In the last few years, Instagram has become an important marketing tool for many ecommerce businesses. Since the platform has grown to 1 billion monthly active users, 90% of whom follow at least one business in-app, it has gained great sales potential for businesses of all sizes and niches.
Believe it or not, Instagram is a good place to market your local business, too. According to a recent survey, 93% of consumers used the internet to discover local businesses in 2020. 87% read online reviews before choosing a local business, with 60% doing so on mobile.
With geotags and local targeting, Instagram is not just for ecommerce businesses who sell online anymore. It's a great marketing channel for local businesses that want to interact with local customers who live within a certain area.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the importance of marketing your local business on Instagram as well as providing you with three actionable strategies on how to do it the right way.
Why market your local business on Instagram?
If you’re still wondering whether your local business should have an Instagram presence or not, here are three reasons why you should. You’ll be able to:
Interact with a local community: More and more people discover new products or services on Instagram. An Instagram survey showed 44% of respondents strongly associate Instagram with discovering local businesses. This means an opportunity for local businesses to interact with local customers who are ready to learn more about your company.
Boost local business awareness: Instagram has great features to reach the right target audience who lives within your area. From including clickable links on your account to drive website traffic to using local targeting that helps to reach your customers, Instagram is a great place to boost local business awareness.
Understand your local customers better: Since people are open to conversations with brands on Instagram they are more likely to share their thoughts, which helps business owners improve the quality of their products or services. Plus, Instagram has great in-app options like Story polls and clickable links that allow your local business to understand your customers better.
Now that you know the importance of marketing your local business with Instagram, let's check out three effective ways to do this.
1. Optimize your Instagram account for local search
It's important to make sure that your local customers who live within a certain area can find your business on Instagram. Why? Over 200 million businesses are vying for the attention of Instagrammers, so it's important to make your local business more visible on the Explore page.
Here are some ways to optimize your Instagram account for local search:
Write about your local business in a bio
People nowadays have ever shorter attention spans (down to 8 seconds), so businesses of all sizes and niches don't have much time to grab the target audience's attention on Instagram.
An Instagram bio is the first thing people see when visiting your profile, so you should optimize it for local search to help potential customers find your local business.
To write an Instagram bio that helps local customers find your business on the platform, use the following tactics:
- Include a target keyword in a display name
- Select the right profile category that represents your business
- Write about your local business (describe your business, add opening hours, etc.)
- Add your physical location
- Include contact options
Here's a good example of a well-optimized Instagram bio for local search from a fast food restaurant.
When optimizing your Instagram bio for local search, keep in mind that Instagram Story Highlights also provide additional information about your local business. To grab the attention of your audience and make your profile look cohesive, it's important to create highlight covers that match your brand identity, just like in the example above.
Use local geotags and hashtags
When it comes to marketing a local business, you can use local hashtags or geotags to help customers in your area discover your business on Instagram and therefore increase organic reach.
Location geotags allow your business to show interested visitors and followers your specific location and therefore attract local customers.
At the same time, hashtags have been an important tool to organize conversations around a particular topic on social media for a while. Being a word or keyword phrase, Instagram tags help people who may be interested in your topic to find relevant content when searching for a keyword.
Using local geotags and hashtags for local search, you can help your followers understand where your business is located as well as help potential customers who are interested in a particular area discover your company on the platform. Check out how Nailoshow uses this tactic.
Create a separate Instagram handle
If you run a multi-location business, it's important to find local customers who live within your areas and therefore it's a good idea to create separate accounts to segment and cater for multiple locations.
Not only does it help to separate products or services for different locations and provide local customers with relevant information, it also helps to create a local community of people with similar preferences.
To create separate Instagram handles for your local business, you can make accounts for different locations within one city/country or accounts for the different countries you operate in, just like Shake Shack in the example below:
However, the more Instagram profiles you have, the harder it is to manage all customer requests on your various Instagram accounts. To provide excellent customer service, it's a good idea to have toll free numbers for your business and include them as contact options on profiles to redirect all customer requests to customer service reps.
2. Make the most out of Instagram content marketing
There's no better way to tell interested Instagrammers more about your local business than through the various content marketing options available on the platform. Instagram content comes in various forms. Whether you publish permanent content like Instagram posts on the main feed, or upload ephemeral content like Stories or Reels, there are many ways to tell people more about your local business to spark interest in your company and turn Instagram followers into local customers.
