Instagram Success Series - Part 3: Tools and Tips! the easy way to increase bookings

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Wow – the Instagram series has been a roaring success, your feedback has been incredible and I have had half a dozen messages asking me, when does the 3rd episode come out.

The answer is TODAY – in the third and final episode of the Insta-success series of The Accommodation Show, we dig deeper into the ins and outs of using Instagram like a pro.

Instagram can be confusing and overwhelming as you need to post the right content to stay relevant to your followers while also bringing in new ones. It can be hard to figure out what kinds of posts work best but also know whether to post reels, stories, and also what tools you should be using. You might be wondering about what to post when to post, how often to post, how to create a relevant Instagram reel, how to drive action with Instagram ads, or even how to measure your success on the platform and how to put it all together. In this episode, we talk about how to build a well-defined strategy and how you can align it with your business goals.

Once again, I have the pleasure of being joined by our three-time guest, Paul Anderson, an expert in social media marketing for hospitality businesses. He has the marketing tips (that actually work) that you can use to milk instagram for all that it’s worth. Throughout the conversation, we covered a range of “how-to” questions that many businesses may have about using Instagram to promote their brand and engage with their audience. Some of the key topics we delved into included setting up an Instagram account and selecting a URL, conducting research to ensure your profile appears correctly when searched, maintaining consistency across social media platforms, measuring the success of your account, creating effective Instagram highlights, and more.

In this episode we cover:

  • How to set up an Instagram account and get started? 👩‍💻

  • What factors to consider when selecting a URL for your account? 🔗

  • How to ensure that your Instagram profile appears correctly in search results? 👀

  • How do lead forms on Instagram work? 📝

  • The ins and outs of your Instagram analytics 📶

  • Tips on how to create an effective Instagram profile🗒️

  • What are the key components of an Instagram profile for a good impression? 💻

  • How to measure the success and performance of your Instagram account? 📊

  • What factors determine the content that appears on the main profile? 📸

  • How to create engaging Instagram highlights from frequently asked questions? ❓

  • What kinds of highlights really engage audiences? 🤩

Paul Anderson is a bestselling author and owner of a successful guest house in the UK, Sandfield Guesthouse. With his extensive background in Consumer Psychology and Content Marketing, Paul is the go-to source for valuable insights into the Accommodation Industry about all things social media. Unlike generic marketing advice, Paul’s practical strategies for boosting bookings and revenue through Instagram cut through the noise and deliver real results. He’s a gifted communicator with a knack for breaking down complex concepts into easy-to-understand tips.

Paul’s teachings cover everything from technical aspects of content design, creation & publishing to customer preferences, market segmentation, data-driven marketing, and competitive advantage, all leading to fully booked rentals. His expertise is in high demand and he loves sharing his experience with others.

Take advantage of the wealth of free resources he offers on his Instagram page to take your marketing game to the next level!

Get ready for some practical tips, real-life examples, and lots of Instagram inspiration!

📽 Watch the episode here
🎙 Listen to the episode here


Hello and welcome back to The Accommodation Show, we help accommodation owners like you get the knowledge and skills to grow your business, improve your guests’ experience and increase your profitability. 

Bart: Hello and welcome back to another episode of The Accommodation Show, we are in part three of the Instagram series. Teaching you all about how to use Instagram most effectively in your accommodation business. This episode is all about being practical, what you need to do, how to do it, and what tools you can use to improve your Instagram profile. As always, if you liked the content, please make sure that you’d like and subscribe it makes a huge difference to us and enjoy the content. Let’s get straight into it. 

Hi, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of The Accommodation Show. We are in part three of talking about all things social media and Instagram. I am back with a wonderful poll. Welcome back, Paul.

Paul: It’s good to see you again. I’m dead excited just to get into the meat of things. 

Bart: Yeah, and we generally are excited to catch up. We were messaging each other last night, which was your morning, my evening. I was like I can’t wait for tomorrow to actually start talking about these things. Because we’re learning so much and there’s so much value that we’re getting from it in terms of how to use Instagram specifically for our accommodation and how to get the most out of it. We’ve gone through why of Instagram, we’ve gone through how to get lookers and turn them into Booker’s and today we’re going to get a bit more practical about the hows. How do you post what should you post? I think for a lot of people, it gets quite overwhelming because you have so many different options for how to use the platform. And then how do we create the content and how do we put it all together? And those are things that we’re going to be addressing today if I got that right path?

Paul: Absolutely. Let’s get stuck in. Yeah, beautiful.

All right. So let’s start off with some of the basics and the fundamentals of getting ourselves going. When we talk about setting up our account and getting that particular part going. What do we need to think about and what do we need to do?

