Social Media Tips: Using Instagram
I first came across the Culloden House Instagram feed when they commented on a photo I had posted of a sunset in Findhorn. (I am slightly addicted to both a) Instagram and b) Findhorn sunsets). Once the luxury hotel had been brought to my attention, I immediately clicked on their page and flicked through their photos, realising it was where my mum had had a birthday afternoon tea this year and remembering that we had talked about going when I visited next. With just a couple of photo likes and a comment (that took them all of a few seconds), Culloden House had managed to get me thinking about when I could plan a visit for afternoon tea. Yes, it’s really that easy.
Let’s not forget the fundamentals of social media – being social and engaging your audience. One of the reasons I think Culloden House is an example of a business using Instagram effectively is that they are interacting with other users, both potential as well as current followers. It may seem simple but this interaction is a great way to get your business under the radar of potential customers.
In social media land where visual content is king, Instagram is a big power player – it has now overtaken Twitter in popularity with 400 million users. For me, Instagram and hotels go together like cheese and biscuits; it is an ideal platform to showcase everything from your menu to the local area, and reach customers on a personal level.
Other than engaging with other Instagram users by commenting on and liking other photos, here are a few more takeaways from the Culloden House feed.
Use user generated content and hashtags
Culloden House encourages their community to use the hashtag #cullodenhouse so that they can easily find any images taken by guests and then feature these images on their Instagram feed, with credit of course. If you’re an accommodation provider why not take advantage of images being taken by guests (both of the property and local attractions) and encourage followers to tag their images?
Show behind the scenes images
As well as an extra gallery of images of the property and the menu etc, your Instagram page could include some behind the scenes moments, adding some personality to your pictures. One of my favourite photos on the Culloden House page is of an employee feeding a duck that is nesting in a stone monument at the front of the hotel. Including interesting and fun photos is a great way to really connect with your audience.
Highlight the local area
Why not also post photos of the area’s attractions and activities, and use hashtags to ensure the images are searchable. Culloden House features nearby attractions such as Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield, again making the most of user generated content for these. A beautiful image of Loch Ness, for example, could be a way of reaching users searching images of the Highlands.
Culloden House also has active Twitter and Facebook pages, and I noticed that they have cleverly made the most of the local area angle by sharing Outlander content.
Another hotel that is using both Instagram to engage their online community and showcase their accommodation is Crieff Hydro. During a stay this year I was impressed with the speed in which they responded to my tweets and Instagram posts. They also encourage their followers to use specific hashtags – #crieffhydro and #hydrohappy – and have used a reposting app to share an image taken by a guest, another way to use user generated content.
As well as Instagram, Crieff Hydro also uses Pinterest and has a number of boards to highlight everything from the spa and self-catering to activities for kids. There is even a board entitled ‘Crieff Hydro on Instagram’ which is made up of images ‘from friends and followers’.
Both of these hotels realise the importance of visual content and the increasing popularity of photo-sharing platforms, and Culloden House in particular is a good example of how you can use Instagram in your marketing.
So, if a picture paints a thousand words what will your Instagram stream say about your business?