Instagram has become a social media phenomenon. The innovative photo-sharing app is considered the fastest-growing social network with the highest level of engagement. Popular with individuals and businesses alike, it's become a necessity for tour and activity business owners to use as part of their marketing efforts.Instagram allows companies to showcase their services and personality by quickly sharing “real time" photographs. This provides opportunities for attracting potential customers and communicating to your existing client base. But surprisingly, there are still many travel and tour operators that don't use Instagram to its full potential.Here are some quick and easy ways to incorporate Instagram into your company's daily activities:

Quality over Quantity: It's all about the photos

Luckily, you don't need to be a professional photographer to post amazing Instagram images. But you do need an impressive and consistent photo “feed" that appeals to your customer. Check out your own favorite Instagram pros and experiment with the many diverse filters before posting your favorites—and if you want to try more fun filters, apps like “Snapseed" offer a multitude of cool options. But quality is imperative to any photo, so be selective when posting pics that capture the essence of your tour company.Quick tip: To lighten darker photos, use the “brightness" button first (before using a filter) as that usually quickly enhances the image.With millions of users worldwide, Instagram allows companies to follow and regularly interact with your neighboring businesses as well as friends and customers. These can include your own employees, vendors, local tourism boards, reporters, area hotels and restaurants. Following other users, as well as liking and commenting on other posts, will result in increased exposure and potentially lead to new customers who discover your company online.Quick tip: Make new connections every day. Through repeated interactions with your followers, you can inspire local friends and businesses to mention and tag your company as well.

Start your activities with a fun hashtag

Kick off your activity with an Instagram shout-out. Let clients know your Instagram handle and to tag you when they post photos.Plus, if you create a clever hashtag to go with each activity, they'll be inspired to post more photos and interact with your company (and each other) more frequently. As an added bonus, hashtags like #WineTastingWednesday and #FabulousPhillyFoodTour enables you to easily track ongoing interactions. If you take photos, make sure to “tag" or at mention your participants to encourage continued social media banter.

Create a clever hashtag to go with your activities to encourage more engagement from your customers

Quick tip: If you have an especially creative and lively group, encourage them to come up with the day's hashtag.

Fun and Games

Another way to engage with your customers and add an extra level of excitement and interest is to host an Instagram photo contest. For example, you can suggest that customers post photos (with creative captions) surrounding a certain theme or place you visit on your tour. The added element of competition can inspire visually interesting shots and clever descriptions, too.Quick tip: Contests can be done daily, weekly, monthly, or whenever you wish.

Analyze this

After mastering Instagram, a great way to monitor your followers, interactions, and overall activity is by signing up for services such as iconosquare. This site provides analytics and even specific tips, such as the optimal time of day to post. (The program offers a free trial for new customers).Quick tip: There are many services like these, so check out your options before choosing one.

Looking for more easy tips on how to use social media to attract new customers?

Check out our blog, How To Create a Strong Social Media Presence.

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