Paul: Well, as we spoke about last time, it’s all about building your profile properly. So the first thing that you need in order to begin on Instagram is an Instagram account. And once you have that account, you then need to build out your profile because the idea is to for someone see a post, go to your profile, like what they see, and then move on to your website. So that’s like a key portal. So profiles are built up from a profile photo. I always recommend your lovely logo or even better face your face preference, preferably. And then you have a section called the bio. So there’s the user name, handle, and your user name. And then you have three or four lines, basically to tell your ideal guest, who you are, who you host, what makes you unique, and then tell them to hit the link in your bio because that is what will take them to your website. 

This is the most important place to put what is now becoming called Instagram SEO. So Instagram is becoming increasingly searchable. So get all your keywords in there. If you’re not sure what people are using to search, you’d go to Google Analytics, and look at your website. That will give you a very, very good pointer as to where to start. That’s the place to put your keywords. Then after that, be thinking very carefully about your address and your location. If you’re in a central location and you have lots of properties for example, then you need to make a decision as to whether those groups or not groups, but I would always recommend HQ if you only have one property, brilliant. Then you have your business details. So there is on a mobile device if you get it right there’s a Contact Us button it will take you it’ll take viewers straight through to your email address your website through the link in bio, your phone number, that type of thing. There is something that I very very recently spotted sites to see crop up in European and UK accounts when I understand that they are popping up around the world. And that is lead forms. So you can set up a lead form with three straightforward questions. Your next potential guests go yes, I’m looking to book give you some details. You get a notification, they get a notification, and you can quickly just click contact them back, email them, phone them, whatever that happens to be currently, what a lot of hosts are doing is they’re setting up automated direct messaging, which essentially says Oh, thank you for your message. We’ll get back to you whenever we can. In my personal opinion, that feels very much like don’t hold your breath. We’re not maintaining this account. We’re not all over it, but a lead form will give you a notification that someone is interested in your property and you can jump all over that. 

Bart: I’m gonna come back to lead forms in just a second because I have a couple of questions about that account setup, which I think people need to think about or review. So one of the things that strike me is the title or the URL that you get, we need to think about when we’re choosing that URL or the tag so to speak, and how does that part work for those that don’t understand it.

Paul: So the URL for your Instagram profile will be My guest house is at Sandfield guest house as I’m talking to you now, but I will be speaking to the social media who tell you so that’s your handle. That’s the tag that uniquely identifies your account. And so when considering this, it’s important to the best you can to put the name of your business, essentially, if you put silly dogs dancing, they’re not going to come and find you if you’re in a hotel and this will translate into your profiles URL. What you might find is that someone else has already been new to the particular series of characters that you want and it can be a very long length build them I recommend certainly trying and keeping them quite short and punchy. So you can say oh at Sandfield guest house, to be honest with you at the social media hotelier is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s too late now. Because what you then have beneath it and an error in my opinion that I see hosts often make is that their username is exactly the same as the app handle. The username is the place where you can put keywords so instead of saying at lovely beach chalets, you would say vacation rentals for families or something along those lines, and that would target to Tim. When it comes to your handle. Then I would say be concise, be very specific, and if you can use your business name,

Bart: One thing that I’d like to add to that is people are using that @ tag to tag you as a business. So you need to be mindful of your competitors or if there’s anyone out there using a very similar tag because what will happen is when they start punching it in, so they’ll take a photo of your accommodation, or their experience, or whatever they’ve done with you. Then they’ll try to tag you and up but at the savvier guest house but then if you’re not the first one to come up or if it’s not super clear to them that you’re the Sandfield guest house that they were looking for. What will happen is they will potentially tag one of your competitors and not you. 

So you want to make sure that as part of this setting up your profile you want to do a little bit of research and just check that if someone is putting your name in what is actually going to come up and if it’s not coming up clearly and concisely, then you need to review that particular part. How would you do that check if you’re looking at your own profile might be more problematic but take your friend’s phone and then log in to a different account and then do that process of tagging and then just see what actually comes up and I have experienced this problem over and over and over again where it’s very, very difficult to track the business that you’re actually looking for.

Paul: Excellent point well made. Yeah, brilliant. Absolutely right. What I would certainly recommend is that when you set up an Instagram account, then the first thing to do is to set up a personal account that allows you to play you can set up multiple accounts, with the same login details, so you can use a personal account and play I often recommend that my clients play to learn and you can use that personal account so I would do it by typing in at and then start spelling Sandfield guesthouse because that’s what my intended business name be. And if I get @sandfield underscore guest house if it pops up because it works a little bit like predictive text, then I will need to reconsider exactly how I go about doing it. I might want to put the underscore in the front for example.

