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Instagram for Tourism Marketing: How to Boost Likes, Views and Visitors in 2019 [report]

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instagram tourism marketing research

If you’re involved with travel and tourism marketing, you need to be on Instagram. In fact, 60% of millennial travelers on social media are active on Instagram, and 48% of Instagram users use the app to find new travel destinations and places to explore*.

60% of millennial travelers on social media are active on Instagram, and 48% of Instagram users use the app to find new travel destinations and places to explore Click To Tweet

Why Tourism Marketers Need an Instagram Strategy

Travel and Instagram are so synonymous that Instagram recently released features that allow businesses to add “Book” and “Reserve” buttons to their feeds. See a photo, then book a vacation — all within one experience.

As Instagram continues to add features, travel brands must evolve their content strategies or risk getting left behind. In-feed booking, carousel multi-image posts, Instagram Stories, swipe up shopping/web links and robust advertising options have all been a boon to tourism and location-based brands, offering more ways to reach and engage travelers. Instagram’s influence on decision-making reinforces that consumers continue to have an appetite for imagery.

Why We Created This Report

tourism marketing research catGiven how important Instagram is to our tourism clients’ social strategies, we dove deep into analyzing what works and doesn’t work for tourism brands on Instagram. We are releasing our findings in our latest research report, “Instagram for Tourism Marketing: How States Are Amping Up Their Marketing“.

With the help of Crowdriff and data collected through Rival IQ, Convince & Convert reviewed the Instagram feeds of all 50 U.S. states (plus Washington, D.C.), run by their state tourism offices for the first half of 2018 (January 1–June 30). We analyzed every part of the Instagram account, including Stories, campaign activations, aesthetics, and subject matter of their posts. With more than 7,000 posts shared by 49 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. (Not a typo: One state still doesn’t use Instagram!), there was plenty of content for us to analyze — not to mention the use of Stories, Highlights, and IGTV.

From this research, we identified markers of excellence and opportunities for tourism brands who need to level up their Instagram game. 

While this research focused on tourism marketing and the Instagram accounts for U.S. state tourism offices, many of the findings and best practices apply to other industries as well. Whether you’re in tourism or tech, you’ll find the research useful.

Download the full 19-page report to see everything, including:

  • How many states are promoting contests and giveaways, and which state has run the most contests (the answer will surprise you)
  • The 7 most common elements of successful Instagram posts for tourism marketing
  • The most engaging kind of Instagram photo  — 96% of the most-engaging posts included this!
  • A proven recipe for a can’t-miss, engaging Instagram post for tourism

Below are my top 3 favorite findings from “Instagram for Tourism Marketing: How States Are Amping Up Their Marketing“.

1. User-Generated Content Tops the List of Most-Engaging Posts

Of the top 100 most engaging posts we reviewed, all but eight (92%) were user-generated content re-published by the state’s account. Wow! If UGC isn’t part of your tourism marketing mix, it better be now.

user generated content instagram
Travel Alaska is successfully leveraging UGC as part of their Instagram tourism marketing.
92% of the top 100 most engaging Instagram posts by state tourism accounts are user-generated content re-published by the state’s account. #UGC Click To Tweet

2. #PureMichigan is the Most-Used Official State Hashtag

Makes you want to see what’s so beautiful about the Great Lakes region, doesn’t it?

All but one of the 50 states have an official, branded hashtag like #PureMichigan, and only two of the 49 official promoted hashtags do not include the state name or abbreviation (#dfmi = Nevada and #almostheaven = West Virginia).

state tourism hashtag instagram


#PureMichigan is the most-used official state hashtag on Instagram. #tourismmarketing Click To Tweet

3. South Dakota Tops the List for Engagement with a 5.25% Engagement Rate Per Post

Mazel! South Dakota might be sparsely populated, but fans of the Mount Rushmore state are loyal and active. South Dakota earned a 5.25% average engagement rate per post, beating out Alaska (4.93%), New York (3.04%) and Virginia (2.39%).

states higher average engagement rate instagram

South Dakota instagram engagement
With posts this cute, are you really surprised by South Dakota’s steller engagement rate?

Increase Visitors, Bookings and Appointments with a Brilliant Instagram Strategy

These are just a few of my favorite facts and findings from the report. Download the entire report now to see the data you need to improve your Instagram efforts in 2019.

Comments on the report? Email me. I’d love to hear what you think!

Next month, we’ll discuss how to run contests on Instagram for tourism. Stay tuned.

*source: MMGY Global’s “Portrait of American Travelers 2018-19

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