With Instagram travel accounts exploding on the image-sharing platform, it seems everyone is looking to create a brand that allows them to travel for a living. But beyond sharing stellar photos and videos on the network, how can you create content that will earn you the loyal following that gets the sponsorship dollars rolling in?
This summer, we’ve been taking a virtual road trip on @AdobeSpark’s Instagram to explore how Spark creators and other travel enthusiasts capture a sense of place on Instagram, get their travel content noticed, and connect with regional influencers, businesses, and followers. Here are eight things we’ve learned about getting traction in this highly competitive vertical as we’ve traveled the country through our favorite social network.
Use a mix of general and regional hashtags.
Hashtags are a great way to get your content discovered and gain a following, especially if you’re savvy about the types of hashtags you use. When you’re traveling think about including multiple hashtags in three categories:
- General travel-related hashtags: #travelwriter #travel #instatravel #travelgram #tourism #instago #passportready #travelblogger #wanderlust #ilovetravel the list goes on and on and on…are great ways to get your content surfaced to people who are interested in the general vertical.
- Regional hashtags: People tend to click on regional hashtags when looking for places to eat or things to do, so make sure you’re also including regional hashtags, like the name of the city, monikers, or slogans related to the place you’re visiting to capture a more targeted audience.
- Hashtags that could get you featured on influential accounts: Top travel publications like National Geographic, Afar, Conde Nast Traveler all have branded hashtags and using them in your posts could help your content get picked up by traditional media outlets. Cities, too, tend to have official Instagram accounts that feature user-generated content and Instagram itself surfaces content by region in the explore tab.
Save your favorites in a note on your phone, so you can add them as the first comment on your post. Note that adding more than 30 hashtags will prevent your comment from being posted, but content with 11 or more hashtags receive the most engagement.
Geotag your posts and Instagram Stories.
Every social media platform has at least one way to include your location in your post for organic growth. Few examples: 📈 IG – If you have a brick and mortar store hashtag your city, district, town and "add location" in your post and the hashtag in your IG story either! IG also has the option to look at all the stories with a particular hashtag. 📌 Facebook ex – maximize your $spend for ads by using geo-targeting. ———- Basically…. rep your city. #socialmediamarketing #marketing #instagram #facebook #smallbusiness #nonprofit #startup #dogs #veterinarian #dogwalk #groomer #doggiedaycare #philly #adobespark
Adding a location to your content is not only helpful for your followers or readers, but it helps drive discovery as well, since your post will appear when someone is exploring the content tagged with a location. A slideshow roundup of your favorite shots could speak to an entire city location, while tagging a specific business location will reach a smaller but perhaps more targeted audience. If you’re creating content on behalf of a brand or business, geotagging can help you reach an audience most likely to convert to customer, as Spark user marketing specialist @melaniehbritt points out on Instagram. She practices her own advice by tagging her post where she does business.
Follow and tag influencers, businesses, and places in the region you’re covering.
Just as using branded hashtags on your content can help you get discovered, tagging other accounts on your most fabulous photos could earn you a repost from that user. Did you have a great meal at a local restaurant? Experience something cool? Stay in an awesome Airbnb? Tag the companies in your photos! Businesses love to feature customer content and users rely on real people to know what’s worth doing. You might also tag influencers or popular regional accounts that you have things in common with. Not only will your content then show up when people look at photos of that account, but you might connect with someone who can help you get to the next level. Before your trip, research local accounts like writers that cover the region, local publications, popular businesses etc. and consider aligning your content with the kinds of things they like to share.
Spark user and L.A.-based travel blogger @thejentravels is really good at shouting out the businesses and experiences that fuel her jet set lifestyle.
Follow the Ice Cream Cone Road…Follow Follow Follow Follow, Follow the Ice Cream Cone Road 🍦 . • #moic #museumoficecream #icecream #softserve #icecreamcone #twoscoops #food #foodie #sweeeeets #eeeeeats #museum #dtla #dtlaartsdistrict #losangeles #artsdistrict #art #picoftheday #photography #sandals #oliveyourmani #pink 💗@museumoficecream
Create guides with Instagram Slideshows
The relatively new slideshow feature on Instagram allows you to build more of a story than a single picture can do. Try building mini travel guides with a slideshow: Use Spark Post to introduce the theme as the first image, then use the subsequent photos to paint the picture of your experience. Pro-tip: you can tag individual photos to give credit to the places and experiences that made it into your guide.
Here are a few postcard templates to get you started:
Remix this design!
Capture a sense of place with color.
Did you know that Spark Post auto-generates complementary color palettes based on the background photo? It takes the guess work out of designing graphics and helps capture the vibe of the place you’re visiting.
Inspired by the desert tones of Joshua Tree, we generated these color palettes with Spark Post. You can use the tool to create color cohesion on your feed for each place you cover. Pro-Tip: using Spark Post’s color palettes offers a fun branding exercise too. Your personal brand colors could be inspired by your favorite vacation!
Brand your photos.
You want your content shared widely, but you also want to make sure people know it’s you. Consider placing a subtle signature on your photos or adding your Instagram handle for an easy branding solution. Spark user @xicanayork places her signature in strategic places in her photos, which has the added benefit of creatively placing herself in the scenes she captures. This method may not be for everyone, but we love how she uses Spark to explore a style unique to her.
Share quotes or slogans inspired by a place
There’s so much more to travel than the things you eat, drink, do, or see. Places can also inspire introspection, new energy, new ideas, or creative pursuits. Make your Instagram reflect that by adding text to your photos. Feature quotes from regional writers or musicians, create a design around a city’s slogan, or share your own reflections inspired by your travels.
This design has been remixed more than 4,000 times. #Yosemite's majestic beauty likely has a lot to do with it. 😱 Fun fact: that lil speck of a human is @ameszhong, who works on the #adobespark Post team! #SparkSummerTravel #americathebeautiful Share your adventure photos with us to join our virtual #roadtrip across the #usa!
Show it with video.
Spark makes it easy to turn your travel writing skills into rich multimedia stories, which will only become increasingly important in this highly visual field. Creating a video for Instagram can be as easy as making a video slideshow out of images like the beautiful one below of Colorado must-sees. Or shoot short video clips as your travel and compile them at the end of your trip into a video compilation—a little iPhone-ography skills can go a long way. You can even add your clips to Spark Video for iOS as you go!
Join our road trip across America! Tag your favorite U.S. travel destinations with #SparkSummerTravel for a chance to get featured.