Let’s talk about local business + Instagram for a minute.
If you own or operate a 4 wall brick + mortar, like a hair salon, a restaurant, a local boutique or a gym— your interest in social media probably lies more heavily in wanting to use your feed to get warm bodies into your establishment, rather than gaining a million followers who never will.
Or at least that’s where your interest should be.
I know how alluring it can be to focus all of your efforts on follower growth— having a nice big vanity number might even make your business seem more legitimate. But if all of those followers aren’t relocating to your neighborhood in order to do face-to-face business with you, what’s the point?!
What you need is a location specific strategy that focuses on attracting people who actually live where you operate.
Sounds really good, right? #YUP
So how can your small business use a giant platform like Instagram in a way that actually makes an impact in your community, (and your bottom line)?
Well, since I work with a handful of local businesses myself, here are a few of my best tips for getting the most out of your Instagram account within your own ‘hood…
NO 1. ALWAYS USE YOUR GEO-TAG
As a local establishment, you can allow your content to be discoverable by both the locals and tourists visiting your area simply by adding a location tag before you post.
Users can check the “places” tab via Instagram’s search feature + locate businesses within a close proximity. Having all of your content filed under your physical address is an awesome way for potential new patrons to find you, so don’t skip this!
NO 2. USE AN URGENT CTA TO BOOST BUSINESS
If you’re having a slow day or simply want to test your content reach + see if your followers are paying attention, you can post an urgent CTA. You could post a promotional graphic that says something like “TODAY ONLY: Screenshot this post + bring it by to get 40% your entire purchase!” or “This week only, stop in and say the secret words,‘ I saw this on Instagram’ to score a free appetizer.”
Building in a sense of urgency, with the exclusivity of only being able to score this deal from Instagram will encourage your followers to keep following you for future offers, and to make sure they’re always paying attention.
NO 3. USE LOCATION SPECIFIC HASHTAGS
In addition to just using your city + state name in a hashtag, you should research to see if there are any local tags specific to your industry or that are more specific for your area. For example, where I live, there is a specific hashtag that is used for all posts that take place within the city, and one for when you’re posting about things that are going on around town. A few of these specialized local hashtags that have become really popular, so I make sure to use them on all of my local accounts.
NO 4. WORK WITH LOCAL INFLUENCERS + COLLABORATE WITH NEIGHBORS
If you do your research, I bet you will be able to pinpoint a handful of “local celebrities” who have managed to build up a decent sized social media following. If their audience is similar to one you’d like to have, hit them up! Generally these people will collaborate with you for a small fee or even a trade of goods/services. Working with a local influencer can help you to reach more of your community faster + legitimize your business even further.
It also makes a lot of sense to seek out other businesses in your area to network + collaborate with. If someone is following a business in your area, chances are they probably also live in your community. In order to share the wealth, you could try connecting with those other business owners by hosting a giveaway or contest, to grow your follower base more rapidly + build brand awareness.
NO 5. BOOST A POST TO A SPECIFIC LOCATION
If you have an upcoming event or you’re offering a limited time promotion or sale— you could probably benefit from boosting a post on Instagram to a wider, local audience.
For about $30 or less, you can serve your post thousands more people in your specific area. Please note that in order to boost a post, you will have to convert to a Business Account on Instagram. However, with a little planning you can create the perfect post for your event or sale, then pay to boost it to others who aren’t currently following you for a limited time. I’ve personally always had great results when boosting posts.
NO 6. GET OUT + ENGAGE WITH THE LOCALS
You can use the places tab, or some of those local hashtags as part of your engagement strategy too.
Use Instagram to search locations in your area where your ideal customer hangs out. Then check out the content that is being posted at those locations, and start conversations with the users who are creating that content. Do the same things with local hashtags that are being used. Liking and commenting on other local’s accounts is a great way to get the community eyes on your feed.
Oh yea, and bonus tip: if you haven’t yet converted to a business account (which will automatically list your email, phone number + physical location)— make sure you add that information to your bio!!
Make it super simple for your followers to contact you, and don’t make them leave Instagram to look it up.
After working with local businesses on their Instagram presence for the last year + a half, I understand the struggles of trying to reach a very specific customer base, in a sometimes limited area. My hope is that these actionable tips will help you to use the platform more strategically, to attract even more local business for yourself, as well!
So, are you doing anything exciting or creative with your Instagram account that’s working well within your local community? Tell me about it in the comments below, I’d love to hear!