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6 Ways to Grow Your Local Business Using Instagram

With over 500 million active monthly users, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms and growing every day. And it’s no longer just endless photos of what people are having for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

In fact, the photo-sharing network is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow your local business. Researchers have found that coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% (Hubspot, 2016), and as Instagram is an image led platform, this is the perfect place to lead with attention-grabbing imagery as a way to pull your ideal customers in. A study showed that engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook (Brandwatch, 2016) too, so what better reason is there to make a move to the platform?

But it’s not just as easy as signing up and sharing a few photos. There are steps you should take to use Instagram effectively to grow your local business online.

1) Be consistent

Whatever your business, your Instagram activity should tie in with everything else you do. Use the same business name for your profile as you use elsewhere, such as your website and Facebook page, to help people find you. For example, if your shop front says Sophie’s Cake Shop but your Facebook page says Sophie’s Cake’s and your website simply says Sophie’s, you can see how this might cause confusion for people searching for your page on Instagram. So make sure you’re consistent across all of your online profiles so it’s easier for people to find your business.

If your business name is already taken, try to find a username that’s as close as possible and use your logo as your profile picture so people can identify you.

Your images should also be consistent, whether that’s in the filters you use or types of photographs you share. This is so people will recognise your images when they appear, and people visiting your Instagram profile will get a strong visual message about your business.

2) Describe your service

There’s space on your Instagram profile to provide a short biography so people can quickly read more information about your business. Be as clear and concise as you can about the service you provide and remember to include a link to your website or contact details so visitors can get in touch.

The more informative you can be (in as few words as possible), the more likely it is that people interested in your products or services will follow you, as they’ll know what to expect from your updates.

3) Form relationships with other local businesses

A useful way to increase your followers on Instagram is by following other local businesses. Liking or commenting on their posts shows your friendliness, and also means their followers will see you and potentially start to follow your account. You should also try to follow regular customers of your own business. This means that you can see what they’re interested in, which increases your understanding of your ideal customer. It also makes it much more likely for them to follow you back and start liking and commenting on your posts, promoting your business to their extended network too.

4) Get found through hashtags

Hashtags are very valuable, especially on Instagram. A word with a hashtag in front of it (like #flowers) is essentially a list which anyone can add their photographs to by using that hashtag. Instagram then uses that list to categorise images – so if you search for ‘flowers’ or ‘#flowers’ on Instagram, the images with that hashtag will appear. You can also use specific hashtags for your business type (like #florist) or ones which relate to the image you’re sharing (like #weddingflowers). This then helps you to reach new people already interested in your business offering, because people with a specific interest in that area will search for that hashtag. If you’re using hashtags regularly, it means you’re much more likely to be seen in that hashtag list, and therefore increases your reach to a wider number of people.

To grow your business locally, use local hashtags – like the name of your town or city. Another good idea is to browse other popular hashtags used in your area and use them in your posts to help people find your account (if they’re relevant, of course).

5) Create a public location page

If you’ve created a public location page on Facebook, you can add it to your Instagram posts. If you haven’t created a location page for your business, you can get started here. Adding location information to a post allows you to associate images with your business, and when people look at ‘Places’ in Instagram’s search options, your business and your images will appear.

Once it’s created you can start ‘tagging’ the place in your photographs, and encourage your customers to do the same. Each time someone tags your location, their photos will show up under the location for other users to see.

6) Include a call to action

To drive response and engagement from your post it’s a good idea to add a call to action that includes a shortened website link. As a rule, short and sweet is best when writing Instagram posts, so using a link-shortening tool like bit.ly or ow.ly really helps to make the most of every character. All you need to do is copy the link you want to include in your post (maybe a link to a product page or special offers page) and paste it into the link shortening site and it will give you a much shorter link that will take people direct to the same page. You can then copy and paste that shortened link into your post.

The next step is writing an effective call-to-action, and the key to that is to explain exactly where the link will take them and what they’ll get when they get there. So these examples would work well:

  • For more information on our holidays to Sardinia take a look at our Best of Sardinia Guide at bit.ly/XXX
  • Our new summer menu launches this weekend. Check out every tasty dish at ow.ly/XXXX

Being mindful of these six pieces of advice when using Instagram to grow your local business should help you on your way to success. We have further articles that can help you to grow your business using social media. Take a look at these for more ideas:

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