Bart: Yeah, so do your research and really think about this from a user experience point of view. How are people going to do it? Don’t do it in a way thing. Well, if they can’t find that, I’m going to call it something else. But then you break that link between someone being on your website and then actually doing the tag. They’re going to instinctively put the name of the business in a unit to be clever enough to make sure they can identify your business.

Paul: One other important consideration is if you are already utilizing social media platforms, Twitter, and Facebook, then having consistency between them is very, very important. It will be all well and good. And I do struggle with sweat I have at Sandfield guesthouse for Facebook. I also have it for Instagram and I’m happy with that. But Twitter won’t allow me those capitals so it’s at Sandfield G house. So to have as much cohesion between all of your social media platforms and your handles will make life much easier because you say oh you can find me on any platform at that Sobeys at Sandfield guesthouse at hibiscus.

Bart: So moving on from that part, because I do want to get into making posts and carousels and all that sort of stuff. They do want to go back to lead forms. Can you please tell me about lead forms and how they work for Instagram?

Bart: Absolutely. So it’s a fairly new thing, and it’s not been announced as a new update with any fanfare. It’s just quietly creeping in. I think Instagram is testing it to see whether people are using it and they are not quite ready to have a big fanfare and a big parade about it. However, if once your profile is set up, you go into Edit Profile towards the bottom now, not on all accounts but on many accounts. If you’re a business account, there’s a button that says leave form if you tap leave form. What that then does is it allows you to describe three questions. These can be short answer questions, so might be the dates that someone is looking to stay or they can be multiple choice. You’re allowed up to three so you can just have one or you can have two or three. 

And when the viewer comes across it what happens is when they fill in the answers on this on this form, and press send, Instagram will automatically take their contact details and populate, essentially a school document. The viewer gets a copy of that by email and a notification in the app as well as the recipient. So when that pings up within the app, and on your email, it will tell you who and what the answer to the questions are and how you can contact which is a very, very direct way of a potential guest telling you I’m interested in your property and it’s a very, very manageable way for you to jump on these leads. It’s essentially as straightforward as what’s currently happening and Instagram is unique in one particular respect and you can send a direct message to anybody. 

So I have had clients who have an automatic responder. I send them a message and I always get the standard back. I’m terribly sorry. We can’t respond immediately to your message blah blah blah. We will get back to you whenever we can. Number one is that frustrates me because I message my clients quite a lot. But what I also know is that as a potential guest, it basically just puts a placeholder up and tells them just to pause. It doesn’t show much interest. It doesn’t show that you’re actively engaged with your account and your followers and people who might be interested in your business via Instagram. It basically says to them too busy to deal with you right now. I’ll get back to you whenever I can. I don’t hold my breath, because many don’t get back.

Bart: That’s right and even in my business, I find that to be a real struggle. We’ve got people that actually manage all our socials and that respond to clients. But then because there are just so many channels and so many disparate ways of people communicating imbalance sometimes it can be overwhelming to make sure that we do respond. So that’s about a little bit about process and automation that we can kind of set rules up around that. But I think that frustrating users is definitely no, no, it’s something that you need to address. So it’s better to not engage with them at all rather than frustrate them because then you’ll lose them kind of almost permanently or at least provide the right kind of context of information rather than saying, hey, what would you like you’d say, hey, we don’t take this all the time, we’ll get back to you within 24 hours. 

If you need to reach out to us, here’s a phone number, or here’s another way if it’s more direct email or whatever it might be. Now, the lead forms are fascinating. And I think that that’s something that I definitely haven’t played around with. Yet. And I think it’ll add a lot of value for people. Remember when you do those lead forms, try not to be too literal on the questions and also try to give a bit of value to people. So if you do fill this out, I will give you x y and Z be it at a discount, be it letting you know what’s happening in the local area. A bit of a lead magnet, some sort of a reason for people to fill out that form. And if you don’t have enough description boxes, on the top as to what the format she is for, you can use the questions to give them answers. So you can say would you like to give us our email address for a 10% discount? So that’s actually a question and then you do the email address below what are your ideas?

Paul: Yeah, Instagram will automatically populate that for you. So it’s a little bit like a throwback. Back in the day when I used to get inquiries by email because I wasn’t using a PMS. When I used to get faxes and I used to get phone calls if someone sent me a fax way back when I’d be all over it right find them when you want to work that out. Now with PMS in these types of things is very difficult for it’s very difficult to convince your next potential guests to make the effort to make an inquiry. Whereas the lead form is they tap a button and they say and it says oh is it a general inquiry or do you have dates in mind? I have dates in mind. Okay, the next question is what are your dates, and how many people excellent any other business know anything’s off? And it’s a little like when I used to get emails saying Oh, have you got a room on this on such and such a date? It’s a very, very direct way where you start immediately with information and you can pursue it directly. I think it’s genius. I can’t wait for it to take off.

