Instagram Stories is quickly becoming the go-to platform for savvy marketers. This Snapchat-like feature has seen tremendous growth since launching in 2016, with more than 400 million daily active users.
Instagram Stories has a more raw and playful feel than traditional Instagram posts, allowing marketers to engage followers in a more natural way. While the stories used to disappear after 24 hours, Instagram now allows you to archive stories on your profile as highlights.
That said, because stories only exist for 24 hours as a default, they’re generally better at helping to build urgency around offers, thus triggering immediate response to content.
With that in mind, here are five ways you can use Instagram Stories to market your hotel, engage more followers, build your brand persona, and drive more bookings.
1. Go behind the scenes
One of the standout features of stories is the ability to provide your followers with a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your hotel. This gives you a chance to show your followers the most fascinating inner workings of your operation, which can help create a feeling of intimacy and showcase a more personal side to your hotel.
How to make use of this feature? Show your head chef prepping gourmet dishes during a busy evening dinner service. Film your bar staff whipping up the perfect cocktail. Or reveal how your housekeeping go the extra mile to meticulously prepare guest rooms before each new arrival.
Stories are limited to 15 seconds in length, so you’ll need to think creatively. But that’s still plenty of time to give your followers a unique glimpse of your property that inspires them to book.
2. Get input from your followers
One of the other great features within Instagram Stories is interactive poll sticker, which enables you to easily gather feedback from your followers.
After taking a photo or video, select the “poll” sticker, and then type the question you want to ask. You can use the default yes/no option as the answer, or create your own customized responses. Once your poll has been created, you can see the amount of votes each choice has earned in real time.
Polls are great at generating engagement, while subtly promoting your hotel’s services and destination. Photograph your chef’s most decadent-looking desserts, or your hotel’s most idyllic spots to enjoy the sunset, and then get your followers to pick their favorite.
You might also want to get feedback to help with decision-making. For instance, you could poll your followers to see if they’d appreciate the option of mobile check-in, or whether they’d pay extra to have in-room streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.
Instagram Stories also lets you ask for feedback via an animated “Emoji Slider.”
— Instagram (@instagram) May 10, 2018
This option invites your followers to answer questions using an emoji that slides along a scale, which is a great way to gauge nuance and overall sentiment rather than relying on a simple yes/no-style response.
3. Limited-time promotions
Instagram Stories is increasingly leveraged by businesses as the prime tool for advertising deals and offers to capture and engage an audience who has demonstrated an interest in their brands. In fact, out of the 400 million accounts that use Instagram Stories, one-third of the most-viewed stories come from businesses.
Because the stories only last 24 hours (unless you archive them), any special deals you promote will have a compelling, time-sensitive appeal. The fleeting nature of a too-good-to-miss deal is a powerful tool, adding a sense of urgency that plays on the fear of missing out.
If you want to promote a discount off room rates, you could include a discount code that expires that same day and includes a Swipe Up link to your offer. If you don’t have at least 10,000 followers (a requirement for using the Swipe Up feature), you could invite your audience to direct message your hotel, or click the URL in your Instagram bio.
To generate extra hype around an especially big offer, consider pre-promoting your offer with a series of teaser stories that hint at the prize with a new clue each day.
4. Host a Q&A
Instagram Stories recently launched a questions sticker that lets you ask your followers questions to spark off a conversation and get to know them better. After shooting a video or photo, you choose your sticker from Instagram’s sticker tray and write your question. The question features within your story, and anyone who sees it can answer.
The advantage of this feature compared to the poll sticker is that you can gain more detailed information, since your followers aren’t restricted to two pre-selected answers.
Adding questions to your story is a great way to learn what your followers really want to know about your hotel and destination. Maybe they want to know more about your neighborhood’s dining scene, music venues, or must-visit attractions. Perhaps they want to find out about your hotel’s upcoming events, latest fitness classes,spa services, or recent upgrades.
After collecting the most popular questions, answer them in your stories by interviewing your hotel’s employees, local residents, business owners, or even local influencers.
Alternatively, questions can simply be used to drive brand engagement. For instance, Airbnb’s Travel Tuesday keeps things fun and simple with a weekly question that showcases a global destination.
This all-new questions sticker represents another effective tool to build relationships and inform your audience based on the topics they really care about.
5. Gamify your content
The fun and frivolous nature of Instagram Stories also makes it perfect for gamifying content. During the summer of 2017, Marriott Rewards teamed up with the National Football League (NFL) to give Marriott Rewards members the chance to win unique experiences, such as meeting favorite players, and waking up on the Super Bowl field.
To enter, followers were able to play four games within Instagram Stories based around cornhole, scoring field goals, flicking a coin, and scoring a touchdown.
Recognized at the Shorty Awards, the concept earned Marriott Rewards 13 million impressions and +20% above brand average completion rates.
While this example illustrates a more advanced version of gamification, it’s relatively simple to create photo-based quizzes. Additionally, polls and surveys can easily be gamified to bring out your followers’ competitive streak and heighten engagement.
Take advantage of Instagram Stories
Perhaps more than any other form of social media, Instagram Stories offers an easy way to market your property in a fun and informal way. Instead of slick and polished content, it’s all about keeping things simple and authentic, which in turn makes your brand feel more approachable and showcases your hotel’s unique personality.
If you want to expand your social marketing presence, consider Stories an absolute must. With a well-thought-out strategy, you can engage your audience with compelling content that has the power to boost your online reputation and drive more bookings.