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How to Grow your Watersport Business via Instagram

05/19/2021

This blog was inspired by a recent Awkward Watersport Guys Podcast episode discussing the Instagram Paradigm and why Instagram cannot be treated like just another Facebook. Take a listen, and refer to this blog for further information.

So you made up your mind that you want to start your watersport business Instagram account, or you already have one, but you’re not sure if your efforts are yielding maximum results. In this blog, you will learn how to ensure that your Instagram profile is poppin’ and provides you with the highest possible return on your investment. See why companies choose Instagram over other platforms to grow their businesses.

Table of Contents

Why Watersport Operators Should Care About Instagram

Among many other reasons, one of the most obvious perks of Instagram is that it is a viral platform used by a young demographic who spend countless hours looking for fun things to do. That’s why if you want to promote your business to someone around 25-34 years old, Instagram is your go-to platform.

However, you might also be surprised to know that senior citizens are more active on social media than ever before. If you are in an area full of seniors, be sure to check out our guidelines for promoting your watersport business to older demographics.

Even if you are already promoting your watersport business on Facebook and/or Twitter, Instagram will allow you to post your content to those platforms simultaneously along with your Instagram post. This Instagram integration allows you to save time spent logging in to each network. As we all know, when it’s high season for watersports, we don’t have time for that.

Some watersports operators like BBB Boat Rentals don’t even have their own website and use Instagram as a primary communication platform to take bookings from their customers. However, it is easy to lose track of your booking flows unintentionally, especially if they are coming from different sources. That’s why when we built WaveRez; we made sure that booking management is nice and easy. Take a look for yourself at the video below that shows how our proprietary Matrix View lets you manage your equipment and water-based activities.

If you want to see other WaveRez booking software features in action, make sure to check out our YouTube Tutorial Playlist for more information.

Setting Up Your Watersports Instagram Account 

Suppose you are just starting your watersports business account on Instagram. In that case, there are several key things you need to pay close attention to, because it will determine how your followers will interact with you and how Instagram will rank your profile.

Username

If you are just creating your Instagram profile, the very first thing you need to do is select a username. It’s essential you make the right choice in username from the beginning because, not only will your followers memorize it, things can get tricky if you change your Instagram username frequently. That’s why we recommend selecting a username wisely, which might be no easy task for a watersports company; here are some tips to consider when choosing your Instagram username:

  1. Original – Instead of being called “thebestjletskirentals”, choose a name that will make you stand out from the crowd. Many watersports Instagram business accounts come with similar names, and it’s hard to distinguish.
  2. Simple – Don’t overthink the previous point and keep in mind that your Instagram followers will want to remember how to look you up. If your business name is too long, see if you can find a way to shorten it by acronymizing it.
  3. Consistent – If you are already on other social networks, such as Facebook, then see if you can select the same username. This will help make sure your followers can find your business easily on the platform of their preference.

Profile Type

There are 3 types of Instagram accounts to choose from Personal, Creator, and Business. The most relevant one for watersports businesses is a business account; however, if you are a captain like Alex Kendrick, you can also consider choosing between Personal and Creator accounts. Each Instagram account type has its own pros and cons, so you might want to take a close look at it before you make up your mind.

Bio Section

The bio section of your profile is one of the key spots your followers will pay close attention to when coming across your Instagram profile, especially if it’s their first time on your page. Think of the bio section as your business card – what you want to include are your business information and key selling points. 

If you have multiple watersports businesses like Alex Kendrick does, consider using your bio section to include information about all of your companies by tagging their Instagram profiles. It will help make sure your Instagram followers are aware of everything you do so they can go ahead and check for more information.

Additionally, here are some other things to include in your bio section:

Creating Your Custom Location Tag

Creating your first post on Instagram presents you with the perfect opportunity to make your location tag! Why should you create your own Instagram location tag? Here’s why:

  1. Customers tag themselves using your location tag on their posts and stories, and their followers can see where you are located.
  2. It’s a great way to gain more exposure on Instagram and spread the word about your business and the services you offer.

Instagram Verification

Once you have created your first post on Instagram, and have completed the previous steps to set up your Instagram account, you can try your luck in submitting a request for Instagram verification. We say luck because Instagram uses a mysterious process when deciding who is eligible for the blue checkmark and who is not. Sharkbanz is among the few watersports businesses, that we are aware of, that has the Instagram badge. Here is why you should try to get the badge for your page:

  1. Higher Trustworthiness – your customers can be confident that your watersports business is not a scam.
  2. Increased Brand Awareness – your account appears in the top suggestions in accounts to follow.
  3. Creates Noteworthiness – not many watersports businesses have been verified on Instagram, so use it as an opportunity to get recognized.

Prepping Content in Advance

Although optional, it will help you long-term, especially when your watersports business goes off-season. Many tour operators choose to post things as they go. While this approach makes sense because you want to make sure your content is relevant, you might run out of content when the off-season arrives.

