How OYO Grew To 10,000 Followers In 1 Year On Instagram

The branded budget hotels chain followed a three-pronged approach for its content strategy to cater to each type in the community, now it has a passionate and highly engaged follower base

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Digital natives are a visually expressive lot. This new breed is constantly on the lookout for newer technologies to be able to express themselves more in pictures, less in words. What they lack textually, they more than make up for with pictures: Pictures to show off their creative side, pictures to bring forth their food and travel preferences, and pictures exhibiting their individual personality. All this makes Instagram a natural choice among new age consumers, who are also creators in their own right.

The Facebook-owned photo and video sharing social app is a haven for its 400 million strong community of creative commandos. Instagram enables them to not only share their momentous shots with the world at large, but also gain instant gratification in the form of likes.

In the “Indians on Instagram” study by Neilsen last year, it was found that over 90% of local Instagrammers are less than 30 years old, mobile-first users with high spending power. On reasons why Indians use Instagram, the report found that most of them express themselves artistically among like-minded people and then to follow celebrity trends. Some of them discover information and also share food and travel options.

For brands looking to woo this demographic, content that resonates with them, holds the key. Quite a few Indian brands are making phenomenal use of this visual medium, to tell their story one picture at a time. (Read more: How Indian Brands Are Telling Stories On Instagram One Picture At A Time)

And, there’s one brand, – a new entrant with relatively just a year on Instagram – that has reached a milestone on its Instagram page. Branded budget hotels chain, OYO that joined Instagram just a year ago on April 21 2015, has now over ten thousand followers, all earned in the one year of its existence.

OYO with a young twenty-something CEO at the helm, has not been tinkering around with its marketing efforts, unlike how many in the industry perceive these new age aggregator companies to be. Far from it, the healthily funded company has been taking carefully measured strides on digital media.

One of the strides on Instagram has paid off with a highly engaged community. Today OYO’s Instagram followers are a passionate lot, engaging with the handle, collaborating and participating in its various initiatives, sharing their own experiences while finding relevant information about its flagship hotels.

“Instagram is an extremely powerful platform to communicate with the youth – this segment is always on-the-move and always on the look-out for high-quality content,” Siddharth Jain, Head – Content & Community Engagement, OYO explained on their idea for going active on Instagram. It provides an opportunity for engagement ‘in extremely relevant contexts’, he added.

Today the OYO community on Instagram is one of the strongest compared to the brand’s other social media platforms. The year-long journey has been marked with a well crafted content plan, one that catered to each of its community’s needs.

Content. Content. Content.

OYO identified its community as three buckets: those who want to get inspired, those who seek information and those who just want to share their experiences through the platform. “Hence we followed this three-pronged approach while sharing content, ensuring that we were serving one (or more) of the three needs,” he shared while reflecting on the content strategy applied.

“In the first phase, we focussed on India – covering experiences and popular destinations. We then added images from our properties, UGC, OYO-curated events and other topical themes.”

Hashtags are used efficiently for the images, and thought is put into the copy accompanying each image as well. The handle uses geotagging and often adds #OYOgram to its posts. The team has photographers and content writers, and often collaborates with freelancers.

OYO is a happy facilitator of Instameets, a global phenomenon powered by Instagram. Like-minded Instagrammers meet each other, share photography advice and create, explore and celebrate their creativity. OYO has conducted InstaMeets in many cities in India, with great response. Siddharth informs that the recent Instameets in Ahmedabad and Kolkata got more than a hundred participants each, with great engagement.

Conducting a successful Instameet does require a lot of planning though. A lot of credit for this, he said – “goes to our on-ground teams who execute the activity on the day itself. Also, our Insta partners who help us promote and bring together a community of enthusiasts.”

Prior to a meet, a theme is decided upon, that is usually specific to that city. “Careful planning also goes in deciding the time of event since we do these events on a pan-India basis. There is a lot of activity that happens post the event and we select and showcase the best entries of the event on our handle as well as our blog.”

“Being associated with OYO has been a great experience. Their team has a friendly start-up spirit yet very organized and professional about the way they do things. I have enjoyed working with them and look forward to future engagements,” Mohit Challa from Instagram Ahmedabad shared. Below is a video shared by a user of the Ahmedabad meet:

Instagram ads, introduced in India last year, has been serving quite a few Indian brands to drive app installs and build awareness. For OYO, however, the use of ‘Instagram ads have been largely experimental in nature and aimed at brand awareness’, rather than to build its follower base. (Read more: Indian Brands Reveal How They Are Using Instagram Ads Effectively)

The future road map

OYO’s focus on Instagram is only to keep building this closely-knit community further, and future ideas are conceived with this in mind. Siddharth revealed an interesting idea in the pipeline: an OYO exhibition, which will be initiated as the community grows further.

But, the platform itself is evolving as a business, and walking down the path of Facebook. Very soon Instagram will have an algorithmic feed more like the Facebook news feed. What this means is that from here on Instagram will no longer feature familiar reverse chronological ordered photos and videos. The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on: the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.

This sure poses a challenge to OYO in engaging all of its community. But, Siddharth believes that content will remain the king even after the advent of the new feed. Besides, the company plans to ‘significantly scale up its offline events, partnerships and launch innovative campaigns to further enhance the experience of its Instagram community.’

“Our focus will be towards generating and sharing unique content.”

Apparently, Instagram is a natural fit for the branded budget hotels chain. Siddharth said he feels fortunate to be operating in this category, ‘since beautiful travel experiences augmented by well-clicked photographs make for very high-quality and absorbing content,’ he cited.

This also conforms to what was highlighted in the ‘Indians on Instagram’ Neilsen study:  “Indian Instagrammers are avid travellers, 50% of whom have taken four vacations the past year.” Brands in the business of food, travel and tourism could well benefit from this.