Instagram gets a lot of slack from local business owners.

For a long time, I understood why. The platform largely catered to younger demographics, and it’s features were limited. Not to mention, with the popularity of big networks like Facebook and Twitter, why would you bother with little Instagram anyway, right?

Between this train of thought, and an overwhelming list of “to do’s”, many local business owners see zero reason to make Instagram a priority.

However, that thinking is outdated. It went out the window when Instagram began rapidly attracting new users. So rapidly, in fact, that they added 100 million new users in only 4 months earlier this year. Although the demographic is largely in the 18-29 range, older generations are adopting the platform more and more.

But that’s not the reason you need to quit being lazy about managing an Instagram account for your business. This is…

Instagram has added a lot of new features over the last little while. Including improved location searches.

So imagine this… One of the 400 million active-daily Instagram users decides that they want to grab a coffee in your town, but they’re not sure where to go. They’re on Instagram already, so they do a quick search.

By typing in “collingwood ontario coffee”, Instagram populates a list of local businesses that:

1) Are relevant to the category being searched for. In this case, “coffee” (ie. “coffee”)

2) Have a physical location near the place being searched for. In this case, Collingwood, Ontario.

(Note: to be listed in this directory, you must have your physical store location listed on an Instagram or Facebook account.)

Now, when users click on a location, they’re brought to a screen with Instagram content that’s been tagged at that place.

Depending on the level of Instagram activity tagged at your location, your business’ search page will look like one of the following:

Ask yourself: which of these two coffee shops will most customers choose?

…yeah. I’d go with Ashanti Coffee on that one too.

Not only has Ashanti Coffee taken special effort to post quality content consistently, their customers also make a point to tag themselves at their cafe.

This tells potential customers that the business is…

  • Authentic: They get a quick glimpse at real photos that showcase the products. Unlike paid advertising, these images are clearly snapped from someone’s smartphone. They demonstrate a raw quality that viewers know they can trust.
  • Credible: Viewers are instantly hit with images of other customers who are genuinely enjoying the company’s food and beverages. This alone is hugely influential when it comes to attracting new customers because…

45% of Digital Buyers State that Reading Reviews, Comments and Feedback on Social Media Influence their Buying Behaviour

Seriously. You cannot afford to be lazy about Instagram anymore! Dead Instagram = Scaring Away Potential Buyers.

Now…

How does your business capitalize on this search traffic from Instagram?

1) Make sure your business is listed on Facebook and/or Instagram with an accurate physical address. To do this on Instagram, you need to have a business profile – not a personal profile.

2) When uploading a photo to your account, make sure to tag the business location to your posts. If you don’t tag them, your posts won’t show up in the search results.

3) Tag your Instagram Stories with a location sticker. When an Instagram Story has been tagged at a location, you will see the story icon displayed at the top of the screen.

To tag your Instagram stories with a location sticker, do this:

4) Encourage your current customers to tag their photos at your location. People love sharing photos of their daily activities, so getting customers to tag your location should happen naturally. However, you can get the ball rolling by launching a contest. For example, you could hold a contest where users have to tag their photos at your location to be entered to win.

CONCLUSION

Local business owners need to stop thinking of Instagram as a time waster, and appreciate its ability to attract potential customers. There are very few marketing avenues with the potential to provide this much exposure for your business. Especially at no cost!


Ready to talk more about getting better results from your Instagram marketing? Let’s chat! Contact me here, I’d love to hear from you.

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Written by Kayla McDonald

Kayla McDonald is a social media strategist with 5+ years of experience in consumer psychology, content creation and online marketing.