Let’s talk Instagram
Oh Instagram, you beautiful, beautiful thing.
It’s somewhat obvious how the average Instagram user uses and should use Instagram: Pictures of kids,
#dogsofinstagram #catsofinstagram posts, Boomerangs out at the bar Friday night followed by hangover huevos rancheroes pictures Saturday morning.
And it’s even clear how certain brands utilize Instagram as a Marketing tool: Photographers feature their gorgeous shots or tell the story of a recently married couple.
A clothing brand like Madewell will share product photos, and feature bloggers and Instagrammers with their hashtag #EveryDayMadewell:
And some brands, like tech-smart companies such as Bench Accounting, use it to feature behind-the-scenes of their work culture with #LifeatBench:
But using Instagram for one type of company isn’t always so clear- and that’s the local business.
Local Business Marketing on Instagram
How can the mom and pop bakery on the corner of Main Street and Broad take advantage of Instagram and its massive audience? What about the local barbershop that’s been around since the late 70s? How can the small businesses of Every town U.S.A., the ones that keep our economy chugging and growing, compete and utilize Instagram to grow their businesses and engage larger audiences?
I recently contributed to an article about this very topic over on podium, and I thought the other suggestions were GREAT- especially this one from Beth Adan at Three Girls Media:
“Create a local hashtag to use with your images as you snap photos around town. If you already know of local hashtags or are attending a local event, make note of these to use with your Instagram images.”
My suggestion was for Local Businesses to be helpful on Instagram. That sounds, SO OBVIOUS, but it’s rare to see it done well. So here is a bit more about what I mean:
Be Helpful, Duh!
When I think about the local-to-Philadelphia brands I love following, yes, they adhere to some MUSTs of Instagram. Their photos are beautiful, with engaging content (either in text or the image/video themselves) and stories. But beyond that, they are HELPFUL.
I live in a neighborhood called Fishtown (it’s the best) and for you non-Philadelphians it is two neighborhoods north of all that “America Stuff” like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. That neighborhood (called Old City) is one I don’t get to too often, but I follow a TON of brands who are based locally. There’s this new, boutique hotel that just popped up (Lokal Hotel) which I wouldn’t had known about had the flower shop across the street not instagrammed their facade. I have, at times, based my weekeend social schedule on suggestions from a group of 3-4 Instagram accounts from local businesses on one block in Old City alone!
Yet, I’ve never shopped in the flower shop. I’ve never stayed at the hotel. I have been to brunch at one of the local restaurants I follow, but it’s not a place I frequent. However, I’ve developed a “relationship” with these accounts because of the helpful and useful information I’ve gleaned from being a follower. And you bet that if I’m ever in Old City running late for a birthday dinner, I might think to swing into the flower shop to pick up a pretty bouquet. (And I’m just LOOKING for an excuse for a staycation at the boutique hotel a mere 10 minutes from my house!)
Become a local Resource for your Community
Small businesses have a huge opportunity to become experts in their local communities and share interesting, engaging, HELPFUL info to their followers which will amplify the reach of their posts and provide real value to customers or potential customers.
This isn’t just possible in a big city: If a small bank is located on a busy main street, capture what is going on in the neighborhood. Is there a festival happening on the weekends? Was there an interesting car parked out front for an hour (Of course keep any identifying information private unless you obtain permission!). What does the cafe next door have for Thursday’s lunch special? Become THE place that community members go to to find out what is going on in the area.
If there’s a competing business in the same area, highlight the positives. Customers know there are two banks on the street- be the one that is helpful and creates interesting content, even if it features competition!
Instagram provides a big opportunity to reach an audience you may not immediately think of- one that might not just walk in your door off the street. And just because your content doesn’t immediately result in a customer, consider the relationships you are building with your fans and followers and their potential to turn into future customers or advocates for your local business in the long run!