Bart: Okay, so we’ve kind of talked about the profile of setup, the different bits that we need to think about, and get going now. We’ve talked about the fact that we want a profile to be engaging so we’ve done all those posts, our bio things like that, and now we’ve got all the stuff which sits on the bottom and there are all these different elements and if we wanted to go back to start and go alright, what are the parts that I need to review? And what do I need to make look good? What are the first parts that people gonna see on my Instagram profile? And how would I go about tying them up? And what do I need to think about?

Paul: Okay, so when someone arrives on an Instagram profile, depending upon their age, they’ll give you anywhere between three and eight seconds. That’s how long you got to make a first impression. So people will often obsess about the perfect person they’ll spend ages, getting the image right, doing some graphics, getting the caption, perfect, that type of thing. What a lot of people don’t necessarily take into account is that once that post has been created and published, and it might be 10,12 posts down the list of that grid of posts, is very rare for someone to go back and reread what you did. And so whilst crafting content, it’s important to remember that once it’s had its lifetime, for a regular static image post, you’ve maybe got 36 hours tops, it then creates a first impression. And so if you already have an account and you’re looking to dial it up, I always teach. Go back to your ideal guests and your avatar and make sure you absolutely nailed them because it’s an organic thing and your ideal guest changes over time. Then go to your profile picture your Instagram highlights the bio or the things we spoke about at the beginning. And make sure that number one the branding is aligned in terms of colors, fonts, and language messaging, but also that your bio speaks directly to that one individual. So that when they see a post that speaks to them, it resonates with them and then go to your profile that will equally do the same thing. Because then when they click through to your website, and you’ve got a theme of all that branding, or that messaging, or that styling, or the language, whether you curse when you don’t curse, whether your your your carefree or whether you’re quite formal, all of that stuff will streamline and smooth that journey from a post and through. 

So when it comes to looking at the portal, ensuring that that is cohesive between the content that you’re publishing, and your website is absolutely key and I revisit mine about every three months or so I recommend that all my clients do, and half the time, glib tweaks here and here and there. It’s very rare for dramatic changes. But given that our businesses change over time, our ideal guest changes over time then revisiting that and making those necessary tweaks is a very, very good idea and is a very good way of measuring how effective your bio, your portal, your profile is.

If in a given month or 90 days if you measure how many people visited your profile and Instagram will tell you this. And you divide in the total number of people who followed you in that time period, so maybe 1000 people visited your profile and one person followed you that’s a very good indicator that there’s a disconnect between your content. So those 1000 people see your post and then they come to your profile. And only one person is following you or your profile as a disconnect with your ideal guest because your content is really really good. I teach that aiming for somewhere between 15 and 20% is a very good conversion rate for people who arrive on your profile and then become followers. doesn’t tell you how many people are going to your website, but it’s a very good indicator. If you see that number tailing off month or month over time, then either you need to adjust your content where you need to adjust your profile to make sure that those are cohesive.

Bart: That makes complete sense. I love those stats and those numbers. I think that’s a great metric for people to be able to measure their success. You could also potentially track the Lincoln bio and see how many people have been on that link to see how effective it is. Use sources like Bitly or there are other ways that you can drive it it’ll tell you where all your traffic is coming from.

Now I just want to go back to that that that question from before about the posts on my main profile so someone visits it and they see all the posts. And then quite often there might be a scattering of different bits and pieces going on those posts so that you create them by creating posts but then how else do how does that feed populate what kind of style poses are getting into the stories that reels is it just post the post what is it on that first profile that is going to pop up?

Paul: So there are four different categories of content that can be presented to a viewer when they land on your program. The first one, I’m going to go backward. Most people leave these till the end or they’re very, very important. The first one is your Instagram highlights and which are created from Instagram stories I teach that highlights are the place to make decision-making information readily available to X potential guests. So these are built from stories. 

When you’re looking through the feed you don’t see people’s stories. These live behind the circles at the top but you can take a story and you can permanently have it in highlight. 

Classics would be FAQs. So I designed for Sandfield guesthouse, an FAQ slide for my stories. These are the questions that I answer and then I have one for Wi-Fi, and one for parking. And one for checking times. I loaded up his stories and then I archive them from stories. They sit there and I drag them all in sequence into an Instagram highlight lo and behold called frequently asked questions. The idea is that by the time someone hits that link that’s just above it and goes to the website. They’ve had most of the questions answered already. 

