OPERATORS in the tourism and hospitality sector are being urged to embrace the power of Instagram search to thrive when lockdown restrictions ease.

The managing director of a North Wales digital PR agency says that changing consumer behaviours means businesses that do not update their online strategy risk losing customers.

According to social media software Hootsuite, 81 per cent of Instagram users research products and services on the network as part of their decision-making process, much like how Google is used.

And Anthony Bullick, managing director of Mold-based Outwrite PR, is encouraging companies to understand the current buying journey of their target clients, particularly with an expected boom in staycations, day trips and eating out as lockdown restrictions are lifted.

He said: “The latest buzz phrase is Instagram SEO (search engine optimisation) which is typically associated with having a website appear prominently in search results.

“However, Instagram has become a valuable database of authentic pictures, videos, comments and reviews by real people, who users can relate to more than paid adverts or staged visuals. 

“This means someone looking for a cottage in Gwynedd, may start off with that specific phrase, but other posts shown to them will include places to eat and drink as well as local attractions.

“While the phrase Instagram SEO will likely go by the wayside, what won’t is how people use the platform to discover and make informed decisions.”

“We’re not saying abandon Google and ignore your ratings, but to add Instagram search into your mix. Use this time in lockdown to acknowledge, build and prepare for a possible summer boom.”

Naomi Spaven, the food-lover behind @LittleWelshFoodie on Instagram, said: “The power of Instagram posts and stories is becoming more and more important with regards to decision making when it comes to trying products or visiting a new place. 

“It goes beyond simply seeing what the people you follow are up to – individuals are using the platform as a resource to plan days out or entire holidays.

“Being visible in the search results is a crucial success factor for brands online.”

Multi-award winning Outwrite PR has grown into one of the most respected modern-day PR agencies in North Wales and Cheshire.

The agency specialises in integrated PRonline reputation managementcrisis PR, and social media training.

For more information, visit www.outwrite.co.uk