With the growing popularity of Instagram, when over one billion people use the platform each month, it can be a good marketing tool to gain exposure for your local business. Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms with the most engaged user base. This means your local customers are more likely to be active on Instagram and they can also use this platform to discover local businesses and learn more about them from other customers.
According to the Local Consumer Review Survey, 90% of customers use the internet to find local businesses and 82% of consumers read online reviews before making a decision. And if you don’t use Instagram marketing for local business promotion, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon and make the most out of this platform.
Why Use Instagram Marketing for Local Businesses?
At first blush, Instagram isn’t the most obvious place to promote your local business as it doesn’t help to show up in local searches.
However, Instagram gives an opportunity to reach your local community and therefore establish a connection with potential customers. Plus, there are some reasons why Instagram marketing is great for local businesses (proved by stats):
- Instagrammers are happy to engage with businesses in-app. As specified in one report, the Instagram community has reached 1 billion monthly active users and 90% of them follow at least one business on the platform. This means Instagrammers want to connect with their favorite businesses in-app and follow you to learn more about your products and services.
- People use Instagram for product discovery. Not only ecommerce businesses can get in touch with potential customers on Instagram. The recent survey says that 83% of Instagrammers discover new products and services in-app, 81% of people do research on the platform, and 80% of them decide whether to give your product a try or not. And if you run a local business, your potential customers are also active on Instagram which means they can find your business on Instagram.
- Instagram has business-friendly features for local businesses. It’s no secret that people search for locations on Instagram. With geotags and hashtag locations, you can publish location-based content that helps to reach people near your area who can potentially visit your local business.
- Instagram supports local businesses. With the outbreak of COVID-19, when local businesses need support more than ever, Instagram has rolled out business-specific features like digital gift cards and food ordering options to help local businesses build connections with their customers and boost sales online.
- It helps to stand out from your competitors. For most local businesses, Instagram isn’t the most obvious option when it comes to connecting with local communities. However, Instagram offers many creative ways for local businesses to reach out to their customers and interact with them which makes your business stand out from the crowd of competitors if you have an Instagram presence.
Now that you know the importance of Instagram marketing for local businesses, let’s check out eight tested hacks to help your local business grow on Instagram.
8 Instagram Marketing Hacks for Local Businesses
Optimize Your Instagram for Local Search
It’s no secret that Instagram allows ecommerce businesses to find customers around the globe. But it also gives an opportunity for local businesses to reach out to their local community and turn them into visitors and paying customers.
However, it’s important to optimize your Instagram account for local search as customers are always looking for things physically near us. If people realize that your business meets their needs and wants, they are more likely to become your customers.
Here are the basic local search optimization tips:
- Decide on the number of IG profiles for your local business
- Write a descriptive Instagram bio that tells about your location
- Use location-specific features (geotags and location hashtags)
First things first: When it comes to local search optimization on Instagram, it’s important to decide on the number of accounts you create. If you run a global chain or have multiple locations within one country, it’s a good idea to create different Instagram profiles for each region or location.
Next, provide your visitors with information about your local business. No matter how many profiles you have, having a well-written and informative bio is a must. With a short attention span of 8 seconds, Instagrammers pay close attention to the bio section.
As a local business, it’s a good idea to write about your business category, include working hours, and add your physical location address. Here’s a good example from Gilbert’s Coffee Bar:
Not only can you write relevant information about your business location, but you can also make the most out of business-friendly features like geotags and hashtags to attract the right local customers with ease.
And here’s how Gilbert’s uses brand geotags to help interested followers find their bar on the map before visiting it:
One of the best ways to turn Instagram followers into your local customers is to make sure that you attract the right audience who can physically visit your location. Thus, optimizing your Instagram account for local search is a must. Moreover, people are happy to use Instagram for business discovery.
Repurpose Blog Content for Instagram
Instagram is a visual platform which means businesses have to upload photos and videos to keep their audience engaged. Just imagine: Users upload over 95 million photos daily! But it can be daunting for local businesses to show off their services and products daily.
The solution? Repurpose your content for Instagram! Whether you have blog posts about your business or tons of customer reviews, you can turn these content pieces into Instagram posts. It’s a great way to showcase your local business without putting much effort into it and create a cohesive Instagram feed that grabs the attention of the target local audience.
For example, El Fenn Hotel Marrakech–a boutique hotel–frequently publishes hotel reviews with detailed appealing visual content on its blog. The company then uses some of these visuals on its Instagram profile:
If your Instagram followers are active, you can also repurpose Instagram content for your blog by doing the following:
- Publish fan-made content on your blog
- Feature customer reviews on the main page
- Turn your IG content into advertising print brochures
Take Users Behind the Scenes
In the era of sponsored posts and paid ads, customers crave authenticity more than ever.
Modern customers buy from brands they trust, so it’s important to put a human face on your business and the best way to do it is to take users behind the scenes. If you want to satisfy your customers’ needs (and create content for your account with ease), take your phone and create behind-the-scenes content.
