How to monetize Instagram
How to monetize Instagram
13 MAY 2015 7:40 AM

Instagram is finally allowing companies the ability to link to an e-commerce store. This represents a huge new monetization opportunity for hotels. Here’s how to take advantage.

Instagram brings in an estimated 300 million active users per month, reaches a young audience and also represents a new marketing avenue for hotels. 
Many users of Instagram consider Facebook their parents’ social media site and is often viewed negatively for its invasion of privacy. While Instagram was purchased for $1 billion in 2012 by Facebook, that hasn’t yet tainted the image of the platform. This of course might change as the company works to steadily increase the amount of advertisements within the application.
Brands have moved to embrace Instagram but struggle to convert the medium into revenues. Not as effective as tools such as email or pay per click, companies still would like to benefit from the daily traffic counts that still remain free in a world where every click needs to be purchased. The hurdle: Instagram only allows one link. Given this format, most have used the medium to increase brand awareness and keep in front of its customers with beautiful images.
Instagram has announced its ad campaigns would finally allow for users to link to an e-commerce store. According to Adweek, Banana Republic was the first to try the latest addition to the platform. More changes are planned.
Conrad Hotels seems to be an early adopter to begin monetizing its account’s page. While the company has a modest following so far on the platform, that hasn’t stopped it from attempting to increase social media revenues. 
Curalate effectively takes the sole link you are allowed in Instagram’s bio and directs visitors into a mirror of the brand’s Instagram feed with two tabbed versions: one for all images from their feed, and the second is a tab of all of the photos the user who navigated to the mirrored site has liked. 
On the mirrored site users can then click the photo they liked most, and Conrad navigates its users to the home page of the Conrad property it had marketed in the photo. While this approach is soft, it is well ahead of the pack.
Each Instagram post reminds followers of the bio link as the call to action prompting users who really like what they see to navigate to the Instagram brand page and then click the sole link over to the portal. Conrad simply says, “Tap the link in our profile to reserve your stay.”
While most hotels might not have the traffic from an Instagram feed to justify such a campaign, there are many brands that could duplicate this effort. Correctly monetizing Instagram after implementation is another task. While analyzing Conrad Hotels’ program, my team was surprised there weren’t any specials or packages offered, and there weren’t any guest interactions either. 
There are an increasing number of stores that are incorporating their followers’ Instagram photos. Hoteliers could easily copy this strategy by using guests’ Instagram photos of specific room types alongside their professionally photographed room photos. 
Instagram’s terms of service state you cannot host these photos within your company’s site; they must be displayed from the Instagram URL. Also, ensure it is clear you intend to use photos tagged with your brand on your hotel’s website to your audience. Use unique hashtags such as #brandsuitelife so guests can indicate their interest.
As the travel industry’s awareness of the importance of effective use of all digital mediums to gain direct revenue increases, digital advertising departments will get their fair share of the budget they deserve and we will begin to see even more of these types of campaigns. With 68% of the top 100 brands on Instagram, watch to see everyone else adopt the platform and use new techniques to drive revenue and social proof.
Sam Trotter is portfolio eCommerce Manager at Boutique Hospitality Management. Besides focusing on website revenues, Sam dives into how technology can positively influence a hotel's business. A self-confessed data junky, Sam Trotter provides news and analysis on website design, applications, marketing programs and other digital trends that are or will affect a hotel's business. To continue the dialogue or for the latest technology news that impacts your hotel, follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn
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