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A successful local business on Instagram should not and cannot be measured by the amount of followers you have or the number of likes per post you get. While it may seem like your business is doing well, given the large number of followers and likes you have, you may actually find that your business isn’t doing as well as you would like – but why?

Creating a successful business on Instagram is all about engagement and providing value to your audience. Providing value to your audience is what helps give your visitors that know, trust, loyalty, factor about your brand which is crucial for increased engagement, conversions, and sales. Without value, the number of followers and the amount of likes you get can literally account for nothing.

For a small business, one of the biggest challenges is producing content that is not only valuable, but also worthy of their followers’ engagement. Making sure to have both of these things can be pivotal for translating engagement into an increase in conversions. If you are a small business just starting out, or one that’s struggling to generate sales and returns, here are a few tips to help you get on the right track.

Professional & Creative Posts

While this may seem silly to include, you may find yourself surprised to learn that there are many businesses out there that regularly post low-quality content.

Posting creative and professional-looking content is a great way to gain an advantage over the competition and is definitely an area that merits attention. Before you shrug this off as a “Ya, ya, I know, content quality is important, blah, blah”, remember that Instagram factors content quality into their platform algorithm as a ranking factor on the explore page. Since Instagram is a visual social media platform, it is very important to make sure you are posting the best visual content you can.

Stick to stand out images and videos that represent your brand and speak to your audience. Keep the personal photos and family stuff to a minimum on your business profiles, although throwing in the odd personal photo can help add a human touch to your profile – but don’t drown people in photos of your cat. Unless that’s your niche, of course! 🙂

Stick to your brand identity

When using Instagram for business, your social profile is basically an extension of the ideas, values, and beliefs of your business.

Contrary to what you may believe, many of your customers will follow you on more than one social media platform. Sticking to your brand’s identity and core principles on all platforms is crucial for making sure you don’t run the risk of confusing your audience, or even worse, driving them away.

Diversify your content

Create, promote, and provide unique, engaging, and attractive posts for each platform and keep your customers interested in your brand. While you may be trying to convey a similar content message across all social media platforms, you can drastically affect your reach by posting content that is too similar (often called “Blanket Posting”). Posting the same exact content at the exact same time across all your social media channels without changing the appearance can cause customers who follow you on multiple platforms to become uninterested or even bored with following you.

Recycling content is great but spread it out between platforms so you aren’t posting the exact same stuff at the same time.

Get Involved

Simply posting images and/or videos on Instagram, regardless of how amazing they are, isn’t going to be enough to make people follow your business or engage with your content – most likely not producing any sales either. In order to do this, you need to provide value to your audience and develop a strong, positive reputation for your brand. One easy way to do this is by getting involved and interacting with your target audience. By participating in community discussions and adding your opinions and recommendations you can provide value to customers while also demonstrating your expertise.

Tip:  Search relevant local hashtags and engage with your target audience. Like their content. post attention-grabbing comments and follow them. This gives you the best chance of getting a follow back.

Follow the r.e.d.i.c. method

R.E.D.I.C. is an acronym that can help you not only produce better Instagram Story content, but also make sure it connects and appeals with your audience. Here is a brief overview of what it stands for and how to apply it.

R – Relatable – Make sure your content is relatable. Try showing who you are as a person or how your product/service can help.

E – Educational or Entertaining – Help motivate people to become intrigued or interested in your product/service.

D – Dialog in the DM – Encourage people to talk to you via direct message. This is a great way to gain insight from customers.

I – Interactions – Get interaction from your viewers. Try using poll features to get a response from followers who viewed your story.

C – Capture – How you take people off of Instagram and into your “list” of clients/customers is probably one of the most important aspects of creating a good story post. A great way to do this is by using tags to help give people the opportunity to leave the app and go somewhere else (i.e. your website) or by simply generating lead magnets such as free giveaways in return for their email.

Hashtags are your bffs

Hashtags are like the SEO of Instagram. When you use location based hashtags it allows people to find posts from your business by searching area-specific hashtags.

For example, if you run a sandwich shop in Ottawa, instead of using a general hashtag like #SandwichShop, try using a more specific one like #OttawaEats #OttawaSandwiches. Not only will this help increase the chances of someone landing on your profile when they are searching, but it also lets them know where you are located.

