With 1 billion monthly active users, 90% of whom follow at least one business profile in-app, Instagram’s popularity is on its rise. With the introduction of local business profiles, when companies can add their local business addresses, opening hours, contact information, and websites, Instagram has great potential to help local small businesses reach their target audience and promote the business online.
Why promote your local small business with Instagram?
As one of the most popular social media platforms worldwide, it can be difficult to reach your local-specific audiences on Instagram. As a result, most local businesses simply don’t know how to use Instagram the right way to reach their local clients and turn Instagram followers into local customers.
But here are the top three reasons to promote your local small business with Instagram.
- Spread a word about your local small business: Instagram is a popular platform where 83% of users discover new products and services. For local businesses, this means an opportunity to raise brand awareness and let more people know about your business. After all, the more people know about your local business, the more local customers you can acquire.
- Attract more local customers: Another important factor is that Instagram has several business-specific features like hashtags, geotags and geo stickers that help to promote your content within a specific geographic location. It’s one of the most effective ways to reach relevant audiences who are interested in your specific location.
- Support small businesses during uncertain times: With the spread of COVID-19, when local businesses are closed from time to time, having the possibility to get support from local communities is a must. Luckily, Instagram rolled out ‘support small business’ stickers that allow companies to reach new customers and get connected with loyal ones.
As stated in this guide by Boosted, Instagram is just the right marketing tool for local businesses that only serve local clientele as you can reach your local community with a variety of features. “Reaching new audiences on Instagram is all about the hashtags. Use even more specific hashtags that mention your neighborhood or area within your local business,” the guide recommends, explaining that geotagging can boost awareness, too. “Location-tagged Stories and Feed posts show up in relevant searches.”
What is more, Instagram advertising has advanced settings to reach the right audience within your location. “Choose to show the ad only to people in the area that’s relevant to your business, whether that’s your city, your neighborhood, certain postal codes or addresses, or your whole state,” is Boosted’s advice.
Ready to promote your local small business with Instagram? Here are 8 ways to do it the right way.
1. Optimize your business account for local search
Living in the digital era, local customers check out online resources to find local businesses. According to one research, 93% of people also use the internet to find a local company. Since Instagrammers use the platform to discover and research products and services, it’s important to make sure that your profile is visible to the right people.
How? Local search optimization! Instagram allows marketers to optimize for local search and therefore affect local SEO so that more local customers can discover your business on the platform and visit it in reality.
Here’s a good example of how one pet grooming service uses its Instagram account to optimize it for local search:
Since the company knows local SEO tricks that work on Instagram, it doesn’t take much time or effort to understand what the profile offers after taking a look at its bio. What is more, the company tags its location in every feed post or Instagram Story to help people who live within this area discover it with ease.
Here’s what you can learn from them to optimize your account for local search:
- Use a target keyword in the profile name and bio: The grooming service is situated in Toronto, so the company uses the service name and location in its name and bio so that people can find it when searching for the same keyword on the explore page.
- Include a website link: Once you’ve hooked the attention of the local community, potential customers are more likely to be interested in learning more about your company. Thus, it’s a good idea to include a website link that helps to provide readers with more information and drive website traffic.
- Add your physical address in the bio: This strategy helps your Instagram visitors see where your business is located and therefore understand whether they can visit your local business or not.
- Include various contact options: Before visiting a local company, most people have questions about your services/products, working hours, booking options, etc. To help them get in touch with your company during the discovery phase, it’s important to provide visitors with several contact options so that they can reach out to you at their convenience.
- Tag your location in posts and Stories: Not only can you provide interested users with more information on your location, but you can also appear in the search when other people who don’t follow your business account are looking for content with a specific location tag.
2. Show off your products or services on the platform
Instagram is a visual platform where people share their photos and videos. Moreover, 65% of people are visual learners, so they love perceiving information through visual content. Having an Instagram presence, you should be ready to let your creativity run wild and take images that show off your products or services.
One of the easiest ways to do it for local businesses is to take professional photos of your products, just like in the example from Beaucoup Bakery:
But wouldn’t it be great if you could increase brand trust with your content?
Lay a bet on user-generated content (UGC) to make your profile more trustworthy and eye-catching. It’s a good idea to mix professional photos with fan-made content.
If your company is popular like Starbucks, chances are that you receive hundreds of photos daily. But if you’re a small local business, you need to find new creative ways to encourage your customers to take photos for you.
Case in point:
When your products are attractive (aka Instagrammable), your audience will take photos of them on their profiles. For example, a local coffee shop can serve products in beautiful vessels like custom mugs for a chance to turn your customers into brand ambassadors as your brand name appears on their images.
