Instagram and small business go together like milk and coffee—it's hard to imagine one without the other.
There's no doubt that Instagram has become the place for small local businesses to showoff their products to the world—especially in culinary, arts and crafts, and hospitality spaces.
Thankfully, Instagram is aware of this and has been making network changes that add functionality for small businesses.
One of the most recent examples of this is the recent introduction of Instagram local pages. These are Google My Business style pages that local businesses can update with hours of operation, an address, and more.
But there's more to Instagram for local businesses than just creating an Instagram local page.
So in this article, we'll discuss why Instagram is so vital for small business, discuss what Instagram local pages are, and show off a few ways that small businesses can improve their Instagram reach and ROI.
So without further ado... let's dive in!
This is why Instagram is so important for small business
It's easy to see why Instagram local pages are being rolled out to the masses.
Like discussed earlier, Instagram has become increasingly more important for small and local businesses all over the world.
But don't take our word for it—let's take a look at the data.
Instagram has a huge user-base
As of mid 2018, Instagram has a whopping 1 billion monthly users.
This is a key reason why Instagram is so important for small business. Since your audience is already there, there's no reason why you shouldn't be marketing to them on Instagram.
Further, Instagram's growth shows no signs of stopping.
As you can see in the graph above, the network added 300 million users from April 2017 to June 2018. And while 2019 stats haven't come out yet, we're estimating the network now has somewhere between 1.2 and 1.3 billion users.
Instagram users actively look for new businesses to follow
In a 2017 earnings call (PDF link warning), Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg noted that roughly two-thirds of Instagram business page profiles are from people that don't yet follow said business.
This means that Instagram is a great place for small and local businesses to grow. Instagram are actively seeking out new businesses to follow, so make sure that you're in the running.
Your business can interact with its audience in real-time with stories
Instagram stories are a huge plus for small business. These are small photo or vertical video posts that last for 24 hours and appear at the top of the Instagram feed.
Instagram stories are becoming an increasingly more important part of Instagram for businesses. More than 500 million people use Instagram stories every single day, and your small business cannot afford to miss out on these valuable eyes.
Another great thing about Instagram stories is that you can automatically cross-post them to your brand's Facebook account. This means you can kill two birds with one stone and get added engagement on your Facebook account when updating your Instagram story—nice.
Instagram puts a face to your brand
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Instagram is visually focused. So, posting photos, videos, and stories to Instagram regularly will put a face to your brand that lets potential customers will know what your brand is all about.
The low-down on Instagram local pages
So what are these Instagram local pages you speak of?
Well, it might just be one of the most revolutionary new Instagram features to hit the platform in a long time.
Like discussed earlier, Instagram local give businesses a place to list their hours of operation, website, address, and more on Instagram.
Businesses can link their Instagram accounts to their Instagram local pages too, giving small and local businesses yet another to share and promote their Instagram accounts.
These pages can be viewed by tapping on an Instagram location tag for a business. At the top of the screen, you'll see a blue view information that will take you to the business' Instagram local page.
What do Instagram local pages mean for your small business?
Instagram local pages make location tags even more important on Instagram.
When your images are tagged with your location on Instagram, the photographer's audience now has a direct way to view your business' information.
In the past, this would require looking at the tag, Googling the business's name, and then finally getting the hours and address information.
Here's how to edit your Instagram local page
As of now, business can edit their Instagram local pages by "claiming" it on Instagram. Just find the location tag for your business and click the claim button—you'll then be walked through the claim process.
Once verified, you can update your business' info with correct hours, websites, and more.
How your small business can effectively market on Instagram
Instagram local pages are great, but only work if you're active on Instagram. Below we've listed five different ways that your small business can effectively market on Instagram. These are meant to be easy, effective marketing tactics that you can implement easily.
Embrace Instagram stories and post daily
Like discussed earlier, Instagram stories are used by over 500 million people on a daily basis.
So make sure you're posting to your Instagram story daily. This will keep your audience updated with the latest happenings in your company like sales and new products.
