Maintaining social media channels is an important part of marketing today, especially in the B2C sector. 33% of millenials identify social media as one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses. In fact, Instagram is the number one social media app for engagement with restaurant brands. The hospitality industry has an advantage in the social media realm because it is filled with exquisite resorts and delectable food that people want to look at, experience, and taste. On average, 30% of 18-35 year olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and ‘30 percent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.’ Ben Walton, Founder of Ben’s Canteen explains, “In the old days you wanted people to say nice things about you but word of mouth has evolved. If you want people to say nice things about you now, you have to make sure your dishes look good.”

Credit: We Are Social and Hootsuite

Basic Instagram business practices require choosing an aesthetic or theme for the page. The aesthetic should match the brand personality and other media (website). As a B2C business, typically showcasing the service and increasing customer engagement/loyalty is the goal. “A successful social media strategy is one that reaches the right people at the right time with the right context to inspire conversations and encourage interactions. Being relevant and effective is the name of the game in social,” says Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of SocialBakers. It is critical to have eye-catching content on a consistent basis to keep the story going. Having a good balance of content is also a good idea – switching between photos, video, boomerangs, etc.

Putting a location, or geotag, can introduce businesses to people in the area searching for a good place to eat or somewhere new to adventure to. Posts with a location receive 79% higher engagement than posts without. Using a hashtag or several can also reach new people looking for #eats #hospitality or #luxury. Instagram uses these hashtags to categorize content and make searches easier. We recommend utilizing branded hashtags. The branded hashtag is created by the brand, typically has something to do with the culture or goals of the brand and can easily connect to users sharing brand content. St. Regis Hotels, for example, uses #LiveExquisite on all their posts and includes the hashtag in their bio so guests know to use it as well. Additionally, posting content at the right time of day is important; weekdays at 3pm are best and Monday gets the most engagement out of the week.

Notice that the hashtag with the highest average daily posts is arguably the most unoriginal branded tag. Going through UGC with such tags turns up some hotel content but a lot of it is unrelated to the brand. Intercontinental receives the least daily tagged posts but all posts are brand related, making it worthwhile to create a unique hashtag.

Having good social media can showcase and strengthen the brand, form and strengthen guest relationships and reach new guests like never before. Finding the right aesthetic to match brand personality, using a good balance of photo and video posts, using geotags and branded hashtags, and posting at the right time are all helpful tips to get the most use out of the brands’ channels as possible.