There’s no question that since Facebook acquired Instagram last year, the photography app has evolved from an emerging platform favored by hip celebrities and hip rich kids, to a social media mainstay, right alongside Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Recently announcing that it now has 80 million regular users, Instagram has also become wildly popular with brands, whose products/services benefit from the strong visual focus and its simple, stream-lined, low-maintenance format. Hotel brands, in particular, have been drawn to Instagram. In our recently released third-annual Digital IQ Index: Hotels study, we found that since last year, hotel brands’ presence on the platform has increased by more than fourfold  — from 19 percent to 82 percent.

 

As you can see in the graphic below (click for greater detail), Hotel community sizes on Instagram are nowhere near what they are on other social networks. In fact, the average number of Instagram followers for the 57 Hotel brands included in our study is just 900, significantly smaller than Facebook’s often 100K+ and Twitter’s often 10K+ fanbases. Despite its limited reach, brands continue to contribute regularly to Instagram and to integrate the platform into promotions. Why? Because Instagram’s audience is desirable, and because a strong presence on Instagram aligns well with their brand profile.

Some brands, like Shangri-La and the Four Seasons, have even promoted hashtags on Instagram (#lovingthemoment and #FSFotog, respectively), encouraging guests to submit their own photos to the feed. This strategy not only better connects guests to the hotel brand and hotel experience, but also populates the page with great, user-generated content at little to no cost.

 

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