Instagram is watching your account to make sure it stays active, not to mention inactivity can cause you to lose your Instagram followers. Having a nice mix of preplanned content to ensure you stay active, while also integrating in customer stories as they occur, is a great way to stay on top of the game and engage with your followers consistently. Just remember, that it is critical to only post new content because it’s not professional to re-post what you have posted.

Instagram Content Examples for Watersports Operators

Now that you’ve had a chance to set up your watersports Instagram business account, let’s take a look at examples of content you can share and, most importantly, how you should share it.

First Instagram Post

When you are making your first post on Instagram, it’s your only chance for a first impression with your customers. That’s why it’s important not to be salesy, the goal is to break the ice. Take some time to introduce yourself, your business, and the services you offer. Remember, if you run a jet ski rental business, your customers may also be looking for other fun things to do on the water in the area. Tell your customers where they can find you and, what you offer, and don’t forget to create your custom location tag. Tricking your customers can lead to difficult situations, which you definitely want to avoid.

Your Customers Having a Good Time

Your customers are your salespeople. If they have a good time with you while renting your pontoon boat or going snorkeling, don’t miss the opportunity to capture these moments and post them on Instagram. 

When you post this type of content, consider using Instagram carousels as opposed to multiple separate posts. The Instagram algorithm favors carousel posts more than regular ones, allowing your account to show up more. Additionally, it also lets you increase users’ curiosity and get them to swipe through the images and be more engaged.

Observing Holidays at Your Watersports Business Location

Suppose you choose to observe holidays via experiential turn. In that case, you should consider having holidays as one of the final points when using the Skimming Pricing Strategy and announce a holiday discount via an Instagram post.

The Instagram Business Team recommends that you highlight your team’s holiday celebrations, and this is a great way to promote your watersports business online. Share photos and videos of your team celebrating the holiday to take your followers behind the scenes of your holiday party or any specific holiday-themed events you planned for your customers.

Instagram Stories

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to content development is that you want to limit the number of Instagram posts between 1 and 3 per day. However, generally speaking, the best way to identify the amount of posts you should make from your account is to determine the number that you can keep up with consistently. Keep in mind that quality should be a priority over quantity. It is always better to post less content and have high-quality photos than post low-quality content more frequently.

Also, keep in mind that it can be overwhelming and look spammy if your followers scroll the feed and all they see are your posts. To address this problem, in 2016, Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, which allows you to share regularly without worrying about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day, and be as creative as you wish. You can bring your story to life in different ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and will not appear on your profile grid or in the feed, unless you include them in your Story Highlights.

Let’s talk about some examples of content development you can consider posting via Instagram Stories. Below, are a few ways to outsmart the Instagram Algorithm in 2021 using Stories features, but be sure and take some time to explore them all.

Quizzes

Create a series of fun quizzes where your followers choose the correct answer from a set of options  (4 options max), and whoever answers the most questions right gets a prize, like your company’s merchandise. Here are some examples:

  1. When was the company founded?
  2. What was the reason for starting the company?
  3. How can they book with you?

Be sure to ask questions that can’t be easily Googled, and consider keeping your quiz active for only a few hours so that your followers don’t have to wait too long to see if they won.

Poll

When running a watersports business, it can be helpful to know your customer’s opinion, so just ask! This is when the poll feature of Stories can be handy. Asking your followers things like, should we get a new Sea-Doo or WaveRunner, can help determine what might be most popular with your guests.

Countdown

Are you just opening up your pontoon boat rental this season? Great! Let your followers know how much time is left before you launch your business, or count down other important things like… How long until the weekend?

Questions

instagram-stories-questions-feature

Sometimes it’s’ hard to know what questions your followers might have about your watersports business. Consider providing an opportunity for your audience to ask questions through Instagram Stories, then share your answers via video in the following story. You can select the ones you want to highlight, they will not be seen until you pick them.

Story Highlights

One of the other features you don’t want to overlook is Story Highlights. Story Highlights let your Instagram Stories be visible for as long as you wish, unlike regular Instagram Stories that disappear after 24 hours.

A great example of an Instagram Story that can stay permanent on your profile could be your pricing structure. Instagram Story Highlights are much easier to look up than posts in the feed, so think of them as a way of sharing the essential information you want your followers to know before they book with you.

Video

When it comes to posting videos on Instagram, there are 2 ways of doing it – as regular videos or reels; let’s talk about both separately.

Regular Videos & IGTV

When you have footage recorded longer than 30 seconds and/or it is horizontal, Instagram will prompt you to post it as a regular video. Regular videos, just like any other type of content you post on Instagram, can be shared with Stories, and you will have a choice to make it stay permanent on your profile via Stories Highlights.