When you feature your employees or show the product creation process, you foster deeper connections with your audience as people feel more special to take a look behind the curtain.
Let’s take a look at Sorry Coffee Co. The coffee shop has a series of posts dedicated to its staff where the employees answer the same questions to share their work experience with followers, just like in the example below:
To stand out from the crowd of your competitors and WOW your followers, consider creating behind-the-scenes videos. According to the recent video marketing statistics, 72% of customers watch a video to learn about a product or service and 75% of people take action after watching a brand’s video on Instagram. For example, you can create short videos, make 15-second video Stories, or go live.
Organize Instagram Contests
Instagram contests are extremely popular among users which gives businesses an opportunity to reach out to their target audience and interact with them with ease and get wonderful business results. As specified in one research, Instagram contests help to generate 64x more comments and 3.5x more likes and grow followers 70% faster.
Want to know the best part? When done right, you can even turn your participants into local customers as everything depends on the participation requirements. For example, you can give away gift cards so that the winners could choose the prizes that meet their needs and wants when visiting your local business. Here’s an example of this strategy in action from one travel agency:
The right Instagram contest ideas help to boost user engagement, but they can also spark interest in your local business and even turn your Instagram followers or visitors into customers.
Promote Your Referral Program
In the era of sponsored posts and paid ads, customers seek out recommendations from peers and 92% of people claim that word-of-mouth referrals are the most effective advertising.
As a local business, you can also set up a referral program that motivates your loyal customers to spread the word about your company and also gives potential consumers a solid reason to give your product/service a try. Once you have a good referral program, you can promote it on your Instagram account, just like in the example below:
Want to know the best part? When people are interested in your referral reward, they are more likely to post informative posts on their profiles which means you can reach a wider audience. However, the key to success is the right ‘prize’ for your referral program, whether you choose to give a gift card, a discount, or a free product.
If you work in the HORECA niche and you want to draw inspiration from other local companies, you can check out restaurant blogs where business owners share their experiences with readers.
Invite Local Influencers to Collaborate
Modern customers trust the opinions of influencers as much as their friends, so it’s no wonder that influencer marketing is gaining in popularity and 69% of marketers claim that Instagram is the best platform for running influencer marketing campaigns.
When it comes to promoting your local business on Instagram, the so-called local opinion leaders (those who live near your brick-and-mortar store) can help to raise your brand awareness locally.
No matter what local business you have, whether it’s a coffee bar, beauty salon or flower shop, you can invite local influencers to test your products or services in exchange for spreading the word about your business on their profiles. Here’s an example of this strategy in action from one food blogger:
Once you’ve found relevant local influencers for your business, you can reach out to them on Instagram or cut through the noise without getting buried in their inbox and send an email with the offer–just use a tool like SignalHire to find contact information with ease.
Integrate Online and Offline Marketing
It’s no secret that customers do research before visiting a local business which means online presence helps to promote offline actions. To promote your local business, it’s important to integrate online and offline marketing as some of your clients come from Instagram while others discover your brick-and-mortar locally.
If you have loyal local customers who buy your products or services, that’s great. But if you want to bring your business to the next level, it’s a good idea to turn your local customers into Instagram followers and brand ambassadors. For example, you can provide them with perks like free public Wi-Fi, discounts, or brand freebies in exchange for social connections on Instagram.
When it comes to Instagram marketing, you also need to promote offline events (open mic performances, competitions, workshops, etc.) to encourage followers to visit your business. To make it easier for your visitors to find current events, you can create a separate Instagram Stories Highlights album, just like Nosh Cafe did it:
Run Instagram Ad Campaigns
Every company aims at running a profitable business that helps business owners grow revenue. However, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and beat your competitors who crave for the attention of the same audience on Instagram unless you give Instagram advertisements a try.
In fact, 2 million advertisers make the most out of paid ads on Instagram and local businesses can also target potential customers based in specific locations with local awareness ads.
Let’s take Swiggy, for example. To attract new customers who live within the delivery distance and drive app installs, the company created Instagram Stories video ads to tell viewers about the service and motivate them to take action with a CTA:
The campaign resulted in a 30% lower cost per install and a 17% increase in app installs using Instagram Stories (compared to other campaigns). The bottom result? With Instagram local awareness ads, not only can reach people nearby who can potentially visit your local business, but you can also encourage them
The Bottom Line
With the growing popularity of Instagram, the platform rolls out business-friendly features to help brands of all sizes and niches promote their products and service. When it comes to promoting a local business, Instagram also has features like geotags, location hashtags and local awareness ads to name a few. As a result, the platform has become a great marketing tool for local businesses that want to get in touch with their potential customers online.
If you want to raise local awareness and find your local community online, consider using the above-mentioned 8 tested Instagram marketing hacks and bring your business to the next level.
Hugh Beaulac is a content strategist at MC2 and a freelance SMM manager who helps small and mid-sized brands promote their products and services online. With over 7 years of digital marketing experience, Hugh also contributes as a guest author to popular blogs like WordStream, Semrush, and CrazyEgg to share his tips and tricks.