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An inspirational niche travel account on Instagram, @skitouringnorway was created with the aim to promote numerous backcountry skiing experiences and to position Norway as the ultimate destination for off-piste skiing and adventure.

Ski touring is carried out in the backcountry on unmarked or unpatrolled areas. For decades, traditional alpine skiing, which is performed on perfectly prepared pistes, has remained the most popular holiday type for ski enthusiasts. But the shift towards a greater individualization, as well as the appetite for unique experiences has not spared the winter sports sector. Today, ski touring, along with other winter sports carried out in more untamed landscapes, is gaining popularity across the globe.

Using only organic strategies, @skitouringnorway is skyrocketing on Instagram. Compared to the average engagement rate of 4.94% within the travel sector, the account stats are just staggering. During the late-season skiing in the springtime, many of the profile posts saw an average engagement rate of over 50%, and moving into the summer—the off-peak season for skiing—our top-performing posts still have an average engagement rate of 20%.

All achieved with no paid support.

Discover the organic strategies we use to increase Instagram engagement and drive traffic to the page in the next couple of paragraphs.

Content Strategy & Digital Storytelling

Within a year, we’ve managed to build a dedicated community of local and international adventurers. The account does particularly well because it is a niche interest page which highlights and supports the community members, sharing user-generated content (UGC) which is accompanied by value-added copy.

With the aim of creating positive brand associations and promoting ski touring tourism, our social strategy and content plan focus is on high-quality visuals, which vary from atmospheric natural scenery to inspiring action shots.

In addition, our page is a great source for must-know information and it also provides a platform for social takeovers involving a range of influencers who share a passion for ski touring. Topics vary from safety tips and experience types to highlighting ski touring destinations within Norway.

As well as in-feed posts, Instagram stories are used as an extra space to educate our community and promote Norway as the ultimate ski touring destination. One such example is our Instagram Story Quiz strategy, where participants are asked to test their knowledge and are then shown a series of informational stories related to the addressed topic. Along with gathering useful user insights, Instagram Polls are used to reinforce positive brand associations through humorous captions.

Engagement Strategies

We continually develop new strategies to encourage more users to mention the account’s branded hashtag, #skitouringnorway.

When Instagram’s “Add post to your story” feature was introduced, we implemented a dual post strategy. This provided us with an opportunity to increase the featured post reach but it has also provided further encouragement for the community to use the tag, as their posts receive double exposure on our part!

The account growth can also be attributed to the sharp increase in user-generated content, which ski tourers tag in hope of a takeover. In addition to sharing first-hand expertise and experience, takeovers provide cross exposure when influencers announce their Ski Touring takeover to their own following.

To encourage tourism to Norway and increase representation in the ski touring community, we actively engage with female skiers and groups as well as reach out to international adventurers to organise takeovers. Recent takeovers featured a ski touring couple from Sweden, as well as a German photographer and skier.

In an effort to increase the diversity of the Ski Touring Norway audience, one example includes the niche hashtag strategy, which makes our content discoverable by Norway enthusiasts, nature lovers, and adventure travel communities.

So all in all…

The claim ‘organic social is dead’ is a myth. We saw it for ourselves — high engagement within a niche Instagram community can be achieved and maintained through an interactive story strategy, value-added educational content (often presented with an added humour!), and through providing exposure to relevant audiences, such as account takeovers and the use of less frequently used hashtags. You don’t always need to pay for people to discover and like you!