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There's nothing like free publicity for your vacation rental business. Used smartly and strategically, that's exactly what Instagram offers.
As social media's premiere photo-sharing service, Instagram is tailor-made for the travel industry. A 2016 study showed that 48 percent of Instagram users turn to the app to select travel destinations or plan vacations.
Instagram works in real time. Posting appealing images of your area and properties lets you eloquently spread the word about what your area and properties offer. A glorious sunset over the beach, a fresh snowfall, the warm muffins from the town's new bakery, the magnificent fireplace at one of your vacation rental properties - it's all catnip for building a community and interacting with it.
Instagram helps you create the brand presence you want (your company logo makes an ideal profile picture). And since it's a photo-driven platform, there's less clutter than on Facebook or Twitter to muffle the visual message you want to put across.
If you're not on Instagram or have let your account languish, this is a great time to get on board. Here are seven ways to put this fast-growing social media platform to work for you.
Think about what you want from Instagram, and how you want to use it. Decide how often you'll post and keep to a loose schedule. Some experts suggest one post a day, but decide what works for you. Less can be more as long as it's not once or twice a year. Not sure how to go about creating a page? See how hotels and other vacation property managers organize their pages and decide what you like (and don't).
This sounds obvious, but not everyone does it (just check your Instagram feed). Your pictures are your brand. Use sharp, focused images that will grab attention and put across a message, whether it's to show off your area's beauty, tell viewers about a great local business or just make viewers smile.
You and your staff are assets. Post occasional shots of you or your employees at the beach at sunset, sampling the delectable waffle cones from the local ice cream shop or even at work in your office or at a property to let viewers know what you do. Besides personalizing your business, this helps guests get to know and trust you. It also shows you off as an authority on your area and the vacation rental business.
Hashtags are social media magic. The ultimate sharing device, they send your posts into a stratosphere of your choice and help you gain exposure on Instagram. You're allowed 30 hashtags per post. Use a mix of general and specific tags, and make sure they relate to the post. Here's some sample hashtags to get your started:
#instatravel #travelgram #familytravel #familyvacation #instago #passportready #wanderlust #ilovetravel #instatravelling #instavacation #instapassport #apartrmentliving
Add geotags to help your photos show up in Instagram's location feed and appear in local search results within the platform. And remember, some stories are better told as videos; use videos to vary the mix and showcase something visual, like a quick tour of a historic house, a craft beer brewery or the museum that just opened.
Instagram is an undeniably visual medium, but text can enhance a photo and help you engage with viewers. No one does this better than @natgeo, the Instagram page for National Geographic magazine, which hits the sweet spot of not too long, not too short, always informative. If you have a blog, edited blog copy paired with a photo makes an ideal Instagram post.
In a newsletter we liked, Experience Scottsdale, the official tourism website for Scottsdale, Arizona, featured Instagram images showing enticing ways to cool down during the long hot Scottsdale summer. Besides displaying good-looking photos grouped to a theme, an Instagram-based newsletter informs readers that you're on Instagram. It's a great way to gain followers.
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