It cannot be stressed enough how important Instagram is for the continued marketing success of travel brands both large and small. Since being launched back in October 2010 as a simple free photo sharing app, solely for the iOS mobile operating system it has since absolutely exploded in popularity! The company announced back in April 2017 that it had reached an incredible 700 million Instagrammers with the last 100 million joining faster than ever. Since this announcement was made three months ago, the company has continued to add even more users and expand in popularity across the world, thus creating a giant global audience.

Since its original inception as an app to upload photos with the ability to add different filters, Instagram has developed into so much more with the inclusion of a variety of different features. What made the app take off in popularity from the beginning was its simplicity and also the different looks that could be given to the photos uploaded. This meant that even quite mundane photos could be made to seem a lot more interesting without any photo editing skills required. For example, with a few quick button presses your photo could take on the appearance of a vintage polaroid shot.

Now that's a GOOD morning! #DiamondResorts #StayVacationed #tenerife

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Instagram has become an essential app to its users with literally billions of photos having been uploaded to the app by its 700 million users, including travel, food, fashion, nature, sport and a whole host of other subjects. Another reason why the app became so popular is because it has the appearance of a digital photo album full of memories. This means both the users themselves and their followers can look back over these photos when they want to remember different parts of their lives. It is this aspect that has encouraged users to continue to upload increasing numbers of photos, especially as their followers and other users can Like and Comment on their photos.

The Addictive Nature of Instagram

Because of the almost addictive nature of Instagram it is definitely an essential tool for brands and is why travel brands need to focus on Instagram immediately, especially if so far they have neglected it or only used it intermittently. It lends itself perfectly to travel brands, because Instagram is by its very essence a visual medium which encourages image sharing and engagement. It is the perfect tool for promotion of resorts, hotels, excursion companies and other travel related products. For example if your resort uploads regular images of your inviting swimming pool, the beautiful location where it’s based and other excellent features such as your comfortable rooms and the delicious food at the restaurant, then this will attract people’s attention to come and stay.

Videos

What’s more Instagram is definitely no longer confined to images as over the years the company has steadily been adding a whole host of different features. You can now upload a video of up to 60 seconds long to Instagram and this will likely increase further in the future, because video is becoming such an important aspect of capturing people’s attention on social media. In fact a recent report by Cisco states that by 2021 “globally, IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021” and a huge proportion of this will come from mobile. This shows it was a very wise move indeed by Instagram to introduce the ability to upload video to the app.

Your Home away from How #mypearlygrey #tenerife #costaadeje #callaosalvaje #hotel

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Live Video

As well as pre-recorded video, the app also recently included the option to start a live video. This has allowed Instagram to compete with other social networks that have this feature such as Twitter and YouTube. It is also perfect for travel brands looking to showcase an event happening right at that moment such as the launch of something new at a resort like the opening of a restaurant or a music event happening at a hotel. There is also now the ability for users to save these live videos to their phones to look back on later or upload to Instagram or other social networks. On top of this these replays can be uploaded to your Story a game-changing feature which will be discussed later.

Starting today, we’re introducing the option to share a replay of your live video to Instagram Stories. Now, more of your friends and followers can catch up on what they missed. When your broadcast has ended, you’ll be able to tap “Share” at the bottom of the screen to add your replay to Instagram Stories for 24 hours. You can also tap the toggle and choose “Discard,” and your live video will disappear from the app as usual. When someone you follow shares a replay, you’ll see a play button under their profile photo in the stories bar. Tap it to watch the video and see comments and likes from the original broadcast. Since introducing live video in November, millions of people have used it to connect with friends and followers in an authentic way. Now, you can share these experiences with even more people. To learn more about today’s updates, check out help.instagram.com. These updates are available as part of Instagram version 10.26 for iOS in the Apple App Store and for Android in Google Play.

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Saved Posts and Collections

Yet more features continue to be included on Instagram as its founders aim to compete with other popular apps on the market. Back in December last year, the company introduced the ability to save posts to view privately, and since then 46% of Instagrammers have saved at least one post. Now users have the ability to organise these posts into named collections. This feature seems very similar to that of Pinterest boards. It is yet another reason why travel brands should post regularly to Instagram as users will likely start to create collections such as “Travel Inspiration” or “Vacation Plans”.

Starting this week, you can save posts into private collections. Tap and hold the bookmark icon underneath any post to save it directly to a collection. You can create and name a new collection when you save a post, or you can add it to one you’ve already created. You can also create a collection out of your existing saved posts. Tap the plus icon in the top right corner, give your collection a name and select the saved posts you’d like to add. You can find your collections on the saved posts tab on your profile. Just like all saved posts, your collections are private — only you can see them. Since we introduced the ability to save posts last December, 46 percent of Instagrammers have saved at least one post. Whether you want to plan your next day trip, revisit your favorite artists’ illustrations or always have some animal videos on hand, collections can help you keep track of the posts you want to remember. To learn more about save collections, check out help.instagram.com. This update is available for iOS and Android in the Apple App Store and Google Play as part of Instagram version 10.16.

