#VAOutdoors: How Travel Brands Are Using Instagram To Grow

#VAOutdoors Instagram campaign

Screenshot: Instagram.com

Instagram is a natural platform for hotels, hospitality companies, and travel destinations. After all, few things can convey the charm and appeal of a specific place better than a picture. Whether you’re talking about the sweeping Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, a white sand beach and turquoise bay in Antigua, or the wildness of an African safari, a few choice images can transport viewers to the location and evoke a strong desire to visit there personally. A number of destinations are combining the power of image-driven social networks and social video to help engage visitors, while amplifying their marketing. Here’s a closer look at how travel brands are successfully using platforms like Instagram and several strategic points to keep in mind to make your own campaign a success.

#VAOutdoors: An Instagram Campaign

During the month of June, the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) launched the #VAOutdoors campaign on Twitter. The campaign goal was to celebrate Great Outdoors Month, and encourage people to get outside and take pictures of their adventures. User generated content that was posted using the hashtag #VAOutdoors had a chance of being shared and spotlighted on the VTC’s blog, social channels, and websites. VTC also challenged members of the state’s hospitality community to sponsor meetups on a specific date during the month. To provide inspiration, VTC developed a series of weekly calls to action or challenges to help get users participating, including:

June 3: Get out to Virginia’s many awe-inspiring overlooks and breathtaking landscapes.
June 10: Navigate Virginia’s scenic rivers, lakes and beaches; or discover a new waterfall.
June 17: Share outdoor gems with friends or find a local outfitter and experience something new.
June 20: Statewide InstaMeet challenge
June 24: This week is all about campfires, s’mores, tents, friends and family.

The #VAOutdoors campaign does several things well. It was anchored around a larger event to help increase interest and visibility, without feeling contrived. They partnered with organizations and influencers to help further expand participation. By creating a natural hook, there was a clear incentive to boost participation and get audiences engaged. With subject matter that was naturally visual – from the Shenandoah National Park to the Appalachian Trail – asking people to participate in the process wasn’t a stretch.

How Travel Brands Can Leverage Visual Social Media

Successful travel brands can find new audiences, grow their visual marketing and much more through the strategic use of platforms like Instagram. Here are some considerations to help make your campaign more successful:

Leverage the power of user generated content: Everyone loves travel, and people across mainstream audiences are interested in discovering new destinations. Engaging travelers and visitors to become your brand’s ambassadors is a powerful way to generate modern word of mouth marketing. User generated content campaigns can also help create a deeper relationship between visitors and your destination – and provide fresh creative takes and insights on what visitors enjoy most.

Find a natural hook or theme: One of the things that the #VAOutdoors campaign does well is finds a natural hook to anchor the campaign around. By linking up the campaign with Great Outdoors Month, the process felt more fun and less contrived. Building in weekly challenges is an easy way to inspire people to take part, without leaving them struggling to figure out how to get started.

Use a dedicated hashtag: Using a dedicated hashtag for organizing your campaign makes it easier to streamline both the administration and participation sides of your promotional effort. Choose a hashtag that’s short, relevant and easy to remember – and one that ideally promotes your brand as well.

Work with social media influencers: One of the most important ways to add rocket fuel to your Instagram campaign is to work with influencers. An influencer marketing campaign can help you connect with highly visible users that are passionate about travel, knowledge about your destination, and engaged with an audience who is going to be interested in your content. Whether you’re seeking eco-minded tourists for a rural getaway or fashion conscious followers for VIP Vegas experience, influencer marketing campaigns can be one of the fastest and most effective ways to expand your reach.

Offer incentives: The #VAOutdoors campaign used the possibility of sharing content with a wider audience to encourage participation. Other campaigns use incentives. For example, HotelQuickly recently did a campaign that encouraged users to create and post their own brand-related memes. The winner received a $20 voucher for participating. Take the time to understand your audience and determine whether incentives can further drive campaign success.

Partner with a knowledgeable team: Running a successful Instagram campaign for your audience will be easier with the right partners in place. Working with a group like fullbottle will help ensure that every aspect of your campaign – from influencer selection to developing a distribution strategy – is carefully crafted and flawlessly executed.

Are you ready to learn more about how influencer marketing can help your hospitality brand achieve its goals? Contact fullbottle today to learn more about our services and solutions.


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