They’re poised to hit the button now because they think it’s good. That’s probably what that story categories two and three, I would lump together. And these are image posts. So the classic is a standard image post one picture with some text beneath it. You can create carousels that are up to 10 images so people swipe across the images. It’s like a slideshow really. And these will always sit in your grid feed in a square format as all the other grid that follows your profile bio and so on and so forth. And they all sit beneath that. I love those together because those will always go on to your profile. 

So the fourth category is Instagram reels. Now when you publish an Instagram reel, you can decide not to have it on your feed. Personally, I don’t know why people would do that. So I always toggle that on. Again, despite the fact that it’s a tall vertical video. It will be the center square that is published on your grid. There are ways of tweaking that but that’s essentially what happens. And so, on your grid feed you basically have two categories. You have a single image with images and you have video and those will fulfill that grid. When you’re creating an Instagram reel, you do have the option to put a cover on it. So you can pre-design those covers so that you know that they sit comfortably with the appearance and the aesthetic of all of your other posts. So for the social media hotelier, I alternate between blue on a yellow background and yellow on a blue background. 

And I just switched I just switched and swatch them out for an accommodation business. I think it’s more important that the covers of your videos of your reels sit comfortably alongside your posts themselves. So what I teach is that as you approach the season, spring towards the end of winter, that’s when you should be changing your colors to be perhaps more floral or greener or that type of thing. And as you approach autumn, so in the middle of summer, start going a little bit more ama a little bit more brown, but it’s important that everything goes in that direction and you lean into things if you’re not going to go to that level than having consistency brand colors. Perhaps if you superimpose your logo onto an image, always have it in the same part of the image. So everything looks in concert. At the same time, there is a move towards more original content and less curated, less prettified. And so I think if you just have that general idea in your mind, you think, hang on a minute. Everything I’m doing now is autumnal and this is a bright green and pink image. Perhaps I could do something a little bit better to make it feel a little bit more cohesive. With everything else. 

Bart: So I’d so much good value in there for everybody. And I think that I mean almost if we took all of that and just started off from there and said hey, this is what you need to know this is how you construct your feed. It’s incredibly important and I don’t want to spend today going through all the details of constructing that feed because it’s so in-depth but I want to give people the basics to think about so they can go back and have a look. Alright, I need to sort this out and I need to create some stories. And then I need to create my highlights. Let’s talk about highlights for a second and then we’re gonna go into tools that we can use to create some of this content. And I think you raised some really good points about you know, creating an FAQ for your accommodation. To me, it really strikes me that there’s so much opportunity, and things to do in the local area specials you shouldn’t miss out on and they go and click in there and they start engaging with your content, what it’s like to stay with us. What are some of the best sort of highlights that you would recommend for accommodation owners that really would engage their audience?

Paul: I think it’s important to consider very deeply what your next potential guests what your ideal guest needs to know, to push them over the light and nudge them off the fence and make them actually go through to your website and click book now. And as a result, they tend to be quite classic groups of pillars and topics that will sit very nicely within a highlight. So FAQ is an obvious one, answer the questions that you get all the time. Doesn’t have to be to the tenth degree just six or eight is probably about enough. But you can directly do that very, very quickly. The next one would be reviewed. It’s a good place to showcase what other people think about your establishment not look at me, I’m great. Other people are saying look at them. He’s great. You should go and stay with him. So you have a review as well. The danger with reviews highlighted is that people will make a story from a review. 

They’ll make a post and they’ll say we’re great. They’ll turn it into a story and then I’ll put it in the highlight and they’ll forget about it. A year later. Two years later, when someone taps that highlight. They’re seeing a story that’s a year or two old and is no longer relevant. So it’s very important that all of your content is up-to-date and relevant. Particularly highlights because if you’re making it decision-making information, putting it at your next potential guests and it needs to be pertinent. 

So FAQs reviews, I would always suggest local places to eat and drink so people know what they can do when they get there. You might have a couple of restaurants or a couple of bars. And then if people can cook and prepare food and entertain in your establishment, then highlight what and how they can do it. You might have a concierge service where that kind of eating and drinking thing. The other thing is, what can guests do when they’re staying at your establishment? You can break it into two but I would tend to collect them into one so it’s local activities indoors and outdoors. When it’s sensible to split them into two, it tends to be when there are outdoor activities, hiking. Some, I don’t know some parks, like SeaWorld, all that outdoor stuff. And when the indoor activities can also include a property that has massive TVs or pool tables, arcade games, the jacuzzi, and that type of thing. Then you can put those into one that’s separate for things to do indoors like when it’s raining, it really matters because you can do these things. And they can be hyperlocal they can be within your establishment itself. At which point it kind of gets to the end of what a guest is looking for what you’ve covered off what they can do from a destination point of view, how they can feed and nourish them themselves. What other people think about you, and you’ve answered all their questions directly there’s not a lot more that you can give them without over-saturating them. It’s important to remember that at least 80 85% of viewers will use a mobile device in order to browse and look at Instagram. And so once you get to the fifth highlight, you’re asking people to scroll across and people rarely ever do that. And it’s usually you’ve got the boring stuff at the end so just don’t bother with it. Just keep those four or five

