You may already have an Instagram account that you do your best to post to as often as you can, but it doesn't seem to help promote your business and make you any more money than when you weren't doing it. Can you relate? I want to share a few reasons and tips about why to transform your focus and make Instagram your main source of marketing for your local business.
Why focus on Instagram?
- Instagram is visual, which means you can speak directly to someones emotions, likes, dislikes, wants and needs almost instantly without them reading a word. Fear your business isn't visual or product based? Not a problem - curating and crediting* images from other accounts that speak to those who are your idea client/customer can be used to help build your brand. *heavy stress on the crediting part! never use a photo without proper accreditation to the owner or creator
- Your local clients and customers are already using it personally, or for their businesses. They are following small businesses who they connect to, or whose services or products they love from all over the world - so why not locally? Creating raving customers and fans that support you throughout the year is usually the goal of any small business and Instagram can help with that in a big way.
- Instagram allows its users to have an account, post to their account, use hashtags, and interact with others from all over the world + in their own communities at no cost. Marketing can be SO expensive - and the fact that we have the option of a free account on Instagram is pretty great. Well, the cost can come later and I'll tell you what I mean in a minute.
- Above all - more and more people of all ages, shapes and sizes are using Instagram to help them find what they need - especially in their local area using hashtags and following their favourite businesses. That means more and more business owners have to step up their visual and strategic social media marketing game to stay top of mind.
So - I guess the question for those of you who still haven't embraced the idea of using Instagram as a main source of their marketing efforts is: What is stopping you??
Can you relate to any of these blocks?
- Professional photography for custom images of my business is too expensive and frankly, not necessary (GAH! it hurt to write that :P)
- I don't have time to manage my Instagram account on consistent basis
- I don't understand how to use the Instagram app (YouTube is an amazing resource! - click here for a quick Instagram 101 video I found)
- I can't afford to hire someone else to do it for me
- My client's aren't on Instagram (says...who? I'll explain how to know for sure a little further down)
Ok. You get the point. What I see in all of these blocks is the fact that the people saying them don't understand the value Instagram can give to them and their business. And because I am so crazy obsessed with sharing exactly WHY it adds value for you - you've come to the right place and you should definitely sign up for my email newsletters!! (shameless plug! had to! :P)
Let's talk about costs.
The cost of marketing is anywhere from free to tens of thousands of dollars a year - heck - maybe even hundreds of thousands?!?! But for now, lets stick to what it really costs to run a great Instagram account for your business if you are managing it yourself.
- Cost for Instagram use: FREE
- Cost to preschedule your posts to allow yourself time to breathe and NOT do Instagram while scarfing down some lunch or getting your kids ready for school? FREE
- Cost for taking some of your own photos with your iPhone or mobile device and editing them yourself: FREE
- Cost for curating and crediting content from other accounts that you love, your clients love and that supports your visual branding vision: FREE
So - it IS possible to do this for no cost, but if you want some help or you're ready to step up your marketing game and truly stand out in your niche - here are a few ways to do that.
- Professional brand specific photography: (starting from $1000+ depending on who you hire)
- Visual branding guidance and consultation: (starting from $500 depending on what you may need specifically)
- Scheduling and analytic programs: ($50-$150/year if you'd like all the bells and whistles)
- Full time social media manager or assistant to do it for you: (starting at $35,000 + /year)
The benefits to stepping up your marketing will be clear to you after you've put in the time to build your account organically. You'll begin to see upward movement in your sales and in turn, create raving fans and followers. At this point, it'll be a no brainer to hire the professionals and gain even more momentum for your business but it is definitely not necessary to get the results you want while you're just starting out. You do have to put in the effort and work yourself, however.
How can you be sure your clients/customers are using Instagram?
The easiest way to find out if your clients and customers are using Instagram is to ask them. Ask them in person, via email, or on your Facebook or Instagram pages. Just ask!
Get comfortable spending time on Instagram and responding to every comment that comes your way and truly listening to what is being said. Not only on your account, but on other accounts just like yours. What are people connecting to? Where do your clients and customers need help? How can you become someone they trust before they even think to hire you? Be on Instagram to have great conversations with people - not just to sell your products, services or "convince" them to come into your store.
After doing this research, you find your clients are NOT on Instagram - what do you do? Well, considering how fast our society moves and adapts to new social platforms - I would still advise you to spend some time marketing there. Technology can change over night and your clients are becoming more and more comfortable with this method of advertising.
Chances are: there is someone else in your field or line of work who IS using Instagram successfully - it's just a matter of paying attention to what works and honing in on your message and visual brand.
Hashtags + local businesses = #goldmine !!
YOU MUST USE TARGETED HASHTAGS IF YOU ARE A LOCAL BUSINESS ON INSTAGRAM!!!!! <-- was that loud enough?!
Hashtags are like free advertising for your business but only if used correctly. Because our clients and customers are using Instagram as a way to search businesses, places to eat at, activities to do and where to shop before they get to where you are - it's SO IMPORTANT to use location based hashtags when adding to the comments on your posts.
For example: If I were a yoga instructor, looking for more local students - I would most definitely use #yourtownyoga or #yourtownyogastudio or #yourtownyogaclass. Basically, any words that can be used as keywords in a search, you're going to want to use all variations of that. Think as if you are a potential client- what would you enter as a keyword to find you on google?
Always use the "add location" option when creating your post to put yourself on the map. AND! If you use a business Instagram profile account (check your settings) - you can add your location to your profile and Instagram will direct your clients and customers right to you with one click of a button. Pretty cool, hey?
**HASHTAGS TIP** Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags to be used per post, and rumour has it that they are cracking down on any accounts that use the same hashtags over and over - so create at least 2-3 different "sets" of hashtags to copy and paste to your posts that you can cycle through. I personally keep mine in the notes app on my phone for copy and pasting.
Don't know how to find your targeted hashtags? Start by seeing what your competitors (who are active on Instagram) are using. Just always make sure you check the hashtags before using them in your posts! You don't want to be using any that might be inappropriate for your company, or that are completely overused and your post will be lost within seconds. Aim to find hashtags that are used anywhere from 1000 times to 100,000 times.
What did I miss?
Did I miss touching on anything you'd like to know more about? Send me a direct message (DM) on Instagram or connect with me below.
I know this has a lot of information to digest, but the main point I want to hit home is how important it is to get really clear on who you are, what you offer, how you can help your local clients and customers and translate that into a carefully thought out Instagram account. Doing this WILL increase your income, profits and authority in your local area.
Tired of trying to figure it all out on your own?
Connect with me to find out if I can help you along your Instagram marketing journey!