It’s important to think outside of the box when it comes to hashtags, too. Using local hashtags that are popular will help you get in front of the right eyes, even if your photo isn’t about that hashtag specifically. The more eyeballs that hit your content, the better.

#localottawa hashtags

Here are a few of the best hashtags to get in front of local Ottawa eyes:

Geotags and why you need ’em

Geotagging is an underestimated and underutilized tactic that is often overlooked by local businesses. Geotags allow you to add tags to your posts that help tell Instagram and its users where you are located. When a user clicks on that location it will open a map showing your location – helping them find exactly where you are located. Using Geotags is a great (and relatively easy) way to gain additional traffic and become a prominent and active participant in your local community.

instagram features

Not too long ago, Instagram began rolling out a slew of new features which can dramatically help promote your business. Let’s take a look at a few, what they do, and how they can help you.

Instagram Live

As a business, Instagram Live allows you to broadcast video to your followers in real time. With video lengths up to one hour, this is a great way to make engaging and lengthy videos about your service/product, provide Q&A sessions to your audience, and even a behind the scenes look at your business. By being able to provide this kind of content, using Instagram Live can be a great tool to help boost engagement and win the trust of your audience.

Instagram TV

Similar to Instagram Live, Instagram recently launched Instagram TV (IGTV). IGTV is a long-form video which can last anywhere from 15 seconds to 60 minutes (depending upon your account). Try using IGTV to share some funny and/or engaging behind-the-scenes videos, a tour of your workplace, or even an event you’re holding or attending. This is a great way to build your audience, while gaining their loyalty at the same time.

Instagram Shopping

Say goodbye to the old “link in bio” line.
Instagram Shopping is a new feature and can definitely be a real game-changer for local businesses. The Instagram shopping feature lets businesses tag products in their standard Instagram posts, allowing potential customers to click on the tags and be directed to a product detail page – hopefully helping to incentivize a purchase. Using as many relevant hashtags as possible will help make sure that your content/product is easy to discover. The right hashtags can not only boost your engagement rate but also increase your visibility.

Instagram Stories

While this feature has been around for a while, it is probably one of our favorite ways to help increase engagement and showcase your business. Instagram Stories allow you to share time-limited images and videos with your followers that can include additional features like tags, overlaid text, and stickers.

Using Instagram Stories is a great way to get away from the overcrowded feeds and connect on a personal level with your followers (helping to dramatically increase that know, trust, buy formula). By leveraging this Instagram feature, local businesses can promote their business in more creative ways, such as demonstrating products in action, creating buzz around a newly developed product or service, or even producing helpful and intuitive guides on how to use their product. These kinds of stories will surely catch the attention of your loyal followers, and they in turn will help start spreading the word for you. Check out our additional tips below to better understand and utilize Instagram Stories.

Looking into the Future
A New Instagram Feature You Won’t Want to Miss!

Instagram Local Business Profile Pages

While we will only just touch on this for the time being (given that there has been no official release), as a small, local business, be prepared for the unveiling of Instagram’s new Local Business Profile Page. Basically these local business pages will be a lot like what you might find on a Google My Business account, and will contain information like your address, business category, hours, prices, website, Instagram handle, picture/icon, and even a few posts. As a business, it is imperative that you start preparing for Instagram’s local business page profile by being extra mindful and meticulous with every single post you make and the message you are trying to convey. Also, while business pages may be a great new addition, keep in mind that they may not be the best way to draw in new visitors. Getting in the habit of using things like Instagram Stories, which won’t interrupt browsing, will allow viewers to better connect with your content while returning right back to your Instagram Business Page. Nevertheless, as a small business, you want to be prepped and prepared when Instagram does announce the official rollout of this new feature.

So, what does this all mean?

With over 400 million active accounts each day, Instagram is the ultimate platform for organic social growth. As a local business, taking advantage of the social culture in the right way can be a huge boost for your company and brand. Engagement and content quality is key to growth, and making sure you find ways to do and produce both should be of the utmost importance. By doing so, you’ll be able to start creating an engaged community and interested audience that can translate into increased business leads. It’s easier than you may think. There’s no better time that now to get active! Find us on Instaa and follow along

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