The #MontanaMoment hashtag, which started in June 2013, has transformed into an iconic long-tail tourism campaign run by Visit Montana, taking on a life of its own with an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even this interactive Tumblr page where folks can upload their own pictures and peruse content like Trip Kits and History.
But I’d like us to focus on #MontanaMoment’s Instagram presence, where this hashtag is killing right now.
As summer heats up and people begin to dream about vacation time, I decided to look at the last two weeks (June 17 – July 1) and glean some insights that your own tourism brand can learn from.
Make Sure They Know About Your Hashtag
The top four posts by total engagement (Likes and comments) which used the #MontanaMoment hashtag all came from the @natgeotravel account, where photojournalist @lynn_donaldson was ‘gramming her shots as she explored a small Montana town.
There’s no point in building your social efforts around a hashtag if no one knows that’s what they should be using when they talk about your location and/or brand.
Making sure your hashtag is clear and known to the press will also be incredibly helpful when it comes to measuring the success of your campaign and identifying key contributors to that success later down the line.
Now is a good time to tell you that only one of the top posts using the #MontanaMoment hashtag during this time period came from the @visitmontana Instagram account.
This is patent proof that building a strong network of hashtag-users is way more effective than just trying to own it yourself — and gets your campaign on the radar of people who otherwise might never be aware of it.
Tell a Story
Especially for a location-based tourism campaign, the photo is important. But Instagram posts which tell the story of the user’s experience and emotional connection with that place are the ones that really hit home for Instagram users.
There are a plethora of beautiful pictures on Instagram which exhibit mother nature’s grandeur, but when you look at the comments section of a post like this one, you’ll find that it’s the combination of the poster’s words and the picture that create the engagement-generating collages which have made #MontanaMoment so successful.
Timing Is Everything
The old adage applies on Instagram, too.
Montana’s a spectacularly gorgeous place. There is no shortage of appealing pics of the Big Sky state.
But the post below drove more engagement than any other @visitmontana post using the #MontanaMoment within our time frame.
Why is that? I believe it is because this post went up on a Monday, and what are many of us dreaming about on summer Mondays?
The weekend, of course.
This on-point timing is especially relevant for travel and tourism brands who make their money off these dreams.
1. Influencers can get you far on Instagram. They can expand your hashtag’s reach farther than it would otherwise go. Reach out to users who have a lot of followers, drive worthwhile engagement, and are associated with your region or would be willing to travel there and use your hashtag on their pics.
2. Get the word out. Choose a unique, brand-focused hashtag and stick with it. Stop using a different hashtag every month. Once you have your brand-associated hashtag, use it on all your promotional materials and make sure our PR team is getting the word out to their media contacts as much as possible.
3. People love stories. Don’t just bank on the power of a pretty picture. Instead, tell a story in your captions and encourage your influencers to do the same.
4. Experiment with timing. Run some tests on when people respond to your content best and post during those times.
How will you implement Visit Montana’s Instagram lessons in your own strategy? Let me know in the comments below, and download our compete Instagram Strategy Kit to learn more.