Instagram recently celebrated a milestone, exceeding 300 million monthly active users and earning the right to call itself something of a household name.
With customer engagement in the digital era often best achieved by visual means, making Instagram the ideal platform for travel companies and destinations, it will serve tourism businesses well to spend time understanding the latest trends on the site, says the European Travel Commission Digital Portal (ETC Digital).
Four years since Instagram launched, it has achieved huge popularity among both everyday users and commerce. With more than 300 million monthly active users, it has now surpassed the much more established Twitter, which has only 284 million monthly active users - making it the the fastest-growing of the social media sites.
For travel-related businesses, whether at the commercial or destination level, Instagram is ideal for sharing absorbing media thanks to the photo and video-based nature of the site. As a source of potential customers and revenue, it would be foolish to overlook its potential.
Consider that 4.21% of brands' total followers on Instagram have engaged with their content, compared to just 0.03% on Twitter and 0.07% on Facebook, according to research firm Forrester. So it is absolutely in the interest of any business to create a strong brand on the site.
Additionally, these figures are set to rise in 2015. Instagram recently announced that it will eliminate spambots for good in the next calendar year, a move which will decrease the total number of followers on the site. Instagram aims to create network of users that is entirely human - which is particularly in tune with brand awareness.
What's more, the site is attracting more daily uploads and downloads than ever - something a shrewd business should not fail to exploit. According to figures in Skift's latest travel trends report, 70 million photos are uploaded to to the site daily, and this is expected to increase as the popularity of Instagram grows and diversifies in the coming year.
No longer a niche channel, Instagram has moved to the mainstream and its shift towards being an ad-supporting platform has made it the ideal site for travel-related marketing.
It offers a potent mixture of potential - both offering an intense audience for commercial content thanks to its young and fashionable user base, and an image which has not yet become corporatised.
Brands such as Disney and National Geographic have been quick to exploit the photo-sharing site. Skift tracked the social media efforts of more than 2,700 travel brands to find out which topics, companies, brands and destinations are trending on the site. It found that Disney has achieved thousands of followers per day, while the National Geographic Instagram site is currently the largest of the travel-related pages. And Australia is beginning to discover the worth of the Instagram community, having racked up over 60 million likes.
As Instagram grows, along with its reputation, it makes perfect sense for tourism-related organisations to investigate its potential.