Social Media Branding with Pinterest and Instagram

Keeping up with the latest social media tools is not an easy task. But forward thinking airports tend to be the early adopters who benefit from getting in ahead of the competition. Now is the time for airports that are not already using Pinterest and Instagram to reach their travelers, to get on board. From generating interest in your airport to catching the attention of travellers with the new wave of social media, Pinterest and Instagram are essential tools for savvy airport marketers.  Pinterest just recently launched business accounts and Instagram can be used in a fun and creative way to grab the public’s attention.

Pinterest is considered the third largest social network in the world with about four million visitors a day. The site can help build an airport’s brand and reach a customer base that you may not have access to utilizing just Facebook and Twitter. With Pinterest, airports can share current content and find out who is following them. It’s an added way for socially connected airports to share tips, updates, and images, as well as build a following that will circulate important brand messaging.

Instagram is a free mobile app that allows you to share photos, and what better place to use it than an airport to highlight the latest enhancements and retail offerings. The app has approximately 80 million users and was recently acquired by Facebook.

Using Pinterest to Generate Buzz

Pinterest accounts are easy to set up and easy to manage. The four components of a successful business account includes communicating your airport’s story, building a community, sending traffic to your web site, and expanding your online social media presence in a multi-disciplinary way. To get started, create a Pinterest profile that illustrates the identity of your airport and then verify your web site to confirm membership.  

It is best to design inspiring boards by concentrating on specific topics like traveling, eating and entertainment, and utilize captivating photos to accompany the content. Creating boards that focus on special offers, discounts, or highlight a sneak peek of a new airline service launch are also very effective. It is possible to celebrate the seasons with images and articles about holiday destinations and you can invite fans to tell their travel stories for increased engagement.

With Instagram Let Pictures Do the Talking

Photos are a great way to tell an airport’s story and to showcase its superiority. To begin marketing on Instagram, create a location page for your airport and then get creative adding your airport and travel related images. You can have photo-guessing contests, by taking a picture and displaying only a portion of it and have your followers try to figure out what the image is showing. For example, you could expose a small part of an airplane wheel or the handle to a piece of luggage. Post snapshots of your airport’s equipment to show a behind the scenes look at airport operations. Get personal by showcasing your employees doing their jobs, or use a series of photos to explain how something like the baggage carousel works. Let viewers be the first to see a new service or change to your airport by giving them a photo tour.

The advantages of Instagram as a marketing tool are its mobility and photo-sharing features which people are getting increasingly more addicted to. For your Instagram account, choose the same name as your Twitter account, because using the same moniker ensures that when a user tags a photo and shares it on Twitter, the tag will link back to your airport’s Twitter profile. Another benefit you will find with Instagram is being able to use images on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and Foursquare. Add a hashtag to photo captions as a way to organize and keep track of images according to location, event, or subject matter. Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of a little humor when promoting your airport on Instagram.

Let Pinterest and Instagram Work for You

Pinterest and Instagram are both viable marketing tools for airports especially if you take the time to analyze the kind of content your community posts.  After you review and evaluate that information, a plan can be formulated to attract more followers.

Social media savvy airports that have already incorporated Pinterest in their marketing communications mix include Harsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Indianapolis International Airport, San Antonio International Airport, San Diego International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport, which all have multiple Pinterest boards.

Some common subjects appearing on the boards are shopping, eating and artwork at the airport, travel destinations, things to see and do in the airport city, and activities while on a layover. San Diego International Airport also has a board about “Aviation Pioneers and Heroes,” as well as a board recommending travel books. San Francisco International Airport showcased a Halloween board, showing passengers dressed up standing in front of an orange, backdrop that says, “Trick or Tweet Enjoy the spirit of Halloween at SFO.”

Detroit-Metro Airport has pictures on Instagram, which were taken by travelers. Many airlines utilize Instragram for promotions. Frontier Airlines announced that Grey Goose Vodka is now served as an in-flight beverage by using Instagram. Virgin America introduced a campaign that uses passenger’s photos to show how much they enjoy flying with airline. Followers share their images using the hashtag #myvxexperience. American Airlines ran a contest titled “Get Mobile Get Moving,” to encourage travelers to submit a photo based on a weekly theme. The contest continued for four weeks with a new winner being picked every week. Prizes included two-round trip tickets and a Nikon camera. One of the themes was “What do you take with you?” In addition the airline selected photos to post on American’s Facebook page.

So, if your airport is not as social as some of the above, it might be worth trying some of the latest social media tools to ensure that your airport is on the forefront of this important marketing technology.

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Agnes Huff, PhD, has more than 25 years of experience providing specialized strategic public relations and marketing, crisis management and business consulting to a diverse group of clients in the aviation industry. In 1995, she founded Agnes Huff Communications Group (AHCG) an integrated marketing and PR consulting firm headquartered in Los Angeles. Clients include national and international airports and airlines, government entities, travel and tourism organizations, and transportation companies, among other high-profile industry clients. She welcomes feedback and will respond to comments at More information on AHCG is available at