Some great examples of videos you can record might include your customers enjoying your pontoon boat rentals or behind the scenes snorkel gear prep. Either of them will provide your followers with an idea of what to expect if they book with you.

Additionally, if your video is longer than 1 minute, then Instagram will provide you with an opportunity to choose a cover image. When it comes to your Instagram growth strategy, a planned Instagram layout grid is a must. Not only do people need to understand what the video is about, simply by looking at your grid view, you must convince them to watch the video.

Instagram Reels

Another way of recording a video and posting it on Instagram is via Instagram Reels. If you want to become a star on Instagram overnight and you’ve done your research on hashtags, you definitely want to look into Instagram Reels.

Instagram Reels are short vertical videos up to 30 seconds that tend to be viewed more often by Instagram users than regular videos. Since it was first introduced in August 2020, Instagram Reels became a viral way to grow your Instagram profile engagement, and different online guides are teaching how to make sure your Instagram Reels are poppin’. The trend of getting more views through Instagram Reels than regular Instagram videos is observed on our WaveRez Instagram page; take a look for yourself.

Instagram Algorithm & Techniques

One of the other important things to bear in mind is that it’s tough to grow organically on social media these days, even though you might have a solid content strategy in place. That’s why not only should you know what to post, but also how to post. Let’s take a look at what to do in 2021 so that the Instagram Algorithm works for you, not against you.

Hashtags

When it comes to posting content, whether it is a post in the feed or stories, you want to make sure that you always add hashtags in the captions. Hashtags are a word or several words that group the content on Instagram and make it searchable within the platform. If you are just starting your Instagram page, you want to make sure your content has relevant hashtags in it, and we will cover some examples of what makes hashtags good or bad.

By the way, you can also follow hashtags on Instagram. Check out the hashtags followed by WaveRez and see if you can find any that fits your business profile.

Area Hashtags

The Instagram Paradigm episode of the Awkward Watersport Guys podcast stressed the importance of area hashtags. You need to do research to determine what area hashtags are being used in your destination. For example, in Destin, FL some of hashtags are #CrabIsland, #DestinFlorida, #EmeraldCoast. The easiest way to find out your area hashtags is by checking out other Instagram business profiles in your area or searching for them via Instagram search.

Industry Hashtags

One of the other types of hashtags you should look into are industry-specific hashtags. If you run a jet ski rental company, then you don’t want to miss out on a chance to include either or both #JetSkiRentals and #watersports on your posts. Your potential customers are out there using Instagram as a tool to search for watersports activities, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to be seen in their search.

Unhelpful Hashtags

Some hashtags can be so popular on Instagram that using them would not bring any additional value to the reach of your posts. For example, beach-themed hashtags like #sand, #sun, #sunshine.

As a rule of thumb, the number of hashtag mentions should be somewhere between 1k and 100k. If it is less than 1k mentions, then nobody is likely to search for it, and if it is 100k+, it is easy to get lost among suggested posted content, which is why you need to find a balance.

Own Hashtags

If you are looking to group your content in different ways, consider doing so via your own hashtags. Because we have a WaveRez blog series and a WaveRez podcast show that we post every other week, we have created a separate hashtag for both – #WaveRezBlog and #WaveRezPodcast. It could also be as simple as your company name if it does not fall under the category of unhelpful hashtags. Thankfully, #WaveRez works just fine for us.

Shareable and Saveable Content

One way to beat Instagram algorithms in 2021 is by focusing on the number of content shares and saves instead of the number of likes. Your customers are your salespeople, so think of it as a massive opportunity to leverage. When creating shareable Instagram content, think of the following scenario to make sure it works:

  1. Your potential customers find out about you through Instagram.
  2. They decide to book your boat rental.
  3. They become your customers, and they enjoy spending time with you
  4. You take pictures of them and tag them on the post.
  5. Your customers not only like your post but also share their fun memory with their followers.
  6. New potential customers find out about your business and book with you because they trust their friend’s choice.
  7. The Instagram algorithm favors more shareable content than likable, and the algorithm lets you reach more people.

Comments

The comments you receive on Instagram under your posts are one of the most important indications as to whether you are on the right track with your content development. Not only should you read them, but also like them and respond to them with follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. That way, your followers will get acknowledged and engaged, and Instagram will let your profile show up more frequently within the platform.

Conclusion

According to our business experience, Instagram is one of the few remaining social media platforms out there that will let you grow organically, i.e. without having to spend money to promote your posts and page. However, if you decide not to stop there, and we highly recommend you don’t, consider some of the best ways to market your watersports business in the new digital era, as recommended by WaveRez CEO, Greg Fisher. But when focusing on Instagram be sure to post when your audience is most active, experiment with different ways of posting and developing content, and see what keeps your audience the most engaged. Digital Marketing is all about experimenting with different methods, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach that every single watersport business can use.

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