Last Updated on 30 October 2020 by Gertrude

Mastering Instagram can help you create a travel brand. 

Start with the basics (Creating a Winning Instagram Profile for Your Travel Business)

When I signed up on Instagram in October 2018, I felt at home. I love the platform because people are engaging more than on Facebook. I didn’t know that I was building a brand, so I posted quotes because I wanted to stay consistent with my uplifting quotes. What I didn’t know was how to create a profile/username for my brand. It’s later when I quit the platform that I found a brand name: gertiemouldsminds. Don’t fall into this trap of posting anything anyhow on Instagram. Sign up for a business account because the business account has features for turning on ads. Choose a username going with your travel brand, for example, I’d choose because it’s my travel brand business for the LGBT. Ensure that this username is the one you use on your website, which you will add as ‘link in bio’. On your website, create a landing page for the product you are advertising or the sign up to get more travel tips or updates.  In other words, pay attention to how you create your profile. Add short snippets of what your business does, be short and concise. 

Find your focus and voice 

Find your angle/what’s your angle or focus. In other words, what’s your unique perspective that makes you different from the other millions of travel Instagram accounts. For example, you can focus on one brand topic then become famous for it. For example, do you love minimalism, freelancing, modelling, then become a freelance travel Instagrammer where you travel around showing the beauty of your country. Or you promote Kenya by buying from Kenyan brands, you can adorn t-shirts screaming Buy Kenya Build Kenya to show your patriotism. Combine the things you love and care about to stand out. For example, I am all for equality. I know we can’t be equal but that’s my travel aim to show the diversity of the people of Kenya. I value education and creative kids. I love to stand up for kids to get an education. Ask yourself what do I love and how can I bring this love to others watching me or who come across my travel channel? Do you travelling, learning, educating, showing experiences, crazy road trips(adventures) humanitarian/voluntourism travel? BE YOU by bringing your personality, likes/dislikes or your voice to your travel. It’s being you that creates a unique perspective. Collaborate with influencers. Are there other travel Instagrammers you admire, collaborate with them to help enhance your brand. Check if the Instagrammer or YouTuber is in your niche. You want to collaborate with an Influencer who brings you traction in your business.

Learn how to take great photos 

Instagram is a visual platform and is driven by photos and photo sharing. Your smartphone takes great pictures, just know the time of day or night to take photos or avoid taking photos. A keen photographer pays attention to angles. Learn how to take photos with your smartphone by taking this Udemy course. Find a theme, for example, bright lights, earth, landscapes, minimalism, or dark photos. What theme goes with your niche or you can mix and match, whatever jumps your ship. Post authentic original photos. You won’t travel all the time, sometimes, you want to sit down and recharge. Don’t get tempted to lift photos off of Pixabay and share. You can buy on Shutterstock though. Remember, your followers look for inspiration and you help provide that with your photos, they want to see themselves in the destination. Do tell stories with your stories. If you want further inspiration, Conde Nast travellers Instagram page to get inspired. A picture story flows and narrates itself. Or you can create puzzles with your photos. 

Engage with your Instagram Followers

Instagram is a social media for a reason, you keep in touch with others. You follow what they are up to. Engaging means using comments, messages, stories and video lives.  When on Instagram for my mindset coaching classes, I followed a lady called Six-figure chick. She said, ‘Comment 25 times each day on Instagram to see traction or your page grow’. The challenge is called ‘25 Instagram Comment Challenge’. After doing the challenge for 7 days, my followers’ number jumped like a joke. I thought, wow it works. The work involved though ate up hours of my time. Don’t get tempted to comment, ‘wow’, post meaningful engaging comments. The key is to research hashtags in your niche, hashtags you follow, comment on your follower’s topics posts. Your niche hashtags are more. But she divided the comments into five categories. Keep engaging your followers by doing Q and As travel to your followers for meet-ups, your followers would love to meet you. Make yourself approachable and authentic by giving travel tips. Give your audience more than they expect, for example, introduce topics like finding cheap flights, best airlines, finding rooms and hotels or Airbnbs, favourite travel apps, best budget tips. Help your followers by answering their questions. Use stickers for surveys to dig deeper into your brand. 

