Charlotte Winship on how to harness user generated content for your venue on Instagram.
Love it or hate it, social media is king when it comes to reaching your ideal audience and will play a significant role in your venue marketing plan. Instagram continues to be the most popular platform for venues to reach their target audience and making your spaces Insta-ready should be a priority. Here’s why…
How much time you spend posting new content, sharing stories or designing reels will depend on the resources you have available. We all know the algorithms love consistency but when you have a small team available and are juggling multiple roles (sales, wedding planner, estate manager, HR, gardener, H&S officer, administrator, accountant, farmer etc) this is often simply not achievable. This is where you need to look to user generated content (UGC). This simply means encouraging visitors, guests and suppliers to post content on their own Instagram feeds about your venue, developing your reach.
Anyone can be an influencer and millions of us are documenting our lives every single day, sharing exciting experiences, places we love and unusual sights. With the summer wedding and event season back in full swing, and guest lists at full capacity, now is prime time for you to encourage your visitors to share their love of your venue on the ‘gram. So how do you get everyone snapping and sharing?
1. Curate a selfie
Most people love a selfie and if you can curate a ‘venue signature’ worth photographing then you are on to a winner. Find something that will leave a lasting memory and encourage visitors and guests to share the moment they were with you on Instagram. Here are some ideas to provide them with an authentic talking point that is sympathetic to your venue style, values and ethos.
Do you have a view over land or sea unique to your venue which you can’t help but share? Think about where your visitors can see it best? Visitors and guests to Adventure Park Snowdonia can expect stunning landscape photography amongst their wedding album of views over the distinctive peaks and valleys of North Wales, and who can forget the bride zip-lining in her wedding dress!
It doesn’t have to be visual. How about an unusual audio experience? Voices in the corridors? Atmospheric music from the flower beds? Poetry in the loos? The Hive at Kew Gardens is a biophilic outdoor installation incorporating the sound of a honeybee chorus which is streamed live from a real beehive to speakers. The live stream is also linked to LED lights which flash according to the intensity of the bees’ activity. The more distinctive and immersive the experience is, the more memorable it will be and likely to be talked about over social media.
If technology is not your thing, how about tactile props? Everyone loves a dressing up box or a themed photobooth. Or perhaps an interesting or unusual artefact that guests would love to be snapped next to? Think along the lines of the fantastical taxidermy that caught the imaginations of past guests and visitors to Aynhoe Park.
Do you have unusual pets or wildlife grazing in your grounds? How about a soak in an outdoor bath overlooking a lion enclosure à la Port Lympne in Kent?
A natural feature is highly prized. The bridge over the moat at Ditton Manor in Berkshire is a perfect picture spot. Guests also film themselves trying to find their way out of the maze.
Talk about your special features on your own Instagram account to build awareness and help visitors find them by drawing attention to them during events. Pave a path or use some branded signage to help direct people.
Don’t make guests wait until later to post their pics. Make sure they have free access to a good Wi-Fi connection so that they can share their photos then and there. It’s ‘Insta’gram after all.
2. Hashtag this
There are millions of hashtags, some useful for growing your organic reach, others with fewer followers but a niche and targeted audience to help you make those all-important sales. Niche your own audience with a personal and unique hashtag. Choose something catchy, memorable and distinctive to your venue and brand. Do some research to make sure no one else is using it.
Use it on your own social media channels, publicise it and encourage your existing followers to use it. Share it with your wedding couples when they book and invite them to tag you during their wedding planning. Promote it to guests and visitors to your venue especially near your talking points; “Like this? #…”
3. Share the love
Your event and wedding suppliers will also be trying to feature as much as possible on social media. Show your suppliers a bit of love and appreciation and no doubt they will show you a bit in return. Make sure you follow all your favourites on Instagram. Support and promote the suppliers who you want to see again, the ones that made your life easier and who share the same style, ethos and values. Share your collaborative successes.
Post pictures of the memorable events you have worked on together. Suppliers can then re-share and spread the love. Build good relationships with your wedding photographers and ask them to share their wedding albums. Ask their permission to post their images on your Instagram and website. You will also need to ask permission from your wedding couples. Make sure you tag the photographer whenever you share their work.
4. Incentivise your followers
Run a competition. Everyone who follows your venue, shares your post and tags you in their (positive) posts can be entered into a prize draw at the end of the month/season/year. Make sure you offer a significant prize that’s worth winning to encourage people to make the effort. The more people who enter and tag you, the more value to you.
5. Be thankful
Finally, please don’t forget to respond to people who do tag you. If you have time, write a thank you but at the very least ‘like’ their post. It is a courtesy and will encourage more of their engagement and their followers’ engagement. Once they have tagged you, you can then re-share their post to your other followers to gain even more value.
User generated content doesn’t just help your marketing activity, it can also help to develop that important ‘know, like, trust’ factor. People are more likely to trust their friends’ recommendations. Outsiders chatting positively about your venue is as good as a direct review. If a crowd is consistently sharing positive stories about your venue then even better.
Visitors regularly sharing content about you will have a huge impact on helping to build the familiarity of your venue. People like to follow trends so, chances are, if their friends ‘like’ you then they will ‘like’ you too. See you on the ‘gram!
About the Author
Charlotte Winship has over 20 years’ experience transforming good wedding and events venues into great ones. She is an expert in helping venues reach their ideal customers, maximise sales opportunities, increase profitability, establish effective teams and streamline venue operations. 07493 350303 / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.charlottewinship.com