As a small business, starting out on Instagram can be quite overwhelming. With over 200 million businesses advertising their products and services, plus content creators flooding the platform, competition is tough. But with the proper techniques, Instagram can boost your sales and win you valuable customers.
We’ve developed nine tips to help you market your local business on Instagram.
Why Market a Local Business on Instagram?
People say that they have become interested in a brand after seeing it on Instagram, with 81% of users saying that they use the platform for researching new products and services. If you’re still wondering how the platform can benefit your business, here’s how:
- The user base is huge – If you want to reach a wide audience, Instagram is the place to be. With over two billion monthly active users from all over the world, there’s no doubt that you’ll reach people in your area and beyond.
- People read reviews online – Before people decide to support a business, it’s become a natural habit to research it online, and one of the places they look is Instagram. If you don’t have an Instagram page, leads will consider that a red flag.
- Instagram has features to target local audiences – One of the best things about Instagram is its powerful targeting capabilities that can help local businesses increase their brand awareness. Aside from specifying your audience demographics, you can also narrow down their location.
As consumers rely more on social media platforms to shop and discover new brands, Instagram has become an essential tool for business growth. If you’re not on Instagram, you’re missing out on an audience that’s ready to shop.
9 Tips to Market a Local Business on Instagram the Right Way
1. Choose a Relevant Username
While you may want to use your brand name as is for your username, as a local business, you should consider adding keywords.
For example, if you want people in your town or city to find you, you could include your location on your username. This way, when people from your area search for local businesses using a location-based keyword, your username may appear in the search results.
Take a look at the username of the Barcelona-based restaurant Disfrutar:
Despite being a two Michelin-star restaurant renowned worldwide, it makes sense for Disfrutar to add the keyword “BCN” to its username since only people visiting or living in Barcelona can reserve a table. This way, it can target diners who are in the research stage and those who may not know about the restaurant just yet.
As a local business, location-based keywords are a strategic way to generate leads. However, you can also include other industry-based keywords. For example, if you’re in the food industry, you can include keywords like “restaurant” or simply “food.”
2. Make Up a Descriptive Instagram Bio
Many businesses overlook their Instagram bio because you can barely fit anything in it—you only have 150 characters to introduce yourself. But since it’s the first thing your audience will see when they land on your page, it should be a priority.
Take not that your Instagram bio is more than just its description. It includes your:
- Profile photo – This should be a clear logo or a presentable headshot, depending on the nature of your business.
- Name and username – Aside from your username, your name presents another opportunity where you can include relevant keywords.
- Business category – This appears right below your name. It summarizes what your business is all about and can help you reach your target audience on search.
- Contact and action buttons – Action buttons make it easy for your audience to reach you.
- Links – Include essential links such as your website, blog, or sale landing pages.
- Highlights – While Instagram highlights are technically not part of your bio, it’s one of the first pieces of content your audience will see. Make sure to include eye-catching icons and valuable content.
Your bio should summarize what your business is all about, explain not just who you are but also who your audience is, and inspire people to take action.
3. Optimize Your Account for Local Search
Optimizing your account for search has a lot to do with what you include in your bio. To help you reach your local audience, we recommend:
- Adding your location to your name and username, similar to the example discussed above
- Including relevant keywords
- Adding a business category
- Adding your location address on your bio, which can be done through your Facebook page or by dropping a location pin and adding it to your links
- Adding a location tag on your posts so your content will appear whenever people search for that specific area or click on other content with the same location tagged.
- Use location-based hashtags.
Optimizing your account for local search has a lot to do with including location details on your profile. This is especially crucial for businesses that only ship and transact with local customers, as your target audience should reside in the same place.
4. Include Customer Support Options
According to a survey by Statista, 50% of consumers say that responding in a timely manner can influence their purchase decisions. Delivering an excellent customer support experience on social media can help you gain customers and boost sales.
We recommend responding to customer queries within an hour. But if you cannot offer 24/7 support, it’s best to make the most out of IVR solutions. You can also include your business hours in your bio or prepare an automated response on direct message (DM) to set your customer’s expectations.