Use relevant hashtags (niche hashtags)

Using relevant niche hashtags requires research. You can’t post anything on Instagram without using hashtags. Get a median hashtag number of between 1,500-500,000 or less. Hashtags are for standing out. Choose travel-related hashtags. Use location-specific geotags like #travelmombasa #travelnairobi, activity specific-tags help. NB: the better you define your content, the more likely you’re to receive the targeted eyeballs. Get creative by using your brand name like what Norwegian Cruise does, use that travel’s brand hashtags in every post until it becomes famous, eg. I would use #queeventures

Use Instagram stories and Instagram live 

There’s nothing like the power of Instagram live or stories. Your audience gets to experience the travel with you. 

Meet others 

Meet-ups when organised well create fanatics on your travel brand. You get to meet people who follow your brands. To make meet-ups successful organise some lunch or snacks in a nice restaurant or help pay for the travel expenses for a winner who comments the most or who makes a thoughtful video or photo of their day. To help make more money for travel, you can launch a t-shirt or backpack or phone cases of places you visited. Be creative on your meet-up, your followers meet you up for a reason, they love and admire and are ready to promote your brand. 

How do you earn as a travel consultant on Instagram 

As an Instagram travel consultant, you earn through commission for every sale of a product. You get paid to receive products so you promote to your audience. As an influencer, I insist all the time, don’t get greedy by accepting brand products which you wouldn’t use for the sake of money. Read this book by Gundi Gabrielle to get knowledgeable on how to be an Influencer. Remember not to amass a ‘bought’ followers who don’t engage with you. 

Build a travel brand on Instagram 

If you want to go beyond Instagram because the platform can die any time, after all, platforms change their algorithms all the time, brand your travel business. A brand is about their marketing message, their products and how you show up to your followers. A brand is built on expectations, so let people hear consistent messages from you. If you show landscape photos, show landscape photos of all the places you frequent. When you build a brand identity your followers know about expectations, posting schedules, uniqueness, your values or what you care for. A brand identity helps you have a theme (what social impact do you want others to have/discover about your travel adventures?)

Create behind the scenes videos

Behind the scenes, videos help you, show-off, your personality. It’s about getting engaged rather than the numbers of followers. Focus on organic strategic growth. It’s better to 

Write great captions for travellers interest to get piqued 

If you don’t write great captions, how will your followers know what destination you are in? Don’t leave your page without exhausting the 2000 word page Instagram makes available in the captions page. 

Highlight your niche 

Don’t forget to identify your travel niche. It’s important in times of hashtags research.  

Post when followers are online 

If you don’t know when followers are online, it pays to invest in Instagram schedulers. Don’t go over-board though, I learnt the hard way when my Instagram account got shadow-banned. Check Instagram to understand what shadow-banning means. Use schedulers like Tailwind, Hootsuite, Buffer, Planoly or Later. I prefer Tailwind. 

Use analytics 

Click the three straight lines on your Instagram, then get insights which are broken into content/activity/audience. Each feature shows a breakdown of your Instagram’s performers e.g new followers, profile views, impressions, reach. You can check demographics, gender, location, age, activity time peaks to get better insights. The Tailwind app provides this feature. I have seen raving reviews for Planoly or Later too. Keep in mind, these demographics are available after reaching 100 followers. NOTE: Understanding insights help in driving sales, traffic and increasing engagement. You learn what content makes for active followers. Also, analytics helps in content strategy for your business. To get better at Instagram Marketing, read Instagram books. 

Add call to actions 

A call to action is a significant feature in your Instagram account for the reason, you help followers know what to do. Sometimes, followers don’t know why they follow or what they hope to achieve by following you. Add features like ‘learn more’, ‘tap here’ or ‘swipe up’ for more information. 

Marketing your travel business on Instagram doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Create a brand/movement with your travel posts. Let your photos tell a story and don’t write a one-word caption, include lots of information that way you become valuable, informative and followers get to know you. Don’t forget to follow some of the world-known travel companies and get busy or engaged on their channel, this is another way of gaining followers from influential brands. #NatGeoTravel #CondeNastTraveller #PassporttoFriday #VisitBritain #AbercombieandKent #NorwegianCruise. Remember to engage in the 25 comment challenge to grow your Instagram followers organically. Organic followers are hungry followers. 

Are you intrigued by the idea of creating an Instagram Travel Agency as a Kenyan? Has this how-guide opened up your eyes to the possibilities of creating a travel business with nothing?

Online Businesses / Online Work in Kenya