Operations

A Beginner’s Guide To Instagram For Luxury Operators

Lexi Tucker
Posted on May 11, 2019

Schultz says Swoop caters heavily to a younger demographic, and mentions popular destinations and events in their posts. (Photo: @swoop)

Schultz says Swoop caters heavily to a younger demographic, and mentions popular destinations and events in their posts. (Photo: @swoop)

It would seem like there’s a new social media app or website popping up every few months. Each time, you may feel a bit of anxiety as you try to navigate yet another interface with a different set of “rules” for getting the best engagement.

Instagram isn’t necessarily all that new, but it’s rapidly gaining popularity among a growing demographic, so you’ll need to know your way around if you hope to use its full marketing potential.

Why Do It For The Gram?

Sam Emam, general manager of BBZ Limousine and Livery Service in Bergenfield, N.J., started posting for his company in 2017. He began documenting garage activity,  and also used it primarily to build the brand on the wedding side.

“While Facebook and Twitter are both browser and mobile friendly, Instagram is only really available on mobile,” he says. “If there’s one thing people are looking at day in and day out, it’s their smartphone. So it’s important to grab their attention where they direct most of it.”

About two and a half years ago, Anuj Patel, director of strategic development at Pontarelli Worldwide Ground Transportation in Chicago, Ill. started an Instagram account for his company. “Imagery is everything. It’s the platform that best portrays your branding. Being in one of the major cities in the world, we have a lot to show.”

Imagery comes to life on Instagram, Patel says. While many social media sites have the capacity for photo posts, Instagram has emerged as the strongest. Since Facebook owns Instagram, you can cross post to Facebook from the Instagram app.

Hani and Patel make sure to maximize their use of hashtags to ensure their posts get found. (Photo: @pontarellicompanies)

Hani and Patel make sure to maximize their use of hashtags to ensure their posts get found. (Photo: @pontarellicompanies)

Marina Miller, co-owner and director of business development of Coastal Limousine of Charleston, S.C., opened the company’s page in 2015, but didn’t step it up until it gained momentum. “We focus on only posting professional photos consistently,” she says. “Facebook is a very powerful tool, but doesn’t make use of the power of hashtags. They allow you to get your content out and be discovered more easily.”

The luxury transportation industry lends itself to good visuals. With photos, videos, and “stories,” it’s easier than ever to connect with the public. The demographics differ from Facebook as well. While Facebook has been widely adopted by all ages, Instagram users mostly range from 18 to 34, according to Statista.

Ruben Schultz, co-founder of Swoop in Los Angeles, says the company started its profile around two and a half years ago and explains it’s perfect for brand marketing, which focuses more on keeping people thinking about you so when they are ready to buy, you are the first on their mind rather than making immediate sales.

Get Noticed

It doesn’t get much more unique than incorporating your pets into your marketing. Everyone loves dogs! (Photo: @coastallimo)

It doesn’t get much more unique than incorporating your pets into your marketing. Everyone loves dogs! (Photo: @coastallimo)

When posting on Instagram, the best way for people to find your photos is through hashtagging. This enables you to enter a photo into a directory that people can find using specific search terms. Michael Hani, who works in business development and social media at Pontarelli, says Instagram allows you to post up to 30 hashtags in one post, so take advantage of it.

“I wouldn’t post more than one solid post a day, and I’d follow other hashtags on the app as well so you can get a feel for what other people who are posting about the same things are doing. We follow hashtags like #limoservice and #livery, so those posts will show up our feed,” he says. Take note of what other company’s posts are being liked the most, see what hashtags they are using, and work them into your own posts if they are relevant.

“It’s tedious,” Hani says. “You have to set aside time during the day to get the right shot, curate your hashtags to every single post, and don’t just copy and paste the same ones every day.” You’ll get the most traffic if you use very high and very low traffic hashtags, he adds. If a hashtag hasn’t gotten much momentum yet, you can be the one to make it trend.

BBZ posts excellent photos that show off vehicles and people (Photo: @bbzlimo)

BBZ posts excellent photos that show off vehicles and people (Photo: @bbzlimo)

Users of Instagram are a more engaged demographic. They don’t use the app to keep up with their friends and family; they use it to follow brands and to be inspired, Schultz says. Consistency is key and posting regularly will let your audience know you’re an active, legitimate business.

“If I go to a brand’s page and their last post was on March 3 of last year, I’d assume they no longer exist,” he says.

