Think Local Businesses can only grow a (small) local following on Instagram? Think again. Instagram is such a great platform for so many different types of businesses, that if what you’re doing is eye catching, fun or fabulous there’s no reason why you can’t have a huge following.
Don’t believe us? Check out Gelato Messina. They’re a ‘local’ gelato business who have a store in Sydney and now in Las Vegas. You have to go to their actual outlets in order to do business with them yet they have over 115,000 followers on Instagram.
So here’s five ways you can maximise your Instagram account as a local business. Because if you’re local, you’ll want people in your area to be able to find you.
1. Always use a location specific hashtag
Be found where you want to be found! If you service a local area, then you’re doing your business a BIG disservice if you’re only using broad hashtags. Always tag your local area – in fact, tag areas nearby which may also be of interest. When Dotti hold workshops in our local area we always tag the surrounding towns because it’s still relevant to people in those areas and that’s where we want to be found.
Not sure whether anyone is using your local hashtag? Search on Instagram to see how many photos have been posted with that hashtag and what other related hashtags show up. Make sure that you also start to follow other local businesses in your area who use the local hashtag too! (Check out #5 for more on spreading the Instagram love locally)
2. Put your address & phone number in bio
We can’t stress this highly enough! If you’re a local ‘bricks and mortar’ business then you need to make it obvious where people can do business with you. Include your address and phone number in your bio and, if relevant, your opening hours. Opening hours are particularly important if you’re only open certain days of the week.
If you’re a business that is at local markets then put in your bio where your regular market locations are. And if you’re a business that ‘pops up’ locally like a food truck or cart, then make sure it’s easy for people to find out where you’re going to be. Even a simple ‘check our posts for location info’ is better than just directing people to your website and away from Instagram.
3. Give people a reason to come into your business!
By this we mean start talking to people in your local area by posting special offers, photos of new stock or time specific offers.
If you’re a restaurant then post a photo of this weeks special, or the new beer you have on tap – make people want to come in!
Remember Gelato Messina above? They post photos of mouthwatering gelato AND five specials a week on their social media channels. Even if you didn’t think you wanted an ice-cream, once one of their photos pops up in your feed you’d move mountains to get that ice-cream in your mouth!
4. Convey the lifestyle of people interacting with your product or service
Often people who run local businesses tell us that they aren’t sure what to post and end up posting just ‘product’ photos. You need to remember that Instagram is a visual medium and if you’re only posting photos/videos which say ‘buy buy buy’ then you may be turning people off rather than on.
Spend some time, take more photos than you think you’ll need and take photos with PEOPLE in them – not just clothes on a rack or products in your store. Convey the lifestyle or emotion that you want people to have when they interact with your business. If you’re still unsure use other accounts for inspiration to see how you can apply this yourself. Kip and Co do a great job of showing how their product is ‘used’ in everyday life.
5. Connect and collaborate locally!
As we said in #1, if your target market is local then spend some time finding other local businesses to connect with on Instagram. You can do this by searching your location specific hashtag and seeking out other accounts to follow. Remember that a follow is great but spending the time to like and comment on their photos will create a connection. Also, show the love for other local businesses by tagging them in your photos where relevant.
For example if you stop by your favourite coffee shop and post a photo of you there – find out their Instagram account and tag them. Chances are they’ll show the love and follow you back!
We hope this has given you some ideas on how to showcase and grow your local business using Instagram. We’d love you to share your Instagram handle in the comments below or over here on Instagram. We’d love to connect with you