Editor’s Note: As we are building our SkiftEDU service for marketers and SMBs in travel, we recently launched a new initiative: our new weekly series on digital marketing tips and tricks, SkiftEDU How-Tos. These How-Tos are a series of free in-depth weekly articles around various topics in digital marketing, such as this one below.

Visual storytelling has become an important part of the marketing mix for many, if not most, travel brands. After all, we sell emotions, dreams, experiences. We don’t just focus on hotel beds, airline seats or museum exhibits: we talk about family getaways with fabulous hotel amenities, transportation journeys through airports, airlines and shuttles, not to mention culture, food experiences and memories made at the beach, the museum or that unique folk-rock festival. All of these are best captured in photos, if not videos.

For small and medium organizations however, it can become a daunting task to manage a dynamic presence – responding to comments, sharing content or liking others’ photos – on Instagram, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and other similar platforms. We already covered 6 Social Media Tools To Manage Your Online Marketing here on SkiftEDU, but are there other tools meant to focus specifically on visual content, in particular on Instagram?

Here are five solutions we think should be worth your while to consider. None of them are free, but all of them provide free demo trial periods, and various price points depending on your needs and wants.

CrowdRiff

This Canada-based application has taken the travel industry by storm in the past 18-24 months, mostly with its features allowing content curation with a given hashtag, and repurposing it directly onto your website, whether you are a destination, a hotel or an attraction.

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Travel Portland is one of the many North American DMO embedding the Crowdriff technology onto its website.

CrowdRiff claims their solution can even improve your website performance by putting user-generated content (UGC) upfront and visible, thus getting users to spend more time on your site. But one of their key benefits is without a doubt getting rights to visual content quickly and securely to bring authentic experiences in travel brand’s marketing collateral.

Curalate

Another important player in the visual content curation sphere is Curalate, even though it does not specifically specialize in travel and tourism. Their “Like2Buy” feature, for example, is key differentiator allowing to make your Instagram feed shoppable, which is great for retailers, but perhaps less so for hoteliers and restaurateurs, unless you have an online boutique with memorabilia available for purchase.

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Where Curalate offers an interesting solution is when it comes to analyzing visual content across various social media (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and providing sophisticated dashboards, along with ad creative recommendations and social media targeting that enhances insights already provided by Facebook, for example.

Hashtagio

Hashtagio is a social media aggregation platform that seeks to convert social into sales, driving referral traffic to conversion points such as affiliates, partners and advertisers. Companies like Westjet airlines in Canada have been using the storytelling solution, with one of its key differentiator being the ability to categorize contents (and hashtags) across different social channels, and sending them to specific website, blog or anywhere in the digital funnel.

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Source: #TourismNovaScotia campaign

Hashtagio also allows to run hashtag photo and video contests on Instagram and Twitter, making it easier to drive social reach that converts into measurable actions, by bringing back traffic to the destination website.

Iconosquare

One of my personal favorites tools to manage visual content has got to be Iconosquare, formerly known as Statigr.am in its earlier days. Iconosquare is a third-party tool to manage Instagram more effectively, with a more advanced search engine, marketing suite and many features that can’t be found on Instagram itself. One reason alone to use Iconosquare is for its Instagram analytics, if you want to know which pictures or filters worked best, where interactions are coming from or simply to track follower growth.

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Iconosquare offers a free tool to identify top brands per category as well as top users (influencers).

Up until recently, you could use Iconosquare for free and pay only to access specific features such as in-depth reports and analytics. It has now become mostly a paid solution, but by far the cheapest one out there, starting at 4.90$ per month, or 49$ per year. Another great feature to mention: its contest management solution, that allows you to see what out there in terms of contest (good benchmarking tool) and create your own campaigns as well.

Olapic

Last but not least is the Olapic solution. This tool focuses on delivering three core services for your brand:

  • Curate content
  • Activate your marketing and e-commerce
  • Analyze with sophisticated insights

Like most other tools, Olapic curates content and allows travel brands to show user-generated content on their website. But one very distinctive feature is how this content can be repurposed inside key sections of your website. Hyatt Hotels, with its #InAHyattWorld hashtag campaign for example, highlights user-generated pics directly in its room pages, thus helping close the sales with not only corporate pictures but also more authentic, user-generated photos of rooms and hotel amenities.

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With Instagram taking on Snapchat with its most recent “Stories” feature, there is no doubt going be even more heat in the realm of visual storytelling. Hopefully one of these five tools can help you along this journey.