15 Instagram Tips for Local Businesses

May 26, 2014

15 Instagram tips for business


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What’s This?

By now you know that Instagram is an online photo/video-sharing and social networking service that enables users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them. You probably also know that Instagram gets more engagement than any other social network. So you’ve finally decided to get on Instagram and now you’re playing catch up. It’s ok. You can succeed on Instagram. First we’ll give you the breakdown on the network, then we’ll get down to 15 easy to implement Instagram Tips for Local Business. 

It used to be that in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras, Instagram confined photos to a square shape reminiscent of the Kodak Instamatic. This changed so you can now upload any shape images that you want. Users can also record and share short videos lasting for up to 60 seconds.

Instagram, like all social media venues, is a great marketing tool for small businesses. A small business can develop followers which can lead to more customers by exposing their brand and engaging Instagram’s audience. And since the shared interest is photography, you can personalize your marketing strategy by sharing photos related to your company or service by showing your employees at work or a behind-the-scenes view of your company. Before we get to the tips, let’s cover the basics:

Create Your Username and Fill Out Your Profile

Create uniformity by creating consistent usernames for all social networks

The above example is a good profile for a local business on Instagram. Why?

Use Consistent Handles: With all of your social media accounts, make an attempt to be consistent with your user name. Sign up for an Instagram account with the same name as your Twitter & Facebook account. Madison Bistro has the same handles across Social Media, including Twitter. This makes them super easy to find across networks.

Connect to Facebook: Make sure to connect your account to Facebook. When eligible, switch to a business profile.

Take Care of Branding: Add a profile photo or brand logo. Bear in mind that your profile photo or brand logo will be cropped into a circle and appear as a 150 x 150 pixel image on most phones, so your logo or image needs to be legible.

Link Out to Your Website: Add a link to your website While you can’t add a link on an Instagram post, you can on your profile. Make sure that your website is linked out there. This is important to include on all networks, but especially Instagram where it provides the only place you can link out to your website.

SEO Your Profile: Make sure to include call to action words and geo-location information so people know where your local business is located. In the example above we have “Traditional French Cuisine” and “Madison Avenue”.  This gets the point across without being spammy.

These are your 14 tips for Local Business to help streamline your Instagram account into a powerful and engaging web presence.

1) Start with Clear Goals

Consider how Instagram fits into your overall brand marketing strategy. Is your objective to increase awareness, shift perception, or reach a new audience? Pick a goal or two that can be achieved by connecting with Instagram’s highly visual and creative community.

2) Choose Themes to Tell a Cohesive Story

Choose story lines that are authentic to your brand and are best conveyed through captivating imagery. Create posts that follow these themes for a diversity of content that also remains consistent over time.

3) Create High-quality Content

Work with your brand or creative team to produce images and videos that are well-crafted and feel at home on the platform. Or, if you’re a one-person shop, take some time to learn from other brands and popular Instagrammers and follow their lead.

4) Limit Text

Come to our bar and we’ll help you out! – 37th St. at Madison Ave.

A photo posted by Madison Bistro NY (@madisonbistrony) on

Keep captions short and fresh. People online have a short attention span, so don’t give them a book to read.

5) Ask questions to engage people

This will get them to comment on your post and increase your engagement. A few examples:

What do you think our most popular dish is?

Are you ready for Happy Hour/Friday/The Weekend?

Are you Hungry?

6) Commenting & Liking

Use hashtags, location and photos of you to find others’ images of your brand. Engage with them by liking and commenting on their images.

7) Geo-Tagging

Too much #tuesday Not enough #coffee #☕️

A photo posted by Bellini Italian Restaurant (@bellininyc) on

Include the location of your photo or video when it helps tell the story of the image.

8) Tag Relevant People

Use the Add People feature to tag accounts in your image when they will help you reach a broader audience. Note how Le Bernadin tags their Chef Eric Ripert. 

9) Use Image Editing Apps

Edit your images with filters and other tools available in the Instagram app. These effects give images that unmistakable “Instagram” look that people respond to. You can also use these to say add a logo to brand all your images.

10) Highlight Your Brand’s Identity

Post photos and videos of beautiful and unexpected moments that also feel authentic and immediate. Whether your subject is a person or an object, capture it in a context that gives a sense of your brand’s identity or point of view.

11) Use Hashtags

#SoupDumplingSaturdays thanks for the photo, @eatingnyc 📸! #xiaolongbao #dimsum #westvillage #uws

A photo posted by RedFarm (@redfarmnyc) on

Hashtags are one of the keys to success on Instagram. Make sure to use relevant, popular (but not too popular) ones for your image content. Incorporate a mix of targeted and general hashtags (we recommend you use all 30). If you don’t know how to use Instagram hashtags, click here. But in the mean time, make sure you use location specific hashtags.

12) Pay Attention To The Background

Sometimes the background in your photograph is more interesting than the person or image in the foreground. Scott Dylan suggests that as you take photos always be aware of what’s going on in the background. You don’t want someone to sneak in the background for a photobomb that can ruin your shot. Or maybe you do want things like that happen. As long as it’s interesting it can get you and your brand attention.

13) Take Photos From Unique Angles

There are a lot of photos on Instagram, as in billions of photos. Dylan points out that two big aspects of photography are light and angle. You’ll know when you’re getting too much light in the frame and when you’re not getting enough. “There is a lot more you could do with light, but for quick ways to make your photos different try shooting at unique angles. Get real low and shoot up on things like buildings, walls and people. These photos will stand out and will get you lots of attention.”

Promote your business on both Instagram and Facebook

14) Promote Your Business on Both Facebook and Instagram

James Borow explains, “Brands create Instagram videos, share them to their Facebook pages and then boost them into paid media that hits the Facebook news feed, in the same way that they boost text or photo posts. This enables brands to reach Facebook’s 818 million monthly active mobile users, which dwarfs Instagram’s 130 million. It’s profiting from Instagram without having to advertise on Instagram… For now it’s all about capturing and sharing the world’s moments—and paying to distribute them on the world’s largest social network.”

15) Widen Your Exposure to Other Brands

Social Media Examiner advises small businesses to follow other brands on Instagram. It’s good research, you can engage their followers, and you can stay fresh with ideas.


***A few extra tips for good luck.

16) Balance Fun Images With Pictures From Your Business

Rachel Sprung writes, “Take advantage of the increased real estate you have with the Instagram web page to tell a story with the images. Have a healthy balance of fun images and business pictures.” Some business followers like fun images as well as business ones. For examp;e, Anthropologie apparel posted a puppy picture that received 7,640 likes while a picture of their personal shoppers posing at a company luncheon event received only 3,457.

17) Post daily

Studies show that if you don’t post consistently, your audience will leave and your reach will drop. That’s why it is so important that you post daily to Instagram. You can schedule posts for multiple Instagram accounts using Socialdraft. What’s even better is that you can use the dash to manage all your other social media accounts including Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, Twitter Accounts, Pinterest Boards, and LinkedIn Company Pages. This simple feature will keep you consistent and growing.

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