free social media platform where you can share visual content such as pictures and videos. With over 800 million subscribers in 2018, Instagram promotes user interaction. Instagram is not only intended for personal use, but also for commercial use. It is used by many hotels wishing to promote their brand, products and services.
In fact, this social media platform provides a good opportunity for hotel managers to boost their popularity and engage with more people. First, they can use Instagram to instantaneously build and consolidate their online reputation, by using a “story-telling” approach centered around their brand. Then, they can use this social media platform to sell their services and build their own community using interactions (likes, comments, shares), stories, buzz-words and contests. According to Forrester Research (2014), using Instagram allows you to boost your engagement per follower 58 more times than by using Facebook and 120 more times than by using Twitter.
Building your online reputation (e-reputation)
The e-reputation is represented by the information provided by the internet about a person or a brand through social media, blogs, collaborative websites, online chat forums or knowledge sharing platforms. Nowadays, we live in a highly connected world where the e-reputation has a significant online word-of-mouth effect which is able to positively or negatively impact one’s opinion. We use social media to get information on a company, and immediately believe what we read online. Therefore, a good or bad reputation online will have a direct impact on a company’s sales and their clients’ trust.
Today, building one’s online identity is quick, whether it be by using search engines allowing the company to be featured on the very first page, by using social media to attract potential clients, by fostering a close-knit relationship with the clients and building loyalty or by starting open-ended discussions on social media through blogs and forums. You can also consolidate your e-reputation using online opinion websites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google reviews or by reaching out to influencers.
You may be wondering what is an influencer. It is simply someone who has a large number of followers and who shares content on social media, such as photos, videos, articles or podcasts. Upon agreeing on a partnership with you, the influencer will create content on your behalf and boost your visibility, by talking about your products and services. This allows you to improve your image, your credibility and even your SEO if the influencer is present on multiple social media platforms. Influencers are therefore beneficial for companies, but it is important to only partner up with influencers who mirror the company’s brand and values.
A hotel’s e-reputation can be boosted if multiple influencers post about the hotel. This way, potential clients will notice that many influencers have stayed at the hotel and this will generate a notion of popularity and will trigger their wish to live this trendy experience.
Instagram also allows a company to improve their sales. A study showed that 8 in 10 users follow the account of at least one of their favorite brands and that 14% of users would buy directly from Instagram.
As a starting point, one can insert a link in the “biography” section which will redirect the users to the company’s own website. Additionally, users have the opportunity to reach the company using the direct message feature or by communicating using e-mail and/or telephone by clicking the call-to-action button located on the company’s profile. The company can also have an online shop allowing the users to browse through current offers and get information on rates and availabilities. For a hotel, improving sales can be done by using the booking engine. Instagram posts can feature a link redirecting to the hotel’s online booking engine. An active presence on social media combined with the opportunity to book online will incite customers to book directly with the hotel without having to go through OTAs, therefore maximizing your income.
Building a community
Instagram is undoubtedly a key tool when it comes to creating one’s community. Instagram encourages users to publish content, to share their personal experience and mostly to generate emotional interactions. Companies do not hesitate to repost the users’ content and create buzz-words in order to attract potential clients or engage and build loyalty with their existing community. Generally speaking, a buzz-word is short and easy to memorize to facilitate interactions between users. A community’s engagement is usually a key element when it comes to one’s perception of your popularity. This perception of your popularity is more often than not generated by the users than by you. Building a large and loyal community is crucial in order broadcast the diversity of the stays offered at your hotel and the overall experience you provide.
In a highly connected and fast-evolving world, every brand uses content to convince individuals to buy their products or services. It is therefore important for companies to publish high-quality, targeted, authentic and attractive content for their followers. It is also key to have a constant and active presence on social media such as Instagram by publishing content and interacting with your community on a regular basis.