Here's a few things you can post on Instagram stories:
- Announcements – post about new products, services, and sales
- Behind the scenes content – give your audience a look at what goes on behind the scenes at your company
- Post local offerings – show people what's going on near your office, hotel, or place of business—create a neighborhood buzz
- Post about Hallmark holidays – don't be afraid of wishing a happy donut day to your audience
- Use interactive stickers – use interactive stickers in your Instagram stories—this is a quick and easy
- Collaborate – collaborate with likeminded local brands to share each others audience
The key to success on Instagram stories is consistency. Posting daily will keep your brand fresh in the minds of your audience, giving you a better chance at Instagram success and increasing your brand recognition.
Make sure to follow our Instagram stories best practices too!
Get in front of new eyes by using hashtags and location tags
Use hashtags to make sure your new Instagram posts are shown to people that are actively searching for your products and services.
Studies show that Instagram posts with hashtags get 12.6% more engagements than those without. So, make sure to use hashtags that you think your target audience is searching for.
For example, at Social Report we use hashtags like #DigitalMarketing, #Marketing, #SocialMediaMarketing, and others to get our posts in front of an audience of marketers ands social media managers.
So if you're a coffee shop, attract coffee lovers by using #espresso, #coffeeshop, and #ChicagoCoffee (or whatever city you're in).
Additionally, make sure to tag locations in each of your Instagram posts too. Doing this could give you a huge 79% more engagements than posts without. And with the addition of local pages, location tags are getting more important than ever.
We recommend using broad location tags in these posts. So instead of tagging your office's address in the SoHo, use the "SoHo, Manhattan" location tag instead.
Doing this will get your Instagram post in front of everyone that searches for the SoHo location tag on Instagram, opening your new post up to millions of potential new eyes.
Make Instagram videos (even if they're basic)
People love seeing video on social media, so make sure you're actively posting it on your Instagram feed and story. Post new product intros, behind-the-scenes company footage, or a tutorial—the possibilities are endless.
Further, Instagram released IGTV last year. This is meant to be a competitor to YouTube where brands and Instagram users can upload long-form vertical video content.
Take advantage of this if you're considering running a video series on social media. IGTV hasn't quite caught traction yet, but we expect it to over the coming months.
Like photos, you can post Instagram videos right from the Social Report dashboard. Just create a new post and upload the video in the videos tab of the media library.
Run Instagram ads for added reach
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Once you're up-and-running on Instagram, consider embracing Instagram ads.
With Instagram ads, you can target specific audiences and get your content in front of people that would've otherwise not seen it. Take time to learn the targeting tools so that you can make the most of your ad dollars.
Alternatively, you can use influencer marketing to expand your reach even further.
In short, this is when you partner with a high follower count individual in your industry and pay them to promote your products in stories and posts.
Studies have shown that people still trust influencers more than brands. But for even more trust (and a better bang for your buck), we recommend working with micro and nano influencers that have smaller followings but higher trust.
Finally, monitor what's working and make changes
Now that you're actively posting on Instagram, make sure that you run frequent reports to check up on how your Instagram posts are performing.
Engagements you should monitor include the number of likes and comments you get per post, your growth rate, and how many people view your Instagram stories.
Look at what posts are performing well and which are performing poorly. Use this to guide the content you post and how you post it—just make sure to do this regularly so you can modify your Instagram strategy in real-time.
Use Social Report to manage your small business's Instagram
So now you know the ins-and-outs of Instagram for business, it's time to put your new skills into action. But don't go it alone: you'll want an awesome Instagram management tool to help you post and schedule content.
Our full-fledged Instagram management tool has a ton of awesome Instagram features you can't find anywhere else. You can schedule images and video direct to the social network, full-fledged reports, and even preview new posts in the context of your grid before you publish it!
Plus, we have support for all the world's major social networks, marketing tools, and review sites. This means you can post and report for all of your small business's social media in one centralized hub.
Sounds great, right? Give us a shot—our plans start at just $49 per month, and you can try any Social Report plan free for 30 days!
The bottom line on Instagram local
Your small business needs to be on Instagram in 2019. Make sure that your small business is embracing the network by following our steps above and creating a solid Instagram local page.
In the comments, let us know what you think about Instagram local pages. Do you think they're a game-changer for small businesses on the network? We're excited to hear from you. 😃
Need an awesome Instagram management tool? Try Social Report free for 30 days.