Bart: To wrap up that highlight part. I think something which is important, like you said is to keep it concise. So make sure that you don’t have too much information in there but also make it exciting or riveting something that people are going to engage with because once again, they’ll click on it and if it doesn’t really appeal to them, they’ll click out. Don’t just take stories that are based on all the pictures of your property. It’s boring, it doesn’t work you need stories that are gonna be riveting and really pull people into your posing into your accommodation. 

So you need to put a bit of thought into that and what will happen as you create, those topics for your highlights. As you build on it, you will get better and better and have better and better content. The first part of it all is just to start doing and then after that, you can start to refine so don’t think that you need this amazing product at the end to even start, get going get something up there, and then you’re going to go through and refine. So let’s get on to that the doing part. So in terms of putting together a cover for these different posts, you said that it’s something that we can do beforehand. And we’re using a mobile phone to create these covers. Are we using a tool like Canva to create the covers? At what stage are we creating the covers when we don’t know what the content is going to be? What tools are you using? And what do you recommend recommending to your clients for the covers?

Paul: So, Instagram covers for the highlight are just circles. So depending upon the nature of your branding, and such what I usually say in the kind of go-to position would be most people have three brand colors, perhaps four. So you can have each of those brand colors, just a circle with a flat matte color as your highlights because underneath those circles you can put in the name of those highlights. So you can have an orange circle that says FAQs you can have a brown circle that says reviews can have a license depending on what your colors up. And so in doing that, what you do is you simplify what people are looking at because if it’s if you don’t put a cover and what Instagram will do is it will take the center of your first story and it will use that and that might be a picture of a house from a distance or it might be a picture of a bed, but you’re only going to get the corner of the bed for example. So I would always say if you’re not sure, pick your brand colors and just use those or stay within that hue scheme if that makes sense. 

So if you’ve got white blue and green and you want to get three colors but you want five highlights, then use a mid-blue and a dark blue or use your brand green and slightly off-green if that makes sense. So it looks deliberate a little bit like if you wear a black pair of trousers and a black jacket, it doesn’t look like a suit. It needs to be distinctly different and don’t happen to be similar. You can do that by creating these things in Canva you can literally just draw a square. Tell Canva what color you want it to export and then when you put it in Instagram will just turn it into a circle for you. If you’re already using if you’re keen on photography and graphics and that type of thing you might use Adobe’s Creative Cloud and which will give you Photoshop as well as Lightroom. So you can just draw a box or circle and put a color in it. What I have tinkered with and that I’ve had varying degrees of success with is putting the name of the highlight in that circle. So Instagram forces you to at least have something describing beneath that circle what that highlight is about. If you have the word and it’s a bit fine, it’s a bit squeezing. The question then is Do you repeat the word we just have not two dots or how does that work? So I would recommend having either a logo with a variation on it or your brand colors, block circles, and a short concise descriptor for the name of the post.

Bart:  So in terms of the covers or creating that so we want to be thinking of for the posts, we want to have sort of standardized posts. For reals do we need to put covers on them all the time or sometimes or none of the time?

Paul: So unless you’re going to instruct Instagram not to it’s called sharing to feed not to share your real, your short-form video there’s nothing fancy there just short-form video. Share your short-form video to feed. If you don’t put a cover on it. It will be the first split seconds of wherever that video is. Now, if that sits comfortably and you manage to pause it and see exactly what that looks like if that sits comfortably with the rest of your content then by all means, don’t bother with a cover. I would suggest always putting some form of cover on even if it’s just a snapshot of the first one, maybe with some words on the front that explain what the video is about. 

It could be I don’t know behind the scenes that insert location because in order to encourage people to tap and actually read content or watch a video, you need to give them a reason to do it a little bit like a headline on a newspaper. You see the image you see the headline, oh, I want to know more. Without that, you just get a random image from a video and it’s very, very unlikely that someone’s gonna go on your finger oh, I want to see what that’s about. So you can use colors very deliberately to entice people into intrigued them to look a little bit deeper. At the same time, you can ensure that your grid feed looks cohesive. Now you might decide that you want to jumble up one and you deliberately do something jumbled up or you might decide that they’re always gonna have exactly the same color scheme and the same branding. You might decide that you have a pattern whatever it is, these can be readily designed in either Canva which is free, to begin with or something like Photoshop or anywhere that you can do graphic design. The important thing to remember with Instagram reels is that they are 1920 pixels high by 1080 wide. And that whatever goes on to your feet will be a square. So you will lose the top and you will lose the bottom so it’s important to make sure that anything you’re trying to communicate via your feed as a first impression sets in that square.