Here are some great ways to make the most out of Instagram content marketing to market your local business in-app:
Tell people about your local business in posts
The more people know about your local business, the more potential local customers you can attract, so it's a good idea to talk about your local business in posts from time to time. Here are some great ideas on how to introduce your business and create interest in it:
- Invite your CEO or team members to tell stories about your local business
- Showcase the variety of products/services your local business offers
- Announce local events in your area
- Offer bricks-and-mortar discounts and deals for online followers
Want to stay ahead of your competitors? Make Instagram video posts to keep your viewers engaged.
Luckily, there's no need to have an in-house video maker to create stunning video posts for your Instagram profile as there are many free video editing tools like Videoleap (iOS and Android) that help non-designers mix videos and images, add special effects, or edit video clips to format. You can also combine clips and add text for viewers who watch your video without sound, just like in the example below.
Use Instagram Stories
In the last five years, Instagram Stories have gained in popularity among the community. Available for 24 hours only, this format creates a sense of urgency that encourages people to watch. Back in 2019 it was reported that over 500 million people create or watch Stories daily which is a massive potential audience for your content.
Here's how one grooming salon uses Instagram Stories.
Using a variety of ephemeral content features, you can tell your followers more about your local business, and also reach a wider audience of potential customers who are interested in your area.
When done right, Instagram Stories can help your local business:
- Boost brand awareness: Whether you include a clickable Story link that redirects to your website or add location stickers that give your location, there are many ways to tell your local community about your business in a fun and engaging way.
- Promote your services/products: Instagram allows businesses to add product stickers that help your company to provide interested viewers with information about your services or products in-app.
- Provide social proof: People trust other people more than brands, so it's important to prove that your existing customers trust you. For example, you can record a video of customer testimonials and publish it on Instagram Stories.
Create Instagram Reels
To market your local business with Instagram it's important to keep up with different formats and trends, one of which is Instagram Reels--short yet entertaining videos. Instagram Reels appear on the Explore page, so it's a good option for the awareness stage of the sales funnel as it's a good chance to reach a wider audience of potential customers who don't follow your local business on Instagram.
For example, Dunkin often creates Reels to tell potential customers about news, deals, and updates.
3. Reach a wider audience of local customers
Use Instagram to reach out to potential customers who as yet know nothing about your business.
Three of the best ways to find your local community on the platform are:
Team up with local influencers
The era of social media influencers is here and brands see it as a successful tactic. 90% of respondents to this survey said they believed influencer marketing to be effective.
Influencer endorsement can promote your business and help you reach the right audience of potential customers.
When you team up with local influencers in your area, you’re tapping into their followers which can bring your local business to the next level.
Getting local influencers to review your business can help build user-generated content and also help your audience become more familiar with your products and services. Check out an example of this strategy in action from one Instagram influencer.
Use a social CRM tool to track your influencer partnerships so you can understand which collaborations and campaigns work best for your local business.
Organize an Instagram giveaway
Instagram giveaways are a great way to draw your customers' attention to your company, as well as to engage potential customers in a meaningful conversation with your brand, and encourage followers to test your products or services. Instagram giveaways offer another lead generation tactic to collect information about potential customers who show interest in your product or services.
Instagram giveaways give people an opportunity to win something for taking simple steps. it's a good way to grow an Instagram following and convert interested followers into actual visitors.
As a local business, you want to attract local customers, right? When organizing an Instagram giveaway, one way to get people to visit your business is to offer a gift card, just like Fiddleheads Coffee Roasters did in the example below. They also cleverly dangle further in-store giveaways to entice people to visit.
Focus on location targeting
With a growing number of businesses competing for the attention of the same target audience, Instagram has introduced location targeting for advertisers who want to cut through the noise and reach their customers fast.
Instagram location targeting helps your local company find its local community on the platform without spending extra budget, as you can focus on people who live within your area.
Instagram’s case study of Treatwell UK is a case in point. The company wanted to drive online booking for its multiple locations around the UK and used Instagram’s collection ad format, which includes a swipeable carousel display of images. Below the ads showing their range of services, viewers could see photos of nearby salon locations available. The campaign resulted in a 19% increase in purchases and a 7% lower cost per order price compared to other campaigns.
There are many free tools available, such as Apple’s Instasize, which will help you create eye-catching Instagram ads and campaigns without hiring a professional designer.
Instagram has become a great channel for companies to market their businesses. The platform offers many business-specific features that allow brands to interact with local customers who live within your area. With the above tips, you can not only market your local business with Instagram, you can also turn followers into loyal visitors who come back for more.