When someone goes to your page, the first thing they see are the last nine photos you posted. It’s vital these include a mix of shots, not just your vehicles. Also, as new features are released in the app, use them immediately to add variety to your posts.

It’s best to have as little text in the image as possible, and put your hashtags into the first comment, rather than directly in the post, Schultz says.

Miller says staying consistent will also help you set the expectations of your audience…much like your service does. Also, just because Instagram is visual-heavy, it doesn’t mean you can get lazy with your captions. The goal is to be a motivational platform. Step away from using this marking tool directly for advertising.

An example of possible hashtags for luxury ground transportation companies to use. (Photo: @pontarellicompanies)

An example of possible hashtags for luxury ground transportation companies to use. (Photo: @pontarellicompanies)

“Don’t just say ‘book now!,’ and avoid using phone numbers directly in the post. That tends to be a turn off. They want to see a good picture, something unique about your company, or to be asked about their opinion on something like the hottest restaurant in your area. When they have a reason to comment, they want their voice to be heard.”

Emam agrees and says your posts must pull an emotion out of the viewer.

What Is A #hashtag?

According to Hootsuite, “hashtags are used as a method of indexing keywords to help facilitate good search results. Hashtags that spread quickly and get used by a lot different users begin to trend. That means the keyword term is popular and widely used online, but that doesn’t mean every hashtag you set out to use should trend.” Think of it like a modern day visual Yellow Pages where people search for a specific topic and find you.

Best Photos

The basic rule of thumb for Instagram posts is the more artistic or behind-the-scenes, the more engagement they’ll receive. Emam shows off his chauffeurs training and company management attending trade shows. If you do a lot of wedding business, ask the venues, photographers, and DJs to send you some photos they may have and ask if it’s ok to post them with a photo credit. Most importantly, don’t mix your business page with your personal page. If you already have a personal Instagram, that isn’t what you should be using to promote your business.

Schultz suggests crafting a post relevant to current events, such as music festivals, sports championships, or heavily anticipated movie releases. People’s attention spans are limited, so whatever you post must capture their attention in the first three seconds. Even if they are just scrolling through, they’ll see what you need them to see. These types of posts are dubbed “thumbstoppers.”

Creating fun captions helps add to your engagement possibilies. (Photo: @coastallimo)

Creating fun captions helps add to your engagement possibilies. (Photo: @coastallimo)

You can’t go wrong with people enjoying themselves in your vehicles, Miller says. Having a cute mascot doesn’t hurt either. Miller’s “limo dog” (seen in photo) draws attention and comments. Have your chauffeurs take photos while they are out on a trip, or invite some of your friends to be models for a photoshoot.

“You need to paint a picture of being in the limo rather than just showcasing the vehicle itself.”

To save her even more time, she’s implemented a widget that allows her Instagram posts to be uploaded automatically to a feed on her company’s website. Because she focuses on high-resolution, professionally done photography, this enables her to not have to worry about manually updating her website with the newest photos.

There’s no real wrong answer to what you should post, as long as the photo communicates your brand identity each time, Hani says.

Tell Stories

Stories are a fairly new feature, but allow you to do more with a post. You can add GIFs, polls, countdowns, and ask questions on a video or photo that will automatically disappear after 24 hours. Miller uses these anytime she posts a new photo to direct attention to it on her company profile. These get put at the top of a user’s feed, which catches their attention and makes it more likely they will interact with it.

You should always have a story on your profile that strikes a balance between quality and frequency, Schultz says. He also tends to post a story when he makes a new post, and tries to have the story play off the theme of the post. You can also create stories and make them “highlights,” which don’t disappear and will remain at the top of your profile. You can label them with what they show off, like “Our Fleet” or “Popular Destinations.”

“Be sure to check out other companies who are doing it right and get inspired. Don’t reinvent the wheel; do what works.”

Patel says featuring behind the scenes action — like detailers washing cars or doing short employee interviews asking them how their day is going or how a chauffeur’s run was as they get back from a job — can give your audience an inside look at what the day-to-day happenings at your business look like.

What Is A Story?

These are posts that are “discoverable” for 24 hours. This means people who don’t already follow you can see these posts (unless your profile is set to private). They are a great way to tell a story of what’s happening at your company that day, or direct attention to one of your latest posts.

Related Topics: Facebook, How To, Instagram, Millennials, mobile technology, Sales & Marketing, selling techniques, social media, social media marketing

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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