Bart: So when we’re creating our cover in Canva, are we doing 1920 by 1080 Or are we going to do a square?

Paul: You’re absolutely going to do 1920 by 1080, because when someone taps through it, so the first frame that they see,

Bart: And it’s gonna crop down to something.

Paul: Crop it down to 1080 by 1080 when it’s something in your grid,, it cuts the top of the bottom off. So the way I do it is I will ask Canva to create a blank canvas, there’s 1920 by 1080. The first thing I’ll do is I’ll draw a square that’s 1080 by 1080. And I’ll put that in the middle. Anything important I want to communicate via my feed goes in that box.

Bart: So 1080 by 1080 in the middle of the square that you want.

Paul:  That’s golden that’s the important one I’ll then do at the very end of my workflow is I’ll delete that box.

Bart: And then in terms of the say you might have created your reel and got through to the end of it. That’s great real and then do you a then going to Canva and going alright, now I need to figure out what the cover is going to be.

Paul: I think it depends upon your workflow. I would always say that when it comes to creating a reel. It’s very important to understand the value that you’re trying to communicate beforehand. So I teach content creation. As a newspaper editor, I would say start with the article. Start with a value that you’re giving to your audience and then find the graphic or the video that best communicates that value. So it could be that you write a piece about in my example that I’ve been here since 1986, and I have unrivaled local knowledge. That’s my starting point and I write the caption about it and then I think, right what’s the best way to graphic graphically back that up it could be a video. And it could be a whole series of montages of me as a kid growing up in the building and lo and behold, I’m running it or it could just be a static image. I did one a few weeks back just a kid sister and I sat on a carpet in the room in that Sofia guesthouse. 

And so I would always say that if you don’t have a very good idea about the value proposition that you’re making to your next potential guest then it’s very, very difficult to create meaningful content that will resonate with people so if you know the value that you’re communicating, you’ve got a very good idea about what your headline your hook would be. And then you do the graphic bit and if that’s a reel, it then becomes very easy to go. Okay, I need 1920 I need a square here and it says I’ve lived here forever on amazing or whatever those words are, and you should already have a pretty good idea of it in terms of the construction of a reel. Adding a cover to it comes right at the very back end of the app. There is an option as well as adding color from your camera roll or your gallery as Android users know. You can pick a frame from your real so you might find that there’s a frame that seems particularly well and you just grab that one and it’s done.

Bart: That’s incredible the level of depth of the knowledge that we’ve actually shared and come up with in this episode. I think it’s going to help people to get to where they need to be and there are so many things to consider. When they’re constructing their profile, whether to do stories, reels, whether it’s to do posts and covers, or everything else that can be quite overwhelming. But look, I think that hopefully, people have got a better idea of structure and things that you need to think about. And all you need to do is put down a plan so write it all down, write down what you want to do, and you’ll start to get to where you need to go. Just to finish off on tools. So we’ve talked a little bit about the design, the covers, and that sort of thing. So we’ve got Canva and Photoshop we could go on to freelancer, we could go on to Upwork those platforms where people will do this stuff for you in terms of creating covers, or creating videos, or editing them for you in terms of the video editing part, what are you using in your business?

Paul: So there are a variety and a range of free apps that you can have on a mobile device. Some of the providers also released them for Mac certainly. So the most common ones that I encounter are vn editor, Cap cut, and InShot. My favorite is VN editor number one because Katka is owned by the same company as Tik Tok. And because I’m in the British military, I’m not allowed anywhere near anything to do with tick tock and the privacy settings are very loose and wide open in a shot in order not to have a watermark and Instagram all the social media platforms hate watermark video, you have to pay a subscription for that vn editor is completely free, although it doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles that Katka will give you such as automated captioning. 

However, if you’re just starting out, get onto the editor. It’s also available for desktop well I recently discovered is that my favorite video editing software which is DaVinci Resolve, which is free has been used to produce cuts to edit at least seven Oscar-winning films. So it’s a very steep learning curve. But once you’ve got that anything else will be a walk in the park. So if I’m doing something complicated, if I’m doing kind of head-on-a-stick training or I’m doing a masterclass or something along those lines I will use DaVinci when I’m on the go and on the move and I just want to cut something quickly, I will use VN editor and editor that is my go-to, I absolutely love it. It’s just very intuitive. The user interface is straightforward. It comes back to that play to learn. Just get stuck in if you make a mistake, it doesn’t matter you can delete it you don’t have to publish it but place an alert and if you enjoy yourself it will come through in your content.

