Like Facebook and Twitter, many of the world’s biggest brands have flocked to Instagram – especially those involved in tourism.

There’s no denying the fact that Instagram is officially here to stay:

  • Instagram boasts a user base of 200 million users (Source).
  • 55 million photos are uploaded every day, with over 1.3 billion likes (Source).
  • 20 billion photos have been shared on Instagram since it was born (Source).

Let’s take a look at how tour operators can start leveraging this social network.

Who’s using Instagram?

It’s important to know who you’re posting your updates to.

MarketingLand reports that Instagram’s user base is predominantly Gen X & Gen Y, with 69% being between the ages of 18 and 44.

While most users are female, eMarketer predicts that the gender ratio will be 45% male and 55% female by 2016.

How can you set up your profile?

Because Instagram is seeing so many businesses sign up, they’ve created a whole section for businesses on their website. It will give you tips on how to make use of your profile.

Once you have created your profile, it’s time to optimize it, like any other social page you have.

  • Make your logo your profile picture
  • Make your company name your username
  • Include a link to your website in the URL option

For a detailed but easy-to-read infographic on how to perfect your profile, click here.

How can you promote your profile?

Like any other piece of the puzzle, your Instagram account needs to be integrated into your overall social media strategy.

This means you need to:

  • Find ways to tell your customers that it exists, through your email signatures and website.
  • Connect your Instagram account to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, so that your post gets shared on multiple networks.
  • Follow your followers back, and like and comment on their posts.
  • Use popular hashtags and make them relevant. For example. the “throwback Thursday” #tbt tag would make sense with a picture of you in front of your business, when you first launched.
  • Embed followers’ photos and videos on your website (after asking them if it’s OK to use, of course!)
  • Run contests. For example you could tell your past customers to share a photo on instagram with a specific hashtag, with a prize being won every month.
  • Run promotions using codes that are valid only for your Instagram followers.

When it comes to how frequently you should post, we recommend a maximum of 5x per week to start with. You don’t want to clog up anyone’s news feed.

If you’re time-poor, tools like Latergram will allow you to draft posts in advance, reminding you when to post it.

What should you share?

Lucky for you tourism is the most popular topic on Instagram, and it’s easy to see why. Instagram is such a good match for tourism businesses because of its visual nature.

As a rule of thumb:

  • Post authentic photos (as opposed to ones that have been extensively photo-shopped).
  • Showcase the lifestyle your brand promotes.
  • Balance out serious photos with fun photos.
  • Each post should be interesting to your business and your customers.
  • Humanize your business by showing your employees hard at work.
  • From time to time, share a promotion (but don’t overdo it).

Another content must-have are Instagram videos. You can edit and filter videos for up to 15 seconds on Instagram, then embed them onto your website.

What accounts can you look to for inspiration?

To get an idea of how you can use your profiles, check out the following successful businesses on Instagram.

Tourism Australia 

Tourism Australia uses Instagram to promote Australia as a destination, and they are hugely successful.

SMH reported that the account recently hit 500,000 followers, making it the most followed account among travel and tourism brands globally. To date, the account has almost 800,000 followers.

They achieved this by sharing stunning photographs of Australia – not by taking the photos themselves, but by using their extensive network of followers, who submit photos via hashtag.


Check out their feed.

Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum has almost 50,000 followers. They share images of their collections, behind-the-scenes posts, and other creative content.


Check out their feed.

Calypso Star Charters

One of our happy customers, Calypso Star Charters, promote their shark cage diving tours very well through Instagram.

In fact, I stumbled upon their profile by hitting the “Explore” feature in Instagram and being drawn to an image of a shark up close.

A quick look at their image collage shows you how each one is a captivating way to share the experience they provide to their customers.


Check out their feed.

Want to keep learning about social media for tours and activities?

Download our free eBook for tour operators and activity providers:

social media for tours and activities

Do you have an Instagram account? How do you use it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


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