How to Use Instagram to Market Your Short-term Rental Property

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From the boom in popularity of Instagram Stories, to the recent expansion of advertising opportunities—it’s a good time to be using Instagram for business. Instagram has over 700 million monthly active users, less competition and a more engaged audience than other social media giants like Facebook or Twitter (sources: Statista, ecommerceCEO).

This presents hosts with an opportunity to market their place or space to a more targeted and interested audience without spending an enormous amount of money on paid advertising. As of January 2018, Instagram's API has changed to allow users to publish photos to an Instagram Business Profile using a third party platform, making it even easier for brands to take advantage of all Instagram has to offer.

How can you get the most out of Instagram marketing? If you don’t already have one, setting up an Instagram for business account is easy. Download the Instagram app (from the App Store for iOS, from the Google Play store for Android, or from the Windows Phone Store for a Windows device). Once the app is installed on your phone, tap to open it. Tap Sign Up, then enter your email address and tap Next (or you can tap Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account). Within the app, find settings, then scroll down to Switch to Business Account. Once you have a business account, you can add in important information like business hours, address, and a phone number.

Instagram is all about the visuals, so aim to build a cohesive and recognizable brand identity. Here are a few ways to do that. Since your goal is to get Instagram users to stop scrolling once they see your image (in order to engage with it by liking or commenting), the more instantly recognizable your photos are, the better.

Visually, you’ll need to decide what content your posts will focus on. In a hosts case, the content will be your property but also what is happening in your area such as events, markets, places to see things to do and where to eat and drink. Instagram may be all about captivating visual content, but don’t neglect the captions that go along with each photo—they present a big opportunity for your business to tell a story. You can add up to 10 photos and videos to a single Instagram post, giving users the opportunity to swipe through and see each individual piece of content.

Identify influential people on Instagram that are relevant to your brand or industry, and begin building a relationship. Give them control of your account for a day for a takeover, or inquire about supplying them with sponsored content for their own account. This could pay off big time as they expose your brand to their large Instagram community.

Use hashtags to expand your reach. These can be campaign specific or general - all that’s important is that they are relevant. Make sure to also set up your main company hashtag (#yourbrandname), and use it sparingly across Instagram (Twitter is good too). This makes it easier for people to find content related to you as well as your main account. It’s best practice to use between three to five hashtags, despite the fact that the maximum you can add is 30 per Instagram post.

Instagram is one of the strongest social media channels for highlighting collaborators and sharing customer success stories. Another technique involves the use of 'shout-outs'. An unpaid shout-out is when you partner with another brand that has roughly the same number of followers as you to promote each other to your audiences and you both benefit from increased exposure. Social media management tools can help, though. You can use them not only to schedule your Instagram campaigns in advance but also use social media analytics to measure their success. Make sure to regularly measure your follower count, engagement and clicks, all to refine and improve your strategy.

With the ability for hosts to collaborate with other businesses the AirRentalz platform is a great place to begin your marketing together with others and develop a combined Instagram marketing program. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. This also serves true for sharing the costs, working with others reduces your individual cost, so it time to start marketing.

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