Bart: Yeah, I love it. And I love it so much because those are the two main apps that we use as well. So DaVinci Resolve is an incredibly powerful, powerful platform where you can get so much done free of charge. So what they’ve done is they’ve kind of turned the whole industry on its head in terms of providing software, when there are other providers that make you pay upfront these guys say You know what, get all of this stuff the basics will get you everything that you need to end up videos but if you want to go professional, then that’s where the the the barriers put for the price, like if you want to do some more sophisticated things with the software, but you can do coloring you can do editing you can do all sorts of wonderful things with the free version of DaVinci Resolve it’s worthwhile learning the VN editor as well. 


It’s it there is a learning curve and I think for me I think it is for a lot of people will be quite steep. My best advice to you if you want to figure out how to use this stuff. Jump onto YouTube, say V and editor for beginners DaVinci Resolve for beginners within five to 10 minutes you can get the fundamentals that you need to get your first rails out and don’t try to learn it all just get some rails out, get some stuff done, downloaded, get it onto your feed and then afterward, you can refine and edit it and get better and better at this sort of stuff. The advantage of knowing how this software works is that when you’re creating your content, you will know what your limitations are and how to take the shots, and what to actually think about. So you might think you know what, I don’t want to get involved in video editing. I don’t think that’s a wise move. I recommend getting to know the software at least at a basic level so that if you were to give it to an editor, you would know what they’re dealing with and what their struggles will be.

Paul: And there are two important things to say certainly with DaVinci Resolve, the free version was used to cut and I’ve got a list here Mad Max parasite, Hacksaw Ridge, The Hateful Eight, Tarantino film, Whiplash, and even the social network was all done on the free version of what we need to be careful about is not to ignore Instagrams in-app video editing tools and functions and I am going to be messy and I’m not going to be shameless here. 

As a quick, it’s within the Instagram app. When people publish content, for example, there is a series of images that are tied to a particular music. When there is a published it creates a template. So every Friday, I publish a template where literally hosts just tap a template, put their own pictures in, and at times, its just perfection just sits because I’ve spent the time in DaVinci Resolve doing that. So do playing within the app itself because you can upload multiple images, that whole system of trimming sequences, adding text, and these types of things. Instagram is getting better and better and better at doing that. the benefit of doing that is Instagram will always favor and give more reach to anything that’s created within the app and something that’s created outside the app and it’s and subsequently uploaded.

Bart: And Instagram has been cheeky or I’d say they’ve caught up and now they put their logo on all the videos that you export as well to make sure that there’s that longevity for them, but look for I’m gonna have us wrap up now we’ve been talking for quite a while about Instagram and all its benefits and this is the end of our three-part series. So it’s a little bit sad. Actually, this is the last time we’ll be catching up in this particular way. But I’m sure we’ll be catching up for now, folks, if you watch the three episodes and if you like it then please subscribe. Give us a like, and give us your feedback in your comments. We’d love to see your profiles. We’d love to see what you’re doing with Instagram. And please share anything that we’ve missed because this is evolving all the time, which is why we love what we do seeing learning and getting better at everything. So like I said, make sure you subscribe below right now, Paul, thank you so much for joining me and for taking the time to help other people out. I really appreciate it. It really means an awful lot.

Paul: But I’ll be I’ll be very honest with you. I don’t have many avenues to get excited about accommodation businesses and Instagram and so having an avenue and an opportunity because the last 30 minutes or so has been really thick and fast to do that because my kids and my wife had just switched off. So to be able to talk to people that are interested and want to do something meaningful with it is one it’s a privilege and it’s a delight always to speak to you. But if anyone wants more, you can always get ahold of me @thesocialmediahotellier on Instagram. Send me a direct message. If anything that I’ve said is confusing or befuddling. Just reach out and you’ll find that everything that we’ve spoken about is pinned at the top of my profile, we didn’t even talk about the pin posted but is the size guide. How to create the perfect profile all that stuff is just sitting there waiting for you to access and feel free.

Bart: Beautiful and all those links will be in the show notes as well folks, so make sure that you have a look down below and you’ll get everything that you need. If you’re listening in your car, you’ll need to go on to the accommodation And then you can get your information that way. Paul, thank you so much. I appreciate you so much and I’m looking forward to doing more work with you in the future we’ll see you around very soon.

Paul: I can’t wait Bart. Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.

Bart: Take care.

Thank you so much for listening to the show. You can find us at where you can find all the show notes, and links to resources we have talked about transcripts in the show. I really do appreciate you listening. And if you’d like to support the show, please subscribe. Leave a comment, and share it with others.

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