Although Social Media has been around for a while, many Bed and Breakfast owners and innkeepers are still encountering difficulties with effectively utilizing social media platforms like Instagram to promote their businesses. Even though many of us have used social media for years as a personal platform, our inability to harness its true power to promote small businesses like B&Bs leaves us at a tremendous disadvantage. So, lets get to know how to better utilize Instagram; a social media platform that offers us a way to interact directly with past, present, and potential future customers in real time. If used effectively, Instagram can be a game changer for your B&B business. With that in mind, use these 31 Insta-tips and tricks to help hone your skills and harness the power of marketing directly to our base through Instagram (IG)?
1. Keep your Guests happy: When someone shares an image of you in their story, always “re-share” it to your own story so that you appear to be “everywhere at once” and popular. Plus, many times the guest is happy to see they’ve been reshared!
2. Timing is the Key: Answer all messages in a timely manner. Instagram’s algorithm rewards you for your engagement. It’s an interactive platform; therefore, make sure you answer all your comments within 24 hours so that your post has a chance to climb to the top of your chosen hashtags.
3. Create Highlights: Create highlights on your page in categories. From time to time, add to these highlights. The categories should be related to what a guest would want to know or see about your area or property (eg: Photos of food, what to do in your area, key attractions, weddings and special events, etc.).
4. Use Inspirational Imagery: If an image isn’t clear or good, Instagram is not the place for it, just use it for your story rather than for your feed.
5. Increase your Story Engagement: Post to your IG story daily or as often as you like (NOT your feed). Make sure to hide all the hashtags in your story to reach more meaningful engagement. Instagram allows ten hashtags for your story. Drag the hashtags to the bottom of your post and hide these story hashtags with relevant emoticons.
6. Connect: Follow hashtags and share local photographers and visitor’s images as a means to bolster them, and to show off your area. (Eg: #MyArea, #MyTown)
7. Use Quality captions: Not all captions need to be lengthy; always spell check them and stay away from controversial topics. Instagram’s focus is inspirational. So, use quotes, metaphors, interesting and exciting content.
8. Increase your feed’s engagement: Occasionally ask questions in your Story or Feed’s captions for the interaction. Engage your audience by asking questions: 1 or 2. For instance: post two photos of sunsets around your area and ask to comment photo 1 or 2?
9. Use IG contests: These can be super useful for gaining new followers. Collaborate with others for these giveaways and be sure that a follow is part of the terms of winning.
10.Interact with other accounts: Interact with people who follow the hashtags you frequently use, such as #countryInn or #breakfastandabed. This is essential for spreading the word about your B&B.
11. Concentrate on Quality over Quantity: It is better to post quality than over-post with a large number of mediocre images. Use High-resolution images whenever possible.
12. Use Strategic Hashtags: Hashtag separately from your post in a comment after posting. According to Instagram research, most experts with successful accounts strategically use all 30 allowed hashtags. Declutter your caption by adding multiple dots with spaces and then add your hashtags, or simply add your hashtags to your comments. Use some of the hashtags in the caption incorporating it within your caption sentences. (we will do a separate post on hashtags)
13. Use Active Commenting: Respond to all comments and engage in additional comments by asking questions with the ones who already commented in a form of a dialogue. Instagram considers that as an interactive account and rewards you by ranking your post with a higher visibility.
14. Edit Appropriately:Using photo filters excessively may decrease a quality experience; therefore, edit appropriately. Some photos that have gone through multiple filters are difficult to recognize as they look overly distorted and overly saturated.
15.Utilize Collage images: If you choose to use collages, make sure that the content is grouped appropriately, color matched and pleasing. Collages are only effective to convey a certain message or a specific style. It is rather time consuming to perfectly color match collages for them to be visually stunning; therefore, just use multiple images in one posting!
16. Concentrate on Variety and Style: Include a good mixture of images of people vs. landscapes and videos vs. images. To maintain your page design, create your style and ideally stick to your post’s organization. For instance: On Mondays, you can focus on your guests’ photos. On Tuesdays, you can post about your breakfast and recipes. On Wednesdays, you can focus on attractions and experiences around you. On Thursdays, you can post about B&B gardening, etc. Your post theme consistency will boost your engagement since your followers will be looking forward to your new ideas, recipes, and guest stories.
