Consider Instagram your hotel’s visual storytelling engine. Your feed is your permanent collection that not only sells the story of your property and its features, but it also celebrates your brand’s verve and vibe. People spend up to ten hours a week on the app in hopes of fueling their inspiration or simply seeking a visual escape—a reprieve from the stresses of the everyday.
As a hotel marketer, you have the opportunity to be the architect of your story by creating a stop-and-stare Instagram feed. We’re sharing 8 simple hacks that will tell your brand story, capture and captivate followers with jaw-dropping content, and get them flocking to your bookings page.
Step 1. Create Story Pillars
Every space has its own story waiting to be told. Whether it’s the history of the property, the boldface names in the guestbook, or the magical events that occurred within and beyond its corridors, you have the opportunity to convey what makes your property unique in a visual format. Prospective guests want to know what makes your hotel special and imagine themselves as being part of the theatrics because, as you know, a hotel is more than just a room your guests occupy.
Map out 3-5 themes that celebrate and showcase your property. From welcome drinks and fine dining to architecture, amenities, and design, create story pillars that you can feature on social media. Pillars create story continuity and reinforce your property as a specific and distinctive brand. They also provide helpful guardrails for composing content and give visual and strategic direction. Remember, consumers crave consistency so they want to be reminded of what makes you stand out.
Now that we have the larger strategy in play, let’s get down to the tactical feed details.
Step 2. Be Discerning
Your feed is a curated representation of your brand and hotel so choose the photos you want to share with care. Don’t post for the sake of posting and your guests want to be seduced by the promise of a magical holiday. They want to see sumptuous meals, awe-inspiring views, and rooms that are a comforting retreat from a long day of sightseeing. You want your guests to look at your feed and immediately want to book a stay at your property.
For photos that aren’t up to par, share them on Facebook or another platform to give followers unique content to see that they wouldn’t find on other platforms. This will help your feed look quality and clean.
Step 3. Define Your Style
What kinds of photos inspire you? There are so many types of feeds out there from minimal, colorful and bright or de-saturated/muted. Create mood boards that inspire you and align with your brand’s aesthetic. Start to conceive of the kind of visual mood you want to create and be consistent with every picture in terms of look, feel, and filter. Document your rules of the road in a style guide, which can be a natural extension of your brand book or visual identity.
Step 4. Consider The Background
A background can make or break a photo—especially when you’re composing food, drink, and property detail shots. When it comes to backgrounds, we recommend using ones that have a good contrast with the object you’re trying to capture. Good backgrounds highlight the subject of the photo without being overpowering. Something as simple as a white plate and tablecloth can go the distance in showcasing your hotel’s cuisine.
Step 5. Taking the Photo
It’s show time! Consult your content or editorial calendar before shooting so you can plan your shoot. Create a shot list ahead of time so you have a clear idea of how you want each photo to look and any essentials you want to include. Consider batch shooting to save time on styling, resource, and photo editing costs, and add in “b” shots of your main photos, which can be used for Instagram Stories or for other social/owned platforms.
To keep the photos consistent, always take them the same way before filtering and editing them so that the end result has brand cohesion. For example, if you only post photos that are taken in natural light, you should never use flash. If you’re mixing composed shots with lifestyle images, make sure that you have a filter that will render a consistent look for all of your content.
While styling your photos, use objects with colors that coordinate and flow well together. Choose a rough color palette beforehand and make sure to stick with it Also, when it comes to composition, use props, backgrounds, frames and angles that are consistent with your brand colors
Give yourself a set of style rules for your photos and keep this in mind BEFORE taking your photo and this will instantly help your feed feel more cohesive.
Notice the use of spacing and consistent colors, composition and layouts. You make an impression with the first 9 images consumers see when they land on your profile. They want to feel your presence is thoughtful and architected and tells a clear brand story.
• Shoot multiple angles
• Try simplifying the shot
• Tap for exposure
• Locate the light source
• Consider the time of day
Step 6. Have Fun With Filters
Now that you’ve taken your photos in the same style with your own style rules it’s time to make them look amazing. There are so many filters and apps out there, it’s best to just play around until you find some that you like. VSCO is a favorite of the Instagram community. Other terrific options include Snapseed, Afterlight, Pixlr, or Airbrush. If a photo doesn’t fit your feed but you really want to post it, opt for a black and white version so that aesthetically it will fit.
You don’t have to use the same filter for every photo but switch between 4 that are really similar and edit each photo until it matches with the ones around it.
Step 7. Plan Your Feed
Save time with smart apps like Tailwind and Planoly to plan your feed and schedule posts. You could also use Instagram’s scheduling feature for Business accounts. Import the photos you want to post and play around with the order of them and plan at least a few posts ahead so that you know how pictures will look next to each other. Place images with negative space next to a busy photo and photos of products spaced out. Planning your photos in a layout format also ensures that when two photos are next two each other, the colors match. So that if a cool tone photos is next to a warmer photo, you can edit one of them to look cohesive next to each other.
When to publish:
• Think about when your prospective guest might be checking their phone. You want to get them during their downtime so you have their attention.
• Refer to your analytics to determine post performance and trends.
Step 8. Use UGC
UGC (user-generated content) is one of the most powerful forms of social proof today. 85% of consumers find UGC more influential than brand-created content. Consider UGC a visual TripAdvisor Sentiment Score. With the power of social proof, people are more likely to book if they’ve seen others having a fabulous time. From influencer-created content to sourced images from prior guests, you can review the images to ensure they’re up to snuff and post with attribution. You can also offer a standing invitation for guests to share their stay on the ‘gram for special offers, discounts, and gifts during and after their stay. Perhaps offer a free glass of wine or a sweet if they snap their stay using your branded hashtag.
Check out our brand storytelling masterclasses and learn more about how we can help you define your special something and ways in which you can bring that to life as a means to connect with prospective and returning guests.