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Hootsuite has released new research showing that Australian hospitality brands that frequently use Instagram to engage consumers could grow their audience by up to ten times.

Between 1 November 2016 to 31 January 2017, the social media management platform examined the social media activities and behaviours of 297 bars, restaurants and hotels across Australia and 30,000 Instagram users.

The results, released on 7 March, found that social media engagement has the ability to drive purchasing decisions and help develop long-lasting customer relationships.

Key findings include that 71 per cent of consumers make purchasing decisions based upon what they discover on social media, with influences driving up to 87 per cent of post volume for hotels, bars and restaurants.

“Social media has transformed the way Australians discover, consume and share experiences at hotels, bars, and restaurants,” says Ben Mulligan, Regional Marketing Leader, Australia & New Zealand, Hootsuite. “With more access to real-time information than ever before, the customer journey has evolved, and organisations need to think ‘digital first’ to meet and capitalise upon the expectations of the connected consumer.”

The research found that an Australian hotel, bar or restaurant is tagged on Instagram every 28 seconds. Active businesses on social media are also perceived 20 per cent more positively than those who are not active, while businesses not engaged with users on Instagram are limiting their potential audience to less than 10 per cent.

Robin Maes, Director of Digital Media, Event Hospitality & Entertainment says by engaging social media users, brands are creating meaningful relationships with consumers.

“Social is reshaping how communities communicate, trade, work and live together. Flights, hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, tours, attractions, cities, people, transport and everything on a trip for both business and leisure is documented with the tap of your phone’s camera,” Robin says.

When engaging influencers, the Hootsuite report found brands seeking a more targeted reach and active followers should turn to micro influencers: users with between 1000 to 10,000 followers, which tend to have more localised followings and can drive on average, 87 per cent of post volume for hospitality brands. Major influencers on the other hand, boost the volume of users talking about a brand by 61 per cent on average.

In some cases, the report found employees may also collectively hold more power and reach than brands on social media channels. By including and enabling employees to share in a company’s social strategy, brands have the ability to reach new audiences online and increase engagement considerably.

Hootsuite is one of the most widely used social media management platforms, used by more than 15 million people around the globe.

Download the report here.

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