Instagram has been a prime marketing app for the hospitality industry since it launched.
The main obstacle with Instagram is that it had to be maintained almost exclusively via mobile, making it potentially difficult to roll engagement strategy into that of other social networks that can be managed in tandem via desktop.
Users could view photos on a computer as well as like or comment, but they couldn’t upload photos directly (without the assistance of a third-party platform), and they couldn’t search directly for photos that people may be posting at their venue.
Last week, that changed! Instagram announced it brought its search functionality to desktop. A search bar was added for users logging into the Instagram homepage that allows them to search for a hashtag or location result.
Starting today, you can search people, places and hashtags on web. pic.twitter.com/kadwSZd8xt
— Instagram (@instagram) July 20, 2015
This is vastly helpful for a hotel or restaurant’s social media manager to be able to more seamlessly locate content happening on-site. Although it’s easy to check a hashtag and/or set up notifications when your business is tagged in an Instagram photo, I’ve noticed many don’t optimize the geo-tag functionality as much as they could be, and this update makes it easier to do so.
As an example, I conducted a desktop-based search for Oak Grill, a local restaurant in Orange County. The drop-down gives me the option to search for people/tags who mentioning Oak Grill’s Instagram account; people who’ve checked in at the restaurants; or people who’ve used the hashtag.
Now, a marketing manager can conduct a search seamlessly on Instagram while on their computer, and interact with users. Liking photos and commenting on them, thanking people for visiting, leaving specific comments on peoples’ experiences, etc.
In looking at the photos of people who have checked in, there are numerous options. And when you click on a photo to explore further, most of them don’t contain the hashtag or tag the restaurant itself, so these photos may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
The odds are, if you have an exciting venue, people are checking in there and taking pictures. Before, you’d have to locate a picture of someone who checked in, and then, from there, you could click on their location and see the other photos also checked in at the same location.
Since you can now more seamlessly find and interact with patrons’ photos, there are more opportunities to create distinct relationships with current customers and, hopefully, enhance brand loyalty.
This isn’t the first noteworthy update Instagram has rolled out in the past few months.
In June, the photo-sharing up also debuted a completely redesigned Search and Explore experience. This made is easier for users to discover new content (as opposed to strictly viewing their friends’ content, or content of only those they follow).
Trending hashtags, trending places, and featured photo/video collections now have much more prominent placement when a user accesses Instagram.
“Wherever something is happening, chances are you can see it here,” Instagram noted in their blogpost announcing the update. “With the new Places Search, you can now peer in at just about any location on earth, allowing you to scout out your next vacation spot in the South Pacific, get a look inside that hot new restaurant or experience your favorite music festival even if you couldn’t make it this year.”
While the previously-mentioned update supplies fuel for nurturing current customer relationships and encouraging loyalty, this one is great for attracting new guest and customers.
In examining the update to the Explore section, there are some exciting opportunities here as well. Previously, the only content a user would see in their Explore tab was content that had accumulated the Explore area. Last year, they expanded this when they began including personalized content like photos and videos that people users’ follow liked.
This new update expands upon this even further by showcasing trending tags and places. The trending places feature offers photos from locations that are currently trending, or have a lot of photos being taken there currently.
To stimulate your hotel showing up in this section, it’d be perfect to host an event and encourage attendees to post on Instagram and tag the hotel.
Essentially, Instagram is casting a wider net with regard to what Instagram users are being able to see within the app. They initially placed focused on having users see content relevant to what and who they were following, but now, they can see overarching trending content as well.
If a brand can permeate the barrier and become trending, rather it be the venue itself, or a specific campaign, there can be huge opportunities for hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues to reach a new audience.