By now you know that Instagram gets more engagement than any other social network. If you are a local business who is just starting to use Instagram to try to get more people to come in, you’ll be playing catchup. That does not mean that you can’t succeed. Very often, small local businesses stop being “active” on Instagram within a month or so. They get discouraged because they see no results from just sharing a picture. I’m going to be honest here, Instagram takes strategy, consistency, and work. Today, we’ll give you the break down on how Instagram works; then we’ll give you 15 easy to implement Instagram Tips for Local Business.
How Instagram Works
Instagram is a social network that revolves around images – both photos and videos. When someone first logs onto Instagram, they see images taken by people they follow. Instagram users can also use the search feature to search the top posts for a particular term, people, hashtags and places.
How are Images Organized on Instagram
When you log onto Instagram and you see the images posted by people you follow, they are prioritized by how often you engage them. So, if you always like and comment on someone’s posts, it is most likely that you will see those first.
If you search people, those you follow will come up first, then those you engage most, then those that are active on the network.
If you search by hashtag or location, you will first be shown the top 9 performing posts, then you will be shown the latest images to be posted with that hashtag.
Why Should You Use Instagram to Market Your Small Business?
Instagram is an incredibly effective marketing tool for small businesses. As a business, you can grow followers and directly speak to them on the network. Because the site is focused on images, it makes it easy to tell the story of your business or brand. It is also one of the fastest growing social networks. As of September 2017, there were 500 MILLION active users. Those are some strong numbers.
Before we get to the tips to help you maximize your return on investment, let’s cover the basics.
How to Create a Solid Instagram Business Account
Create Your Username and Fill Out Your Profile
The above example is a good profile for a local business on Instagram. Why? The profile clearly and simply states what this account is and where it is located. There is no question that this is a French restaurant in New York City. Here are some tips on how to make your Instagram business account effective:
Use Consistent Handles
When choosing the name of your Instagram account, try as much as you can to be consistent with your username/handle. 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. If your desired username is taken up, keep the new version as simple as possible.
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 on smartphones and mobile devices.
Link Out to Your Website
Add a link to your website. This is especially important because you can’t add links to Instagram posts. Your profile is the only spot where a link can push people towards your website, so make this a priority.
SEO Your Profile
Make sure to include call-to-action phrases 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.
Convert to a Business Account
You will hear from many that it is harder to get engagement as a business account. To these people, I say – analytics are key. What does engagement matter if the people who are following you are not your target audience? If you were the above restaurant in NYC and your following was in Spain, you’d want to know and re-work your strategy, right? The idea is not to have vanity metrics, but to have followers who can convert. If you don’t have access to analytics, you will have a much harder time getting people to convert.
Instagram Tips for Local Businesses
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. If you were this French restaurant in NYC, you could start with setting a goal to get 100 people in NYC to follow your account. This is clear, attainable, and measurable. Once this goal is set, then you can create more aggressive goals, like getting 50 people to click thru to your website to make reservations for an event. Again, the key here is that your goals are clear and attainable.
Choose Themes to Tell a Cohesive Story
Choose storylines 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. For example, pick a filter and stick with it. Make all your images black and white…you get the idea. The example above uses Tiffany’s iconic blue as the overall theme of their account.
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.
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.
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? [fve]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ5Nj7HIC0w&feature=youtu.be[/fve] Comment & Like Use hashtags, location, and photos of you to find others’ images of your brand. Engage with them by liking and commenting on their images. Since you are a local business, you will also want to engage those posting images of your city, state, and neighborhood. They’re nearby…you can convert them!
Geo-Tag your Posts
Include the location of your photo or video when it helps tell the story of the image. This will make it so your image comes up when people search by location, it’s a great way to be discovered especially now that people will be able to follow hashtags.
Time flies…! Chef Ripert at the pass with his two long time chefs and pillars of the kitchen; Chris Muller and Eric Gestel who’ve been working together side by side at LB for over 20 years!! @ericripert . . #ontheline #kitchen #chefs #family #newyork #team #teamwork #commitment #restaurant #51ststreet
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. [fve]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVu4aVZRDcE[/fve] 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. 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.
#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 meantime, make sure you use location-specific hashtags.
Pay Attention To The Background
Sometimes the background in your photograph is more interesting than the person or image in the foreground. 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 to happen. As long as it’s interesting it can get you and your brand attention.
Take Photos From Unique Angles
Cheers to the weekend!!!!!! #regram #dinner #tgif #friday #weekend #nyc #food #wine #foodie #uws #centralpark #eat #datenight #date #potd #ny #newyork #newyorkcity #instagood #instamood #instafood #manhattan #nom #nomnom #nomnomnom
A photo posted by Bellini Italian Restaurant (@bellininyc) on
There are a lot of photos on Instagram, as in billions of photos. 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 from 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 Facebook and Instagram
If you really want to maximize your efforts, then boost them with paid media. Chances are your competitors are not currently doing this which means you can get some amazing ad prices and tons of rewards.
Widen Your Exposure to Other Brands
Social Media Examiner advises small businesses to follow other brands on Instagram. It’s good to research, you can engage their followers, and you can stay fresh with ideas.
Balance Fun Images With Pictures From Your Business
Keep your Instagram feed fun. Don’t just push out promotional items, Instagram is all about lifestyle. Take pics of your staff, customers (always with permission) and get them involved in the process.
Post to Instagram daily
Studies show that if you don’t post consistently, your audience will leave and your reach will drop. It will also make it harder for you to come up on search. That’s why it is so important that you post daily on Instagram. You can schedule posts for multiple Instagram accounts using the all-in-one social media tool, Socialdraft.
Socialdraft is more than just an Instagram management tool. With Socialdraft, you can:
- Schedule to multiple Instagram accounts, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, Pinterest boards, and LinkedIn pages
- Schedule one time, duplicate, or recurring posts
- Schedule in bulk (perfect if you run recurring promotions, post reviews, and evergreen content).
- Set up different people on your team with different permissions.
- Pull reports
- and much more