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Instagram Stories

One year ago the company introduced Instagram Stories which has been a game changer for the app and increased daily usage and engagement even further. There is no doubt that this was almost a direct imitation of the stories feature that had been popularised by Snapchat and this has even been admitted by the founders of Instagram. It has been another extremely savvy move though as it has proven to be extremely popular with users. The idea has been that many users will not want to post everything to their Instagram wall, but there are features of their day to day life that they will share that disappear. Photos and videos that are shared to a story disappear after 24 hours (like Snapchat) which creates an immediacy for others to watch.

Today, we’re introducing Instagram Stories, a new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile. As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story. With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want. You can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed. You’ll see stories from people you follow in a bar at the top of your feed — from your best friends to your favorite popular accounts. When there’s something new to see, their profile photo will have a colorful ring around it. To view someone’s story, just tap on their profile photo. It’s easy to view stories at your own pace: tap to go back and forward or swipe to jump to another person’s story. If you want to comment on something you see, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct. Unlike regular posts, there are no likes or public comments. Your story follows the privacy settings of your account. If you set your account to private, your story is visible only to your followers. However, you can also easily hide your entire story from anyone you don’t want to see it, even if they follow you. When watching your own story, swipe up to check out who’s seen each photo and video. You can even choose to feature a particular part of your story by posting it on your profile. Instagram has always been a place to share the moments you want to remember. Now you can share your highlights and everything in between, too. Instagram Stories will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks on iOS and Android. To learn more, check out help.instagram.com.

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According to Facebook, the owners of Instagram, there are now 250 million daily users of Instagram Stories. This stands to reason considering there are now over 700 million total users of the app which means around one third of all users are uploading to their daily story. Instagram Stories is brilliant for increasing engagement on the app because it encourages users to post daily to their story, even if they feel these photos and images aren’t worthy of their actual Instagram feed. When the accounts that a user followers, either individuals or brands, updates their story this will appear at the top of their home feed, plus also intermittently throughout the feed with the caption “Don’t Miss These Stories. They disappear after 24 hours.” This creates an immediacy which is perfect for brands, because there is the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

Travel brands can tap into this by create stories of their product such as the activities offered at their resort or fun interviews with their staff. Because Instagram Stories disappear they don’t need to be as filtered as a post on the normal Instagram feed, making them appear more authentic which users are increasingly interested in; the authenticity of your brand. This feature of Instagram has been a game changer and has a whole host of other features making it a brilliant tool for brands such as GeoFilters which can be added to show where the story is appearing from.

Today we’re excited to announce two new ways to discover the world around you on Explore: location stories and hashtag stories. Now you can see what’s happening around you and find stories related to your interests. You’ll see a new story ring at the top of Explore filled with stories happening near you. You can also search for any location around the world, and you’ll see a story ring for that place at the top of the location page. We’re also beginning to introduce hashtag stories on Explore. When you search for a hashtag, you may see a story ring at the top of the page filled with stories using that hashtag. Add a location sticker or hashtag to your story and you may be included in the larger story. If you want to use a location or hashtag sticker but don’t want your story to appear on Explore, tap the X on your stories viewer list. From discovering new parts of your hometown to jogging alongside the #fromwhereirun community, location and hashtag stories help you share these experiences as they unfold. To learn more about location stories and hashtag stories, check out help.instagram.com. Location stories on Explore are available on iOS and Android as part of Instagram version 10.22 in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Hashtag stories will be rolling out over the coming weeks.

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Stories now appear when you search on Instagram for Tags or Places. This means for example if your resort brand is posting a story from a specific location such as Barcelona then this will appear as part of the story at the top of the Tags and Places, resulting in a greater potential audience for your brand, as people discover the world around them.

Brands on Instagram

If your travel brand is not using Instagram, then quite simply you are way behind the times, as there are 8 Million brands using business profiles on Instagram, and there are also now 1 Million monthly active advertisers which is up from 200,000 in March 2016. Once again staggering growth is being shown by the company which begs the question if your brand is not currently using it, why not? As the company states “The community rallies around passions. People come to Instagram to follow their passions, from travel and fashion to food, entertainment and everything in between. And those passions extend to brands, with 80% of Instagrammers following a business today.” If your travel brand is not actively posting and engaging on Instagram then it is missing out on a global audience of over 700 million users, the majority of whom follow brands on the platform.

Tuesday morning #coffee with a view! Have a great week!

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If you are still on the fence as to whether Instagram is useful for your brand, you only have to look at the statistics to see that this is where your audience is. Of course Facebook boasts 2 billion users, but many of these are not active, with many in their teens or twenties either not being a member or never posting. This isn’t to say Instagram is only for younger people though, with individuals from almost every age group having a profile.

With so many new features having been added and the app makers continuing to innovate, the possibilities to reach and engage with your audience continues to grow. This doesn’t just have to include your marketing team uploading to Instagram but also encouraging your followers to post and using Influencer Marketing. For example a hotel or resort should invite travel influencers to come and stay, promoting their resort and destination via their Instagram profile.

If you found this article useful and/or interesting then please share on social media using #RDOdigital to join the conversation. Also we’d love to hear any thoughts you have about Instagram marketing and any tips you have.