As one of the world's best loved travel brands, in 2016 the aim of Lonely Planet's Instagram platform was to grow our presence by continuing to highlight exciting destinations in the world through the eyes of our contributors on the road, while increasing engagement with the traveller community and leveraging our ever-growing network of influencers via our Pathfinders network. We also wanted to increase awareness among our community of our rapidly expanding portfolio of travel guides, book titles, magazines and online content.
We had three core elements to our Instagram strategy in 2016: encouraging UGC content to increase awareness, brand loyalty and community engagement, growth of influencer content to increase awareness and followers, and the continuation of inspirational daily content to drive visits to www.lonelyplanet.com and build awareness of our marketing campaigns, like Best in Travel.
At the heart of Lonely Planet's Instagram profile is its traveller community, and the majority of its content is community sourced. Through branded community driven hashtags we wanted to elevate the voice of our followers who are out on the road, enjoying experiences recommended by our experts and visiting the destinations on-the-rise. In 2016, we continued to grow our product-led hashtags such as #mylpguide as well as more inspirational branded hashtags like #lpfanphoto but also introduced some new ones, like #mylpmag to highlight our new US magazine to our engaged fans. We continued to amplify the adventures of our community with weekly regrams of our favourite photos uploaded via #lpfanphoto and #mylpguide which have grown to be even more creative and inspiring in 2016 than ever before.
To further amplify the voice of our community we made our #lpInstaTakeovers a regular weekend feature. Our #lpInstaTakeovers are held over a weekend and hosted by someone in our community who has an inspiring travel story to tell. We invited 27 people to host a takeover in 2016, sharing 5 photos over a weekend on the @lonelyplanet account. Takeovers covered all types of destinations, such as Antarctica, Canada, Cuba and South East Asia. What's most important about this activity is that our #lpInstaTakeovers are open to anyone in our community who has an engaging story to share, we do not choose hosts on the number of followers they have and we do not ask for any promotion on their channels. This inclusivity also importantly reflects our brand ethos.
We also worked closely with members of our influencer programme, Lonely Planet Pathfinders, to increase brand awareness and drive followers in 2016. Commissioning Pathfinders to share inspiring travel photos from a particular trip on their Instagram account including particular hashtags and tags to their posts (#lpPathfinders, @lonelyplanet) which we would then showcase by embedding them on our blog, http://www.lonelyplanet.com/blog. Often covering destinations included in our Best in Travel 2016 campaign (our annual list of the top destinations to visit in the year ahead as voted and ranked by our travel experts) these posts raised awareness of our campaign as well as our influencer programme and reached new audiences.
We also continued to operate a strict social posting calendar helping our community to build familiarity with our content output on the channel, establishing trust, brand loyalty and increasing engagement. By embedding the messages of our marketing campaigns in our regular post slots, we saw a sharp increase in traffic from the platform to our annual campaign, Best in Travel. At the same time we also experimented with Instagram's ever-evolving features, such as Instagram Stories, Boomerang and Hyperlapse, seeing lots of engagement.
In 2016 we saw our follower account grow by 62.75%, ending the year with 1,061,255 followers, all of which were acquired organically. Overall the account posts have received 9.7 million+ likes and 149,200+ comments since it was launched.
Each post on @lonelyplanet receives an average of 13,100 likes and 132 comments, showing the high level of engagement within our community.
By the end of 2016 #mylpguide was used in 15,000+ posts while #lpfanphoto was used in 130,000+ posts uploaded by the Instagram community. 3 million+ posts have also been tagged with #lonelyplanet.
The highest performing post on our account in 2016 was taken by a community member via #lpfanphoto, amassing 28,985 likes and 861 comments.
We saw an uplift in Instagrammers wanting to host a #lpInstaTakeover on our account in 2016 resulting in us doubling the amount of takeovers we ran compared to 2015 – we ran 27 takeovers in 2016. Takeover hosts also often promoted their takeover on their own account with dedicated posts, furthering the reach of our account.
In 2016 we commissioned 17 influencers from our Pathfinders network to upload a total of 98 posts in 2016, to be published on our blog. The posts amassed 21,339 likes and 819 comments.
In 2016, our organic Instagram posts/activity encouraging our community to view our annual Best in Travel campaign hosted on www.lonelyplanet.com increased dramatically: visits to the hub from Instagram increased by 4851.5% YoY.
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