Unless you’ve somehow remained completely oblivious to how significant social media has become in people’s lives and the world of digital marketing, then you will undoubtedly have heard of Instagram, the mobile based photo sharing app. It allows users to post photographs either publicly or privately and share these directly to a number of other social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.

Since it’s initial release back in October 2010, Instagram has changed a lot and also more significantly for marketers, grown in popularity astronomically. So while you have almost certainly heard of Instagram, it is much more important than you probably think! Almost all medium to large brands, and many smaller ones are now on Instagram and using the app to promote their products and services. This includes many travel companies, hotels and resorts. When you look at Instagram’s core product, it is actually the most perfectly designed form of social media for promoting travel and your resort.

People love to browse their phones and the internet for inspiring travel images and Instagram offers a hugely user friendly, fast and attractive way of doing this. While the developers of the app may not have had your brand in mind when they created Instagram, it is in fact an amazing tool to connect with your guests and potential guests to showcase your resort, the surrounding location and the experience of staying there. People always have their smart phones with them these days so through the app you can easily connect with people wherever they go.

There are several reasons why Instagram has grown so massively since it was first launched, one of the biggest of which is when it was acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock. By that point Facebook was already the most important social media network and sensed huge potential in Instagram as the app had already showed strong growth before the takeover. It is clear though, what an incredible buy this was for Facebook as after the acquisition the app exploded in popularity with a 23% growth in 2013 compared to a 3% drop for it’s parent company in the same year. That meant a bigger growth than Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest combined! By April 2013, a year after its purchase by Facebook, Instagram reached 100 million monthly active users.

Other changes that have been brought in by the app developers have included videos which were introduced in June 2013, with later improvements of these such as longer length (1 minute pre-recorded) and full widescreen high definition videos. Video introduction on Instagram is said to be one of the factors that lead to the demise and subsequent closing of the Vine app which itself was once hugely popular.

More recently (November 2016) Instagram has introduced a live disappearing video feature which can last up to 1 hour long. This has set the app in competition with Periscope which is owned by Twitter and other video services that offer streaming such as YouTube. Originally Instagram photos had a distinctive retro feel with photos uploaded being confined to a square shape, reminiscent of Polaroid photos. This has also been changed back in August 2015 meaning users could upload photos in any aspect ratio. This in turn has enabled Instagram to compete more directly with other photo sharing services such as Flickr.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!

Una foto publicada por Interval International (@intervalworld) el

From its more humble beginnings the developers of Instagram, under the ownership of Facebook have transformed the app into so much more than what it started as. Many of the original popular elements exist like the ability to quickly and easily upload photos, add a filter and share them. With the introduction of video, live video and even disappearing stories (launched in August 2016), Instagram can compete with YouTube, Periscope and Snapchat and even parent company Facebook. If your resort is not using Instagram regularly and effectively it is missing out on a huge and growing audience!

Important Instagram usage statistics you can’t ignore:

Instagram has reached 600 million active monthly users

The company reached this massive 600 million milestone on 15 December 2016 and since then has continued to grow during the beginning of 2017. On top of that the last 100 million users to join were added in just the last 6 months. This is staggering growth and should not be ignored by your resort marketing team. Does this high membership translate into high usage though?

There have been over 40 billion photos uploaded by users since Instagram started and over 95 million photos and videos are uploaded on average each day

Just stop and think about how incredible that number is! 40 billion photos is almost impossible to even imagine and means there have been over five times as many photos uploaded to Instagram as there people on earth. According to Instagram there are over 95 million photos uploaded to the app daily so it won’t be long until billions more photos have been added. You might be thinking though that Instagram is very much US based and largely focused on selfies.

Instagram is a truly global community with 80% of users based outside the US

Instagram began in the US, like almost all the biggest social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, but in the same way as those it has expanded globally. On June 21st 2016 the company announced that more than 80% of the Instagram community come from outside the US.

Instagram also mentioned the huge diversity of this global community adding photos and videos to the app each and everyday ranging from illustrators to sneakerheads to astronauts on the International Space Station. On Instagram there really is something for everyone and the reach continues to keep on expanding.

Instagram business statistics:

Instagram could help to save Facebook

Facebook remains the largest social media network by a long way at present, well ahead of its rivals, but there have been recent signs that its popularity is in decline, especially among younger users. With such a massive user base, it is not just used by the young but also their parents and grandparents. This in turn has meant Facebook is increasingly seen as boring and for older generations. Rivals have come along, most notably Snapchat which has taken off massively. Despite being used by people of many ages, Instagram is still viewed as more interesting than Facebook, especially with recent feature additions such as Stories, Live Video and disappearing photo and video messages.

Credit Suisse estimates that in 2017 Instagram revenue could reach $6.4 billion, and that Instagram alone could bring in a stunning $12 billion by 2021. There were doubters when Facebook first decided to acquire Instagram, but the gamble definitely paid off. With the excellent integration between Instagram and Facebook pages, it is a very useful way for you to advertise your resort between the two social media giants.

70.7% of brands are expected to use Instagram in 2017

While more established social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter seems to be reaching a saturation point among businesses and advertisers, this isn’t the same for social media in general. Newer social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat are set to grow significantly this year in terms of brand usage.

In fact it is predicted that 70.7% of US companies with 100 employees or more will use Instagram for marketing in 2017 which will slightly edge out Twitter for the first time. If your resort or hotel is not using Instagram (or indeed social media in general) extensively by this stage then you are well behind the rest in marketing your brand and missing out big time!

Marketers who invest more time in social media are much more likely to use Instagram

While many brands focus their efforts on the platforms they are most used to such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, because these have been around the longest, it seems marketers who invest more time in social media each week are much more likely to use Instagram. This is according to a report released in 2016 by Social Media Examiner which shows that for marketers who invest 40+ hours per week in social media they are much more likely to commit time to Instagram (76% of respondents).

This suggests that experienced digital marketers realise the full potential of Instagram for brands and are committed to using it to its maximum potential. This is clear evidence that your resort marketing team should also be committed to Instagram as well as other social media channels.

How Instagram marketing is working for businesses:

75% of Instagrammers take action after being inspired by a post

This is definitely a statistic that your resort marketing team should take note of and comes directly from the Instagram business blog. Often businesses are cautious to commit time to social media because they are unsure if it is worth the time invested. Clearly posting on Instagram is worth doing though, because it often leads to action by an Instagram user after seeing a post.

This includes visiting a website, searching, shopping or telling a friend. From your post on Instagram such as a shot of a sunset by the pool, someone may visit your website or tell a friend or family member to check out your resort. In addition to this “50% of Instagrammers follow a business. More than just following businesses, 60% of people say they learn about a product or service on Instagram.”

If you weren’t already convinced by the massive importance of Instagram as part of your resort or hotel digital marketing strategy then surely you will be now! There are countless other statistics available online about the huge growth in Instagram but rather than continuing what must be obvious to you by now, start your resort’s strategy as soon as possible.

Make sure to post regular and inspiring photos and videos of your resort and the experiences that guests can enjoy when they come and stay. Don’t settle for bland photos, but aim to be inventive and stand out from the pack to get noticed and encourage your followers to share your posts and book a stay with you. Invest time in Instagram and you will definitely see interest in your resort grow.

Let us know in the comment section below or via our social media using #RDOdigital if your timeshare resort has started to invest as much time in Instagram as other social media platform and have you seen a benefit to this?