Getting Started with Instagram for Tour Operators
With its visual nature and an ever-increasing number of users, Instagram is the perfect social media platform for tour and activity operators. It currently has more than 1 billion active accounts every month (Instagram), and it’s one of the biggest online sources of travel inspiration, especially among millennial travelers. When planning a vacation, 67% of travelers look to Instagram for inspiration, and 40% of millennials consider “Instagrammability” — how visually striking and photogenic a location is — when deciding where they want to spend their vacation.
As a tour or activities business, you should be on Instagram to provide your customers with another platform to find your business and learn more about your tours. Photos and videos showing how much fun people have while participating in your tours or activities are a great selling point for potential customers, and you can use the platform to market your business to new audiences. This step-by-step guide will walk you through getting started with Instagram so you can start posting photos of your tours today!
Step 1: Set up your business account.
If you’re new to the platform, the first step is to create an account. Instagram was designed as a mobile-first app, so you’ll need to download the app to your smartphone to get started. Once you have the app downloaded, select “Sign Up” to create your account.
At this stage, you can either log in with your existing Facebook account or create an account from scratch with your email address or phone number. Next, switch to a business account by going to your Account Settings and selecting the “Switch to Business Profile” option.
At this step, you’re asked to log into your business’s Facebook page (of which you need to be an admin) if you have one, then select the information you want Instagram to pull from your Facebook profile, like your email address, phone number, and address. It’s not necessary to link to a Facebook page, but if you’re planning to create Instagram ads, you will have to link it, as all ads are created through Facebook. If you don’t have an associated Facebook page, you can manually add the information.
Switching to a business profile allows you to get analytics about your followers and post engagement. You’ll have inside information about likes, saved posts, impressions, reach, and comments, which helps define what works best for your business.
Make sure you keep all information about your business up to date on your profile, including business name, a brief bio (keep this short and sweet, feel free to get creative, and even use emojis to establish your brand’s personality), and a link to your website. Explore all the options a business profile affords you, like call-to-action buttons, contact information, and categories to make the most of your profile.
Step 2: Align your Instagram goals with your marketing strategy.
Because you’re using social media as a marketing tool for your business, it’s important to align it with your overall digital marketing strategy. Before you start posting, think about who your audience is and what type of content they’re interested in.
Spend time exploring the platform and browsing hashtags such as #travelinspiration #[your city], and anything that relates to your business. This will give you an idea of what others are posting about and engaging with as well as what kinds of posts work well with your target audience.
It’s a good idea to create a content calendar for your overall marketing strategy and see where Instagram fits in. Most businesses post multiple times a day on Instagram, so rather than stressing every day about what to post next, plan out multiple posts in advance so you always feel like you’re a step ahead. Some ideal posting times to keep in mind when planning your content calendar:
- Friday, Tuesday, and Monday are the most active days.
- Posting between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. can get more eyes on your posts.
Step 3: Post engaging content.
Content is what it’s all about. The key to Instagram success is visually striking images and video — 58% of consumers prefer visual-first content, which is what makes Instagram such a popular platform. People want to see content that is beautiful, intriguing, or exciting. Imagine your ideal customer scrolling through their Instagram feed. What’s going to make them stop and engage with your posts?
Our industry is inherently visual. Whether your offer kayaking, skydiving, food tours, wine tastings, axe throwing, street art tours, crafting classes, or anything in between, there are plenty of exciting photo and video opportunities to take advantage of. Start snapping away! Ask your guides to take fun photos and videos during each tour, always be on the lookout for great shots, and ask your customers to share their photos and tag you so you can start building up a backlog of photos and videos to share.
As you’re posting, keep in mind the aesthetic and personality you’re creating for your brand. As people scroll through your feed, they should be able to easily get an idea of what type of business you are, whether it’s a laid back surf shop or a luxury cruise line.
Lastly, be sure to use hashtags to reach audiences beyond your follower base. Hashtags like #[your city]foodies, #wanderlust, #travelinspiration, #vacationlife, etc. help new people discover your business, and it’s a great way to get more likes and new followers.
Step 4: Connect with users, brands, and influencers.
The point of any social media platform is to create a sense of community with your customers and beyond. To increase your Instagram presence, follow other businesses in your industry, connect with businesses in your area, and follow influencers relevant to your industry.
One way to find who to follow is to monitor hashtags related to your industry to discover the regular posters who get a lot of engagement. If there are influencers who are a good fit with your brand, start engaging with them and think about creative ways to work with them to further your reach.
It’s also important to engage with your existing customer base. Respond to their comments on your posts, comment on their posts when they mention you, and stay active within your online community!
Step 5: Experiment with different features.
Your photo and video posts are just one part of the puzzle. Instagram often rolls out new features that offer new ways to engage with your followers. Start experimenting with features like Stories, IGTV, and whatever Instagram rolls out next to find what works for your business.
Focus on the posts you planned out as part of your marketing strategy in your main feed, and try out fun posts on Stories to see what your followers engage with. Because Stories only last for 24 hours, it’s a pretty low-stakes place to try out new things. Experiment with filters, make fun short videos, create polls or trivia, and more.
Instagram also allows you to promote your posts when you’re willing to pay to reach a wider audience, and it offers other features like linking to products from your posts, ads in Stories, and more. If you have the budget for some Instagram ads, work these into your digital strategy and start testing them out.
Social media is constantly evolving, so even though new features can be a little intimidating, it’s important to test out every aspect of the platform. You never know when you might have a breakthrough!
Step 6: Measure your success.
The only way to improve your Instagram strategy is to measure your results. Luckily, Instagram for Business offers analytics and insights to help you understand your overall strategy and your audience so you can learn from your successes. Learn more about setting goals and KPIs on our digital marketing strategy guide.
Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms today. Your customers expect you to have an account, and having a social media presence can help establish you as a trustworthy company. Get started on your Instagram account today, and expand your social media reach! Ready for the next platform? Discover our other social media guides!