Over the past few months, Instagram has been making dramatic changes to its photo sharing app and the way your destination and tourism operators will be able to use it. Going far beyond a new logo and a new look and feel, changes include the introduction of business profiles, analytics, an algorithm, and new limits that have affected listening tools like Iconosquare and Picodash (formerly Gramfeed). Here’s how your destination marketing organization (DMO)’s content marketing team and your local tourism businesses and operators can benefit from Instagram’s new and upcoming features.
Instagram business profiles
Instagram recently announced that it is testing business profiles that are expected to roll out over the next few months. Shifting a traditional Instagram account into a more Facebook-like business page will make it easier for potential and current visitors to interact with your team.
One major change is that business profiles will provide space for additional information in the account’s bio. A new, prominent “contact” button will link to an email address and a new “get directions” feature will open a map to make it easier for visitors and guests to find the spot Instagram took their photos from.
This is great news for the restaurants, hotels and tourism operators within your destination because it will make it easier for visitors to find them directly when you post about them. These changes will help collaboration between businesses, so a destination should work to ensure that the stakeholders its posts about are comfortable and confident with using Instagram as a business tool.
The most important change that comes with business accounts will be the long-awaited Instagram analytics tool called “Insights.” Similar to Facebook, these analytics will provide demographic information about your followers, show the reach and engagement of your posts, and even measure clicks on the URL in your profile. That URL will still be a very important part of your account, as posts that aren’t set-up as ads still will not let users click through to any external sites. Instagram planning app Later recently posted screenshots of what these analytics reports will look like.
Though not expected to roll out for a few weeks or months, Insights will be a game changer for your content team, and will enable you to truly understand your Instagram audience. This will help you strategically develop valuable content for your followers and potential visitors.
While all of these business profile game-changers roll out, Instagram has begun applying a controversial changes to the way your audience sees content. Previously, Instagram displayed posts in a chronological format, but a new algorithm will work similarly to the Facebook algorithm to show content that users are more likely to be interested in, which Instagram calls “the moments you care about first.”
So far, the change has not been popular with some users, who complain of drops in likes and worry their photos won’t be deemed important by the mysterious algorithm. While we don’t know exactly how the platform decides which content your audience will see, it’s likely that posts from users they have interacted with in the past will be prioritized in the feed, and that ads will be given more priority as well. Despite these concerns, the algorithm could provide an opportunity for content managers to boost engagement on your account relative to the competition by serving relevant content that your audience cares about. Content managers who make incremental gains will likely come out on top.
As Instagram’s algorithm continues to roll out over the next few months (some users have it already), it will serve as a true test of the value your content provides potential travellers. In conjunction with the new analytics tool, your DMO will soon have the opportunity to constructively re-examine your Instagram content strategy and make changes based on follower demographics.
Changes to key Instagram listening tools
These recent changes also affect the many listening tools content managers use. As an app used primarily on smartphones, Instagram has always provided a challenge for content managers because posts are published via mobile and the desktop user experience for searching hashtags is a challenge. This is where third-party desktop listening and outreach tools have saved the day.
With all the recent changes to Instagram, two of our preferred outreach and listening tools have also changed. Iconosquare has long been a staple for hashtag searching, commenting, saving photos, and basic analytics, and has now bundled most of the services once enjoyed for free into paid plans. Iconosquare seems to have learned from an unpopular transition to pricey paid business accounts years ago, and its new paid accounts are surprisingly affordable for DMOs to use. Plans are available from $5 USD to $15 USD per month depending on the features needed. While the new Iconosquare looks different, most of the commenting, liking and analytics content managers are used to are still there, including competitor tracking.
Since June 1, Gramfeed has transitioned into a service called Picodash, which can also be used for listening. Picodash has the added benefit of allowing users to search for photos based on location. Access for one account costs $8 per month.
As it continues to evolve, Instagram remains an important storytelling tool for DMOs and stakeholders. With the introduction of business accounts, advanced analytics and the algorithm, DMOs will now have most of the back-end tools they need to transition their Instagram content to the next level.
Destination Think helps DMOs empower their tourism businesses via workshops, speaking and training sessions. To support your destination’s tourism businesses as they adjust to the changing social and content landscape, contact us today.
Featured image credit: Sander Muller, Flickr