Aside from responding to DMs, it’s a good idea to offer other support options, such as email or via phone call, for urgent matters. If you make good use of call tracking for small business, you can analyze your incoming calls and understand what customer inquiries your local customers have to prevent them in the future.
Adding a frequently-asked question (FAQ) Instagram Story Highlight is a simple way to answer common questions and improve your audience’s customer experience.
Plus, Having FAQs on your highlights can save you from answering repetitive questions.
Manila-based clothing brand Carino, includes a FAQ section on its Instagram highlights, which answers questions about payment methods accepted, lead time for orders, and shipping information.
5. Share Your Brand Story
The tricky thing about selling on Instagram is that your audience is interested in shopping, but they don’t really want to be sold to.
So, what does that mean for businesses?
Instead of using pushy sales jargon, you have to focus on storytelling.
Your brand story sets you apart from competitors and helps you build authority in your industry. Sharing your brand story means:
- Talking about how you started your business
- Being vocal about what you care for
- Being transparent about your process
- Sharing behind-the-scenes moments
Storytelling can help your audience form a deeper connection with your brand and stand out in such a crowded marketplace.
Take a look at how Los Angeles-based potter Danny Dooreck shares how he became a small business owner on his Instagram page:
Danny’s page is filled with unedited photos of his products and behind-the-scenes videos of his process and workspace. His candid content allows his audience to get to know him better and adds value to his creations.
6. Reward Loyal Followers with Gift Cards
Your original customers turned loyal followers have been with you since the beginning. It’s important to show your appreciation and let them know you recognize their support.
If your follower count is still in the hundreds or low thousands, it should be easy to identify your most loyal followers manually. However, if you’ve already built a considerable following, there are tools you can use to identify your most valuable followers.
Once you’ve identified your most loyal followers, send them a private message to thank them for their support, along with a gift card. Sending gift cards can help promote customer loyalty and increase your customer’s average basket size. What is more, it can help to get more leads on the platform and convert them into customers with time.
Make sure to post about the rewards on your page to encourage further engagement. Remember: nurturing your existing followers is cheaper than acquiring new customers.
7. Team Up with Local Influencers
It’s no secret that consumers trust influencer content more than brands. Tapping on local influencers, in particular, can grant you access to your ideal audience.
Unlike partnering with just any influencer, local influencers are seen as experts not just in their particular location but also in your niche. Local influencers are also more relatable because their audience is likely from the same area and frequent the same places.
Results from studies have shown that campaigns featuring local influencers receive more engagement and conversion rates simply because they can strengthen a brand’s relationship with its customer base.
New York-based pet brands partner with dog content creator Isabel Klee of @simonsits to connect to their local audience.
8. Co-promote with Other Local Businesses
Partnering with other local businesses can help you gain access to their customer base and vice versa. Of course, the partnership should be strategic for both parties.
For example, if you’re a wedding dress designer, you can partner with a wedding photographer and promote each other on your respective pages. Audiences looking at your page will likely need a photographer, while audiences looking at the photographer’s page will likely need a designer.
The best thing about co-promoting is that it doesn’t have to cost anything, and it can help you build lasting relationships with other entrepreneurs in your city.
Check out this co-promotion post of small businesses, Carino and GVN:
To create a similar visual that grabs the attention, consider using an Instagram post maker that offers a variety of ready-to-use templates and therefore get your chance to make stunning visuals for co-promotion.
9. Share Customer Reviews
Customer reviews can increase your credibility and help leads convert into customers. In fact, according to a survey by Power Reviews, close to 100% of online consumers will read customer reviews before shopping online.
To understand your customers better and improve your business, it’s a good idea to create a post-purchase flow and send a thank you note to your customers with a small request to share their reviews. The more reviews you get, the better you understand your advantages and disadvantages.
What is more, sharing customer reviews through in-feed art and user-generated content (UGC) are both excellent ways to showcase customer feedback.
Hong Kong-based restaurant Barkada has Instagram Story highlights dedicated to UGC and customer reviews:
The trick to marketing a local business on a global platform such as Instagram is to think local. Run highly targeted campaigns, partner with local influencers and brands, and put value into being homegrown.
Use these tips to guide you and transform your small business into a beloved local brand.