Originally published on HotelNewsNow.com, my article on Leveraging Pinterest and Instagram for Hotels offers insights for the hospitality industry when reaching potential new customers via these social platforms. See the story in full below:
Last time, I wrote some tips for busy hoteliers looking to save some time executing social-media strategies. Let’s say you have the basics under control, but now you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve and your competition by reaching new audiences with the latest social-media platforms. Pinterest and Instagram are the latest big social networks making a splash, and both provide opportunities for the travel and leisure industry to boost engagement.
What is Pinterest?
If Pinterest is not already on your radar, then it should be, as Pinterest’s rapid social media popularity is a compelling reason to join. For instance, Pinterest’s unique visitors have more than tripled since April 2011. At the end of February 2012, more than 15 million unique visitors were exploring Pinterest boards.
With nearly 20 million unique visitors, Pinterest certainly is a site people are visiting frequently. But is it an engaging site? According to Statista and comScore, it is one of the more engaging sites online. An average visitor from the United States spends an average of 97 minutes per visit on the site; global visitors are spending 89 minutes on Pinterst per visit.
The reasons for getting started with Pinterest are compelling—getting your content and hotels in front of a new set of travelers, driving bookings back to brand websites and getting the search-engine optimization benefits of inbound links to boost search-engine rankings—but there are roadblocks in place, similar to when brands first started getting on Facebook and Twitter. Many hoteliers have the same query, wondering, “As a hotelier, what do I actually do with Pinterest?” Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting started.
Step 1: Get on Pinterest
If you’re the one executing your Pinterest strategy, you’ll have to know what’s going on. So, the first step is to request an invite, then create an account and sign in. Then poke around and get the feel for what other people are pinning, what kinds of things get re-pinned most and how people communicate on Pinterest.
Step 2: Set up relevant boards
“Our Hotel” is boring because it’s very inward facing. Instead, create boards that embody your brand. If you’re an environmentally friendly hotel, make boards about the outdoors. If your gardens are second to none, create gardening and horticulture boards.
Step 3: Allow user comments and pins on your board
Step 4: Follow others
Find other users to follow in relevant categories including people/brands who pin items about hotels, the city where you’re located, art, food, interior design, weddings, gardening or any other relevant categories.
Step 5: Try hosting a contest
For example, run a contest that asks users to create a board that showcases the experience they had at your hotel.
Your guide to Instagram
Instagram, which has generated a whopping zero dollars in revenue, recently was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. While some brands already are on the platform, many have yet to dip their toes in the photo-sharing websites social-networking pool. Naturally, this massive sale caught the attention even with those unfamiliar with Instagram, but there’s still time to make an impact before the platform gets saturated with companies. Instagram is a fairly simple application: you take photos with your mobile device, select a filter from a variety of options, tag your location (if you want) and share those photos to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram’s platform. Instagram’s filters can make any photo look great, which is why it has been dubbed “the autotune of photography.”
Step 1: Take interesting photos
Maybe you’re marketing an incredibly beautiful hotel with immaculate gardens, carefully planned pool, food presented in an interesting way, colorful cocktails and so on. All of these things can contribute to an interesting Instagram feed. What you don’t want to do is take picture after picture of your guestrooms—people on Instagram get turned off quickly by overtly sales-oriented material. Even taking pictures featuring the city that the hotel is in can help boost engagement.
Step 2: Follow others
Instagram allows you to find friends based on your contact list, Facebook friends and Twitter followers; you also can search for specific people. The easiest way to get started is to follow your Twitter and Facebook friends that already have connected with your hotel’s Twitter feed and Facebook profiles. After this, simply double-tap pictures to like them. Your followers will notice you liking their content, and if you’ve followed the first step, you should already have interesting content for them to engage with.
Step 3: Integrate Instagram with your web presence
Although it’s still in its infancy, Instagram does allow third-party applications. One of the best for brands is Followgram.me. This app provides web-facing Instagram photos that people can view and share.Here’s Ikea Italy’s stream, for instance. Widgets can be placed on your websites for people to see new images of the hotel, your grounds and the surrounding city.