Let’s see how it works on Instagram:
3. Invite local influencers to visit your local small business
Living in the era of social media influencers, when people trust recommendations from online influencers as much as their real-world friends, influencer marketing is extremely powerful. Working with local Instagram influencers, not only can you reach your target audience fast, but you can also increase brand awareness and trust.
Let’s take a look at the partnership between Ryan Hinkson (better known as @eatfamous on Instagram) and Grace Food Canada. The restaurant reached out to this local food influencer to invite him and visit their location and therefore write a review:
People trust Instagram influencers, so they pay close attention to their recommendations. When your local business teams up with a local influencer who can promote your company within an already-established community of potential customers, you get a chance to spread the word about your business fast and it works well!
4. Feature customer reviews on Instagram
With the popularity of the internet, when people share their customer experiences online, it doesn’t take much time or effort to do research and find out what customers think about certain companies. Just imagine: 87% of people read online reviews for local businesses.
To provide potential customers with social proof and ease their worried minds, it’s a good idea to collect and feature customer reviews on your Instagram account. Not only does it allow visitors to understand what other clients think about your local business, but it also helps to increase brand trust.
There are many ways to collect customer feedback and repurpose it into customer reviews, but one of the easiest ones is to monitor brand mentions and listen to your customers, just like in the example below:
Once you see a post like in the example above, you can reach out to the author and ask for permission to publish this review on your profile. It’s a great way to get more customer testimonials and create an emotional bond with your customers as they feel valued when you listen to their thoughts.
5. Make the most out of Instagram Stories
With a short lifespan of 24 hours that creates a sense of urgency, Instagram Stories have taken the world by storm. Now that 500 million people use Instagram Stories daily, this ephemeral content is a great solution for businesses of all types, including local companies.
Posting Instagram Stories has several benefits: you don’t clog the main feed up with content and you get an opportunity to save all important information about your business in one place, right under the bio section so that interested visitors can find it with ease.
There are several Instagram Story ideas for local businesses:
- Opening hours, prices, and how to find your location
- Product/service variety in details
- Behind the scenes content
- Interactive Stories with polls and quizzes
- Your local clientele
Here’s how the Malcolm Hotel Canmore uses Instagram Story Highlights to group content and provide visitors with information about its services:
NB: Instagram Story Highlights are a part of your Instagram aesthetic and brand image, so it’s a good idea to create beautiful Highlight album covers that fit your brand identity. Moreover, it’s easy if you use a graphic design tool like InstaSize that offers dozens of templates that you can customize on the go.
6. Organize an Instagram contest to give away gift cards
It’s psychologically proven that people love free stuff, so it’s no wonder that social media contests are extremely popular among users who get a chance to win something valuable for free.
To raise awareness and turn followers into customers, it’s a good idea to organize an Instagram contest and choose gift cards as prizes. Not only does it help winners to choose the products/services they want to get, but it also helps to ensure that all of your giveaway participants are your potential local customers who are interested in your local business.
Check out how one book store did it:
Want to make the most out of your Instagram contest? Having a strong social media team, your social media strategist creates the contest with all participation requirements and prizes and then your moderator checks out all likes and comments to interact with these people and therefore increase their interest in your company.
7. Collaborate with other businesses for cross-promotion
If your local business has an Instagram presence, that’s great. It’s more likely you’ve attracted followers and start spreading the word about your business on the platform.
But would it be cool if you could reach a wider audience and get more customers to your local small business?
Cross-promotion is an effective marketing tactic that helps brands save time and money on reaching their target audience when partnering with other businesses with related products and similar audiences that are not in competition.
Let’s take Pizzeria Farina and The Boxcar, for example. These local businesses are located next to each other, so they cross-promote their services on Instagram, just like in the example below:
8. Run Instagram ads to cut through the noise
Instagram has become a powerful marketing tool for businesses, so many companies use this platform for business promotion and therefore it can be daunting for local businesses to cut through the noise and reach their local community in-app.
To make this process easier and faster, a local business can run Instagram ads that allow marketers to target people based in specific locations like states, provinces, cities, or countries which means you can reach the right people within your location.
Here’s an example of this strategy from one Indian restaurant:
With Instagram Story ads, you can also make the most out of clickable Story link to make a digital brochure and link back to it so that interested viewers can learn more about your local events, services, or products.
Plus, running Instagram ad campaigns, not only can you reach a wider audience, but you can also analyze leads and track your marketing performance on the platform to understand what type of content your potential customers love.
With a worldwide user base of Instagram and location-specific features like geotags and hashtags, this platform is just a great place to promote your local business and reach a local community online.
These tips are one of the most effective ways to promote your local small business with Instagram, so we hope that you can choose what works best for your company and find your local clients on the platform. After all, Instagram has great potential for local businesses, so it’s important to make the most out of it.
Hugh Beaulac is a content strategist behind MC2 Bid4Papers and a freelance SMM manager who helps small businesses build social media presence.