@Airbnb: 191 countries, 3.1 million followers, $2.6 billion in revenue

Posted on
July 31, 2018

      Airbnb is a service company that acts as an online marketplace for people to lease or rent lodging across the world. It also provides unique hospitality experiences such as tours and lessons on local experiences such as surfing through local hosts. However, as a larger company, Airbnb still distinguishes itself by advertising high-quality, meaningful stories that go beyond just finding somewhere to stay for vacation or a trip. On their Instagram, they tell customer-personalized stories about their services and collect artistic visuals from the digital community to accompany them.

     With a target audience of both travelers, such as casual ones looking for an experience or cheaper costs, and potential hosts who are interested in providing an experience that Airbnb advertises, the Airbnb Instagram page reposts user-generated photos from its hosts and guests to embrace message of “Don’t just go there, live there.” Real-time photos are accompanied by stories and short messages that give a preview into the user’s life and how it relates to where they traveled. By seeing images of the places and cultures surrounding where people are staying, potential customers and Instagram users are told a story that they connect with a whole network of travelers and adventurers through Airbnb.

Instagram post showing a hospitality experience. Credit: @airbnb.

     Nearly all of the 2,000 posts on their account are from users that have been selected from over 2.2 million posts with #airbnb and hundreds of thousands of more posts with variations of this hashtag such as #airbnbphoto. Whether you are into seeing beautiful photos of the destinations Airbnb customers travel to or are interested in how you can promote the culture of your hometown, Airbnb definitely sheds light on the perks of a “sharing economy” that involves exchanging enthusiasm for traveling and willingness to provide exceptional living experiences. This approach to the travel and lodging industry, as shown on their Instagram and how users are changed by their Airbnb experiences, has boosted Airbnb’s revenue and profit margins. Compared to competitors that offer lodging, Airbnb’s dominance in user-generated content and their ability to leverage the networks of their followers has led to high post volume.

User generated content leading to high post volume. Credit: Crimson Hexagon.

     In general, their feed consists of slightly edited but mostly untouched pictures that capture the natural beauty of traveling and landscapes. Sometimes the human subject is in focus, but most of the time they are secondary to the landscape. Overall, there is mot a lot of editing to the pictures, which mainly rely on aspects of the environment (local scenery, buildings, weather/lighting, nature). As seen in the screenshot below, the earthy color palette arrives naturally due to the outside settings or framing of the outside in the photos.

Screenshot of Airbnb's Instagram feed. Credit: @airbnb.

     To bring attention to some of the places where you can lodge through Airbnb, the Instagram story feature advertises a scheduled Travel Tuesday’s story. They add designs that combine text, typography, and photos to provide hints/facts into an area they are describing. After the hints are presented, you can vote for your guess of where this is before an answer and additional photos of the area is provided.

Interactive content by Airbnb. Credit: @airbnb.

     Despite starting in 2008 and being on social media years later, Airbnb not only has an incredible following of 3.1 million followers but has proven a formula that other Fortune 500 companies should follow. While the service they provide leans toward a social media post to recap customer stories, Airbnb still has three times as much followers as other similarly aged service companies such as Uber. Their posts receives a wide range of likes per post (apx. 6k-30k), but their most common range is 10k-20k likes.

      However, Airbnb’s digital marketing and branding strategy went through numerous iterations. In the beginning, the company was struggling to stay afloat and their founders had to resort to selling cereals to keep it funded. Their original logo was also a work in progress, as they were in the midst of trying to acquire their first customers.

Original logo of Airbnb.

     After just finishing our own recent rebranding process and launching ourselves into client acquisition and sales, we hope to learn from the persistence of the Airbnb founders and how their company has grown. Its influence has drastically changed how people find lodging and cut traditional hotel prices, but it all began with the founders struggling to find housing themselves. We hope to change the digital marketing landscape and connect more students to businesses for marketing work, as we have experienced unrewarding work despite our career interests. If you would like to learn more about our process and history, check out our website and social media platforms. Thanks for being a part of our journey.  


Baker, Mike. “How Airbnb Went Mainstream.” Crimson Hexagon, Crimson Hexagon, 18 Aug.      2016, www.crimsonhexagon.com/blog/how-airbnb-went-mainstream/.

Posted on
October 3, 2017
Instagram Case Study