By Darral Wilson, Director, Solutions Consulting EMEA, Kenshoo
Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks, with over 400 million members. Being mobile-based means it works perfectly in a world increasingly dominated by smartphones and tablets, providing an opportunity for users to instantly share and view images of the world around them.
Its visually driven experience also makes Instagram particularly relevant to travel, with a large proportion of photos being holiday or trip related. It has powerful location tagging features and geographical search, reinforcing its appeal to those looking to pick their next holiday destination.
No wonder a recent survey found that 48% of Instagram users use the app to help them choose travel destinations, while 35% use it to discover new places.
All of this is driving increased marketing activity around the photo sharing site, particularly when it comes to advertising, with some analysts believing Instagram could reach ad revenues of $1 billion by 2017. Kenshoo figures for Q4 2015 saw a 50% year-on-year growth in ad spending on social networks, with Instagram highlighted as one of the key factors driving the increase.
So how can travel marketers, already juggling campaigns on paid search, Facebook and other publishers, add Instagram to the mix? The good news is that Instagram’s owner, Facebook, is committed to making advertising simple and straightforward – essentially any campaign you can run on Facebook, you can run on Instagram.
Here’s a quick guide on how to get started and get the maximum from your investment as it grows:
What adverts are available?
There are two types of Instagram ads:
Page Post ads – these drive people to click through to your website, driving conversions, and engagement. They can be static images or short videos, both of which lend themselves well to travel.
Make sure you focus heavily on the visual experience – use it to transport the audience to your beachfront resort or show the food or accommodation you offer in glorious technicolour. Since video defaults to sound off in the feed, it is important to ensure your content is equally attention grabbing on mute.
App Ads – Mobile App Install (MAI) ads encourage people to engage with you by downloading your app. Use ads to tell a visual story, and highlight the benefits that your app will bring to travellers in order to engage your audience and generate new downloads.
Both of these types of ads can contain a single image, a carousel of up to 10 images that the user moves between by swiping, or videos –which can now last up to 60 seconds.
How can you reach your audiences?
Instagram offers the same targeting options that Facebook provides, so you can segment your audience by demographics, geography, language, interest, and behaviour. As with Facebook you can create Lookalike audiences – i.e. targeting people that are similar to your existing customers and are consequently more likely to be receptive to your messages.
Hashtags are another tool that you can use to help be a part of particular conversations so your ads reach your target audiences. Instagram users tend to attach lots of hashtags to their posts and using the right ones in your ads provides another opportunity to help your brand make a connection with relevant audiences.
Popular travel related hashtags include #travelthursday and #wonderlust, but you should spend some time researching others that are relevant to your brand and its offerings.
How to structure your campaigns?
There are a number of best practices to follow if you want to gain maximum value from Instagram. Here are 3 key ones:
• If your adverts are aiming to deliver people to your website, make sure your landing pages are mobile optimised.
• Compare uptake of your adverts on different devices and operating systems, balancing budgets to get the best result.
• Create campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram to increase overall performance. Play to their respective strengths – use Instagram for visual inspiration and Facebook for personal discovery.
What content works?
The key to creating adverts that will drive engagement is to fit in with the ethos of the site, and the type of content it already contains.
Evoke emotion through inspirational visuals and short copy that people can relate to, and keep a consistent message running through all creative. Otherwise your ads will simply not stand out. Instagram is a photo sharing site, so aim to create personal connections between your brand and your audience by ensuring your ads are authentic, rather than generic.
Don’t use stock images! You want to inspire people and transport them to your destination and make them want to find out more.
How can you scale campaigns?
While Instagram advertising can be managed through the same interface as Facebook campaigns, for larger travel companies, running multiple campaigns over multiple channels, it makes sense to consider using a third-party platform.
This increases efficiency and improves results as you can create holistic campaigns that span different publishers, enabling them to work together and making it simple to attribute results and balance budgets. It also saves time as you can schedule basic tasks, such as routine bid adjustments, all from one place.
Instagram provides the perfect opportunity for travel brands to better engage with their audiences – it is visual, populated by users keen to travel and share, and fits today’s mobile lifestyles.
Getting started in Instagram advertising is simple and straightforward, particularly if you already use Facebook or a third-party management platform, and can deliver impressive results that boost your travel business.