17. Increase your likes: Post less important or less memorable images to your storyrather than to your feed (so as not to annoy followers, which may lead to their unfollowing you). When you post to your feed more than once in 24 hours, you are “splitting” your likes, so keep that in mind.
18. Instagram Analytics: Take a closer look at your analytics and be certain to notice when you get the most likes and post at those times when your followers are more likely to interact and engage with your content. Also, use analytics to check which hashtags attract new profile visitors. By consistently checking your analytics, you can develop Instagram strategies concerning your hashtags, e.g., discover when are the best times to post, or the best times to maximize engagement. Also, check the age demographics. If your posts attract mostly a certain age group without age diversity, make sure to strive to improve your content to reach a more age diverse following.
19. Effective Collaboration: Focus on meaningful symbiotic partnerships. Instead of paying for collaborations, engage with other innkeepers and other B&B owners to feature each other on each other’s pages. It is also a great idea to engage with other small business owners such as flower shops, museums, antique shop owners to promote each other in your town.
20. Watch out for Influencers and Companies that buy “fake” followers! Be careful with influencers, as a lot of Instagram influencers and companies have fake followers. You can go to the following link to check if an influencer has fake bot followers. Go to the following page and see if the company you're dealing with has a fake following: Fake Insta follower Checker Website . Bookmark this page so you can spot fakes like an expert! Breakfastandabed has an outstanding Instagram following, so go to the link, and type in “breakfastandabed.” At the time of this Blog, breakfastandabed showed the following data: 1334 Followers; 6.86% Engagement Rate;44 Likes-comment Ratio; and an 85 out of 100 Estimated audience score. Now, go check out the B&B promotional companies you use and see how they rank, and more importantly, see if someone is pulling the wool over your eyes!
21. Effective Tags and Hashtags: Tags (@) and hashtags (#) are how people who don’t know about you learn about you, so work on a list of hashtags that are useful; keep in mind your analytics, so that they are personalized for your business. Tag businesses such as @breakfastandabed, your local chamber of commerce, and whatever else applies to your B&B.
22. Focus on Local Area Tourism: Search out and utilize often missed hashtags for local area tourism. so not just #XYZ and #XYZaccommodation but also #XYZtourism or similar.
23. Hashtag Popularity and Relevancy: Watch the number that comes up as you type your hashtag in and those flowing. Is the wording of your post achieving the biggest potential number of viewers? The most popular hashtags such as #bedandbreakfast have more than one million posts; so, unless you have thousands of comments under your caption, most likely, your post will be at the bottom of the discovery via that hashtag. Therefore, smaller following hashtags with fewer than 1k posts may bring you more engagement. Focus on niche hashtags such as #breakfastandabed or #realbnb as these are properties that serve breakfast, and this may bring you more engagement since you are interacting with like-minded innkeepers and their followers.
24. Focus on your followers: If someone is following you, go through their followers and follow the individuals with the most potential to be future customers, meaning people, rather than businesses.
25. Niche Hashtags: Use trending hashtags that display your businesses individuality and ability to cater, as a small business, to customers who may have a difficult time in chain hotels. (Eg: #healthytravel #vegantravel #ketotravel #vegetariantravel #glutenfree)
26. Evolve and Adjust: Look at the specific analytics of every post to help see what’s working and what is not. Adjust often and keep evolving rather than doing the same thing every post. Know that your breadth of followers will grow as you adjust to what interests them.
27. Cross Posting: Link your IG to your Facebook so that you do not need to post in both places, the platform does it for you.
28. Schedule your Posts: Use free Apps such as Preview or Later (free) to schedule your posts in advance so that even when you are on vacation or things get hectic your social media platform is not being neglected.
29. Focus on Your IG BIO: Include as much pertinent business info into your short IG bio, especially phone number, email, and direct web address.
30. Boost your post: Even though this is the least recommended strategy. If you do decide to boost a post on IG by paying, go through those who like your image and follow them, take a look at their profile, leave a comment, see if you can grow your following list through interaction.
31. Best Business Category: Be certain to choose the best category for your business when setting up your profile.
What are some of the most useful IG strategies you have found for your business? Please share with us, we’re all learning and looking to expand! Good luck!
Contributed by Tess Donaldson "Darby Field Inn"