Let’s face it. Creating Instagram content and creating good Instagram content are two different things.
And while it’s no secret that Instagram can be a fun and exciting way to bring your hotel’s brand story to life, the struggle to balance quality of content with volume of content is a very real struggle for hoteliers.
And it’s a challenge we as hoteliers don’t talk about enough.
No hotel can truly afford to publish original content 365 days a year. Nor do they need to. Think about it. 365 days a year. That’s 365 photos. In order to achieve that kind of volume, hoteliers would have to break a few piggy banks. Not to mention, it’s hard enough to get 10 great photos, let alone 360.
Hoteliers shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality just so a post goes out that day. That’s not a strategy.
As we enter 2020, it’s time for all of us hotel marketers to get real about Instagram content.
Let’s face these content challenges head on and look at how a handful of smart hoteliers are putting Instagram to work for them, not the other way around.
What do these 3 hotels have in common?
Aside from killer Instagram feeds, these three hoteliers all understand the four essential truths of content development.
- They know who their audience is
So just who should hotels develop content for?
Surprisingly, it’s not all about your followers. Sadly, Instagram followers are a mix of bots, influencers, employees and hopefully some past guests. In other words, they aren’t necessarily people in the buy cycle right now.
However, the people visiting your profile and researching your property are in the buy cycle. So let’s build content for them.
A hotel’s Instagram feed is just another touchpoint potential guests visit while deciding whether or not to stay at your property.
Is it trendy?
Is it in a great location?
Is it safe?
Is it clean?
What’s the pool look like?
These are the questions potential guests have when they visit your hotel’s Instagram. Does your photography answer those questions?
- They protect their brand
Your social channels are an extension of your brand story. Full stop.
You spend all this time and money on your brand guidelines, on your website, on your story. Does all that make its way to your Instagram content? Are you thinking about how your social media channels pay off your Universal Value Proposition or UVP? Does it carry over the design, copy, brand aesthetic?
- They focus on quality over quantity
There’s no need to post every single day. Instagram engagement rates continue to drop. Focus on telling your brand story correctly. Hotel brands who post every single day burn through their content too quickly. When you drip out content slowly, it gives you better control over you the story you tell.
Prioritise building a bank of quality images before you do anything. After all, bad social media is often worse than no social media.
- They curate, curate, curate
When you focus on planning your content in advance, it allows you to pre-visualize the content and fill gaps. There’s no need to take a picture of the lobby band and post it live. Curate the very best of your content, plan it out in advance, then drip it out so that it tells a clear, cohesive story.
With these four pillars in mind, here are a handful of hotels doing Instagram right.
The hotel with lots of pre-existing photography
Hotels who focus on having great photo assets are certainly ahead of the curve.
But even hotels with great assets struggle to tell a cohesive story. Most of the images hotels have were taken over a long period of time, with different styles and photographers. Without an eye for curation and photo editing, posts can become inconsistent, repetitive and can leave your Instagram feed feeling unkempt.
The Pierre Hotel New York City, for example, had tons of great existing assets, a mix of old historical and modern lifestyle photos.
Instead of turning their social media manager loose with hundreds of photographs to choose from, they hand-selected photos and mapped out their Instagram feed ahead of time. A photo editor adjusted colors to keep them consistent.
This keeps the overall look and feel consistent all year long.
Click play to view:
Now, when a potential visitor researching the property visits the hotel Instagram feed, they are transported to a controlled brand experience true to the brand identity and narrative.
Things to note:
Images don’t clash against one another.
Design elements flow seamlessly across images
Colour seamlessly shift in response to seasonality
The hotel with no existing photography
Perhaps no property understands the need for content more than a new hotel. After all, how do you tell your brand story without a single brand photo? You do what this hotel did: You get creative.
The Higgins Hotel set out to tease their opening date. They used a combination of stock photography and graphic design to create a sense of the experience to come.
Click play to view.
They created a 21 image grid that played with white space and text, and they stretched destination images across multiple frames to clearly articulate the hotel’s location.
It’s important to understand the goal here. The goal wasn’t to drive post engagement (likes and followers), but to create a place for potential guests to land when researching the property after they heard about it on the OTAs or through search and display ads.
Things to note:
All the content was dropped at once, turning the Instagram channel into essentially a splash page.
They didn’t post after the initial drop. Instead, they waited until they did a photo shoot.
The focus was on controlling the brand introduction. Not on generating followers.
The hotel that invests in content
Perhaps the best option for any hotel is to budget for content creation. Though, it’s simply not enough to hire a photographer. Hotels need to have a goal. And they need to understand what they are going to do with that content afterwards.
For hotels who have an existing brand story, the content shoot is an opportunity to zoom in a little on those key on-property experiences.
Take the Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek. This unique property has an incredible on-property experience: Three great restaurants, a lazy river, miniature golf course, etc. But their social media presence didn’t effectively communicate any of that.
So the property created content that honed in on those key features families coming to the Orlando area would love.
Click play to view:
Knowing how you’re going to use the content helps you plan your photo shoot.
Things to note:
Pairing multiple images of the same scene creates more stopping power
Notice how the colours shift between sequences so the feed doesn’t get static and boring
Many of the images are taken from the POV of the user, just like guest photography, which adds to a more playful, youthful vibe.